February 22, 2018

Border Patrol increasing its searches of Americans far from U.S. borders. “It cannot be the case that anyone who lives or travels within 100 miles of the border has no Fourth Amendment rights.”   https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/us/politics/trump-border-patrol-searches.html   Federal court hears case involving arrests of photographers at border crossings. “The lawsuit cites another case where border agents forced people who had footage of the killing of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas by CBP officers at the San Ysidro port of entry on May 28, 2010, to erase their footage.”   https://www.courthousenews.com/ninth-circuit-asked-to-quash-limits-on-border-crossing-photos/

Pipeline company sues Greenpeace for damages. “In the suit, (Energy Transfer Partners) alleges that the defendants engaged in criminal conspiracy to defame the company. ETP further claims that Greenpeace ran a media campaign that aimed to cut the company’s profits through its criticism and campaign for divestment in the company, and therefore should be punished.”   https://freedom.press/news/dangerous-lawsuit-against-greenpeace-threatens-news-organizations-and-first-amendment/   Resource extraction industry backed bill would prevent protests around “critical infrastructure” sites, such as pipelines. “The bills would criminalize trespass onto these special properties.”   https://rightsanddissent.org/news/toxic-brew-state-politicians-gas-oil-lobbyists-alec-join-forces-environmental-protesters/

Former CIA director James Woolsey refuses to rule out current U.S. interventions in other countries’ elections. “We don’t do that now, we don’t mess around in other people’s elections?” “Well… Only for a very good cause, in the interests of democracy.”   https://reason.com/blog/2018/02/20/former-cia-director-and-fox-news-host-sh

Former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover targeted African-American bookstores. “While perhaps not surprising, it is deeply disturbing that Hoover and the FBI would carry out sustained investigations of black-owned independent bookstores across the country [and their customers] as part of COINTELPRO’s larger attacks on the Black Power movement.”   https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/fbi-black-bookstores/553598/

Anti-gun movement adopts slogan of Jewish militants , who vowed to never allow another Holocaust and armed themselves with guns for self-defense. “As hundreds of students, teachers and gun reform advocates gathered outside the legislative building in Tallahassee, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland continued to push for tougher gun laws in Florida and on a federal level. Many carried signs reading ‘#NeverAgain’.”   http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-florida-shooting-rally-20180221-story.html   School officers in Florida to be armed with “assault rifles”. “In response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 dead and 16 injured on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Wednesday that he is planning to issue rifles to trained resource deputies at local public schools.”   https://www.local10.com/news/parkland-school-shooting/broward-sheriff-to-deploy-deputies-with-rifles-to-local-public-schools

California rape suspect drinks poison during police chase and dies to avoid being arrested by police. “The substance that the suspect ingested was tested by the Ventura Fire Department’s Hazmat team and determined to be a mixture of sodium chloride and potassium cyanide…”   http://abc7.com/chase-suspect-dies-after-apparent-poisoning-chp-says/3119031/

Supreme Court rules that man who reported financial misconduct to his own company is not a protected whistleblower under securities fraud law. “Courts are not at liberty to dispense with the condition — tell the S.E.C. — Congress imposed.”   Supreme Court rules that pleading guilty does not bar you from challenging the legality of the law you violated. “By a 6-to-3 vote, the court ruled that a North Carolina man who pleaded guilty to violating a federal law that bars firearms on the grounds of the United States Capitol may nonetheless challenge the constitutionality of the law on appeal.”   https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/us/supreme-court-terrorism-whistle-blowers-prisoners.html

Disney accused of withholding corporate tax cut bonuses as leverage in union negotiations. “Disney stated the employee bonus was the result of President Donald Trump’s recently signed tax plan, which he has touted as a gift to working-class Americans.”   https://www.salon.com/2018/02/21/disney-uses-its-promised-1000-employee-bonus-as-leverage-over-union-negotiations/

Toy R Us to close 200 more stores. “The 200 newly reported planned closures will be in addition to the (170) April closures, and likely impact even more in-store workers in addition to corporate staff.”   http://www.businessinsider.com/toys-r-us-reportedly-closing-another-200-stores-laying-off-workers-2018-2

Activists who cheered firing of Google employee who criticized diversity programs shocked when ‘Nazi puncher’ also gets fired. “Diversity advocates at Google, many of whom were queer or transgender, told WIRED in January they were being targeted for harassment by coworkers in order to silence internal discussion around racial and gender diversity.”   https://www.wired.com/story/ex-google-employee-claims-wrongful-firing-for-criticizing-james-damores-memo/

Washington D.C. to pay $3.5 million to settle lawsuit over police officer’s shooting of a fleeing motorcyclist in the back. “Police said (Terrance) Sterling, of Fort Washington, Maryland, intentionally rammed the passenger-side door of a police car while trying to flee a traffic stop. Witnesses disputed the police department’s account of the incident and said the crash was unavoidable.”   https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Family-of-Unarmed-Black-Man-Killed-in-Police-Shooting-Reaches-Settlement-With-DC-474713603.html

Eaton County, Michigan releases video of fatal police shooting of fleeing suspect. “Dash camera video shows an Eaton County Sheriff’s deputy following Robert Claude Smith, 64, down rural roads before Smith turns around his pickup and drives directly at two stopped police vehicles.”   http://www.wzzm13.com/news/local/lansing/video-of-fatal-police-shooting-in-eaton-county-released/521573888

Expert witness tells jury that police officer had no choice but to shoot unarmed bus passenger in the back during arrest, could not have used her taser. “Video, he said, can be misleading. ‘It’s an illusion’.”   https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/crime/2018/02/21/defense-expert-breaking-down-video-police-shooting-unarmed-bus-passenger/357098002/

Overland Park, Kansas releases video of fatal shooting of fleeing teen, announces no charges will be filed against officer. “Video shows a mini van exiting the garage of a home, despite the officer’s repeated demands to stop the vehicle… The incident lasted 14 seconds, and investigators said a total of 13 shots were fired.”   http://www.kmbc.com/article/authorities-to-release-some-video-in-fatal-police-shooting-of-overland-park-teen/18289864

Deaf Oklahoma motorist awarded $175,000 after beating by state troopers. “Pearson, who is 68 years old now, was headed home from a community deaf group meeting when the OHP tried to pull him over for suspected involvement in a hit-and-run.”   http://kfor.com/2018/02/19/deaf-man-given-175000-settlement-after-claiming-oklahoma-troopers-used-excessive-force-during-arrest/

Appeals court finds school resource officer used excessive force when handcuffing a compliant 10 year old three days after a scuffle with another student on the bus, but officer is protected by qualified immunity. “Without more, we cannot conclude that it would have necessarily been clear to a reasonable officer that handcuffing E.W. would give rise to a Fourth Amendment violation.”   https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180213/14504739228/appeals-court-handcuffing-compliant-ten-year-old-is-unreasonable-deputy-had-no-way-knowing-that.shtml


February 22, 2018

February 21, 2018

List of those charged so far in Russian election interference probe – includes 5 Americans (3 pleaded guilty, 2 not guilty), 1 Dutch citizen and 13 Russians. “(George) Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to one count of lying to FBI agents about ‘the timing, extent, and nature of his relationships and interactions with certain foreign nationals whom he understood to have close connections with senior Russian government officials’.”   https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/20/whos-been-charged-by-the-special-counsels-russia-probe.html

3M to settle water contamination lawsuit for $850 million. “In a statement Tuesday, 3M senior vice president of research and development John Banovetz said the company is proud of its record of environmental stewardship and does not believe there is a PFC-related health issue.”   http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/minnesotas-billion-case-3m-chemicals-heads-trial-53209885   If it’s safe, let’s send 3M some free bottled water from East St. Paul for its employee to drink at their corporate headquarters.

Florida House passes up chance to consider banning the public from owning modern rifles. “The vote in the Republican-dominated body was 36-71.”   https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/20/us/florida-legislature-weapons-ban/index.html   Bernie Sanders irks fact-checkers by claiming 40% of guns are purchased without a background check. “The researchers asked 1,613 adult gun owners where and when they acquired their last firearm, including whether it was purchased, and whether they had either a background check or were asked to show a firearm license or permit…. 22 percent obtained their gun without a background check.”   http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2018/feb/20/bernie-s/bernie-sanders-repeats-false-claim-about-backgroun/

More than 250 killed by Syrian government airstrikes and artillery, at least five hospitals hit. “The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was the highest 48-hour death toll in the Syria conflict since a 2013 chemical attack on eastern Ghouta, the last major rebel bastion located near the capital.”   https://www.independent.ie/world-news/devastation-in-syria-un-says-it-has-run-out-of-words-as-violence-surges-killing-hundreds-36626837.html   All we have to do is to take the “assault weapons” away from the anti-Assad resistance fighters and we can end all this violence. The people of this part of Syria can then go back to living under a brutal dictatorship, but free from the risk of school shootings.

Trump administration trying to blow up Obamacare by allowing insurance companies to sell plans that only cover healthy people. “These short-term plans are exempt from certain essential coverage standards—meaning they often don’t cover healthcare related to pregnancy, substance abuse, or mental illness—and providers can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions as well as set limits on maximum annual and lifetime benefits for patients.”   https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/02/20/continuing-sabotage-americans-healthcare-trump-proposes-allowing-insurers-offer-junk

U.S. comes in at 36th in infant mortality among wealthy countries. “In Kuwait and the United States of America, both high-income countries, the newborn mortality rate is 4 (per 1,000). This is only slightly better than lower-middle-income countries such as Sri Lanka and Ukraine, where the newborn mortality rate is 5 (per 1,000).”   https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Every_Child_Alive_The_urgent_need_to_end_newborn_deaths.pdf  (p. 34)

U.S. meatpacking plants under investigation by Europe. “The rates at which outbreaks of infectious food poisoning occur in the US are significantly higher than in the UK, or the EU, and poor hygiene in the meat supply chain is [a] leading cause of food poisoning in the US.”   https://www.theguardian.com/animals-farmed/2018/feb/21/dirty-meat-shocking-hygiene-failings-discovered-in-us-pig-and-chicken-plants

Honduras allegedly using U.S. trained special forces for night raids on pro-democracy activists. “Trained in Honduras and in the United States by Green Berets from the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), the TIGRES receive substantial support from the U.S. State Department. And they have been active participants in government repression during the current political crisis in Honduras.”   https://theintercept.com/2018/02/20/honduras-election-protest-tigres/

Russian election interference being elevated to “act of war” by some politicians and media figures. “…last February, the always war-hungry Tom Friedman of the New York Times said on “Morning Joe” that Russian hacking ‘was a 9/11-scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor-scale event’.”   https://theintercept.com/2018/02/19/a-consensus-emerges-russia-committed-an-act-of-war-on-par-with-pearl-harbor-and-911-should-the-u-s-response-be-similar/

Millions of Americans rank among the world’s poorest. “There are millions of Americans whose suffering, through material poverty and poor health, is as bad or worse than that of the people in Africa or in Asia.”   https://www.alternet.org/economy/americans-poorest-people-world

Suppressed 1952 report alleges U.S. used biological weapons during Korean War. “The report concluded that the U.S. had used a number of biological weapons, including use of anthrax, plague, and cholera, disseminated by over a dozen of different devices or methods, including spraying, porcelain bombs, self-destroying paper containers with a paper parachute, and leaflet bombs, among others.”   https://medium.com/@jeff_kaye/the-long-suppressed-korean-war-report-on-u-s-use-of-biological-weapons-released-at-last-20d83f5cee54

Pentagon asks for more time to spend the tons of cash dumped on them by Congress. “Army Secretary Mark Esper said he has been meeting with members of Congress about relaxing a Sept. 30 deadline for using its annual operations and maintenance funds, an account that is about 40 percent of the total Pentagon budget.”   http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/the-military-flush-with-cash-is-asking-lawmakers-for-more-time-to-spend-it-all/article/2649365

Crypto-currency mining malware allegedly based on NSA program. “A computer security exploit developed by the US National Security Agency and leaked by hackers last year is now being used to mine cryptocurrency, and according to cybersecurity experts the number of infections is rising.”   https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180204/12595039153/nsa-exploit-now-powering-cryptocurrency-mining-malware.shtml

Turkish refugees wash up in Greece. “Skai TV, without citing sources, said the group of seven men, four women and six children included teachers who feared persecution in the political crackdown in Turkey that has followed a failed coup attempt in 2016. Other media said the group included judges and civil servants.”   https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-greece-turkey/seventeen-turks-land-on-greek-beach-media-say-they-seek-asylum-idUKKCN1G41JW

Five killed, 300 arrested in clashes between Sufis and Iranian government forces. “Members of the Gonabadi Dervishes, who follow the mystical Sufi strain of Islam, considered a threat by the theocratic establishment, clashed with riot police after gathering at a police station to demand the release of members of their sect.”   https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-iran-protests-sufis/five-iranian-security-officers-killed-at-sufi-protest-in-tehran-idUKKCN1G40LZ

Seven associates of Israeli prime minister reportedly arrested in corruption case. “Among those arrested were Netanyahu’s close friend and former communications director, as well as the former director general of the Communications Ministry.”   https://www.democracynow.org/2018/2/20/headlines/israel_7_members_of_netanyahus_inner_circle_arrested_as_corruption_probes_widen

February 21, 2018

February 20, 2018

Russian bots taking both sides of gun debate, but CNN headline only mentions one: “Russian bots promote pro-gun messages after Florida school shooting”. But in the story’s seventh paragraph… “Hashtags calling for gun reform and gun control are also topping the list.”   https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/16/us/russian-bots-florida-shooting-intl/index.html

Mercedes-Benz also suspected of using emission test evasion software. “Mercedes-Benz has equipped various diesel models with software which may have helped them pass emission tests, according to a report published by German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.”   https://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/news/101599527/mercedesbenz-suspected-of-using-diesel-defeat-device

Minnesota sues 3M claiming water contamination. “(Attorney general Lori) Swanson argues that the (petro-fluorochemicals or PFCs) made and later buried by Maplewood-based 3M were consumed by 67,000 Twin Cities water drinkers and many more across the country…”   https://www.gomn.com/news/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-3m-vs-state-of-minnesota-trial-worth-5-billion

Poland’s prime minister defends country’s new anti-defamation law using example which suggests “Jewish perpetrators” may have also been responsible for the Holocaust. “Of course it’s not going to be punishable, not going to be seen as criminal, to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian, not only German perpetrators.”   http://www.newsweek.com/jewish-holocaust-perpetrators-comments-spark-outrage-israel-810331

U.S. ambassador to Israel warns of possible civil war within Israel if West Bank settlers are ever forced to leave. “A forced evacuation of West Bank settlements could spark a civil war in Israel, US Ambassador David Friedman told Jewish American leaders in Jerusalem, according to a report on Channel 10 news.”   http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Report-US-ambassador-warns-settlement-evacuation-could-spark-civil-war-543084   Oh no! I guess we’ll just have to accept them then, and give up on peace with Palestine.

Investigation reveals massive amounts of wage theft, especially from low wage employees. “…an estimated $15 billion in desperately needed income for workers with lowest wages goes instead into the pockets of shady bosses.”   https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/18/minimum-wage-not-enforced-investigation-409644

Speech by NRA leader not on this year’s official agenda for the Conservative Political Action Conference. “LaPierre’s name is nowhere to be found on the official agenda for CPAC, the conservative conference which begins in Maryland on Wednesday.”   https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/19/nra-appearance-cpac-wayne-lapierre-gun-control-florida

Elizabeth Warren used to be a Republican, voted for Gerald Ford. “As the ’80s wore on and her research on bankruptcy progressed, Warren started waking up politically.”   https://theintercept.com/2018/02/19/elizabeth-warren-opens-up-about-her-choices-in-every-presidential-election-since-1972/

Bill Gates wants the government to raise his taxes. “I’ve paid more taxes, over $10 billion, than anyone else, but the government should require the people in my position to pay significantly higher taxes.”   https://www.rawstory.com/2018/02/gates-says-billionaires-pay-significantly-taxes/

Turkey says Syrian troops will not be able to stop its anti-Kurdish offensive in Afrin. “Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that Syrian forces could not stop the Turkish army’s advance.”   https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/turkey-says-syrian-army-cannot-stop-its-advance-in-afrin-1.705963

Many of Venezuela’s opposition leaders will not be able to participate in upcoming elections. ” Venezuela’s most popular opposition leaders are almost all sidelined from the country’s April 22 presidential election – jailed, in exile, or disqualified from holding office.”   https://www.yahoo.com/news/factbox-venezuelas-jailed-exiled-barred-opposition-politicians-175043937.html

Post-hurricane Puerto Rico to privatize power company, introduce charter schools. “It almost seems like the perfect storm for disaster economics or what they call disaster capitalism.”   https://www.democracynow.org/2018/2/19/five_months_after_maria_san_juan

Palestinian teenagers reportedly killed by Israeli tank fire. “In Gaza, family members gathered for the funerals of two Palestinian teenagers who were killed after Israeli tanks opened fire during an air and ground assault this weekend.”   https://www.democracynow.org/2018/2/19/headlines/gaza_two_palestinian_teenagers_killed_by_israeli_tank_fire

Superhero film “Black Panther” breaks record for February release. “It was also the fifth-highest-earning opening weekend of any film in U.S. history.”   https://www.democracynow.org/2018/2/19/headlines/black_panther_film_smashes_opening_weekend_box_office_records


February 20, 2018

February 19, 2018

Republican bill would require Americans to present a biometric national ID card to work. “H.R. 4760 establishes a mandatory National Identification system that requires all Americans to carry a government-approved ID containing “biometric features.” Without this card, according to the legislation, you will not be able to work in this country.”   http://thefreethoughtproject.com/national-id-hr4760-biometrics/

Syrian Kurds to allow Syrian Army into Afrin to join fight against Turkish forces. “A senior Kurdish official, Badran Jia Kurd, told Reuters that government soldiers could enter the Afrin region within days and that they would deploy to some border positions.”    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-43107013

Florida students hold rallies, advocate walk-outs against guns, plan march on Washington. “Thousands of angry students, parents and residents demanded stricter gun control laws on Saturday at a rally in Fort Lauderdale, which is about 20 miles from the site of the shooting in Parkland.”   http://wfla.com/2018/02/18/school-walkouts-sit-ins-planned-after-florida-shooting/   Cruz bought his rifle legally, passed government background check. “Federal law allows people 18 and older to legally purchase long guns, including this kind of assault weapon. With no criminal record, Cruz cleared an instant background check via the FBI criminal database.”   https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/02/15/florida-shooting-suspect-bought-gun-legally-authorities-say/340606002/   Cruz was a JROTC cadet and on the military group’s NRA funded rifle team. “Members of the school’s JROTC recounted troubling signs in Cruz’s behaviour and also his mother’s hopes that the military-sponsored program could teach her son ‘discipline’.”   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/17/florida-shooting-suspect-nikolas-cruz-member-schools-rifle-team/

Trump entourage scuffled with Chinese security officers during Beijing visit. “White House chief of staff John Kelly and a Secret Service agent scuffled with Chinese security officials over the U.S. nuclear “football” during a trip to China in November, Axios reported Sunday.”   http://thehill.com/policy/international/china/374485-axios-us-and-chinese-officials-scuffled-in-beijing-over-nuclear

Dating site for Trump supporters – straights only, but being married is ok. “When signing up to Trump.dating, users are asked if they are a “Straight Man” or “Straight Woman”. There are no other options.”   http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/02/18/new-dating-site-for-donald-trump-fans-which-blocks-gay-people-will-let-you-in-if-youre-married/

Former staffer for California Assemblywoman Christina Garcia claims he was fired after refusing to play “spin the bottle”. “According to Kernick’s complaint, he alleged his performance as a field representative didn’t garner any censure from the assemblywoman until ‘after he questioned the appropriateness of her suggestion that after a fundraiser at a whiskey bar,’ they ‘sit on the floor of her hotel room and play spin the bottle’. Kernick said he was fired two days later…”   http://www.ibtimes.com/california-assemblywoman-christina-garcia-fired-staffer-not-playing-spin-bottle-2655037

Jill Stein claims the massive amounts of free mainstream media coverage given to the Trump campaign was a bigger form of election interference than the one positive Facebook post she received from Russians. “$6 billion in free airtime was given to Donald Trump by the big networks! $6 billion!”   https://thedailybanter.com/2018/02/jill-stein-disastrous-msnbc-appearance/

Former CIA director James Woolsey admits U.S. has tampered with elections in other countries. “…it was for the good of the system, in order to avoid communists taking over.”   http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/374372-ex-cia-director-us-meddles-in-foreign-elections-for-a-good

Iraq sentences 11 IS brides to life in prison, one to death. “All but one said they were taken to Iraq against their will or by fraud. The twelfth woman admitted to willingly moving to Iraq because her husband was wanted in Turkey; she was given the death penalty for her admission.”   https://original.antiwar.com/updates/2018/02/18/isis-widows-sentenced-death-prison-eight-killed-iraq/

Protesters and journalists injured by police in Maldives breaking up protest calling for the resignation of the country’s president. “The Maldives became a multiparty democracy in 2008 after decades of autocratic rule. However, Yameen has rolled back much of the country’s democratic gains and freedoms since being elected in 2013.”   https://www.yahoo.com/news/maldives-police-break-opposition-protests-many-injured-091547322.html

Man arrested for NSA incursion says they approached the facility by mistake, 17 year old driver was injured by shrapnel from gunfire. “The FBI, which is investigating the shooting, has declined to say how many shots were fired and how many officers fired.”   https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/suv-passenger-shot-at-by-nsa-police-says-wrong-turn-led-them-to-top-secret-installation/2018/02/16/948d0270-1332-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html

Protesters gather outside LAPD’s Hollenbeck Station. “People familiar with the incident said that (Christian) Escobedo was sleeping behind the vehicle with a friend and taking a break from a walk home. They said he was shot in the head four times.”   http://abc7.com/activists-protest-el-sereno-police-shooting-that-left-man-dead/3101817/


February 19, 2018

February 18, 2018

Former classmates of Nikolas Cruz claim he was a member of white nationalist militia group, was seen with the group’s leader. “Three former classmates told ABC News that Cruz was seen with Jereb and was part of the (Republic of Florida group).”   http://www.newsweek.com/republic-florida-nikolas-cruz-808296   Cruz was taking medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, may have been prescribed anti-depressants. “He was regularly taking medication for the A.D.H.D. It was unclear whether he was taking anything for the depression, according to the report.”   https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/us/nikolas-cruz-florida-shooting.html   Trump blames Russia investigation for Florida school shooting. “Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign…”   https://www.rawstory.com/2018/02/trump-fires-off-bizarre-late-night-tweet-blaming-fbis-russian-investigation-parkland-massacre/

U.S. claims clear evidence that Assad regime in Syria is using chemical weapons. “In recent weeks, rescue workers, aid groups and the United States have accused Syria of repeatedly using chlorine gas as a weapon against civilians in Ghouta and Idlib.”   https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-usa/public-reports-clearly-show-assads-use-of-chemical-weapons-mcmaster-idUSKCN1G10HH

An estimated 2,000 people march for peace in Munich, which is hosting European Security Conference.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6p1tGkgnPY

Green Party calls for release of arrested Green leaders in Turkey. “The Green Party of the United States has joined Green Parties throughout the world in demanding the immediate release of Eylem Tuncaelli and Naci Sönmez, co-chairs of the Turkish Green Left Party (Yeşil Sol Parti), after special forces raided their homes in Istanbul on Feb. 9.”   http://www.gp.org/demand_release_of_turkish_green_cochairs

New York City’s Penn Station becomes a refuge for the homeless on winter nights. “Men and women of indeterminate ages could be seen leaning, lying and sitting all over the station — a jarring sight next to a line of storefronts stocked with luxury items.”   http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/penn-station-transforms-homeless-encampment-winter-nights-article-1.3826863

West Virginia teachers announce two-day, state-wide strike. “Public employees, including teachers, have been pushing for higher wages and greater stability for the Public Employees Insurance Agency.”   http://wvmetronews.com/2018/02/17/statewide-strike-of-wv-teachers-this-thursday-and-friday/

Health insurance company sticks woman who thought she was having a stroke with huge bill for emergency room visit. “The company isn’t factoring in the symptoms that prompt you to go the ER, as most insurers have long done, but rejecting claims based on the final diagnosis reached only after tests and a doctor’s exam in the hospital.”   https://www.consumerreports.org/healthcare-costs/patients-getting-stuck-with-big-bills-after-er-visits/

Corruption and mismanagement of Iraq’s oil resources have left the country’s people in poverty. “According to a report by a former Brookings analyst, corruption and mismanagement could have cost Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan $20 billion just in 2013. Since the toppling of Saddam, estimates put the total number as high as $100 billion.”   https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-banco-iraq-oil_us_5a6fb51be4b0a52682fed6bc

Mayor of Miami-Dade, Florida vetoes civilian oversight board for county’s police.  “The measure to reinstate civilian oversight board passed 7-5 despite loud complaints from Miami-Dade County Police Director Juan Perez.”   https://www.rawstory.com/2018/02/miami-dade-mayor-takes-advantage-parkland-tragedy-quietly-veto-police-oversight-panel/

Syrian groups accuse Turkey of using chemical weapons in Afrin. “The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group, said six people were wounded in Turkish shelling in Al-Sheikh Hadid in the Afrin region on Friday had difficulties breathing and had their pupils dilated.”   https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/turkey-denies-chemical-weapons-syria-afrin-180218082237109.html

Mainstream media give new United States of Care group, which seeks to avoid “increasingly volatile swings in health policy”, an uncritical welcome to the health care debate. “Neither the USA Today piece, the Forbes piece nor the United States of Care website mentions single-payer, Medicare for All or anything related to government-guaranteed universal healthcare.”   https://fair.org/home/media-embrace-new-reform-group-as-bulwark-against-guaranteed-healthcare/


February 18, 2018

February 17, 2018

Militia leader now says he doesn’t know Nikolas Cruz. “The leader of a white nationalist militia Thursday night appeared to walk back his earlier statements that Florida shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was a member of his group.”   https://www.cbsnews.com/news/florida-school-shooting-suspect-nikolas-cruz-white-nationalist-republic-of-florida/   FBI did not follow up on tip warning that Cruz might commit a school shooting. “(On January 5, 2018) the caller provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behaviour, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”   http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-17/florida-parkland-shooting-fbi-failed-to-act-on-gunman-tip/9457414   Media outlets pushing misleading ‘there have already been 18 school shootings this year’ story. “Just five of Everytown’s 18 school shootings listed for 2018 happened during school hours and resulted in any physical injury.”   https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/no-there-havent-been-18-school-shooting-in-2018-that-number-is-flat-wrong/2018/02/15/65b6cf72-1264-11e8-8ea1-c1d91fcec3fe_story.html

13 Russians indicted by Mueller investigation for interfering in 2016 election. “In one case, it said, the Russians paid an unidentified person to build a cage aboard a flatbed truck and another to wear a costume ‘portraying Clinton in a prison uniform’.”   https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-indictment/u-s-grand-jury-indicts-13-russian-nationals-three-entities-in-alleged-election-meddling-idUSKCN1G022U   RT America’s editor-in-chief claims the news outlet has been hit by mass resignations after being labelled as a “foreign agent” by the U.S. government, employees allegedly fear being targeted by U.S. law enforcement.   http://www.newsweek.com/we-cant-even-hire-stringer-russia-today-says-its-us-staff-leaving-masses-679380   Some legislators also want Al-Jazeera news to be labelled a “foreign agent”. “Al-Jazeera is slated to release a four-part documentary about pro-Israel lobbyists in the US. One of the issues dealt with is a “covert campaign” against the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS).”   https://rightsanddissent.org/news/growing-crackdown-foreign-media-lawmakers-call-al-jazeera-register-foreign-agent-due-investigative-reporting-pro-israel-lobbyists/

Guantanamo judge hit by resignations. “Eliades and Spears quit the case in October, along with death-penalty lawyer Rick Kammen, over an ethics issue involving intrusion of attorney-client confidentiality, which the judge does not recognize.”   http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article199947919.html

Former Playboy Playmate claims the publisher of the National Enquirer paid $150,000 for exclusive rights to her story about an affair with Donald Trump, but never published the story. “McDougal said one of their sexual encounters took place at the same Lake Tahoe golf tournament where porn actress Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, says that she, too, had a tryst with Trump.”   http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-mcdougal-affair-20180216-story.html

ICE to audit about 120 California businesses for illegal employees. “The agency’s acting director wants to increase work-site enforcement 400%, part of a much larger effort to identify and deport those here without proper papers.”   http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-ice-audits-20180216-story.html   Meanwhile, at Trump resorts… “A Vox analysis of hiring records for seasonal workers at three Trump properties in New York and Florida revealed that only one out of 144 jobs went to a US worker from 2016 to the end of 2017. Foreign guest workers with H-2B visas got the rest.”   https://www.vox.com/2018/2/13/16466542/trump-h-2b-guest-workers

Amateur electricians in Puerto Rico are trying to restore power to their communities. “Desperation set in.”   https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/puerto-rico-crisis/puerto-ricans-fix-their-town-s-power-grid-their-bare-n845421

New Jersey legislature votes to restore Planned Parenthood funding. “Access to preventative screenings, routine exams and low-cost birth control are often scarce in many communities, but particularly so since the Christie administration cut funding for women’s health, forcing the closure of a number of women’s health centers throughout the state.”   https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/02/16/win-reproductive-rights-new-jersey-votes-reverse-christies-planned-parenthood-cuts

New York Times reporter suggests U.S. torture program was somehow unintentional, deaths of civilians in drone strikes unanticipated. “All these years later, I assume my name appears in multiple files at the CIA, the National Security Agency and perhaps other corners of the sprawling security bureaucracy, with gripes and comments related to my coverage of how America stumbled into torture; how drone strikes went wrong…”   https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/02/16/us-stumbled-torture-says-nyt-reporter

Philadelphia’s district attorney drops marijuana possession charges against 51 suspects. “The city became the third in recent weeks to announce reforms to its marijuana policy, with D.A. Larry Krasner saying the change will free up resources to target serious violent crimes.”   https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/02/16/joining-nationwide-shift-philadelphias-progressive-da-drops-dozens-marijuana

Border Patrol restricts access to “Friendship Park”. “US Border Patrol is restricting access to a park on the California-Mexico border where families separated by immigration laws frequently visit each other [through a fence], sparking outrage from human rights advocates.”   https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/16/us-border-patrol-immigration-mexico-friendship-park

Chinese TV skit criticized for its racist stereotypes of Africans. “…the mother of the black woman (was a Chinese comedian in) black-face… wearing a fake large bottom with a fruit basket on her head….. (She was) joined on stage by a monkey, played by a black performer.”   http://www.ibtimes.com/popular-chinese-tv-show-accused-racism-depiction-africans-2654305

Six Turkish journalists sentenced to life in prison over coup support allegations. “These harsh sentences are an unacceptable and unprecedented assault on freedom of expression and on the media in Turkey.”   https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-turkey-security-trial/turkish-court-sentences-six-journalists-to-life-drawing-international-criticism-idUKKCN1G01AT

New South African president Cyril Ramaphosa an unlikely anti-corruption campaigner. “Ramaphosa is now one of Africa’s wealthiest men, with a net worth of about $450 million. Now, activists are talking about Ramaphosa’s ties to tax havens during his time in the corporate sector.”   https://www.democracynow.org/2018/2/16/cyril_ramaphosa_south_africas_new_president

Baltimore County jury awards $37 million to family of woman killed by police. “When she didn’t open the door after officers knocked repeatedly, they obtained a key from the landlord and attempted to enter the apartment. They found Gaines on the floor holding a shotgun and her 5-year-old son.”   https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/korryn-gaines-verdict-baltimore-police-shooting_us_5a875250e4b00bc49f4404fc

Connecticut man who stole his grandmother’s car dies after being shot multiple times after car chase. “The pursuit ended with a crash in the area of New London Turnpike, Chestnut Hill Road and Copley Road in Glastonbury, where East Hartford police fired again, hitting the driver multiple times, police said.”   http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-br-east-hartford-suspect-dies-20180216-story.html

Dearborn, Michigan agrees to pay $1.25 million to family over death of fleeing suspect after police shooting. “Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said (Janet) Wilson “exhibited erratic and aggressive behavior” at the mall and drove her car toward the officer.”   https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/midwest/2018/02/16/480973.htm

February 17, 2018

February 16, 2018

Florida high school shooter allegedly trained with white nationalist militia. “The leader of a white nationalist militia says Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was a member of his group and participated in paramilitary drills in Tallahassee.”   https://www.cbsnews.com/news/florida-school-shooting-suspect-nikolas-cruz-white-nationalist-republic-of-florida/

10,000 Afghan civilians killed or injured in 2017. “More than 28,000 civilians have been killed and more than 52,000 wounded in Afghanistan since 2009 when UN officials started documenting the casualties.”   https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/feb/16/10000-civilians-killed-injured-afghanistan-2017-united-nations

People are having sex – it must be stopped! “Turnbull, who introduced a ban on sexual relationships between ministers and their staff on Thursday, said Joyce had shown “shocking error of judgment” by conducting an affair with his former press secretary, who is now pregnant.”   https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-australia-politics-joyce/sex-scandal-exposes-faultlines-in-australia-coalition-idUKKCN1G005Q   “Metro Council’s special committee met for the first time Thursday afternoon to begin their investigation into Mayor Megan Barry’s affair with her former bodyguard.”   http://www.wsmv.com/story/37512094/special-committee-to-meet-for-first-time-to-investigate-mayors-affair   “In an interview with the BBC, (Oxfam executive director Winnie) Byanyima apologised for the scandal, in which the charity has been accused of concealing the findings of an inquiry into claims that staff used sex workers while delivering aid in Haiti in 2011.”   https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/16/oxfam-international-boss-vows-to-root-out-wrongdoing-at-charity

People are protesting – it must be stopped! “…the number of anti-protest bills has reached 58 in 31 states with no end in sight…. Conservative think tanks, private companies, and law enforcement agencies are now openly working with Republican lawmakers to crack down on dissent, chill the right to protest, and increase penalties for demonstrators and the organizations that support them.”   https://www.nlg.org/conservative-led-anti-protest-legislation-already-doubled-since-last-year/

Alabama district attorneys’ and sheriffs’ associations make the case for taking people’s money without having to prove they broke the law. “In January two Republican lawmakers introduced legislation that would require that prosecutors actually convict people of crimes in order to keep their stuff. It would put the burden on the state to prove that the property they want to seize is connected to a crime, rather than for the defendant to prove their innocence.”   https://reason.com/blog/2018/02/13/alabama-cops-threaten-more-prosecutions

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio wants to sharply reduce the number of people in the city’s jails and close Rikers Island prison. “The era of mass incarceration did not begin in New York City, but it will end in New York City.”   https://www.courthousenews.com/de-blasio-talks-of-defying-trump-in-state-of-the-city-address/

Medicare for All backers deliver 1 million signatures to Congress, demand not-for-profit, national health insurance. “The signatures were gathered by progressive groups including Our Revolution, Public Citizen, National Nurses United, Students for a National Health Program, and MoveOn.org.”   https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/02/15/decrying-failure-profit-system-1-million-demand-senators-back-medicare-all

Public Citizen wins lawsuit, Trump administration must release White House visitor logs. “Journalists, legal experts, and transparency advocates celebrated the settlement on Thursday, which Public Citizen president Robert Weissman said thwarts an attempt by the Trump administration to ‘keep secret the names of the people visiting the White House in order to keep the public in the dark about the corporate takeover of our government’.”   https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/02/15/major-step-forward-transparency-trump-white-house-forced-release-visitor-logs

Hundreds of Houston area high school students walk out after fellow student is transferred from local sheriff’s office to ICE custody. “Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento, a 19-year-old from Honduras, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials after getting into a fight at the school with another student, who immigrant rights advocates say was bullying him for being undocumented.”   https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/02/15/freedennis-300-students-stage-walkout-after-texas-teen-detained-ice

Gun control advocates match Florida condolence tweets by politicians with the amount of money they have received from the National Rifle Association. “Just spoke to Broward School Superintendent. Today is that terrible day you pray never comes. — Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 14, 2018   :   $3,303,355”  https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/02/15/behind-many-thoughtsandprayers-gun-massacre-victims-millions-nra-cash

EPA chief Scott Pruitt admits that he flies first class because of the “toxic” political environment, which presumably exists only among economy class passengers. “…(Pruitt says) he needs to fly first class because of unpleasant interactions with other travelers.”   http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2018/The-head-of-the-Environmental-Protection-Agency-has-broken-months-of-silence-about-his-frequent-premium-class-flights-at-taxpayer-expense-saying-he-needs-to-fly-first-class-because-of-u/id-55f6e87574fe4c46a2a667b7e560ea75   I guess this means economy class passengers are more intelligent and politically aware than those who travel in first class.

Supporters of detained immigrant claim she was put in solitary confinement as punishment for reporting sexual assault by a guard. “They were pressuring her to write a letter to them recanting her testimony but she has not done that.”   https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/15/immigrant-woman-sexual-assault-solitary-confinement-ice-texas

OxyContin drug billionaires honored for their philanthropy, despite opioid abuse crisis. “The Sackler name is emblazoned on, and disgraces, dozens of the world’s greatest museums, universities, and performing arts centers.”   https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/16/sackler-family-blood-money-disgrace-museums

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte offers bounty of $384 for each communist insurgent killed by the public. “You kill an NPA today and I’ll pay you 25,000 (pesos).”   http://www.ibtimes.com/philippines-president-rodrigo-duterte-offers-bounty-killing-rebels-2654232

Unnamed European countries accused of meddling in upcoming Russian election. “(Foreign Ministry spokeswoman) Maria Zakharova said Moscow had warned European countries that ‘such activity should stop’.”   https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-russia-election-meddling/moscow-says-has-evidence-of-western-meddling-in-russian-election-idUKKCN1FZ1SW

More than 1 million Afghans claim they were victims of war crimes. “Since the International Criminal Court began collecting material three months ago for a possible war crimes case involving Afghanistan, it has gotten a staggering 1.17 million statements from Afghans who say they were victims.”   https://www.yahoo.com/news/court-received-1-17-million-war-crimes-claims-203837398.html

Hundreds shot in school shootings since 2012. “The New York Times reports that since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, more than 400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings.”   https://www.democracynow.org/2018/2/15/headlines/more_than_400_shot_in_over_200_school_shootings_since_sandy_hook   So what is motivating all these kids to do this? That seems to be AT LEAST as big a problem as their access to guns.

Investigative reporters claim minorities are denied home loans more often than white customers. “In 61 metros across the country, applicants of color are more likely to be denied a conventional mortgage, even if they have the same financial characteristics as a non-Hispanic white applicant.”   https://www.democracynow.org/2018/2/15/kept_out_banks_across_us_caught

February 16, 2018