Ethics watchdog at Justice Department resigns over Trump’s corruption


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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A former federal prosecutor and veteran ethics officer at the Department of Justice left her job in June because she said it felt hypocritical to ask companies to comply with rules that Donald Trump and his administration are evading himself. Hui Chen had served in the agency’s Fraud Section of the Criminal Division for more than a year and a half, but she outlined her reasons for leaving in a LinkedIn post last week. The Hill writes:

“To sit across the table from companies and question how committed they were to ethics and compliance felt not only hypocritical, but very much like shuffling the deck chair on the Titanic,” Chen wrote. […]

“Even as I engaged in those questioning and evaluations, on my mind were the numerous lawsuits pending against the President of the United States for everything from violations of the Constitution to conflict of

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Yes, I am a social justice warrior


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Yes, I admit it.  I am indeed a social justice warrior.

I believe in the ideals and goals espoused by Ghandi, the Rev. Dr. King, and Mandela. I believe this world can be significantly more just, more tolerant, more accepting, more open, and more fair to all persons of all backgrounds, creeds, perspectives, orientations, and religions. I believe these things are possible in our homes, in our work spaces, and within our educational zones. 

However, I don’t believe this can always be done simply, or sometimes without a measure of sacrifice, or without some level of backlash and conflict. There are those who stand strong against any effort to seek social justice, to seek greater tolerance and greater freedom.

They mock the very idea of social justice itself as a crock. They argue that it is merely the mutterings of triggered snowflakes attempting to make the world soft and safe and

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ACLU sues South Carolina county for arresting and jailing people too poor to pay court fines


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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America does an excellent job at shaming its poor people. Sure, there are state and federal programs that exist to help them. And in this way, we can pat ourselves on the back and make ourselves feel better about our supposed sense of charity. But look below the surface and you will also see a consistent pattern of policies that are designed to stigmatize and punish the impoverished for their condition.

Recently in Wisconsin, the state’s budget committee approved a plan to drug test Medicaid recipients, despite zero evidence existing that those who receive public benefits use drugs. Nevertheless, Republicans keep insisting that we should be policing poor people every chance we get. And the assault on poor people at the state level can be increasingly seen in the ways that some states have set up laws to arrest and incarcerate those who are too cash-strapped to pay court fees. The good news, however, is that

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Wall Street deregulation vote should remind us, we actually have everything in common


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Today, mostly lost in the noise over GOP efforts to take away people’s health care and declare sexual assault a “pre-existing condition,” a House panel voted to deregulate banks. All the Republicans voted for it. All the Democrats voted against it. 

This is what’s so infuriating about our own current civil war. Everyone agrees with one another! Communities of color and women believe in fighting income inequality. I doubt there’s a single white liberal economic populist who doesn’t believe in ending police violence, fixing our immigration system, and fighting rape culture and other inequities women face. 

And even the Democrats, which get a ton of well-deserved abuse, are standing overwhelmingly united in resistance to the popular-vote loser’s agenda, and that of this Republican allies.

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A free press: Part one


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Once upon a time in America, there was a leader considered by many historians to be:

“spiteful,” “greedy,” “jealous,” “quick-tempered,” “dull,” “unlettered,” and “haughty”

That man was William S. Cosby, the royal governor of the colony of New York from 1731 until his death in 1736. Here he is as described by University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School law professor Douglas O Linder on his Famous Trials website:

By all accounts, Cosby was spiteful, mean-spirited, quick-tempered, greedy, jealous, dull, and a petty tyrant. Too often many of these traits seemed to turn up among colonial governors who, overall, were quite a bad lot. There is a reason for this, according to one historian, who observed that governors consisted “most often of members of aristocratic families whose personal morals, or whose incompetence, were such that it was impossible to employ then nearer home.”

Cosby has also been described as “devoid of statesmanship, seeking

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Arkansas is determined to execute prisoners before its supply of lethal injection drugs runs out


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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As a nation, will we ever get it together when it comes to capital punishment? This contentious issue remains the cause of much debate—legally and morally. And as proved by the latest case in Arkansas, it is clear that this will not change anytime soon. The state was all set to execute one prisoner, Don Davis, but was denied a request to do so by the Supreme Court early Tuesday. Davis’ execution was supposed to mark the first in a series of eight executions scheduled for the month of April.

With the death warrant signed by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson due to expire at the end of Monday, the state was preparing witnesses for the scheduled execution in the final 30 minutes of the day — in the hopes that the justices in Washington would allow the execution to proceed.

The US Supreme Court refused to step in and lift the stay, however, denying

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Jeff Sessions looks to ‘review’ DOJ police reform agreements which could mean eliminating them


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the Justice Department to review its reform agreements with police departments around the country, in order to make sure that said agreements “do not work against the Trump administration’s goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime.” 

In a two-page memo released Monday, Sessions said agreements reached previously between the department’s civil rights division and local police departments — a key legacy of the Obama administration — will be subject to review by his two top deputies, throwing into question whether all of the agreements will stay in place.

And with Ol’ Jeff in charge, what could possibly go wrong, right? Except, of course, for the fact that Sessions has been a very vocal critic of these agreements and has often vowed to more vigorously support law enforcement as Trump’s Top Cop.

Since 2009, the Justice Department opened 25

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Sessions says he’s not behind wiretap claims, Nunes says the evidence doesn’t exist


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, after delivering a speech Nancy Reagan apparently dropped on the floor in 1984, denied that he was the source for Donald Trump’s tweets accusing President Obama of putting a “tap” on his phones.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions today said that he never gave President Trump any reason to believe the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower.

Not only did Sessions disown the idea that he slipped Trump the wiretap claim, the Department of Justice also missed its deadline for providing any information to back up that claim. Which is easy to understand if you listen to Republican Representative Devin Nunes.

The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who has been one of the few defenders of Trump’s claims, made clear on Tuesday that there is zero evidence to suggest Trump Tower was wiretapped.

“I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump

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North Carolina cops tell driver it’s illegal to record police, except that’s a lie


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Back in January, BuzzFeed news released a story in which they reviewed 62 examples of video footage in which a cop’s statement in a police record or testimony directly contradicted the video evidence. They discovered that in almost every case, the officer lied to retroactively justify their actions. While we know that clearly not all cops are liars, Justice Department reports from places like Ferguson, Chicago, Baltimore, and Cleveland (to name a few) offer evidence that there is certainly a problem within the institution of policing—whether it’s individual officers who lie or a culture within some police departments that inadvertently, or worse, actively encourage lying. 

A recent incident which took place in Wilmington, North Carolina, on February 26 offers further proof. Jesse Bright, a criminal defense lawyer who also drives Uber to cut down on his student loans, was pulled over after picking up a passenger. The passenger allegedly was leaving from a

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Ferguson residents still at risk while police fail to comply with reform


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Here we go again. After being investigated by the Justice Department after the police shooting death of Michael Brown in 2014, the Ferguson Police Department was found to routinely violate the civil rights of its black residents. Among some of the DOJ findings—the circulation of racist emails by city officials, unconstitutional stops and arrests, imposing unduly harsh penalties for missed payments or appearances, and maximizing city revenue by encouraging officers to ticket more people.

Apparently, institutionalizing thuggery and abuse wasn’t enough. Now the Ferguson Police Department has added contempt and noncompliance to its arsenal. The Associated Press reports that city officials missed deadlines in what was supposed to be an agreement with the DOJ to reform its policing practices.

Clark Ervin, a Washington lawyer monitoring the consent decree involving the St. Louis suburb, told The Associated Press that Ferguson has missed some 120- and 180-day deadlines in crafting new policies and

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Blue lives matter so much it’s now a hate crime to resist cops


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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In a move that supports increased policing and the ever-expanding militarization of the police, Louisiana became the first state in the country to pass a law that now makes it a hate crime to resist arrest.

Under the new “Blue Lives Matter” law, resisting arrest can now be considered a serious felony which comes with harsh consequences and potential jail time.

Under the new law, Hebert says any offender who resists, or gets physical, with an officer can be charged with a felony hate crime.

For example, if someone who’s arrested for petty theft, a misdemeanor, tries to assault an officer, that individual can be charged with a hate crime. A hate crime is considered a much more serious offense, with serious consequences.

This would seem to make sense but for the fact that data supports something entirely different. Yes, it is true that police face different levels of risk when they go out

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The prevalence of lies by police gives new meaning to ‘protect and serve’


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Hardly anything seems to draw more conservative ire than badmouthing the police. When progressive activists demand police accountability and cite the plethora of police violence against unarmed citizens, they are called disrespectful, unpatriotic, and in the case of Black Lives Matter activists, actual terrorists.

Of course, it’s a message that you learned since childhood, right? Cops are there to serve and protect the citizenry and deserve to be supported. And if you can’t trust the police, who can you trust?

It turns out that while it’s questionable if they are actually protecting the citizens they serve, they are doing a whole lot of protecting and serving—themselves. And (in case you needed actual proof) demands for accountability and reform are well founded. Buzzfeed News reviewed 62 examples of video footage in which a cop’s statement in a police record or testimony directly contradicted the video evidence. They found definitive proof that cops

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Busted! Senator Al Franken sets Sessions up and then traps him in his lies


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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The Jeff Sessions hearings are under way. Mr. Sessions would like to bring his brand of old-school Klansman-style racism into our country’s Department of Justice. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota got his chance to ask Sessions questions and he decided to stick very specifically with the outrageous attempts by Sessions and his supporters to portray racist Sessions as some kind of civil rights freedom fighter. Sen. Franken began with some cordial opening statements and then got into the record, more specifically Sessions’ attempts to say he was personally involved in ending racism.

Franken: Now, in that same interview you said, “I filed 20 or 30 civil rights cases to desegregate schools and political organizations and county commissions when I was United States attorney.” So 20 or 30 desegregation cases. Did I misread that quote? 

Sessions: I believe that’s what I have been quoted as saying. I suspect I said that. 
 

Busted! Senator Al Franken sets Sessions up and then traps him in his lies


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The Jeff Sessions hearings are under way. Mr. Sessions would like to bring his brand of old-school Klansman-style racism into our country’s Department of Justice. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota got his chance to ask Sessions questions and he decided to stick very specifically with the outrageous attempts by Sessions and his supporters to portray racist Sessions as some kind of civil rights freedom fighter. Sen. Franken began with some cordial opening statements and then got into the record, more specifically Sessions’ attempts to say he was personally involved in ending racism.

Franken: Now, in that same interview you said, “I filed 20 or 30 civil rights cases to desegregate schools and political organizations and county commissions when I was United States attorney.” So 20 or 30 desegregation cases. Did I misread that quote? 

Sessions: I believe that’s what I have been quoted as saying. I suspect I said that. 
 

Executions in America fall to 25-year low


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Executions dropped to a 25-year low this year, falling from 28 killed in 2015 to 20 this year. And that’s “down from a peak of ninety-eight, in 1999” reports the New Yorker:

Even more remarkable, just thirty people were sentenced to death this year, compared with three hundred and fifteen in 1996. Indeed, as the report further notes, “Fewer new death sentences were imposed in the past decade than in the decade preceding the Supreme Court’s invalidation of capital punishment in 1972.” The reduction in death sentences means that the decline in executions is likely to continue as well, because the pipeline of new cases is not as full.

The Wall Street Journal reports that only a few states put inmates to death this year:

Five states put to death inmates this year, with Texas and Georgia together accounting for 80% of executions in 2016. Not since 1983

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America’s death penalty is at a crossroads


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Where does capital punishment stand in America? On one hand, there have been a number of important advances on the anti-death penalty front. Executions dropped to a 25-year low this year, falling from 28 killed last year to 20 in 2016. And that’s “down from a peak of ninety-eight, in 1999” reports The New Yorker:

Even more remarkable, just thirty people were sentenced to death this year, compared with three hundred and fifteen in 1996. Indeed, as the [recent Death Penalty Information Center] report further notes, “Fewer new death sentences were imposed in the past decade than in the decade preceding the Supreme Court’s invalidation of capital punishment in 1972.” The reduction in death sentences means that the decline in executions is likely to continue as well, because the pipeline of new cases is not as full.

For those looking to end the death penalty, there’s been even more

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Michigan prosecutors are still defying the Supreme Court


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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We’ve written plenty about Montgomery v. Louisiana, the January Supreme Court decision that found all juveniles mandatorily convicted and sentenced to life without parole had to be resentenced. From our previous article on the case:

Montgomery made retroactive Miller v. Alabama, which ruled in 2012 that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Neither ruling was all-encompassing—Montgomery only addressed statutorily mandated sentences, as did its predecessor. But Montgomery not only gave hope to thousands of people serving juvenile LWOP, it also underscored just how rare such sentences should be in the future. “[A] lifetime in prison is a disproportionate sentence for all but the rarest of children, those whose crimes reflect ‘irreparable corruption,'” said the court.

That is a very technical way of stating the broader point: basically, that the Supreme Court said that juvenile LWOP cases should be very, very rare. That not only goes

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Sextortion: Virtual sexual assault


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines sextortion as:

…a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don’t provide them images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money.

The perpetrator may also threaten to harm your friends or relatives by using information they have obtained from your electronic devices unless you comply with their demands.

Using information posted on social media, the perpetrators of extortion gain the confidence of their victims by friending them on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Kik, or one of the other rapidly growing social media sites where young people gather.

Today’s teens and pre-teens have never lived in a world in which they were not virtually connected. In her book, Girls & Sex, Peggy Orenstein wrote that many teens learn about sex through online pornography that is freely available in an era of “abstinence only” education. Their lives are lived online, they are

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Open thread for night owls: An advantage to surrender


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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At Jezebel, Jia Tolentino weaves a well-written tale of a summer job, privilege, and Fisher v. University of Texas.

Years ago, I helped Abigail Fishers get into college in Texas. That was my job: I “tutored” entitled teenagers through the application process. Specifically, and ominously for my later life, I taught them to write a convincing personal essay—a task that generally requires identifying some insight, usually gained over some period of growth. And growth often depends on hardship, a thing that none of these 18-year-olds had experienced in a structural sense over the course of their white young lives. Because of the significant disconnect involved in this premise, I always ended up rewriting their essays in the end. […]
I’ve had a lot of relatively demeaning jobs in my life. I never thought I deserved better than any of them—first because I didn’t, and second, because a sense of entitlement means

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Who we are, and why I believe what I believe about Orlando


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Many, including Donald Trump, have used the shooting in Orlando as an opportunity to push for war with Islam. 

While reading and posting in a conservative forum this week, I responded to a post where someone was pushing for such a war in the wake of the massacre. When I and others pushed back against this idea, here’s what the poster wrote in a moment of honesty: 

Even though you ALL replied, what’s the solution? Your version of it, I want to hear it? It definitely won’t be a president to fix it, or the corrupt politicians in place, both sides, bottom line, let’s hear it? Job’s, Hug’s, what? This GREAT think tank you’re trying to bullshit with surely has an answer?

The anger and frustration in his response came through clearly, even through the jabs at liberals. Knowing him, it’s clear he’s a pretty decent guy who was rightfully angry. I was

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