Tag Archives: women

Thursday Open Thread | 12 Black Elected Officials In Charlotte Receive Trump Inspired Racist Letters

At least 12 local elected officials, including black county commissioners, Charlotte City Council members who are people of color, and the black chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board, received similar letters in recent days, according to representatives of those bodies. The letter, which the Observer obtained a copy of from a City Council member, is also addressed to the local police and fire departments.

The letter to Leake invoked the name of President Donald Trump, said blacks need to “assimilate” to Charlotte and the United States and blamed “twisted media” for problems.

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article233797097.html

“Nothing good will come to you if you don’t change,” the letter to Leake and other commissioners stated. “You need to go back to where you came from … Your freedom was born on the backs of great Americans, white Americans, who fought for you, so get over it. Assimilate.

“One of these days, someone … will round you up. All of you. And send you screaming to the concentration camps where you belong … Be very careful.”

A Mecklenburg County commissioner says she has asked the FBI to investigate who sent her and other black elected officials a racist, threatening letter that said “Black Democrats should be tarred and feathered and run out of town” and sent “screaming to the concentration camps.”

The letter, which Commissioner Vilma Leake read aloud at a recent public meeting, was received by mail at her county office address. It is a nearly two-page-long rant that threatens “someone” may “blow up” a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr., and also says, “I would love it if they would blow you up.”

The big names in Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘Black Book’

The “black book” of Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy financier and now-accused child sex trafficker, is a smorgasbord of high-profile, powerful people, including Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Andrew and former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and convicted sex assailant and comedian Bill Cosby, Epstein’s former neighbor.

Then there’s supermarket mogul Ron Burkle, Clinton’s daughter Chelsea Clinton, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and John Kerry, late Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, media titan Rupert Murdoch, and movie director Woody Allen, New York magazine notes in a new article detailing the contents of Epstein’s private phone book and private plane’s flight logs.

The article contains summaries of Epstein’s relationships with various well-heeled people whose names appear in those documents including President Donald Trump, who once called Epstein a “terrific guy” in an interview with New York, and Bill Clinton, who traveled multiple times on Epstein’s plane.

Trump’s first wife, Ivana, is in the book, as is his third wife, Melania, and his daughter, Ivanka, currently senior advisor to the president.

Epstein’s address book originally was published in 2015 by the defunct news site Gawker, after its content was revealed in a court case.

Epstein Contacts- A to Z

“Along with the logs of Epstein’s private plane, released in 2015, the book paints a picture of a man deeply enmeshed in the highest social circles,” New York says in its article.

New York notes that a woman whose name appears on flight manifests of Epstein’s jet — “including Bill Clinton’s trip across Africa, and who wound up working at the Clinton Foundation” — is one of five women whom Epstein recommended as an assistant for Charlie Rose, the then host of a PBS talk show.

Rose ended up hiring three of Epstein’s recommendations, the magazine reported.

One of those women, who later was among more than two dozen who accused Rose of sexual misconduct, was quoted by New York as saying, “I was being offered up for abuse” by Epstein.

Rose in 2017 lost his PBS gig, along with posts at “CBS This Morning” and “60 Minutes,” on the heels of the misconduct allegations.

Epstein, a registered sex offender, was arrested in early July on federal charges that he trafficked dozens of underage girls, who traveled to his huge New York City townhouse and Palm Beach, Florida, mansion, where he alleged sexually abused them during purported “massage” sessions from 2002 through 2005.

The 66-year-old, who pleaded guilty to prostitution-related charges in 2008 in Florida, has pleaded not guilty in the current case, for which he remains held without bond in a federal jail in Manhattan.

Trump and Clinton have distanced themselves from Epstein since his latest arrest.

Trump has said “I was not a fan” of Epstein.

Clinton’s spokesman has said he has not spoken with Epstein in “well over a decade,” and that “President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York.”

Rose’s spokesman told New York that Rose only learned about Epstein’s abuse years after the recommendations of assistants, when Epstein pleaded guilty in the Florida case.

Julián Castro on reparations for slavery

If elected president, 2020 Democratic contender Julián Castro said he would create a commission to explore the possibility of reparations for slavery.

During a stop Sunday at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Castro did not commit to paying reparations but said it should be part of a topic of conversation for a commission or task force that could explore that and other issues surrounding the nation’s history with slavery.

“I’ve long believed the country should consider reparations because of the atrocity of slavery,” said Castro, a former San Antonio mayor who was President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. “I also believe that we’re never going to fully heal as a country from the racial divide until we’ve addressed the tremendous wrong that was done with slavery.”

Former Obama cabinet official and current Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro crushed rival Bernie Sanders‘ argument against “writing a check” for reparations, noting that Sanders’ solution to a host of other issues is to do just that.

On Sunday morning’s edition of CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper asked Castro for his reaction to a clip of Sanders responding to a question about support for slavery reparations by asking what his rivals mean by reparations.

Castro noted that he has promised a “task force” to explore reparations, but zeroed in on a different Sanders remark on reparations. In a recent appearance on The View, Sanders said that “our job is to address the crises facing the American people and our communities, and I think there are better ways to do that than just writing out a check.”

“To my mind, that may or may not be the best way to address it,” Castro said. “However, it’s interesting to me that when it comes to Medicare for all, health care, you know, the response there has been we need to write a big check, that when it comes to tuition-free or debt-free college, the answer has been we need to write a big check.”

“So if the issue is compensating descendants of slaves, I don’t think the argument about writing a big check ought to be the argument you make if you’re making the argument that a big check needs to be written for a whole bunch of other stuff,” Castro continued. “If, under the Constitution, we compensate people because we take their property, why wouldn’t you compensate people who actually were property.”

Julian Castro’s Housing Reform policy

White House hopeful Julián Castro on Monday released a portion of his latest “People First” policy proposal focused on affordable housing and homelessness.

The “People First Housing” plan will be released in three segments, starting on Monday.

“Housing is a human right. But for too many people, affordable, safe, and healthy housing is out of reach—forcing them to pay 40, 50, or even 60 percent of their income in rent, and forcing others on the streets,” Castro, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary under former President Obama, said in a statement.

“I understand the challenges that Americans face in housing—from rising rents, to gentrification, to housing discrimination, to homelessness. We need a president who will match the urgency of this issue with concrete, bold plans. That’s why I’m proud to release my People First Housing plan to ensure every American can access safe, affordable housing for them and their families.”

Castro, who has struggled to gain any traction in early primary polling, proposes a four-pronged approach to strengthen affordable housing by expanding the housing choice voucher program, creating a renters’ tax credit for those not eligible for vouchers, investing in new affordable housing units and reforming local zonings which restrict efficient buildings.

Many of these would expand on the National Housing Trust Fund, which provided $173 million in grants to create affordable housing, that Castro established while leading HUD.

Castro says he would reduce America’s homelessness epidemic by setting new government housing targets, increasing assistance grants, establishing consistent government homelessness definitions and investing in a wide variety of programs designed to help individuals who are homeless or housing insecure.

The plan would also decriminalize homelessness and end laws that discriminate against those without homes.

The housing initiative ties in Castro’s other platform positions, including expanding Pell Grants and expanding Medicare, to address housing issues.

Homelessness has been a steadily growing issue for years. According to HUD’s most recent Annual Homeless Assessment Report, each night of 2018 roughly 553,000 people were experiencing homelessness.

Homeownership is often cited as a key component to wealth-building for American families.

Data shows that obstacles, both economic and social, have especially left minorities lagging behind in homeownership.

A recent report by the Urban Institute shows that black homeownership has declined 5 percent since 2011, compared to a 1 percent decline for white families.

The same report showed an increase in Hispanic homeownership during that period, though it came at a time when Hispanic families were digging out after being particularly affected by the Great Recession, with Latino households losing 66 percent of their overall wealth from 2005-2009, according to the Pew Research Center.

Castro’s policy platforms tackling issues including immigration, policing and the cost of college have so far not resulted in an uptick in polling, with the former San Antonio mayor frequently polling near 1 or 2 percent.

Julian Castro’s Education Policy

Presidential candidate Julián Castro unveiled an estimated $1.5 trillion education plan Monday that starts with what he’s most known for — early learning — but follows with detailed ideas for updating the nation’s public education system and making it more accessible, including college.

The broad plan includes proposals for pre-K to high school and into college or trade school.

Castro calls for creating a “universal, high-quality, publicly funded, full-day Pre-K” for 3- and 4-year-olds, through grants to state and local governments. He calls for eliminating tuition at public colleges, universities, community colleges and technical and vocational schools, and raising the maximum Pell grant to $10,000.

The plan seems to go into the most detail on ways to help students pay off debt, which he said now tops $1.5 trillion.

His plan is something of a critique of the nation’s education system, including the continued segregation that keeps opportunities out of reach for many.

“It’s not enough to just invest in our schools and hope that inequities are repaired — we need targeted approaches that ensure all students have access to a quality education,” Castro says in his plan, posted on his campaign website.

The nation has failed to adequately invest in students, teachers and schools, which disproportionately affects students of color, Castro said. He said his plan “21st century-izes” our education system, because we haven’t done that,” although a lot of local communities already are doing pieces of his plan, he said.

“Education policy doesn’t exist in silos, and I’m proud to put forward the first comprehensive education plan to invest in our students holistically and keep our nation competitive in years to come,” Castro stated in a news release.

Castro, the only Latino seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, released an in-depth immigration plan in April. It has been drawing praise, including from fellow candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., but Castro is still polling in the low single digits.

Castro’s plan echoes his personal story of having grown up poor, which he has told in speeches and his memoir, and his belief that educational opportunities helped him and should be available to all. Castro has said repeatedly in campaign stops he wants the country to be the smartest, healthiest, fairest and most prosperous on earth.

“There’s no question I was swimming upstream,” Castro told NBC News. He attended a school district with some of the most poorly funded schools in Texas, he said. But at the same time, “I had a mom who was determined I succeed and she had an education of her own,” said Castro who went on to graduate from Stanford and Harvard Law School.

“What I want is no matter what the circumstances of the child are, that he or she can get a great education wherever they go to school,” he said in a telephone interview.

Castro is a former mayor of San Antonio and former Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama. As mayor, he persuaded more than half of the city’s voters to approve a one-eighth-of-a-cent sales tax increase to pay for a full-day, quality pre-K program that has received good performance ratings.

He also launched Cafe College, a one-stop shopping site for school-age children to introduce them to the possibility of attending college and help them plan and start the process. The idea was meant to help schools that don’t have enough counselors to give students personal attention.

Cal Jillson, a Southern Methodist University political science professor and expert on presidential politics, told NBC News in March that Castro was on the cutting edge when he pushed for the pre-K investment.

Boosting teacher pay, help with student debt

Castro’s plan includes “reimagining high school” by investing $150 billion to modernize schools by improving facilities, technology and infrastructure, and supporting teachers, the arts and foreign language programs.

Castro, whose wife was a teacher and is now an elementary instructional math coach at a San Antonio school district, proposes ensuring that every high school student has the chance to graduate with at least one year of college credit, at no additional cost, and wants to create trade programs that link students with schools and employers.

Castro also proposed investing $3 billion annually in Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority serving institutions, to ensure more low-income students can attend.

According to his campaign, Castro would repeal the Trump tax plan and replace it with one that Castro plans to release at a later date. Corporations and more wealthy Americans would be asked to pay their fair share to support the education changes, his campaign said.

One provision that could draw backlash is a proposal to end public support for private for-profit colleges.

Castro also called for fairness, closing achievement gaps for children of color, protecting LGBTQ students, increasing diversity in higher education and ensuring that all students — regardless of criminal history or immigration status — have access to a quality education.

That part of his plan includes strengthening Title IX protections, some which the Trump administration has been proposing to rewrite.

It also includes protections for immigrant students without permanent legal status and ensuring they have access to higher education assistance.

Another potentially controversial measure: Castro calls for repealing Trump administration policies that allow educators to arm themselves in schools. Instead, he proposes “taking meaningful steps to address gun violence.”

Julian Castro’s Police Reform Policy

People First Policing Plan

On the day Julián announced his candidacy for President of the United States, he talked about health care and education, economic prosperity and immigration. And he also talked about the frightening rate at which unarmed black and brown folks have been killed by law enforcement officers all over America.

“If police in Charleston, South Carolina can arrest Dylann Roof after he murdered nine people worshipping at Bible study, without hurting him,” he said in January, “then don’t tell me that Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice, and Aiyana Jones, and Eric Garner, and Jason Pero, and Stephon Clark, and Sandra Bland shouldn’t still be alive today, too.”

In March 2018, in Sacramento, California, police shot and killed a young black man named Stephon Clark. Stephon, you might say, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In fact, he was in his grandmother’s backyard. Police were looking for a vandal in the neighborhood that night in the dark. A police helicopter spotted 22-year-old Stephon and two officers ran to attempt an apprehension. They reeled around a blind corner and one yelled, “Gun, gun, gun, gun!” The officers immediately fired their weapons 20 times. Stephon Clark fell and died there in his grandmother’s backyard, a cellphone on the ground next to him. There was no gun. He had done nothing wrong.

Stephon Clark’s story is not unique. In the United States, according to a Washington Post analysis, nearly one thousand people are shot and killed by police each year. When you break down that number, you see clearly that black men make up a disproportionate number of the victims of excessive police force. This is not a case of a few bad apples. The system is broken.

We have on our hands a national crisis in public safety. If elected president, Julián Castro would treat this as the crisis it is, demanding of a federal response. This is Julián’s plan to fix this broken system:

End over-aggressive policing and combat racially discriminatory policing.

Hold police accountable.

Start the healing process between communities and law enforcement.

Tuesday Open Thread | President Jimmy Carter: Trump is an illegitimate president

Former President Jimmy Carter made a remarkable claim during an event at the Carter Center in Leesburg, Virginia, on Friday, describing President Donald Trump as an illegitimate president who wouldn’t have won but for Russian interference on his behalf.

“I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated, would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” the 94-year-old Carter said. “He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.”

The panel moderator, historian Jon Meacham, asked Carter if that means he thinks Trump “is an illegitimate president.” Carter said he does.

“Based on what I just said, which I can’t retract, I would say yes,” Carter said, as the crowd responded with chuckles.

Carter’s position is a matter of opinion. There is no hard evidence that Trump wouldn’t have prevailed without Russian help.

But there’s no doubt that that help — which, according to the US intelligence community and special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, included digital propaganda and disinformation campaigns, the hacks of Democratic targets, and the ensuing WikiLeaks email dumps that were timed to do maximum damage to Hillary Clinton — helped Trump overcome a 3 million vote loss in the popular vote and win in the Electoral College.

Carter’s opinion, however — coming as it does from a former president — is a remarkable one. On Twitter, former Clinton administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich described Carter’s comments as “stunning” and asked, “When has a former president ever accused a current president of being illegitimate?”

Monday Open Thread | Civil rights groups sue Florida over ‘poll tax’ law to restore felon voter rights

A group of civil rights organizations filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida Friday after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that would require felons to pay court-ordered financial obligations if they want their voting rights restored.

Florida’s new law, SB7066, violates the prohibition against poll taxes enshrined in the 24th Amendment, claims a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Florida, the Brennan Center for Justice and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The suit filed on behalf of 10 Floridians also claims the law was at least partly motivated by a racially discriminatory purpose in violation of the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship to people born or naturalized in the United States, and the 15th Amendment that prohibits the government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on race or color or previous servitude.

“This disenfranchisement will be borne disproportionately by low-income individuals and racial minorities, due to longstanding and well-documented racial gaps in poverty and employment,” the lawsuit states.

An estimated 1.4 million Floridians with felony records had their voting rights restored in January after 64.5 percent of state residents voted last year to approve an amendment to Florida’s constitution. The ballot initiative restored voting rights to residents with felony convictions who have completed their sentences, with the exception of those convicted of murder or a sexual offense.

But DeSantis began to undermine the voter-approved amendment in December just after he was elected.

DeSantis, then governor-elect, told The Palm Beach Post in an interview that the initiative shouldn’t be rolled out until “implementing language” is approved by the legislature and signed by him.

“They’re going to be able to do that in March,” DeSantis told the Post, referring to the 60-day legislative session beginning on March 5. “There’s no way you can go through this session without implementing it.”

The state’s Republican-controlled legislature did in fact introduce a bill to curb felon voting rights in March, a bill that passed both chambers and was signed by DeSantis on Friday.

And while court fees vary per individual, even the smallest amounts can prove difficult for the formerly incarcerated. A Harvard University researcher found that the median annual income was only about $6,500 for those newly out of prison.

Civil rights groups have argued that forcing felons emerging from the criminal justice system to pay debilitating penalties is unconstitutional and equates simply to a poll tax.

“There can be no mistaking the racial and class implications of this regressive new legislation,” said Myrna Pérez, director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Elections Program. “Florida legislators are trying to do an end run around the unmistakable message that Florida voters delivered at the ballot box in November.”

Julian Castro’s Immigration Policy

As Donald Trump threatens to “close” the US-Mexico border, one of the Democrats seeking to run against him in 2020 is coming out with the primary’s first immigration proposal — one that would dramatically reduce immigration enforcement.

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio and secretary of housing and urban development, released an immigration platform on Tuesday morning, along with a Medium post outlining what the Castro campaign calls its “People First” immigration policy.

So far, the many Democrats vying for the 2020 presidential nomination have stayed in pretty safe territory on immigration, promising to support bills that would provide a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants living in the US — and especially groups that are at risk of losing legal protections under the Trump administration, like immigrants protected from deportation under the DACA, Temporary Protected Status, and Deferred Enforced Departure programs.

Castro’s proposal promises those things, as well as reversals of signature Trump policies like the travel ban and the reduction in refugee resettlement. But it goes much further than that in dismantling immigration enforcement.

In many ways, it seeks to unravel the post-9/11 immigration enforcement system — which has made it legally riskier than ever to live in the US as an unauthorized immigrant.

Most notably, Castro proposes to repeal the provision of US law that makes “illegal entry” into the US a federal crime, which has been on the books since 1929 but has only been routinely enforced in the 21st century. Prosecuting illegal entry — often referred to by “1325,” the relevant section of Chapter 8 of the US Code — gave the Trump administration the power to separate thousands of families in 2018, by referring parents for criminal prosecution.

“The fact that over the last several years this system has been weaponized by the Trump administration to go after immigrants, and the chaos that has been created under 1325, I believe, is the wrong direction for the country,” Castro told Vox. And his response — “to go the opposite way” — is to undo the legal underpinning that made it possible.

That proposal, and others, would require Congress to pass an immigration bill — something that Castro remains optimistic there’s bipartisan appetite for in Congress, but has said elsewhere wouldn’t be his first legislative priority. Unlike other plans 2020 candidates have released on other issues, however, much of the immigration policy Castro addresses is about what to do with existing executive branch resources and authorities — it’s policy, in other words, that Castro or another Democrat could start to change on day one.