Thursday, April 26, 2018

Afro.Germany: Being Black and German

This video was published on YouTube on March 29, 2017.

Black and German: news anchor Jana Pareigis has spent her entire life being asked about her skin color. What is it like to be black in Germany? What needs to change?

Source: DW Documentary

Travel Ban Blocks U.S. Citizen From Bringing Yemeni Daughter with Cerebral Palsy to U.S. For Care

Source: Democracy Now!

Bill Cosby Found Guilty in Sexual Assault Retrial

In a retrial, Bill Cosby has been convicted of drugging and molesting a woman. The panel of seven men and five women deliberated for about 14 hours at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. The 80-year-old comedian was accused of drugging and violating Canadian Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

Source: CBC News 

UCCA: Remembering Chornobyl 32 Years On

The following statement was issued today by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA).

New York – Thirty-two years ago, the worst nuclear disaster in history resulted from the ruthless exploitation of Ukraine and its people by an imperialistic Russian regime that continuously manifests a callous disregard for human life. Releasing 400 times more radioactive material than the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, the explosion in the early morning hours of April 26, 1986, caused irreparable harm to Ukraine and its people.

The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), the largest representation of Ukrainians in America, commemorates this tragedy annually, offering our prayers for all the victims killed by this tragedy and all those who continue to suffer from its effects.  This year, we once again call upon the international community to join UCCA in ensuring that the ongoing needs of the victims are never forgotten. In light of Russia’s continued and blatant disregard for humanity, as evidenced by the consequences of their illegal occupation of Crimea and their ongoing aggression in Eastern Ukraine, we will continue our call for justice in the name of the Kremlin’s victims.

The explosion that occurred in the fourth reactor of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant took place just 64 miles north of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. It was only after radiation levels set off alarms at a nuclear power plant in Sweden two days later, that the Soviet authorities issued any acknowledgement of the disaster. The totalitarian communist regime, however, refused to provide any concrete details in an attempt to conceal the explosion’s magnitude. In its blatant disregard for human life, Moscow allowed thousands of innocent Ukrainians, including schoolchildren, oblivious to the dangers emanating from Chornobyl, to participate in the planned May Day parade five days following the explosion. The terrible impact of the Chornobyl disaster is still felt to this day, with adverse effects on the health of many people, not to mention the ecological and economic strains on the Ukrainian nation.

On this 32nd commemoration of that terrible tragedy at Chornobyl, let us never forget this crime against humanity that forever changed Ukraine and the world.  

Video source: UATV English

Cynthia Nixon's Buffalo Press Conference (Full Video)

Cynthia Nixon made her first trip to Buffalo on April 25 as a candidate for New York governor.

Source: WKBW TV - Buffalo, New York

Senate Confirms C.I.A. Chief Mike Pompeo to Be Secretary of State

By Gardiner Harris and Thomas Kaplan

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday easily confirmed Mike Pompeo as the nation’s 70th secretary of state, elevating the current C.I.A. director and an outspoken foreign policy hawk to be the nation’s top diplomat.

In the end, the 57-to-42 tally lacked the drama of other nail-biting confirmation votes in the Trump era. Earlier this week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, the nominee’s main Republican antagonist, bowed to pressure from President Trump to drop his objections. Ultimately, seven members of the Senate Democratic caucus — five of whom face re-election this year in states that Mr. Trump won in 2016 — joined a united Republican conference to support Mr. Pompeo’s confirmation.

Click here for the full article. 

Statement from The President 

I am pleased with the Senate’s confirmation of Mike Pompeo to serve as our country’s top diplomat. Having a patriot of Mike’s immense talent, energy, and intellect leading the Department of State will be an incredible asset for our country at this critical time in history. He will always put the interests of America first. He has my trust. He has my support. Today, he has my congratulations on becoming America’s 70th Secretary of State.

Sources: The New York Times and The White House Press Office 

President Trump Remarks on Wounded Warrior Ride

Click here for video. 

Source: C-SPAN

House Speaker Ryan Holds Press Briefing

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) fields questions on a range of issues, including allegations against EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson, who has withdrawn from consideration as secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Click here for video.

Source: C-SPAN 

Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Bill to Protect Mueller

by Mike Memoli and Frank Thorp V

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to advance legislation designed to make it more difficult for any president to dismiss a special counsel, a signal to President Donald Trump amid Robert Mueller's ongoing Russia probe.

Four Republicans, including committee chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, voted with all 10 of the panel's Democrats to send the bill to the Senate floor. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he won't allow the full chamber to vote on it, saying in an interview last week, "We’ll not be having this on the floor of the Senate."

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

Dr. Ronny Jackson Withdraws as VA Secretary Nominee

Source: CBS News

Secretly Taped Audio Shows Democratic Leader Pressuring Candidate to Drop Out of Race

Source: CBS News

HUD Proposes Rent Increases for Americans on Housing Assistance

Source: CBS News

North and South Korea Gear Up for Historic Summit

Source: CBS News

Is GDP the Best Way to Measure an Economy?

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Daniela Vega Blazes a Trail for Transgender Rights

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Goma Families Terrorised by Wave of Child Abductions

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Eye on Africa: South African Unions Strike Over Proposed Minimum Wage

Source: FRANCE 24 English

Top Trump Fundraiser Caught Working for Assad Ally

He’s reportedly ‘closer to the president than perhaps any other lobbyist in town.’ So why is Brian Ballard taking cash from a member of Assad’s inner circle?

By Betsy Woodruff and Adam Rawnsley

Brian Ballard, viewed by some as the lobbyist closest to President Donald Trump, is working for an ally of Syria’s brutal dictator, Bashar al-Assad.

Ballard’s firm, Ballard Partners, disclosed on March 15 that it has taken on a Dubai-based trading company called ASM International General Trading LLC as a client. A Daily Beast analysis of open source materials—including website registration information, leaked offshore investment documents, and résumé sites—indicates that ASM International General Trading is affiliated with a member of Syria’s wealthy Foz family of international businessmen, which reportedly has close links to the Assad regime.

Reached for comment, Ballard told The Daily Beast his firm will cut ties with the company if it has links to Assad.

“We’re going to do more due diligence,” Ballard said. “We’re not the CIA, but if it were to turn out that there was any connection at all, we would withdraw from our representation of the Dubai trading company.”

Ballard’s firm also represents an anti-Assad group, according to disclosure filings.

“We also represent a group of Syrian-American doctors and others who want a Syria free of Assad, which we fully support,” Ballard added. “We’ve lobbied for that and we’ve never lobbied anything but that, and never been asked to, out of fairness to the trading company.”

Representatives for the Foz family did not respond to requests for comment.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Daily Beast

'I'm Shocked, Shocked (About the Libby Commutation), Not'

 I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby

Introduction: This is the first in an occasional series that I will be running of columns that I published both on OpEdNews and other sites, that bear relevance to current events. There will be very slight, if any, editing, and contemporaneous notes in [ ]. I wrote this one, in 2007, on the commutation by Pres. George W. Bush of the sentence that Scooter Libby received for lying and obstruction of Justice in the Valerie Plame case. The whole episode is, of course, now receiving wide publicity because President Trump has chosen to issue a full pardon to Libby. One still wonders if Libby was taking the fall for a higher-up (guess who?) just as any of the Trump lower-downs might, or might not, take the fall for him. This column was originally published on the old BuzzFlash, on July 10, 2007  

In the famous Humphrey Bogart/Ingrid Bergman movie Casablanca, the character Captain Renault of the French police is famously played by Claude Rains. Upon walking into Rick's (the Humphrey Bogart character) bar near the beginning of the movie, he famously says: "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!" And so, the reaction among many on all sides of the political spectrum to the Libby commutation has been: "shocked, shocked" to find that it has happened.

How could Bush do this? After all, he has always been so strict on the question of commutations, and pardons too. It is so obviously political, or a payback, or a payoff, or a cover-up, or a bone for his "conservative" base, or he is reaching out at least halfway to Sean Hannity (who is saying that well, it's OK, but now Bush should really go and do the right [in both senses, I guess] thing and pardon the guy." [Oh my! Hannity was involved in that one, too!]) Yes, it is obviously most of those things and probably all of them.

For example, on July 3, the well-known journalist and author Robert Parry said: "President Bush's decision to spare Scooter Libby from jail time represents the final step in a cover-up that began four years ago when Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top officials launched a campaign to discredit an American citizen for daring to question Bush's case for war in Iraq. . . . That criminal act was followed by lies to the public and an organized cover-up. By commuting Libby's sentence, Bush now has made sure that Libby will keep his mouth shut and that the full story will never be told."

Former Congresswoman and key Watergate impeachment protagonist Elizabeth Holtzman said: "The commutation undoes the simple application of justice. It's just one more example of how this administration believes that the president and his team can violate the law with impunity." 

Click here for the full article. 


'Future Hope' Column: Singing for Our Future in Cuomo’s Space

By Ted Glick 

“No revolutionary movement is complete without its poetical expression. If such a movement has caught hold of the imagination of the masses they will seek a vent in song for the aspirations, the fears and the hopes, the loves and the hatreds engendered by the struggle. Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant, singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement, it is the dogma of a few, and not the faith of the multitude." 

        - James Connolly, Irish Republican and socialist, leader of the 1916 Easter uprising in Dublin

Yes, it was great that the upwards-of-2000 people who marched and rallied on a Monday in Albany, NY two days ago were a multi-cultural mix, one of the stronger mixes of cultures that I’ve seen at climate actions.

Yes, it was very good that the coalition which organized the action,, found a way to organize both a permitted march and rally and a significant nonviolent civil disobedience action. The cd action disrupted business-as-usual in the Governor’s office building, the Statehouse, for several hours and led to 56 arrests.

Yes, it was positive that Cuomo-challenger Cynthia Nixon was there with the rest of us, lending her fast-growing, Bernie-like campaign energy to the cuomowalkthetalk demands: stop all fracking infrastructure, move to 100% renewable energy and make corporate polluters pay.

And yes, it was encouraging to see the intergenerational mix, from very young kids up to grey-haired grandmothers and grandfathers.

But what I really liked the most, and which is very important going forward, was the joyous, loud, beautiful-sounding singing during the civil disobedience action, as we gathered in a big circle in a room, “The War Room,” on the same floor as the Governor’s office, and then as we sat in a nearby hallway in a very big oval-like circle, lifting our voices as if the future depended upon it.

Some of the singing was spontaneous, but a lot of it was led by Luke Nephew of the Peace Poets, throwing his body and soul into his song-leading as he moved rhythmically up and down within our oval.

There were new songs created specifically for this event, short on words and relatively simple in melody to make it easier for everyone to join in. 

Click here for the full article. 


Happening in Harlem: 'Jewel's Catch One' Screenings

Join ImageNation and its partners for a limited theatrical release of ARRAY Films latest release, "Jewel's Catch One" a documentary film from Director C. Fitz. 

Narrated by CCH Pounder, "Jewel's Catch One", is a lush visual and musical journey highlighted by exclusive interviews with Sharon Stone, Thelma Houston, Evelyn "Champagne" King, Madonna, Sandra Bernhard, Thea Austin, Jenifer Lewis, Representative Maxine Waters and Bonnie Pointer.

ARRAY, Ava DuVernay's distribution company, narrates this historically important film rich with music from the last forty years. 

Click on the flier to increase its size.

One of the original safe spaces for disenfranchised communities, The Catch also served as a refuge for many during the AIDS crisis. As her club grew to become known as the unofficial "Studio 54 of the West Coast," Jewel became a national model for how to fight discrimination and serve the less fortunate as she fought tirelessly against racism, homophobia and hate for over four decades.

Jewel built organizations such as The Minority AIDS Project nd Rue's House, the first shelter for women with AIDS and their children, and later in life started her own non-profit health clinic next door to the club called, The Village Health Foundation, wher she still works today. #legacy

The event will be hosted by Bonnie Harrison, Founder and CEO of SITIS Inc

Click here for additional information. 

Source: ImageNation 

PERB Announces Conference to Commemorate 50th Anniversary of Taylor Law

The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) today announced a two-day conference to recognize the 50th anniversary of the Taylor Law, the law that grants public employees in New York State the right to collectively bargain with their employers while prohibiting strikes. 

Held in partnership with the School of Industrial Relations at Cornell University and the New York State Bar Association, the conference will showcase the Taylor Law’s substantial influence on public sector labor relations over the past half century. The conference will be held from May 10 to 11, 2018, at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center in Albany, New York.

The 50th anniversary conference will feature presentations by practitioners and scholars to illustrate the Taylor Law’s significant contributions to New York State public sector labor-management relations, examine and assess areas where the Law’s effectiveness has evolved, and document and analyze emerging and alternative legal and public policy models and frameworks. To register for the conference, visit

“The conference could not be more timely in view of the recent amendments to the Taylor Law, which seek to stabilize collective bargaining in the wake of an anticipated ruling by the Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME,” PERB Chair John Wirenius said. “We are excited about the wide range of panelists and speakers who will participate in this conference and exchange views on how to meet the challenges confronting both management and labor, as the Taylor Law and PERB enter their second half-century.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed landmark legislation to strengthen the rights of working men and women in New York State, increasing access to and protecting union membership in New York’s public-sector workplaces in anticipation of the pending Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court case.

The conference will include a plenary session discussing the potential legal and legislative ramifications of Janus v. AFSCME, along with keynote addresses from Professor Harry Katz of Cornell University and Professor Cynthia Estlund of the New York University School of Law.

Other plenary sessions will include:
the Taylor Law in Context: National and International Comparisons; a discussion with Former PERB Chairs reflecting on their time at PERB and the meaning of the Taylor Law; and the Taylor Law and Impasse Procedure:  Creative Resolution Despite Protraction

To view the full conference agenda, including information on presenters, click here

Passed by the New York State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Nelson Rockefeller, the Taylor Law became effective September 1, 1967, and served as one of the first comprehensive labor relations laws for public employees in the nation, guaranteeing the right of public employees to union representation and collective bargaining - whether employed by the State, or by counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts, public authorities or certain special service districts.

Additional information on the Taylor Law, the Public Employment Relations Board, and the 50th anniversary of the Taylor Law can be found on the PERB website at

Source: PERB

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Senate Confirms LGBTQ-Rights Opponent to Judgeship

by Brooke Sopelsa

The Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm Kyle Duncan to serve on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. While several Republicans and conservatives applauded Duncan, a lawyer nominated by Presidential Donald Trump, a number of Democrats and liberal advocacy groups slammed him as “unfit” and “extreme."

Democrats questioned whether Duncan could be an impartial arbitrator given the cases he had worked on, which include defending a North Carolina voter ID law, fighting a contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act and defending Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News 

A Little Reminder for the TODAY Show....from 'The G-Man'

You know what they say about karma, right? Right!?

Macron in Washington: Can He Change Trump's Foreign Policy?

Source: FRANCE 24 English

White House Press Briefing

Source: The White House

New York to Take Part in First Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium

Six states, including New York, will bring together top researchers to undertake significant new research on all manners of gun violence, data collection and analysis.

Click here for the full announcement. 

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Former Dominican Republic President To Visit Bronx County

By Councilman Rev. Ruben Diaz
District 18 Bronx County, New York

You should know that on April 26, at 8:30 a.m., the former President of the Dominican Republic, the Hon. Leonel Fernandez Reyna, will be visiting Bronx County.  

The purpose of his visit is to have a breakfast dialogue with members of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, which is chaired by yours truly.

Fernandez, at my invitation, will address about 150 pastors and ministers at Maestro's Caterers, 1703 Bronxdale Avenue in the Bronx.

President Fernandez is also scheduled to meet with the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Chairman of the Bronx Democratic Party.

For more information contact Rev. Samaris Gross at (347) 613-1491.

I am Councilman Rev. Ruben Diaz and this is what you should know.

Governor Cuomo Issues Cease And Desist Letter To ICE

Source: NYGovCuomo

How the NYPD Union Is Manufacturing Outrage About a 70-Year-Old Black Panther’s Parole

Judging by tabloid headlines appearing on New York City newsstands, it might appear as though hundreds of thousands of people object to the release of former Black Panther Herman Bell from prison. That’s how many letters, the tabloids proclaim, were written in protest of the New York State Parole Board’s decision last month to release the 70-year-old prisoner, after 45 years behind bars.

“367,000 reasons not to parole cop-killer Herman Bell,” pronounced a New York Post editorial, noting that “more than 367,000 online letters were sent to the state Board of Parole following its recent decision to release cop killer Herman Bell.” The city’s other big tabloid, the New York Daily News, cited the same figure, attributing it to the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

That sounds like an awful lot of people, but it’s not. Neither tabloid bothers to clarify that this figure in no way represents 367,000 individual people writing in protest of Bell’s release. In fact, the huge number of letters was automatically generated by fewer that 6,000 individual complaints made via the NYC PBA website.

Click here for the full article.

Source: The Intercept_

Activists Demand Release of Manuel Duran, Prominent Latino Journalist in Memphis Jailed by ICE

Source: Democracy Now!

My Truth About Being a Black Man and a Black Cop

By Ronald Davis

As more and more shootings of unarmed black men and women are brought to the public’s attention, I understand the distrust that many ― especially people of color ― have against police. As a black man, I’ve been on the receiving end of profiling and discrimination. As a father to black children, I’ve had to have “the talk” with them about how to conduct themselves in encounters with law enforcement to make sure they leave with their lives. But I’m also a cop, and I know this job is dangerous and difficult and it comes with its share of fair and unfair scrutiny.

I’ve spent the last 30 years reconciling these unique and conflicting identities. This effort was not without its struggle. I’ve tried to change the perspectives of people and officers around me, I’ve denied that I had differing perspectives of my own, I’ve tried to balance each identity and fit them into a safe — often false — narrative. All of these efforts failed.

Through these experiences, and those of so many officers and people of color, I’ve come to realize that the only way to reconcile these perspectives is to accept each experience and the truth they represent, and to allow them to co-exist. So, here are my truths.

Click here for the full commentary.

Source: The Huffington Post

Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Travel Ban Case

Click here for audio.

Source: C-SPAN

Facebook, Google Roll Out Changes Ahead of European Union's GDPR Privacy Rules

Source: CBS News

Republican Debbie Lesko Wins Arizona's Special Election

Source: CBS News

Governor Cuomo Issues Letter to Senator Felder

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued the following letter to Senator Simcha Felder.

Dear Senator Felder,

Given Shelley Mayer's victory in yesterday's Senate special election, your decision on Senate leadership is now pivotal. There are now 32 registered Democratic Senators forming a majority Democratic Conference. The IDC has unified, and while I understand that you conference as a Republican and run on multiple lines, you are registered as a Democrat. I strongly urge you to join the 31 other registered Democrats so we can enact meaningful legislation that will continue our state's progress at this most critical political time.

There is a new Democratic movement in this state and a new Democratic Senate Conference. We have come a long way. The New York Democratic Party is a new model of Democratic leadership. In this state, Democrats are no longer about just offering dreams but a party of dreamers and doers - a powerful combination. We have articulated a different vision for our state and we have delivered on it. We have credibility with the public because we didn't offer only words, but matched our words with actions. We have made this state the most progressive state in the nation as a matter of aspiration and reality. No state rivals our record on social progress or government accomplishment.

There is much to be proud of, but with a Democratic Senate, we could do even more. There are issues we need to address that the Republicans in the Senate refused to act upon or even bring to the floor for a vote. Not only is it a wasted opportunity to move the state forward, but by refusing to bring issues up for a vote New Yorkers don't even know where the legislators stand. 

Click here to read the letter in its entirety.

Source: The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

DNC Statement on Democratic Victories in New York Special Elections

On April 24, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez released the following statement: 

“Congratulations to New York state Senators-Elect Shelley Mayer and Luis Sepulveda, and to all the newly elected Democratic New York state Assembly members. The voters of New York have spoken. Not only did Democrats flip one state Assembly seat, we also won two state Senate races that we need to give us the majority in the New York state Senate and put us one step closer to shifting the balance of power in a legislative chamber that has been controlled by Republicans for the better part of 80 years. Working families in New York want leaders who will fight for the issues that matter to them. They know Democrats have their back, and tonight is further proof that when we organize and lead with our values, we’re unstoppable.

“The DNC was proud to invest $100,000 in the New York Democratic Party (NYDP) through the State Party Innovation Fund (SPIF) to help expand the party’s efforts to engage and organize voters around the state. The state party has already leveraged this increased organizing capacity to lift up Shelley Mayer and start building the support we need to keep winning up and down the ballot in 2018. We look forward to working with the NYDP to keep organizing and electing Democrats across the state.”

Source: The Office of Assemblyman Michael Blake (District 79)

Judge Won't Return After Berating Inmate Who Later Died

A Florida judge will not return to the bench after a video captured her angry exchange with a frail inmate in a wheelchair. Earlier this month, Circuit Court Judge Merrilee Ehrlich snapped at 59-year-old Sandra Twiggs as she explained her ailments and breathing treatments.Twiggs died a few days later.

Source: CBS News 

Jurors Begin Deliberating in Bill Cosby's Sexual Assault Retrial

Source: CBS News

French President Macron Addresses a Joint Session of Congress