Angelica

Angelica

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Donald Trump seems intent on undoing every piece of legislation put in place by former President Barack Obama—and because he’s president, the spotlight usually shines on him.  But all along, his cohort, Jeff Sessions, has been flying under the radar, doing some critical dismantling on his own.  Sessions is also on a mission to destroy the work of his black predecessor, former Attorney General Eric Holder. 

 

On Wednesday, Sessions announced he’s rolling back policies Holder and Obama established to insure equality under the law.

 

Basically, Sessions wants to increase racial profiling by bringing back harsher penalties for low level drug and gun offenders, allowing police to seize assets even if a person is not found guilty of a crime, and doing away with federal reviews of police departments accused of excessive force.

 

If allowed to enact these laws, progress made toward equal justice and fairness would be turned back severely.  Despite near historic crime lows, Jeff Sessions wants to renew the “war on drugs,” a policy adopted with the crack epidemic in the 1980s, and which became a crime bill under former President Bill Clinton.  It was an overkill bill that led to the disproportionate incarceration of Black and Brown Americans, and devastation of families.  From it, came the “three strikes” rule that mandated life sentences.

 

President Obama reduced sentences of 1,715 low-level, non-violent drug offenders to address the disparities, including crack versus powder cocaine sentencing.  Bipartisan support for criminal justice reform legislation was approved in Congress, much to then-Senator Session’s opposition. 

 

Another setback is Sessions’ decision to increase the use of “civil asset forfeiture” in an attempt to curb drug trafficking.  This would allow the cops to seize up to 80% of a person’s assets, even if they are not charged with a crime.

 

The practice of allowing police to take things from people and keep them, even if they are not convicted, is more common than you might think. This has the potential to be a huge money maker for states and a clear violation of human rights for citizens.

 

Finally, Sessions is working to stall – or end — a federal review of police departments where racial profiling, excessive use of force and racial discrimination by police are prevalent.  It’s a way for abusive police departments to have their way with us because this would undermine any protection for citizens who are rightfully skeptical of police.

 

Sessions’ policies are troubling at best.  Looks like we’re in for yet another fight as the battle for equality and justice rages on.

 

A Los Angeles Olympics bid is pretty much guaranteed.  It’s now just a matter of when. 

 

With only two countries still in the running to host the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games, it was not surprising—though unusual—for the International Olympics Committed to announce a dual award on Tuesday.  Former bidders, Boston, Budapest, Hamburg and Rome all dropped out.

 

It will be up to the cities to work out an agreement on which one should host when.  But even that decision is pretty much decided already.  Paris is the sentimental favorite for 2024 because it will be exactly 100 years since the “City of Love” held its last Olympic Games in 1924.  

 

Los Angeles says it won’t arm-wrestle Paris for the 2024 honor.

 

Besides being the only bidders left, IOC officials were won by each city’s ability to demonstrate adequate finances, infrastructure and facilities.  Each mentioned in their pitch that 90% of the facilities needed are already in place.

 

Los Angeles is actually better prepared than Paris to host in 2024, with ample venues at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, UCLA, USC and other facilities throughout Southern California. The new Inglewood stadium, currently under construction, is expected to be completed in 2020, way ahead of 2024.  L.A. also has a larger capacity to house the athletes, with existing dormitories at UCLA.  

 

L.A. last hosted the Summer Games in 1984 and turned a $250 million profit, which is one of the brightest moments in the history of Olympic host cities.  

 

Rio de Janeiro's 2016 Games ran $1.6 billion over budget. Tokyo 2020 will likely cost a lot more than its $3.5 billion budget, and that doesn't even include the cost of building new stadiums.

 

Waiting until 2028, however, might work better for the U.S. politically, however, due to President Trump’s unpopularity in most of the world.  Hosting the 2028 Games would insure no Olympics would be held in the U.S. during Trump’s presidency. 

 

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters before Tuesday’s decision that the Olympics “cannot afford to lose the United States,” given its television rights fees and corporate sponsorships that buttress the Games.

 

“Both of us will find it more and more difficult to convince cities – whether it’s Paris, Los Angeles or other American cities – to really go into this process if one of us gets turned down,” Garcetti said.

 

 

He’s been in office less than 6 months, but already steps are being taken to remove the 45th president from office.  The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday that “Los Angeles-area Rep. Brad Sherman has introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump, making good on a promise to move the process forward.”

 

House Democratic leaders say Sherman's move will interfere with their ability to stay focused on  the economy, healthcare and the investigation into Russia's interference in the presidential election.  Lawmakers on both sides are saying they may have to work through part of their August recess, drafting passable healthcare legislation.

 

Sherman’s measure, HR 438, was introduced on the House floor Wednesday afternoon.  An 11-term Democrat, Sherman represents part of the San Fernando Valley. He first began circulating articles of impeachment last month. 

 

HR 438 accuses Trump of obstruction of justice, using his authority to threaten and terminate former FBI Director James Comey, who was in charge of the investigation of former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn’s possible collusion with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

 

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) is supporting the impeachment effort and was the measure’s only co-sponsor.  Green previously held a joint news conference with Sherman.

 

Sherman knows impeachment is a long shot, and called his move "the first step on a very long road." However, he said he believed Republicans will eventually come around if Trump’s "incompetence" continues.  

 

Controversy has followed Trump even before he became the official U.S. president.  Infighting, shake-ups, botched legislation and the president’s own left field tweets have become daily fodder for mainstream and tabloid news alike.   Wednesday’s headlines, for example, referred to a meeting between Trump’s son and a Russian lawyer who supposedly had damaging information on then Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton; the subsequent decision to investigate Trump Jr’s emails; and a lawsuit accusing the president of violating First Amendment rights by blocking U.S. citizens on Twitter.

 

Sherman has promised top Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that he would not call for a floor vote before first consulting the Democratic caucus.  Pelosi wants an independent commission to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.  

 

The impeachment measure is a long way from a floor vote and Sherman said he and Green will push the Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on the matter.  Although both sides have questioned the president’s honesty, ethics and leadership at times, opposition to impeachment proceedings is strong.  The Republican president currently enjoys the backing of a GOP-led House and Senate.

 

Sherman says he is hopeful that introducing articles of impeachment would “inspire an 'intervention' in the White House." 

 

 

 

 

 

Tennis star Venus Williams has been vindicated in a case where she was initially thought to be at fault in a car accident on June 9 that ended in one death.  At a recent press conference two days before the Wimbleton opener, she broke down when asked about the incident and left the room. 

 

According to USA Today, police said new video footage showed Williams entered the intersection legally before the collision with a car in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  The accident left Linda Barson with multiple injuries and her husband, Jerome Barson later died. 

 

According to a statement by police, Williams entered the intersection and stopped because another vehicle made a left turn in front of her.  Williams was still in the intersection when the light turned green in the other direction.  At that point, the car driven by Barson collided with her SUV. 

 

Malcolm Cunningham, Williams’ lawyer, told USA TODAY that this update proves his client’s innocence.

 

“As the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department points out, once Ms. Williams entered the intersection lawfully, she had the right to proceed through the intersection and other vehicles including those with a red light changing to green, were obligated to yield the right-of-way to Ms. Williams.”

 

A lawsuit had been filed against Williams on behalf of Barson’s estate.

 

Meanwhile, Bill Cosby’s case is far from over. A retrial date has been set for November 6 on charges that he drugged and molested a Pennsylvania woman more than a decade ago.   

Judge Steven O’Neill declared a mistrial on June 17 when the jury failed to reach a verdict in more than 52 hours of deliberations over six days.  Accuser Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, met Cosby, who was on Temple’s Board of Trustees in 2004.  She said after they became friends, the actor-comedian sexually assaulted her. Cosby did not testify and is not expected to do so in November. He maintains that sex between them was consensual.

 

 

 

Two months after President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI director James Comey, and admitted it was due to the handling of the investigation about possible collusion between the Trump election campaign and Russian officials, a new director has been appointed.

 

FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray was sworn-in on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, prior to testifying at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  

 

First, though, he had to be grilled by senators on both sides of the aisle.  Democrats and Republicans wanted assurances that Wray will remain independent from White House influence. 

 

A lawyer picked by Trump to lead the FBI, Wray says he disagrees with the president’s assessment that the special counsel investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump election campaign is a “witch hunt.”

 

The new director also said during his confirmation hearing that he would never let politics get in the way of doing his job. FBI directors are appointed to 10-year terms.

 

Wray, a former top official in the Bush administration’s Justice Department, enjoys bipartisan support.  

 

When asked by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham whether Donald Trump, Jr. should have met with a Russian lawyer during last year’s presidential campaign, Wray stopped short of answering, and then said he would probably want to consult with a legal adviser before doing so.   

 

He added, “Any threat or effort to interfere with our election by any nation, state or any non-state actor is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.”

 

When pressed about his role in drafting the so-called “torture memos,” detailing the use of certain interrogation tactics against terror suspects during the Bush-era, Wray said he could not recall providing any input. An ACLU database maintains revised emails to and from him on the subject.  

 

Appearing last month before a Congressional hearing after his firing, Comey mentioned the president had asked for “loyalty,” which implied to him he was being pressured to have the investigation end in Trump’s favor. 

 

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy questioned Wray about any allegiance he might have to Trump.  

 

“No one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point during this process, and I sure as heck didn’t offer one,” Wray said.

 

He later said, “Anybody who thinks that I would be pulling punches as FBI director sure doesn’t know me very well.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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