Category Archives: Crime

Trump Signs Executive Order To Halt Family Separations

By: Andrew Restuccia, Lorraine Woellert of politico

President Donald Trump signed an executive action Wednesday that ends the administration’s policy of separating migrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, abandoning the president’s previous stance that only Congress can fix the problem.

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office, flanked by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence. “I think anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it. We don’t like to see families separated.”

Yet Trump said that he wanted to continue enforcing a strong policy at the border, an issue he campaigned on: “We are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero tolerance. We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.”

The action came after Trump and his team faced harsh criticism from lawmakers, activists, religious leaders and former first ladies over the separation of children from their parents in custody, which was panned almost universally as cruel and damaging to the kids’ well-being.

It was a remarkable shift from a president who is typically reluctant to bow to outside pressure. He often doubles down on his existing stance when confronted with criticism.

With cable news flashing images of migrant children held in cages and lawmakers’ offices facing a flood of angry phone calls, the president was under increased pressure to come up with a speedy solution. White House aides came to the conclusion on Wednesday that Congress was unlikely to act quickly to resolve the crisis, even though they sent signals that Trump would be willing to sign a narrow, stand-alone fix without other immigration-related provisions.

The decision to end the separation policy via executive action appeared to have happened quickly, and some in the White House were left in the dark. Key members of the White House legislative affairs team, which had been working with Hill lawmakers in a bid to find a legislative fix, were left out of the loop and hadn’t seen text of the executive action as of early Wednesday afternoon, according to two people familiar with the issue.

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Aaron Persky, Judge Who Gave Lenient Sentence On Turner Rape Case, is Recalled From Office

By: Christal Hayes of USA Today

The controversial judge who sparked outrage after offering a lenient sentence to Brock Turner, a former Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexual assault, was recalled from office Wednesday — becoming the first California jurist recalled from the bench in 86 years.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, 56, became the target of a recall after sentencing Turner, who could have faced 14 years in prison, to only six months behind bars.

While the now-famous 2016 sentencing hearing happened before the #MeToo movement took hold over the country, ballots cast Tuesday were made in the backdrop of the movement, which has emboldened sexual assault survivors and forced criminal investigations and oustings of powerful men, most notably with Harvey Weinstein.

Persky’s supporters contend Turner’s sentence was lawful — and the recommended sentence from probation officials. But those calling for the recall say this is just one of many sentences handed down from Persky that were far too light.

Two women are running on the ballot to succeed Persky: civil attorney Angela Storey and prosecutor Cindy Hendrickson.

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States Take Net Neutrality Into Their Own Hands

By: Harper Neidig of The Hill

States are pushing their own net neutrality laws and rules in defiance of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal, heightening the possibility that supporters will be waging another legal battle over the popular Obama-era regulations.

Washington and Oregon have already passed their own laws to fill the void left by the FCC’s repeal, and California appears to be close behind after the state Senate passed a net neutrality bill on Wednesday.

A total of 29 states have proposed their own open internet legislation, according to Gigi Sohn, a fellow at Georgetown Law who’s been tracking the initiatives.

And five Democratic governors have gone with another tactic: issuing executive orders that prohibit the state from doing business with any broadband company that violates the principles of net neutrality.

The FCC’s repeal order included a provision preempting states from creating their own net neutrality rules, and this movement could lay the groundwork for a court battle over states’ rights to implement their own consumer protections.

A potential industry lawsuit against the states that have passed net neutrality laws could hold some promise for net neutrality supporters, says Marc Martin, a communications and technology lawyer at Perkins Coie.

“It’s not a slam dunk” despite the preemption clause, Martin said. “It’ll be interesting, I think that is one of the more vulnerable parts of the repeal overall.”

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Manafort Tried Tampering With Witnesses On His Case

By: Reuters

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who has been indicted by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, attempted to tamper with potential witnesses, Mueller said in a court filing on Monday.

Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, asked the judge overseeing the case in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to revoke or revise an order releasing Manafort ahead of his trial.

Manafort was released to home confinement after his arraignment in October.

Mueller has indicted Manafort in federal courts in Virginia and Washington, D.C., with an array of allegations from money-laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent, to bank and tax fraud. Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

FBI Special Agent Brock Domin, in a declaration filed with Mueller’s motion, said Manafort had attempted to call, text and send encrypted messages in February to two people from “The Hapsburg Group,” a firm he worked with to promote the interests of Ukraine.

The FBI has documents and statements from the two people, as well as telephone records and documents recovered through a search of Manafort’s iCloud account showing that Trump’s former campaign manager attempted communication while he was out on bail, according to Domin.

The communications were “in an effort to influence their testimony and to otherwise conceal evidence,” Domin wrote. “The investigation into this matter is ongoing.”

Manafort is the most senior member of Trump’s campaign to be indicted, though the charges do not relate to campaign activities.

Mueller urged Judge Amy Berman Jackson to “promptly” schedule a hearing on the whether to change Manafort’s conditions of release, which could result in Manafort going to jail.

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Democrats Demand Investigation On Trump Chinese Loan

By: Jessica Kwong of Newsweek

More than 60 House Democrats are calling for an ethics investigation over the “extremely short time frame” between a $500 million loan the Chinese government made to an Indonesian theme park with Trump Organization properties, and President Donald Trump’s move to save the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE.

In a letter addressed to U.S. Office of Government Ethics Acting Director David Apol, tweeted by U.S. Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island on Sunday, Democrats pointed out that Trump had his administration save ZTE from financial collapse three days after reports of the Chinese government’s massive loan to the theme park that will include a Trump-branded hotel and golf course, residences and shops.

“We believe that these events raise several potential constitutional and ethical violations,” the letter stated. “First, the Chinese governments loan may invoke the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution, which prohibits officials holding an ‘office of profit or trust’ from accepting payment or gifts from a foreign government without the consent from Congress.”

Trump has refused to divest from his business interests, handing day-to-day operations of the Trump Organization to his two eldest sons but maintaining a revocable trust that he can draw funds from anytime.

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Trump Cancels Major Meeting

By: Mike Calia of CNBC

President Donald Trump canceled his historic nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un on Thursday, accusing North Korea of “tremendous anger and open hostility.”

The meeting, which would have marked the first face-to-face encounter between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, was set for June 12 in Singapore.

“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote in a letter to Kim, which was released Thursday morning.

Stocks fell and gold rose after news of the cancellation broke.

Much of the letter was written in seemingly friendly terms, including praise for North Korea’s recent release of three American prisoners. In contrast, Trump also appeared to issue a threat that conjured memories of his war of words with Kim last year.

“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Trump wrote.

The cancellation appeared to take South Korea’s government by surprise. The nation’s president, Moon Jae-in, had played a pivotal role in setting up recent diplomatic developments.

A representative of Moon’s office said the South Korean administration was “trying to figure out what President Trump’s intention is and the exact meaning of it,” according to the country’s Yonhap News Agency. Moon and his aides convened emergency meetings to address the shock announcement, which broke shortly before midnight in Seoul.

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NYC Mayor Advises Police To End Marijuana Smoking Related Arrests

By Sonia Moghe and Susannah Cullinane

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has told top brass at the city’s police department to stop arresting people who are caught smoking marijuana in public, according to a City Hall aide.

Currently, smoking in public can lead to arrest, while possession of small amounts of marijuana can lead to a summons.

This weekend, the mayor told the NYPD to issue summonses for smoking pot in public, instead of making arrests.

The NYPD has already begun a working group to evaluate its marijuana enforcement procedures and present its recommendations within 30 days, at the mayor’s request. The mayor made it clear this weekend that ending public marijuana smoking arrests is one of the changes he wants.

Any changes to NYPD’s policy on smoking in public would not take effect until the end of the summer.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Phil Walzak told CNN that the 30-day working group is already underway, and that the issue is “certainly part of that review.”

“The working group is reviewing possession and public smoking of marijuana to ensure enforcement is consistent with the values of fairness and trust, while also promoting public safety and addressing community concerns,” Walzak said.

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Documents Reveal Troubling Documents For Net Neutrality Repeal

By: Medium

This past week, AT&T apologized for for its “serious misjudgment” in hiring U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen to provide “insights” into how the new administration would handle issues like net neutrality and AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable.

Although Pai denied hearing from Cohen, new scheduling documents obtained through FOIA by corruption watchdog American Oversight show the Chairman met with with top AT&T executives at a private dinner in Barcelona a month after the company began paying Cohen. One of the top AT&T representatives present at this meeting was noted net neutrality enemy Bob Quinn, who hired Cohen and has since stepped down over the controversy.

These revelations come on the tail of one of the most problem-ridden and undemocratic consultations in the FCC’s history. Throughout the comment period, the agency refused to address problems with fake comments, alleged DDoS attacks that prevented Internet users from commenting, and failed to release of thousands of important consumer complaints over net neutrality violations until the last minute.

At this point, members of Congress must vote to support the CRA and reverse the agency’s disastrous net neutrality repeal when the resolution hits the Senate floor in just over 24 hours. Then they need to hold a public hearing to investigate what went on between AT&T, Cohen, and the FCC, and give the public the answers they deserve.

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Google Under Investigation For Secretly Mining Data

By: John Rolfe of Daily Telegraph

THE ACCC is investigating accusations Google is using as much as $580 million worth of Australians’ phone plan data annually to secretly track their movements.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said he was briefed recently by US experts who had intercepted, copied and decrypted messages sent back to Google from mobiles running on the company’s Android operating system.

The experts, from computer and software corporation Oracle, claim Google is draining roughly one gigabyte of mobile data monthly from Android phone users’ accounts as it snoops in the background, collecting information to help advertisers.

A gig of data currently costs about $3.60-$4.50 a month. Given more than 10 million Aussies have an Android phone, if Google had to pay for the data it is said to be siphoning, it would face a bill of between $445 million and $580 million a year.

Google’s privacy consent discloses that it tracks location “when you search for a restaurant on Google Maps”. But it does not appear to mention the constant monitoring going on in the background even when Maps is not in use.

The Oracle experts say phone owners’ data ends up being consumed even if Google Maps is not in use or aeroplane mode is switched on. Nor will removing the SIM card stop it from happening. Only turning off a phone prevents monitoring, it says.

The information fed back to Google includes barometric pressure readings so it can work out, for example, which level of a shopping mall you are on. By combining this with your coordinates Google knows which shops you have visited.

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Bill Cosby Found Guilty

By: MICHAEL R. SISAK and CLAUDIA LAUER of ABC

l Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era, completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America’s Dad.

Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded he sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004. He claimed the encounter was consensual.

Cosby stared straight ahead as the verdict was read but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele after the prosecutor demanded the former TV star be sent immediately to jail. Steele told the judge Cosby has a plane and might flee.

“He doesn’t have a plane, you a–hole!” Cosby shouted at Steele. “I’m sick of him!”

The judge decided Cosby can remain free on $1 million bail while he awaits sentencing but restricted him to Montgomery County, where his home is. No sentencing date was set.

Cosby waved to the crowd outside the courthouse, got into an SUV and left without saying anything. His lawyer Tom Mesereau declared “the fight is not over” and said he will appeal.

Shrieks erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and some of his accusers whimpered and cried. Constand remained stoic, then hugged her lawyer and members of the prosecution team. She left court without comment.

“Justice has been done!” celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby’s accusers, said on the courthouse steps. “We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed.”

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