Monday, July 11, 2016

GOP platform draft declares pornography 'public health crisis'

CNN NEWS

Cleveland (CNN)The Republican Party will declare internet pornography a "public health crisis" under an amendment added to the draft party platform Monday at preliminary meetings in Cleveland.
North Carolina delegate Mary Frances Forrester successfully proposed the amendment in a subcommittee of the platform committee Monday morning.
"The internet must not become a safe haven for predators," the provision states. "Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the life of millions. We encourage states to continue to fight this public menace and pledge our commitment to children's safety and well-being. We applaud the social networking sites that bar sex offenders from participation. We urge energetic prosecution of child pornography which closely linked to human trafficking."
The amendment passed with little debate.
The debates over the platform on Monday touched on a variety of topics, from endangered species to medical marijuana to abortion and international trade.
The full committee continues its deliberations on the platform into Tuesday and will send a full draft to the floor of the convention next week.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

White House Blasts Benghazi Report As 'In-Kind Contribution' To RNC

TPM

"Is the RNC going to disclose the in-kind contribution that they received from House Republicans today?” Earnest said at his daily media briefing.
Earnest went on to note that House Republicans spent $7 million taxpayer dollars on their investigation, which he said was intended to "tear down Secretary Clinton's poll numbers."
Clinton herself responded to the report earlier in the day, saying it was "time to move on." House Republicans determined in their report that President Obama's administration acted too slowly in response to the attacks.
"The variety of conspiracy theories that have been flowering on the Republican side of the aisle are politically motivated fantasies," Earnest said.

Witness At Cruz Hearing Smears 2 Dem Reps As Tied To Muslim Brotherhood

TPM

“I attended a convention in Columbus, Ohio, in 2008, organized by Muslim Brotherhood group, ISNA, and both the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons had recruitment and outreach booths,” Gaubatz said. “Both Congressman Keith Ellison and Andre Carson spoke at the Muslim Brotherhood event.”
Ellison's office confirmed to the Huffington Post that he indeed attend the 2008 convention and other conventions organized by ISNA, while Carson's office did not return Huffington Post's request for comment. Huffington Post pointed out that President Obama has addressed the group's convention in 2015, via a video message. ISNA, meanwhile, has denied any connection to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the Huffington Post.
Gaubatz was described as a "National Security Consultant" in the hearing's witness list, and has long accused Islamic advocacy groups of being front groups to influence U.S. national security policy. He once posed as an intern at the Muslim civil rights group Council on American Islamic Relations, where he collected documents for a 2009 book co-authored by his father, "Muslim Mafia."
He was testifying in front of the the Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, of which Cruz is the chairman.
Later in the hearing, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) praised Ellison for his "great patriotism."
Another witness, Zuhdi Jasser -- the founder of American Islamic Forum for Democracy and “A Battle for the Soul of Islam” -- bashed President Obama for speaking at a Baltimore mosque in February.
“Here’s a mosque that had gender apartheid as a policy within its mosque. It had a sermon which was a screed against homosexuals a year prior, that our Muslim reform movement publicized and said, ‘Look at it. Why is he going to this mosque?’” Jasser said. “It appeared to be a bigotry of low expectations that somehow we don't hold Muslims accountable to the same values we do everybody else in the West and in this country.”
Jasser then referenced a speech Obama gave at the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast, in which the President compared concerns about Islam and terrorism today to Christianity and the Crusades.
“We'll give lectures to Christians, Jews and others, but when it comes to muslims, the mosque he chooses as a backdrop is in the 13th century when it comes to women's rights, gay rights and other rights.”

Monday, June 20, 2016

Israeli Intelligence chief : We do not want isis defeat in Syria

veteranstoday.com

In a speech delivered at “Herzliya” conference yesterday , Halevy explicitly said “Israel” does not want the situation in Syria to end with the defeat of ISIS “,  the Israeli NRG site reported.
“Withdrawal of the super powers from the region and letting Israel alone in front of Hezbollah and Iran that possess good abilities Will make “Israel” in a hard position” . Therefore, we’ve to do all we can so as not finding ourselves in such situation”, the Israeli chief intelligence added.

Anti-Trump delegates raising money for staff and a legal defense fund

By Ed O'Keefe


Supporters of a growing anti-Donald Trump movement announced plans Sunday to raise money for staff and a possible legal defense fund as they asked new recruits to help spread the word with less than a month until the Republican National Convention.
Having started with just a few dozen delegates, organizers also said Sunday that they now count several hundred delegates and alternates as part of their campaign.
"As we carefully consider not only the presidential nominee but the rules of the convention, the platform of the Republican Party and the vice presidential nominee, remember that this is true reality TV – it is not entertainment," Regina Thomson, co-founder of the group now calling itself "Free the Delegates," said Sunday night.
The group is led by convention delegates seeking to block Trump at the GOP convention next month in Cleveland by changing party rules so that they can vote however they want -- instead of in line with the results of state caucuses and primaries. It is quickly emerging as the most organized effort to stop Trump and coincides with his declining poll numbers.
Concerned Republicans also are increasingly alarmed by Trump's rhetoric, including his racial attacks on a federal judge, a fresh call made Sunday to begin profiling Muslim Americans, and his support for changing the nation’s gun laws in the aftermath of a mass shooting in Orlando.

But Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and other party leaders believe that convention delegates are bound to the results of the caucuses and primaries held over the course of the year. An RNC spokesman on Friday dismissed plans to undermine Trump, first reported by The Washington Post, as "silly" and "nothing more than a media creation and a series of tweets."
Trump called attempts to strip of the party nomination "totally illegal but also a rebuke of the millions of people who feel so strongly about what I am saying." On Saturday, he accused former opponents Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) of trying to undermine his candidacy.
But in a conference call Sunday night, leaders of Free the Delegates repeatedly insisted that they are not working on behalf of any of Trump's former opponents. They also lashed out at top party leaders.
"Mr. Priebus needs to understand that leadership has not answered the call of the most important people in the Republican Party and that’s the conservatives. We have always been there, we’ve endured a lot of one-way loyalty," said Chris Eckstrom, a Dallas-based businessman and founder of Courageous Conservative PAC, an organization that once supported Cruz's campaign but is now backing the new movement.
"It’s now our time and our duty to say that this is a conservative platform in the Republican Party and we simply will not abandon it," Eckstrom added.
Thomson, Eckstrom and others addressed at least 1,000 Republicans nationwide who participated in the call, organizers said. The Washington Post obtained call-in information from a caller, but there was no way to independently verify how many people participated.
Also on the call was Steve Lonegan, a Republican consultant from New Jersey who is advising the campaign on fundraising and media outreach. During the call, Lonegan asked participants to donate to Eckstrom's PAC, reiterating that both men are volunteering their time and would spend the PAC money only to help track down like-minded delegates, hiring staff to assist the campaign while in Cleveland and to help any delegates who may face threats or pressure.
Delegates in several states have said they are under pressure not to join anti-Trump groups. In North Carolina, some have proposed fining delegates or kicking them out of the party if they vote against Trump. In other states, party leaders have threatened to strip delegates of their credentials if they buck primary results and against Trump, said delegates who have contacted The Post. Some who have reached out have spoken on the condition of anonymity, saying that spouses are fearful of physical threats if they speak out publicly about their plans.
Kendal Unruh, one of the group's founders, said that she is planning to propose adding the "conscience clause" to the convention's rules so that there is no confusion about what delegates can do. While some Republicans believe that they already can vote their conscience, Unruh said that adding the rule would end any dispute.
"I’m so convinced that it’s going to pass with a majority," she said.
Unruh and other delegates were pleased to hear House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) tell NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that it's "not my place to decide" whether delegates should be unbound at the convention.
"It is not my job to tell delegates what to do, what not to do, or to weigh in on things like that. They write the rules. They make their decisions," Ryan told NBC.
 
"Paul Ryan signed our permission slip," Unruh said in response.
Talmage Pearce, a GOP delegate from Arizona's Fifth Congressional District, said that Ryan "spoke wisely and empathetically" in his interview.
"Regarding Trump, I cannot in good conscience vote for him," Pearce said in an email. "The deceit, bullying, insulting, blackmailing, and liberal views all make it impossible for me to cast him my endorsement. Trump would need to change significantly and convince myself and millions of other conservatives across the country that he has changed in order to earn our votes."
A delegate from Colorado supporting the campaign said that "we will not put our delegates in an ethical dilemma" if they are unbound. "We live in America. The land of the free. As delegates, we should be free to vote our conscience."
The delegate spoke by email and on the condition of anonymity because he said he's already being harassed by other Republicans and is concerned for his safety.

Cecil Stinemetz, a delegate from Iowa, participated in Sunday night's call. Angered by intimidation tactics used by one of his state party's leaders, he forwarded an email he received on Friday from Steve Scheffler, who holds one of Iowa's seats on the Republican National Committee and is a leader of the Iowa Christian Alliance.
"Stop this madness Cecil!!" Scheffler wrote. "All the other candidates have either folded their campaigns or suspended them. You are hurting Iowa! Can't you behave yourself? You are an embarrassment! The binding for Iowa is what it is and your trying to make a name for yourself in the press is disgusting! Christians don't behave this way!"
Scheffler declined to comment when contacted for a response about the exchange, but didn't deny that he wrote the email.
"I'm not sure I've ever been this disappointed," Stinemetz said of the message.
"My whole adult life I have been a loyal Republican. But this whole experience has really opened my eyes to what some folks I previously thought were nuts were warning us about," he added. "If you want to know how it's possible for someone like Donald Trump to rise this far in our party, it's because we have leaders like this."

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Atty Contempt Hearing Set Over ID Of Trump-Linked Cooperator (RICO)

Law360, New York (June 10, 2016, 10:14 PM ET) -- A New York judge on Friday set a September hearing to decide civil contempt claims against a pair of lawyers who are accused of revealing the identity of a government cooperator who has been linked to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, conduct that may result in criminal prosecution.
The strange, secretive case involves allegations that attorneys Richard Lerner and Frederick Oberlander violated court orders by disclosing the identity of real estate developer Felix Sater as a government cooperating witness to the press and in court filings.

According to court documents, the lawyers are accused of disclosing a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act conviction of Sater's, also referred to in court records as John Doe, as well as his cooperation with the Department of Justice in the prosecution of purported Mafia and Russian organized crime figures, information that had been ordered to be sealed.

Sater, a former member of Trump SoHo developer Bayrock Group LLC, sued for civil contempt, and U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan on Friday set a fall date for an evidentiary proceeding to decide the contempt allegations.

Judge Cogan has also taken the unusual step of referring the matter to New York federal prosecutors for consideration on whether criminal contempt of court charges should be brought against Lerner and Oberlander.

The judge on Friday noted that the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York informed him that it cannot advise him on where it stands regarding the conclusion of the criminal investigation.

Sater was convicted in 1998 of racketeering for a purported securities fraud scheme, but his conviction remained sealed for years because he became an informant for the government. It was during the time his conviction was sealed that Bayrock worked on real estate projects tied to Trump, according to court documents.

For his part, Lerner has claimed that Sater used the concealment of his conviction to execute a fraud on banks, investors and others by persuading them to sink nearly a billion dollars to finance Trump-branded projects. He maintains the fraud took place with the knowledge and facilitation of former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch, now the U.S. attorney general.

A separate lawsuit, originally filed by a Oberlander on a client's behalf, claims Bayrock entities and principals collaborated with Trump on hotel projects while concealing that Sater had been convicted of a felony related to organized crime and was allegedly skimming money.

In a statement provided to Law360 by Sater’s attorney, Robert S. Wolf of Moses & Singer LLP, he called Lerner and Oberlander “rouge lawyers” who have violated numerous district court and Second Circuit orders.

“As I stated on the record, our client seeks to have Oberlander and Lerner indicted by the government and prosecuted for their criminal contempt,” Wolf said. “Additionally, we will pursue all maximum sanctions including financial sanctions to recover the exorbitant legal costs incurred as a result of their outrageous and life threatening misconduct by Oberlander and Lerner identified in these proceedings.”

An attorney for Oberlander, Jeffrey C. Hoffman of Blank Rome LLP, said the contempt allegations are not based on sworn statement of facts, as there are no orders with unambiguous decretal language.

"In fact as to some of the alleged orders they do not exist but are 'presumed' to exist," Hoffman said, adding that it was Sater and his team that publicly filed sealed court documents in Israel, which resulted in their dissemination to the media.

In a joint statement, Oberlander and Lerner called the contempt proceedings fraudulent, and said they are being charged with contempt for writing an editorial critical of Lynch and for making a filing a U.S. Supreme Court petition, with a redacted version for the press.

"The only contempt here is the court’s contempt for half a millennium of Anglo-American law. Never before has a court thought it could be contempt to speak freely of matters in the public record. And while Mr. Sater is allowed to charge us with contempt for ‘revealing’ his 1998 RICO conviction in media interviews, no one seems to care that he himself has filed court papers claiming his conviction has been public since March 2000," they said.

Many of the records in the contempt proceeding remain sealed.

Oberlander is represented by Jeffrey C. Hoffman of Blank Rome LLP. Lerner is appearing pro se.

Sater is represented by Robert S. Wolf and Robert B. McFarlane of Moses & Singer LLP.

The case is In Re Motion for Civil Contempt by John Doe, case numbers 1:12-mc-00557 and 1:16-mc-00706, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

--Additional reporting by Aebra Coe. Editing by Patricia K. Cole.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Former Texas official says he was told to drop Trump University probe

CBS NEWS

WASHINGTON -- Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton moved to muzzle a former state regulator who says he was ordered in 2010 to drop a fraud investigation into Trump University for political reasons.
Paxton's office issued a cease and desist letter to former Deputy Chief of Consumer Protection John Owens after he made public copies of a 14-page internal summary of the state's case against Donald Trump for scamming millions from students of his now-defunct real estate seminar.
 
Owens, now retired, said his team had built a solid case against the now-presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but was told to drop it after Trump's company agreed to cease operations in Texas.
The former state regulator told The Associated Press on Friday that decision was highly unusual and left the bilked students on their own to attempt to recover their tuition money from the celebrity businessman.


Trump University is the target of two lawsuits in San Diego and one in New York that accuse the business of fleecing students with unfulfilled promises to teach secrets of success in real estate.
A federal judge overseeing one of the class action suits unsealed documents in the case earlier this week, then ordered some of those records to be withdrawn from public view, saying they had "mistakenly" been released. Trump has personally attacked U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel as "a hater of Donald Trump," claiming he is biased against Trump because of his Hispanic heritage.
  
"We're in front of a very hostile judge," Trump told a crowd in San Diego on May 27. "The judge was appointed by Barack Obama, federal judge. Frankly, he should recuse himself because he's given us ruling after ruling after ruling, negative, negative, negative."
"What happens is the judge, who happens to be -- we believe -- Mexican. Which is great. I think that's fine," he said. "You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, OK?"

Curiel was born in East Chicago, Indiana. Curiel's parents, however, are Mexican, according to a 2002 New York Times report of the judge's work in the Southern District of California's narcotics enforcement division.
Despite the lawsuits, the presumptive GOP nominee said Thursday he plans to reopen Trump University once the legal cases are resolved.

As CBS News reported in September, Trump University closed not because of litigation, but because students were not signing up for its Gold elite mentoring program that cost $35,000. The university, as a result, could no longer afford to fulfill its commitments to the students who had already paid.

A June 2010 memo from Trump University said the program was facing "significant operations risk" and it closed a month later. A former employee told CBS News that the program was "run into the ground."
According to the documents provided by Owens, his team sought to sue Trump, his company and several business associates to help recover more than $2.6 million students spent on seminars and materials, plus another $2.8 million in penalties and fees.
Owens said he was so surprised at the order to stand down he made a copy of the case file and took it home.

"It had to be political in my mind because Donald Trump was treated differently than any other similarly situated scam artist in the 16 years I was at the consumer protection office," said Owens, who lives in Houston.
Owens' boss at the time was then-Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is now the state's GOP governor.

 The Associated Press first reported Thursday that Trump gave donations totaling $35,000 to Abbott's gubernatorial campaign three years after his office closed the Trump U case. Several Texas media outlets then reported Owens' accusation that the probe was dropped for political reasons.

Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said Friday that the governor had played no role in ending the case against Trump, a decision he said was made farther down the chain of command.
"The Texas Attorney General's office investigated Trump U, and its demands were met - Trump U was forced out of Texas and consumers were protected," Hirsch said. "It's absurd to suggest any connection between a case that has been closed and a donation to Governor Abbott three years later."

Paxton issued a media release about the cease and desist later Friday, saying Owens had divulged "confidential and privileged information."
Owens first learned about the state's action against him on Friday afternoon when contacted by the AP for response.

"I have done nothing illegal or unethical," said Owens, a lawyer. "I think the information I provided to the press was important and needed to be shared with the public."


Paxton faces his own legal trouble. He was indicted last year on three felony fraud charges alleging that he persuaded people to invest in a North Texas tech startup while failing to disclose that he hadn't invested himself but was being paid by the company in stock. Paxton has remained in office while appealing the charges.

Texas was not the only GOP-led state to shy away from suing Trump.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi briefly considered joining a multi-state suit against Trump U. Three days after Bondi's spokeswoman was quoted in local media reports as saying her office was investigating, Trump's family foundation made a $25,000 contribution to a political fundraising committee supporting Bondi's re-election campaign.
Bondi, a Republican, soon dropped her investigation, citing insufficient grounds to proceed.

In New York, meanwhile, Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Trump over what he called a "straight-up fraud." That case, along with several class-action lawsuits filed by former Trump students, is still ongoing.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

'Idiocracy' Team Ready Anti-Donald Trump Campaign Ads

ROLLINGSTONE

 Mike Judge and Etan Cohen, the director and writer behind the 2006 cult comedy Idiocracy, have reteamed to pen a series of anti-Donald Trump campaign ads starring the film's wrestler-turned-president, played by Terry Crews.

The ads were fueled by a tweet Cohen sent as Trump began dominating the GOP ticket. "I never expected #idiocracy to become a documentary so soon," Cohen wrote in February, referencing the 2006 film that featured a seemingly unbelievable distant future where society was dumbed down to the point of idiocy thanks to television and pop culture.

Following Cohen's tweet, which was retweeted nearly 4,000 times, Cohen reached out to Judge about crafting campaign ads satirizing Trump, the screenwriter told Buzzfeed.
"We just thought it would take much, much longer to get to this point," Cohen said.

 "Obviously, when writing the movie, we knew that that was true about TV and movies and pop culture. But it was a crazy joke to think that it could be extrapolated to politics. It seems to be happening really rapidly."

The one hold-up before these bite-size follow-ups to Idiocracy can get in front of a camera: Judge and Cohen are waiting for Fox, the film's right holder, to give the go-ahead for Crews to reprise his role.

"The most dangerous contrast to Trump is that Camacho actually realizes he needs advice from other people, and knows that he’s not the smartest guy in the room," Cohen said, adding that he'd vote for Camacho over Trump because Crews' character is "not racist."