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Hermione vs. Voldemort: What deniers can teach us about how to debate Trump

2 hours 46 min ago
Clinton needs to hammer away on climate change.CREDIT: Warner Brothers Pictures/Wikia

The bad guys may always lose in the end of movies like Harry Potter, but not in real life.

‘’You can say anything you want during a debate and 80 million people hear it,’’ observed Peter Teeley, press secretary to Vice President Bush. If reporters then document that a candidate spoke untruthfully, “so what?’’ — New York Times, November 1, 1984

The most important rule in modern public debating is that there are no rules. That means it’s very hard to beat outright someone like Donald Trump — a professional B.S. artist skilled in the art of rhetoric (persuasive, emotional speech).

In fact, Trump is such a serial liar that when Politico analyzed last week’s public statements by the two candidates, the centrist publication had to concede:

“The conclusion is inescapable: Trump’s mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration so greatly exceed Clinton’s as to make the comparison almost ludicrous.”

And that means advantage Trump. As top GOP strategist Frank Luntz wrote over a decade ago in his infamous 2002 memo to conservatives and team Bush on how to pretend you care about the climate while opposing serious action, “a compelling story, even if factually inaccurate, can be more emotionally compelling than a dry recitation of the truth.”

Hillary Clinton will have to work very hard just to get “awarded” a tie in the court of media and public opinion after the first presidential debate Monday night. As a HuffPost headline put it, “Debate bar so low for Donald Trump that if he doesn’t vomit, he’s exceeded expectations.”

Indeed, Hillary will have to work extra hard not to seem “too smart” or a “know it all” like Hermione — since that can also be fatal, as Al Gore learned in his first debate with George W. Bush.

AP Photo/Ed Reinke

And then we have to add in the ridiculous double standards that women face in debating, which was summarized in an excellent Washington Post piece Sunday.

So, Hermione starts at a severe disadvantage in a contest against Voldemort.

Still, there are winning strategies, such as focusing attention on Trump’s denial and ignorance of basic climate science. As I discuss below, it’s one of the only topics Trump will invariably B.S. about that is winning with all key swing voters and winning with the media’s post-debate analysis. But first, let’s understand how we got here.

There are no rules in political debates for the simple reason that meaningful rules in sports and other contests require 1) both sides to agree on those rules and 1) referees accepted by both sides to enforce them. But TV media personalities in particular long ago shifted away from being professional journalists who call balls and strikes on serial misinformers and misrepresenters and toward being eyeball-driven entertainers who thrive on stoking drama and controversy.

That was exemplified by the widely vilified dual “interviews” of Clinton and Trump by TV personality Matt Lauer. The result is that persuasive liars have an inherent advantage in any debate that is effectively unmoderated and unrefereed. This is true not merely in political debates but also in most other kinds of public debates.

Scientists — including evolutionary biologists and climatologists — have learned the hard way that it is very hard to beat the debate strategy of “drowning the opponent in half-truths, lies, straw men, and bullshit to such a degree that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood that has been raised.”

Indeed, the strategy became so common among deniers of evolution and climate science that scientists created the term for “Gish Gallup,” after creationist Duane Gish. The power of the “Gish Gallup,” which could be rechristened the Trump Tirade, is that it is all but impossible to rebut all of those misrepresentations in real time. And of course, rebuttals are inherently less emotionally compelling than a story built around a well-connected series of falsehoods.

“Although it takes a trivial amount of effort on the galloper’s part to make each individual point before skipping on to the next,” explains Rational Wiki, “a refutation of the same gallop may likely take much longer and require significantly more effort.” And so it’s no surprise that “gish galloping is frequently used (and particularly devastating) in timed debates.”

As the brilliant biologist Stephen Jay Gould put it in 2004, “debate is an art form. It is about the winning of arguments. It is not about the discovery of truth.” And so one of the best science communicators of the last few decades was forced to conclude, “I don’t think I could beat the creationists at debate. I can tie them.”

Even worse, Trump is, as I’ve discussed, “A rhetoric pro like Cicero,” a master of the figures of speech (like hyperbole), which are the building blocks of emotionally compelling story-telling. Clinton, on the other hand, “is known for taking a draft of a speech and changing it some indelible way to make it more literal and less readable,” Politico reported in July. They say one campaign joke is that she’d turn the slogan, “If you see something, say something,” into the more literal-minded “If you see something, alert the proper authorities.”

And that’s more trouble for Hermione. “If a rhetorician and a doctor visited any city you like to name and they had to contend in argument before the Assembly or any other gathering as to which of the two should be chosen as doctor,” Plato wrote, “the doctor would be nowhere, but the man who could speak would be chosen, if he so wished.”

Of course, not debating isn’t an option for Clinton. And she is not going to suddenly become a great orator like Lincoln or Churchill.

That’s where climate change comes in. While Trump is indeed an expert at the difficult-to-defeat Trump Tirade, he isn’t actually knowledgeable in the subject matter as a true Gish Galloper is. In fact, as I’ve written, Trump doesn’t even know the most basic climate science denier talking points.

More importantly, polling and public opinion research makes clear that climate change is one of the most broadly winning issues available to a smart Democratic politician.

Climate Change Action Emerges As Winning Wedge Issue In 2016

“Americans across political lines, except conservative Republicans, would support a presidential candidate who strongly supports taking action to reduce global warming,” recent research finds. The issue plays especially well with key voting blocs in this year’s election, including millennials, independents, and moderate GOP women.

Significantly, the Yale and George Mason researchers found that the number of Americans who are “more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who strongly supports taking action to reduce global warming,” exceeds the number who would be less likely to vote for such a candidate by a factor of 3-to-1 (43 percent to 14 percent).

The researcher also find that the number of Americans who are “less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who strongly opposes taking action to reduce global warming,” exceeds the number who would be more likely to vote for such a candidate by a factor of 4-to-1 (45 percent vs. 11 percent).

In particular, “Democrats, Independents and liberal/moderate Republicans are much less likely to vote” for such a candidate by -63, -31, and -24 percentage points respectively.

CNN climate columnist Jon Sutter recently penned a piece, “Debate moderators should ask Trump about his disastrous climate policy.” It’s a good sentiment — and Trump’s climate policy would be disastrous — but it’s probably targeted at the wrong people. If we go on the basis of every single debate moderator in recent memory, then the exact number of times Lester Holt is going to bring up climate change is either 0 or 1 — and the smart money would be on 0.

But repetition is what drives winning messages. And repetition is what would force the media to feature this issue in the post-debate analysis. And this is arguable the most clear-cut issue where Trump is just spouting long-debunked anti-scientific B.S.

So it’s up to Hermione to press this issue if she wants to defeat the Dark Lord.

Hermione vs. Voldemort: What deniers can teach us about how to debate Trump was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

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Nation’s capital wants to ban salary histories

2 hours 47 min ago
A D.C. lawmaker says asking for salary histories “perpetuates the wage gap problem.”CREDIT: iStockPhoto

First, Massachusetts became the only state to ban employers from asking about prospective employees’ salary histories. Then New York City and Congress followed suit.

Now lawmakers in the nation’s capital want to be the next: A city council member has introduced legislation that would ban salary histories.

David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced a bill last week that would fine a company for asking about a job applicant’s salary history and ban them from posting positions that are only open to people who earn a certain salary. It would still leave room for applicants to voluntarily share salary information.

Grosso told ThinkProgress that if a woman or a person of color is paid unequally in a first job, that will follow her all the way through her career. “That perpetuates the wage gap problem,” he said. Research has found that women fresh out of college make less than men in their first jobs even with the same grades, majors, and fields.

He thinks candidates will be better off if they don’t have to disclose salary histories. “A person that’s trying to get a job in a company is in a much more powerful position if your company doesn’t already know what your salary is at your current job,” he said. “A more powerful position to negotiate for a higher salary.”

After talking to people in Massachusetts and in Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s (D-DC) office, who introduced the legislation in Congress, Grosso decided to offer his own version. “This one seemed like low-hanging fruit,” he said. “I think it’ll be easy for folks to comply with.”

Since these kinds of bills have started to spread, there have been some who worry that banning employers from seeking information could backfire on candidates. There is some evidence that legislation that bans employers from asking about criminal histories leads them to discriminate against young black men.

Grosso noted that banning salary histories won’t “completely stomp out” all existing gender discrimination, but that there’s a long way to go to see if there are negative consequences.

As in Massachusetts, D.C. lawmakers are pairing the pushback on salary histories with another measure that would require equal pay for “substantially similar” work, not just in the exact same job. Occupations dominated by women tend to pay less even when the tasks are basically the same; for instance, housekeepers make less than janitors. Such an idea was tried in the 1980s among state governments and it significantly reduced the wage gap. The bill has been introduced by Council member Mary M. Cheh (D), and Grosso said he strongly supports it.

He noted, though, that these two measures would work together on different aspects of the wage gap. “That’s on the back end once you’re in the job,” he said of Cheh’s legislation. “My bill is trying to avoid inadvertent continuation of the wage gap on the front end.” They can therefore work in tandem.

Nation’s capital wants to ban salary histories was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

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New lawsuit targets Colorado’s LGBT nondiscrimination protections

2 hours 49 min ago
The Alliance Defending Freedom is trying to overturn the country’s LGBT protections one by one — and so far failing.CREDIT: 303creative.com

A day after a judge in Arizona ruled against the Alliance Defending Freedom’s suit challenging Phoenix’s LGBT nondiscrimination protections, the conservative legal organization filed a new similar challenge in Colorado. That state’s LGBT protections are unconstitutional, they argue, because they infringe on a web designer’s freedoms of speech and religion.

Lorie Smith runs 303 Creative LLC, a graphic and web design company based near Denver. She wants to be able to design webpages for clients’ weddings, but she wants to make very clear that she won’t design wedding sites for same-sex couples — and she doesn’t want to be in violation of the law for that refusal. The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) makes it illegal to refuse service on the basis of sexual orientation or to advertise such discriminatory intent.

According to the complaint, “Lorie believes that God is calling her to promote and celebrate His design for marriage by designing and creating custom wedding websites for weddings between one man and one woman only.” She finds any contrary messages to be “highly objectionable,” because same-sex marriage “violates God’s will” and “harms society and children because marriage between one man and one woman is a fundamental building block of society and the ideal arrangement for the rearing of children.”

Smith hopes to avoid fines or any re-education training “designed to indoctrinate persons charged with discrimination,” a reference to the sensitivity training that baker Jack Phillips was ordered to attend after refusing to sell a cake to a same-sex couple. If she had to create a website for a same-sex wedding, it would “undercut the effectiveness of Plaintiffs’ desired expression promoting marriage as a union between one man and one woman, harm Plaintiffs’ reputation among their Christian clients and friends, and adversely impact Plaintiffs’ ability to share additional biblical truths with others.” In fact, Smith can’t even “associate with clients or events” related to same-sex marriage or she won’t be able to “authentically or convincingly promote [her] beliefs about religion and marriage.”

The lawsuit is rife with pitfalls that undermine her argument.

A conflation of messages

The suit addresses two different provisions of the law, the part that actually prohibits discrimination and the part that prohibits advertising an intention to discriminate. Because ADF is arguing that Smith’s free speech has been infringed, it actually dedicates more time and energy to the second point than the first. One of its claims relies on a clear conflation.

According to the suit, advertising a belief opposing same-sex marriage and advertising an intention to discriminate against same-sex couples are the same thing. “Such barred communications include statements that a business and its owners believe that God designed marriage exclusively to be a union between one man and one woman and that any other conceptions of marriage are contrary to God’s design.” Other courts have repeatedly rejected this conflation when ADF has used it to defend their other clients accused of anti-gay discrimination.

CADA states that places of public accommodations may not directly or indirectly publish any notice that “the full and equal enjoyment” of goods and services “will be refused, withheld from, or denied” because of a person’s identity. Smith could publicize her beliefs about God’s design for marriage without directly telling same-sex couples that she won’t serve them. Such statements might dissuade customers nevertheless, but they wouldn’t violate the law.

In fact, that was exactly what the Arizona judge said in response to ADF’s lawsuit on behalf of the Phoenix calligraphers. Defending similar language in Phoenix’s nondiscrimination law, Judge Karen Mullins explained, “Plaintiffs confuse conduct with expressive speech. The ordinance only precludes Plaintiffs from refusing to sell products or provide services to same-sex couples and from stating that same-sex couples are unwelcome as customers.”

According to the lawsuit, Smith (or ADF) has already penned a statement that she wants to publish on her website expressing her intention to discriminate. It does not walk the line:

These same religious convictions that motivate me also prevent me from creating websites promoting and celebrating ideas or messages that violate my beliefs, so I will not be able to create websites for same-sex marriages or any other marriage that is not between one man and one woman. Doing that would compromise my Christian witness and tell a story about marriage that contradicts God’s true story of marriage — the very story He is calling me to promote.

As it is, her website already states, “Because of my faith, however, I am selective about the messages that I create or promote — while I will serve anyone I am always careful to avoid communicating ideas or messages, or promoting events, products, services, or organizations, that are inconsistent with my religious beliefs.” For now, she is not creating any websites for weddings.

Whose speech is it?

Another of the complaint’s claims is that when Smith designs a website for a client, the content is her speech. By creating wedding websites, she will use the couples’ stories to express her own message “celebrating and promoting marriage as a union of one man and one woman.” She will likewise evangelize to her clients by “sharing biblical truths” about their commitment. Thus, “the messages communicated on the wedding websites will be Plaintiffs’ speech.”

In other words, Smith doesn’t actually wants to design wedding websites for couples; she wants couples to pay her to use their wedding as a chance to express her own views. The two are not the same thing.

Mullins addressed the question of whose speech is communicated by creative goods in regards to the wedding invitations the Phoenix calligraphers don’t want to produce:

Any conceivable endorsement of same-sex marriage that might be conveyed would be conveyed by the act of the marriage itself, and not by the creator or printer of the physical invitation itself. It is absurd to think that the fabricator of a wedding invitation for a same-sex couple has endorsed same-sex marriage merely by creating or printing that invitation. Moreover, there is nothing about the creative process itself, such as a flower or vine or the choice of a particular font or color, that conveys any pledge, endorsement, celebration, or other substantive mandated message by Plaintiffs in regard to same-sex marriage.

The websites would only contain Smith’s speech if she actually includes her speech. Otherwise, they are a conduit for the couples to tell their wedding stories.

Even if the only product Smith would sell is wedding websites rife with her own personal beliefs about marriage, she still has an obligation to offer sale of that product to all customers. Same-sex couples likely wouldn’t want to buy a website condemning their union, but if that’s the product for sale, Colorado law requires it be sold equally to all customers regardless of sexual orientation. If she sells even one wedding website that doesn’t expressly communicate her beliefs in her voices, then she also has to sell that to all customers regardless of sexual orientation.

A double standard for cakes

One other claim ADF makes, which is unique to the Colorado challenge, is that there is a double standard for how the anti-discrimination law is enforced. When Jack Phillips, another of ADF’s clients, refused a wedding cake to a same-sex couples, he was found in violation of the law, but when Marjorie Silva refused to bake a Bible cake with the message, “Homosexuality is a detestable sin,” she was not found in violation.

Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Bakery, has lost on several appeals, and earlier this year, the Colorado Supreme Court decided not to hear his case. To avoid continued violation of the law, he stopped selling wedding cakes entirely rather than agreeing to sell them to same-sex couples.

This Baker Refused To Bake An Anti-Gay Cake. Here’s Why That’s Not Discrimination.

Silva, owner of Azucar Bakery, was targeted by creationist educator William Jack, who hoped that her refusal would get her in trouble and reveal the hypocrisy of the law. In addition to asking for Biblical verses, he wanted the cake to include a portrayal of two grooms holding hands in front of a cross with a red “X” over them. Silva refused and Jack filed a complaint stating that she had discriminated against him because of his beliefs.

The Colorado Civil Rights Division, however, sided with Silva, explaining that she did not discriminate against Jack because of his “creed” (as Colorado law defines it), but because his request included “derogatory language and imagery.” Employing that standard consistently across all protected groups, as Silva does, does not constitute religious discrimination. If she sold anti-gay cakes to other customers but not to Jack, then he might have had a case.

Essentially, her case actually was about the message of the product, as opposed to just whether she sold the same product to all customers. Phillips was in violation because he wouldn’t sell the same product, a wedding cake, to same-sex couples as he does to different-sex couples.

But ADF doesn’t see that distinction. Smith’s complaint attacks the Division for using “unbridled discretion” to “intentionally discriminate” by determining that “objectionable speech” is because of a classification in one case but because of the “objectionable nature” of the speech itself in another. That’s because ADF believes that if Smith has to work with a same-sex couple, it would be just as “objectionable” to her as Jack’s message was to Silva.

They explicitly argue that there’s a double standard in this regard. “Many other Colorado expressive businesses and their owners promote their views in favor of same-sex marriage,” the complaint reads. “Plaintiffs simply wish to enjoy those same freedoms.” This ignores that the two beliefs are not opposite sides of the same coin; one is related to discrimination and the other isn’t.

Requiring Smith to serve same-sex couples, the complaint argues, “denies her dignity as an equal citizen, stigmatizes her as a social pariah, disallows her from pursuing her chosen profession, and punishes her in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

On at least one of those points, ADF is right. Since the suit was filed, Smith has experienced a backlash. In a statement on her website, she explains, “I am very sorry that some people are so intolerant of my beliefs — beliefs shared by many Jews, Muslims, Christians, and nonreligious people in this country and the throughout the world — as to harass you. As you know, I try to treat everyone with respect and I wish they would do the same. Please contact me if you have concerns.” Nothing in Colorado’s law prevents customers from choosing not to patronize a business owner they find repugnant.

Smith’s suit is actually the third of ADF’s new brand of “pre-enforcement challenges,” complaints challenging LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances before they’ve been violated. In addition to the Phoenix calligraphers’ suit, which ADF is appealing, the Fort Des Moines Church is challenging the Iowa Civil Rights Act to avoid accommodating transgender people when opening their facility to the public for non-church functions.

New lawsuit targets Colorado’s LGBT nondiscrimination protections was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

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Carbon emissions are priced too cheap for climate change

2 hours 57 min ago
In most of the world, 70 percent of emissions are priced at zero.Steam and smoke over a coal burning power plant in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. CREDIT: AP/Martin Meissner

Most carbon emissions around the world are priced too cheap to reduce greenhouse gas emissions driving global warming, according to an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report released Monday.

The report, which analyzed OECD countries responsible for some 80 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, found a major gap between current carbon pricing policies and what should be the bare minimum estimated cost for carbon given its climate impact.

According to the report, a metric ton of carbon should be priced at least 30 Euros — about $34 — to account for the damage done to the climate. Across the 41 countries the OECD analyzed, some 70 percent of emissions are priced at zero, while less than 5 percent actually meet the 30 Euros per metric ton minimum.

Putting a cost on carbon is a cheap, effective tool to reduce emissions, according to OECD, and is a likely avenue to create economic growth and increase productivity in the short-term.

Putting a price on carbon forces industries to be more efficient or to develop technologies to keep their carbon costs low. On the other hand, not having a carbon price costs society dearly due to the impacts of increased air pollution and climate change. As it is, countries are not doing enough to make the most polluting industries to pay enough, according to the report.

Environmental Policies Are Good For Business And Innovation, Study Says

This comes as only 10 percent of emissions are priced at or above 30 Euros per metric ton, and most of these costs are placed on road transport energy use. Meanwhile, very low carbon prices are found outside road transport, sectors where 85 percent of total emissions originate.

A carbon price will encourage electricity suppliers and users to switch from dirtier to cleaner energy, OECD said in the report. The agency also found that countries market designs favor fossil fuel power generation over renewable energy.

OECD said fixing the cheap cost of carbon can be done through taxes and emissions trading systems like cap-and-trade. Taxes can be added onto the existing tax system, which expedites implementation, but emissions trading can be an efficient option, it said.

“Even moderate collective action to increase carbon prices can make a significant impact in putting countries on a pathway to a low carbon transition,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said in a statement. “Prices can and do trigger reductions of energy use, improvements in energy efficiency and a shift towards cleaner forms of energy. The challenge is in getting the prices right.”

The OECD report comes as the District Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will on Tuesday look into the legal merits of the Clean Power Plan, an Obama Administration rule that mandates carbon emission reductions in the electricity sector. Electricity generation is responsible for nearly a third of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon emissions are priced too cheap for climate change was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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Chief Justice Roberts delivers tone deaf speech at the opening of the African American museum

3 hours 27 min ago
Seriously, what was he doing there?Chief Justice John Roberts speaks at the opening of the National Museum of African American History & Culture weeks after he voted to permit North Carolina to engage in intentional race discrimination. CREDIT: Olivier Douliery / Pool

Twenty-five years from now, it is likely that the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture will feature an exhibit where Chief Justice John Roberts is one of the primary villains. Roberts authored the Court’s 2013 decision gutting a major prong of the Voting Rights Act. Just last month, Roberts voted to reinstate North Carolina’s comprehensive voter suppression law, despite the fact that an appeals court found that this law was enacted for the very purpose of keeping black people from the polls.

Nevertheless, only weeks after he voted to allow the most aggressive voter suppression law since Jim Crow to take effect during the upcoming election, Roberts was one of several speakers honoring the opening of the new museum on Saturday — a museum which extensively documents African Americans’ struggle to achieve the rights Roberts voted to take away in the Voting Rights Act decision and several other cases.

The chief justice spoke in his capacity as Chancellor of the Smithsonian, a largely ceremonial position traditionally held by whomever occupies his seat as the nation’s top jurist.

The irony of Roberts’ speech at the Smithsonian’s newest museum is that it is likely that Roberts believes a publicly owned museum focused exclusively on the African American experience is unconstitutional. Roberts believes that the solution to racism is color-blindness, and that virtually any law that acknowledges the existence of race is somehow invidious. That’s why he wrote that two school districts’ plans to desegregate their public schools violated the Constitution. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” Roberts claimed, “is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

For years, Stephen Colbert played a parody of a conservative TV host. A recurring joke was that Colbert believed that he had achieved true color-blindness. “I don’t see race,” Colbert announced, just minutes after he said that “our system is rigged in favor of African Americans.”

John Roberts — the nation’s leading proponent of the view that racism is largely a problem of America’s past — is the real life version of Colbert’s fictional character. And he sits at the apex of our judiciary.

George Will's Political Post-Racial Journalism-The Colbert Report - Video Clip | Comedy Central

Roberts’ brief speech this weekend was a fairly clear window into the chief justice’s approach to questions of race. He criticized the Supreme Court’s pro-slavery Dred Scott decision, and he labeled the Court’s pro-segregation decision in Plessy v. Fergusson “a test that the Supreme Court would fail.” Roberts is not a white supremacist. He simply is unable to see the way racism continues to harm Americans of color today.

“Our country has changed,” Roberts wrote in Shelby County v. Holder, the case hobbling much of the Voting Rights Act. The fully armed and operational Act, Roberts claimed, relied on “extraordinary measures to address an extraordinary problem.” And now that America’s racial problems are merely ordinary, the law can no longer be justified.

Two hours after Roberts handed down this opinion suggesting that racism really isn’t that big of a deal anymore, Texas’ attorney general announced that it would immediately put into effect two measures intended to reduce the impact of voters of color at the polls. Several other states, including North Carolina, soon followed suit with voter suppression measures of their own.

Chief Justice Roberts delivers tone deaf speech at the opening of the African American museum was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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Trump campaign promises his willpower is enough to boost the economy and shield the deficit

4 hours 19 min ago
The campaign argues sheer willpower on trade will create 3.5 percent GDP growth and millions of jobs.Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. CREDIT: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

Trump’s advisers are promising that the candidate’s policies will give economic growth a huge bump, while also claiming his proposals won’t add to the federal deficit. All of this will be achieved with a key ingredient: sheer willpower.

Peter Navarro, an economist at UC Irvine, and Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor, both advisers to the campaign, released a new report offering their own analysis of Trump’s economic policies. They promise an annual economic growth rate of 3.5 percent, far higher than what the U.S. has seen in the last decade or what is forecast for the future.

And they argue that the candidate’s trade policy alone would generate three-quarters of the revenue growth that would be needed to make the tax package deficit-neutral.

How would Trump achieve these goals? Just by showcasing how strong he is.

The Tax Foundation recently found that price tag for Trump’s tax plan was $2.6 trillion over a decade, although only assuming he follows through on taxing real estate and law firms at a higher rate — something he has not clarified — and baking in usually unrealistic assumptions about tax cuts spurring the economy. Navarro and Ross’s report claims that the biggest driver of increased government revenues to make up for that cost will be trade, coming up with $1.7 trillion out of a total of $2.4 trillion over a decade.

The paper also claims that Trump will revive millions of manufacturing jobs. But while trade policies have been found to have significantly reduced those jobs, that doesn’t necessarily mean a shift in policy will quickly or easily bring them back. The industry has also become much more efficient, relying on fewer workers to get the same things made.

When it comes to China manipulating its currency or deploying unfair trade practices, which Trump’s advisers say have hurt economic growth, they claim the country will simply back off of its tactics with Trump in the White House. “Our view is that China’s leaders will quickly understand they are facing strength on the trade issue in Trump rather than the kind of weakness on trade that has characterized the Obama-Clinton years,” Navarro and Ross write. “Just as these Chinese leaders have been exploiting American weakness by cheating in the trade arena, they will acknowledge the strength and resoluteness of Trump and rein in their mercantilist impulses.”

Similarly, they argue that the country can “use its status as the world’s largest economy, the world’s largest consumer, and the world’s largest importer” to pressure the World Trade Organization on changes in tax treatment that they say disadvantage the U.S.

Trump, they say, will also somehow successfully renegotiate “bad trade deals” through sheer fortitude. When it comes to the trade deal struck with South Korea in 2012, for example, they write that with a President Trump “South Korea will have no grounds to complain when Trump calls for a renegotiation” and that the two countries “will simply seek a far more equitable deal.”

They also claim both that the United States is already in a trade war, and that Trump will avoid creating a deeper one in which countries levy escalating tariffs on American products to retaliate for tariffs we’ve levied on theirs. “Those who suggest that Trump trade policies will ignite a trade war ignore the fact that we are already engaged in a trade war,” they write. “[A]s Trump pursues a policy of more balanced trade, our major trading partners are far more likely to cooperate with an America resolute about balancing its trade than they are likely to provoke a trade war.”

But economists have predicted that overly aggressive trade policies, such as slapping entire countries with tariffs and ripping up existing trade agreements, would indeed spark retaliation. If Trump’s isn’t able to avoid an escalating trade war, it would have the opposite outcome than what he’s looking for. According to a recent analysis from the Peterson Institute, an organization that supports free trade, if Trump’s policies started a trade war it would send the economy into a recession and cost more than 4 million jobs. Another analysis from Moody’s found that if Mexico and China retaliated against tariffs on their imports, it would cost the country 7 million jobs.

Trump campaign promises his willpower is enough to boost the economy and shield the deficit was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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BREAKING: Gunman opens fire at Houston strip mall

5 hours 32 min ago
BREAKING: Gunman opens fire at Houston strip mall, injuring at least sixMartha Montalvo, the Houston Police Department’s acting chief. CREDIT: CNN/KPRC/screenshot

An unidentified gunman was shot by Houston, Texas police Monday morning, after shooting and injuring at least six people at a strip mall.

According to local reports, the shooter was a black male who fired his revolver at multiple cars in the area. No fatalities have been reported, but six people have been transported to nearby hospitals for their wounds. Police have not confirmed the health status of the shooter.

There have been 359 mass shootings in 2016, according to Mass Shooting Tracker, which defines such shootings as “a single outburst of violence in which four or more people are shot.” On Saturday, a gunman in Washington shot and killed five people at a Macy’s.

UPDATE: The Houston Fire Department reports that the shooting suspect was killed.

BREAKING: Gunman opens fire at Houston strip mall was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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LAPD confirms active criminal rape investigation against Derrick Rose

5 hours 40 min ago
The lead detective wants the alleged victim to remain anonymousCREDIT: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

The civil trial against NBA star Derrick Rose and two friends for gang rape is scheduled to begin on October 4.

But that’s not the only legal trouble Rose is facing. In a letter to the alleged victim’s attorney, Brandan Anand, a detective from the LAPD confirmed there is an active criminal investigation against Rose and the two other defendants in the civil trial.

Notably, the detective, Nadine Hernandez, argues that maintaining the victim’s anonymity “is an invaluable investigative aid to investigators.” The department plans to maintain her anonymity “throughout the criminal investigation being handled by the Los Angeles Police Department.”

The media, to this point, has used the absence of a criminal investigation to justify the relatively scant coverage of rape allegations against the former MVP of the NBA.

The disturbing details of the Derrick Rose gang rape case

The letter is particularly significant because the judge presiding over the case recently ruled that the alleged victim will not be able to maintain her anonymity during the trial.

Anand is now asking the judge to reconsider his ruling in light of the LAPD’s letter. In a filing, Anand also notes that soon after the judge’s ruling, the alleged victim’s name began to appear on social media.

Previously, Rose’s attorney Mark Baute had alleged that Anand was lying about an active criminal investigation in order to extort a settlement from Rose. Baute argued that the claim of an active criminal investigation was false and represented a violation of rules of professional conduct for attorneys.

Last week, Knicks President Phil Jackson said the upcoming gang rape trial is not “not keeping [Rose] up at night.” Jackson also said the Knicks were “not concerned” about the allegations.

LAPD confirms active criminal rape investigation against Derrick Rose was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Girls coping with trauma are often met with harsh discipline at school

6 hours 31 min ago
CREDIT: iStock Photo

During a recent event at the White House focusing on how schools should be addressing the traumatic experiences of girls, and girls of color in particular, a Latina student talked about the childhood abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepfather.

“I never really coped with my anger. I thought [the teachers] don’t care about you,” she said.

But then she received help from counselors through a trauma-informed approach, called PACE, which stands for playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy. This allows the student to feel safer in the classroom and fosters better trust with adults and other children by fostering a more positive teacher-student relationship, and in turn, helps students form bonds with other students. Mindfulness practices are also part of PACE.

“I had a counselor and she told me things similar to my story and that’s when I started opening my eyes. With their actions and everything they’re trying to do to put a smile on your face, you start noticing that it’s true, it’s not just a myth [that teachers care],” she said.

U.S. Department of Education Secretary John King, who shared his own traumatic childhood experiences at the event, said that it’s important for children who have experienced trauma to be able to be children at school. But too often, racially disparate and harsh student discipline push girls of color out of school — and sometimes into the criminal justice system — instead of getting them they help they need to cope with trauma.

Although caring teachers like the ones the Florida student encountered are important, King said it’s important to ensure that these changes are systemic, not individual.

“Ultimately it is about how we create school environments that save kids’ lives. This isn’t about heroic acts of individuals. It can’t be,” King said at last week’s White House event. “We have to create systems for our kids… It’s not so simple as invest in children a sense of hope.”

What is happening to traumatized girls at schoolCREDIT: iStock Photo

Ten million girls experience rape or attempted rape during their youth, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and that doesn’t even account for the various types of trauma female students may be experiencing.

“A sobering finding is that the bulk of this adversity was being borne by young women,” said Dr. Roy Wade Jr. of 2013 research from the CDC and Kaiser Permanente on young people who have had adverse childhood experiences. “Women are at higher risk, and we used to think of that as solely sexual abuse, but women endorsed higher levels of all individual [adverse childhood experiences].”

Twenty-three percent of the girls in that study did report a history of childhood sexual abuse, with many of the perpetrators being their biological fathers. The median age of the girls when they experienced this abuse was 8 years old, while the median age of the perpetrator was 32.

“Some of these girls are abused daily, some over 10 years, and I see them when they are teenagers — so when do they have time to go through normal development of young people?” Wade said.

Many times, girls struggle to concentrate in class because they are thinking about what happened the night before or what may happen the next night, Wade explained. Some are trying to cope with these incidents through self-medication by using alcohol and drugs. All of this context is necessary for school resource officers, teachers, and administrators to keep in mind when they pursue purely punitive approaches to student discipline, experts say.

Research on adverse childhood experiences has found that, across the board, girls suffer from higher levels of traumatic experiences than boys do. In addition, research has shown that social disadvantages can make one more vulnerable to trauma, and that women of color had lower rates of well being.

All of this means girls of color who have experienced trauma are also particularly vulnerable to being pushed into the school-to-prison pipeline through harsh student discipline. Although the discussion of a school-to-prison pipeline mostly focuses on boys of color, a 2015 University of Pennsylvania study found that in 13 Southern states that altogether had 55 percent of suspensions and 50 percent of expulsions nationally, black female students had higher rates of suspensions and expulsions. Nationally, black girls make up 8 percent of enrolled students in the United States but represent 14 percent of students receiving one or more out-of-school suspensions, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

“The bulk of this adversity was being borne by young women.”

Sometimes girls of color need to be protected from the school resource officers themselves. In one case in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the Justice Department found incidents of guards sexually harassing students and telling students they wouldn’t be reported for a violation if they gave them some form of sexual contact. The department’s report detailed an incident where a security guard called a student a “sexy young chocolate lady” and asked if he could “put his private area on her back.” After an investigation, the guard was transferred to another school — where he was accused of doing the same thing to another student.

How to change student discipline practices

Discipline practices need to address the root of the problem and ask young people why they’re angry and getting into fights at school, rather than simply addressing the behavior itself. By handcuffing or isolating students, which can re-traumatize them, or through suspending and expelling students, which pushes them out of school, staff are only making matters worse.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, CEO and founder of the Center for Youth Wellness, gave the example of doctors who, centuries ago, passed germs from one person to another because they didn’t know germs existed, and thus didn’t wash their hands properly before seeing another patient. She said school resource officers are doing the same thing by using harsh student discipline on misbehaving kids.

“Instead of asking ‘What is wrong with you?’ why don’t we ask, ‘What happened to you?’”

“When a 7-year-old boy having a tantrum in school, he’s yelling and he’s screaming and the security officer comes in and handcuffs him and takes him away, that is equivalent of a doctor going from one germ-laden surgery and reaching right into the next thing… Is there a way to de-escalate the situation? Does this child have a deregulated stress response? Instead of asking ‘What is wrong with you?’ why don’t we ask, ‘What happened to you?’”

What’s wrong with the way schools use police officers?

That is exactly what the U.S. Department of Jutice’s Head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta said officers need to do.

According to Gupta, officers need to ask students open-ended questions rather than make assumptions and take an accusatory tone, especially in incidents where students are victims and reporting incidents of sexual assault. Schools need to invest in counselors and direct students to substance abuse treatment rather than simply punishing students for bringing drugs and alcohol on the school campus. At community schools, which offer social service on or near the campus, students may be able to directly go from an administrator’s office to seek counseling or therapy.

Gupta gave an example of a district investigated by the Justice Department as guidance for what schools need to do to address the needs of students of color, including girls of color with traumatic childhood experiences.

In the U.S. Department of Justice’s settlement with the Meridian School District in Mississippi — which was found to be guilty of exclusionary student discipline, such as expulsions, suspension, and alternative placement for students of color — the school was required to improve students’ due process protections in discipline hearings, stop officers from getting involved in minor incidents of student discipline, and mandate officer training on bias-free policing and developmentally appropriate policing. The department also suggested using positive behavior intervention, which focuses on rewarding positive social behavior rather than punishing students for misbehavior.

Girls coping with trauma are often met with harsh discipline at school was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

The battle to save the Earth from Scalia’s ghost

6 hours 58 min ago
The Obama administration’s most ambitious effort to fight climate change hangs in the balance.CREDIT: AP Photo/Manuel Baice Cenata

One of the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s final acts on Earth may have been to doom it.

Last February, on the final Tuesday of Scalia’s life, the Supreme Court handed down a 5–4 decision suspending the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. It was a surprising development — a lower court panel that included a conservative Republican judge previously denied a request to stay this plan — and a chilling development for anyone who cares about the planet. The Clean Power Plan is the Obama administration’s most ambitious effort to fight climate change. And it is difficult to exaggerate the consequences if these efforts fail:

In the relatively short term, the Environmental Protection Agency predicts that the Clean Power Plan will “avoid thousands of premature deaths and mean thousands fewer asthma attacks and hospitalizations in 2030 and every year beyond.” In the longer term, major cities could be swallowed by the ocean. Displaced residents will trigger a worldwide refugee crisis. Entire regions of the United States could be converted into a permanent Dust Bowl. The sheer magnitude of the catastrophe will rival any tragedy that has faced humanity since the Book of Genesis.

Scalia’s vote to stay the Clean Power Plan was enough to delay it, but not enough to destroy it. Now, however, the effort to permanently kill the plan is about to face its first big test.

A ten judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — arguably the second-most powerful court in the country — will hear arguments on the fate of the plan on Tuesday. With Scalia dead, and the Supreme Court evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, the D.C. Circuit’s decision could be the last word on the plan’s legality.

While Scalia did not live to cast a vote eradicating the plan, his ghost still haunts this case. It lingers over the parties’ briefs, casting doubt upon long-settled doctrines viewed as rock solid just a few years ago. West Virginia v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, the challenge to the Clean Power Plan, is the culmination of a years-long effort by conservatives to hobble the executive branch — an effort Scalia started to embrace during his final years on the Court. And, if the Clean Power Plan falls, it will be because this effort scored just enough victories during the twilight of Scalia’s life.

Good enough for Reagan, good enough for Obama?

The name Chevron v. National Resources Defense Council is unlikely to appear in a high school history textbook any time soon. It is neither a sexy case nor the sort of case that non-lawyers are likely to recognize as significant even after reading it.

But Chevron is both one of the Court’s most important decisions and one of the most cited cases in the Supreme Court’s history. It is both a monument to judicial modesty and a godsend to men and women who toil in obscurity in federal agencies, trying to make the government work.

Inside The Most Important Supreme Court Case In Human History

Chevron was also, until recently, a fairly uncontroversial decision.

At its heart, Chevron is rooted in the idea that, in a democratic nation, the one unelected branch of government should play a minimal role in deciding matters of policy. Chevron held that, when a law is ambiguous, courts should defer to how the federal agency that administers that law resolves that ambiguity rather than deciding themselves how the law should be interpreted. “Judges are not experts in the field,” Justice John Paul Stevens explained. So given a choice between having an environmental policy question answered by the Environmental Protection Agency or a bunch of laypeople in black robes, it is better to leave these questions to the experts.

Just as significantly, Chevron recognized that agencies have a greater claim to legitimacy than courts, at least when matters of policy arise. “While agencies are not directly accountable to the people,” Justice Stevens acknowledged, “the Chief Executive is.” Thus, “it is entirely appropriate for this political branch of the Government” to make policy choices, rather than leave the matter to judges with lifetime appointments and no accountability to the electorate.

So long as Republicans were winning the electoral game, conservatives loved the idea that courts should defer to the political branches.

Chevron was decided in 1984, and for many years it was celebrated by conservatives for giving the Reagan and Bush administrations breathing room to dismantle unwanted regulations. As William Eskridge and Lauren Baer recount, “D.C. Circuit Judge Kenneth Starr (later Solicitor General) announced that Chevron was a Magna Carta for agencies to deregulate and to demand judicial acquiescence, which his court was prepared to deliver. Antonin Scalia, Starr’s colleague on the D.C. Circuit, announced the same line and pressed a similarly strong reading of Chevron after Reagan appointed him to the Supreme Court.” So long as Republicans were winning the electoral game, conservatives loved the idea that courts should defer to the political branches.

But then came Barack Obama.

In practice, Chevron gives the executive branch a wide ranging ability to govern even if the legislature is unable to pass new laws. Many existing laws delegate a considerable amount of power to federal agencies. A provision of the Clean Air Act that the Supreme Court considered in 2007, for example, permits the EPA to set “standards applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines” if the EPA determines that those emissions “cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” Layer these broad delegations on top of Chevron, which requires courts to defer to an agency’s interpretations of such a law so long as that interpretation is “based on a permissible construction of the statute,” and it is easy to see why conservatives don’t want the courts to apply the same deference to President Obama’s agencies that they applied to President Reagan’s.

In an age of rampant Congressional dysfunction, the agencies’ power to regulate provides the president with his only real opportunity to implement a policy agenda. Take that away, and Barack Obama is little more than a figurehead.

So that explains why, at last autumn's gathering of the Federalist Society, an influential conservative legal group whose membership includes two sitting Supreme Court justices, panelists and keynotes spoke of shrinking agency power with the kind of obsession normally reserved to one-legged whaling captains. It explains why Judge Neil Gorsuch, a federal appellate judge who is widely viewed as a leading candidate for the Supreme Court in a Republican administration, recently called for Chevron to be cast aside in an option that alternatively labeled Chevron a “goliath of modern administrative law” and “the behemoth.”

It also explains why, near the end of his life, Justice Scalia himself began to flip-flop on Chevron. If the Clean Power Plan dies in the D.C. Circuit, it will be in no small part because the elderly Scalia gave the plan’s opponents just enough ammunition to claim that the kind of deference unelected judges afforded to President Reagan no longer makes sense after the people elected Barack Obama.

Enter the eco-villains

The plan’s opponents — who include conservative elected officials, power companies and their trade associations, business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, a smattering of “free market” policy shops, and even a handful of unions representing energy industry workers — are backed by enough lawyers to fill a high school gymnasium. The cover sheet on their brief, which lists all of the lawyers suing the EPA and their contact information, is 27 pages long.

With their powers combined, this army of attorneys produced hundreds of pages worth of briefing, raising arguments that run the full gamut from plausible to ridiculous. There’s a constitutional argument that, if taken seriously, would forbid the federal government from building military bases within a state. There’s also a question about what the courts should do if Congress simultaneously enacted two competing provisions that could potentially render the Clean Power Plan legal and illegal at the same time. (The answer, at least according to Justice Scalia, is that “neither provision should be given effect.”)

The opponents’ best argument, however, turns upon just how much of Chevron remains after the Roberts Court started to chip away at its edges, only to lose its conservative majority to Scalia’s death.

The Little-Noticed Conservative Plan To Permanently Lock Democrats Out Of Policymaking

One provision of the Clean Air Act requires each state to submit to the EPA “a plan which establishes standards of performance for any existing source for any air pollutant.” If the state fails to do so, the EPA itself is permitted to design the plan. This plan must achieve the same reduction in emissions that could be achieved by “the best system of emission reduction” — which is up to the Administrator of the EPA to determine.

And according to the EPA Administrator, the best system here involves shifting away from dirtier coal plants and moving toward cleaner methods of producing electricity. To achieve cleaner energy production, the plan sets emissions reduction targets for each state that, barring unexpected technological developments, are unlikely to be achieved unless power generation shifts from coal plants to cleaner methods of generation.

As the government explains in its brief, “no serious effort to address the monumental problem of climate change can succeed without meaningfully limiting” emissions from fossil-fuel-fired power plants, which are the highest-emitting stationary sources of CO2 in the country. When it comes to generating electricity, however, it’s possible to shift away from these plants without affecting American consumers. A megawatt-hour of electricity produced by the dirtiest coal-powered plant will light just as many homes as a megawatt-hour produced by a cleaner gas-powered plant.

Given this legal framework, the Clean Power Plan would likely survive even in a world without Chevron. The Clean Air Act grants EPA broad discretion to determine what the “best system of emission reduction” may be, and EPA exercised that power here.

The plan’s opponents, however, hope to win by turning Chevron on its head. While Chevron held that any uncertainties about what a law says should be resolved in favor of the agency’s interpretation, the plan’s opponents effectively argue that these uncertainties must be resolved against the EPA.

The opponents begin their argument with a statement that would have flabbergasted judges just a few years ago. “For the Clean Air Act to authorize the Rule’s wholesale transformation of the U.S. energy system,” these opponents claim, “EPA must show that the Act contains a clear statement compelling the agency’s reading of section 111(d).” They base this claim on a line tucked into a 5–4 decision Justice Scalia authored in 2014.

Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA is, in many ways, a decision at odds with itself. Justice Scalia begins his analysis in this decision by announcing that “we review EPA’s interpretations of the Clean Air Act using the standard set forth in Chevron.” Yet the opinion also contains a few lines which appear to be at odds with Chevron. “When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate ‘a significant portion of the American economy,’” Scalia wrote of the EPA permitting scheme at issue in Utility Air, “we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism. We expect Congress to speak clearly if it wishes to assign to an agency decisions of vast ‘economic and political significance.’”

The Clean Power Plan’s opponents, in effect, argue that the plan’s ambition is its downfall. They read Utility Air to say that, when an agency makes “transformative,” politically controversial decisions, that a kind of anti-Chevron applies, and the courts should be extraordinarily skeptical of the agency’s reading of the law authorizing its decision. If the Clean Air Act plausibly can be read to not allow the Clean Power Plan, then the plan must be struck down.

So will it work?

The question is whether this fundamental rethinking of an agency’s power to regulate will move the courts.

If Scalia were still alive, there’s little doubt how the case would be resolved. Though Utility Air, at times, seems to contradict itself, it’s hard to read Scalia’s scolding of the EPA in that case as anything other than a warning shot over the Obama administration’s bow. Before Scalia’s death, there were almost certainly five votes on the Supreme Court to kill the plan.

Now, however, the Supreme Court is evenly split, with neither a majority to complete the anti-Chevron revolution nor a majority to reverse it. When the DC Circuit convenes on Tuesday, it will meet amidst a revolution interrupted. Current precedents give liberal judges the tools they need to uphold the Clean Power Plan. But they probably also give conservative judges just enough building blocks to construct an opinion striking the plan down as well.

It’s nice to have math on your side.

In the end, that’s likely to mean good news for the Obama administration — and for the Earth. The D.C. Circuit panel that will hear the Clean Power case consists of six Democratic appointees and only four Republicans (the court’s eleventh active judge, Chief Judge Merrick Garland, is not hearing cases while his nomination to the Supreme Court is pending).

But it is also likely that D.C. Circuit will split on party lines, with each side able to pull quotes from binding Supreme Court decisions to justify their preferred outcome. Lay people, and even lawyers unfamiliar with the details of the case, will struggle to determine which side is correct. Partisans on both sides will simply assume that the judges they agree with are paragons of the law, and that the judges they disagree with are hacks.

Which brings us back to the Chevron decision. Justice Stevens’ insight in that decision was that there are many questions in the law that do not have clear answers. Resolving those questions will often require value judgments about the kind of government we want to have and the extent to which we trust that government to identify and solve problems. And, in those instances, it is better to leave matters to policy experts with a degree of accountability to the electorate than it is to place your faith in uninformed and unelected judges.

In a little over a month, the American people will gather at polling places and choose between two presidential candidates, one who supports the Clean Power Plan and one who opposes it. The fate of the plan rests in their hands.

That is, of course, unless the courts side with the plan’s opponents. Because, ultimately, what those opponents are asking the D.C. Circuit to do is to take the power to decide the fate of the world away from the American people — and to give it to a handful of lawyers in black robes.

The battle to save the Earth from Scalia’s ghost was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

Categories: SCCDP Allies

Charlotte Police Chief releases footage of Keith Scott’s fatal shooting

Sat, 09/24/2016 - 3:56pm
“There is no definitive visual evidence that he had a gun in his hand…”Police Chief Kerr Putney CREDIT: CNN

In a late afternoon press conference, Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department Chief Kerr Putney announced the imminent release of two streams of police camera footage and that his officers saw Keith Lamont Scott first in possession of marijuana, and then a handgun, before he was shot by police.

“After having a conversation with the State Bureau of Investigations,” Putney began, “I have decided that we are in a stage where I can release additional information without adversely impacting their investigation. So now it it appropriate to release this information.”

Putney initially said his department would not release footage of the incident, before reversing course on Friday.

Charlotte erupts after police kill black man who was waiting for his kid to get home

When asked if the video shows Scott holding a firearm or pointing it at police, Putney demurred.

“There is no definitive visual evidence that he had a gun in his hand — you can see something in the hand — and that he pointed it at an officer. That I did not visually see in the video. But what we do see is compelling evidence that, when you put all the pieces together, support that [description of events].”

Putney said reporters could expect a link to the footage in about a “half hour.” The footage was released roughly two hours later.

The dash cam footage shows Scott in his car, slowly opening the door as police yell at him, exiting the vehicle slowly, turning around with his hands still, and walking backwards — then he is shot and falls to the ground. At no time does it show his arm pointing at anything other than the ground, and though it is hard to see, it does not clearly show anything in his hands. The following video contains graphic content.

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

BREAKING: This is the dash cam footage from the shooting of #KeithScott https://t.co/k5FE67n5K3 https://t.co/GqIIP3PDm7

 — @cbsnews

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The body cam video is a lot shakier and more difficult to follow. An officer rushes to the opposite side of the car, appears to try to break the glass, while another officer points his gun at Scott from the passenger side, and then runs around to Scott’s side of the vehicle when the shooting happens.

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

BREAKING: CMPD release body cam and dash cam footage of the Keith Scott shooting. Watch here. WARNING: GRAPHIC https://t.co/tUcbbirgzt

 — @channel961

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Neighbors and family said Scott was reading a book in his car. Scott’s widow, Reykia Scott, was filming the incident by the truck and can be heard telling the officers that he had a traumatic brain injury and had just taken his meds.

“He didn’t have no gun. He wasn’t messing with nobody,” a woman identified as Scott’s sister told local news reporters Tuesday. “All he did, them jump-out boys, them undercover detectives, they jumped out their truck, they said ‘hands up, he got a gun,’ pow-pow-pow-pow. That’s it.”

Police were looking for a wanted suspect in the area prior to the incident. Putney denied this was a case of mistaken identity. “There was a compelling reason for them to make this encounter, it was beyond a possession of a gun, it was because of criminal activity that heightened their level of awareness, and they had to change their focus from the priority of taking a wanted suspect off the street to encountering Mr. Scott.”

Putney had previously said that Scott exited his vehicle holding a gun that police later recovered at the scene. But the police videos, shown to the family on Thursday night, show that he had been commanded to get out of the truck by the officers, according to attorney Justin Bamberg.

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

BREAKING: @CMPD releases photos of gun, ankle holster and marijuana "blunt" they say #KeithLamontScott had at time of encounter

 — @WBTV_News

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The Tulsa Police Department released videos of the fatal shooting of another black man — Terrence Crutcher — on Monday, and Betty Shelby, the officer involved, was charged with first-degree manslaughter on Thursday afternoon.

“Officers are absolutely not being charged by me at this point, but again there is another investigation ongoing,” Putney said of the Charlotte incident.

“Officers are absolutely not being charged by me at this point, but again there is another investigation ongoing”

Asked if Scott clearly had a gun, which is the main dispute, he said, “Yes. Based on the footage of the totality of what we see, he absolutely was in possession of a handgun.” Putney said Scott’s possession of a handgun was “not lawful, given the circumstances” meaning that “there’s a crime that he had committed that caused the encounter, and then the gun exacerbated that situation.”

This referred to the new revelation of the accusation of drug possession.

“The reason for the encounter is because laws were broken and possession of a weapon with that law violation caused the officers to escalate their attention onto him,” he said. The officers were looking for a wanted suspect and saw Scott with marijuana, “that they were not focused on,” Putney said, “until a gun was produced.”

CREDIT: WCBD

“When you are in possession of marijuana and then you have a gun,” Putney said, “that is a public safety issue that our officers were going to address.” He said officers were not concentrated on Scott until they saw him both with marijuana and a gun, a situation that caused them to prioritize Scott over their search for a suspect.

The officers did not see Scott smoking marijuana, Putney said. The officers, he said, looked in the car, saw the marijuana, and then saw the gun.

Asked why the officers shot to kill, Putney said: “We don’t. We shoot to stop the aggressive act that justifies our use of lethal force. Our shooting is to stop the aggressive act, or the imminent threat of such act. That’s why we shoot.”

The video does not show an aggressive act.

“They were reacting to what they saw, and they have a duty to do so, so in the encounter they perceive an imminent lethal threat via handgun and they react to that.”

Only two streams of footage would be released, he said, although there are other footage streams from other officers that Putney said were not relevant to the case: officers traveling towards the scene, for instance.

After saying that not all officers can wear body cameras all the time due to the nature of some officers’ work, Putney said “unfortunately, I have to do everything I can to protect our people, even if it doesn’t feel good.”

To understand Charlotte’s rage, you have to understand its roads

Asked if he was concerned about the public reaction to the video after it is released, he said, “I stand behind the truth. People can interpret anything they want based on one piece of evidence, and I can tell you I suspect they will based on the video footage. But what I say is, you have to put all pieces together.”

He said after reviewing the video and interviewing all the officers, “the consistent themes were the facts.”

Asked if those facts showed the officers following protocol, he said “if laws were violated, I would be taking different action. I won’t get into policy because that’s another investigation that’s internal.”

He said he’s been hearing from the community that they wanted to see the video, and that impacted this decision, and he decided to release it when he found out it would not impact the investigation.

He said he “can’t control” and is “not concerned about” other videos, referring to Keith Scott’s widow’s video that came out on Friday.

“The footage itself will not create, in anyone’s mind, absolute certainty as to what this case represents and what the outcome should be,” he said. “The footage only supports all the other information” to create a full picture.

The Charlotte Police Twitter feed posted this tweet about transparency and release of information, but subsequently deleted it (screenshot below).

Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) said on Facebook he agreed with Putney’s decision to release the footage.

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BREAKING Charlotte Police releasing footage of #KeithLamontScott's death, Gov @PatMcCroryNC says

 — @davidmackau

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McCrory declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard in response to protests over Scott’s killing which have ranged from peaceful vigils to more violent clashes over four nights in Charlotte.

Protesters’ demands include an immediate release of body camera footage connected with the killing.

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Demands of protesters being handed out. #CharlotteProtest #CharlotteUprising

 — @Yamiche

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Putney described the incident as both an “officer-involved shooting and a tragic loss of life,” and acknowledged “some distrust” between the police and the community.

Charlotte Police Chief releases footage of Keith Scott’s fatal shooting was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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Ted Cruz endorses ‘sniveling coward,’ Trump calls it a ‘wonderful surprise’

Sat, 09/24/2016 - 11:58am
The Texas senator has a few personal political reasons to about-face on Trump.Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) listens to Donald Trump speak at a GOP primary debate in March. CREDIT: AP/WILFREDO LEE

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who lost the Republican presidential nomination to Donald Trump, said that he would actually be voting for and supporting a man he concluded was “utterly amoral” four months before.

In a Facebook post, Cruz explained that due to his concerns with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s potential impact on the Supreme Court and other major policy areas, he would keep his promise he made last year to support the Republican nominee. “After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump,” he said in the post.

This was a huge reversal from two months ago during the Republican National Convention—although the Texas senator has a few compelling personal reasons to about-face.

Cruz Decided To Address The RNC But Not Endorse Trump. It Did Not Go Well.

“I am not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and attacks my father,” Cruz said the day after his convention speech where he earned boos from many delegates in response to his refusal to endorse Trump at his own nomination. Cruz had earlier called Trump a “sniveling coward,” “consistently disgraceful,” a “big government [liberal],” “a pathological liar,”

“That pledge [to endorse the eventual nominee] was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander and attack Heidi, that I’m going to nonetheless come like a puppy dog and say, ‘Thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father.’”

Trump famously suggested Cruz’ father was connected to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, made a confusing threat to “spill the beans” on Cruz’ wife Heidi, repeated a sexist slur about Cruz at a rally, and said Cruz was “worse than Hillary,” “the single biggest liar,” and “unhinged.”

The day after Trump accepted the Republican nomination in Cleveland, he told volunteers and the media, “I like Ted, he’s fine. Again, don’t want his endorsement. If he gives it, I will not accept it, just so you understand.”

On Saturday morning, however, Trump called the endorsement “a wonderful surprise” on Twitter:

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The @SenTedCruz endorsement was a wonderful surprise. I greatly appreciate his support! We will have a tremendous victory on November 8th.

 — @realdonaldtrump

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Shortly after posting his endorsement of Trump on his official Facebook account, Cruz told Houston’s local ABC affiliate that he did not come to the decision quickly, and had forgiven Trump for all the insults.

“There were no deals,” he told KTRK’s Eyewitness News. “We had been engaged in conversations. You know it’s been a decision as I said I’ve been thinking about and praying about for weeks and months, discussing it with my family, and I made the decision today and announced it Friday.”

“Listen,” he continued. “(In) politics, there’s always criticism. If no one is throwing rocks at you, you’re not doing much of anything. I’ve discussed it with both Heidi (Cruz) and my dad. I love my wife. I love my dad. Both of them have forgiven Donald. I have forgiven him. This is not personal. This is not about our family. It’s about the country.”

It may be more about Cruz, and about Texas. In 2014, Cruz was the most popular politician in Texas with a 47 percent approval rating, according to a PPP poll, even higher than Sen. John Cornyn (R) and Gov. Rick Perry (R). Yet a poll conducted by KTVT-CBS 11/Dixie Strategies this August found that Cruz’ support had cratered, with 52 percent of likely voters finding Cruz “very unfavorable” and only 34 percent finding him at all favorable.

CREDIT: KTVT-CBS 11/DIXIE STRATEGIES

Going into a 2018 senate primary race, which could be competitive as former Gov. Rick Perry (of all people) polls well against Cruz and Rep Mike McCaul (R-TX) considers an establishment challenge, with numbers like that would not be ideal for Cruz. And majorities of respondents found Cruz’ decision not to endorse Trump made them like Cruz less.

CREDIT: KTVT-CBS 11/DIXIE STRATEGIES

While Texas supported Cruz over Trump in the primary, awarding him almost 44 percent of the vote on Super Tuesday, and polls between Clinton and Trump have been tighter than in past general election campaigns — even earning a campaign stop Friday from Democratic VP nominee Time Kaine — the state is still expected to support Trump. As polls in battleground states tighten and Trump’s chances of victory in various election models improve from rock-bottom lows in previous months, the prospect of a Trump presidency, and what a Senator Cruz would do in that scenario, became less of a fantastical idea.

‘I’d Rather Vote For Hillary:’ Ted Cruz Voters Explain Why They’ll Never Vote Trump

Cruz is also likely hedging his bets between a Trump victory, where he would prefer to stay off any administration “enemies lists,” and a Trump defeat, which could leave an opening for Cruz to run again for the nomination in 2020.

On Friday, the same day Cruz wrote his Facebook post about voting for Trump, the GOP nominee released ten more names of judges he would consider for the Supreme Court, added to the list of 11 he released in May. Leading the list is the very conservative Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who has yet to endorse Trump and has called Cruz his “best friend.”

This could not have hurt Trump in Cruz’ eyes, and recalls a Cruz from earlier in the primary campaign who was a big Trump fan.

During a July interview with Meet the Press, Cruz said, “I like Donald Trump. He’s bold, he’s brash, and I get that it seems the favorite sport of the Washington media is to encourage some Republicans to attack other Republicans. I ain’t going to do it. I’m not interested in Republican on Republican violence.”

Update

Cruz, at the Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday afternoon, said Hillary Clinton was unfit to be president. According to Rick Hasen, a professor of Law and Political Science at UC Irvine, Cruz refused to say whether Trump was fit to be president.

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Cruz refuses to say that Trump is fit to be president

 — @rickhasen

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Ted Cruz endorses ‘sniveling coward,’ Trump calls it a ‘wonderful surprise’ was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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White North Dakota students dress in blackface, post picture with caption ‘black lives matter’

Sat, 09/24/2016 - 9:52am
The University of North Dakota’s hockey team: the Hawks. CREDIT: AP/DAVE KOLPACK

School officials are investigating a group of white North Dakota college students after they posted a picture of themselves in blackface with the caption “Black lives matter.”

According to Raw Story, a group of female students at the University of North Dakota (UND) are facing potential reprimand after the image was uploaded to Facebook. The incident comes just days after three other white UND students reportedly stole the phone of an African American student, locked her out of her own dorm room, took a picture of themselves laughing, and then posted the image to Snapchat with the caption “Locked the black bitch out.”

The photo in question. CREDIT: RAW STORY/FACEBOOK

“I am appalled that within 48 hours two photos with racially-charged messages have been posted on social media and associated with the UND campus community,” university president Mark Kennedy, according to Raw Story. “It is abundantly clear that we have much work to do at the University of North Dakota in educating our students, and the entire university community on issues related to diversity, inclusion, and respect for others.”

Wearing blackface, once common among turn-of-the-century performers who mocked black people in their shows, is now widely condemned as racist. Yet the practice has become a major issue on college campuses: just this month, a student at Quinnipiac University was expelled for posting a Snapchat photo of a white woman in blackface with the caption “black lives matter,” as was a white Kansas State University student who posted a Snapchat image of white students flashing faux gang signs while wearing dark facial masks with the caption “finally feels good to be a n***a.” Similarly, students at Fairfield University were heavily criticized in February for hosting a “ghetto” party; although no one was reported as wearing blackface, attendees wore baggy clothes and held bottles of 40 oz. Coors Light.

Blackface has also reemerged as a political issue in recent years. In 2015, an Oklahoma mayoral candidate was forced to apologize to voters after videos surfaced of him performing in blackface as a female character named “Pollyester Kotton.” And more recently, Donald Trump surrogate and prosperity gospel preacher Pastor Mark Burns tweeted a cartoon that depicted Hillary Clinton in blackface. The cartoon was meant to accuse Clinton of pandering to African Americans, but the tweet and cartoon was panned as inherently racist in and of itself.

White North Dakota students dress in blackface, post picture with caption ‘black lives matter’ was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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As Charlotte protests hit fourth day, other cities begin marching in solidarity

Sat, 09/24/2016 - 8:14am
A protestor in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday night. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/BRANDEN CAMP

Charlotte, North Carolina entered a fourth day of peaceful protests Friday night, sparking solidarity demonstrations in other parts of the country as people continue to express outrage over the killing of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man, who was shot dead by police earlier this week.

More than 100 demonstrators chanted and waved signs reading “Just Release the Tapes” as they marched through Charlotte’s business district, demanding that local police release videos of the shooting recorded on dashboard and body cameras. Police say Scott was shot because he was carrying a gun, but eyewitnesses insist the man was unarmed, and are demanding proof to back up officials’ claims.

“#it was a book,” read one of the protest banners, referring to accounts that Scott was holding a book, not a firearm, when he was felled by police.

Demonstrators in Charlotte on Friday evening. (Credit: AP PHOTO/CHUCK BURTON)

The protests, which included a rally in front of Charlotte police headquarters, were tinged with emotional intensity after Reykia Scott, Keith Scott’s widow, released her own cellphone video of the shooting to the media earlier that day. Although the video did not clearly show the precise moment of the shooting, Scott does not appear to have a weapon near him in the immediate aftermath, a fact that contradicts a widely-distributed photo of the victim lying on the ground next to a gun after being shot.

Reykia can be heard pleading with police to spare Scott’s life in the video, saying, “Don’t shoot him. Don’t shoot him. He has no weapon.”

Charlotte's top cop claims he can't show you videos that prove Keith Scott's killing was justified

Most of the protestors dispersed early Friday evening roughly before 1:00am, complying with a midnight curfew invoked by Mayor Jennifer Roberts after one protestor was shot and killed during an altercation with police Wednesday night. Authorities say the death was caused by “civilian-on-civilian” violence, but eyewitnesses—including a pastor—dispute that claim, saying the fatal shot “came from the direction of the police.”

Roberts and other local authorities previously said they would not release tapes of the shooting, but changed course on Friday.

“I do believe the video should be released. The question is on timing,” Roberts said.

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Hundreds of additional protesters marching up to @EpiCentreNC right now at 11:49p @wcnc

 — @WCNCmboyle

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The Charlotte protests were bolstered by a massive solidarity march in downtown Atlanta, Georgia on Friday evening. There, around 450 demonstrators rallied to condemn Scott’s death as well as the killing of Terence Crutcher, a black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who was gunned down by police earlier this week despite being visibly unarmed.

“Black people have witnessed people do violence to them and [the shooter] be protected by law enforcement,” Georgia NAACP President Francys Johnson said at a news conference before the protest.

Demonstrators in Atlanta said they have more protests planned for Saturday, and other cities could follow suit. Meanwhile, police report that 47 people have been arrested in Charlotte since demonstrations began on Tuesday, 37 of whom are from the city and 41 hailing from North Carolina.

As of September 22, at least 790 people have been killed by police in 2016—with people of color disproportionately represented. In 2015, police killed nearly 1,000 civilians, according to a Washington Post database.

As Charlotte protests hit fourth day, other cities begin marching in solidarity was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

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Mass shooting at Washington mall leaves 5 dead

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 8:30pm
The shooter is still at large.Law enforcement officers stand near a mobile police command center at the scene of a shooting where several people were killed Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 in Burlington, Washington. CREDIT: AP/STEPHEN BRASHEAR

A gunman entered a Macy’s in Washington State and killed five people, according to local reports. The shooter is still at large.

The shooting occurred in Burlington, Washington, about an hour north of Seattle.

Sgt. Mark Francis, a public information officer with the state police, is on the scene and providing updates.

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4 confirmed deceased in the mall, shooter(s) left scene b4 police arrived, unknown # of shooter, possibly just 1, police clearing mall now

 — @wspd7pio

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Active shooter description: Hispanic male wearing grey. Last seen walking towards I5 from Cascade Mall burlington.

 — @wspd7pio

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Sadly the male and 5th victim who was taken to Harborview has passed away #CascadeMallShooting

 — @wspd7pio

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An unknown number of people were injured:

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EMS starting to enter to attend to injured inside Mall w/ police escort and after initial clearance.

 — @wspd7pio

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KOMO News has live footage of the scene:

Police released a photo of the suspect:

body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

Here is the shooter. We believe just one shooter. Notify authorities if you see him. Armed with rifle.

 — @wspd7pio

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Residents are being advised to avoid the area.

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Please avoid Cascade Mall area in Burlington. Follow all road closures. Follow this account as we get new info.

 — @skagitdem

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There have been 353 mass shootings in the United States in 2016, according to the Mass Shootings Tracker.

Mass shooting at Washington mall leaves 5 dead was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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Feds investigating Trump advisor’s meeting with Russian officials seeking to influence U.S.

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 1:15pm
Feds investigating Trump advisor’s meeting with Russian officials seeking to influence U.S. electionHarry Reid wrote the FBI, demanding action.Carter Page, an adviser to U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, speaks at the graduation ceremony for the New Economic School in Moscow, Russia, Friday, July 8, 2016. Page is a former investment banker who previously worked in Russia. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/PAVEL GOLOVKIN

U.S. law enforcement is looking into Donald Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page’s meetings with high-ranking Russian officials this summer, Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff reports.

Page, who Trump said was one of his five foreign policy advisors last March, is suspected of communicating with “senior Russian officials” about “the possible lifting of economic sanctions” if Trump becomes president, Yahoo reports, citing “multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue.”

One of the officials Page allegedly met with, Igor Diveykin, is “believed by U.S. officials to have responsibility for intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election.” Russia is widely believed to be behind high-profile computer hacks that appear timed to influence the presidential election.

ThinkProgress obtained a letter from Sen. Harry Reid to the FBI, dated August 27, demanding an investigation into Page’s contacts with the Russians. Reid’s letter refers to Page as a “Trump advisor” with “investments in Russian energy conglomerate Gazprom.”

Page worked in Russia for Merrill Lynch for three years starting in 2004. Sergey Aleksashenko, who became head of the bank’s Moscow operation in 2006, told Reuters last month that he viewed Trump’s selection of Page as “a strange choice.”

Page traveled to Russia this summer and gave a speech criticizing U.S. foreign policy. From Yahoo:

Page showed up again in Moscow in early July, just two weeks before the Republican National Convention formally nominated Trump for president, and once again criticized U.S. policy. Speaking at a commencement address for the New Economic School, an institution funded in part by major Russian oligarchs close to Putin, Page asserted that “Washington and other West capitals” had impeded progress in Russia “through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.”

Page isn’t the only Trump advisor whose connections to Russia have come under scrutiny. Last December, retied Gen. Michael Flynn, a prominent Trump military advisor, traveled to Russia and gave a speech during a tenth anniversary celebration for Russian state-owned media company RT. He’s refused to answer questions about who paid him for the appearance.

In March, Trump hired veteran Republican political operative Paul Manafort to lead his delegate-recruitment efforts. Manafort quickly rose to become Trump’s campaign manager, but left that position last month amid reports Ukrainian authorities were investigating him for allegedly receiving $12.7 million in illegal payments from Ukraine’s former pro-Russia ruling party.

During a news conference a month before Manafort stepped down, Trump brazenly encouraged Russian hackers to obtain emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s private server. Those comments came in the wake of a massive hack of the Democratic National Committee’s emails that sparked controversy about how the party treated Bernie Sanders days ahead of the Democratic National Convention. State election databases have also reportedly been hacked.

On Thursday, the top Democrats on the intelligence committee pinned those hacks on Russian intelligence. A joint statement from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff said, “Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election.”

“At the least, this effort is intended to sow doubt about the security of our election and may well be intended to influence the outcomes of the election — we can see no other rationale for the behavior of the Russians,” the statement continues, going on to say “that orders for the Russian intelligence agencies to conduct such actions could come only from very senior levels of the Russian government.”

Trump, for his part, downplayed reports that Russia might be trying to meddle in Russian politics during an interview that aired earlier this month on the Russia-run RT network.

Trump has praised Putin, calling the man presiding over a country where opposition leaders have been killed under mysterious circumstances “highly respected within his own country and beyond.” During a presidential forum broadcast on NBC earlier this month, Trump said that if Putin “says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him” and commended Putin’s high approval ratings in Russia — a country known for stifling dissident journalists.

Around the same time as the forum, Trump surrogates, including campaign vice presidential nominee Mike Pence and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, defended Trump’s praise of Putin during TV interviews. Both echoed Trump’s statement that Putin is a stronger leader than President Obama.

In the Yahoo report, Trump spokesman Jason Miller says Page “has no role” in Trump’s campaign, adding, “we are not aware of any of his activities, past or present.” But Miller couldn’t explain why Trump would’ve cited him as an advisor in the past. And as recently as last month, Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks described Carter as an “informal foreign advisor.”

The full text of Reid’s letter is below:

Feds investigating Trump advisor’s meeting with Russian officials seeking to influence U.S. was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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Tribes in Canada and U.S. join forces against tar sands pipeline development

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 11:00am
Treaty signals a coordinated opposition to crude oil transport.native Americans head to a rally at the State Capitol in Denver, CO, earlier this month. CREDIT: AP/DAVID ZALUBOWSKI

Dozens of native tribes from Canada and the United States have joined forces against Alberta’s tar sands crude oil transport with the signing of a treaty Thursday.

Calling for a clean and sustainable economy, tribes said any further pipeline or rail development for Canadian tar sands puts indigenous territories and waterways at serious risk to toxic spills. In the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, tribes also said development “will unquestionably fuel catastrophic climate change.”

Tribes signed “this treaty because we needed to, mother earth can’t take any more of this pollution,” Judy Wilson, chief of the Canadian Neskonlith Indian Band, said during the signing ceremony in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The treaty comes as oil pipeline development has faced major pressure in North Dakota, where developers of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline want to build a portion of the line less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation.

The pipeline, now under a court injunction, has inspired thousands of tribe members to move into camps near the North Dakota construction site and triggered hundreds of demonstrations across the country. The tribe says cultural and water resources are at risk, while developers say the project is safe and creates jobs.

The Dry Weather That’s Hitting The Tar Sands Industry Is ‘A Preview Of The Future,’ Scientist Says

Some 50 tribes, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, have signed onto the treaty, saying they will target proposed development by Kinder Morgan, TransCanada, and Enbridge Inc., Reuters reported. Tribes have for the most part opposed fossil fuel development in the past, particularly when it is close to reservations, but the treaty points to a more coordinated opposition.

Alberta’s oil sands are the third-largest proven crude oil reserve in the world, next to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Tar sands mining involves removing the top layer of organic matter — trees and plants — before heavy crude oil is filtered from the sand and clay below. Three barrels of water are needed for every barrel of oil extracted from the tar sands, according to Friends of the Earth.

Studies have found that air downwind of the largest tar sands producing region in Canada is as dirty as the air found in the world’s most polluted cities.

Tar sand development has also helped turn Canada’s energy industry into the largest producer of climate change-causing greenhouse gases in the country, a government report found in 2014.

But beyond the staggering effects tar sands mining can have, including significant deforestation and forest degradation, organizations have increasingly questioned crude transport development over concerns of spills.

People Who Live Downwind Of Alberta’s Oil And Tar Sands Operations Are Getting Blood Cancer

Just last summer, Alberta suffered the largest pipeline spill in the province in 35 years, when roughly 1,320,000 gallons, of emulsion — a mixture of bitumen, produced water, and sand — leaked from a Nexen Energy line.

“As sovereign Indigenous Nations, we act according to our inherent legal authority and responsibility to protect our respective territories from threats to our lands, waters, air and climate,” the new treaty reads. “Such right is also confirmed by the Constitution of Canada and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Tribes in Canada and U.S. join forces against tar sands pipeline development was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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Keith Scott’s widow recorded video of police killing her husband

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 10:36am
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police chief Kerr Putney and Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts. CREDIT:AP Photo/Chuck Burton

Video of the moment Charlotte Mecklenburg Police killed Keith Scott on Tuesday afternoon has been published by NBC News.

No gun is visible on the ground near Scott’s feet in the video, as shown in a photograph that police have claimed showed the gun they say Scott had in his hand when he was killed. The moment the photograph would have been taken is not shown in NBC’s edit of the video, which fades out with officers in different positions. A call to CMPD for clarification was not immediately returned.

The recording was made by Reykia Scott, the deceased’s widow, who can be heard talking to both the officers surrounding her husband’s truck and to her husband.

Footage shows fatal encounter between Charlotte cops, Keith Lamont Scott

As officers repeatedly scream “drop the gun,” Reykia Scott — standing several feet away outside the truck where her husband is sitting — repeatedly tells them he does not have a gun, will not do anything to them.

She also tells officers he has a traumatic brain injury, and had just taken his meds. She implores them not to shoot him, and instructs Keith to get out of the car so that the officers will not break the windows.

Then four gunshots. After raising her voice for a moment, Scott’s voice dips to a calm recitation.

“Yes we’re over here 9453 Lexington Court. These are the police officers who shot my husband,” she says. “And he better live. He better live. Because he didn’t do nothing to them.”

The camera is moving and pointing at the ground at the moment that Scott gets out of the car, but he can be seen standing in the open between officers for a moment before the shots. The exact moments of the killing are not on screen, as the camera is again moving.

The footage is the public’s first hard look at what happened. Police have insisted that Scott was killed because he posted an imminent deadly threat to officers. The cell phone video shows that officers had guns drawn for at least two minutes, shouting at the man to get out of his car.

Charlotte leaders reverse course, pledge to release video of Keith Scott killing

Police footage exists but has not been released. Until this morning, city leaders insisted they could not release the video. They now say they will, but have not yet given a specific time for the release. They have also indicated that the videos do not show Scott ever pointed a weapon at officers.

Scott’s family’s attorney, who has seen the videos, say that they do not make clear “what, if anything” Scott was holding in his hands, but do show he was backing up with his hands at his sides when he was killed.

This is a breaking news post and will be updated.

Below is a full transcript of the video shot by Reykia Scott.

REYKIA SCOTT: Don’t shoot him. Don’t shoot him. He has no weapon. He has no weapon. Don’t shoot him.

OFFICERS: Drop the gun! Drop the gun! Drop the fucking gun!

REYKIA SCOTT: Don’t shoot him.

OFFICERS: Drop the gun!

REYKIA SCOTT: Don’t shoot him. He didn’t do anything.

OFFICERS: Drop the gun! Drop the gun!

REYKIA SCOTT: He doesn’t have a gun.

OFFICERS: Drop the gun!

REYKIA SCOTT: He has a [traumatic brain injury]. He’s not gonna do anything to you guys. He just took his medicine.

OFFICERS: Drop the gun! Drop the gun! Let me get fuckin [inaudible] up here.

REYKIA SCOTT: Keith, don’t let them break the windows. Come on out the car!

OFFICERS: Drop the gun!

REYKIA SCOTT: Keith. Don’t do it.

OFFICERS: Drop the gun!

REYKIA SCOTT: Keith get out the car. Keith! Keith! Don’t you do it. Don’t you do it. Keith! Keith! Keith! Don’t you do it!

[four shots]

REYKIA SCOTT: Did you shoot him? Did you shoot him? Did you shoot him? He better not be fucking dead. He better not be fucking dead. I know that fucking much. I know that much. He better not be dead. I’m not gonna come near you, I’m gonna record though. I’m not coming near you I’m gonna record though. He better be alive cause I cau — You better be alive, how bout that. Yes we’re over here 9453 Lexington Court. These are the police officers who shot my husband. And he better live. He better live. Because he didn’t do nothing to them.

OFFICERS: Is everybody good? Are you good?

REYKIA SCOTT: He good, ain’t nobody touch nobody so they all good.

OFFICERS: You good?

REYKIA SCOTT: I know he better live. I know he better live. How bout that. I’m not coming to you guys but he better live. He better live. Y’all hear this and you see this right? He better live. He better live. I swear he better live. Yep. He better live. He better fucking live. He better live. Where is — He better fucking live and I can’t even believe the damn — I ain’t going nowhere I’m staying in the same damn spot. That’s ok did y’all call the police — I mean did y’all call the ambulance?

Keith Scott’s widow recorded video of police killing her husband was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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Charlotte leaders reverse course, pledge to release video of Keith Scott killing

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 9:48am
People who have seen the videos suggest they poke holes in the official story.Protesters block downtown Charlotte’s Interstate 277 on Thursday night, the third straight when people filled the city’s streets. CREDIT: AP Photo/Gerry Broome

Police video of the moment officer Brentley Vinson shot and killed Keith Scott on Tuesday will eventually be released, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police chief Kerr Putney said Friday.

The chief had previously said he “cannot” release the footage, a decision the department’s attorney told ThinkProgress is based upon their initial interpretation of a statute restricting the release of evidence in a criminal investigation.

But leaders changed course at a news conference Friday morning, following a third night of protests that were more peaceful than the previous two rounds of unrest. It’s now just “a matter of when” not if, Putney said.

“I do believe the video should be released. The question is on timing,” said Mayor Jennifer Roberts.

When the videos do become public, however, they may do more to inflame than mollify. An attorney for Scott’s family suggested the footage differs in some key ways from the story Putney’s department has put forth so far, after the family was allowed to view the tapes Thursday evening.

Charlotte’s top cop claims he can’t show you videos that prove Keith Scott’s killing was justified

Putney has said that Scott exited his vehicle holding a gun that police later recovered at the scene. But the videos show that he had been commanded to get out of the truck by the officers, according to attorney Justin Bamberg.

The tapes also show that Scott “did not aggressively approach them or raise his hands at members of law enforcement at any time,” the statement said. “When he was shot and killed, Mr. Scott’s hands were by his side and he was slowly walking backwards.”

Putney had acknowledged on Thursday that the videos did not show Scott ever pointing a gun at officers. The attorney’s statement indicates it’s impossible to tell if Scott had anything in his hands at all when he was killed.

If Putney and Roberts now want to share the images with the public, they will have to act fast. At the start of October, a new state law kicks in severely restricting their ability to make such decisions.

Police in Charlotte continue to take nearly the opposite approach to that adopted by commanders in Tulsa, OK, this week after the killing there of Terence Crutcher by officer Betty Shelby last Friday.

The Tulsa Police Department released multiple videos of the 43-year-old’s fatal encounter with Shelby on Monday. The videos showed Crutcher calm, with his hands raised and empty, in the moments just before he was killed.

Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter on Thursday afternoon, less than a week after the incident and three days after the video release. District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler opted to bypass the grand jury process that has been used to delay and even prevent charges against cops in similar cases in recent years, bringing an indictment directly.

This City Will No Longer Use Grand Juries For Cop-Involved Killings

Tulsa also has not seen the kind of anger and violence that convulsed Charlotte this week — despite images proving Crutcher was unarmed, unthreatening, and had his hands up when he was killed.

While Thursday night’s protests in Charlotte were almost entirely peaceful, clashes raged between police and civilians for two nights in a row after the city described Scott as posing an “imminent deadly threat” to officers. A protester was shot and killed during the second night, and more than 20 officers and civilians were hurt.

The contrasting approaches in the two cities also break from their historical reputations around racial conflict and comity.

The lack of transparency in Charlotte belies the city’s reputation as a progressive, integrated place — a reputation earned early in the city’s history, but increasingly at odds with reality there.

Tulsa, meanwhile, was home to one of the largest episodes of white-on-black race rioting in American history back in 1921. Two white men went on a shooting spree targeting black residents there in 2012. A murder there earlier this year featured racist overtones. And the city was founded by a KKK member, in a state notorious for historic crimes against Native Americans.

Yet in Tulsa, the small measure of accountability and justice that can be afforded to the Crutcher family has come swiftly, and protests have not led to physical conflict.

Charlotte leaders reverse course, pledge to release video of Keith Scott killing was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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What’s it like to be a refugee? This new exhibit invites you to find out.

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 9:45am
“It’s not like people choose to live in this situation.”A young child is lifted from a boat containing approximately 650 people during a rescue in the Mediterranean Sea by the Bourbon Argos. CREDIT: AP Photo/Francesco Zizola

You’re sleeping in bed. A blast hits nearby. You jolt up in bed, startled. Another blast hits, this time closer. And another. The last one shatters your windows and leaves a deep crack in the wall. There’s silence. Then there’s screaming. There’s ringing and blood in your ears. Dust and debris everywhere. You think fast. You gather your kids. You grab your keys and your wallet. But your car is no longer there. There’s a big gaping hole in the street where it used to be.

You and your kids are running.

You leave everything behind: photos, clothes, glasses, books, diplomas, pets. You don’t know where you’re going. There are others outside. You run together. You wind up along the coast. You get on an overcrowded boat that you’re sure is holding way too many people. It starts to take in water.

Some version of this experience has played out for the 65.3 million displaced people in the world, about 21 million of whom are classified as refugees. But for other people who haven’t been forced from their homes, it may be hard to relate to what refugees have gone through.

That’s why the international emergency medical organization Doctors Without Border/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) organized Forced from Home, a traveling exhibition that allows people to see the refugee crisis up close through the eyes of aid workers.

An elderly Burundian refugee woman, Therese Njebarikanye, 70, carrying firewood in Nyarugusu camp in Tanzania. CREDIT: Luca Sola

MSF organizers hope the immersive exhibit may help “close the distance between a far-off, unfathomable crisis in a place like Syria and people in lower Manhattan or Washington, D.C. or Philadelphia — and make people put themselves in the shoes of someone who has a matter of minutes to decide what to take with them on a journey that they will probably never return from in terms of coming back home,” Jason Cone, the executive director for MSFUSA, told ThinkProgress.

According to a MSF press release, the exhibit will include materials from refugee camps, rescue missions, and emergency medical projects from around the world, along with photos and stories displaced people. Visitors can also take part in an immersive 360-degree video and virtual reality (VR) component that drops them into various refugee camps where aid workers can talk about the situation there.

Visitors can undergo an immersive experience at the MSF exhibit. EDWIN TORRESGuests receive a passport upon arrival that will determine their journey throughout the exhibit. EDWIN TORRESThe exhibit displays tent shelters that could sleep entire families for several months, and in some cases, several years. EDWIN TORRES

Starting on Friday, the exhibit will be on display for four days in New York City before it moves on to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Boston. Eventually, organizers hope to expand the project as part of a three-year traveling tour around the country.

The exhibit’s opening coincides with the end of a U.N. summit in New York seeking to coordinate a global solution to the largest migration crisis in more than 70 years. The declaration agreed to this week didn’t necessarily win everyone over — refugee advocates say that host countries could do more to help displaced people. But it was a start to get world leaders to understand that a more serious international response is needed.

MSF worker Michelle Mays, who works as a nurse and project coordinator, sees the exhibit as a way to share the experiences she’s witnessed on the ground in Nigeria, Jordan, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, among other places.

Mays just returned from the Borno state in northeast Nigeria, a country where about 7 million people — half of whom are children — need humanitarian assistance. There, she helped set up the emergency response for people displaced by the conflict between Nigerian military and the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. The south Borno town where she worked was holding thousands of displaced people who are now living anywhere they can find shelter, including in abandoned schools and underneath trees.

“Water supply is scarce. Shelter conditions is insufficient. People are living in overcrowded conditions and there are health concerns. There are also safety issues because the town is not functioning so people build their own systems of guarding and protecting themselves,” Mays recounted.

Mays hopes that the MSF exhibit could help people see the humanity in people who are trapped in difficult situations.

“We have an obligation as human beings to see other human beings as human beings. It’s difficult for me because you see people live in situations that they are forced to live in. It’s not like people choose to live in this situation,” Mays said. “These are our patients.”

Donald Trump Jr.’s Skittles tweet: inaccurate, dehumanizing, plagiarized, and rooted in anti…

Humanizing refugees in this way is a big departure from the current political environment, where displaced people from countries like Syria are being smeared as potential terrorist threats instead of treated with compassion.

After the terrorist attacks in Paris, France when a fake or stolen Syrian passport was found next to the body of a suicide bomber, more than two dozen U.S. governors started refusing to resettle Syrian refugees in their states. The state of Texas continues to refuse to cooperate with the federal government to resettle refugees on claims of potential terrorism threats, leaving nonprofit organizations to scramble to fill the void. Leading that fear-mongering campaign, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has tried to portray Syrian refugees as “Trojan Horses,” claiming they are unvetted before they enter the country. His son Trump Jr. recently compared Syrian refugees to poisoned candy.

“There’s a lot of hate and xenophobic discourse,” Cone said. “We want to bring this back to ‘these are human beings put in situations that are far out of their control.’”

What’s it like to be a refugee? This new exhibit invites you to find out. was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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