Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Elizabeth Crowley may be knocked off Council seat by Bob Holden in fiery election battle

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Elizabeth Crowley may be knocked off Council seat by Bob Holden in fiery election battle Onlinelatesttrends
 In a stunning upset, Queens City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is losing to an underdog challenger.

Civic leader Bob Holden held a 133-vote lead Wednesday morning and declared an upset victory, though Crowley, a Democrat, has not conceded.

Holden, a registered Democrat, ran on the Republican line after losing to Crowley in the Democratic primary in the Middle Village and Maspeth district.

He hammered her on her support for closing the jail complex on Rikers Island and replacing it with local jails, and said she wasn’t aggressive enough in fighting a plan to turn a Maspeth hotel into a homeless shelter.

“She didn’t work hard as a councilperson,” Holden said.

The nasty faceoff featured a flyer comparing Holden to the curmudgeonly Grandpa character from “The Simpsons,” which Holden blamed for a bomb threat he received. In the closing days of the campaign, Holden circulated a video on social media that appeared to show Crowley pushing one of his volunteers.

As of Wednesday morning, Holden (c.) had 10,221 votes to 10,088 for Crowley, a margin of less than 1%.

Absentee and affidavit ballots still have to be counted, which could take at least a week. The two sides estimate there could be anywhere from 400 to 1,000 votes outstanding.

As of Wednesday morning, Holden had 10,221 votes to 10,088 for Crowley, a margin of less than 1%.

“I am confident once all of the numbers come in, we will have four more years to build on that success,” Crowley said.

A Holden victory would give Mayor de Blasio a harsh critic to deal with at City Hall.

De Blasio said he doesn’t “understand Democrats who run as Republicans.” “If you can run as a Republican in Donald Trump’s America, you just bought the whole label,” he said.
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Election loser Bo Dietl wants imaginary job as Mayor de Blasio's ambassador to President Trump

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Election loser Bo Dietl wants imaginary job as Mayor de Blasio's ambassador to President Trump Onlinelatesttrends
 Bombastic Bo Dietl finished a distant sixth in the mayor’s race — but he’s already eyeing his next gig, offering himself up to be Mayor de Blasio’s envoy to President Trump.

Despite — or perhaps because of — his appearances in two televised debates on equal footing with de Blasio and Republican challenger Nicole Malliotakis, and the more than $1.1 million he spent on the campaign, the ex-NYPD detective put up a dismal showing in Tuesday’s balloting — finishing with less than 1% of the vote.

He was beaten by three lesser-known third party candidates. The only candidate he bested was one who once tried to hijack a plane at JFK Airport to go to Antarctica, Libertarian hopeful Aaron Commey.

“Disappointed — a bit,” Dietl told the Daily News on Wednesday. “But in the end, what’s the difference if you have 10%, 15%, or 1%? In the end, you lost.”

Dietl says he’ll never again run for office, but came up with a new idea Wednesday after posting a series of tweets pledging his support for Trump.

If Mayor de Blasio doesn't want to speak to Trump, he can have Dietl do it for him.

“I stayed far away from him during the campaign for obvious reasons, because the demographics of New York City hate him,” he said.

“If (de Blasio) doesn’t want to talk to the President, I would love to be his envoy to the President of the United States to try to get federal funding,” Dietl said. “I know (Trump) 35 years. I certainly can go to Washington and talk to the President, maybe play golf with the President, which I have many times.”

True to form, he tweeted a parting shot at Staten Island Reform Party Chairman Frank Morano, who has been the target of his foulmouthed fury since the party endorsed a rival.

“I Lost last night but I’m still a multimillionaire your still a Fat Looser in the looser Reform party,” he wrote in a tweet he later deleted.
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Monday, 6 November 2017

Sen. Schumer, Gov. Cuomo slam GOP tax reform as ‘lump of coal’ for New Yorkers

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Sen. Schumer, Gov. Cuomo slam GOP tax reform as ‘lump of coal’ for New Yorkers Onlinelatesttrends
 ALBANY — New York’s top two Democrats on Monday said the House GOP’s tax plan is still a bad deal for state taxpayers, despite a “compromise” on the issue of state and local deductions .

In a conference call with reporters, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Gov. Cuomo said the tax plan’s new provisions on state and local taxes don’t go far enough to safeguard New Yorkers.

“President Trump said this is a Christmas gift. If it's a Christmas gift, New York gets a lump of coal from Santa Trump on this one,” Cuomo said.

Schumer said the GOP plan will increase taxes on New Yorkers by $16 billion or an average of $5,300 a person.
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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s speech pushing Congress on gun control after Texas church massacre

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s speech pushing Congress on gun control after Texas church massacre Onlinelatesttrends
 Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand spoke out on the Senate floor Monday to demand Congress take action on gun control:

I rise to speak about the mass shooting in Texas yesterday — the latest mass shooting in what seems like never-ending gun violence in our country.

My heart breaks for the victims and their families, and for the community of Sutherland Springs in Texas.

We are still gathering all the facts about this specific crime.

We are still learning about what happened… how this murderer was able to purchase a gun… whatever his twisted rationale was for walking into a House of Worship in a small town and slaughtering more than twenty people — including young children — with an assault weapon.

Our incredible law enforcement officials are working hard to answer all of that.

But the most important fact of all is something we already know very well:

This was yet another case where someone on American soil, who had absolutely no business getting his hands on a weapon of war, was able to get one, and use it to commit heinous mass murder.

Of the five worst mass shootings in our history, three of them have occurred in just the past 17 months.

Think about that.

In a small town in America, nearly seven percent of that town's population was slaughtered, just because they went to church that day.

The weapon he used was based on a military weapon designed for a war zone.

But this was not a war zone.

It was a church. People were singing, and praying, and savoring life.

I reject the notion that is it "too soon" to act. If not now, when?

We should ban assault rifles and bump stocks today!

People who don't want to have an honest conversation say we need to wait. For how long?

Because we wait, and we wait, and we see evil rear its head again — and we are told to wait again.

We have enough information today for Congress to do our jobs, and try to keep our constituents safe from gun violence.

We had enough information before yesterday to act.

But what Congress does not have is the political will to act.

My friends, this must change.

Thoughts and prayers are not going to stop the next mass shooting.

Merely talking about doing something about the mentally ill obtaining guns isn't going to stop the next deranged person with hate in their soul from committing yet another mass murder.

And the Second Amendment does not mean that Americans should have to risk getting shot just because they walked down the wrong street in a city, or decided to go to a music festival in Las Vegas, or a nightclub in Orlando, or an elementary school in Newtown, or a movie theater in Aurora…

Or a church on a Sunday in Texas.

And after each of these horrific acts of violence, what happened here in Congress?

More than a month after Las Vegas, we still can't even tackle the most obvious fixes — like banning bump stocks.

Plain and simple, Americans are being slaughtered, and Congress is refusing to stand up for them.

And I hear my colleagues who rightly say we can't pass laws to stop every instance of a deranged gunman who wants to kill innocent men, women, and children — just like our other criminal laws won't necessarily stop every instance of crime.

But there is no excuse for not trying.

Everyone in this chamber knows that a shooting in a church is something that should never happen in this country.

Mr. President, I think you would agree with that. I think everyone who serves in this chamber would agree with that.

So then why aren't we doing anything to help stop this violence?
Bryan Holcombe, a substitute pastor the evening of the shooting, and his wife Karla were among those who tragically lost their lives on Nov. 5, 2017.

Why aren't we making it harder for crazed, evil people to get their hands on weapons of war?

It makes me wonder what my colleagues are waiting for.

Are they waiting for the NRA to come in and give them cover, and tell them it's okay to act?

Are they waiting for the NRA to give them permission to stand up and do something?

If the NRA said today assault rifles or bump stocks should be banned, it would be done tomorrow.

That is the sad truth.

But we know the NRA won't say that, because they want to keep selling these weapons of war to anyone who is willing to pay, no matter how unsafe it makes the rest of us.

Congress has caved over and over again to the enormous pressure from the NRA and the gun industry, which just wants to protect their profits, and has ignored the vast majority of Americans — gun owners and non-gun owners alike — who support commonsense measures to keep their fellow Americans safe.

These mass slaughters continue, and Congress — has done — nothing. Nothing.

This is a monumental failure of leadership - and it's no wonder that gun violence and mass shootings happen here at a higher rate than in any other developed country in the world.

This has to change now.

It's not enough to solve the individual crime after the fact — we must take real, meaningful action to prevent the next one.

That is what has to happen.

And Mr. President, to those who doubt that Congress can actually get something done…

We already know that depending on the motivation, depending on whom Congress is actually listening to, Congress is fully capable of moving quickly to enact change — instead of acting like its hands are tied and refusing to do anything, which is what is happening now.

Far more often than not, Congress listens to the special interests instead of the people who actually elected them to keep them safe.

Listen to the shameful state of our gun laws now, and tell me if you think these laws came about because families in our states demanded them — or because the NRA demanded them.

Congress has turned its collective back on strengthening and expanding our national background check system.

We should be fixing the holes in the system — whatever is necessary — not just shrugging our shoulders and saying there's nothing that can be done. Who do you think demanded that we don't fix the background check system — families, or the NRA?

Congress refuses to ban high-capacity magazines, which are made for war and let killers fire dozens of rounds without having to frequently stop and reload. Who do you think demanded that — families or the NRA?

Congress still refuses to ban assault weapons, which are designed for war, designed to kill as many people as possible as rapidly as possible — but are given different names so they can be sold in the civilian world. Who do you think demanded that — families or the NRA?

Congress is on the verge of passing legislation to make it much easier for killers to buy suppressors — known by many as silencers — to attach to their weapons and make it harder for the police to do their jobs and catch violent criminals. Who do you think demanded that - families or the NRA?

Congress is dragging its feet on banning bump stocks, the inexpensive piece of equipment that the killer in Las Vegas used to turn his already powerful firearm into an automatic weapon capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute. Who do you think demanded that — families or the NRA?

Just this February, Congress overturned a rule that had prevented people who were so incapacitated that they could no longer handle their own finances, from getting their hands on a gun.

Who do you think demanded that — families or the NRA?

Congress even went so far as to pass a law that blocked the Centers for Disease Control from studying the issue of gun deaths the way they are allowed to study any other cause of death in this country. Why? It's an attempt to hide the overwhelming data showing that keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people would decrease gun crimes. Who do you think demanded that Congress suppress the facts and the alarming data about gun violence — families or the NRA?

Mr. President, this must change. Congress needs to start protecting the people who elected us.

Their voices matter, and must be heard.

We must listen, and enact change that could actually help keep our states safe from gun violence.

We need to lead. We need to act. We cannot ignore our responsibility to keep our country safe from violence.

And to all of the people who are watching us right now, I would say this:

After all of these massacres, pay attention to what your elected representatives are doing. Watch how they react. Look closely at how they use their time here. Listen to what they say. After these mass shootings, did they tell you they were going to bow their heads and have a moment of silence, and leave it at that? Or did they tell you they were going to fight with every bit of energy they had to fix our broken gun laws and protect Americans?

Democracy only works when regular people stand up and demand change.
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Five former presidents appear together in Texas for hurricane relief concert

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Five former presidents appear together in Texas for hurricane relief concert Onlinelatesttrends
 AUSTIN, Texas — The five living former presidents put aside politics and appeared together for the first time since 2013 at a concert on Saturday to raise money for victims of devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Democrats Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and Republicans George H.W. and George W. Bush gathered in College Station, home of Texas A&M University, to try to unite the country after the storms.

Texas A&M is home to the presidential library of the elder Bush. At 93, he has a form of Parkinson’s disease and appeared in a wheelchair at the event. His wife, Barbara, and George W. Bush’s wife, Laura, were in the audience.

Grammy award winner Lady Gaga made a surprise appearance at the concert that also featured country music band Alabama, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Sam (Soul Man) Moore, gospel legend Yolanda Adams and Texas musicians Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.

The appeal backed by the ex-presidents has raised $31 million since it began on Sept. 7, said Jim McGrath, spokesman for George H.W. Bush.

President Trump offered a video greeting that avoided his past criticism of the former presidents and called them “some of America’s finest public servants.”
epaselect epa06182074 Amas Francis removes insulation and debris from his son's home that was flooded by rains from Hurricane Harvey in the Hunterwoods Village neighborhood of Houston, Texas, USA, 03 September 2017.

“This wonderful effort reminds us that we truly are one nation under God, all unified by our values and devotion to one another,” Trump said in the greeting, which played during the concert.

Four of the five former presidents — Obama, George W. Bush, Carter and Clinton — made brief remarks that did not mention Trump. The elder Bush did not speak but smiled and waved to the crowd. They appealed for national unity to help those hurt by the hurricanes.

“The heart of America, without regard to race or religion or political party, is greater than our problems,” said Clinton.

The last time the five were together was in 2013, when Obama was still in office, at the dedication of George W. Bush’s presidential library in Dallas.

There is precedent for former presidents joining forces for post-disaster fundraising.

George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton raised money together after the 2004 South Asia tsunami and Hurricane Katrina the next year. Clinton and George W. Bush combined to seek donations after Haiti’s 2011 earthquake.

“It’s certainly a triple, if not a home run, every time,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston.

“Presidents have the most powerful and prolific fundraising base of any politician in the world. When they send out a call for help, especially on something that’s not political, they can rake in big money.”

Amid criticism that his administration was initially slow to aid ravaged Puerto Rico, Trump accused island leaders of “poor leadership,” and later tweeted that, “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes” while saying that Federal Emergency Management Agency, first-responders and military personnel wouldn’t be able to stay there forever.
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But Rottinghaus said ex-presidents are seen as less polarizing than the current president.

“They can’t get away from the politics of the moment,” he said of current White House occupants. “Ex-presidents are able to step back and be seen as the nation’s grandfather.”

Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 25, unleashing historic flooding in Houston and killing more than 80 people. Shortly thereafter, all five ex-presidents appeared in a commercial for a fundraising effort known as “One America Appeal.”

In it, George W. Bush says, “People are hurting down here.” His father, George H.W. Bush, then replies, “We love you, Texas.”
Debris litters a street in the Cojimar neighborhood of Havana, Cuba, on Sunday in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma subsequently hit Florida and Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, while both devastated the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A website accepting donations, OneAmericaAppeal.org, was created with 100% of proceeds pledged to hurricane relief.
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Sunday, 5 November 2017

Councilman’s campaign paid lawyer to rep ex-aide in city probes: records

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Councilman’s campaign paid lawyer to rep ex-aide in city probes: records Onlinelatesttrends
 City councilman Corey Johnson’s campaign paid for a criminal defense lawyer last year to represent a former campaign manager in two city probes, records show.

Johnson, who is running for reelection Tuesday and is a top contender to be the next City Council speaker, had his campaign cover the $5,000 legal bill of ex-campaign manager R.J. Jordan – even though, at the time, Jordan had not worked for Johnson in three years. The payment to the law firm Abramson & Morak was made on Nov. 14, 2016.

The city probes – by the Department of Investigation and the Campaign Finance Board – took place in the summer and fall of 2016.

The DOI and the finance board looked into a complaint alleging a campaign volunteer shelled out more than $8,000 for Johnson’s clothes, meals and rent during the 2013 election – with none of the money being logged as campaign contributions. The volunteer said he also paid $1,500 for a medical procedure that Jordan needed.

NYC pol arrested while protesting Obamacare repeal bid in D.C.

The city’s campaign finance law mandates that a candidate disclose all monetary and in-kind donations, as well as gifts with significant and enduring value. The maximum donation an individual can legally make to a Council candidate during a single election cycle is $2,750.

The campaign finance law allows for funds to pay for legal representation in civil matters arising out of a political campaign – but not criminal ones.

The DOI, which is a law enforcement agency, doesn’t categorize an investigation as criminal or civil. But its investigations can lead to either criminal charges, civil penalties or nothing at all.

Alan Abramson, the criminal defense lawyer who repped Jordan, insisted that the DOI and Campaign Finance Board probes were both administrative and civil matters. He said neither probe led to any violations.

“Over a year ago, I represented a Johnson campaign staff member during a DOI administrative inquiry, which resulted in no action being taken against anyone,” Abramson said in a statement to the Daily News.

“My representation ended when the NYC Campaign Finance Board issued an audit finding that no campaign violation occurred.”

The Campaign Finance Board published its audit of Johnson in January 2017. It said it did not levy any violations.

Johnson’s campaign said the DOI never contacted the councilman. It declined to comment when asked directly if the councilman accepted gifts or money from the volunteer.

Last week, the volunteer – whom the Daily News is not naming – reiterated that all the allegations were true and accurate.

“I’m saddened to hear that no criminal action will be forthcoming,” he said.

The DOI received the complaint alleging the volunteer gave gifts and money to Johnson in June 2016.

The complaint was also mailed to the state attorney general’s office, which after reviewing the document determined the allegations fell under the jurisdiction of the Campaign Finance Board and forwarded it to the agency.

The volunteer said he did not send the complaint, but he confirmed to DOI investigators that the details were true during a nearly two-hour interview.

Johnson, a Democrat who represents Chelsea, Greenwich Village and Hell’s Kitchen, was a first-time Council candidate in 2013, running for the seat that Christine Quinn vacated because of term limits.

The volunteer said he started pitching in on Johnson’s campaign in June 2013. He said between that time and the election he gave more than $8,000 to Johnson because the candidate was constantly running out of money and had asked him to help.

The volunteer said he bought Johnson shirts and pants at J.Crew, covered the rent for the candidate’s office and apartment and stocked the campaign’s fridge.

The volunteer said he also gave $3,000 to the Working Families Party at Johnson’s urging. The party has previously said that the donation played no role in backing Johnson.

Jordan did not respond to a request for comment.

But he told a reporter last year – when the complaint first became public – that the volunteer did pay $1,500 toward a medical procedure he needed.

However, he said that the volunteer and he were friends – and the payment “was outside of my parameters as Corey’s campaign manager.”
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New York Democrats refused to participate in Hillary Clinton’s fund-raising plan

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New York Democrats refused to participate in Hillary Clinton’s fund-raising plan Onlinelatesttrends
ALBANY — New York Democrats wanted no part of a Hillary Clinton fund-raising plan that former Democratic National Committee interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile says rigged the 2016 Democratic primary in her favor.

The Clinton campaign approached the Gov. Cuomo-controlled state Democratic Party several times about participating in a fund-raising program called the Hillary Victory Fund that had dozens of state parties raising money well above what could be given to an individual presidential candidate and then transferring it to the national party, a source close to the situation said.

The money from the fund was then used mostly by the Clinton campaign and to prop up the cash-strapped Democratic National Committee that was left deep in debt after the 2012 re-election of Barack Obama, Brazile wrote in a new book.

New York was one of the larger state parties, along with California, that did not sign on to the plan.

Even though Cuomo and many top New York Democrats quickly endorsed Clinton, a state resident, the party didn't want to take the next step by signing on to an agreement to shift cash to the victory fund she controlled while she was in a hotly contested primary battle with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the source said.

“We felt it would be unfair to officially put the state party in that position that early in the process when there was still a primary going on,” the source said. “We were also wary of how it would make progressives in New York who were supporting Bernie Sanders feel.”

The source said the Clinton campaign called several times and was not happy when her state party wouldn't participate in the plan.

At one point, there were also concerns about the idea of using a loophole to get around the lower candidate campaign limits by funneling money through the state parties to the national party, the source said. Mayor de Blasio and his fundraising operation found themselves under investigation for using upstate county committees to get around donation limits for individuals. He was not charged, though prosecutors questioned the ethics of it.

Under the Clinton campaign agreements with nearly three dozen states, donors could send almost $360,000 a year to the Clinton campaign — $5,400 directly to the candidate, $33,400 to the DNC, and $10,000 to each of the participating state committees.

“They came to us on multiple occasions, asking us repeatedly to sign on,” the source reiterated. “We said, ‘no, we're holding off.’ They were very angry at us because of it.”

In announcing the proposal, Clinton said the goal was to rebuild the party “from the ground up... when our state parties are strong we win.” Politico reported that the effort raised $82 million, but state parties keep less than half of one percent of that for down ballot races.

investigated the hacked emails situation and expressed, “By September 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart."
Critics called it a money-laundering effort designed to skirt campaign limits.

“The funding arrangement (Hillary for America) and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical,” Brazile wrote in her upcoming book, “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Break-downs that Put Donald Trump in the White House”.

“If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control for the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party's integrity.”

In an excerpt of the book excerpted by Politico, Brazile said when she took over the Democratic National Committee she investigated the situation after a series of hacked emails showed that the Clinton campaign was running the DNC and fixed the game against Sanders.

“By September 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart,” she wrote.

She outlined an August 2015 agreement between the Clinton campaign, Clinton's joint fundraising committee and the DNC that “specified in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party's finances, strategy, and all the money raised.”

Peter Kauffmann, a former DNC staffer who worked for Clinton when she was a U.S. senator, used a Facebook post to take issue with Brazile's contention that the Clinton campaign had done anything wrong.

“Al Gore was in control of the DNC long before he was the nominee,” Kauffmann wrote. “He installed his own co-chairs and senior staff while I was still there in 1999.”

He added that “if Bernie wants a voice inside the Democratic National Committee, he should probably register as a Democrat and get to work.”
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Antifa civil war fears unfounded as hundreds of protesters against Trump rally in Times Square

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Antifa civil war fears unfounded as hundreds of protesters against Trump rally in Times Square Onlinelatesttrends
They say they want a revolution.

Hundreds of protesters calling on President Trump to resign took to the streets of Manhattan on Saturday — beginning their day with a rally in Times Square and a plan to force the commander-in-chief from office.

“One of the things we say is we need to make a wake up call,” said co-organizer Luis Barrios, 65.

“It’s possible to drive this regime out,” he added. “That’s what we’re doing, educating people, mobilizing people and bringing hope back.”

The left-wing protesters kicked off as organizers handed out leaflets about the Revolutionary Communist Party, Refuse Fascism and other groups.

Hundreds marched in a rally against the Trump presidency from Times Square to Washington Square Park on Saturday.
Refuse Fascism called for protests against the Trump administration across the country on Saturday, sparking fear among some conservative media outlets that the Antifa, short for anti-fascists, were planning a civil war in response to Trump’s leadership.

After the rally drew to a close in Square around 4 p.m., demonstrators began marching south on Broadway to a second event in Washington Square Park.

The peaceful protests were planned as the one year anniversary of Trump’s election win approaches.

Three counter-protesters, decked out in T-shirts and hats that showed their support of Trump, confronted the group as they made their way south.

Trump supporter Andrew Gile, 27, of Chelsea, a U.S. Army vet who served in Afghanistan, stood at a barricade on 41st St. wearing a Trump-Pence 2020 shirt.

Gile had a brief verbal exchange with a bandanna mask-wearing demonstrator before a police officer broke it up.

"We're just representing the other side," Gile said. "Our premise is the anti-fascist movement is actually the most fascist movement in the United States right now. They like to oppress opposition. A lot of them believe the state should run their life.”

Once in Washington Square Park, tempers briefly flared when a woman tossed a drink on one of the counter-protesters.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
The group RefuseFascism.org organized rallies in cities across the country today.

“She said ‘a--hole’ or something like that,” said Jovi Val, a Trump-loving political activist who often shows up at rallies for both left and right-leaning causes. “I was just shocked.”

The young woman was seen being detained by police.

Refuse Fascism co-organizer Linda Solotaire, 54, of Brooklyn, said her group has been emphatic in their messaging that the protest must be non-violent.

"We don't have any control over what other people do," she said. "We do talk with these other groups and encourage them to act according the principles we publish."

Organizers also said the effort is meant to mimic the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

“That’s the model for what we’re doing,” said Carl Dix said. “What we’re trying to accomplish is to initiate a movement that can grow over the coming days and weeks.”

Dix called Saturday’s gathering the beginning of an indefinite movement meant to boot Trump from the White House.
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De Blasio donor Jona Rechnitz stopped getting illegal hotel fines once he shelled out to the mayor

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De Blasio donor Jona Rechnitz stopped getting illegal hotel fines once he shelled out to the mayor Onlinelatesttrends
In the fall of 2014, the intersection of money and power came together in an extraordinary phone call between Mayor de Blasio and one of his biggest donors.

Developer Jona Rechnitz wanted City Hall to clear up some illegal hotel citations he faced. The mayor wanted some serious money for his bid to return the state Senate to the Democrats.

Both men got what they wanted.

City officials insist Rechnitz was treated like any other constituent, noting that he paid more than $75,000 in fines.

But a Daily News review found that after that payment was made, the complaints about illegal hotel activity at his building continued for nearly a year beginning in February 2015 — but no more sanctions were issued.

The city received 19 complaints that the building was openly being used as an illegal hotel. Tipsters described groups of tourists showing up with suitcases in the early morning hours. They even gave inspectors the numbers of specific rooms where transient guests were staying.

During that entire time, the city said they found no evidence of illegal activity and imposed no further fines.

The saga revolved around a five-story 14-unit townhouse Rechnitz owns at 238 Madison Ave. that in the spring of 2014 had been targeted by the city as an illegal hotel.

For months the Buildings Department had received complaints that tenants were renting out their apartments via Airbnb to tourists. Inspectors hit the place in June and August and issued 13 citations and fines totaling $71,000.

Rechnitz said he'd complained about this to Ross Offinger, the mayor's top fund-raiser.

Offinger had already solicited Rechnitz to raise $41,000 for de Blasio's election campaign and write a $50,000 check to the mayor's non-profit, Campaign for One New York.

But when Offinger asked again, Rechnitz said he’d had enough.

This money-for-access conversation between Offinger and Rechnitz emerged on Oct. 27 as Rechnitz testified as the government's star witness in the bribery trial of jails union boss Norman Seabrook. Rechnitz has pleaded guilty to a theft of honest services conspiracy charge and he’s hoping for leniency at sentencing.

Rechnitz said Offinger asked him in fall 2014 to pony up for the mayor’s then nascent effort to flip the state Senate from Republican to Democratic control.

The mayor was looking for big donations well above the $10,300 individual donation limit and had come up with a way to do that by steering checks to candidates through upstate Democratic committees. The committee limit was $102,300.

Rechnitz wasn't having it.

“I told him no, I’m not” giving, Rechnitz testified last month. “I’d been frustrated that we had a lot of requests and issues on the table that weren’t being attended to in a timely fashion.”

He said he told Offinger, “All you do is come here when you need money.”

Rechnitz claimed Offinger then suggested talking to the mayor directly.

“I'm happy to get the mayor on the phone with you,” Offinger said, according to Rechnitz.

“The mayor told me that it would mean a great deal to him,” Rechnitz testified. “It would be very significant to him if I could help out in this campaign.”

During the conversation, according to Rechnitz, de Blasio was even aware of the maximum donation allowed.

“I asked him what’s the maximum I'm allowed to donate to you, Mr. Mayor? He said you can talk to Ross, I think it's $102,000.”

On Oct. 22, 2014, Rechnitz wrote a check as instructed to the State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee for $102,300. Exactly seven days later he got an email from Linara Davidson, a top official in the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice.

Within days she set up a meeting with the Office of Special Enforcement, which targets illegal hotels. By Jan. 22, 2015, Rechnitz paid off the $76,500 he owed in fines on the illegal hotel citations and some other miscellaneous code issues.

MOSE spokesman Patrick Gallahue wrote in an email to The News, “Enforcement actions on this building have been aggressive and appropriate and completely in line with actions taken in similar situations. There is zero evidence to suggest otherwise.”

But records show that after the fines were paid, illegal hotel complaints about Rechnitz's building were just beginning.

In the two inspections prior to Rechnitz making his final payment in January 2015, there were nine complaints and 13 citations.

After the fines were paid, there were 19 more complaints about illegal hotel activity at Rechnitz's building. Through 2015, there were nine inspections but zero citations, records show.

During this time, the city was often given specific tips on how to catch transient tenants.

“Guests stay for one week and best time to find them is in the morning. New guests come weekly,” one tipster said.

In fact, during a July 10, 2015, inspection, the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement found evidence that illegal hotel activity continued. Records of that inspections state, “Transient Use Found.”

The transient tenant admitted to inspectors that a “friend” had “made arrangements through Airbnb and he doesn’t have specific information regarding payment.”

The inspectors were able to confirm that the room had been booked from Los Angeles via Airbnb, but no citation was issued.

MOSE spokesman Gallahue wrote in an email, “The person interviewed had no direct knowledge of payment, which is a required element of the offense.”

A Feb. 5, 2015, complaint stated the “manager of the building is soliciting tourist(s) to rent a unit in the building. There are offers for per night.”

An inspection six days later found “no evidence of transient use, no violations issued,” records show.

On Dec. 9, 2015, a tipster told inspectors to check nine specific rooms that were being rented via Airbnb, but when inspectors finally showed up more than a month later on Jan. 12, 2016, they skipped five of the rooms mentioned, records show.

They were “unable to determine transient use” in the ones they checked.

Responding to questions by The News, Gallahue wrote, “The building had received multiple inspections and long term tenancy was established in many units, including in many of the units you are asking about. The point is that this building was heavily scrutinized for illegal transient use.”

In three other visits, inspectors failed to gain access and on several other occasions got only partial access.

Gallahue added that “Fines were imposed on Rechnitz and the illegal conduct appears to have been corrected as subsequent inspections did not uncover any illegal transient use.”

De Blasio has denied all of Rechnitz’s claims, although when the mayor was soliciting money from the man, he visited his office and gave him his personal email and cellphone number, Rechnitz testified.

“He told me to call if there's anything I need, always be in touch," Rechnitz testified.

And Rechnitz said he made very clear to de Blasio's key fundraiser, Offinger, that he expected “lots of access” to City Hall in return for his donations.

After Rechnitz began testifying about his many interactions with the mayor, de Blasio called him a “liar” and a “horrible human being” and denied that Rechnitz or any other donor got favorable treatment.

De Blasio has also had memory lapses regarding specific communications with Rechnitz and has said he would no longer release information about those interactions.

In the end federal prosecutors and the Manhattan District Attorney decided not to charge the mayor. But the Manhattan U.S. Attorney found that de Blasio had intervened on behalf of donors and the DA said the mayor's actions were “contrary to the intent and spirit of the law.”
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Wednesday, 1 November 2017

John Kelly should brush up on American history before making nonsensical remarks about Gen. Lee

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John Kelly should brush up on American history before making nonsensical remarks about Gen. Lee Onlinelatesttrends  It might be best for Donald Trump's chief of staff John Kelly to go back to not being heard, because the more he talks, the more all of us have to question how he ever became a four-star general.

The unbelievably brain dead and historically clueless comments Kelly made to the equally clueless Laura Ingraham on her new Fox News show regarding the Civil War and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is just more proof that the American educational system is in dire need of a massive overhaul.

The folks at Fox News have been worked up into a lather over a Virginia church removing plaques that honor General Lee and George Washington. And that was the question that led Kelly to show us how nuts he is.

"I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man," Kelly said.

"He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it's different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand."

This is white America's greatest problem: wanting to look at history with shameless denial of what Paul Harvey used to say was "the rest of the story."

There was nothing honorable about Robert E. Lee. He was a domestic terrorist. He had the option to fight for the Union Army, but chose to fight with the Confederates.

His love of state? Sorry, John, but you sound like you are describing an ISIS fighter. Both of them, John, are terrorists.

John Kelly celebrates Gen. Robert E. Lee as 'honorable man'

Second, this silliness over describing "men and women of good faith on both sides" sounds eerily like the BS Donald Trump peddled after the deadly Charlottesville white supremacist protest.

John, in 1861, not everyone was a product of their time. There were white abolitionists who didn't believe in slavery. They were the true men and women of good faith who didn't use the Bible as an act of tyranny.

But it's this Kelly compromise nonsense, which Trump previously said, that is most bothersome.

Did Kelly ever bother to read how the U.S. Constitution came about? That entire document was a compromise between the North and the South over slavery. The famous three-fifths compromise? Well, that explains it all. The Electoral College? Yep, a slavery compromise. Kelly should pick up Lawrence Goldstone's book, "Dark Bargain: Slavery, Profits and the Struggle for the Constitution" to learn real history, and not His-Story.


Per the synopsis on Amazon.com, "No issue was of greater concern to the delegates than that of slavery: it resounded through debates on the definition of treason, the disposition of the rich lands west of the Alleghenies and the admission of new states, representation and taxation, the need for a national census, and the very make-up of the legislative and executive branches of the new government.”

As Lawrence Goldstone provocatively makes clear in Dark Bargain, "to a significant and disquieting degree, America's most sacred document was molded and shaped by the most notorious institution in its history."

Did Kelly ever hear of the Compromise of 1850? That was an effort to keep the Union together, which led to the amending of the Fugitive Slave Act. It also ended slavery in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

But that wasn't enough. The South wanted to continue the demonic and sadistic system of slavery, and only the Civil War could have ended it.

Then of course, 12 years after Reconstruction, there was the Hayes-Tilden Compromise of 1877, which removed federal troops from the South's last remaining three state capitals. All that did was re-enslave Black folks, albeit without the shackles.

John, you can't compromise humanity. As long as America kept trying to reach a compromise over slavery, it was destined to fail. It was an inhumane system. Complete abolishment was the only true path.

And all efforts by John Kelly, Laura Ingraham and Donald Trump to present these childish historical revisions will be met with a resounding fury of facts.

That's how honorable men and women who truly care about America are supposed to respond, John.
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Sunday, 29 October 2017

De Blasio announces plan to spend $145M on parks that will protect Rockaways from flooding

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 De Blasio announces plan to spend $145M on parks that will protect Rockaways from flooding Onlinelatesttrends
  On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor de Blasio announced plans to spend $145 million on seven park projects to help protect the Rockaways from future floods.

The city will launch the projects – with federal approval – starting with rebuilding Bayswater Park. The work includes installing a berm along the waterfront, plus building sports fields, play areas and a kayaking spot.

The cash comes from $120 million left over from the $480 million the feds earmarked for rebuilding the Rockaway Boardwalk, which Sandy destroyed. The money can be moved to other resiliency projects in the neighborhood.

The city is kicking in another $25 million.

“We cannot solve climate change ourselves,” de Blasio said Sunday at a press conference at a Rockaway YMCA, noting the city will have to work to cut emissions while steeling itself for future storms.

“It will protect the communities behind it,” he said of the park project. “For many years, the Rockaways didn’t get a fair deal ... We can right some of the wrongs of the past.”

The other Rockaway projects include a raised shoreline around the Edgemere section and six recreational facilities along Shorefront Parkway to replace ones the superstorm ruined. At Rockaway Community Park, officials plan to raise the shorelines and restore native wetlands as a natural buffer between the park and Jamaica Bay.

A new park at Beach 88th St. will include a seawall and restored wetlands, and a vacant lot will be turned into Thursby Basin Park, with another seawall and vegetation designed to protect against tidal flooding.

“The city isn’t going to retreat from the shoreline,” said Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Queens). “We’re going to make it Rockaway strong.”

Bayswater Park will take three years to complete, while the rest of the projects will take up to six years, said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver.

But the city has fallen behind on other resiliency projects.

Flood-protection systems were supposed to be built at five spots in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx by last year, but the projects aren’t complete and several have been scaled back.

“I’m very frustrated with the things that took so long to get done. I’m frustrated that things are still not done,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio meets with brothers Tyler Williams, 9, and Christian Williams, 5, at a conference in Queens on Oct. 29.

Five years after Sandy, the city continues to face criticism that many homeowners are still waiting for repairs to their homes under the Build It Back program – which de Blasio once pledged would be done by the end of 2016, but still drags on.

“The design of the program was flawed. I wish we had questioned it and decided that it was not a good model to begin with,” de Blasio said Sunday.

“Once we recognized we were too far down the road to turn back, we tried to improve it in ways that we could and speed it up in the ways that we could. I get that people feel frustrated.”
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Saturday, 28 October 2017

Mayoral hopeful Nicole Malliotakis unfazed by underdog status in contest with de Blasio

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Mayoral hopeful Nicole Malliotakis unfazed by underdog status in contest with de Blasio Onlinelatesttrends

 Exactly two weeks before Election Day, as the marathon race for mayor was heading into the final sprint, Nicole Malliotakis broke her foot trying to avoid stepping on her dog.

But she isn’t letting the heavy boot she’s lugging around as it heals – or the long odds she faces at the polls – weigh her down as she competes for control of Gracie Mansion.

“A long shot still has a shot, though, right?” Malliotakis said during an interview Thursday, before a night spent stumping at galas and community meetings – boot and all.

The Staten Island assemblywoman is a Republican running in a Democratic city, a woman who voted for President Trump in a town where he’s deeply disliked. Polls put her around 40 points behind Mayor de Blasio, a Democrat, though she says her internal polls are more promising.

But Malliotakis has centered her run around other character traits. She’s the child of immigrants, a Cuban exile mother and Greek father, who shaped her ideology. She’d be the youngest mayor in recent history, at 36.

She’d also make history as the first woman, first Hispanic, and first Staten Islander to hold the post.

In political circles, she’s known as a striver – ambitious and unafraid of a challenge, beating an incumbent in her first bid as a relative unknown to take her Assembly seat.

“We’re in an interesting business where everybody wants to be guaranteed that they’re going to win before they take on any of the risky opportunities,” said state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn), the only other woman in Staten Island’s Albany delegation.

“But Nicole had the guts to do it.”

Those guts have at times irked some of her colleagues as they scramble over a limited number of stepping-stone political opportunities in the borough.

“In the beginning, particularly men in her party were a little bit . . . taken aback: What makes her think she could run for mayor?” Savino recalled. “Well, what makes her think she could run for mayor is she is the one who had the guts to do it.”
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Mayor Bill de Blasio, Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis and independent candidate Bo Dietl debate at Symphony Space on Oct. 10, 2017.

One person she’s butted heads with used to sit with her in the Assembly – Councilman Joe Borelli. At a recent news conference where he stood beside her, he compared it to a sibling relationship.

“Politics is a contact sport, and certainly heads butt from time to time,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s one thing to fight behind the scenes. It’s another thing to be on somebody’s team and put our best foot forward and work for Staten Island and New York City together.”

Despite a long record of conservative votes in Albany, Malliotakis, facing a broader electorate than ever, has run largely on three Ts: “traffic, transit and trash.” She’s frequently criticized the mayor for running “social experiments” or having ambition beyond his municipal office.

“Let’s get back to the basics here of city government. Meatless Mondays are great,” she said after the mayor rolled out veggie lunches in some schools. “But people want, like, their garbage picked up.”

Her focus on those issues has at times felt misplaced. In a speech to the Association for a Better New York, an influential business group, she offered only her standard platform, and had to be prompted to discuss economic development. One attendee sympathetic to the candidate called it a “missed opportunity.”

It was a much more hot-button issue that propelled her into the mayor’s race – immigration and the city’s effort to destroy records surrounding its municipal ID program.

After talking about the issue of sanctuary cities on “The Brian Lehrer Show” – she argues the city’s current rules offer protection for crimes she deems too serious to shield from the federal government – people encouraged her to run, she said.

“So I said, ‘Maybe I should run for mayor. I don’t know, maybe, like, I should?’ ” she said with a shrug. “Because I really am not happy with what’s going on.”

On the Thursday she spoke to The News, she held a news conference about property taxes with Borelli, and in the evening stumped at several events – expertly navigating the cocktail hour at a gala for good government group Citizens Union on the Upper East Side, even if her boot might not have been her first choice in footwear to match a blue suit.

After, she headed up to East Harlem and worked out her not-quite-fluent Spanish on the crowd at an Operation Equivalency gala in Taino Towers. She was warmly received, especially by an 11-year-old girl named Abigail who recognized her, unprompted, and said she’d seen her on CNN.

Before she was candidate for mayor, Malliotakis said her weekends and evenings were pretty simple. She dotes on her two Chihuahuas, Peanut – he’s the one who tripped her up – and Olympia, who once caused her mother to fall and break her arm. She likes yoga and bike riding, and lamented she hasn’t had much time to work out. But, if elected, she said she won’t travel back to Staten Island to hit the gym, a veiled swipe at de Blasio, who continues to travel to Brooklyn to exercise.

“If I’m in Gracie Mansion, I’m probably going to have gym equipment there. I know there’s a CrossFit and a yoga studio nearby, so I’ll probably sign up for them – walking, not taking three SUVs to the gym,” she said.

She’s single, but she doesn’t anticipate much dating if she’s elected.

“Now I have to have the police detail come with me on the date,” she joked.

“I can’t imagine there’s many men who would want to put up with that. So, um, we’ll focus on the job first and see what happens. But I just feel – it’s got to be awkward.”

She is a devoted fan of Cher – she has seen her in concert 28 times – and of Beatles great John Lennon.

“A Republican who loves John Lennon and Cher,” she said, aware of the irony.

Lennon is the roundabout way she got started in another hobby – sketching.

She visited an art studio in her district where the owner had painted the Beatles, and asked him to teach her to draw John Lennon. He did, and since then she’s expanded her scope, sketching Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, renderings that sit behind her desk in Albany.

She’s decried the mayor’s statue commission, and was especially aggrieved by last week’s vandalism of a sculpture of Roosevelt on horseback outside the Museum of Natural History.

“The city is becoming divided. A whole bunch of groups feel alienated, and Teddy Roosevelt has been attacked!” she said. “Even Teddy Roosevelt is not safe in de Blasio’s New York. He’s my hero.”

She’ll have another chance to take her gripes to the mayor on Wednesday, at the final debate before the election.

She had a strong performance in the first, but was a bit overshadowed by a circuslike atmosphere. That night, she carried a good luck charm: a coin depicting Joan of Arc. On the back, it reads: “St. Joan of Arc, give me the fortitude to defeat my fears and the strength to fight for what I believe in.”

A while back, she told Savino she planned to be like Joan of Arc – to “save New York City.”

“So [Savino] says, ‘You know that Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, right?’ ” Malliotakis recalled.
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Friday, 27 October 2017

Opioid experts say Trump’s plan for fighting drug epidemic is vague, just ‘a first step’

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Opioid experts say Trump’s plan for fighting drug epidemic is vague, just ‘a first step’  Onlinelatesttrends
 President Trump’s declaration of the opioid crisis as a nationwide public health emergency on Thursday and his promises to combat the worst drug epidemic in history got mixed reviews from opioid experts.

“The President’s speech was overall short on specifics,” said Paul Hanly, a partner with Simmons Hanly Conroy, which has sued several pharmaceutical companies over aggressive and fraudulent marketing of prescription opium-like painkillers. “There was a vagueness about what he was saying.”

Hanly said he was optimistic about Trump’s promise to prosecute “bad actors” and pursue prescribers and opioid manufacturers.

But, he cautioned, nothing is being done to stem the flow of cash from pharmaceutical companies to Congress.

Others said Trump’s declaration fell short of his promises.

“It’s a first step, but if we’re really serious about this — momentum really has to build from here,” said Andrew Kessler, who runs Slingshot Solutions, a consulting firm that specializes in substance abuse policy.

Kessler suggested the declaration has no teeth, due to the fact that no funding is going to be made available to implement emergency protocols.

“We need to be in it for the long haul,” he said.

Changes between Trump opioid commission’s plans, eventual actions

By not declaring a national emergency, Trump ensured that the fight against opioid addiction will remain underfunded, Kessler said.

“The route the President chose to take is what’s been used in the past for disease emergencies, so it’s not surprising they went in that the direction,” he said.

The longer fight will be keeping the public aware of the issue, training medical professionals and keeping Medicaid funded, Kessler added.

Dr. Indra Cidambi, the medical director at the Center for Network Therapy in Middlesex, N.J., and vice president of the New Jersey Society of Addiction Medicine, praised the President’s decision to address addiction but said the steps outlined fall short of what’s needed to end the epidemic.

“When you go through the proposals there are a lot of things it won’t do,” Cidambi said.
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Monday, 23 October 2017

Everything you need to know about the coming Trump Arctic drilling debate

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Everything you need to know about the coming Trump Arctic drilling debate Onlinelatesttrends
The Senate's budget vote on Thursday was the opening salvo in what's likely to be a bitter fight over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).


President Trump, key officials in his administration and leading Republicans support drilling in the ANWR, an expanse of 19 million acres of land — about the size of South Carolina — above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, 1.5 million of which was set aside for potential oil exploration and development.

But greens uniformly oppose any effort to produce oil in the refuge, which they consider a pristine frontier of American landscape.

Here's what to know about ANWR and how this debate will play out.

President Eisenhower established the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska in 1960. When Congress expanded it 20 years later, lawmakers specifically carved out a 1.5 million-acre region on Alaska’s North Slope for potential future oil development.

The refuge is an untouched region of Alaskan wilderness, supporting the habitat of caribou, wolves, polar bears and hundreds of species of migratory birds. The Porcupine caribou herd, which migrates across the refuge, is sacred to the Gwich’in Indian Nation, who live in the region.

“Americans know that this is one of the last wild corners left,” said Andy Moderow, the state director of the Alaska Wilderness League.

“We are talking about whether we want to draw the line and keep it for future generations, or we want to let it look like the rest of the slope,” where energy development is permitted.

Oil firms have eyed ANWR for years, though efforts to lease in the region have fizzled. But local developers say drilling in ANWR now could lead to new jobs and revenue for a state reliant on the energy sector and whose bottom line has been decimated by a downturn in oil prices.

“We have infrastructure close by and the industry in Alaska does it right, so it’s seen as a very manageable, and minimal impact, approach to development,” said Wyche Ford, the president of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance.

Ford said the industry could work under regulations to protect the environment there.

But, “I don’t know how to deal with people whose opinion is, ‘no development, no way, no how,’” he said. “That’s just a different problem.”

The Senate’s budget resolution, passed on a 51-49 vote on Thursday, directs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to raise $1 billion in revenue or savings for the federal government over the next decade.

The budget doesn’t formally say that should come from drilling in ANWR, but that’s considered the easiest way to raise that revenue.

The committee is chaired by a proponent of ANWR drilling, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who led the charge against an anti-drilling amendment on the Senate floor Thursday.

She indicated this week that drilling in ANWR will be a central piece of any committee effort to reach its revenue goal.

“When ANWR was established, it was recognized that there were areas that were appropriate for wilderness, and there were areas that were appropriate to be reviewed and considered for their exploration and production potential,” she said on Thursday.

“Opening the non-wilderness … area to development is an option to meet the instructions to the energy committee. But it is not the only option. But I will tell you, it is the best option, and it is on the table.”

The Senate’s budget is far from the last word on potential drilling in ANWR.

The energy provision is included in a budget bill that requires support from both the House and the Senate. Republicans intend to use the budget process to tackle not only ANWR drilling but also tax reform, a politically-fraught push that could derail the entire effort.

But, setting aside the tax debate, ANWR supporters say that they’ll pressure lawmakers to take the drilling option off the table entirely.

They hope to replicate their success from 2005, when congressional opposition led Republican leadership to remove ANWR drilling proposals from a budget resolution.

Organizers sent an opening salvo in that fight this week, delivering to senators a letter signed by more than 300 businesses and groups outlining their opposition to ANWR drilling.

In Congress, Democrats presented their arguments against drilling this week, noting a surge in American oil production elsewhere around the country.

“The notion that we, tonight, after 60-plus years, would give up what is a biologically important area, a critical habitat for polar bears, a breeding ground for caribou, migratory birds and over 200 species — for what? For oil we don’t need?” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Thursday.

Republicans have so far rejected efforts to take drilling off the table, making an economic argument they say justifies exploring ANWR for oil.

“More energy production means more American jobs, more American economic growth, more American national security, more American energy security,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said.

“And decreased federal budgets and trade deficit and a more sustainable global environment. Because no one in the world produces energy more responsibly than Americans, especially Alaskans.”

If Congress manages to pass a drilling plan, it would still take years for the federal government to update its regulations and allow drilling in the region.

Peter Van Tuyn, an environmental lawyer in Anchorage, said greens would watch that process closely and determine whether they could stop the effort through the courts.

“There is a road ahead, and there are many forks in it that the opponents of drilling are going to stay all in on, trying to prevent this authorization in the first place,” he said. “But there are still forks in the road after that.”

The Trump administration has explicitly endorsed drilling in ANWR, producing a budget document projecting that it could raise up to $1.8 billion in new revenue by 2018.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in May signed an order requiring the department to update its assessment of recoverable oil in ANWR. In August, the agency began drafting a rule allowing for exploratory drilling in the region, the Washington Post reported last month.

The Interior Department did not respond to a request for comment Friday on its efforts.

Opponents say the White House’s budget projection is exaggerated. But ANWR drilling supporters and opponents alike say the Trump administration has changed the discussion over the issue.

“The election changed so much for public lands and water across the country,” Moderow said.

“We’ve had warning they would been coming, and we’ve been mobilizing and doing what we can. We can’t lose this one. It’s different.”
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Friday, 9 June 2017

Trump claims victory after Comey testimony, calls fired FBI director ‘a leaker’

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Trump claims victory after Comey testimony, calls fired FBI director ‘a leaker’
 President Trump implied in a Friday morning tweet that fired FBI Director James Comey lied during his lengthy testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee a day earlier, but said the remarks cleared his name.

The remarks were the first Trump has personally made since Thursday’s testimony, when the President was uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter.

“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” Trump tweeted shortly after 6 a.m. Friday.

What part of Comey’s sweeping testimony vindicated the President wasn’t fully made clear.

The second part of the tweet referred to Comey’s admission that he leaked memos about his meetings with Trump through a friend.

Sending the memos to The New York Times, Comey said, was a bid to push for a special counsel in the case.

Comey’s remarks, which were released the night before, were spiced up Thursday as the fired lawman said the President lied about multiple things.

Kenji Logie (l) claps his hand as he watches former FBI director James Comey testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee at the Building on Bond restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Logie is one of many worldwide tuned into the testimony, taking place in Washington, D.C. on June 8, 2017.


He opened his remarks by saying Trump’s reasons for firing Comey on May 9 were “lies, plain and simple” and a bid to “defame” him and the FBI.

Marc Kasowitz, the President’s lawyer, fired back at Comey Thursday, saying the President hadn’t asked him to drop an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Kasowitz also said Comey lied about his meetings with Trump in which the President allegedly asked for loyalty multiple times.
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Trump ‘100%’ willing to testify under oath about Comey, but won't comment on tapes

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Trump ‘100%’ willing to testify under oath about Comey, but won't comment on tapes
 WASHINGTON — President Trump refused to say whether he taped his private conversations with James Comey on Friday, before accusing Comey of perjury.

Trump then claimed Comey's testimony proved there was "No collusion, no obstruction, he’s a leaker but we want to get back to running our very great country."

"Yesterday showed no collusion, no obstruction. We are doing really well," he continued. “Some of the things he said just weren’t true.”

STASIS: Comey shows how Trump runs the White House like mob family
Kenji Logie (l) claps his hand as he watches former FBI director James Comey testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee at the Building on Bond restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Logie is one of many worldwide tuned into the testimony, taking place in Washington, D.C. on June 8, 2017.


The comments come after Trump bashed Comey on Twitter Friday morning, accusing him of lying.

“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” he tweeted.
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Thursday, 8 June 2017

Hillary Clinton takes swipes at President Trump in Medgar Evers commencement speech

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Hillary Clinton takes swipes at President Trump in Medgar Evers commencement speech
 The 2016 election is still “with her.”

Hillary Clinton on Thursday invoked her crushing election loss, took multiple swipes at President Trump and urged graduates to fight for social justice in a boisterous Thursday morning commencement address at Medgar Evers College.

“When I was here last year, someone asked if I would come back and speak at commencement,” Clinton told thousands assembled at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. “Now, I wish I had flown in from the White House, but I’m just as happy to be here anyway.”

Clinton did not once mention former FBI director James Comey — one of myriad people, places and things Clinton blames for her defeat in November — who sat more than 200 miles away for a much-anticipated grilling by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

She would, however, obliquely reference her 2016 opponent’s infamous campaign slogan while praising the graduating class’s diversity.

“You are an inspiring group,” she said. “You come from 94 countries, speak 44 languages — you embody what makes New York and America great already.”

Clinton — fresh off needling Trump last month in a speech at her alma mater, Wellesley College — also tipped her cap to a Yemeni immigrant who’d worked his way from toiling at a nearby deli to graduating from Medgar Evers with honors.

“I’m certainly glad he wasn’t banned from America,” she remarked.

But she had barely begun her rebuke of Trump’s court-stymied travel ban on immigrants from six majority-Muslim nations — stressing the need to “recommit ourselves to the urgent work of protecting the safety and civil rights of all our people, not moving in the opposite direction.”

“But instead we see official actions that turn us against one another and turn us back,” she added. “The Muslim ban is a particularly egregious example — and yes, it is a ban, as the President himself made very clear this week.”

Clinton, decrying the emboldening of white supremacists and a recent “surge in hate crimes across our country,” went on to pay emotional tribute to victims of last month’s Portland attack, which saw a hate-spewing maniac fatally stab two men trying to defend the teenage targets of his rage.

“This showed us the best and the worst of humanity among us,” she said. “We all — not just our nation’s leaders, but all of us — must recommit ourselves to the urgent work of protecting the safety and civil rights of all our people.”

Clinton threw frequent shoutouts to college namesake Medgar Evers, a Mississippi civil rights hero assassinated by a Klansman in 1963. She took the stage after a pre-recorded video message from Evers’ widow, former NAACP chairwoman Myrlie Evers-Williams, who’d backed out of her appearance due to health concerns.

While praising the Evers’ resilience and steadfast support for each other, Clinton again referenced the election.

“I’ve had a few setbacks in my own life ... and losing an election is pretty devastating, especially considering who I lost to,” she said, prompting head shakes from some audience members. “But even that pales in comparison to what Myrlie went through, and frankly what a lot of people go through every day.”

Clinton’s speech drew screams of “We love you, Hillary!” several times. Others wooed and cheered, with at least one person calling, “Go Hillary.” After she spoke, attendees began leaving.

“It was just the right amount (of politics),” 1978 Medgar Evers alum Linda Sylvester, 65, told the Daily News. “She’s a political person and everyone knows she lost the election. She addressed it and went forward ... She tempered it but she didn’t overwhelm it.”

Annette Stuart, 64, called the speech “very much what I expected from her since she’s very eloquent.”

“We did get a bit of politics,” she said. “We didn’t mind because it seemed to pertain to the fact that we’re all immigrants and the need to live together in harmony as different people in one country. It’s very relevant.”

About 15 people outside the arena waved signs protesting Clinton and her husband, who have long been accused of exploiting relief efforts from the 2010 Haiti earthquake to line their pockets.

“The Clinton Foundation stole billions,” Dahoud Andre of the actvist organization Komokoda told The News before the event. “Six billion dollars went through their organization and today, Haitians are still living under tents seven years after the earthquake.”

The former New York senator last stopped by the Crown Heights CUNY school in April 2016 to galvanize support ahead of the New York presidential primary.
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James Comey blasts Trump for 'lies,' says President's response to firing confused him: 'Lordy, I hope there are tapes'

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James Comey blasts Trump for 'lies,' says President's response to firing confused him: 'Lordy, I hope there are tapes'
 WASHINGTON — James Comey said Thursday that President Trump and his team smeared him with “lies” and called his interactions with Trump “disturbing” while questioning the commander-in-chief’s character.

In closely watched testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the former FBI director said that Trump's "shifting explanation" for why he was fired "confused me and increasingly concerned me," and slammed the President and his team for attacking the FBI while repeatedly painting the President as a liar.

"The administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray," he said. "Those were lies, plain and simple, and I'm so sorry the FBI had to hear them."

Comey said that Trump's comments to him about dropping an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn were a "disturbing thing, very concerning," saying it isn't his place to say whether it amounted to an obstruction of justice but that he's "sure" that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will investigate if it was.

In unvarnished and stunning testimony, Comey made clear that he was convinced Trump wanted to pressure him to leave his adviser alone, that he grew increasingly distrustful of and uneasy with the President as time wore on, and that he strongly believes he was fired because of his handling of the FBI's investigation into Russia.

The former FBI director said he made immediate memos after talking to Trump because he was concerned the President "might lie about the nature of our meetings."

"I knew that there might come a day where I might need a record," he said, "not just to defend myself but to defend the integrity of the FBI."

Comey said he took Trump's comments on Flynn as "direction" that he should drop a probe into Flynn's actions, repeatedly making clear he felt Trump was looking to pressure him to move on from Flynn without explicitly ordering him to do so.

Trump wasn’t the only one to come in for rough treatment from Comey, who also strongly criticized both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Kenji Logie (l) claps his hand as he watches former FBI director James Comey testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee at the Building on Bond restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Logie is one of many worldwide tuned into the testimony, taking place in Washington, D.C. on June 8, 2017.

The former FBI director also criticized his own actions, admitting he wished he would have been firmer with the President in the meeting, calling his own conduct in the moment "slightly cowardly.”

"I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in," he said. "Maybe other people would be stronger in the circumstance but that's how I conducted myself."

And he pointed to Trump's own public remarks to NBC that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he decided to fire him.

"I take the President at his word that I was fired because of the Russia investigation," he said.
“The administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray,” Comey said.

“I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” he later reiterated. “The endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”

Comey made it clear that the President's own public remarks concerned him — and even tweaked Trump for his tweet ominously alluding to "tapes" of their private conversations.

"I've seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes," he said.

And he said that at least one of the series of huge bombshell reports that have dropped in recent weeks came from him directly, saying he asked a friend who teaches at Columbia Law to pass along that information to the New York Times in the hopes that it would spur the appointment of a special prosecutor. Prof. Daniel Richman quickly confirmed he was Comey’s go-between.
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision for the United States to pull out of the Paris climate agreement in the Rose Garden at the White House June 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump pledged on the campaign trail to withdraw from the accord, which former President Barack Obama and the leaders of 194 other countries signed in 2015. The agreement is intended to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit global warming to a manageable level.

Comey also flayed both of the last attorneys general. He said it was a “reasonable question” why Sessions had played a role in his firing after he’d recused himself from the Russia investigation, and said Lynch had ordered him to refer to the investigation into Clinton’s emails as a “matter,” not an investigation, which “confused and concerned” him and ultimately led to his highly unusual decision to publicly discuss why he was closing the Clinton probe, because he felt he “had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation.”

Some of what Comey didn't say was as telling as what he could. The former FBI director said h expected Sessions would recuse himself from the FBI investigation "for a variety of reasons" but said he couldn't say more in an open setting, suggesting that those reasons are part of the ongoing Russia probe.

Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in his opening remarks that he found James Comey's prepared testimony on his interactions with President Trump "disturbing" and "utterly shocking," and warned that Trump's actions raise "separate and troubling" questions about his conduct above and beyond what the committee finds in its Russia probe.

"The President himself appears to have been engaged in an effort to influence or co-opt the Director of the FBI," Warner said in his opening statement. "The testimony that Mr. Comey has submitted for today's hearing is disturbing."

While Warner doesn't specifically weigh in on whether he thinks Trump's actions as detailed by Comey amount to obstruction of justice — an impeachable offense — he hinted that Comey's testimony has opened up new questions along that route.

"This is not how a President of the United States behaves," he said. "Regardless of the outcome of our investigation into those Russia links, Director Comey's firing and his testimony raise separate and troubling questions that we must get to the bottom of."

Senate Republicans mostly avoided criticizing their President — but not all of them held their tongues.

"The president never should have cleared the room and he never should have asked you as you reported to 'let it go,'" Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told Comey during the testimony.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.)’s takeaway at the hearing’s conclusion: “This is a pivotal hearing in our investigation.”
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Pile of evidence proves Trump committed federal crime in attempt to obstruct FBI investigation

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Pile of evidence proves Trump committed federal crime in attempt to obstruct FBI investigation
 The import of former FBI Director James Comey's statement released in advance of his Senate testimony, when considered with all of the surrounding evidence, is clear — our President is guilty of obstruction of justice for endeavoring to obstruct an FBI investigation.

Obstruction of justice is a federal felony outlawing a corrupt endeavor "to influence, obstruct or impede the due administration of justice," which includes FBI investigations.

Comey's advanced statement reveals that on Feb. 14th he was in a meeting with President Trump, Vice President Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others. At the conclusion of that meeting the President asked everyone to leave, except for Comey. With no one else present, President Trump asked Comey to drop the FBI investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Specifically, the President said, "Flynn hadn't done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President" and said "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

Comey understood the President to be referring to the investigation into Flynn for making false statements to FBI agents in the December 2016 FBI interview about Flynn's meeting with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Comey, while acknowledging he could be wrong, did not understand the President to be requesting that he drop the separate FBI investigation into the alleged collusion during the 2016 election between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

To be clear, to be guilty of obstruction of justice there is no requirement that there be any evidence that Flynn actually made false statements to the FBI or colluded with the Russians during the campaign. The prosecution only needs to prove that the defendant had a corrupt purpose to terminate the FBI investigation. No one can dispute that the President, who has the sole power to terminate the director of the FBI, is in a position to exert enormous influence over an FBI director.

Comey ignored the President's request and did not drop the Flynn investigation. In March, Comey publicly announced to Congress that the FBI was actively investigating the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

On March 30th Comey had a telephone conversation with the President in which the President asked Comey to "find a way to get out that he [Trump] wasn't being investigated" on the alleged Russian collusion.

While it's Comey's word against Trump's, there's plenty of evidence that shows the President is guilty.

Subsequently, prosecutors reportedly issued grand jury subpoenas to Flynn's associates, seeking business records.

On May 9th Trump fired Comey.

This chronology of events demonstrates a strong inference that the ramping up of the investigation caused the President to fire Comey.

While it is just Comey's word against the President about the President's request to halt the FBI investigation into Flynn, President Trump's intent to squelch the FBI investigation into both Flynn's FBI interview and the broader Russian investigation relating to the campaign is overwhelmingly corroborated by other competent unassailable evidence. The most powerful proof is Trump’s own admissions showing that he fired Comey to stop the FBI Russian investigation.

The President admitted to Lester Holt on the NBC Nightly News that he was thinking of "this Russian thing" when he fired Comey. The President also told the Russian ambassador in an Oval Office meeting, according to an official White House memo, that he [Trump] "faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off" with the firing of Comey whom he referred to as "a nut job." Around that same time the President engaged in a not so subtle witness tampering attempt (a violation of a separate federal obstruction of justice statute) by threatening Comey in a tweet that he "better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press."

If all of this wasn't enough, there are also the newspaper reports of the President's overtures to National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Although both refused to testify before Congress Wednesday on their conversations with the President, President Trump reportedly separately asked both to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and to assist in shutting down the FBI investigation.

That they both testified that they were not pressured to act inappropriately by the President does not detract from the value of their potential testimony. The focus on an obstruction case is not whether pressure was exerted. The focus rather is on whether the President's statements to both gentlemen evidence his intent to stop the FBI investigation. There is little doubt that both officials, if subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, would reveal these conversations before a federal grand jury. Neither official could hide behind executive privilege, which does not apply to the President's statements made in furtherance of a criminal scheme to obstruct justice.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who also refused to answer questions Wednesday because of the Department of Justice's policy of not commenting on ongoing investigations, will undoubtedly cooperate fully with Muller's investigation. His testimony would reveal facts surrounding the memo the President requested him to write about Comey's public pronouncements on the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Initially, the White House used this memo as its justification for firing Comey. The White House, including the Vice President, relied on this memo to claim that Comey was fired because of his public statements in July and October 2016 about the Clinton email investigation. That candidate Trump had enthusiastically applauded these same actions by Comey during the campaign clearly demonstrates that this proffered reason for the firing was nothing more than a pretext to rid the President of the two FBI investigations. Further investigation of the facts surrounding the White House's creation and use of this pretext may yield further evidence of Trump's intent to obstruct.

Given this overwhelming evidence of the President's violation of a serious federal felony, the ball is now with the House of Representatives, which has the Constitutional duty to determine whether the President has committed "high Crimes or Misdemeanors" justifying impeachment. Obstruction of an FBI investigation, which carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, is undoubtedly a high crime. The question is — will the House, controlled by the President's own party, have the courage to take action?

Nick Akerman, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, was an assistant special Watergate prosecutor. He is a partner at Dorsey, a law firm.
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