'This Is Sick': Unscripted and Unhinged Trump Reverts to Defending Neo-Nazis

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by Jake Johnson, staff writer, August 15, 2017

www.commondreams.org

'This Is Sick': Unscripted and Unhinged Trump Reverts to Defending Neo-Nazis

David Duke among white supremacists thanking president for standing up for "the truth" on Charlottesville

After largely sticking to the script on Monday, President Donald Trump "showed his true colors" once again at an impromptu press conference Tuesday at Trump Tower, where he suggested that white supremacists and counter demonstrators were both to blame for the deadly violence that broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, and argued that torch-wielding neo-Nazis were merely expressing peaceful disagreement with the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. 

"The president of the United States just defended neo-Nazis and blamed those who condemn their racism and hate. This is sick." 

—Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

In what many observers characterized as an "unhinged" display for a president, Trump repeatedly assured reporters that he watched the events that unfolded over the weekend "very closely," and came away with the conclusion that anti-racist protesters—who Trump claims "came charging in without a permit"—were "very violent," and argued that there were many "good people" among the white supremacists who participated in the so-called "Unite the Right" rally on Saturday.

"I think there's blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it," Trump said of the violence that left one woman dead and dozens injured.

The president also defended his delayed response to the white supremacist violence, saying he likes to "wait for the facts before commenting"—a rule that is evidently suspended when the perpetrators are thought to be Muslim.

"Making the statement when I made it was excellent," Trump said.

In an echo of Saturday, when Trump was praised by neo-Nazis for blaming "many sides" for the violence in Charlottesville, David Duke—former grand wizard of the KKK—thanked Trump following the Tuesday press conference for telling the "truth" about "leftist terrorists."

Among non-white supremacists, the reaction to Trump's comments was a mixture of horror and dismay. MSNBC commentator Chuck Todd said the press conference gave him "chills," and the Anne Frank Center called the president's remarks "nauseating" and "racist."

"This is unconscionable," concluded The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

"Trump is on camera right now defending the white supremacists at Charlottesville. Saying many were good people. No joke," wrote activist and New York Daily News writer Shaun King. "It's disgusting."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), writing shortly after the press conference came to a close, expressed similar outrage.

"The president of the United States just defended neo-Nazis and blamed those who condemn their racism and hate," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) declared on Twitter. "This is sick."

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'Unnerving': ICE Agents Carry Out Raids at Nearly 100 7-Elevens Across Nation

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by Andrea Germanos, staff writer, January 10, 2018

www.commondreams.org

'Unnerving': ICE Agents Carry Out Raids at Nearly 100 7-Elevens Across Nation

Top immigration official warns the blitz is "a harbinger of what's to come"

 

Immigrant rights advocates denounced the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids carried out Wednesday at nearly 100 7-Eleven stores across the nation.

According to Cristobal Gutierrez, employment legal advocate at Make the Road New York, they are "yet another example of the escalating attacks from the Trump administration and its rogue ICE agents on immigrant communities."

In the early morning raids at 98 stores in 17 states and Washington, D.C., agents conducted interviews and left audit notifications, and arrested 21 individuals suspected of being undocumented.

 "Today's actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce: ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable," said ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan.

"Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet," he added.

The management-targeting raids were conducted to follow up on 2013 investigations to ensure that "the company has taken the proper steps towards more responsible hiring and employment practices," ICE said.

Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc., for its part, put the blame for potential unlawful hiring on franchise owners, who "are solely responsible for their employees, including deciding who to hire and verifying their eligibility to work in the United States," the company said.

The National Immigration Law Center described the actions as "extremely unnerving," while Gutierrez called them "a family separation tactic—nothing more, nothing less—meant to stoke fear in the hearts of our community."

Both groups also underscored on that all workers, including those who are undocumented, have legal rights.

Derek Benner, a top official at ICE, told AP that the blitz was "the first of many" and "a harbinger of what's to come" for employers and could target any "industry, big, medium and small."

Gutierrez, however, stressed that "In a moment where Trump and ICE are doing everything they can to harm our communities, we are equipping our community with the tools they need to protect themselves and their families. Our communities are here to stay."

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'We Need Water!' San Juan Mayor Rips Trump's Inadequate Response to Puerto Rico Crisis

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by Jake Johnson, staff writer, October 08, 2017

www.commondreams.org

'We Need Water!' San Juan Mayor Rips Trump's Inadequate Response to Puerto Rico Crisis

"What you do when devastation hits you and there is no help on the horizon?"

 

 

 

As Trump administration officials—and President Donald Trump himself—continue to speak glowingly about ongoing recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, took to Twitter early Sunday to slam the U.S. government for painting a rosy picture that doesn't comport with the dire facts on the ground in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Under 12 percent of Puerto Rico's power has been restored, according to government data, and many still lack access to safe drinking water—a fact Cruz was quick to highlight.

"The American people want to help," Cruz wrote, "but the U.S. government does not want to help."

    Increasingly painful to undestand the american people want to help and US Gov does not want to help. WE NEED WATER! @cnnbrk

    — Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 8, 2017

Cruz then aimed a tweet directly at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Brock Long, accusing him of neglecting to respond to hospital power outages.

    Power collapses in San Juan hospital with 2 patients being transferred out. Have requested support from @FEMA_Brock NOTHING! @cnnbrk

    — Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 8, 2017

    What you do when devastation hits you and there is no help in the horizon. We will make it. pic.twitter.com/Powj7UDeFe

    — Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 8, 2017

In an interview on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, Long refused to even acknowledge criticism of his agency's sluggish response to Hurricane Maria, saying that the Trump administration has "filtered out" the San Juan mayor.

Long went on to insist that—despite abundant evidence to the contrary—the Puerto Rico recovery is progressing thanks to the Trump administration's efforts.

During his trip to Puerto Rico last week, Trump complained that the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria has "thrown our budget a little out of whack." He also said Puerto Rico's crisis is not a "real catastrophe like Katrina."

As Cruz and others desperately plead for help in the midst of Puerto Rico's humanitarian emergency, Trump is at his golf club in Virginia—the 70th day he has spent at a golf course during his presidency.

    Meanwhile, 18 days into one of the worst humanitarian emergencies in U.S. history, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico is begging for help. https://t.co/wqfL4HvqBV

    — Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) October 8, 2017

    That this blatant dereliction of duty in a time of crisis is barely making the news is an indictment of how far we've normalized the @potus.

    — Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) October 8, 2017

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'Working to Turn the Clock Back,' Sessions' DOJ Reverses Stance on Discriminatory Voting Law

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by Lauren McCauley, staff writer

www.commondreams.org

'Working to Turn the Clock Back,' Sessions' DOJ Reverses Stance on Discriminatory Voting Law

Voting Rights organizations arguing on behalf of Texas voters in the case Veasey v. Abbott have vowed to fight on 'without the DOJ'

Underscoring warnings that newly anointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions will not work to protect voting rights, news broke on Monday that the Trump administration is reversing its stance on whether Texas' photo identification law was enacted with discriminatory intent.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday after the trial was postponed following the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Under former President Barack Obama, the DOJ was slated to argue that the state had intentionally discriminated against Latino and African American voters when it passed the 2011 law, SB 14, and had in November submitted (pdf) hundreds of documents supporting that claim.

Gerry Hebert, director of Voting Rights and Redistricting with the Campaign Legal Center, broke news of the DOJ's reversal on Twitter before other voting rights organizations and observers confirmed the reports.

    BREAKING NEWS! Sessions' DOJ is abandoning its 6-year old claims that TX Photo ID law was enacted w/discriminatory intent. We will fight on!

    — Gerry Hebert (@GerryHebert) February 27, 2017

    BREAKING: DOJ switching positions under Sessions, will no longer argue TX #VoterID passed to intentionally discriminate. Hearing tomorrow.

    — Brennan Center (@BrennanCenter) February 27, 2017

    As recently as 12/2016, @TheJusticeDept agreed TX voter ID law intentionally discriminated. Under AG Sessions, they're now backtracking. pic.twitter.com/9751fhSka8

    — Lawyers' Committee (@LawyersComm) February 27, 2017

    AG Sessions working to turn the clock back. #DOJ abandoning its position that #Texas #VoterID law was adopted with discriminatory purpose.

    — Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) February 27, 2017

Voting Rights organizations—including the Campaign Legal Center, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Brennan Center for Justice, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the NAACP, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund—that are arguing on behalf of Texas voters in the case Veasey v. Abbott have vowed to fight on "without the DOJ."

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Danielle Lang, deputy director of voting rights with the Campaign Legal Center, said that the DOJ "informed plaintiffs in the case that it will be filing documents to formally drop its opposition to the Texas law. She called the decision an 'extraordinary disappointment,'" the Associated Press reported.

"It's a complete 360," Lang said. "We can't make heads or tails of any factual reason for the change. There has been no new evidence that's come to light."

At the same time, the turn-around comes as no real surprise given the new AG's abysmal record on voting rights. Talking Points Memo reporter Alice Ollstein dubbed it the "Sessions Effect" while others pointed to his history of supporting voter suppression efforts.

    Jeff Sessions suppressed Black voters during his career in AL. Today, he affirmed his intention to do same as AG. We'll carry on w/o DOJ.

    — Lawyers' Committee (@LawyersComm) February 27, 2017

SB 14 is said to be "the nation's strictest voter photo ID law that leaves more than half a million eligible voters who do not have the requisite types of ID from fully participating in the democratic process."

Summarizing the extensive legal battle thus far, TPM's Ollstein reports:

    Texas enacted the strict voter ID law in 2011, and it has been tied up in court battles ever since. Civil rights groups say the policy, which accepts gun licenses but not student IDs at the polls, discriminates against low-income and minority voters who are far less likely to possess an ID and face difficulties obtaining one. In some parts of the state, the groups argued in court, people would have to drive more than 100 miles to reach the nearest office where they could obtain and ID—a burden many cannot overcome.

    The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the state from fully enforcing the law for the 2016 presidential election—a move that preserved the voting rights of more than 16,000 Texans, according to state records. Last summer, the appeals court agreed with the challengers, which then included the Justice Department, that the law had the effect of discriminating against minority voters, but it sent the question of whether the law was intentionally discriminatory back to the district court for further review after the election.

On Tuesday, the district court will hear arguments on that particular question. Nation columnist Ari Berman posited that the DOJ argument will likely mimic the 5th Circuit Court position, which found that while the law has the "effect of discriminating against blacks [and] Latinos," as Berman put it, it was "not intentionally discriminatory."

As this is the first major voting rights case the DOJ faces under Sessions, observers note the case could have implications for other cases, such as in North Carolina, in which the federal government had sided against a state voting law.

However, since Sessions' confirmation, the DOJ has reversed course on several issues, including transgender rights and the use of private prisons.

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16 Years After 9/11, Muslims Still Central Targets in War With No End

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by Jessica Corbett, staff writer, September 11, 2017

www.commondreams.org

16 Years After 9/11, Muslims Still Central Targets in War With No End

On Monday, many Americans "mourn the often forgotten victims of the never-ending wars and draconian counter-terrorism policies of the post-9/11 world: the Muslim community."

As the nation on Monday mourned the nearly 3,000 lives lost 16 years ago in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the lifting of restrictions on the Trump administration's "Muslim ban" by the U.S. Supreme Court served as a timely reminder of how Muslims in the United States and worldwide continue to suffer from the so-called "War on Terror" launched in the wake of the 2001 attacks.

"The War on Terror was supposed to be about making our country safer. But as a Muslim American, I don't feel any safer," writes Maha Hilal, a professor and organizer, for Foreign Policy In Focus. Each year on September 11, in addition to mourning those killed in the 2001 attacks, she writes, "I also mourn the often forgotten victims of the never-ending wars and draconian counter-terrorism policies of the post-9/11 world: the Muslim community."

Hilal, a Muslim American who has lived in the United States for most of her life, describes what she learned in the wake of September 11, 2001:

"We'll be targets till we prove we're 'good' Muslims who are uncritical of foreign policy and who believe in the American dream."

"Religious freedom is a value that the United States cherishes, until of course Muslims try to claim it. Then it becomes a security concern."

"Different groups are targeted at different times under different umbrellas for our 'national security,' which is nothing more than legitimized and institutionalized racism and xenophobia."

Hilal also notes that although Muslims in the United States and abroad have much to fear from U.S. President Donald Trump's racist rhetoric and policies—such as the various iterations of the Muslim ban—the current president's words and actions have followed a path paved by his predecessors.

"While it's gotten worse under Trump, it's not something that started under him," she writes. "The Bush administration built the violent infrastructure of the war on terror, Obama expanded it, and Trump is simply building on it still."

Amid Trump's expansion of the war in Afghanistan, an increase in airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria—with estimates that the civilian death toll from bombings will double under Trump—and the administration's ongoing efforts to prevent Muslim refugees from entering the United States, the anniversary of the deadliest terror attack on American soil in U.S. history has motivated many to call for an abrupt end to the 16-year-old war.

"Any pretense that the U.S. intended to seek justice or increase world stability via its so-called War on Terror has been dramatically overshadowed by increased global resentment toward the U.S., which has in fact generated more terror attacks around the world," Dahr Jamail wrote for Truthout Monday.

"It is precisely this legacy that continues today: ongoing U.S. military violence abroad, increased domestic surveillance and repression at home, and a world more violent and less safe for all," Jamail added.

"We can still escape the endless and self-destructive War on Terror," Paul Rosenberg wrote for Salon on Sunday. "The key lies in resistance here at home."

On Monday, students at Amherst College hung a banner to express solidarity with Muslims impacted by policies that followed 9/11 and denounce the war.

Many turned to Twitter to express frustration with how Muslims are impacted by U.S. domestic and foreign policy, and to condemn the lengthy war.

 

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