Posts Tagged ‘Charlottesville’

FBI terrorism unit says ‘black identity extremists’ pose a violent threat

October 10, 2017

Leaked report, citing concerns of retaliation over ‘perceptions of police brutality against African Americans’, prompts fears of crackdown on activists

By Sam Levin
The Guardian

The US government has declared “black identity extremists” a violent threat, according to a leaked report from the FBI’s counter-terrorism division.

The assessment, obtained by Foreign Policy, has raised fears about federal authorities racially profiling activists and aggressively prosecuting civil rights protesters.

The report, dated August 2017 and compiled by the Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit, said: “The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.” Incidents of “alleged police abuse” have “continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement”.

The FBI’s dedicated surveillance of black activists follows a long history of the US government aggressively monitoring protest movements and working to disrupt civil rights groups, but the scrutiny of African Americans by a domestic terrorism unit was particularly alarming to some free speech campaigners.


“When we talk about enemies of the state and terrorists, with that comes an automatic stripping of those people’s rights to speak and protest,” said Mohammad Tajsar, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. “It marginalizes what are legitimate voices within the political debate that are calling for racial and economic justice.”

The document has emerged at a time of growing concerns about Donald Trump’s links to the far right and white nationalists, and increasing anxieties about his administration’s efforts to further criminalize communities of color and shield police from scrutiny. Anti-Trump protesters and Black Lives Matter activists have continued to face harsh prosecutions and close federal monitoring.

The FBI did not immediately respond to the Guardian’s request for comment on Friday, but defended its tracking of “black identity extremists” in a statement to Foreign Policy, claiming the “FBI cannot initiate an investigation based solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or the exercise of First Amendment rights”

Read the rest:


The FBI’s New U.S. Terrorist Threat: ‘Black Identity Extremists’


Foreign Policy

As white supremacists prepared to descend on Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, the FBI warned about a new movement that was violent, growing, and racially motivated. Only it wasn’t white supremacists; it was “black identity extremists.”

Amid a rancorous debate over whether the Trump administration has downplayed the threat posed by white supremacist groups, the FBI’s counterterrorism division has declared that black identity extremists pose a growing threat of premeditated violence against law enforcement.

“The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence,” reads the report, marked for official use only and obtained by Foreign Policy.

The August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was the catalyst for widespread anger and violence, the FBI report says, concluding that continued “alleged” police abuses have fueled more violence.

“The FBI assesses it is very likely incidents of alleged police abuse against African Americans since then have continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement,” the report states.

Some 748 people have been shot and killed by police so far in 2017, including at least 168 African-Americans.

The report, dated Aug. 3 — just nine days before the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville turned deadly — appears to be the first known reference to “black identity extremists” as a movement. But former government officials and legal experts said no such movement exists, and some expressed concern that the term is part of a politically motivated effort to find an equivalent threat to white supremacists.

A former senior counterterrorism and intelligence official from the Department of Homeland Security who reviewed the document at FP’s request expressed shock at the language.

“This is a new umbrella designation that has no basis,” the former official said. “There are civil rights and privacy issues all over this.”

The concept of “black identity extremists” appears to be entirely new. FPfound only five references to the term in a Google search; all were to law enforcement documents about domestic terrorism from the last two months. One of those online references is to law enforcement training on identifying “domestic terror groups and criminally subversive subcultures which are encountered by law enforcement professionals on a daily basis.”

Among the six acts of premeditated violence linked to black identity extremists — it excludes violence toward police carried out in the normal course of their duties — the reports cites the July 2016 shooting of 11 police officers in Dallas. The shooter, Micah Johnson, was reportedly angry at police violence.

“Based on Johnson’s journal writings and statements to police, he appeared to have been influenced by BIE ideology,” the FBI report states. The attack took place during a Black Lives Matter protest of police shootings, though the BLM movement is not mentioned by name in the report.

Yet those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement have voiced concerns about FBI surveillance.

DeRay McKesson, an activist involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, told FP that the FBI visited his house in the run-up to the Republican National Convention. “I spoke about the FBI visit to my house and the houses of other activists in our final meeting with [President Barack] Obama,” he said.

“There is a long tradition of the FBI targeting black activists and this is not surprising,” McKesson said.

The FBI declined to comment on the report itself and did not respond to specific questions, but in an emailed statement to FP, the bureau defended its tracking of “black identity extremists,” saying that “the FBI cannot initiate an investigation based solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

In its August report, the FBI said it expects further attacks by black identity extremists, driven by both the perception and the reality of unfair treatment at the hands of police officers.

“The FBI further assesses it is very likely additional controversial police shootings of African Americans and the associated legal proceedings will continue to serve as drivers for violence against law enforcement,” the report says.

Some experts and former government officials said the FBI seemed to be trying to paint disparate groups and individuals as sharing a radical, defined ideology. And in the phrase “black identity extremist” they hear echoes of the FBI’s decades-long targeting of black activists as potential radicals, a legacy that only recently began to change.

“They are grouping together Black Panthers, black nationalists, and Washitaw Nation,” said the former homeland security official. “Imagine lumping together white nationals, white supremacists, militias, neo-Nazis, and calling it ‘white identity extremists.’”

The FBI is linking the people discussed in the report based only on them being black, rather than on any sort of larger ideological connection, the official said.

“The race card is being played here deliberately.”

“The race card is being played here deliberately.”

Michael German, a former FBI agent and now a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s liberty and national security program, said manufacturing this type of threat was not new. He has criticized earlier FBI reports on “black separatists,” arguing that they conflated radical groups operating in the 1970s with attacks in 2010 and later, even though there was no obvious connection.

The use of terms like “black identity extremists” is part of a long-standing FBI attempt to define a movement where none exists. “Basically, it’s black people who scare them,” German said.

Even former officials who view the government’s concerns about black separatists as legitimate balked at the term “black identity extremist,” and point out that the threat from individuals or groups who want to establish their own homeland is much less than from the far right.

In 2009, Daryl Johnson, then a Department of Homeland Security intelligence analyst, warned of the rise of right-wing extremism, setting off a firestorm among congressional critics. Johnson, who left the department in 2010, said he could think of no reason why the FBI would create a new category for so-called black identity extremists. “I’m at a loss,” he replied, when asked about the term.

“I have no idea of why they would come up with a new term.”

There have been concerns about rising violence among black separatist groups in recent years, he said, but it does not approach the threat of right-wing extremism. “When talking about white supremacists versus black supremacists, there are way more white supremacists,” Johnson said.

For historians and academics who have looked at the history of FBI surveillance of black Americans, the report also smacks of the sort of blatant racism the bureau has worked hard to leave behind. From the time J. Edgar Hoover took over the anti-radical division in the FBI at the height of the first “red scare” in 1919, the bureau began systematically surveilling black activists.

“Black protests get conflated for the bureau [with communism], and it begins there,” said William Maxwell, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who has researched the FBI’s monitoring of black writers in the 20th century.

What followed, according to Maxwell, was decades of FBI pursuit of black radicals in the belief, often mistaken, that they were part of a larger subversive movement. “It’s deep in the bureau’s DNA,” he said.

Lately, that seemed to be changing. As FBI director, James Comey famously kept a copy of the Martin Luther King Jr. wiretap order on his desk as a reminder of the bureau’s past abuses and made new agents learn the history of the FBI’s pursuit of the civil rights leader.

The FBI also appeared to be focusing more attention on the threat of white supremacists. In May, the FBI warned that white supremacist violence was growing, according to a report obtained and published by FP. That same report noted that white supremacists were responsible for more attacks in the United States than any other extremist group, including Islamic extremists.

Critics, however, accuse President Donald Trump of shifting attention away from right-wing violence. This year, the Trump administration decided to focus the Department of Homeland Security’s “countering violent extremism” program on Islamic terrorism and deprioritized funding to counter white supremacist groups.

“To hear there is a new initiative targeting black identity extremists is surprising given that shift,” said Alvaro Bedoya, the executive director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law.

Maxwell, the Washington University professor, had an even darker view. “It’s classic Hoover-style labeling with little bit of maliciousness and euphemism wrapped up together,” he said.

“The language — black identity extremist — strikes me as weird and really a continuation of the worst of Hoover’s past.”

In a sense, the FBI’s desire to identify a unifying ideological underpinning to what are often individual violent acts is not surprising, said David Garrow, a historian who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of MLK. “Security agencies want to perceive a threat that is political, a threat that ideological,” Garrow said, “but what we’re actually witnessing is men, almost entirely men, acting out in violent criminal ways and grasping at some chimera of political justification.”

But the document itself smacks of incompetence more than conspiracy, according to Garrow, who reviewed a copy of the report provided by FP. “The immediate instinct is to think [the FBI] are a threat,” he said. “My immediate instinct is to wonder whether they are minimally competent.”

Garrow, who has reviewed decades’ worth of FBI documents for his work, warned against seeing this report as proof that the FBI is illegally targeting black Americans.

“They are often so clueless,” he said of the FBI. “I don’t find them a threat.”

But the former homeland security official said the report’s tendency to lump together different groups that have no obvious connection will make it harder for law enforcement to identify real threats. “It’s so convoluted — it’s compromising officer safety,” the former official said.

And even though the report mentions in a footnote that “political activism” and “strong rhetoric” by themselves don’t amount to extremism and “may be constitutionally protected,” it identifies anger with police or “anti-white rhetoric” as indicators of a potential “violent threat.”

“Just the term ‘black identity extremist’ is protected,” the former official said. “You can identify all you want.”

The FBI, however, defended the classification in its statement to FP.

“Domestic terrorism groups differ from traditional criminal groups in that they take action for a different purpose, to bring attention to a social or political cause,” the FBI wrote. “Therefore, their existence as a group has a legitimate purpose, at least in part. Their legitimate activity may include acts of protest, advocacy, and civil disobedience.”

The FBI says there are “nine persistent extremist movements” in the United States at present. Those include “white supremacy, black identities, militia, sovereign citizens, anarchists, abortion, animal rights, environmental rights, and Puerto Rican Nationalism.”

The FBI’s New U.S. Terrorist Threat: ‘Black Identity Extremists’


Trump Jr. defends dad’s response to racial protest

October 6, 2017

By Bill Barrow

The Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) — Donald Trump Jr. on Thursday stood by his father’s declarations that “both sides” were to blame after August’s racially driven violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white supremacist killed a counter-protester.

President Donald Trump’s eldest son said his father was criticized only because of an “atmosphere of hatred” on the left that the younger Trump blamed on liberal university campuses and traditional media.

“He condemned … the white nationalists and the left-wingers,” Trump Jr. said during the annual fundraising gala for Faulkner University, a private Christian university in Alabama. “That should not have been controversial, but it was.”

Trump Jr., who was paid as Faulkner’s keynote speaker, went on to cite examples of violence on the left. He mentioned antifa, far-left-leaning militant groups that call themselves anti-fascist, for outbursts in Berkeley, California. He alluded to the former Bernie Sanders supporter who shot at Republican congressmen gathering for baseball practice, nearly killing Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

“He went out looking for Republicans to kill,” Trump Jr. said, “and we’re supposed to forget that.”

Trump Jr. did not go into detail about the Charlottesville melee, never mentioning the woman who was killed after a white nationalist drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Besides defending his father, Trump Jr. used much of his 35-minute address to mock the culture on most of the nation’s college campuses, which he said teaches young Americans to “hate their country” and “hate their religion” while squelching conservative voices.

He noted instances where conservatives have been denied speaking opportunities or encountered protests upon their appearances.

“Today’s conservative speech is violence. Unprovoked liberal violence is self-defense,” Trump Jr. complained. “Words have lost their meanings.”

He continued: “‘Hate speech’ is that America is a good country … that we need borders … anything that comes out of the mouth of the president … the moral teaching of the Bible.”

He also mocked some universities’ focus on diversity, singling out the concept of “safe spaces” for women, minorities and LGBT students. He went on to praise two Alabama figures who played defining roles in the civil rights movement: Martin Luther King Jr. and federal jurist Frank Johnson, who enforced many of the Supreme Court’s civil rights decisions.

Neither Trump Jr. nor his hosts at Faulkner mentioned his place at the center of ongoing FBI and congressional inquiries into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Trump Jr. moved to the fore of the Russia investigation in July amid revelations about a June 2016 meeting he helped arrange with a Russian attorney tied to the Kremlin.

Senate Intelligence Committee leaders from both parties this week declared that the issue of Russian meddling has not been settled, despite the president’s claims of a “hoax” and “fake news.” The committee staff has yet to interview Trump Jr., who has admitted he took the meeting with the Russian attorney expecting to get damaging information about his father’s general election opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Trump Jr. made no mention of Alabama’s looming Senate election for the seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president endorsed Sessions’ appointed successor, Luther Strange, but GOP voters sided with former Judge Roy Moore, who faces Democrat Doug Jones in a Dec. 12 general election.

The address was part of Trump Jr.’s periodic paid speaking schedule that began before his father’s election. A Faulkner spokeswoman confirmed the school paid Trump Jr. but declined to disclose his fee.

The North Texas Daily, the student newspaper at the University of North Texas, has reported Trump Jr. will be paid $100,000 to speak at a university fundraising event Oct. 24. An archived web page of Trump Jr.’s agency, All American Speakers, shows his speaking fee as “$50,001 and above.” NBC News has reported the page was removed from the agency’s website after NBC inquiries.


Follow Bill Barrow on Twitter at

Corker Stands by Comments About Trump Stability, Competence

October 1, 2017


By Mark Niquette

Image result for bob corker, photos
  • Retiring U.S. senator makes statements in NBC interview
  • Republican says president fueling voter resentment in party

Republican Senator Bob Corker said he stands by his comments that Donald Trump hasn’t shown the stability or competency to succeed as president, and that Trump’s criticism of Republican congressional leaders is fueling resentment within the party.

Senator Corcker

Photographer: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc. via Getty Images

Corker, a former Trump ally who announced on Sept. 26 that he won’t seek re-election in 2018 as a Tennessee Senator, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press’’ on Sunday that Trump has made positive changes in the White House with new chief of staff John Kelly, responded well to hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida, and showed courage in changing his position on increasing troop levels in Afghanistan.

But Corker said he’s not backing off his critique of Trump following the president’s response to a violent white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“The country needs for him to be — the world needs for him to be — successful,’’ Corker said, according to a transcript provided by NBC. “I’m seeing changes. But I made the comment. I stand by the comments I made at the time.’’

Corker also said the president “mocking the leadership on both sides of the aisle’’ in Congress fueled Republican resentment that helped Roy Moore defeat U.S. Senator Luther Strange – who was backed by both Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — in a primary runoff election on Sept. 26.

“I hope that the election of the type of candidate that was elected there doesn’t say that much about the Republican Party,’’ Corker said of Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court justice who was removed twice as chief justice for refusing to follow federal court rulings. “I think it’s more about the resentment that people have towards the fact that they don’t see Washington solving problems.”

Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also had a warning about North Korea’s expanding nuclear program, saying the standoff with the U.S. is “moving to a place where we’re going to end up with a binary choice soon.’’

“There’s got to be a diplomatic breakthrough of some kind here,’’ Corker said. “I mean, while all this is happening, they’re getting stronger, and stronger and stronger and developing better and better technology.’’


Image result for Bob Corker, photos

Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.)

Poll: Two-Thirds of Americans Disapprove of President Trump’s Twitter Addiction — Plus Donald Trump’s latest approval rating and impeachment odds

September 27, 2017

USA Today

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

President Donald Trump should stop tweeting from his personal Twitter account, most Americans say. (Nicholas Kamm-AFP-Getty Images)

A majority of Americans do not approve of how President Trump uses his favorite social media platform, according to a new poll out Monday.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 67% of Americans disapprove of the president’s use of Twitter.

Those surveyed were also more likely to associate negative words with Trump’s tweets:

  • 68% said the tweets were inappropriate
  • 65% said the tweets were insulting
  • 52% said the tweets were dangerous

They were less likely to associate positive words with his tweets:

  • 21% said the tweets were refreshing
  • 41% said the tweets were interesting
  • 36% said the tweets were effective

The poll surveyed a random sampling of 1,001 adults around the country from July 10-13. It has an error margin of 3.5%. Per the poll, 35% Democrats, 23% Republicans and 35% independents were surveyed.

The poll comes as the six-month mark of Trump’s presidency approaches this week. The president’s term in office has been a tumultuous ride, ranging from his temporary Muslim ban to his firing of FBI Director James Comey to the ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Only 24% of those surveyed said they believed Trump had acted in a manner that is “fitting and proper of a president.” Another 70% said he had acted unpresidential.

The survey also found that 68% did not think the president was a positive role model for young people.

Read the poll results here.



See also:

Voters to Trump: Never Tweet


Donald Trump latest approval rating and impeachment odds

By Patrick Scott  and Ashley Kirk
The Telegraph

Donald Trump is enjoying a small uptick in his approval rating following his handling of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and Hurricane Irma.

Trump attracted criticism in the wake of the violence at the rally after he initially failed to explicitly condemn the actions of Nazis and white supremacists.

Despite this criticism his average approval rating actually increased in the week following the rally, the first sustained improvement in public opinion since May.

Irma is just the latest in the long list of tumultuous events that have marked Trump’s memorable first year as president. We have seen persistent allegations over Russian connections, tirades against the media, a failure to push through healthcare reform as well as an escalation in rhetoric surrounding North Korea.

Last month Trump vowed to respond with “fire and fury” if Kim Jong-un’s regime continued to make threatening noises over mooted plans to fire missiles towards the US territory of Guam.

When he assumed office, the billionaire businessman, TV star and now 45th US president also enjoyed the lowest approval rating of any recent president – and these ratings haven’t got any better.

At the 100-day milestone, Gallup daily polling showed that just 40 per cent of Americans approved of the way Trump is handling his new job – compared to 55 per cent that disapprove.

Historically, it has usually taken American presidents hundreds of days before they reach a majority disapproval rating.

This has been the case for the last five presidents – with Bill Clinton lasting a record 573 days before more than 50 per cent of Americans disapproved of his presidency.

But Donald Trump smashed this record after surging into the White House on a wave of anti-establishment anger.

It took just eight days for him to gain a majority disapproval rating, according to Gallup, with 51 per cent of Americans saying they disapproved of the President on January 28, 2016.

The sacking of James Comey – apparently over the FBI’s investigation into the Trump camp’s pre-election links with Russia – coincided with a further decline in approval rating while the recent events over North Korea and Charlottesville have seen him reach new lows.

What are the latest impeachment odds for Trump?

The Comey sacking episode has raised serious questions in the US over whether the president, in getting rid of the ex-FBI chief, was committing an obstruction of justice.

The idea of impeachment has started to be uttered by legal experts as well as by Al Green, a Democrat congressman from Texas.

Today on the floor of the Congress of the United States of America, I will call for the Impeachment of the President between 9am & 10am CST.

As it stands impeachment is still unlikely because it would require a majority in the House of Representatives to go to trial and a two-thirds majority in the Senate to make it happen.

Both the House and the Senate currently under Republican control, meaning that Trump’s party would have to abandon him for him to be kicked out of office.

However, the bookmakers are banking on things getting worse for Trump with the latest odds from Ladbrokes showing that there is a 48 per cent chance he will fail to make it to the end of his first term in office.

Their latest odds are as follows:

  • Impeachment or resignation before 2020: EVENS (50 per cent chance)
  • To serve full first term: 4/5 (55.6 per cent chance)

Trump Backers Cheer Economic Agenda, Blame GOP for Setbacks

September 22, 2017

President’s responses on North Korea, white supremacist violence draw slightly lower rating

Image result for Donald Trump in Florida after hurricane, photos

By Valerie BauerleinArian Campo-Flores and Quint Forgey
The Wall Street Journal

As President Donald Trump approaches his 10th month in the White House, The Wall Street Journal revisited voters in six counties representing the economic underpinnings of his support. In each county, the Journal spoke to supporters, converts, abstainers and opponents to see how their economic situation is changing, and whether their expectations are being met.

Supporters of President Donald Trump generally approve of his overall performance on what they see as core issues such as jobs and taxes, and they blame Republicans in Congress for failing to support the White House agenda.

“I think he’s doing great,” said Emory Terensky, 66 years old, a former steelworker in Monessen, Pa. Similarly, Patti Thompson, who lives in the Phoenix-area retirement community of Sun City, said her support of the president hasn’t wavered, though she continues to be frustrated that “we can’t get Congress and Trump on the same page.” She puts the fault for that on congressional Republican leaders.

On a few issues, such as tensions with North Korea and clashes with white supremacists in the U.S., Mr. Trump received a slightly lower rating. “I’m very concerned about the North Koreans,” said John Golomb, 65, a former steelworker, in Monessen, Pa. “Is Donald Trump talk, or is he action? That’s the $64,000 question.”

Robert Lee, the 62-year-old owner of Rockingham Guns & Ammo in Richmond County, N.C., gives the president an overall grade of “B-minus, at best.” He is holding out hope that Mr. Trump will begin successfully working with Congress to get his agenda passed. “He is more intent on fighting,” Mr. Lee said. “You can’t fight all the time. You’ve got to step back away from it, take a look at the broader picture of what’s taking place and do something about it.”

Trump opponents, for the most part, remain angry, and, in some cases, disheartened, with his handling of several key issues over the past few months. Trish Collins, a 40-year-old human resources manager in Pinellas County, Fla., said she feels exhausted by the “roller coaster” of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Rachel Kalenberg, 35, who voted for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate, said she hadn’t yet seen evidence of an economic boom in energy-rich Gillette, Wyo, where she owns a pizza shop. But she acknowledged that many people here still believe Mr. Trump’s support of the coal industry could ultimately mean more jobs and other good things. “I think Gillette is very hopeful, and we have seen a little bit of growth,” she said. “Maybe it’s not enough.”

Among Trump supporters, views were mixed on his response to the Confederate statue protests in Charlottesville, Va., which descended into a fatal confrontation. Some, including Mr. Lee in Richmond County, N.C., believe that Mr. Trump created unnecessary problems by blaming white nationalists for violent confrontations with counterprotesters in an Aug. 14 prepared speech, then saying there was “blame on both sides” in a news conference the next day at Trump Tower in New York.

“He added a little bit more to it than should’ve been added and that drove a wedge,” Mr. Lee said. “If you keep on tossing something into the wind, it’s going to blow back on you, and it did.”

But others, such as Earl Cassorla, 61, agreed with Mr. Trump’s stance, and blamed the media for not reporting his remarks accurately. “The president denounced white supremacists and neo-Nazis,” said Mr. Cassorla, co-owner of a fireworks shop in Battle Mountain, Nev. “The president said there were good people on both sides of the statue protest. The media responded that ‘No, there are no good Nazis.’ Fake news.”

Mr. Cassorla also agreed with Mr. Trump’s assertions in various tweets that removal of Confederate statues is wrong. In the case of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, whose statue in Charlottesville was at the center of the Aug. 12 protest, Mr. Cassorla said the Southern war commander wasn’t the racist he has been portrayed to be.

“People were protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, who fought for the rights of his state, despite his desire for the country to remain undivided,” he said. “Some opposing the removal of Lee’s statue were a fringe group of white supremacists. Additionally, some protesting were just people who simply opposed the removal of a historical statue.”

Jocelyn Golomb, a 20-year-old Monessen, Pa., store clerk, who voted for Hillary Clinton in November, said she has always hated Mr. Trump. But her contempt for the president reached new heights following his response to the violence in Charlottesville.

“He kind of didn’t really have anything to say until after he was pushed to say something, and that wasn’t right,” she said. “I don’t think he’ll ever have my support. Ever.”

Ms. Collins in Pinellas County, Fla., who voted for Mrs. Clinton, thinks Mr. Trump’s handling of the Charlottesville violence was abysmal. “If I had to guess what is the worst way to respond to this, he nearly hit it, ” she said. “It was terrifying to see that.” At the same time, “this is not a surprise,” she said. “He’s been saying racist things from the beginning of his campaign.”

Some Trump supporters, such as Curtis Chambers, a 54-year-old financial adviser, in Pinellas County, praised the way the president has handled the North Korea problem. “It is the question no one seems to have an answer for,” Mr. Chambers said.

“I think the Obama period was a period of appeasement,” Mr. Chambers said. “The Trump approach is different. It will be more confrontational, highlighted by his rhetoric. I feel like he’s being strong with North Korea. … I wish there was a better answer, but at least he’s standing up to [ Kim Jong Un].”

“It’s a tough situation,” said Steve Lang, a 54-year-old contingency planner in Pinellas County. He backs the way the president is working with allies such as Japan to try to contain the threat. “I don’t think the American people want us to go to war with North Korea.”

But Mr. Golomb, the former steelworker in Monessen, Pa., who feels more “cheated” than ever after voting for Mr. Trump in November 2016, fears a growing threat from Pyongyang that he believes is exacerbated by Mr. Trump’s bluster on social media.

“I’m very concerned about the North Koreans,” he said. “Is Donald Trump talk, or is he action? That’s the $64,000 question.”

To Ms. Collins, the Clinton voter, Mr. Trump’s handling of hostilities with North Korea has been unsettling. “He and Kim Jong Un are very similar in what they say to each other, and it’s terrifying to see our president saber-rattling,” she said. “I can’t see how his approach is making things better.” Moreover, she said, Mr. Trump is alienating key allies such as China that could help defuse the situation.

The president’s August speech on Afghanistan, in which he backed a continued commitment there despite a campaign pledge to quickly pull out, earned mixed reviews from his supporters.

“I don’t think putting more troops on the ground in Afghanistan is the answer,” said Samme Engelson, 40, owner of an embroidery shop in Battle Mountain, Nev., who voted for the president. “I worry about the counsel the president is getting as far as this ‘war’ is concerned. We have been there so long.”

But Mr. Lang, who also backed the president, said the president’s change of heart was a positive step. “He sounded like he listened to his generals,” he said.

John Golomb, the former steelworker from Monessen, Pa., who early into Mr. Trump’s presidency began to regret his Trump vote, was particularly worried about the shift in Afghanistan which he hopes “doesn’t turn into another Vietnam.”

Responses to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma split along partisan lines, even in Florida, where Irma did the most damage.

Mr. Chambers, a Trump supporter in Pinellas County, thinks Mr. Trump performed well in the wake of the recent hurricanes.

“He went there right away,” Mr. Chambers said. “That kind of hands-on leadership, and showing up at the front where the trouble is, is a morale booster to everybody.”

But Ms. Collins, the Clinton supporter from Pinellas County, faulted Mr. Trump’s response.

“It seemed pretty obvious on his first visit [to Texas] that he was there just to promote himself,” she said. She credited the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s mobilization of resources, but said “this is another example of the career government staffers around him doing the best they can.”

Outside the hurricane zone, reactions were similarly divided.

“The president has behaved in a most compassionate manner related to the victims of this terrible storm,” said Mr. Cassorla of Nevada.

But Ms. Golomb of Monessen, Pa., viewed the president’s trip to Corpus Christi, Texas, in late August as nothing more than a glorified photo opportunity. “He wasn’t talking about, ‘Oh, we have a natural disaster, ‘” she said. “He was talking about, ‘What a huge crowd.'”

The president’s moves on DACA won praise from supporters for his initial move to toss the topic into Congress’s lap, but became more divisive when he began negotiating directly with Democrats. The suggestion to press for a continuance of such protections for young immigrants is also in line with a majority of Americans, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

Ms. Engelson, of Battle Mountain, Nev., expressed concern about the president’s handling of DACA.

“I originally thought that the president did the right thing in canceling DACA in six months,” she said. “Let Congress do their job. Now I am a bit worried that he is going to sacrifice immigration law to advance other items in his agenda, such as repealing Obamacare and tax reform. If that happens, I think he will have done great damage to his political future and perhaps our country’s future.”

But some supporters were willing to cut him more slack.

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

September 22, 2017 07:14 ET (11:14 GMT)

Trump may be inciting ‘violence’ against media — Frequent ‘reckless’ comments — Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says

August 30, 2017


© AFP/File / by Ben Simon | The UN rights chief voiced alarm over US President Donald Trump’s verbal assaults on CNN, the New York Times and Washington Post 
GENEVA (AFP) – The UN human rights chief said Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on the media could trigger violence against journalists, suggesting the US leader would be responsible.In a broad condemnation of Trump’s conduct in office, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he viewed the US presidency as the driver of “the bus of humanity”, accusing Trump of “reckless driving”.

Zeid, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, also blasted Trump’s decision to pardon former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt last month for illegally profiling Hispanic immigrants.

 Image may contain: 2 people, beard
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. UN Photo -Jean-Marc Ferré

On the media, Zeid voiced particular alarm over Trump’s verbal assaults on CNN, the New York Times and Washington Post.

“To call these news organisations ‘fake’ does tremendous damage and to refer to individual journalists in this way, I have to ask the question, is this not an incitement for others to attack journalists?

“And let’s assume a journalist is harmed from one of these organisations, does the president not bear responsibility for this, for having fanned this?” Zeid told reporters in Geneva.

“I believe it could amount to incitement,” he added, saying Trump had set in motion a cycle that includes “incitement, fear, self-censorship and violence.”

According to the rights chief, Trump’s assault on the media has emboldened other countries to crack down on press freedoms.

“The demonisation of the press is poisonous because it has consequences elsewhere,” Zeid said.

He expressed specific concern over Trump’s speech in Arizona earlier this month in which journalists were condemned by the US leader as “dishonest people” who “don’t like our country”.

– Supports ‘racial profiling’? –

Turning to the pardon for Arpaio, a hugely controversial figure intially targeted for prosecution by former president Barack Obama’s justice department, Zeid said he was deeply disturbed by Trump’s decision.

“I had to ask myself the question what does this mean? Does the president support racial profiling of Latinos in particular? Does he support abuse of prisoners?

“Arpaio at one stage referred to the open air prison that he set up as a ‘concentration camp'”, Zeid said, asking “does the president support this?”

Arpaio, who was known to make detainees wear pink underwear to humiliate them, housed prisoners in tent camps surrounded by barbed wire, in the scorching Arizona desert.

The former sheriff once likened the encampment to a concentration camp, although he later backed away from that remark.

– Dangerous? –

Reacting publicly for the first time to the recent unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, Zeid denounced the racist and anti-semitic actions of neo-Nazi and white supremacists demonstrators as “an abomination” and “a nightmare.”

Zeid, who has not minced his words in previous criticism of Trump, indicated that the world was is in a perilous state with the New York billionaire in a position of global leadership.

“I almost feel that the president is driving the bus of humanity and we are careening down a mountain pass and, in taking these measures, at least from a human rights perspective it seems to be reckless driving,” he told reporters.

“You asked me in November if I thought he was dangerous,” Zeid continued. “Today the only person who can confirm that is the president himself by dint of his own actions.”

Civil War Museums Once Dedicated to Confederacy Adapt and Expand Missions

August 26, 2017

Academics say how the past is remembered constantly evolves; Confederate preservation groups decry changes

The field coat worn by Confederate General Robert E. Lee when he surrendered to Union forces was on display at what is now the American Civil War Museum’s facility in Appomattox, Va.
The field coat worn by Confederate General Robert E. Lee when he surrendered to Union forces was on display at what is now the American Civil War Museum’s facility in Appomattox, Va. PHOTO: WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY IMAGES

ATLANTA—When the Confederate Museum opened in Richmond, Va., in 1896, it was chartered to honor those who fought for the rebel cause and spent more than a century building a vast collection of historical artifacts from the secessionist movement.

Four years ago, the museum dropped the Confederacy from its name, and became simply the American Civil War Museum.

Its leaders say the decision—as part of a merger with a smaller museum—was vital to its future. The change also punctuated its evolution from solely presenting Confederate-themed exhibits to exhibiting a broader look at the four-year conflict that caused the deaths of at least 620,000 soldiers fighting on both sides.

“History museums need to view history with a high level of subjectivity and dispassion,” said S. Waite Rawls III, president of the American Civil War Museum Foundation. “It was increasingly difficult to do that because people assumed we would simply take the Confederate side. Its very name was in the way.”

Christy Coleman, left, the American Civil War Museum’s chief executive, left, and S. Waite Rawls III, president of the American Civil War Museum Foundation, have seen public interest shift from a focus on battles and generals to an interest in slavery and the role it played in starting the conflict.
Christy Coleman, left, the American Civil War Museum’s chief executive, left, and S. Waite Rawls III, president of the American Civil War Museum Foundation, have seen public interest shift from a focus on battles and generals to an interest in slavery and the role it played in starting the conflict. PHOTO: STEVE HELBER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The name change was costly. After the merger and adopting its new moniker, donor numbers dropped 40%. Mr. Rawls said the museum now relies on larger donations from fewer benefactors for its $3.6 million operating budget.

In the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, the rapid removal of memorials to the Confederacy has renewed objections from those who want public memorials to the “Lost Cause” to remain. They argue history is being rewritten, but academics and curators say how the past is remembered constantly evolves.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, the leading heritage group for descendants of those who fought for the South, has a different view. The group is so frustrated by what it sees as a dwindling of institutions presenting Confederate views on the war that it is spending at least $4.5 million to build a private National Confederate Museum in Tennessee, said Executive Director Mike Landree.

The planned 18,500 square-foot museum will rise next to Elm Springs, an 1837 Greek Revival style mansion that is home to the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ national headquarters just outside Columbia, Tenn.

The National Civil War Naval Museum, formerly the Confederate Naval Museum, in Columbus, Ga., has added replicas of federal ships and other exhibits to its exhibits of Confederate warships.
The National Civil War Naval Museum, formerly the Confederate Naval Museum, in Columbus, Ga., has added replicas of federal ships and other exhibits to its exhibits of Confederate warships. PHOTO: MARY ANN ANDERSON/MCT/GETTY IMAGES

“There are very few Civil War museums that take the Confederate side,” Mr. Landree said. “The majority of them walk on eggshells.”

The best known battlefield from the war, Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, is standing firm on keeping the more than 1,325 monuments, markers, and plaques it has that commemorate those who fought and died—whether Union or Confederate.

The National Park Service, which manages the site, said it is “committed to safeguarding these unique and site-specific memorials in perpetuity, while simultaneously interpreting holistically and objectively the actions, motivations, and causes of the soldiers and states they commemorate.”

In the 1950s and 1960s—before, during and after the Civil War’s centennial, and as the nation struggled to end segregation—rebel museums and attractions had a heyday, and using the term Confederate and displaying the battle flag was often part of a sales pitch.

Public interest has shifted from a focus on battles and generals, to an interest in slavery and the role it played in starting the conflict, say experts like Christy Coleman, the American Civil War Museum’s chief executive. That has forced change at historic sites that focused more on military aspects of the Confederacy, giving less attention to slavery.

Take Confederama, a tourist attraction that recounted the battles around Chattanooga with model soldiers and illuminated maps, proudly displaying battle flags at its entrance from its opening in 1957. Under new ownership in a new location, it now operates as “The Battles for Chattanooga Electric Map & Museum.”

The former Confederate Naval Museum in Columbus, Ga., changed its name in 2001 to the National Civil War Naval Museum because it realized it had to expand its scope, said Executive Director Holly Wait. The museum, which used to focus on Confederate warships, has added replicas of federal ships and other exhibits, she said.

“You just can’t talk about one side; that just don’t make sense,” she said.

Steve Sylvia, publisher of North South Trader’s Civil War, a memorabilia magazine, who talks often with museum staff across the South, said many places are shifting names and presentation “in an effort to appear less partisan, a little more user-friendly to the general public.”

One of the greatest transformations in recent years was at the former Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. At first the museum was called the Confederate Museum, then in the 1970s it was renamed the Museum of the Confederacy. Today, after a merger, it is the American Civil War Museum.

Beginning in the 1960s, the museum—which had served as a shrine of sorts to the Confederate cause—worked to establish a less partisan approach to the war and in the 1990s it added an exhibit on slavery and its role in the conflict.

Its name was a perpetual problem—because people assumed the museum would take the side of the Confederacy, said Mr. Rawls. Many longtime supporters wanted little or no change to the museum, including its name, while public pressure mounted to broaden the facility’s focus.

When the museum announced in 2014 it was merging to with the smaller American Civil War Center, also in Richmond, it hired Edelman, a public relations firm, to help with finding a new name. And many older museum members objected to the change, said Mr. Rawls.

“Public perception was not swayed to the degree that we would have wanted,” he said.

Ms. Coleman said the museum is pushing through. The museum has sold the building that once housed the main Confederate collection, and it is building a larger facility. It is offering new programs geared toward broadening its scope, including a symposium this February called “Lightning Rods for Controversy: Civil War Monuments Past, Present, & Future.”

Ms. Coleman said people who didn’t want the name changed remain displeased with the new entity, but the institution, if it is to be useful to newer generations, had to change.

“New generations ask new questions,” she said. “That re-examination can’t help but broaden the narrative.”

Write to Cameron McWhirter at

Trump pardons Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio one month after conviction

August 26, 2017

AFP and Reuters

© Scott Olson / Getty Images North America / AFP | This file photo taken on January 26, 2016 shows Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R) endorsing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump prior to a rally in Marshalltown, Iowa.


Latest update : 2017-08-26

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday granted a pardon to controversial former Arizona lawman and political ally Joe Arpaio less than a month after he was convicted of criminal contempt in a case involving racial profiling.

“Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” said a White House statement announcing Arpaio’s pardon, the first of Trump’s administration.

Arpaio, 85, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America” lost a bid for re-election in Arizona’s Maricopa County in November after 24 years in office.

He is known for his crackdown on undocumented immigrants and investigating unfounded Trump-supported claims questioning former President Barack Obama’s citizenship.

“I have to thank the president for what he has done, that’s for sure,” Arpaio told Reuters in a brief telephone interview from his Arizona home. “He’s a big supporter of law enforcement.”

Arpaio said his lawyer was sent a copy of the pardon on Friday afternoon and he planned a press conference to discuss what he said were new details in the case. He declined to say if he would run again for sheriff.

“I’m not going away,” added Arpaio.

Arpaio told Reuters that he would reveal more about the case on Monday or Tuesday and detail the “real story” behind the case that brought him to trial. He has long maintained that the prosecution by the administration under President Barack Obama was political, aimed at helping oust him from office.

He said his attorney delivered the good news the same day as his wife’s birthday, adding “he came over to give my wife a birthday gift and it was a pretty good one,” said Arpaio, alluding to the pardon, as he was about to leave for her celebration dinner.

‘Disrespects rule of law’

Civil rights advocates slammed Trump’s decision as an endorsement of racist and unlawful immigration policies.

President Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio is a presidential endorsement of racism. 

Photo published for ACLU Comment on Trump Pardon of Joe Arpaio

ACLU Comment on Trump Pardon of Joe Arpaio

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASENEW YORK — President Trump has pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, who was found guilty of criminal contempt for deliberately violating a federal…

“Once again, the president has acted in support of illegal, failed immigration enforcement practices that target people of color and that have been struck down by the courts,” said American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Cecillia Wang, who sought the court injunction against Arpaio.

The pardon sent “a dangerous message that a law enforcement officer who abused his position of power and defied a court order can simply be excused by a president who himself clearly does not respect the law”, Vanita Gupta, president of the

Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former head of the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division, said in a statement.

Alejandra Gomez, co-executive director of Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), said: “President Trump pardoned a terrorist tonight. Joe Arpaio intentionally terrorized immigrant communities across Arizona for decades and traumatized an entire generation of Arizonans…

“The only proper place for him is in a jail cell,” Gomez said in a statement.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said it was “disheartening that he set the bar so very low for his first pardon… The ex-sheriff is a self-aggrandizing braggart who promoted racist law enforcement practices and cost taxpayers millions, and that is a reason they did not reelect him.

“After the racism and hate in Charlottesville, our country needs to come together and heal. But that healing will not come from a president who only exploits divisions and fears,” Leahy said in a statement.

Controversy over racial profiling

Arpaio, who campaigned for Trump in 2016, was convicted on July 31 by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, who ruled he had willfully violated a 2011 injunction barring his officers from stopping and detaining Latino motorists solely on suspicion that they were in the country illegally.

By pardoning Sheriff Arpaio, Trump has again made clear he will use the powers of the presidency to defend racism and discrimination.

Arpaio admitted to inadvertently disobeying the court order but said his behavior did not meet a criminal standard. He said the prosecution was a politically motivated attempt by the Obama administration to undermine his re-election bid.

Arpaio had been scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5 and faced a fine and maximum sentence of six months in jail.

His controversial tenure as sheriff brought Arpaio national headlines for massive roundups of suspected illegal immigrants and for the way he ran the Maricopa County jail.

He reinstated chain gangs, made inmates wear uniforms that were pink or old-fashioned black and white stripes and forbade them coffee, salt and pepper.

Critics said as sheriff Arpaio spent too much time courting publicity and not enough on basic policing. The East Valley Times newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for a 2009 series showing that arrests in the county had dropped while many violent crimes were not investigated and response call times had increased.


Gary Cohn: Trump Team ‘Must Do Better’ to Condemn Hate Groups

August 25, 2017


Gary Cohn, the top economic adviser in the Trump White House, is now on-the-record criticizing the president’s botched response to the deadly white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville this month. “This administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities,” he told the Financial Times in an interview published Friday. Cohn, who is Jewish, additionally revealed he faced “enormous pressure” to resign after the president blamed “hatred on many sides” for the deadly violence and later claimed there were “very fine people” among the neo-Nazi groups protesting to protect Confederate-era statues. “As a patriotic American, I am reluctant to leave my post,” he said, “because I feel a duty to fulfill my commitment to work on behalf of the American people. But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks.” Cohn took a not-so-veiled dig at his boss’ equivocating on hate groups, saying, “Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK.”


Majority of U.S. voters fear Trump will drag country into international conflict by accident – and think his demeanor is not presidential

August 25, 2017

Related image

  • 71 per cent surveyed for a George Washington University poll say ‘Donald Trump’s behavior is not what I expect from a president’
  • 66 per cent believe his ‘words and actions could get us accidentally involved in an international conflict’
  • Trump’s overall approval rating is 43 per cent
  • Most voters say he’s keeping his capmaign promises despite pushback from ‘Washington elites’ 

Two-thirds of U.S. registered voters fear that President Donald Trump‘s ‘words and actions could get us accidentally involved in an international conflict,’ according to a new poll.

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The George Washington University Battleground Poll, released Thursday, also found that more than 7 out of 10 believe his ‘behavior is not what I expect from a president.’

While more people support Trump’s job performance on the economy than oppose it, majorities disapprove of how he’s handling foreign affairs in general, 53 per cent, and the North Korea crisis in particular, 51 per cent.

Voters believe Donald Trump is fulfilling his campaign promises despite 'Washington elite' forces arrayed against him, but large majorities say he behaves in an unpresidential way that could accidentally plunge the United States into war

Voters believe Donald Trump is fulfilling his campaign promises despite ‘Washington elite’ forces arrayed against him, but large majorities say he behaves in an unpresidential way that could accidentally plunge the United States into war

The George Washington University Battleground Poll surveyed more than 1,000 registered voters, finding that 71 per cent criticized Trump's behavior and 66 per cent worry that it might unwittingly spark an 'international conflict'

The George Washington University Battleground Poll surveyed more than 1,000 registered voters, finding that 71 per cent criticized Trump’s behavior and 66 per cent worry that it might unwittingly spark an ‘international conflict’

However, more than half say the president ‘has been keeping his campaign promises’ and hold ‘Washington elites’ responsible for holding up ‘reforms’ in his agenda.

The split shows that ‘more Americans object to President Trump’s character than his agenda,’ according to George Washington University professor Michael Cornfield.

‘If there is anything approaching a consensus in today’s sharply divided America, it’s that Trump speaks and behaves inappropriately given the office he holds.’

Trump’s negatives among voters could contribute to a wave election that benefits Democratic congressional candidates, judging from the new poll.

Trump lashes out at media over Charlottesville

The president polls higher on the economy than the percentage of Americans who voted for him, but he's under water on foreign affairs and the North Korea crisis

The president polls higher on the economy than the percentage of Americans who voted for him, but he’s under water on foreign affairs and the North Korea crisis

Trump's overall approval rating in the new poll stands at 43 per cent.

Trump’s overall approval rating in the new poll stands at 43 per cent.

Asked which party’s candidate they would support if a congressional election were held today, 44 per cent chose a hypothetical Democrat. Just 38 per cent said they would choose a Republican.

The president’s overall approval rating stands at 43 per cent, slightly higher than measurements in most other surveys. Fifty-four per cent of voters say they disapprove of the job he’s doing.

The poll surveyed 1,009 registered voters nationwide between Aug. 13 and Aug. 17. Its margin of error is percentage points.

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