Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Donald Trump Outlines His 'New Deal For Black America'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Donald Trump on Wednesday laid out his "new deal for Black America" to a predominantly white crowd, narrating a bleak and unrealistic picture of black communites and casting himself as the man to fix it.

Trump laid out three foundational principles that would guide his deal with African-American voters: safe communities, great education and higher paying jobs. In order to accomplish these goals, Trump promised more police on the streets, proposed designating "blighted communities" with "disaster designation" in order to spur their rebuilding and swore to stop illegal immigration.

The speech, billed as remarks on urban renewal and inner cities, spoke to the black experience writ large in this country as one where black Americans lack job opportunities and safe communities. As Trump does during most of his appeals to the community, the GOP nominee described inner cities as places where "you walk to the store to buy a loaf of bread, maybe with your child, and you get shot, your child gets shot." 

He did not address gun control, nor his commitment to the Second Amendment. And Trump did not mention the ongoing tension between the black community and law enforcement, even after a long pattern of shooting deaths of African-American men and women by police have rocked these communities. 

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Conservatives Lay The Groundwork For Blocking All of Hillary Clinton’s Nominees

By Cristian Farias

Maybe Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had the right idea after all. Maybe Republicans are willing to trigger a constitutional crisis over the Supreme Court.

Some conservatives certainly seem to be warming up to McCain’s controversial suggestion last week that Senate Republicans should dig in their heels and block any and all Supreme Court nominees put forth by a future President Hillary Clinton.

Who needs a fully functioning Supreme Court after all? 

“As a matter of constitutional law, the Senate is fully within its powers to let the Supreme Court die out, literally,” wrote the Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro in a column Wednesday on The Federalist.

Shapiro is well-versed in constitutional issues, and his argument has a legal, if contorted, basis. Nothing in the Constitution explicitly stands in the way of senators who would be willing to destroy the nation’s highest court ― if not an entire branch of the federal government ― to stop Clinton from selecting judges who share her views. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Huffington Post

The President's Final Interagency Task Force Meeting

Veep Talk: President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine

On October 25, Vice President Biden spoke to President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine to discuss next steps in the implementation of the Minsk agreements following the October 19 Normandy Group meetings in Berlin. The leaders emphasized the importance of de-escalation and the need to continue disengaging forces along the line of contact in the Donbas. The leaders underscored that international sanctions on Russia must remain in place until Minsk is fully implemented. The leaders also discussed a range of economic and bilateral issues and agreed on the importance of continuing to implement the reform agenda. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Vice President

Sanders Hosts Meeting on Flooding, Coastal Storm Protection; Will Form Task Force

Daniel T. Falt, Project Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District explains the tentatively selected plan to one of the attendees at the meeting.
State Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) hosted a community meeting on Tuesday evening at Macedonia Baptist Church in Arverne where representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) presented the latest version of plans to address flooding and provide coastal storm protection for the Rockaway Peninsula, Broad Channel, the East Rockaway Inlet to Rockaway Inlet, and the Jamaica Bay Reformulation Study.

“Continuous flooding during high tide and disastrous weather have been plaguing the Rockaway community for years,” Senator Sanders said. “As someone who represents most of the Rockaways and as a life-long resident here, it is important for me to ensure that everyone who will be affected by this critically important plan, has his or her voice heard, and that the final version of the proposal is something that will best protect vulnerable areas from future storms.”

Dozens of residents attended the meeting, asked many questions and provided feedback on the Army Corps’ proposal. This is significant for two reasons. First, the public comment period is open and has been extended from November 2, 2016 through November 17, 2016, so there is still time for residents’ concerns to be taken into consideration before the plan is finalized.  Second, Senator Sanders is seeking to put together a task force to monitor this plan as it moves forward, and this was an opportunity to bring community leaders together who might sit on the task force along with representatives from the Army Corps and DEC.

The Army Corps plan, is expected to be finalized in June 2017 with construction targeted to begin in 2019. It consists of four major components: addressing the shorefront, creating a storm surge barrier, implementing residual risk features and integrating additional elements tying into higher ground, according to Stephen Couch, Chief of the Hurricane Sandy Planning Branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The shorefront component will consist of building a composite sea wall structure along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline, which will generally extend from Beach 9th Street to Beach 149th Street and will include beach nourishment and the construction of 12 new additional groins. There will be a second phase that will extend from Beach 149th Street through the Seagate community and tie into a series of structural elements including levies, beach nourishment and a concrete floodwall, Couch said.

The plan also provides for a storm surge barrier east of the Gill Hodges Bridge which will include seven 100-foot vertical lift gates to allow for tidal exchange and two 200-foot wide sector gates to provide for the navigation of boats through the area. While the larger, more time consuming structures are being built, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will implement residual risk features to address flooding more quickly. These would include low berms, bulkheads, revetment, road raising, and eye walls (driving piling that would act as a flood barrier), according to Couch.
The entire presentation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can be accessed online by going to this link:
Among the issues raised by residents at the meeting was how the plan, once implemented, would affect flood insurance rates.

At this point, Couch said, the Corps has not determined with FEMA, what the impact would be, however they have started examining that issue as part of this current study. The answer, would depend on the outcome of an accreditation process, which essentially relies on whether the Corps can provide a guarantee that if a 100-year storm event impacts the area that the design would not be compromised as a result.  This may be complicated by the fact that FEMA is updating its flood hazard maps. Couch added that since the cost of the Corps’ project would be close to $4 billion he understands that there is an expectation that it would lower insurance premiums, and he said they would have a definitive answer by the time the study is completed.

Others expressed concerns that the area east of Beach 9th Street is not included in the tentatively selected plan. Couch said the Corps noticed that concern late in the process, but that it is being taken into consideration, and they are examining other areas to the east that could be potential cut off points for the project instead.

Dr. Ed Williams, CEO of Ready Rockaway, asked what is being done immediately in terms of flood mitigation while residents are waiting for the Corps’ construction to begin. Couch stated New York City has a plan to raise and strengthen vulnerable shorelines. Its  goal is to guard against sea level rise, and not for the purpose of storm surge protection, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).

Selma Erey, the secretary of the Rockaway Bay Coastal Association, asked how low lying areas in historic Arverne, specifically Beach 76th Street to Beach 35th Street from the A-Train station to Jamaica Bay, which were devastated by Sandy would benefit from the proposal. She also stated that the area’s infrastructure and storm sewer system needs to be updated in order  to handle flooding.

“Right now we are flooded regularly, and we are flooded in ways that are totally not livable,” Erey said. “They are certainly not hygienic and our children should not be exposed to these conditions.”

Couch said that residual risk features are a priority. Also, he said moving forward, as with any project that addresses coastal flooding, the Corps will evaluate whether proper drainage elements are in place. He added that specific design work will be discussed later in the process.

Those who would like to submit public comments on the plan can email them to Robert Smith at or Daniel Falt at Comments can also be sent via postal mail to the address below:

Mr. Robert J. Smith, Project Biologist
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District
Attn: CENAN-PL-E, Rm 2143
26 Federal Plaza
New York, NY 10278 
Source: The Office of State Senator James Sanders, Jr. 

First-Of-Its-Kind Report on Gun Trafficking into New York State

On Tuesday, October 25th, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a first-of-its-kind comprehensive analysis on gun trafficking into New York State. The new report, “Target on Trafficking: Analysis of New York Crime Guns,” examines the purchase history of nearly 53,000 “crime guns” recovered by New York law enforcement between 2010 and 2015. A crime gun is any gun connected to a crime that is recovered by law enforcement.
Attorney General Schneiderman also released an interactive data tool that allows New Yorkers to explore the impact of gun trafficking on their communities. Click here to view
Source: The Office of NYS Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

White House Briefing

Spokesman Josh Earnest briefs reporters and responds to their questions on a variety of topics, including the status of repayment of enlistment bonuses and double-digit increases in health care premiums in 2017. 

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN

Attorney General Lynch on Race and Campus-Community Policing

Attorney General Loretta Lynch delivers remarks at the 2016 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week Conference in Arlington, Virginia, on ways to bridge the gap between HBCU students and law enforcement. 

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Source: C-SPAN

Mitt Romney on Litigation and the Economy


2012 Republican presidential nominee and former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) delivered keynote remarks at a summit hosted by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. He talked about about the economy and his ideas to make the U.S, more attractive to businesses. Governor Romney’s speech was preceded by remarks from Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue. 

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Source: C-SPAN

The 'I Am Woman' Series: Erin Brockovich

It’s been 12 years since Julia Roberts starred in the Oscar-winning tour de force “Erin Brockovich”. The film turned an unknown legal researcher into a 20th century icon by showcasing how her dogged persistence was the impelling force behind the largest medical settlement lawsuit in history. Since then, Erin hasn’t been resting on her laurels… she continues to fight hard and win big!

Additional information is available here.  


Trailblazers in Black History: Richard Roundtree, 'Shaft'

Richard Roundtree is an American actor. He has been called "the first black action hero" for his portrayal of private detective John Shaft in the 1971 film Shaft, and its sequels, Shaft's Big Score and Shaft in Africa (1973), along with a cameo appearance as the character in the 2000 film Shaft, which starred Samuel L. Jackson as the nephew of the original John Shaft. For his performance in Shaft, Roundtree was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

Dr. Shimon Samuels: 'UNESCO Bears Responsibility For The Consequences'

The following news report was submitted today by the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC). 

“UNESCO bears responsibility for the consequences,” said SWC International Relations Director Dr. Shimon Samuels following today’s vote by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee. This follows last week's vote by UNESCO's erasing the Jewish identity of the Western Wall and Temple Mount.

Dr. Samuels, pictured reporting from UNESCO Headquarters after today's vote, summarized:

The potential danger of Article 18 of the [UNESCO World Heritage Committee] Resolution in calling the Western Wall “part of Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif" could provoke further violence against Jews in Israel and Christians throughout the Middle-East

Mosques, media and schools throughout the region can now claim that non-Muslims at the Wall are trespassing on Al Aqsa.

He congratulated Tanzania for cracking the Palestinian conception of “consensus” - as meaning unanimity - by demanding a secret ballot 

Shimon Samuels with Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-HaCohen who was recalled back to Israel following today's vote.

Additionally, Dr. Samuels reported that one diplomat confided that the Palestinians had refused inclusion of “The Temple Mount” in parenthesis after “Al Aqsa Al Haram Al Sharif,” in exchange for the agreement granted by Israel to accept “Al Quds” in parenthesis after “Jerusalem” - the Palestinians refused, as recognition of any Jewish antecedents in Jerusalem, they believe, would legitimize Israel’s existence.

Samuels also lobbied several Ambassadors, including the Turkish – who had worked on the resolution in July at the World Heritage Commission in Istanbul – where the text was frozen due to the failed coup d’√Čtat.

Another [Ambassador] protested privately, "While cultural heritage was being destroyed in Syria, Iraq and Libya, the Palestinians abused the World Heritage Committee's time and patience ... ."

DoD Sec. Ash Carter Orders Pentagon to Stop Reclaiming Reenlistment Bonuses

Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered the Pentagon on Wednesday to stop clawing-back the bonuses that thousands of soldiers got for reenlisting to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"There is no more important responsibility for the Department of Defense than keeping faith with our people," Carter said in a statement. "Today, in keeping with that obligation, I am ordering a series of steps to ensure fair treatment for thousands of California National Guard soldiers who may have received incentive bonuses and tuition assistance improperly as a result of errors and in some cases criminal behavior by members of the California National Guard."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday that the message to struggling soldiers is President Obama "has their back."

"The President makes the fair treatment of our service members a top priority," Earnest said. "When a promise is made to our men and women in uniform, we should keep. That's certainly the view of the President." 

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Source: NBC News

Hillary Clinton's Victory Prize: Congressional Investigations

If Donald Trump leaves the Republican Party divided after the election, a Hillary Clinton victory could bring the party back together, as the party prepares a flood of potential congressional investigations against Clinton, who is poised to be the first woman president.

The daily drip of hacked emails from Wikileaks, the exposure of Clinton's email server and pay-for-play allegations about the Clinton Foundation may not cost her a victory in the current contest, which has largely become a referendum on Trump's fitness for office. But the allegations won't magically disappear after Nov. 8 either, and Republicans are determined to cut short any potential honeymoon period.

In the last few weeks alone, dozens of House Republicans have demanded that a special prosecutor investigate the Clinton Foundation for possible conflicts of interest. Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz has called for a "serious criminal investigation" into a Democratic operative featured in a sting video by conservative activist James O'Keefe. And Speaker Paul Ryan has promised "aggressive oversight work in the House" of an alleged "quid pro quo" deal between the FBI and the State Department over reclassifying an email on Clinton's private server. 

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Source: NBC News

Election 2016: Tracking Reports of Voting Problems Across the United States

Voting never goes perfectly smoothly in any election. But this year could bring a perfect storm of problems. One presidential candidate has made sweeping claims about the threat of voter fraud, and urged supporters to monitor the polls, raising fears of intimidation.

Restrictive voting laws will be in place in several states, and even recent court-ordered changes to some laws are likely to cause confusion. Most states are using voting machines that are over a decade old and at risk of malfunctioning. And as if that weren't enough, this will be the first presidential election in over half a century without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. 

Click here for the full article.

Feds Concerned About Risk of Violence as Election Day Nears

Trump supporters held up Clinton "target practice" posters at a rally in Florida Monday, with a bulls-eye framing her face.

Two days earlier in Virginia Beach, one Trump backer hoisted a plastic Hillary Clinton head on a stick, while others waved target signs. And several weeks ago, two armed Trump supporters protested outside the congressional campaign office of a rural Virginia Democrat, in what they said was a gesture of solidarity with closet supporters of Trump.

Federal and state law enforcement officials say such incidents have heightened their concerns about violence in the final two weeks of the long and bitter Presidential campaign, and well beyond that if Donald Trump loses and refuses to accept the vote as legitimate.

"There is a motivated army of 'fingers in their ears' supporters of his who believe he's giving them license to behave badly, and license not to except the findings of the 9,000 bipartisan polling jurisdictions around the country," one senior federal law enforcement official told NBC News. 

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