Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Trump’s spokeswoman is an unemployment cheat AND an ‘Agenda 21’ conspiracy theorist


While much of the recent attention surrounding Katrina Pierson has focused on her bullet necklace, the national spokesperson for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has also come under scrutiny for both improperly claiming unemployment benefits and pushing the “Agenda 21” conspiracy theory.
According to the National Journal, Pierson received $11,440 in benefits between 2012 and 2013, when she did volunteer work for Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) run for office. However, state rules that anyone receiving unemployment should actively looking for a paid position while doing so.
The Texas Observer reported last year that in 2011, Pierson led classes for Waco Tea Party members warning them about “Agenda 21,” a popular conservative conspiracy theory claiming that a nonbinding plan approved by United Nations officials in 1992 was really a vehicle for the organization to seize control of the US.
Pierson told the Observer that she led similar discussions in Arizona, Washington D.C., Kansas and several other states and considered it her full-time job, arguing that “[when] you realize that you’ve been lied to your whole life, it’s an eye-opening experience.”
The Journal also noted that Pierson turned against Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) for supporting Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) bid for the GOP nomination, just two months after publicly praising him to fellow Tea Party supporters.
Pierson complained on Twitter that Gowdy “lost all cred­ib­il­ity when he nom­in­ated John Boehner for Speak­er so he’s per­fect for Marco Ru­bio.” But on Oct. 26, an email in Pierson’s name went out seeking help “drafting” Gowdy to become House Speaker, despite the fact that Gowdy stated he was not interested in the position.
“These outside groups use members’ names, not just his, without their knowledge and mislead people to think they support or are connected to a group when they are not,” a spokesperson for Gowdy said after reading the email.
Pierson joined Trump’s campaign two weeks after that email was sent.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Muslim NFL players respond to Trump: ‘We can’t have this ignorance in office’


Detroit Lions safety Isa Abdul-Quddus and running back Ameer Abdullah have joined the chorus of criticism against Donald Trump in the wake of the Republican frontrunner’s incendiary proposal to bar all Muslims from entering the US.
Trump’s plan for a “total and complete shutdown” of the country’s borders to Muslims prompted immediate condemnation from across the political spectrum, with fellow presidential contender Jeb Bush denouncing Trump’s comments as “unhinged”. The Lions pair, who are Muslim, spoke eloquently on Wednesday on how Trump “says a lot of things for shock value” but admitted his remarks were “pretty ignorant” and “kind of disappointing”.
Related: Muhammad Ali defends Muslims in response to Donald Trump’s ban plan
Abdul-Quddus said he believes that the percentage of Americans who believe Islam is “evil” is small, and not reflected by Trump’s statements this week. “It was one of those things that … I kind of look at the person before I look at the comment,” Abdul-Quddus said. “Because Trump says a lot of things for shock value to get people to hear him and listen to him, and just to put his face in public.
“I don’t really feel much disrespect when he said that, because he already said he wanted to label us. He wanted to have every [Muslim] have an ID and everything, so I just kind of chalk it up as a guy that’s pretty ignorant.”
But Abdul-Quddus said he is concerned that Trump’s words might fan anti-Muslim sentiment, particularly if his popularity in the polls continues. “That’s the scary part,” Abdul-Quddus said. “I’m just hoping that either he can change his mindset to be a bit more open-minded, or people just realize we can’t have this ignorance in office.”
Trump has brushed off the horrified reaction to his proposal and remained unrepentant. He told a raucous crowd aboard the USS Yorkstown on Tuesday: “We need a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States while we figure out what the hell is going on.” He acknowleged his words were “probably not politically correct – But. I. Don’t. Care.”
Related: Trump ignores UK critics and claims country has ‘a massive Muslim problem’
Abdullah said of Tump: “He’ll say some things, and the large following that he has – he has a very large following – is kind of disappointing, from my perspective.”
Abdullah, in his first season with the Lions, and Abdul-Quddus, in his second, said they’ve been treated well by people in Detroit, and have not experienced religious bigotry since coming to the NFL. Abdullah, however, said he was called derogatory names growing up in Alabama.
Abdullah said. “All I do is encourage people to educate themselves before taking a stance, before just listening to someone, before making a judgment or decision on how you should treat a person or talk to a person.
“You can’t control everyone. All you can do is pray for them and hope that one day they’ll realize that everyone’s just people. You got to love everyone, you got to respect everyone and understand that people who make [bad] decisions are their own type of people. It’s a huge difference.”
Abdullah also said he’s more worried about this Sunday’s game against the St Louis Rams than anything Trump has to say.
“I thought it was something that a lot of people wouldn’t really follow or agree with, so I didn’t really give it much attention initially,” he said. “But just looking at it, I know Donald Trump actually has a pretty large following, so it is what it is.”

Trump postpones trip to Israel — vows to visit ‘after I become president of the US’


Donald Trump said Thursday he was postponing a planned trip to Israel, but vowed to return “after I become president of the US.”
The Republican firebrand, who is facing fierce criticism from around the world over his call for Muslims to be barred from entering the United States, had been set to meet with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on December 28.
But Netanyahu’s office said he “rejects” Trump’s remarks, stressing that the planned talks were in line with the premier’s practice of meeting candidates visiting Israel.
“I have decided to postpone my trip to Israel and to schedule my meeting with @Netanyahu at a later date after I become President of the US,” Trump said in a tweet.
US presidential candidates often visit Israel while campaigning as part of efforts to shore up their foreign policy credentials.
Beyond that, Netanyahu has regularly expressed support for Republicans in the United States, and firm backing for Israel has become a decisive issue for the party.
But the Trump visit had already stirred strong opposition in Israel, with a range of lawmakers voicing hostility to it because of his comments.
Trump made his remarks on Muslims after last week’s mass shooting in California by a Muslim couple said to have been radicalized.
Painting Trump as a “carnival barker” with “fake hair” whose campaign belonged in the “dustbin of history,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Trump’s plan should disqualify him from office.
The billionaire hotel magnate, who currently leads Republican polls by double-digit margins over his nearest rivals, has warned he may launch a third party campaign if uneasy conservatives move against him.
That could all but kill Republican chances of beating Hillary Clinton, if she is indeed the eventual Democratic nominee, say observers.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

White supremacist leaders thank Donald Trump for dragging their racism into the mainstream


Donald Trump hasn’t just been popular with the Republican party as a presidential candidate. He’s also served as a recruiting tool for white supremacists, Politico reports.
White nationalist leaders are capitalizing on sentiments drummed up by Trump to grow their movement. Stormfront, a popular white supremacist website, reports a traffic spike related to Trump’s candidacy and David Duke says Trump has allowed racist groups to openly talk about topics that up till now were considered taboo.
“Demoralization has been the biggest enemy and Trump is changing all that,” Stormfront founder Don Black told Politico. “He’s certainly creating a movement that will continue independently of him even if he does fold at some point.”
Black told Politico that Stormfront has been getting millions of new visitors and that Trump is driving growing web traffic. Stormfront gets 30-40 percent spikes when Trump makes news on immigration or Muslims. The Trump-related traffic surge to the white supremacist site is prompting Black to upgrade his servers to handle it.
According to Politico, Trump has discouraged the most obvious forms of racism by firing staffers for racist social media posts or barring a Confederate flag-carrying supporter from a Virginia rally. But Trump’s comments about Muslims and Latinos have blown the lid off a simmering under-layer of hatred that has been too ugly for mainstream politicians. Until now.
“He’s made it ok to talk about these incredible concerns of European Americans today, because I think European Americans know they are the only group that can’t defend their own essential interests and their point of view,” Duke told Politico. “He’s meant a lot for the human rights of European Americans.”
On Monday, Trump vowed to ban all Muslims from entering the United States — a move that was condemned by conservatives from Dick Cheney to Paul Ryan to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But their criticism may be too little, too late.
As the New York Times pointed out in a Thursday editorial, Trump’s tone is not new. He has, in fact, been pushing the Republican party to further extremes and has been leading the party primary field for months.
“The Republican rivals rushing to distance themselves from his latest inflammatory proposal — a faith-based wall around the country — have been peddling their own nativist policies for months or years. They have been harshening their campaign speeches and immigration proposals in response to the Trump effect,” the Times editorial board points out. “And party officials around the country, attuned to the power of fear, have developed homegrown versions of the Trump approach. In 31 states, governors — most but not all Republicans — have formed an axis of ignorance, declaring their borders closed to refugees fleeing the Islamic State in Syria.”
Trump’s rhetoric empowers sinister elements, Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center told Politico.
“When well-known public figures make these kind of statements in the public square, they are taken as a permission-giving by criminal elements who go out and act on their words,” he said.
This was seen after Trump launched his campaign by calling Mexican people drug runners and rapists. Two Boston men beat and urinated on a Latino homeless man and said they did it because they wanted to “make America great again,” using Trump’s campaign line. Trump didn’t condemn this criminal act, and instead said his supporters are “passionate.”
The violence in response to the heightened anti-Muslim rhetoric seems to have already begun.
A Muslim family in Plano, Texas, reports that rocks have been thrown into their windows twice this week. The Council on American Islamic Relations, said there has been a spike in reported hate crimes. A Muslim store owner in Queens was beaten by a man who said he was on a mission to “kill Muslims.”
The New York Times hammered Trump and warned that the “darkness” that fell over the United States during World War II when Japanese Americans were interned could be returning.
“The racism behind the agenda of the right wing on immigrants and foreigners has long been plain as day,” the editorial concluded. “Mr. Trump makes it even plainer. After his remarks on Muslims, how many of Mr. Trump’s rivals have said they would reject his candidacy if he won the nomination? As of Wednesday, none.”

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

This Is The Homemade Cannabis Oil Recipe That People Are Using To Treat Cancer

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The re-entrance of marijuana into the main stream consciousness has come on the back of revelations that the herb has massive cancer curing potential.  The cannabinoids, molecules within the plant, enter the human body on consumption and bind with receptors that are already in place.  Our bodies are made to handle this stuff.

The resulting endocannabinoids that are released by the human body perform a variety of positive effects, including regulation of cell growth.  The fact that we have receptors for the chemical seems to indicate that we are evolved to eat the plant and the positive impact the chemicals have on our system further implies that.

One of the most popular ways to consume the plant is by smoking it, but the excess chemicals from the fire can cause unnecessary damage.  Rick Simpson, a pioneer in the medical cannabis field, has mastered the art of cannabis oil production and released his technique to the world for free.

You can support Rick on his website; here is a condensed version of the process of making hemp oil.
Start with one ounce of dried herb. One ounce will typically produce 3-4 grams of oil, although the amount of oil produced per ounce will vary strain to strain. A pound of dried material will yield about two ounces of high quality oil.

IMPORTANT: These instructions are directly summarized from Rick Simpson’s website. Be VERY careful when boiling solvent off, the fumes are extremely flammable. AVOID smoking, sparks, stove-tops and red hot heating elements. Set up a fan to blow fumes away from the pot, and set up in a well-ventilated area for whole process.

1. Place the completely dry material in a plastic bucket.

2. Dampen the material with the solvent you are using. Many solvents can be used [solvent-free option]. You can use pure naphtha, ether, butane, 99% isopropyl alcohol, or even water. Two gallons of solvent is required to extract the THC from one pound, and 500 ml is enough for an ounce.

3. Crush the plant material using a stick of clean, untreated wood or any other similar device. Although the material will be damp, it will still be relatively easy to crush up because it is so dry.

4. Continue to crush the material with the stick, while adding solvent until the plant material is completely covered and soaked. Remain stirring the mixture for about three minutes. As you do this, the THC is dissolved off the material into the solvent.

5. Pour the solvent oil mixture off the plant material into another bucket. At this point you have stripped the material of about 80% of its THC.

6. Second wash: again add solvent to the mixture and work for another three minutes to extract the remaining THC.

7. Pour this solvent oil mix into the bucket containing the first mix that was previously poured out.

8. Discard the twice washed plant material.

9. Pour the solvent oil mixture through a coffee filter into a clean container.

10. Boil the solvent off: a rice cooker will boil the solvent off nicely, and will hold over a half gallon of solvent mixture. CAUTION: avoid stove-tops, red hot elements, sparks, cigarettes and open flames as the fumes are extremely flammable.

11. Add solvent to rice cooker until it is about ¾ full and turn on HIGH heat. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area and set up a fan to carry the solvent fumes away. Continue to add mixture to cooker as solvent evaporates until you have added it all to the cooker.

12. As the level in the rice cooker decreases for the last time, add a few drops of water (about 10 drops of water for a pound of dry material). This will help to release the solvent residue, and protect the oil from too much heat.

13. When there is about one inch of solvent-water mixture in the rice cooker, put on your oven mitts and pick the unit up and swirl the contents until the solvent has finished boiling off.

14. When the solvent has been boiled off, turn the cooker to LOW heat. At no point should the oil ever reach over 290 degrees F or 140 degrees C.

15. Keep your oven mitts on and remove the pot containing the oil from the rice cooker. Gently pour the oil into a stainless steel container

16. Place the stainless steel container in a dehydrator, or put it on a gentle heating device such as a coffee warmer. It may take a few hours but the water and volatile terpenes will be evaporated from the oil. When there is no longer any surface activity on the oil, it is ready for use.

17. Suck the oil up in a plastic syringe, or in any other container you see fit. A syringe will make the oil easy to dispense. When the oil cools completely it will have the consistency of thick grease.
For dosage information you can check out more on Rick's website.

Monday, December 07, 2015

As Campaign Crumbles, Christie Hit with Epic BridgeGate Docu Dump


In May Wildstein pled guilty to felonies arising from the September 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closures, at which time prosecutors disclosed that he was cooperating with the government in the prosecution of Baroni and Kelly.
The two defendants’ discovery motions, filed in the early hours of Wednesday morning, total several hundred pages in length. Here’s a brief rundown of the legal highlights:
1. Bill Baroni is seeking a change of venue because of pretrial publicity and press coverage. In all likelihood, this request will not be granted and his trial will take place in Newark, New Jersey.
2. Both Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly are seeking the names of unindicted co-conspirators and allege that the government has withheld potentially exculpatory evidence from discovery.
3. They also allege that the law firm retained by Governor Christie’s office at public expense, Gibson Dunn Crutcher – remember the Mastro Report? – produced files that are, in the words of Kelly’s attorney, “not only unsearchable… [but] also randomly produced in massive PDF files that prevent counsel from effectively reviewing or organizing” them.
Remember that Gibson Dunn partner Randy Mastro led an internal investigation that ‘exonerated’ Governor Christie from any wrongdoing in the lane closures. The firm is not only fighting to make sure nobody sees notes gathered during interviews conducted with Christie staffers to produce the Mastro Report; they’re also turning over subpoenaed documents to prosecutors and defense lawyers in the form of ginormous gigabyte-sized PDF files that might as well have been sorted and organized by the Collyer brothers.
4. Defense lawyers also allege that Gibson Dunn is aggressively blocking the disclosure of emails, calendars, and documents from the governor’s office that they have a right to see. There is, for example, not a single email from Chris Christie’s official email account included in the 1.7 million documents being reviewed in this case. Some emails from the governor’s personal account were not produced by Gibson Dunn, either, and only came to light because they were disclosed by other parties. Mastro and his team have asserted privilege over nearly 9,500 emails and documents, including sixteen emails between Christie aides and either Wildstein or Baroni.
The motion filed by Bill Baroni, who is actively working alongside his attorneys as he prepares for an April trial date, opens with the eye-popping revelation that David Wildstein, the former director of interstate capital projects at the Port Authority and onetime high school friend of Governor Christie, “stole” Baroni’s hard drive shortly before he was forced to leave the agency in December 2013.

Baroni only learned that the drive was in the hands of prosecutors in August through a discovery letter. It had been replaced when he and Wildstein were working at the Port Authority, and the two decided to keep it since it contained sensitive political information. At some point, Wildstein pocketed it, and when he left the Port Authority he took it with him – even as he left behind family photos, “rare books,” and other personal effects.

Wildstein had long been prepared to lose his lucrative job at the agency; just after the lane closures became public he mentioned bringing empty boxes to work in case he was suddenly fired. It was not hard to guess that he left the agency with files of some kind as an insurance policy against future prosecution; his attorney said in January 2014 that he was prepared to disclose evidence about the lane closures in exchange for an immunity deal.

It is notable that Wildstein took the hard drive with him during a time when it would have certainly been covered by a subpoena issued to the Port Authority and its officials by New Jersey lawmakers investigating the lane closures.

A request for comment from the chairman of the committee conducting that investigation, N.J. Assemblyman John Wisniewski, has not yet been answered.
Along with closing toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge to allegedly punish Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie’s 2013 re-election, prosecutors point to the summer 2013 cancellation of meetings that had been been scheduled between officials in the Christie Administration and the Port Authority at the request of Jersey City’s Democratic mayor Steve Fulop. Fulop, too had declined to endorse Christie’s re-election. Subsequently, the governor’s office and the Port Authority canceled a series of meetings that had been scheduled with Fulop.
Prosecutors have blamed Baroni and Kelly for the cancellations, drawing a comparison to that event and the subsequent events at the bridge.
But evidence revealed in the defense filings shows that Chris Christie knew and approved of those meeting cancellations because he did not want to upset one of Fulop’s rivals: the Democratic president of New Jersey’s state senate, Steve Sweeney.

According to Baroni’s filing, he was simply acting at the governor’s behest in the interest of good government.

Moreover, according to an email chain that led from Fulop to Christie, David Wildstein and Christie’s re-election campaign manager Bill Stepien seem to have been the primary conduits of political intelligence to the governor rather than Baroni or Kelly. Other Bridgegate emails revealed a similar dynamic, suggesting that Baroni had very few, if any, direct lines of communication with Trenton that did involve Wildstein or Port Authority chairman David Samson as an intermediaries.

Baroni’s filing also reveals that officials representing New York’s interests at the Port Authority conducted a discreet private investigation into Bridgegate and likely communicated their findings to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
In late 2013, Port Authority Vice-Chairman Scott Rechler – a New York appointee to the agency’s board – and David Garten, his assistant inside the agency, went outside the agency’s bylaws to run their own informal investigation. After talking with employees and scouring electronic calendars and correspondence, Garten concluded that Wildstein had “bullied, intimidated, and lied” to people involved in the lane closure operation, “perhaps even Baroni.” In a memo with a subheading of “Big Red Flag – Potential Smoking Gun,” Garten identified Wildstein as the lead actor in the lane closures based on emails he found – not Bill Baroni.

Garten also concluded that Baroni’s testimony to the New Jersey legislature about the existence of a traffic study – testimony that has largely been debunked – was at least partly true because the agency had indeed collected traffic data. Baroni was “somewhat correct in his testimony,” Garten wrote.

This piece of evidence is important because one of the charges that prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office leveled against Baroni was that he “provided false and misleading testimony” to New Jersey lawmakers during his appearance. If, however, Baroni’s testimony was judged to be partly true, and misleading primarily because of misdirection and intimidation by Wildstein, it complicates charges in the first count of the indictment against him relating to a conspiracy to defraud the government.
The correspondence from Garten to Rechler also reveals that appointees and staff representing the New York side of the bi-state Port Authority were eager to repair their relationship with Governor Cuomo. It is already well known that Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, a New York appointee, had a strained relationship with Cuomo. The Wall Street Journal reported in December 2013 that Chris Christie reached out to Andrew Cuomo by phone to ask him to restrain Foye’s probe of Bridgegate, and it is widely believed that Cuomo cooperated in doing so.
According to evidence in Baroni’s filing, David Garten suggested to Scott Rechler that Patrick Foye write a memo to the governor explaining their Bridgegate findings. This memo, Garten wrote, would hopefully “build good will between Pat and the governor.”
But it would not be for anyone else’s eyes.
Garten suggested that Foye write the memo from his home computer, print out a single physical copy, and send it to “the second floor” – shorthand for Cuomo’s office on the second floor of the lavishly-detailed state capital building in Albany. He then suggested that Foye write another more bland version, a “general memo,” that would be kept by the agency “in case we get subpoenaed.”
Yes, you read that right. Gartner and the Port Authority vice-chairman agreed in a now-subpoenaed email on a plan to write two memos: one for Cuomo, a former state attorney general, drafted on a home computer to dodge record retention laws and future disclosure to federal prosecutors, and another for the agency’s official files “in case we get subpoenaed.”

Rechler supported this idea and reported that Foye also agreed with the strategy. He wrote that he was going to ask Cuomo aide Howard Glaser (“HG”) for his thoughts on the matter.
The Port Authority today denied that Foye ever followed through with this plan.
The bulk of last night’s filings deals with the amount of evidence – or lack thereof – produced by government prosecutors and the firm hired by the Christie Administration to represent it in Bridgegate and other related investigations. That firm, Gibson Dunn, has had a team of white collar criminal defense lawyers led by partner Randy Mastro working under an agreement with the N.J. Attorney General’s office since early 2014.
According to defense lawyers, Mastro’s team has aggressively kept documents from being disclosed and made a mess of what files they have turned over. They have, for example, redacted Christie’s calendar during the August 2013 week that the “time for some traffic problems” email was sent by Bridget Kelly to David Wildstein.
Why? Anybody’s guess.

An un-redacted version of that calendar obtained from another source makes clear that there was no obvious legal basis for Gibson Dunn to withhold its contents. During the week in question, Governor Christie did things like make a phone call to Neil Bush and meet with lobbyist Jeff Michaels, whose brother Thomas ‘Chip’ Michaels, was a Port Authority police lieutenant assigned to the George Washington Bridge in September 2013.

Gibson Dunn has also withheld sixteen emails Baroni and Wildstein exchanged with aides in Christie’s office.
Moreover, they’ve turned over to the government and to defense attorneys a set of documents that are so disorganized that, according to people familiar with the files, they are unlike any professionally collected legal materials they have ever seen. In their current form, defense filings say, Christie’s lawyers have produced material that is simply not usable.
This is not the first time Gibson Dunn has been accused of dumping a seemingly deliberately impenetrable set of records on parties in a case relating to the Port Authority. Baroni and his attorneys note in their filing that in a 2013 New York case where Gibson Dunn represented the agency, a federal magistrate ordered the firm to be more specific after deciding that lawyers had handed over a “deficient” record of privilege assertions. According to Baroni’s filing, Gibson Dunn’s initial privilege log in that case “bears striking similarity” to the one they produced in the Bridgegate case on behalf of Gov. Christie’s office. (The New York case is Automobile Club of New York v. Port Authority, 297 F.R.D. 55, S.D.N.Y. 2013.)
Without ability to force Gibson Dunn to organize the files they’ve turned over on behalf of Governor Christie under a taxpayer-funded contract with the New Jersey state attorney general’s office, Baroni claims he cannot be ready for the trial set to begin in April 2016 after initially being scheduled for this month. “Missing documents, incomplete privilege and redaction logs, spurious privilege assertions, the lack of any action by the prosecution” all affect documents that “go directly to the allegations” against him, Baroni writes.
Other outlets have pointed to this part of Baroni’s filing as evidence that Governor Christie testified before the federal grand jury in this case.

But it isn’t confirmation; the defense is simply using boilerplate language to ask for a transcript of a grand jury appearance if it exists, but without knowing for certain whether it does.
We already know that Christie was visited at his official residence by prosecutors and federal agents in 2014. The governor’s office has not yet responded to calls seeking confirmation, and federal rules governing criminal prosecutions make it somewhat tricky for him to do so.
Without such confirmation or a disclosure by prosecutors, we don’t know if Christie has had any subsequent meetings with prosecutors.
Finally, in a passage that is currently redacted pending government review, Baroni’s filing suggests that there exists exculpatory evidence showing that he did not chose September 9, 2013 as the date to start George Washington Bridge lane closings because it was the first day of school in Fort Lee and would therefore cause massive traffic disruptions in town.

And here…

For what it’s worth, fingering Baroni as the mastermind behind this calendar choice has never made sense to me. Baroni does not have children and was not living in New Jersey at the time. Why would he be intuitively aware of the logistical nightmares that could be unleashed on that particular day? In fact, why would he know when the first day of school was?
Think about it: unless you’re a teacher or a parent or someone who spends time dreaming up elaborate revenge scenarios involving traffic, how many of you know the calendar of your nearest public schools?
A few final thoughts:
* I’ve always been in an odd position in reporting on this story because of my connections, professional and personal, to the people involved. They’re human beings like us, and we all have the same propensities toward fallibility.
After reading this material, it strikes me that the government’s reliance on David Wildstein as a star witness is going to be a problem. Beyond the missing hard drive – a mind-boggling yet not entirely surprising revelation – my sense is that there’s more to come that will call his credibility into question. The government’s chain of custody for any evidence taken from Baroni’s hard drive will be nearly impossible to establish since Wildstein secretly snuck it out of the Port Authority when it was sought under a state subpoena. Even if that ends up being a non-issue, it still may be hard to convince a jury that the George Washington Bridge lane closures were the sole work of Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly based on what we are starting to see in these filings.
* Remember David Samson, the former Port Authority chairman and Christie consigliere?
I haven’t written about him in quite awhile because he’s all but disappeared. That does not seem to be an accident, and at this point it is entirely reasonable to assume that Samson is cooperating with prosecutors. Whether that means certain legal trouble for Chris Christie is unclear, but do not forget that a U.S. Attorney appointed by a Democratic president would necessarily be reluctant to publicly move against a Republican governor who is in the midst of a presidential run. Politics can dictate timing.
Christie’s never gonna be president now, but until he's actually out of the race we won't know how much he has to worry about.
Brian Murphy is a TPM contributing editor and Baruch College history professor who writes about the intersection of money and politics. He is the author of Building the Empire State: Political Economy in Early America. He can be reached at and you can follow him on Twitter @Burrite.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Texas Republicans Fail To Pass Measure Asking Voters On Secession


 Texas GOPers failed to pass a measure Saturday that would've asked voters to decide whether the state should secede, the Texas Tribute reported.
If the measure would've passed, voters would've been faced with a non-biding, survey question on whether they thought the state should be independent from the rest of the country when they went to vote on the March 1 primary ballot, according to the report.
The proposal had been a hot debate among members of the governing body of the state's Republican party.
Read the full report.

IRAQ - Mosul Dam at risk of collapse

DOHUK, Kurdistan Region— The Mosul Dam is at risk of collapsing in several areas and the safety of Iraq’s second largest city is at risk, said the director of the dam, who is calling for urgent action. “If it collapses, most of the city of Mosul will be flooded and up to half a million people could immediately be endangered,” Riyaz Izzadin, the dam director, told Rudaw on Wednesday. Izzadin said last year’s airstrikes and clashes between Peshmerga forces and Islamic State militants have “substantially” damaged parts of the dam, which stretches 3 kilometers and towers 113 meters. It provides the city of Mosul 750 megawatts of power. 

 “The US personnel are frequently visiting the dam and are well aware of the dangers, but they don’t want to say it to us openly,” Izzadin said, adding that it could trigger panic among residents in Nineveh province. The multi-ethnic city of Mosul is home to 660,000 people, while the urban population of the province ranges from 750,000 to 1.5 million, according to United Nations data. 

More than 400,000 Kurds live in the province. Located 50 kilometers north of the city on the Tigris River, Mosul’s dam is the largest in Iraq and fourth largest in the Middle East. It was completed in 1986 after decades of preparation and construction at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion. 

ISIS militants captured the dam in August 2014 when they overran the city of Mosul and its surrounding villages. Peshmerga forces, backed by US airpower, retook control of the dam after days of clashes later in August. A Kurdish commander in charge of security at the dam said ISIS still hopes to gain control of the dam as it provides their captured territories electricity. “The militants attacked our positions at the dam just recently and killed 6 Peshmerga soldiers,” Lt. Jamal Mahmoud told Rudaw. He said he is suspicious of local people collaborating with ISIS. “We give them electricity, they give us bullets,” Mahmud said.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Jon Stewart lambastes senators ‘hiding in their offices’ while denying health care to 9/11 responders


Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart sarcastically said on Friday that he felt “like a billion dollars” as he went from door to door in the Senate pushing for a bill that would provide health care to police and firefighters who responded on the scene of the 9/11 attacks.
“Always happy to see John and all the other first responders that are ill have to come down here and convince senators who are hiding in their offices and sending out staffers to try and run interference to do the right thing,” he told MSNBC host Luke Russert.
Stewart then took aim once again at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), reiterating his statement from a day earlier that McConnell boasted about providing care for nuclear workers and then pulled the Zadroga Act from a highway funding bill.
“The health care bill for them isn’t gonna cost a lot more money, ’cause there’s only a finite amount of these guys and they’re dying,” he argued, pointing toward a responder identified as John. “If [McConnell] wants to come out and explain that, I’d be happy to hear it. Thus far I have not heard an adequate answer.”
When Russert told him that critics of the Zadroga Act called it an “entitlement program,” an exasperated Stewart threw up his hands and said, “That’s insanity.” Shortly after that exchange, Mike stepped in.
“Let’s talk about what an entitlement is: a two-year term with a lifetime pension,” he told Russert. “Those who are on chemotherapy, those who are taking $30,000 a month in medication, that’s not an entitlement — that’s called f*cking living.”..........

WATCH: Jon Stewart shames Mitch McConnell for blocking 9/11 first responders healthcare bill


 Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart let his frustration show on Thursday as he accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) of stonewalling a bill that would renew health care benefits for police and firefighters who responded to the 9/11 attacks.
“I cannot bring heroism or integrity to this process,” Stewart said at a press conference. “I can only bring cameras, and hopefully a sense of public shame.”
As the New York Daily News reported, supporters of the bill accused McConnell of leaving it out of a highway funding proposal.
Stewart pointed out that McConnell made a campaign ad spotlighting his support for a bill guaranteeing permanent healthcare for nuclear energy industry workers, which has cost $11 billion since going into effect. By comparison, the Zadroga Act, as the first responder bill is known, would would cost $4.6 billion.
“How in good conscience can you deny them the very thing that you have proudly brought to the people of your state?” Stewart asked, before telling reporters, “Please, personally ask him that.”

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Yes, The Planned Parenthood Shooter Is A ‘Christian Terrorist’


As investigators scramble to make sense of last week’s tragic mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, new details have emerged about the possible motivations of the alleged gunman: namely, that his actions may have been inspired not only by politics, but also a warped understanding of the Christian faith.
After the accused gunman Robert Lewis Dear was apprehended last Friday for allegedly killing three people and wounding nine others, Dear reportedly used the phrase “no more baby parts” while explaining himself to law enforcement officials. The use of the phrase — a direct reference to the widely discredited claim that Planned Parenthood profits from the sale of fetal tissue — triggered a national conversation about Dear’s political influences. Some argue his actions could be a byproduct of conservatives who use misleading videos and hyperbolic rhetoric to defame the national women’s health provider.
But while some famous conservatives such Mike Huckabee were eventually willing to call the massacre a case of “domestic terrorism,” many on social media demanded that right-wing politicians refer to Dear as a “Christian terrorist.” They noted that it is hypocritical for GOP presidential candidates such as Marco Rubio to mock President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for not using the phrase “Islamic terrorism” when discussing militant groups such as ISIS, but avoid ascribing the same standard to terrorists who cite Christianity as their inspiration.
There initially wasn’t enough information to gauge Dear’s connection to the Christian faith. But on Tuesday, new information came to light that appears to link Dear to well known right-wing extremist movements that claim to be Christian.
The first came from the New York Times:
One person who spoke with [Dear] extensively about his religious views said Mr. Dear, who is 57, had praised people who attacked abortion providers, saying they were doing “God’s work.” In 2009, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concerns for the privacy of the family, Mr. Dear described as “heroes” members of the Army of God, a loosely organized group of anti-abortion extremists that has claimed responsibility for a number of killings and bombings.
The Times reporter also interviewed a close relative of Dear’s Colorado girlfriend Stephanie Bragg, who said the couple were “very religious, read the Bible often and are always talking about scripture.” The two reportedly lived in a trailer marked with a small cross, and that Bragg couldn’t believe Dear was “capable of such things.”
Nevertheless, Bragg told the relative she had a theory as to what drove her boyfriend to murder several people in cold blood: “He believed he was doing God’s will, and I’m sure he probably wanted to die in the process of carrying out what I’m sure he thought was right.”
Another report from the Charleston Post and Courier claimed that Dear was obsessed with an interpretation of the Christian apocalypse, and used dark, bizarre theology to justify disturbing acts of domestic violence against his ex wife.

“He claims to be a Christian and is extremely evangelistic, but does not follow the Bible in his actions,” Mescher, Dear’s ex-wife, reportedly stated in an affidavit when she filed for divorce. “He says that as long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases. He is obsessed with the world coming to an end.”
If true, Dear would appear to share the ideological leanings of so-called “Christian terrorists,” specifically participants in the “Christian identity movement” that have terrorized abortion providers for years. Dear’s supposed adoration for the Army of God, if true, is particularly telling: Members of the Army of God have long used the Bible to justify bombings at abortion clinics, attacks on gay and lesbian nightclubs, and even the infamous explosion at the Olympic village during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.
Although conservative news outlets such as the National Review have already published articles dismissing the influence of such groups as “overhyped,” right-wing terrorist organizations — some of which claim to be Christian, some of which claim other affiliations such as Odinism or no religious identity — have killed more Americans since September 11, 2001 than groups who claim to be Islamic. Hate-based organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, which use a burning cross as their symbol, remain active throughout the country, and white supremacists continue to commit heinous acts: earlier this year, avowed white supremacist and Confederate flag waver Dylann Roof murdered 9 African American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.
In fact, exactly one year to the day before the shooting in Colorado Springs, a man believed to be affiliated with the “Phineas Priesthood” went on a shooting spree in Austin, Texas, firing more than 100 rounds throughout the city and attempting to burn down the Mexican consulate before he was shot dead by police. Like the Army of God, the Phineas Priesthood is a white supremacist affiliation that cites Christianity as justification for violently opposing interracial intercourse, racial integration, homosexuality, and abortion.
There is, of course, an argument to be made that the actions of Dear and other extremists who commit violence against abortion providers are not representative of Christianity. Just as Muslims all over the world repeatedly decry groups such as ISIS as unIslamic, so too do many Christians rebuke those who claim Jesus as their justification for violence.
Nevertheless, some Americans — especially conservative pundits and Republican presidential candidates — have repeatedly insisted that if a terrorist claims to be Muslim, they should be identified as such. By that (arguably problematic) standard, Dear would appear to be a clear example of a “Christian terrorist.”
This article was updated to include another quote from the New York Times profile on Dear.

Cruz Says He’s Never Met An Abortion Opponent Who Advocates Violence, Despite Endorsement From One


After accepting an endorsement from an activist who has called for the “execution” of abortion providers, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said on Monday that he has never met an anti-abortion activist who has advocated for violence.
“I have never met, not once, a single pro-life activist who is in favor of violence of any sort. Have you, Senator Cruz?” conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked the Texas senator.
“I have not,” Cruz responded. “And I would note that this whole episode has really displayed the ugly underbelly of the nation.”
But days before the Planned Parenthood shooting, Cruz secured an endorsement from someone who has repeatedly advocated for murdering abortion providers, ThinkProgress reported Monday. Troy Newman, who Cruz’s campaign claims is “a driving force in the recent effort to expose Planned Parenthood’s alleged sale of baby parts in a series of undercover videos,” has written that the entire country is “blood-guilty” for its failure to kill “abortionists” and has criticized the conviction of a man who murdered a Florida abortion doctor.
Cruz did not mention the endorsement in his interview with Hewitt. But he did go on to assert that most violent criminals are Democrats.
“Every time you have some sort of violent crime or mass killing, you can almost see the media salivating, hoping, hoping desperately that the murderer happens to be a Republican so they can use it to try to paint their political enemies,” he continued. “Here’s the simple and undeniable fact: the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats.”

He then pointed to efforts to restore voting rights in the few remaining states that permanently disenfranchise all formerly convicted felons. “Why? Because the Democrats know convicted felons tend to vote Democrat.”
Planned Parenthood shooter, Robert Lewis Dear, reportedly told authorities “no more baby parts,” after he killed three people at a clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday. His former wife told the New York Times that he was politically conservative, owned guns, and opposed abortion, although he did not frequently discuss those issues. Since the shooting, Planned Parenthood has accused GOP candidates like Cruz of contributing to the creation of a “toxic environment” that provoked the attack.
But when asked by a reporter about the connection on Sunday, Cruz said that Dear has been reported to be a “transgendered [sic] leftist activist,” a false allegation that had been circulating on conservative websites.
Cruz’s claim that the “overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats” also echoes other race-baiting language he has used throughout his campaign. He has said that the Black Lives Matter movement, a group that is peacefully protesting the killings of black men and women by law enforcement, is “literally suggesting and embracing and celebrating the murder of police officers.” And he has crusaded against the “war on police” and the so-called Ferguson effect, despite the fact that the connection between police protests and heightened crime is widely discredited, including by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

REVEALED: Planned Parenthood killer believed Christ’s forgiveness meant he could get away with anything


Robert Louis Dear — the right-wing Christian terrorist who attacked a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado Springs — was a violent, woman-hating serial offender with a history of sexual assault and domestic violence. An ex-wife said in court documents that the 57-year-old believes that “as long as he’s saved” by Jesus Christ, “he can do whatever he pleases.”
According to the Charleston Post and Courier, Dear was arrested in 1992 for the rape of a woman he accosted at her job at a Charleston mall. When she declined his advances, he stalked her to her home and reportedly raped her at knife-point.
In divorce documents from 1993, one of Dear’s three ex-wives described the killer as controlling, abusive and serially unfaithful. He routinely gambled away the family’s money, she said, but was ever reluctant to provide for his wife and children financially.
Hot-tempered and unstable, he “erupts into fury in a matter of seconds,” said Dear’s second wife Barbara Mescher to attorneys. In her time with Dear, she testified, she continually “lived in fear and dread of his emotional and physical abuse.”
“He claims to be a Christian and is extremely evangelistic, but does not follow the Bible in his actions,” Mescher said. “He says that as long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases. He is obsessed with the world coming to an end.”
Dear was apprehended on Friday after killing three and injuring nine others during a five-hour rampage. Witnesses said that he was ranting about “baby parts” when taken into custody, an anti-Planned Parenthood talking point spawned by anti-choice extremists and parroted by Republican presidential candidates and conservative media.
The Post and Courier revealed that while the 1992 rape accusations against Dear never went to trial, court documents paint a graphic and horrifying picture of what reportedly took place.
The unnamed woman was an employee at Charleston’s Citadel Mall. Dear — who was married to Mesher at the time — made repeated advances toward her which she declined.
Dear reportedly began to harass the woman on and off the clock. He followed her to her home and on Nov. 29, 1992, he reportedly ambushed her as she attempted to take out the trash.
“The suspect then allegedly put a knife to the victim’s neck and forced her back inside her residence,” said a police report about the incident. “The suspect then allegedly forced the victim down into the couch, struck her in the mouth with his fist, and then sexually assaulted her.”
The assault continued with Dear dragging the woman into a bedroom and continuing to rape her there. When he left the house, the victim called a friend, who took her to the hospital where she reported Dear to the police.
“Dear has a history of arrests in South Carolina out of Colleton and Beaufort counties, records show,” said the Post and Courier‘s Glenn Smith and Melissa Boughton. “A background search completed by The Post and Courier found that Dear was arrested in 2003 on a cruelty to animals charge but was found not guilty in 2004. He was charged under the state’s Peeping Tom law in 2002 but that charge, too, was later dismissed, according to a background search.”
An ex-wife called police in 1997 after a beating from Dear, but like the Charleston rape victim, she ultimately declined to press charges.