Wine Train Admits They Falsely Accused Group Of Black Women Of Assaulting Other Passengers

CREDIT: LISA JOHNSON/FACEBOOK

THINK PROGRESS

The Wine Train has reversed course.

In a statement released today the Napa Valley Wine Train has apologized for kicking off a group of black women for laughing. After they exited the train, they were greeted by police.

“The Napa Valley Wine Train was 100 percent wrong in its handling of this issue,” said wine train chief executive officer Anthony “Tony” Giaccio. “We accept full responsibility for our failures and for the chain of events that led to this regrettable treatment of our guests.”

The women, who were members of a book club, were told by staff that they were being too loud. One white passenger was apparently irritated, telling them the train — which exists to serve alcohol — was “not a bar.”

After they were kicked off the company posted a message to Facebook accusing the women of “verbal and physical abuse” toward other guests and staff.

WINE TRAIN INCIDENT

In the Tuesday statement, the company admitted those charges were “inaccurate.”

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Lisa Johnson said that the post was only removed after she contacted Napa Valley Wine Train and threatened to sue if the false charges were not removed from Facebook.

The company is offering the group a free wine tour for 50 people. “You can enjoy yourself as loudly as you desire,” the company pledged.

Today, another man says he and a group of Latinos were discriminated against during an earlier trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train.

JUDD LEGUM

Inside AT&T’s ‘Deeply Collaborative’ Relationship With the NSA

Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

This story appeared on Truthdig ten days ago.  It’s relevancy is timeless…

TRUTHDIG 

Although the fact that telecom giants have been in cahoots with the National Security Agency at the expense of consumers’ privacy isn’t news, a fresh exposé by The New York Times about AT&T’s eager service to the intelligence organization is enough to make users unplug from the company once and for all.

Here are some of the details from the NYT’s scary story, posted Sunday:

While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.”

AT&T’s cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities, according to the documents, which date from 2003 to 2013. AT&T has given the N.S.A. access, through several methods covered under different legal rules, to billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks. It provided technical assistance in carrying out a secret court order permitting the wiretapping of all Internet communications at the United Nations headquarters, a customer of AT&T.

The N.S.A.’s top-secret budget in 2013 for the AT&T partnership was more than twice that of the next-largest such program, according to the documents. The company installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs on American soil, far more than its similarly sized competitor, Verizon. And its engineers were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency.

One document reminds N.S.A. officials to be polite when visiting AT&T facilities, noting, “This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship.”

The documents, provided by the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden, were jointly reviewed by The New York Times and ProPublica. The N.S.A., AT&T and Verizon declined to discuss the findings from the files. “We don’t comment on matters of national security,” an AT&T spokesman said.

The Times noted that, according to the NSA files Snowden leaked, the agency has been cultivating its cozy relationship with AT&T for decades.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson

10 things you need to know today: August 27, 2015

WDBJ-TV7 anchor Chris Hurst comforts meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

THE WEEK

1. Two Virginia journalists killed during live TV broadcast
A gunman fatally shot two Roanoke, Virginia, TV journalists — reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27 — during a live broadcast on Wednesday. The suspect was a former employee of their station — Vester Flanagan, also known by his on-air name, Bryce Williams. Flanagan, who was black, reportedly faxed ABC News after the white reporters were killed saying the attack was sparked by a June mass killing at a black Charleston, South Carolina church. He shot himself in the head after a high-speed chase, and died later in a hospital.

Source: Reuters

2. U.S. stocks end rout with huge gains
China’s battered benchmark Shanghai stock index gained 5.3 percentThursday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up by 619 pointson Wednesday — its third largest one-day gain ever. The dramatic rally ended six days of heavy losses fueled by a market nosedive in China, which stoked global fear of a slowdown of the world’s second largest economy. The S&P 500 soared 3.9 percent higher Wednesday as investors snapped up bargains after the big-stock index lost $2.1 trillion of value in six days.

Source: CNN, The Associated Press

3. Walmart stops selling assault-style rifles
Walmart will stop selling AR-15s and other assault-style rifles, a company spokesman said Wednesday. The decision reportedly stems from a drop in demand for the weapons, not the renewed pressure from gun-control advocates following a series of high-profile shootings. It was the second recent example of Walmart yanking merchandise connected to a hot-button debate. The retail giant this summer discontinued sales of Confederate flag merchandise after the Charleston church massacre suspect was linked to the flag and racist beliefs.

Source: Quartz

4. China arrests executives over Tianjin explosion
Chinese police have arrested 12 people in connection with this month’s massive Tianjin explosions, which killed 129 people, the state Xinhuanews agency reported Thursday. The suspects included the chairman, vice-chairman, and three deputy general managers of the logistics company whose warehouse, which was storing volatile chemicals, blew up. A day earlier China fired its top work safety regulator under suspicion of corruption.

Source: Reuters

5. Trump surges to biggest national polling lead yet
Donald Trump’s polling lead over the rest of the GOP presidential continued to grow on Wednesday. A new survey conducted by Gravis Marketing for the conservative One America News Network showed Trump with 40 percent, his strongest showing yet in a national poll and a nine-percentage-point gain since Gravis’ July poll. Ben Carson placed a distant second with 12 percent, followed by Jeb Bush at 10 percent, Ted Cruz at 7 percent, and John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, and Marco Rubio with 5 percent each.

Source: OAN

6. South Sudan president reluctantly signs peace deal
South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, signed a long-awaited peace dealWednesday to end a 20-month fight with rebels. Kiir, who has led the country since it seceded from Sudan in 2011, cautioned that he still had “serious reservations” about the agreement. He had asked for more time to consider it last week, but faced threats of United Nations sanctions if he didn’t sign within a two-week deadline. Rebel leader Riek Machar, who is expected to become vice president under the deal, signed last week in Ethiopia.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

7. Biden questions whether he has “emotional fuel” for presidential run
Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he does not know whether he has the “emotional fuel” for another election campaign, countering mounting speculation that he was preparing to launch a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Biden reportedly said in a conference call with Democratic National Committee members that he would only run if his “whole heart and my whole soul” were in the race, but that both were “pretty well banged up.” Biden’s son Beau died of cancer in May at age 46.

Source: CBS News

8. Aurora theater killer gets 12 life sentences plus 3,318 years
A Colorado judge on Wednesday gave Aurora movie-theater killer James Holmes 12 life sentences — one for each person he murdered during a July 2012 screening of a Batman movie. Judge Carlos Samour Jr. added 3,318 years in prison for attempted murder and other crimes. It was the maximum sentenced allowed after the jury ruled out the death penalty. “The defendant will never be a free man again — ever,” an emotional Samour said. “He will be behind bars in a locked facility every day for the rest of this life.”

Source: The New York Times

9. Appeals court tells Kentucky clerk she has to issue same-sex marriage licenses
A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld a ruling ordering Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk Kim Davis to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Davis, citing religious objections, stopped issuing the licenses in June, the day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state gay-marriage bans were unconstitutional. Two straight couples and two gay couples sued Davis and won. The lower court delayed its order to give Davis time to appeal, but the appellate court denied her request for a stay.

Source: The Associated Press

10. Civil rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson dies at 104
Amelia Boynton Robinson, one of the organizers of the 1965 Selma civil rights march known as Bloody Sunday, died Wednesday in Montgomery, Alabama. She was 104. Boynton Robinson was bloodied and knocked unconscious by Alabama troopers who attacked 600 black marchers with billy clubs, whips, and tear gas as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in an attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery to demand voting rights. Earlier this year, President Obama pushed her across the bridge in a wheelchair in a commemoration of the historic march.

Source: The New York Times

Harold Maass

Donald Trump’s New Fan: Former KKK Leader David Duke

LITTLE GREEN FOOTBALLS

The latest well-known personality to reveal that he’s a fan of Donald Trump and his crazed xenophobic message: former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.

“I praise the fact that he’s come out on the immigration issue. I’m beginning to get the idea that he’s a good salesman. That he’s an entrepreneur and he has a good sense of what people want to hear what they want to buy,” said Duke on his radio program last week after noting that he had previously been critical of Trump’s run.

“And I think he realizes that his path to popularity toward power in the Republican Party is talking about the immigration issue. And he has really said some incredibly great things recently. So whatever his motivation, I don’t give a damn. I really like the fact that he’s speaking out on this greatest immediate threat to the American people.”

Of course, this makes perfect sense; it’s exactly the audience Trump is aiming for. But Duke’s support for Trump isn’t whole-hearted; he thinks The Donald still has too many “deep Jewish connections” to be really trustworthy.

Alabama Is About To Make It Much Harder To Get A Voter ID

CREDIT: ALICE OLLSTEIN

THINK PROGRESS

With Alabama’s Republican-controlled legislature refusing to consider any tax hikes, the state is preparing to take drastic measures to address its budget crisis — including shutting down all state parks and the vast majority of Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs). The proposal to close dozens of DMVs across the state — starting in rural areas — could hurt voters who need access to those offices in order to get the ID they need to cast a ballot.

Susan Watson, the executive director of the Alabama American Civil Liberties Union, told ThinkProgress this could put up yet another barrier to voting for the state’s lowest-income residents.

“They want to disenfranchise the most people possible,” she said. “It seems like they work hard to try to find ways to make it harder to vote. We have zero days of early voting. You aren’t allowed to vote absentee unless you’re out of the county or working more than 10 hours on Election Day. It’s already hard to get an ID if you are in a rural place and don’t have a DMV close to you. But if they shut these offices down, I’m wondering what people are supposed to do.”

The proposed budget leaves just four DMV offices in the state, in Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile and Huntsville, meaning potentially several hours of driving and long lines for the tens of thousands of people who live far from those cities.

“This won’t just hurt voters,” said Watson. “I can see a lot more people getting arrested and fined for not having a current drivers license, since it’ll be harder for them to get one.”

Alabama implemented its voter ID law shortly after the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which required the state get preapproval from the Justice Department every time it changed its voting laws because of its long history of racially-based and often violent voter suppression. The ACLU and other voting rights groups argue the law disproportionately burdensthe elderly, people of color, students, and the poor — who may have difficulty finding transportation to an office during the narrow hours they are open, and who may lack a birth certificate or other document needed to get the free identification card.

The state itself estimated that 250,000 eligible voters lacked the proper ID, but gave out only about 1,000 as of last April.

In the 2014 midterm elections, hundreds of voters were disenfranchised by the ID requirement, and election turnout was the lowest it has been since the mid-1980s. As an example of the law’s harm, Watson cited the case of Willie Mims, a 93-year-old African American Alabama resident who was turned away from the polls last year because he didn’t have a proper ID. Mims had voted in nearly every election since World War II.

But Ed Packard, Alabama’s Director of Elections, defended the law, telling ThinkProgress that if the DMVs close, voters can still go to their Board of Registrar’s office in their county, or meet up with the mobile unit that travels around the state processing voter IDs. But he also admitted the Registrar offices have no evening or weekend hours, which presents difficulties for those with full-time jobs or multiple jobs. As for the mobile unit, it generally visits just one county per day and is open for just two hours at a time. Though Packard says his office plans to keep running the mobile unit through October, he told ThinkProgress that the future of the service is uncertain because of the current budget crisis.

As it becomes more difficult to get a voter ID, the state may demand more people obtain one. Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill told ThinkProgress earlier this year that he is pushing for the state to require a photo copy of an ID from those who vote absentee — who currently do not have to provide one. He added that Alabama residents should “forgive people” for past racial voter suppression policies and “move on.”

The state legislature will decide whether to go forward with the budget cuts and office closures during a special session in the coming weeks.

ALICE OLLSTEIN

Breitbart posts flagrantly racist headline on Virginia shooting, edits it to be only slightly less racist

AMERICA BLOG

This morning, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were murdered on live television. The suspect, Vester Flanagan, who also goes by the name Bryce Williams, has reportedly shot himself after a lengthy police chase, but as of noon today law enforcement officials were saying that he did not die from his self-inflicted injuries.

Flanagan had previously worked with Parker at the same news station, and was let go two years prior. In addressing the shooting, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe described him as a “disgruntled employee.”

Alison Parker and Adam Ward

As news of the events unfolded, America began to go through its familiar cycle for handling shooting tragedies. We were told to pray for the victims’ and their families. We were warned not to politicize the tragedy (and then we were warned that we would be warned not to politicize the tragedy). Journalists debated the ethics of watching or sharing footage of the shooting.

We also learned that last night, ABC received a 23-page fax from someone named Bryce Williams, which is being described as his “manifesto” that may or may not include his motive for the shooting. That document has been turned over to the authorities, and has not been released to the public. In other words, we don’t know why this shooting happened yet.

UPDATE 2:30 PM: ABC has now reported that the manifesto includes numerous references to Dylan Storm Roof, Seung-Hui Cho and the Columbine shooting, and also talked of a race war.

That is, with the exception of Breitbart, who had all the information they needed once they found out that Flanagan is black:

CNWMQOYU8AAQhyVAfter realizing that this headline may have been in bad taste, Breitbart edited it. It is now only slightly less racist:

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 12.19.36 PM

I guess anyone can write “racial motive suspected” and have it be true if the person writing the headline is the one doing the suspecting, but Jesus Tapdancing Christ, what the actual hell? These are the same conservatives who remind us that America needs a cooling off period to pray and reflect before it’s appropriate to discuss shooting tragedies — and given the rate at which they happen, a one-day cooling off period is just long enough to wait until the next one happens. But as soon as the suspect in said tragedy is black, the culture warriors at Breitbart are magically cooled off and ready to politicize away.

Except their political issue isn’t fewer gun deaths; it’s racial animosity. Because why misdirect about mental health and violent video games when you have skin color to work with?

Univision chief lambasts Trump for Ramos ouster

Screenshot

POLITICO – DYLAN BEYERS ON MEDIA

Univision’s Randy Falco, president and C.E.O. of the Hispanic-American news organization, had strong words for GOP candidate Donald Trump following his altercation with Univision reporter Jorge Ramos.

“The recent treatment that Jorge Ramos received at Mr. Trump’s press conference in Iowa is beneath contempt,” the statement begins.

“As a Presidential candidate, Mr. Trump is going to get tough questions from the press and has to answer them. Jorge Ramos is one the most professional, dedicated and respected journalists I have seen or worked with in my 40 years in media. He always asks hard questions of candidates and elected officials, regardless of party or issue. Mr. Trump demonstrated complete disregard for him and for the countless Hispanics whom Jorge seeks to represent through press questions that are at the heart of the First Amendment. I remain grateful for the first-rate journalistic work that Jorge and all of his news colleagues at Univision and Fusion do to bring all points of view to the 57 million Hispanics in this country.”

On Tuesday evening, Trump ejected Ramos from a press conference in Iowa after the anchor tried to ask Trump questions despite not being called on. A security guard escorted Ramos from the room, but about ten minutes later he was let back in and engaged in a five minute back and forth with Ramos over his immigration ideas.

“The only thing I wanted to do was to ask a question,” Ramos said in an interview Wednesday night with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. “I followed my turn. Two reporters before me asked their questions and then I said I have a question on immigration and no one else said anything … I followed the rules and he just didn’t like the questions.”

Ramos said Trump’s ideas and words on immigration and freedom of the press are “dangerous” and “extreme,” and noted he had never been kicked out of a press conference before.

“Those are the things that you see in dictatorships not in the United States of America,” Ramos said. “It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t like it there are questions that need to be answered.”

10 things you need to know today: August 26, 2015

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

THE WEEK

1. Stocks remain volatile due to China fears
U.S. stocks rallied briefly from a day of huge losses before closing sharply lower on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down more than 200 points, or about 1.3 percent. The S&P 500 Index fell by 1.4 percent, and the Nasdaq 0.4 percent. The Dow is now down 12 percent on the year. Fear has been growing among investors that trouble in China, the world’s second largest economy, could spread. China’s central bank cut a key interest rate to stabilize markets, but the benchmark Shanghai index still fell by 1.3 percent on Wednesday.

Source: Reuters, BBC News

2. Trump jumps to huge lead over GOP field in New Hampshire
Donald Trump surged to his biggest lead yet in Public Policy Polling’s latest survey of New Hampshire, with more than three times the support of his nearest rival in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Trump had the backing of 35 percent of respondents, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich next at 11 percent. Trump was included when PPP surveyed the state in April. Among Democrats, Vermont Sen.Bernie Sanders led national frontrunner Hillary Clinton, 42 percent to 35 percent.

Source: PPP

3. Pentagon watchdog looks into report of skewed intelligence on ISIS fight
The Pentagon’s inspector general has opened an investigation into whether officials at the U.S. Central Command have slanted intelligence assessments to give a more optimistic account of the fight against the Islamic State. At least one Defense Intelligence Agency analyst reported that officials had deleted negative conclusions from assessments prepared for President Obama and other policy makers. Officials at Centcom, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the White House declined to comment.

Source: The New York Times

4. Prosecutors file terrorism charge against suspect in French train attack
French prosecutors charged Ayoub el-Khazzani, the 26-year-old Moroccan suspect in last week’s on a high-speed train, with making a “targeted and premeditated” terrorist assault. The Moroccan man’s lawyers say he is not a terrorist, but a destitute man who was out to rob passengers. Prosecutors said he would have slaughtered people had five passengers, including three Americans, not intervened. Prosecutor François Molins said el-Khazzani watched a cellphone video calling for extremist violence minutes before boarding the train.

Source: Sky News, The Associated Press

5. Trump battles Fox News and Univision
Fox News chief Roger Ailes called on Donald Trump to apologize for his latest attack on host Megyn Kelly, whom Trump sparred with in the first GOP presidential debate early this month. Trump, via Twitter, called Kelly a bad journalist this week. Ailes called the attack “disturbing.” Trump also clashed with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who was ejected from a Trump event in Iowa on Tuesday for demanding details on Trump’s immigration policy without being called on. “He can’t just stand up and scream,” Trump said. “He’s obviously a very emotional person.”

Source: ABC News, MarketWatch

6. Judge temporarily halts executions in Mississippi
A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesdayblocking Mississippi from using two drugs in executions, temporarily halting the death penalty in the state. The decision by U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate came after three death-row inmates filed a lawsuit saying they could experience excruciating pain during a lethal injection in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Eight Amendment guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment. A Mississippi Department of Corrections spokeswoman said the state would appeal.

Source: The Associated Press

7. Two NATO soldiers killed in attack by gunmen in Afghan security force uniforms
Two men in Afghan military uniforms opened fire Wednesday on a vehicle carrying NATO troops in southern Helmand province, killing two NATO soldiers, the U.S.-led coalition said in a statement. The attackers were killed when the NATO troops returned fire. NATO, which still has about 13,000 troops in the country to train Afghan forces, did not immediately release the slain soldiers’ names or nationalities. It was the third so-called insider attack by assailants in Afghan security-force uniforms.

Source: The Associated Press

8. Man who once jumped White House fence killed at courthouse
A man who jumped an outer wall by the White House in March was shot and killed at a Pennsylvania courthouse Tuesday after allegedly slashing a sheriff’s deputy with a knife. A second deputy shot the man, 34-year-old Curtis Smith, after the attack at the security entrance to the Chester County Justice Center in West Chester. It was not immediately clear why Smith was at the courthouse. The wounded deputy had cuts on his hands and arm, and was hospitalized in stable condition.

Source: CNN

9. Schilling dropped from Little League series broadcast over anti-Muslim tweet
ESPN pulled Curt Schilling from its Little League World Series broadcast team on Tuesday after he retweeted a post that said, “Only 5-10 percent of Muslims are extremists. In 1940, only 7 percent of Germans were Nazis. How’d that go?” The post promptly disappeared from his Twitter feed. The network said the tweet was unacceptable, and it had removed him “pending further consideration.” Schilling had no argument with the punishment, saying, “Bad choices have bad consequences.”

Source: The Associated Press

10. Marcy Borders, woman in a defining 9/11 photo, dies at 42
Marcy Borders, a 9/11 survivor whose photograph became one of the iconic images of the terror attacks, died this week a year after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. She was 42. Borders, then 28, worked as a legal assistant at the Bank of America on the 81st floor of 1 World Trade Center, but she was late to work that day. After the second of the Twin Towers fell, AFP photographer Stan Honda photographed her, stunned and covered in white dust. Borders suspected her cancer was related to 9/11.

Source: USA Today

Harold Maass

Sex abuse victim to file lawsuit against Josh Duggar: report

Josh Duggar (CNS News)

Josh Duggar (CNS News)

Finally, this cretin will go before a court of law…

THE RAW STORY

One of Josh Duggar’s molestation victims is planning to file a lawsuit against the reality show star and former anti-LGBT activist.

The suit will be filed by a victim who is not a family member, reported InTouch Weekly– which first broke the news about the molestation case.

The new report is based on anonymous sources.

Two of the 27-year-old Duggar’s sisters appeared last month on Fox News and admitted their brother had molested them more than a decade ago at their family’s home.

He molested two other sisters as they slept, according to investigators, along with a babysitter who was staying at the Duggar home.

Duggar admitted to sexually abusing the girls but was never prosecuted because police did not learn about the claims until the statute of limitations had run out.

A legal expert quoted by InTouch said victims would still be able to file a civil suit against the “19 Kids and Counting” star under Arkansas Code Annotated Section 16-56-130 – which allows civil action when a sexual abuse victim starts to experience the effects of the abuse years later.

A lawsuit would almost certainly force Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar to reveal what they knew about their son’s pattern of sexual abuse and any actions they took to cover up his actions.

“All the church elders who knew about this will have to be named,” a source told the magazine.

The legal expert told the magazine that the couple would not be able to invoke the Fifth Amendment because the criminal statute of limitations has expired for any crimes related to the alleged cover-up.

TLC has shelved their long-running popular reality show in the wake of the revelations but has made no long-term decision about the program.

HORROR: NEWS CREW SHOT DEAD ON AIR

THE HUFFINGTON POST

Suspect Was Ex-Anchor At Station… Shoots Self.. WATCH LIVE: News Conference… Sued Another Network Over Racism… Slain Reporter’s Boyfriend: We Wanted To Get Married… Suspect Posted Video Of Shooting Online… ABC Received Fax From Alleged Shooter… Station Chief: ‘I’m Not Sure Whether I Want The Shooter To Live Or Die’…Father Of Victim: ‘My Grief Is Unbearable’…