U.S. Politics

1 Shocking Statistic Exposes Chicago’s Racial Divide

1 Shocking Statistic Exposes Chicago's Racial Divide

Image Credit: Getty Images


What do 94% of the people who donated to embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election campaign in 2015 have in common?

They’re all white.

Read more: Bernie Sanders Just Took the Boldest Stance of Any Candidate on the Laquan McDonald Case

Amid controversies over cuts to public services and education in disproportionately poor and minority neighborhoods, and months before suspicions over the mayor’s role in suppressing inquiries into the police killing of 17-year-old black teenager Laquan McDonald became a major controversy, Emanuel was financing his $24.4 million campaign almost exclusively via white people, a new study finds.

1 Shocking Statistic Exposes Chicago's Racial Divide

About 94% of donors to Emanuel’s campaign were white, even though white people comprise just 39% of Chicago’s total population, according to the new report, from progressive think tank Demos. Emanuel’s donors almost entirely (84%) gave large contributions of $1,000 or more. A staggering 80% of his donors had an annual income of at least $100,000 or more, despite just 15% of Chicagoans making six figures.

“What’s so extraordinary about the Chicago donor class is for such a diverse city to have such a white donor class,” study author and Demos policy analyst Sean McElwee said in an email. “Though data are still preliminary, Emanuel’s donor class does appear whiter than the other mayors of diverse cities I’ve examined.”

Additionally, just 36% of Emanuel’s donors actually lived in the city of Chicago.

His progressive competitor, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, recruited a considerably more diverse donor pool — but one that managed to raise just $7.1 million.

1 Shocking Statistic Exposes Chicago's Racial Divide

1 Shocking Statistic Exposes Chicago's Racial Divide

According to McElwee, the data suggests Emanuel’s key bankrollers share an entirely different set of priorities than the majority of Chicago voters. As mayor, Emanuel has presided over major budget cuts to public services.

“There are deep divides between the donor class and the general public,” McElwee wrote in the report. “The current path Chicago is following, with cuts to mental health services, infrastructure and public schools, is responsive to the preferences of the donor class, not average Chicagoans.” He added,

Chicago has closed 49 schools, predominantly in black neighborhoods. In addition, the city has closed six of the city’s 12 mental health clinics, which was supposed to pull in $2.2 million in savings, though the city then paid $500,000 to private facilities in order to meet demand. A recent wave of spending cuts hit Chicago State University, the only state college that predominantly serves black students, particularly hard. The college may have to close, or dramatically reduce staff and classes offered.

Following Emanuel’s successful re-election campaign, the McDonald shooting controversy saw the mayor’s popularity rating dip to a record 27% low, with four out of 10 Chicagoans saying he should resign, according to the Chicago Tribune. McElwee said, 

While we don’t have data about donor attitudes towards police, we do know that whites tend to be more supportive of punitive punishments, more supportive of police and blind to the realities of discrimination. Thus, the overwhelmingly white donor class could certainly bias criminal justice policy. It’s worth wondering how Rahm might have responded to the McDonald shooting if his donor class was 94 percent black.

“So far in the 2016 election cycle, we’ve had conversations about race and we’ve had conversations about money in politics, but those conversations have rarely been linked,” he added. “I hope that this report will lead to a conversation about how money in politics prevents action on racial justice.”

By Tom McKay

U.S. Politics

Protesters Take To Chicago Streets After Rahm Emanuel Apologizes For Police Scandal


‘Mayor Emanuel is morally corrupt!’

CHICAGO (AP) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel, known for keeping vise-like control over Chicago and his own political image, finds himself in the weakest position of his long public career as he struggles to respond to a police scandal, claims of cover-ups at City Hall and calls for his resignation.

The former White House chief of staff on Wednesday used a special meeting of the Chicago City Council to try to calm the firestorm, apologizing for the fatal shooting of a black teen by a white officer and promising “complete and total” reform.

“I take responsibility for what happened because it happened on my watch. And if we’re going to fix it, I want you to understand it’s my responsibility with you,” Emanuel said during a sometimes-emotional speech that lasted nearly 45 minutes. “But if we’re also going to begin the healing process, the first step in that journey is my step.

“And I’m sorry.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks during a special City Council meeting that he called to discuss a police abuse scandal Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

The remarks were Emanuel’s lengthiest and seemingly most heartfelt since the public got its first look last month at the squad car video that showed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald veering away from officer Jason Van Dyke before he began shooting, hitting McDonald 16 times. Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder.

Critics have repeatedly accused him of keeping the footage under wraps until after he won a tougher-than-expected spring election for a second term. The mayor has denied the claim and acknowledged Wednesday that he should have pressed for prosecutors to wrap up their investigation more quickly so the video could be made public.

But his contrition did little to ease the anger in the streets. Hours after the speech, protesters overflowed an intersection in front of City Hall, then marched through the financial district and blocked a major intersection for a short time as police directed traffic around them. Officers guarded the doors to the Chicago Board of Trade as demonstrators approached.

Outside City Hall, retired schoolteacher Audrey Davis carried a sign reading, “Mayor Emanuel is morally corrupt!”

Calling the speech “politically expedient,” Davis said, “I don’t want to hear anything from him except, ‘I tender my resignation.'”

Davis, who is black, said she fears for her 25-year-old grandson when he comes home from college.

“Each time he comes home, my heart is in my throat in case he meets up with a racist cop,” Davis said. “We shouldn’t have to live like this.”

Since the video emerged, Emanuel has scrambled to contain the crisis. He fired his police superintendent after days of insisting the chief had his support. He also reversed course on whether the Justice Department should launch a civil-rights investigation, saying he would welcome it only after presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other top Democrats endorsed the idea.

In news conferences, he has appeared worn down, fumbling answers to reporters’ questions or avoiding them entirely by walking away, with cameras rolling.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him grapple with anything quite like this,” said longtime ally and adviser David Axelrod, who also served with Emanuel in the Obama White House.

Axelrod said Emanuel worked on the speech all weekend, with input from him and others. But he said the speech alone isn’t what matters.

“You don’t earn trust back with one speech,” Axelrod said. “You earn trust back with actions.”

Emanuel has repeatedly said he will not step down, and the next election — should he seek another term — isn’t until 2019.

Chicago has no statute or process in place for a mayor to be recalled, and most of the cries for Emanuel to resign have come from grassroots activists and residents, not from the city’s political powerbrokers.

The most likely impact will come in the form of pushback from aldermen, who have long been considered a rubber stamp for the mayor’s initiatives, said political consultant Delmarie Cobb. She said the black community “has been awakened,” and Emanuel can expect a tougher re-election if he tries again.

“He definitely won’t run unopposed, and it will be a viable candidate,” said Cobb, who is black.

The mayor won re-election in April by a healthy margin, but only after suffering the embarrassment of not getting a majority in a five-candidate February election, forcing the first mayoral runoff in decades.

At the time, he pledged to listen more and to “bridge the gaps between the things that divide us.”

In the months that followed, his public schools CEO, who oversaw closings of about 50 schools that angered many residents, was indicted on corruption charges. Emanuel also pushed through the largest tax increase in city history to deal with a budget crisis.

His administration has warned of massive mid-year layoffs in the public schools, and is in the midst of rocky contract negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union. This week, union members are voting on whether to authorize a strike. They could hit the picket lines as early as March.

After the video was made public, other flashpoints kept coming. Footage was released of another police shooting — this one deemed justified by prosecutors — and of another man who died in police custody. A review by the city’s quasi-independent police watchdog agency showed that of 409 shootings involving police since 2007, the agency found only two with credible allegations against an officer.

Police reports from the McDonald shooting included officer accounts that differed dramatically from the video.

In his speech, Emanuel noted the problems are ones that have plagued Chicago for decades, and that there are no simple solutions.

“We have to be honest with ourselves about this issue. Each time when we confronted it in the past, Chicago only went far enough to clear our consciences so we could move on,” he said. “This time will and must be different.”


U.S. Politics

An Officer Has Been Charged With The Murder Of Laquan McDonald. But What About The Cover-Up?



After the first murder charge against an active-duty Chicago police officer in over three decades, the city’s political establishment is eager to move on.

But while Officer Jason Van Dyke could face 20 years or more in prison if convicted of killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald over a year ago without apparent justification, the broader breakdown of the police department and city government’s responsibilities to McDonald and the broader Chicago community threatens to go unpunished.

The whole ugly thing would likely have gotten swept under the rug if journalists had not exposed an autopsy report and video footage that contradict the official narrative about what happened to McDonald. One of those journalists is Jamie Kalven, who emphasized the extensive and toxic cover-up of the killing to the Chicago Reporter on Tuesday.

Instead of taking statements from eyewitnesses, Kalven says, police moved people away from the scene of the killing. They did not take down contact information to ensure they could follow up later, witnesses told the journalist. Cops even went into a nearby fast food store and deleted nearly an hour and a half of security camera footage that may have captured the killing, the local NBC news affiliate reported back in the spring.

After neutralizing the potential for an alternative narrative based on civilian accounts and security camera footage, the police infrastructure offered its own version of events to the public. According to Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden, “none of the officers who responded had a Taser to use on the teen and were trying to detain him long enough for one to arrive.” Camden told the Chicago Tribune that McDonald lunged at the cops, who shot him in self-defense.

The video Kalven helped expose indicates Camden was lying, or at least relaying a story that bears little resemblance to the truth. McDonald is seen jogging and then walking in the middle of a street, roughly parallel to a line of cops and cop cars. He is starting to veer away from the officers when Van Dyke empties a 16-round clip into him in about 15 seconds. Charging documents indicate that 14 of Van Dyke’s shots came while McDonald was already on the ground, and that one of the two fired while the child was standing struck him in the back first.

Van Dyke opened fire just six seconds after exiting his car and just half a minute after his vehicle arrived at the scene, according to prosecutors. Less than a minute passed between Van Dyke’s arrival to a scene where fellow officers were working to contain McDonald and detain him, and when the accused murderer had to stop and reload his service pistol because he’d fired a full clip into McDonald.

Yet the department itself claimed that McDonald died of a single gunshot to the chest, not the 16 shots to the back, legs, arms, chest, and head that Van Dyke actually fired.

The documents also say that no other officers at the scene thought McDonald had done anything threatening toward Van Dyke, corroborating the appearance of events from the dashcam video. But the investigation that produced those statements from Van Dyke’s colleagues began only after reporters challenged the official story.

Today, even with the official story of McDonald’s death in tatters, city officials appear eager to limit the blame to Van Dyke. “One individual needs to be help accountable,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on a conference call with community leaders Monday.

Once Van Dyke is prosecuted, the mayor said, “we can go as a city and begin the process of healing.” That process seems unlikely to include accountability for Van Dyke’s colleagues who abetted the official story about why and how he killed McDonald.

It’s rare for police officers to face professional accountability over misconduct allegations, let alone to be prosecuted for a crime. But its rarer still to see prosecutors, supervisors, or city officials seek broader remedies for the offending officer’s co-conspirators even when video evidence indicates a cover-up. In part that’s because it’s tough to discern between an out-and-out cover-up and a more understandable degree of confusion in the immediate wake of a police killing.

Policework requires officers to arrive at a consistent narrative of events in general, PoliceMisconduct.net managing editor Jonathan Blanks said in an email. “Each case is different, but typically officers sign-off on one another’s official accounts for consistency in any case, whether or not there is misconduct or use of force. This isn’t necessarily malevolent on the part of the officers–consistent accounts build much stronger cases than cases that have conflicting accounts,” Blanks, who has studied policing for years, said.

That baseline dynamic of policework makes it hard for even the most aggressive prosecutor to discern between willful dishonesty and good-faith consensus between officers with different vantage points and recollections.

When a group of Fullerton, CA police officers beat Kelly Thomas to death as he cried out for his father and told his assailants he couldn’t breathe in 2011, city officials initially told reporters that Thomas had actually died of a drug overdose. They also said he’d been violently resisting arrest to such an extent that multiple officers had broken bones. Neither of those claims is true, and Thomas’ father has accused Fullerton officials of intentionally smearing his son’s character in the press to excuse an abuse of force. But the broken bones claim is partially supported by initial medical reports that the officers might have fractures, and an outside review commissioned by the city found officials did not intentionally deceive the public. Two of the officers were charged and later acquitted in Thomas’ death, and the city paid out a multimillion-dollar settlement to Thomas’s father.

After Officer Timothy Loehmann killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, he claimed he’d given the child multiple verbal warnings before shooting him in the chest. Loehmann said Rice, who was holding a toy gun rather than a real weapon, then reached into his waistband. “He gave me no choice, he reached for the gun and there was nothing I could do,” Loehmann told investigators. Prosecutors have commissioned reports from experts siding with Loehmann on the reasonableness of his decision to kill Rice. Video shows he in fact shot Rice less than two seconds after arriving on the scene, and is inconclusive on the claim that Rice reached for something. Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has accused Rice’s family of being out for money rather than justice and generally stalled on deciding whether or not to charge Loehmann in the killing, but investigations have revealed that other officers are not willing to corroborate Loehmann’s claims about yelling multiple warnings prior to shooting Rice.

Sometimes, though, the cover-up question is more clear-cut. Officer Michael Slager spent days telling the world that Walter Scott had tried to take his taser, forcing him to shoot Scott fatally in South Carolina last spring, before a cell phone video exposed that Slager had in fact shot a fleeing Scott repeatedly in the back. The video appears to show Slager dropping his taser near Scott’s body only after killing him. Slager’s police department backed up his story for a matter of days before the truth came out, leading prosecutors to charge the officer with murder.

Video similarly contradicted an initially-widespread narrative in the killing of Sam DuBose by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing. Tensing and multiple other officers said DuBose’s car had begun to drag Tensing, causing the officer to shoot the driver in self-defense. The video shows the car didn’t start moving until after Tensing put a bullet through DuBose’s head at point-blank range.

Anecdotes don’t satisfy. But there’s almost zero hard data that can shed light on the divide between legitimate officer consensus and willful cover-up. The police misconduct tracking site that Blanks helps run has flagged a small percentage of overall misconduct cases as involving some form of dishonesty by officers, but that’s a broad category.

“Our data is very limited for a number of reasons,” Blanks said. “The so-called Blue Wall of Silence is an informal institutional norm that tends to place officers’ loyalty to one another over professional dedication to justice,” in part because honest officers are afraid of what their coworkers would do to them if they don’t back a colleague’s story. That undermines the quality of the data across the board, and even those incidents where the Blue Wall breaks down can remain out of public view thanks to records laws. “The public is left to trust the administrative mechanisms to mete out officer punishments for violations…without the public eye watching over that you would see in a criminal trial,” Blanks said.


U.S. Politics



Video Of Laquan McDonald Shooting Sat In Secret… Cover Up… Reporter Who Forced Video’s Release Barred From News Event… Cop Emptied Pistol And Reloaded… Contradicts Police Narrative… Burger King Security Camera Footage Mysteriously Missing… MORE QUESTIONS: 4 New Videos Released… No Audio… Obama: I’m ‘Deeply Disturbed’… More Protests…

17 YEARS OLD, 16 SHOTS… HORROR… Modern-Day Lynching… Officer Had History Of Citizen Complaints… Chicago Tribune: ‘What Does It Take To Flag A Problem Cop?’… 99% Of Complaints Lodged Against Chicago Police In 2015 Went Nowhere… A Department Rotten To Its Core… Long History Of Failing To Hold Officers Accountable… RECALL RAHM: What Happens When A Mayor Ignores Half Of The City… The Other Laquan McDonalds: 109 Chicago Police Bullets Killed 19 Men Last Year…

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: April 8, 2015

(AP Photo/Courtesy of L. Chris Stewart)

The Week

1.South Carolina officer charged with murder in man’s death after traffic stop
A white North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder on Tuesday for fatally shooting a black man in the back as he ran away after a traffic stop. The officer, Michael Slager, had pulled over the man, Walter L. Scott, for having a broken taillight on Saturday. A foot chase allegedly ensued, and after using a Taser against Scott, Slager said he feared for his life and shot Scott eight times. A film taken by a bystander shows Slager drawing his gun and opening fire once Scott is about 15 to 20 feet away.

Source: The New York Times

2.Rahm Emanuel wins reelection in Chicago mayoral runoff
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel won reelection on Tuesday, defeating Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Emanuel, who served as chief of staff for President Obama, had 56 percent of the vote to Garcia’s 44 percent with nearly 99 percent of the vote counted. Garcia conceded defeat but said the hard-fought race sent Emanuel a message that voters are tired of street violence and want a city that “works for everyone.” Emanuel thanked Chicagoans for a “second term and a second chance,” vowing to be a “better mayor.”

Source: CNN

3.UConn beats Notre Dame for third consecutive NCAA women’s basketball title
The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team defeated Notre Dame 63-53 on Tuesday to win its third straight national championship. The title is the 10th overall for coach Geno Auriemma, equaling late UCLA coach John Wooden’s record for the most college basketball titles ever. The Huskies’ unmatched defense held Notre Dame to 33 percent shooting from the floor, the team’s second worst performance of the season. UConn senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis single-handedly disrupted two Notre Dame rallies with seven-point runs.

Source: ESPN

4.Rand Paul announces a White House bid to “take our country back”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) launched a campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday, vowing to take the country back from a “Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms and invades every nook and cranny of our lives.” The libertarian Tea Party hero portrayed himself as an anti-establishment hero, and vowed to fight to end NSA surveillance and require a balanced budget. “Both parties and the entire political system are to blame,” he said.

Source: Reuters

5.Shell to buy BG Group for $69.6 billion
Petroleum giant Royal Dutch Shell said Wednesday that it would buy oil and gas explorer BG Group for $69.6 billion in cash and stock. The deal marked the latest sign of the industry’s reaction to a 50 percent drop in oil prices since last summer. Shell will be paying a 50 percent premium on BG shares, which started trading 42 percent higher on the news. The combined company will be the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, BBC News

6.Kansas governor signs bill banning “dismemberment abortion”
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) on Tuesday signed legislation making his state the first to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation. The new law, drafted by the National Right to Life Committee, redefines the method as “dismemberment abortion.” “This is a horrific procedure,” Brownback spokesman Eileen Hawley said. “He hopes the nation follows suit.” Abortion rights groups argue the method is often the safest for women, and say they are considering challenging the law in court.

Source: The Associated Press

7.Job openings rise to highest level since 2001
U.S. job openings increased in February by 168,000 to 5.13 million — the most in 14 years, according to a Labor Department report released Tuesday. Analysts said the figure suggested that hiring was holding strong despite a slowdown in March and a cooling economy, as companies. Firings dropped to the lowest level since late 2013. “It’s one of the signs the labor market is strong,” said RBC Capital Markets senior U.S. economist Jacob Oubina.

Source: Bloomberg

8.Researchers say brontosaurus deserves a spot on the dinosaur family tree
The brontosaurus was a distinct type of dinosaur, after all, according to a new paper published in the journal PeerJ. The long-necked “thunder lizard” was discovered in 1879 by Charles Marsh, shortly after he also found the first partial Apatosaurus skeleton. Later findings suggested the two were one and the same, so the Apatosaurus, which Marsh found first, was declared the name of the species. The researchers in the new study, however, found enough differences to set the two apart.

Source: PeerJ, The Washington Post

9. Tiger Woods ends hiatus
Tiger Woods returns to tournament play for the 79th Masters, which beginsThursday, after a two-month hiatus to work on his sputtering game. Woods is a four-time Masters champion, but hasn’t won the storied championship in 10 years, and hasn’t won any major tournament since 2008. Woods dropped off the PGA Tour to focus on practice after shooting an 82 — the highest round of his pro career — and said he got back into good form by practicing from sunrise to sunset. “I worked my ass off,” he said Tuesday.

Source: USA Today

10.Actor who played Dukes of Hazzard sheriff dies at age 88
James Best, the actor who played Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard, died this week after a brief illness. He was 88. Coltrane said he had a blast playing the bumbling country lawman who constantly chased Bo and Luke Duke around Hazzard County on the iconic TV series, which aired from 1979 to 1985. “I acted the part as good as I could,” Best told The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer in 2009. “Rosco — let’s face it — was a charmer.”

Source: USA Today


U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: February 25, 2015

The Week

1.DOJ decides no civil-rights charge against George Zimmerman
The Justice Department said Tuesday that investigators had found “insufficient evidence” to charge George Zimmerman in connection with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in 2012. Attorney General Eric Holder said his department would not file federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman because the evidence in the case did not satisfy the “high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution,” although he said the nation needs to “take concrete steps” to avoid more such incidents.

Source: USA Today

2.Obama vetoes Keystone XL pipeline legislation
President Obama on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have approved construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans made passage of the bill a top priority after taking control of Congress in last year’s midterms, despite the Obama administration’s lingering concerns about the pipeline’s potential environmental impact. Republicans said they would try to override the president’s veto, although the legislation did not pass with enough “yes” votes to do the job.

Source: The Guardian

3.Routh gets life in prison in American Sniper murder case
Former Marine Eddie Ray Routh was found guilty late Tuesday of killing former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the author of American Sniper, and his friend Chad Littlefield in 2013. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty, but Texas State District Judge Jason Cashon sentenced him to life in prison, with no possibility of parole. Routh shot and killed Kyle and Littlefield in an outing to a gun range, where they had taken him to help him deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Source: Fox News

4.Cuba honors five freed spies
The Cuban government on Tuesday honored five spies who were convicted in U.S. courts in 2001 and released in a prisoner exchange onDec. 17. Cuban President Raul Castro pinned medals on the so-called Cuban five, whose release was engineered under a plan to restore diplomatic relations between the two former Cold War enemies. Spy network leader Gerardo Hernandez, who had received a double life sentence, called on Cuba to “rise to the challenges facing the revolution,” including modernizing the communist nation’s economy and resuming ties with the U.S.

Source: Reuters

5.Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel forced into reelection runoff
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fell short of the votes he needed to avoid an April runoff in his bid for reelection. Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, cruised to victory for his first term four years ago. He led the five-candidate field this time, with 45 percent of the vote, and had a big fundraising lead over his lesser known opponents. Now he heads into a riskier head-to-head contest with his closest rival, Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who got 34 percent of the vote.

Source: Columbus Dispatch

6.Four Wesleyan students charged after MDMA overdoses
Four Wesleyan University students were arrested Tuesday night in connection with MDMA, or Molly, overdoses that sent a dozen students to the hospital over the weekend. Eric Lonergan, 21; Andrew Olson, 20; Zachary Kramer, 21; and Rama Agha Al Nakib, 20, were suspended from school after their arrests. “The university takes allegations of the distribution of drugs seriously and is cooperating with state and local officials,” Wesleyan President Michael Roth said. The defendants will appear in court March 3.

Source: NBC News

7.Women sue hot-yoga entrepreneur Bikram Choudhury
Hot-yoga empire founder Bikram Choudhury, 69, is facing six civil lawsuits filed by women accusing him of rape or assault, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The most recent accusation was filed on Feb. 13 by a Canadian woman, Jill Lawler, who accused Choudhury of raping her during a teacher-training session in 2010. The first of the complaints surfaced two years ago. It triggered a series of other accusations ranging from assault to harassment. Choudhury denies doing anything wrong.

Source: The New York Times

8.State Department official suspected of soliciting sex from minor
A senior State Department counterterrorism official, Daniel Rosen, was arrested Tuesday at his Washington, D.C., home on suspicion of soliciting sex from a minor. The allegations against Rosen, who is the director of counterterrorism programs and policy at the State Department, stem from an online exchange between him and detectives in the Fairfax County, Virginia, Police Department’s child exploitation unit. A State Department spokesperson said Rosen had been placed on leave and his security clearance suspended pending the resolution of the case.

Source: Los Angeles Times

9. Paris drone sightings increase terrorism concerns
A Paris prosecutor on Tuesday called for a police investigation of unidentified drones spotted flying near the U.S. Embassy, the Eiffel Tower, and several major roads for the second night in a row. At least five sightings were reported Tuesday and early Wednesday, heightening tensions in a country already on high alert following the Charlie Hebdoterrorist attacks in January. Similar reports have been surfacing for months at other sensitive locations, including power plants, government buildings, and a bay that is home to French nuclear submarines.

Source: The Washington Post

10.ESPN benches commentator Keith Olbermann
ESPN suspended talk-show host Keith Olbermann for a week on Tuesdayfor calling a Penn State student effort to raise $13 million to fight pediatric cancer “pitiful.” Penn State challenged Olbermann to make a donation to the cause. Olbermann issued an apology over Twitter, saying, “I was stupid and childish and way less mature than the students there who did such a great fundraising job.”

Source: Pittsburgh Sporting News

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: December 21, 2014

New York City police
New York City police Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The Week

A gunman kills two NYC police officers, Obama says the Sony hack is not an act of war, and more.

1. Gunman kills two NYC cops in ambush shooting
A lone gunman on Saturday shot and killed two New York City police officers in Brooklyn before taking his own life in an armed standoff. The shooter, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, is believed to have killed his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore earlier Saturday before heading north and vowing on social media to kill police officers, too. Police said Brinsley killed officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos while they sat in a parked squad car, and then fled into a nearby subway station where he shot himself. Police Commissioner William Bratton called the attack an assassination, saying the officers were “targeted for their uniform and for the responsibility they embraced to keep the people of this city safe.” [The New York Times]


2. Obama: North Korean cyber attack on Sony not an act of war
President Obama on Sunday said the U.S. would weigh whether to add North Korea to its list of state sponsors of terror, though he stopped short of calling the Sony Pictures cyber attack an act of war. “I think it was an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive,” Obama said on CNN’s State of the Union. The federal government last week confirmed speculation that North Korea was behind the attack. [The Associated Press]


3. Castro says Cuba won’t abandon communism
Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday insisted that the island nation would not move away from communism despite a thawed relationship with the U.S. “We must not expect that in order for relations with the United States to improve, Cuba will abandon the ideas that it has struggled for,” he said in a speech. The Obama administration announced last week it was renewing full diplomatic ties with Cuba that had been severed for more than 50 years. [The Washington Post]


4. Rahm Emanuel’s son robbed in Chicago
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s son was robbed Friday night near the family’s home, police confirmed Saturday. Zach Emanuel was talking on his phone just a few doors down the street from the house when two men assaulted him and made off with his phone. A spokesperson for Emanuel confirmed the incident Saturday and said Zach was not seriously harmed. [The Chicago Tribune]


5. Kurdish fighters take key town from ISIS
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters on Saturday reclaimed control over the Iraqi town of Sinjar, which had been under ISIS control since last summer. ISIS’s siege on Sinjar forced the town’s Yazidi population to flee into the mountains, and prompted the U.S. to step in with airdrops to aid the refugees. [Reuters, CNN]


6. Boko Haram releases video purporting to show civilian massacre
The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram on Saturday released a video appearing to show gunmen slaughtering civilians in a dorm. “We have made sure the floor of this hall is turned red with blood, and this is how it is going to be in all future attacks and arrests of infidels,” a man says in the video. Last month, Boko Haram denied reports it was nearing a truce with the Nigerian government, claiming instead that it had married off hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls. [The Associated Press]


7. Protesters shut down parts of Mall of America
Demonstrators protesting recent police killings of unarmed black civilians temporarily shut down parts of the sprawling Mall of America in Minnesota on Saturday. Chanting protesters clogged the mall’s rotunda and ignored a warning from mall officials to disperse, leading some business to close their gates. Rows of police in riot gear cleared the demonstration and made about two dozen arrests. [USA Today]


8. Al Qaeda condemns Taliban massacre of Pakistani children
A regional Al Qaeda branch on Sunday condemned the Taliban’s slaughter last week of 149 Pakistanis at a school in Peshawar. “Our hearts are bursting with pain and grief over this incident,” Osama Mehmood,  a spokesman for the group’s South Asia chapter, said. While reaffirming its opposition to the U.S. and Pakistan, the group added that the attack — which resulted in the death of 132 students — had “crossed the limit.” [AFP]


9. Elton John marries longtime partner
Famed musical entertainer Elton John on Sunday formally tied the knot with his partner, David Furnish. The two joined in a civil partnership nine years ago. “That’s the legal bit done,” John wrote in an Instagram post. “Now on to the ceremony!” [The Guardian]


10. Final Hobbit film cleans up at box office
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies raked in $16.6 million Friday in the U.S., and it’s headed toward a likely haul of $88 million by the end of its opening weekend. The third and final film in the Hobbit franchise blew away the competition over the pre-Christmas weekend, and its release slightly outperformed the debuts for the last two installments in the series. [Variety]

Health Insurance Lobby

Health insurance lobby throws over $100m at defeating Obamacare

They really want this President and his policies out…

America Blog

It’s really hard to imagine what part of “here are millions of new customers for you” they don’t like, but that’s where we are today. Most of us on the left wanted the public option, which the private health insurers hated, but giving in to their needs wasn’t enough.

But no, heaven forbid the health insurance industry is asked to give a little with the windfall. Millions of new customers and no competition from the public option wasn’t enough money for the bloated and spoiled industry that keeps setting record profits.

So who is more spoiled and thankless between the bankers and the health insurance brats?

According to the National Journal’s Influence Alley, at the very same time the American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)—the health insurance industry super lobby—was cutting a deal with the White House leading to its stated support of the proposed Obamacare legislation, they were secretly funneling huge amounts money to the Chamber of Commerce to be spent on advertising designed to convince the public that the legislation should be defeated.

How much money?

A stunning $102.4 million spent over just 15 months.

The brilliant Rahm Emanuel sure did a great job of bargaining, didn’t he? If there is a next time with health care reform, he needs to stay far away from it and the public option has to be there so that consumers get some competition. If that industry can’t show any appreciation, there’s no reason to show mercy in the future.

Obama Administration’s Achievements · Obama Derangement Syndrome

Obama Campaign Releases Full 17-Minute, First-Term Documentary

I watched this  video below, live at 8:00 pm last night.  It’s seventeen minutes long but it seemed a lot shorter to me.  Perhaps that’s because I’m in awe of President Obama’s accomplishments, even if they haven’t been acknowledged by “the other side”.

You know, in the Black Community, we often say that a Black man or woman has to work twice as hard as their White counterparts at any job in order to get ahead.

The POTUS illustrates this with dignity and determination to become one of the best Presidents ever…in spite of the unprecedented opposition he is experiencing from the GOP, birthers, Tea Baggers and other Obama Derangement Syndrome “haters”.

The Huffington Post

Syncing politics with Hollywood glitz and production, the Obama campaign formally released on Thursday night a much-hyped 17-minute documentary on the president’s first term in office.

The film tells the story of the past few years through a rosy filter and with the deft touch of an accomplished director. Davis Guggenheim, who put together Al Gore’s award-winning “An Inconvenient Truth,” was handed the reins for the project. Actor Tom Hanks is the narrator.

The material is, by now, well-traveled terrain, emphasizing the enormity of the problems that President Barack Obama inherited and bookending his first term with the bailout and subsequent recovery of the auto industry.

But there are some twists. Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel cops to advising Obama that he should consider spending less time and capital on health care reform. Vice President Joe Biden states his belief that the president would have been limited to one term if the Osama bin Laden raid had failed. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau creator Elizabeth Warren, assessing the pro and cons of the auto bailout, says the president could have had “blood on his hands” had the industry and economy imploded. And then there is the president himself, who sat down with the filmmakers to discuss that bin Laden raid.

“I didn’t have time for a lot of feelings at that point because our guys were still in that compound,” Obama says into the camera. “And it wasn’t until I knew they were across the border, safe, everybody was accounted for, including the dog, that I allowed for some satisfaction.”

Continue reading…

Gov. Scott Walker · Rahm Emanuel

VIDEO: WI’s Gov. Scott Walker Meets Occupy Chicago & the People’s Mic…

I’m actually a couple of days late with this report out of Chicago but in my opinion it’s priceless and timeless.

This is what Democracy looks like!

The Brad Blog

Breakfast in America on Thursday, in Chicago, with WI’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker, after Occupiers had recently been rounded up and mass arrested, with the approval of Chicago’s Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel, for exercising their First Amendment rights.

They made up for that on Thursday…

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