Monday, May 28, 2018

Trump's embarrassing actions on North Korea open a door for citizen diplomacy

BY JESSE JACKSON             May 28, 2018
President Donald Trump torpedoed the summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in a letter he dictated that was virtually incoherent.

The question now is whether the shoddy, impulsive, neck-snapping reversals of the White House will spark a new round of threats and a new crisis, or whether the opening that had seemed so promising can be continued in other ways.

Trump astounded the established diplomatic corps when he suddenly announced that he would meet with the North Korean leader in a summit. I defended Trump against the punditry, arguing that it is always better to talk than to issue threats, to find areas of common ground rather than prepare targets for attack. The summit, Trump said, would seek to get North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions and, presumably, security guarantees.

North Korea made a series of gestures designed to build confidence. It released three American prisoners, which Trump called a “beautiful gesture” in his letter calling off the summit. It pledged that it would halt nuclear and missile tests. On the very day Trump pulled the plug on the summit, North Korea invited foreign journalists to witness the blowing up of its nuclear weapons testing site.

Yet from the beginning, the exchange seemed unreal. Trump claimed that the North Korean leader had agreed to complete denuclearization. Most experts believed that North Korea might agree to staged levels of arms control, but that it would never give up its nuclear weapons — seen as vital to its survival — totally.

Yet even as Trump was minting a coin to celebrate the “historic” summit and beginning a campaign to get the Nobel Peace Prize, his bellicose advisers were detonating land mines.

National security adviser John Bolton, who had advocated attacking North Korea, suggested that the U.S. would follow the “Libyan model” with North Korea. Bolton argued that he meant the agreement whereby Muammar Gaddafi gave over all of his nuclear materials (Libya did not have a nuclear weapons arsenal) without any incentives. But Bolton is no one’s fool. He knew that what happened next was Gaddafi faced internal upheaval, the U.S. and European allies intervened for “humanitarian reasons,” bombing Libya, and Gaddafi ended up being captured and murdered.

Not surprisingly, the North Koreans were angered by the notion that this “model” would be applied to them. They cancelled a preparatory meeting in protest. Then Vice President Mike Pence announced that if the North Koreans didn’t make a deal with the U.S., Kim could meet the same fate as Gaddafi. That prompted North Korean officials to call him a “political dummy.”

Saying that they would not “beg the U.S. for dialogue,” Choe Son Hui, the vice foreign minister, unleashed hot rhetoric of her own, asking whether the U.S. “will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at a nuclear-to-nuclear showdown.”

That rhetoric led Trump to cancel the meeting. It is hard to conclude anything but that Bolton and Pence were working to sabotage the meeting that Trump was trumpeting.

Trump’s letter reflects the administration’s confused approach. Trump states he appreciates “your time, patience and effort” in relation to the summit. He says there was a “wonderful dialogue” building between him and the North Korean leader, and the only “dialogue that matters.” He thanks Kim for releasing the hostages. And suggests that if Kim just would “call me or write,” the summit might be back on.

Trump also says he is pulling the plug because of “the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement.” He scorns their nuclear capabilities, reminding them that “ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”

Trump’s action leaves all embarrassed. Trump suggests that the Chinese were behind Kim’s harsher line. The South Korean president said he didn’t know what to make of the president’s action.

The danger is, of course, that the angry rhetoric and impulsive actions will lead to insults, threats and rising war fears and tensions. To forestall that, it is vital for U.S. allies to act, to support the South Korean president’s opening to the North, and to encourage the North Koreans to continue their pledge to end missile and nuclear weapons testing.

From the U.S., this is a time when citizen diplomacy might step in. Ministers and citizen delegations should seek to go to North Korea. We should explore whether exchange programs can be established to help open up the closed kingdom. We should see if citizen delegations could explore what the North Koreans would see as a sensible set of negotiations.

North Korea’s leader clearly is looking for a way to get out from under sanctions and to open up better relations with the world. Trump’s demand for complete and instant disarmament was never very realistic. But we needn’t return to the brink of war and the exchange of threats.

It is time to build not on the failure of the summit, but on the halting successes of the efforts to get North Korea to stop testing, to stop threatening and to begin opening up.
Thanx Jesse...........................Nee C.

Trump's son should be concerned': Wiretaps show Trump Jr. met with Putin ally

Yahoo News       MICHAEL ISIKOFF                 May 25th 2018 
The FBI has obtained secret wiretaps collected by Spanish police of conversations involving Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia’s Central Bank who has forged close ties with U.S. lawmakers and the National Rifle Association, that led to a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. during the gun lobby’s annual convention in Louisville in May, 2016, a top Spanish prosecutor said Friday.

Jose Grinda, who has spearheaded investigations into Spanish organized crime said that bureau officials in recent months requested and were provided transcripts of wiretapped conversations between Torshin and Alexander Romanov, a convicted Russian money launderer. On the wiretaps, Romanov refers to Torshin as “El Padrino,” his godfather.

“Just a few months ago, the wiretaps of these telephone conversations were given to the FBI,” Grinda said in response to a question from Yahoo News during a talk he gave at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. Asked if he was concerned about Torshin’s meetings with Donald Trump Jr. and other American political figures, Grinda replied: “Mr. Trump’s son should be concerned.”

The comments by Grinda were the first clear sign that the FBI may be investigating Torshin, possibly as a part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Torshin — a close political ally of Vladimir Putin — had multiple contacts with conservative activists in the United States during the election, seeking to set up a summit between the Russian president and then-candidate Trump. Although the summit never transpired, Torshin did meet briefly with the president’s son at a private dinner in Louisville during the May 2016 annual convention of the NRA. A member of the NRA since 2012, Torshin has been a regular attendee of the group’s conventions in recent years and hosted senior members of the group in Moscow.

Grinda said that the FBI, in its request for the evidence to the Guardia Civil, the Spanish National Police, provided no explanation as to why it was interested in the material and he didn’t ask for one. “I don’t have to ask them why they want this information,” he said. But Grinda  added that if Mueller or any other U.S. prosecutor seeks to use the material as part of a court case, they would have to make a second, more formal request to do so to the Spanish government.

Spokesmen for the FBI and Mueller’s office did not respond to requests for comment. Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump Jr., said he was in a meeting and was unable to comment when contacted by Yahoo News.
Torshin has been the subject of intensifying U.S. government and congressional scrutiny over the past year and was recently among a lengthy list of oligarchs and Russian political figures sanctioned by the Treasury Department.  As reported by Yahoo News and the Spanish newspaper El Pais last year, the Spanish National Police were preparing to arrest Torshin in August 2013 when he was expected to fly to the Spanish island of Mallorca in August for the birthday party of Romanov. The arrest plan, which involved the deployment of more than a dozen police officers at the airport and at the hotel where the party was supposed to take place, grew out of a lengthy investigation headed by Grinda into Russian organized crime and money laundering. As part of the probe, the Guardia Civil wiretapped Romanov’s phone and picked up 33 conversations with Torshin.

But Torshin never showed up for the party and he was never arrested. Grinda confirmed in an interview after his talk that some in the Guardia Civil suspected that Torshin had been tipped off to the arrest plan by Russian officials who had been asked to cooperate in the Spanish probe. But Grinda added that he was unable to prove that was why Torshin nevrer showed up for the party.

Despite the suspicions about his ties to Russian money laundering, Torshin continued to travel frequently to the United States and even showed up as part of a Russian delegation to the National Prayer Breakfast in Feb. 2017 where he was at one point scheduled to meet with President Trump. (The meeting was cancelled the night before after National Security Council officials raised concerns about it.) More recently, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden sent multiple letters to the NRA asking about its ties to Torshin and other Russian figures, questioning whether Russian money was funneled to the NRA to help pay for the more than $30 million the group spent on political ads and get out the vote efforts during the 2016 election.

An NRA lawyer, in responses back to Wyden, said that Torshin has only paid his membership dues to the group and that, based on an internal review, the NRA received a total of only $2,500 from about 23 Russia-linked contributors since 2015.  However, the NRA is now reviewing its relationship with Torshin in light of the Treasury Department blacklisting of him last month. “Based on Mr. Torshin’s listing as a specially designated national as of April 6, we are currently reviewing our responsibilities with respect to him,” NRA general counsel Jon Frazer wrote to Wyden.
An NRA spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Thanx Yahoo

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Prospects of U.S.-North Korea summit brighten after Trump's tweet

Thomson Reuters      JOORI ROH AND ROBERTA RAMPTON    May 26th 2018 
SEOUL/WASHINGTON, May 26 (Reuters) - Prospects that the United States and North Korea would hold a summit brightened after U.S. President Donald Trump said late on Friday Washington was having "productive talks" with Pyongyang about reinstating the June 12 meeting in Singapore.

Politico magazine reported that an advance team of 30 White House and State Department officials was preparing to leave for Singapore later this weekend.

Reuters reported earlier this week the team was scheduled to discuss the agenda and logistics for the summit with North Korean officials. The delegation was to include White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joseph Hagin and deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel, U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Trump said in a Twitter post late on Friday: "We are having very productive talks about reinstating the Summit which, if it does happen, will likely remain in Singapore on the same date, June 12th., and, if necessary, will be extended beyond that date."

Trump had earlier indicated the summit could be salvaged after welcoming a conciliatory statement from North Korea saying it remained open to talks.

"It was a very nice statement they put out," Trump told reporters at the White House. "We'll see what happens - it could even be the 12th."

"We're talking to them now. They very much want to do it. We'd like to do it," he said.

The comments on the summit with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un came just a day after Trump canceled the meeting, citing Pyongyang's "open hostility."

South Korea's presidential spokesman said in response: "It's fortunate that hope is still alive for U.S.-North Korea dialog. We are continuing to watch developments carefully."
After years of tension over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, Kim and Trump agreed this month to hold what would be the first meeting between a serving U.S. president and a North Korean leader. The plan followed months of war threats and insults between the leaders over North Korea's development of missiles capable of reaching the United States.

Trump scrapped the meeting in a letter to Kim on Thursday after repeated threats by North Korea to pull out over what it saw as confrontational remarks by U.S. officials demanding unilateral disarmament. Trump cited North Korean hostility in canceling the summit.

In Pyongyang, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said North Korea's criticisms had been a reaction to American rhetoric and that current antagonism showed "the urgent necessity" for the summit.

He said North Korea regretted Trump's decision to cancel and remained open to resolving issues "regardless of ways, at any time."

Kim Kye Gwan said North Korea had appreciated Trump having made the bold decision to work toward a summit.

"We even inwardly hoped that what is called 'Trump formula' would help clear both sides of their worries and comply with the requirements of our side and would be a wise way of substantial effect for settling the issue," he said.

North Korea also went ahead with a plan to destroy its only known nuclear site on Thursday, the most concrete action yet since pledging to cease all nuclear and long-range missile tests last month.

Dozens of international journalists left North Korea on Saturday after observing the demolition of the underground tunnels in Punggye-ri, where all of the North's six nuclear tests were conducted including its latest and largest in September.

Trump's latest about-face sent officials scrambling in Washington. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters diplomats were "still at work" and said Trump had just sent a note out on the summit, which could be back on "if our diplomats can pull it off."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Katina Adams declined to give details of any diplomatic contacts but said: "As the president said in his letter to Chairman Kim, dialog between the two is the only dialog that matters. If North Korea is serious, then we look forward to hearing from them at the highest levels."

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters Trump did not want a meeting that was "just a political stunt."

"He wants to get something that's a long-lasting and an actual real solution. And if they are ready to do that then ... we're certainly ready to have those conversations," she said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton in WASHINGTON and Joori Roh in SEOUL, Additional reporting by Soyoung Kim in SEOUL, Doina Chiacu, Idrees Ali, David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick in WASHINGTON Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan Editing by Paul Tait and Joseph Radford)

Let's hear it from Witchy :
rtRUMP is such a drama queen - tweeting like some 12 yr old little girl.

Maybe t RUMP cancelled the meeting after Kim Jong Un demanded that Trump release his tax returns!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Are you sure Trump didn’t sneak in?” #RoyalWedding

 Are you sure Trump didn’t sneak in?” #RoyalWedding 
If  Trump show his face  sic the corgis on him .

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Witchy, I think Jim caught Pence's creepiness perfectly

More of Jim's art below Pence
 I loved the Psycho quote...I remember it from the end of the movie

The Joker or Cheeto Man
Kim and Putin
This one is quite good
I think this one is Giuliani
Well Jim, Rembrandt you ain't, but each of your pictures is worth a thousand words.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

John Travolta sure isn't greased lightning on Cannes dance floor

By Ron Dicker   May 15 , 2018
John Travolta sure isn't greased lightning on CannesSure, he’s stayin’ alive with 50 Cent rapping, but one outlet called his moves “classic dad bopping.”
By Ron Dicker Combine dance experience from “Saturday Night Fever,” “Grease” and “Pulp Fiction” ― and you get John Travolta getting down at the Cannes Film Festival.

Check out the actor busting a move on the French Riviera Tuesday as rapper 50 Cent performed “Just A Lil Bit” at a party.

People magazine called Travolta’s dancing “classic dad bopping.” You be the judge:

Travolta was at the festival for the premiere of his film “Gotti” in which he plays mobster John Gotti. A review by The Hollywood Reporter calling the movie “pretty terrible” might just take the spring out of his step.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Jim Carrey Taunts 'Psycho' Mike Pence With Biting New Portrait

 Lee Moran   May 12 , 2018
Vice President Mike Pence is the subject of Jim Carrey’s latest scathing political portrait.

The actor-turned-artist depicted Pence staring intensely at a fly on the back of his hand in the picture — captioned “Psycho Mike-O” — that he posted on Twitter Friday
Carrey also included a modified quote from horror movie “Psycho” on the painting: “I hope they are watching… they’ll see. They’ll see and they’ll know, and they’ll say, ‘why, Mike Pence wouldn’t even harm a fly…’”

Earlier this week, Carrey portrayed President Donald Trump as Batman’s arch-rival, the Joker:
This article originally appeared on                 HuffPost

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Trump's 'new deal for blacks' was dealt from the bottom of the deck

BY JESSE JACKSON                     May 8, 2018
African-American unemployment has reached its lowest levels ever. President Donald Trump boasts about this on the stump, naturally claiming credit for a recovery that began after his predecessor, Barack Obama, saved an economy that was in free fall. Trump says he’s delivering on his promised “new deal for blacks.” Don’t fall for the hype.

A low topline unemployment rate is a good thing. Tight labor markets force employers to compete for workers. More African Americans who are too often the last hired find jobs. Those who have lousy jobs are more confident about looking for better ones. Even harsh employers like Wal-Mart find it necessary to lift wages to attract and keep decent workers. Wages should start going up.

But we haven’t seen much of that in this economy. That’s because while the topline rate is down, it doesn’t count millions who have given up looking for work and have dropped out of the work force. Only if the economy continues to grow and unemployment continues to decline are we likely to see wages starting to improve.

The big problem, however, is that most of the jobs are simply lousy. Virtually all of the new jobs aren’t secure — they are part-time, short-term contract jobs, with variable hours, few benefits and low wages. Not surprisingly, African Americans are more likely to be caught in these kinds of jobs than whites are.

Like most Americans, African Americans find that the costs of what they need are rising faster than their wages are. Paychecks don’t buy what their paychecks used to buy. Health care costs are exploding. College debt is now higher than credit card debt and auto debt. Housing costs are at or near record highs, both for those who want to buy a home and those who want to rent.

As bad as this is for everyone, it is worse for African-Americans. Black unemployment rates remain nearly twice as high as white unemployment rates. Black households make less income and have dramatically less wealth than white households. This is true at all levels of education and in every region. According to a report from the Asset Funders Network, the median wealth of single African-American women is a stunning $200. It is $300 for single African-American men. It is $15,640 for single white women and $28,900 for single white men.

There is less poverty now than there was 50 years ago. African-Americans have started to close the education gap — in graduating from high school, getting a college or advanced degree. Yet in 1968, the median black household only earned 63 percent what a median white household earned. In 2016, the gap was worse, with blacks earning only 61 percent of what a typical white household earned.

Much of this is due to discrimination. Study after study shows that job seekers with a “white sounding name” are more likely to be called back than those with a “black sounding name.” Some of it is due to the failure of the minimum wage to keep pace with productivity or inflation. Some of it comes from the decline in labor unions, with wages stagnating across the board.

Trump boasts about the unemployment rate. He promised in the campaign a “new deal for blacks.” He claims that cracking down on illegal immigrants has helped lift black wages by reducing competition for low-skilled jobs.

The reality is that Trump’s policies are perversely designed to make things harder for African Americans. His administration is rolling back enforcement of civil rights laws across the government. It is cutting back on enforcement against wage theft and payday lenders. It is reversing Obama’s order to provide millions more with overtime pay.

Trump boasts that he has dismantled Obamacare. The result is millions more losing coverage or unable to afford the prices that are rising in part as a result of Trump’s attacks.

The administration plans to reduce funds for Pell grants and college loans. Its tax cuts will go overwhelmingly to the already rich, while it calls for reducing the resulting deficits by slashing spending on Medicaid and Medicare, on food stamps and education. Low-wage white workers will be the most numerous victims, but African-Americans and Latinos will be hit disproportionately.

A good economy with full employment can help solve many problems. But Trump’s “new deal for blacks” is a bad deal from the bottom of the deck. We know what to do to reduce poverty and entrenched discrimination. It isn’t a mystery. It is simply a matter of will — and of power.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Rudy Giuliani's revelation that Trump 'reimbursed' Cohen for the Stormy Daniels payment just made the DOJ's case against both men 'a whole lot stronger'

Business Insider        SONAM SHETH          May 3rd 2018 
The revelation Wednesday night that President Donald Trump "reimbursed" his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 payment to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election could significantly strengthen the criminal case against both men, campaign finance experts say.
Cohen is already under scrutiny for the payment, which legal experts say could be a violation of the federal limit on individual political contributions.
Meanwhile, if Cohen paid Daniels to help Trump's chances in the election, and if Trump knew about it, he could face criminal exposure for failing to properly disclose the payment and his reimbursement to Cohen.

President Donald Trump's personal defense lawyer threw a wrench into his client's argument by admitting on national television that Trump was aware of, and reimbursed, his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment Cohen made to the adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford shortly before the 2016 US election.

Clifford, who is known as Stormy Daniels, alleged earlier this year that she had an affair with Trump in the mid-2000s, while he was married to First Lady Melania Trump. She is now suing Cohen in a California civil case to get out of a nondisclosure agreement she signed in October 2016, claiming that the document is null and void because Trump never signed it.

Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor who is now representing Trump in the Russia investigation, told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Wednesday night that Trump "reimbursed" Cohen for the payment to Clifford "over a period of several months."

He added that the payments were "perfectly legal."

Campaign finance experts and former federal prosecutors disagree.

Giuliani's statement "puts Trump on the hook for criminal violation of campaign finance laws," wrote Paul Seamus Ryan, the vice president of litigation and policy for Common Cause. "Violation is only criminal if [it was] knowing and willful. Trump reimbursement=Trump knowledge," Ryan said.

The legal risk Trump faces differs based on his motive behind the payment. If Cohen made the payment in order to help Trump hide the affair from his wife, it would not open him up to criminal exposure.

If, however, Cohen made the payment, with Trump's knowledge, to hide Trump's affair from the electorate leading up to the November 2016 election, it would count as an in-kind political contribution. The federal limit on such contributions is $2,700.

Trump, in turn, could face legal jeopardy for failing to properly disclose the donation and its reimbursement as per campaign finance regulations, according to election-law expert Rick Hasen.

Ryan added that Trump could be in additional violation of a federal criminal statute that prohibits making materially false statements to the federal government.

"Giuliani just made the DOJ's case against Trump and Cohen a whole lot stronger," he said.

But experts also pointed out that it will be important to establish whether Cohen was reimbursed by Trump personally or by the campaign.

"If Trump himself paid Cohen back, he could make the argument that he was doing it to hide the affair from Melania," said Jeffrey Cramer, a longtime former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the DOJ.

He added: "That wouldn't constitute a political contribution and it gives Trump some cover, because the fact that he's had affairs is hardly a revelation and it's certainly not criminal."

Giuliani clarified his comments to The New York Times later Wednesday night, describing the payment arrangement between Trump and Cohen:

"Some time after the campaign is over, they set up a reimbursement, $35,000 a month, out of his personal family account," Giuliani told The Times, adding that, overall, Cohen had been paid as much as $470,000 from Trump through that arrangement, which included reimbursement for "incidental expenses" incurred on behalf of Trump.

When news of the Daniels payment first surfaced, Cohen said he borrowed against his home-equity line and "transferred" the funds "internally to my LLC account in the same bank."

"People are mistaking this for a thing about the campaign," he told Vanity Fair earlier this year. "What I did defensively for my personal client, and my friend, is what attorneys do for their high-profile clients. I would have done it in 2006. I would have done it in 2011. I truly care about him and the family — more than just as an employee and an attorney."

Trump maintained that he had no knowledge of the payment and was not involved. When asked by reporters on Air Force One last month where Cohen had gotten the money, Trump replied: "I don't know."

He later said during an interview on "Fox & Friends" that Cohen "represented me" with respect to the Daniels case.

Following Giuliani's revelation Wednesday night, The Washington Post reported that Giuliani had made the disclosure with Trump's full advance knowledge and approval.

Both Trump and Cohen are currently under criminal investigation. Cohen is being investigated by the Manhattan US attorney's office for possible campaign finance violations, bank fraud, and wire fraud. Trump, meanwhile, is being investigated by the special counsel Robert Mueller for possible obstruction of justice. Mueller is also looking into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the 2016 race in his favor.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Trump-connected data firm Cambridge Analytica shuts down all operations in the wake of Facebook scandal

Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie told House Democrats last week that the firm was set up as a "full-service propaganda machine" for the Trump campaign. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
 By CHRIS SOMMERFELD       May 2 ,2018
Cambridge Analytica, the beleaguered Trump-connected consulting firm at the center of a Facebook data scandal, shut down all its operations Wednesday, according to company executives.

SCL Group, the British data firm's parent company, announced the news in a press release lamenting a barrage of damning media coverage that has "driven away virtually all of the Company's customers and suppliers."

"While this decision was extremely painful for Cambridge Analytica's leaders, they recognize that it is all the more difficult for the Company's dedicated employees who learned today that they likely would be losing their jobs," SCL Group said.

A New York-based staffer told the Daily News he and his colleagues were ordered to immediately return their keycards and other company belongings.

Cambridge Analytica brass said it arrived at the decision because efforts to overhaul the firm's image in light of the Facebook scandal proved ineffective.

The embattled consulting firm continues to face backlash over mining data on 87 million Facebook users that it used to sway American voters while working for President Trump's 2016 campaign.

Cambridge Analytica worked for President Trump's 2016 campaign.

Cambridge Analytica used the data to create complex algorithms meant to influence voters while doing analytics and other election-related outreach for the Trump campaign.

Ex-Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie told House Democrats last week that the firm was set up as a "full-service propaganda machine" for the Trump campaign, creating and promoting factually dubious information to spread discontent among American voters.

SCL Group maintained Wednesday that Cambridge Analytica employees acted "ethically and lawfully" while working for the Trump campaign.

Facebook has apologized in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, conceding it should have done more to prevent the data firm from obtaining and using personal data on millions of users.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Face the truth about lynchings to move our country forward

BY JESSE JACKSON          May 1, 2018
If we don’t know the whereas, the therefore doesn’t make sense. Witness the ovens in Auschwitz and Treblinka, and then you can understand the creation of Israel.

Last week, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in Montgomery, Ala., demanding a reckoning with one of this nation’s most repressed atrocities: the lynching of thousands of black people in a campaign of racist terror that lasted for decades.

Lynching is an act of violence that, to this day, is not a federal crime. Visit the memorial in Montgomery, where Jefferson Davis reigned as the architect of slavery, succession and sedition, where Dr. King preached, and you’ll understand the therefore, from the civil rights movement of Dr. King to the current calls for equal justice, police reform and an end to mass incarceration.

The museum, set on a six- acre site overlooking the Alabama State Capitol, has a haunting majesty. The open- air museum features 800 steel monuments, suspended from a high ceiling, one for each county where a lynching occurred. Each is engraved with the name of the county and the names of the victims, some 4,400 in total.

Lynching was domestic racial terrorism. It wasn’t accidental or incidental. The terrorism grew after the Civil War in fierce reaction to the Reconstruction that gave the freed slaves the right to vote and to own property. Terrorist groups like the Ku Klux Klan weren’t outliers; they enlisted some of the white gentry to terrorize blacks into subservience.

Lynchings varied, but many were public affairs, announced in the newspapers, gathering large crowds to watch the mutilation of often innocent victims, while the local authorities turned their heads. Their gruesome nature was purposeful, designed to instill fear, and thus help perpetuate white supremacy. The lynchings spread even as the memorials honoring Confederate generals and leaders proliferated to reinforce the point.

Bryan Stevenson, the extraordinary director of the Equal Justice Initiative that gave birth to this project, is clear on his intent. “I’m not interested in talking about America’s history because I want to punish America,” he said, “I want to liberate America.

“This shadow cannot be lifted until we shine the light of truth on the destructive violence that shaped our nation, traumatized people of color and compromised our commitment to the rule of law and to equal justice.”

Everyone wants to celebrate the resurrection, but you can’t embrace the resurrection unless you acknowledge the crucifixion. As Stevenson puts it, we all want reconciliation, but “truth and reconciliation” are sequential. “You can’t get to reconciliation until you first get to truth.”

The lynchings accelerated in the 1880s, peaked in the early 1900s and continued until the beginning of World War II. They helped enforce segregation and Jim Crow laws with blood and fear, an apartheid system that lasted until the Civil Rights Movement freed the South in the 1960s.

This isn’t ancient history. To this day, African- Americans live with entrenched inequalities: greater poverty, greater unemployment and lower life spans. African-American men are more likely to be stopped by police, more likely to be searched if stopped, more likely to be jailed if detained, more likely to be shot by police.

“Black and brown people are still presumed dangerous and guilty,” says Stevenson. “There are these terrible disparities in quality of life for people of color, and you begin asking questions about why these things persist, and I think it inevitably leads to wanting to talk more concretely about history.”

Near the memorial is the Legacy Museum, located in a warehouse that once was part of Montgomery’s slave trade. That museum documents with artifacts and narrative the transition from slavery to segregation to voter suppression and mass incarceration. Stevenson’s hope is that the truth can help foster greater reconciliation. At the memorial, each county marker has a duplicate, with every county invited to use to create its own memorial.

A first step would be to finally make lynching a federal crime. More than 200 attempts were made to pass an anti- lynching law in Congress that would allow federal prosecution of perpetrators and hold local officials accountable if they did not act to protect the victims. With Southern senators armed with the filibuster, the Congress never acted. Finally, in 2005, a Senate resolution was passed that expressed regret for the failure. Yet to this day, lynching is still not a federal offense.

Similarly, Congress and the administration could proceed with bipartisan efforts to end mass incarceration and to reform discriminatory police practices. Real progress was beginning— with the cooperation of both parties— during the Obama years. Now, the Trump administration, with a Justice Department led by former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, has begun to reverse these vital reforms.

The reckoning that began with the Civil Rights Movement has continued; the memorial is a testament to that. People of good will want the healing to continue. The vibrancy and prosperity of the New South requires that the healing continue. But to heal wounds, you have to take the shrapnel out first. To move to reconciliation, you must start with the truth.

Bryan Stevenson has courageously built a memorial that helps us do just that.