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Hometown: Michigan
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Member since: Tue May 13, 2014, 04:11 PM
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Journal Archives

Dozens Arrested After Health-Care Protest In North Carolina

May 30, 1:45 PM EDT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina NAACP leader Rev. William Barber is among more than 30 people arrested inside the state Legislative Building as they protested Republican lawmakers' refusal to expand Medicaid coverage.

General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock says 32 people were taken into custody on Tuesday and face charges of second-degree trespassing after holding a sit-in to push for Medicaid expansion and preserving the federal health care law passed under former President Barack Obama.

Dozens of protesters marched through the hallways to the offices of legislative leaders, where other protesters sat outside. Brock says the arrests began after officers received complaints.


Town That Denied Mosque Permit To Pay Islamic Group $3.25M

May 30, 1:36 PM EDT

Associated Press

A New Jersey town will pay an Islamic group $3.25 million to settle a lawsuit over its denial of a permit to build a mosque, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Under the settlement, the group will be allowed to build the mosque and the town agreed to limit the zoning restrictions placed on houses of worship.

The Islamic Society of Basking Ridge sued Bernards Township, an upscale town in central New Jersey, last year, claiming it changed its zoning ordinances in order to deny the group's plans. The Justice Department also sued the town last year, alleging it treated the group differently than other religious groups.

The $3.25 million is to settle the Islamic Society's lawsuit against the town, split into $1.75 million for attorneys' fees and costs and $1.5 million for damages.


Voter-Purge Effort by Ohio Gets U.S. Supreme Court Review

by Greg Stohr
May 30, 2017, 9:34 AM EDT

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider giving states more freedom to rid their voter rolls of people who haven’t cast ballots in a while.

Agreeing to hear an appeal by Ohio, the justices said they’ll consider reinstating a purging technique used by the state before a federal appeals court barred the practice. The appeals court ruling let some 7,500 state residents cast ballots in the 2016 election, even though they’d previously been removed from the list of eligible voters.

Under the disputed procedure, Ohio mailed notices to people who hadn’t voted in two years, asking them to confirm that they still lived at that address. If someone didn’t respond and then didn’t vote during the next four years, the state would remove the person.

The appeals court said the approach violated the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which says eligible people can’t be removed because they didn’t vote.


Five Big Reasons Why People Are Still Skeptical About Bitcoin

* Naysayers point to decline that followed steep climb in 2013
*Dot-com bubble and tulip craze show past market corrections

by Lily Katz
May 29, 2017, 8:57 PM EDT May 30, 2017, 12:47 PM EDT

Bitcoin’s astronomical rally has cryptocurrency bulls feeling vindicated. Not so fast, skeptics say.

The digital currency’s more than 100 percent surge in the past two months looks eerily familiar, argue the bears, pointing to November 2013, when the price quintupled in short order to top $1,000 for the first time. By Valentine’s Day it was worth around half that, and spent the better part of the next two years languishing below $500.

Then it absolutely exploded -- jumping more than $1,400 in two months. At its height last week, one bitcoin could buy about two ounces of gold. Its champions touted the arrival of blockchain into the mainstream, the coin’s underlying technology which they say can lift the poor out of poverty and make transactions more secure, inexpensive and efficient.

But signs of a top have emerged, detractors warn. On May 25, bitcoin surged more than $300 to a record only to turn tail and close little changed. The $600 round trip was the biggest daily swing in its history. It then slumped 8 percent the next day. Bitcoin was down 1.5 percent to $2,255.50 as of 12:35 p.m. in New York. For bears, that kind of volatility shows the asset’s unreliability as a store of value.

Here are some other reasons why they warn caution is warranted:

Safety Questions

This month’s ransomware attacks serve as a reminder that bitcoin is still beloved by hackers and criminals because of its anonymity. The cryptocurrency plunged in 2014 after Tokyo-based Mt. Gox -- then the largest bitcoin exchange -- said it had been breached and then filed for bankruptcy. Its value sank again in August 2016 after hackers stole about $69 million from Hong Kong-based Bitfinex. The exchange has since repaid its customers.


Texas Republican Called ICE on SB 4 Protesters, Threatened to Shoot Colleague

A Texas Republican threatened to “put a bullet in one of his colleague’s heads” during a scuffle on the House floor over the state’s new anti-‘sanctuary cities’ law on Monday, the final day of the regular legislative session.

Representative Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, made the comment to Representative Poncho Nevárez during a dispute that began when Rinaldi told two Hispanic lawmakers that he called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Senate Bill 4 protesters at the Capitol.

“There was a subsequent exchange between my brother Poncho and Representative Rinaldi and there was a threat made from Rinaldi to put a bullet in one of my colleague’s heads,” Representative Justin Rodriguez told reporters after the incident. “That kind of threatening language he needs to be called out and held accountable for.”

Rinaldi later said on Facebook that he called immigration agents “on several illegal immigrants who held signs in the gallery which said ‘I am illegal and here to stay.'” Rinaldi accused Nevárez of repeatedly threatening him on the House floor during the scuffle.


Remember When? Inside Obamas Secret Outreach to Russia

The U.S. has been working behind the scenes for months to forge a new working relationship with Russia, even enlisting Henry Kissinger.

by Josh Rogin
December 31, 2014, 10:59 AM EST

President Barack Obama's administration has been working behind the scenes for months to forge a new working relationship with Russia, despite the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little interest in repairing relations with Washington or halting his aggression in neighboring Ukraine.

This month, Obama's National Security Council finished an extensive and comprehensive review of U.S policy toward Russia that included dozens of meetings and input from the State Department, Defense Department and several other agencies, according to three senior administration officials. At the end of the sometimes-contentious process, Obama made a decision to continue to look for ways to work with Russia on a host of bilateral and international issues while also offering Putin a way out of the stalemate over the crisis in Ukraine.

“I don’t think that anybody at this point is under the impression that a wholesale reset of our relationship is possible at this time, but we might as well test out what they are actually willing to do,” a senior administration official told me. “Our theory of this all along has been, let's see what’s there. Regardless of the likelihood of success.”

Leading the charge has been Secretary of State John Kerry. This fall, Kerry even proposed going to Moscow and meeting with Putin directly. The negotiations over Kerry’s trip got to the point of scheduling, but ultimately were scuttled because there was little prospect of demonstrable progress.

In a separate attempt at outreach, the White House turned to an old friend of Putin’s for help. The White House called on former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to discuss having him call Putin directly, according to two officials. It’s unclear whether Kissinger actually made the call. The White House and Kissinger both refused to comment for this column.


Russian Lawmaker: We Would Use Nukes if US or NATO Enters Crimea

By Patrick Tucker
2:35 PM ET

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Russia would be forced to use nuclear weapons in any conflict in which U.S. or NATO forces entered eastern Ukraine, a member of Russia’s parliament told an international gathering of government security officials on Sunday.

“On the issue of NATO expansion on our borders, at some point I heard from the Russian military — and I think they are right — If U.S. forces, NATO forces, are, were, in the Crimea, in eastern Ukraine, Russia is undefendable militarily in case of conflict without using nuclear weapons in the early stage of the conflict,” Russian parliamentarian Vyacheslav Alekseyevich Nikonov told attendees at the GLOBSEC 2017 forum in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Russian military leaders have discussed Moscow’s willingness to use nuclear weapons in a conflict with military leaders in NATO, as part of broader and increasingly contentious conversations about the alliance’s expansion, Nikonov later told Defense One.

Nikonov’s threat might sound startling, but it’s in keeping with the current state of Russia’s ever-evolving policy on the use of nuclear weapons. While the Soviet Union maintained a policy against the first use of nukes, Putin’s government turned away from that strict prohibition in 2000 with the signing of a new military doctrine that allows for the limited use of nuclear weapons “in response to large-scale aggression utilizing conventional weapons in situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation.”


Tillerson Declines To Host Ramadan Reception

By Elise Labott, CNNM ET, Sat May 27, 2017

Washington (CNN)In an apparent break with a nearly two-decades long bipartisan tradition, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declined to host an event commemorating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to two administration officials familiar with the decision.

The officials said Tillerson rejected a request by the State Department's Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host a reception marking the Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy month of Ramadan, which begins Saturday in many countries.

Since 1999, Tillerson's five Republican and Democratic predecessors have hosted either an Iftar dinner to break the fast during Ramadan, or an Eid al-Fitr reception at the end of the month-long holiday. Many diplomatic posts overseas also host events during Ramadan's month of fasting and prayer.

The White House and State Department commemorate other religious traditions, including a Jewish Passover Seder, as well as Christmas and Easter holidays. But the Ramadan event, usually attended by members of Congress, diplomats from Muslim countries, Muslim community leaders and top US officials has become a symbol of US efforts to engage with the Muslim world.


Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, dies at 89

By Nicole Chavez, CNN
Updated 12:56 AM ET, Sat May 27, 2017

(CNN)Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, has died, his daughter announced on social media.

"My father passed away peacefully tonight. He was known to his friends as Zbig, to his grandchildren as Chief and to his wife as the enduring love of her life. I just knew his as the most inspiring, loving and devoted father any girl could ever have. I love you Dad #HailToTheChief," his daughter Mika, co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," wrote on Instagram.

He died Friday at the age of 89.

Brzezinski served as Carter's principal foreign policy adviser during the 1976 campaign and as national security adviser from 1977-1981. In his role, he was involved in brokering the Camp David Accords, the signing of the SALT II treaty and wrestling with Iran's transition from a US ally to an anti-Western Islamic republic.


ISIS Calls For All-Out War To Mark Start Of Ramadan By Attacking Innocents And Civilians...

By Laura Burnip
26th May 2017, 1:53 pm
Updated: 27th May 2017, 4:25 am

ISIS has issued a chilling instruction to its followers to launch an “all-out war” on the West to mark the start of Ramadan tomorrow.

European security services are said to be bracing for more attacks during the Muslim holy month as ISIS’s followers are urged to attack “infidels” in the wake of Monday’s Manchester bomb attack.

The jihadist group made the call in a video message entitled Where are the lions of war? published on YouTube, reports The Telegraph.

It said: “Muslim brothers in Europe who can’t reach the Islamic State lands, attack them in their homes, their markets, their roads and their forums.”


Last Ramadan was quite active iirc...
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