Saturday, October 13

Are These People To Be Believed?

My  response would be a resounding NO!! No matter who it is, anyone who hears something coming from the mouths of Trumpers should definitely take it with a huge 'grain of salt'! It's bound to be mistaken, have errors, or be a downright lie. This is a piece from August 14, but in my opinion, nothing has changed; when she does appear, what she says is wrong, stupid, or a lie.

Sarah Sanders’s bizarrely incorrect argument about how Trump is helping black Americans

President Trump’s rejoinder for accusations that he’s racially insensitive — or racist — is to point to how much he has done for the black community. He’ll point to the unemployment rate, for example, noting that joblessness among African Americans hit record lows during his presidency. (The rate has since bounced back up slightly.) The implication seems to be that his policies have been specifically targeted toward helping black and Hispanic Americans.
On Tuesday, during one of her infrequent appearances in front of the White House press corps, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to put a finer point on Trump’s economic achievements for nonwhite Americans.
“This is a president who is fighting for all Americans, who is putting policies in place that help all Americans — particularly African Americans,” she said. “Just look at the economy alone. This president, since he took office, in the year and a half that he’s been here, has created 700,000 new jobs for African Americans. That’s 700,000 African Americans that are working now that weren’t working when this president took place.”
She continued: “When President Obama left after eight years in office — eight years in office — he had only created 195,000 jobs for African Americans. President Trump in his first year and a half has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years. Not only did he do that for African Americans, but for Hispanics — 1.7 million more Hispanics are working now.”
Over the past several years, the employment rate has increased consistently, month over month. It’s a trend that didn’t begin in January 2017 with the inauguration of Donald Trump but shortly after the end of the recession during Barack Obama’s first term.
The data make clear that there has been a steady upward trend since early 2010 — among whites, blacks and Hispanics.
On Tuesday, during one of her infrequent appearances in front of the White House press corps, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to put a finer point on Trump’s economic achievements for nonwhite Americans.
“This is a president who is fighting for all Americans, who is putting policies in place that help all Americans — particularly African Americans,” she said. “Just look at the economy alone. This president, since he took office, in the year and a half that he’s been here, has created 700,000 new jobs for African Americans. That’s 700,000 African Americans that are working now that weren’t working when this president took place.”
She continued: “When President Obama left after eight years in office — eight years in office — he had only created 195,000 jobs for African Americans. President Trump in his first year and a half has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years. Not only did he do that for African Americans, but for Hispanics — 1.7 million more Hispanics are working now.”
Over the past several years, the employment rate has increased consistently, month over month. It’s a trend that didn’t begin in January 2017 with the inauguration of Donald Trump but shortly after the end of the recession during Barack Obama’s first term.
The data make clear that there has been a steady upward trend since early 2010 — among whites, blacks and Hispanics.
What’s more, the increase in each group has been consistent; the slope of each line in the large graphs above has been largely consistent. So one wonders: How could it be the case that Trump has created three times as many jobs for black Americans? One thought might be that Sanders is counting Obama’s entire tenure, and black employment is now only slightly above where it was when jobs hit their low during that period. But black employment had rebounded to pre-recession levels by mid-2013.
So what’s going on? The explanation is simple: Sanders is wrong. By a lot.
We looked at three periods to try to give Sanders the benefit of the doubt: Entire administrations (January 2009 to January 2017 for Obama and January 2017 to July 2018 for Trump), the last 19 months of each administration (meaning all of Trump’s and the final 19 months of Obama’s) and the first 19 months of each.
In terms of entire administrations, there was a much larger expansion of the number of black jobs under Obama than Trump — four times as many. Among Hispanic Americans, the expansion was even bigger. Among whites, the job growth under Obama was more modest, relative to that under Trump, in part because the drop in the number of jobs held by white Americans during the recession was so sharp. (See the chart at right, which we’ll get to in a second.) As a percentage, the increase in white employment under Obama was twice what Trump has seen. That’s over eight years, though, not less than two.
Over the last 19 months of Obama’s administration, more jobs were created for black and Hispanic Americans than the same period under Trump. During those last 19 months, whites experienced lower job growth than they have under Trump. During the first 19 months of each administration, there’s no contest, because of the recession.
Sanders was right that about 700,000 jobs have been added in the black community and that 1.7 million more Hispanic Americans are working than when Trump came to office. Both numbers are low, in fact.
Compared with Obama’s eight years, though, Trump has — understandably! — underperformed.
Update: Shortly after the press briefing concluded, the Council of Economic Advisers admitted that they’d provided incorrect information to Sanders. Later, Sanders herself rescinded the numbers in a tweet.
If you want to see the graphs and charts which spell out all the actual numbers,just click this link.

Saturday, October 6

Finally! We See One Get Held To the Same Standard as a Citizen!

A historic murder conviction of a Chicago cop — and a city's sigh of relief

Demonstrators and Chicagoans react Oct. 5, 2018, after Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke is found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery for the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.
 (Chicago Tribune)

With an entire city watching, convicted murderer Jason Van Dyke was taken into sheriff’s custody Friday and escorted from the courtroom.
And Chicago exhaled.
Businesses closed early and commuters scurried out of downtown, but the feared riots never materialized. Protests, too, remained peaceful.
And inside the courthouse, the special prosecutor who won Van Dyke’s conviction predicted Chicago would heal from the wounds inflicted by the video-recorded shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Because this case was never about one cop.
Police scandals in Chicago have come and gone. But since the court-ordered release of a police dashboard camera video showing Van Dyke shooting McDonald as he walked down a Southwest Side street holding a knife, the city has faced a political and social reckoning unlike any in recent decades.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired. Voters ousted Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. Mayor Rahm Emanuel opted not to run for re-election.
Three other Chicago police officers have been charged with conspiring to cover up what really happened on Pulaski Road on the night of Oct. 20, 2014, and are slated to go to trial late next month. In addition to that criminal case, the entire Police Department now faces federal oversight following a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the shooting.
The video galvanized the city’s activist community, many of whom vowed to maintain their momentum following Van Dyke’s conviction.
“The buck stops here,” said activist William Calloway, who was instrumental in the video’s release. “The buck stops in Chicago.”
A Cook County jury convicted Van Dyke of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm in connection with McDonald’s death. The verdict marked the first time in more than 50 years that a Chicago police officer has been convicted of murder for an on-duty incident.
In reaching their historic decision, jurors relied heavily on the dashcam video that showed Van Dyke, who is white, firing 16 shots at McDonald, a black teen who appeared to be walking away from officers. Though race was not explicitly mentioned during the testimony, some witnesses made subtle references to skin color.
Special prosecutor Joseph McMahon stunned many in his opening statement when he accused Van Dyke of shooting McDonald because he was a “black boy” who had the audacity to ignore the police.
McMahon, the state’s attorney in suburban Kane County who was appointed because of Cook County prosecutors’ conflicts of interest, told reporters after the verdict that he believed it would have been wrong to ignore the long and fractured history between minority communities and the Chicago Police Department.
“None of us looked at this case and did not understand that there is an element of race in this conversation,” he said. “That issue has permeated the relationship between law enforcement and many communities. I think it was important to talk about what was honest here. That’s why I said it.”
Still, McMahon insisted the McDonald shooting and the conversations it started could ultimately help the city heal.
“The verdict marks an opportunity for this city to come together,” he said.
Laquan McDonald, 17, who was fatally shot in October 2014 by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke. (Family photo)
Healing, however, may take some time. Representatives of both the state and local police unions condemned the verdict — with the president of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police even saying that jurors had been “duped.”
“This is a day I never thought I’d see in America, where 12 ordinary citizens were duped into saving the asses of self-serving politicians at the expense of a dedicated public servant,” President Chris Southwood said in a statement. “What cop would still want to be proactive fighting crime after this disgusting charade, and are law-abiding citizens ready to pay the price?”
But many jurors told reporters that the responsibility felt like a privilege. They described their deliberations as respectful and harmonious
“Every morning I got on the bus and on the train, and I saw hundreds and hundreds of my fellow Chicagoans, and I thought, how did I get on this jury?” one male said. “There are all these people, and I’m doing this work and nobody knows it. It felt really amazing.”
Most jurors agreed to speak with reporters in the courtroom after the hearing, but did not consent to releasing their names. They spoke seated in the jury box with Judge Vincent Gaughan looking on from the bench.
The foreperson, a white woman, said she knew before she was selected for jury service that the case had drawn national and local attention. She had to discipline herself to consider only the evidence at hand rather than her knowledge of the outside circumstances — for example, why certain officers were testifying under immunity from prosecution.
But what really brought home her sense of “profound duty,” she said, was seeing the faces in the courtroom every day.
“I know I wasn’t sleeping for three weeks. I was thinking of it constantly because of its impact,” she said. “Every day we walked in and looked at two families. We saw Jason Van Dyke’s family, and we saw Laquan McDonald’s family. And I couldn’t walk in here without thinking about that every day.”
The case largely boiled down to the dashcam video that depicted the shooting as it unfolded as well as Van Dyke’s testimony in which he tried to defend his actions.
The video, played dozens of times for jurors over the monthlong trial, showed Van Dyke and his partner pulling up to the scene as McDonald walked south in the middle of Pulaski Road, holding a 3-inch folding knife. As their car got to about 20 feet from McDonald, Van Dyke opened the passenger door for a brief moment before his partner, Joseph Walsh, pulled up farther down the street. Both jumped out with their guns drawn.
Six seconds after Van Dyke exited the car, he took a step toward McDonald — closing the distance to about 12 feet as the teen continued to walk at an angle away from him — and opened fire. McDonald spun and fell to the pavement, his body making only small movements as more bullets appeared to strike him.
Van Dyke continued firing for at least 12 seconds while McDonald lay prone in the street, emptying all 16 rounds into his body, prosecutors said.
Van Dyke told the jury that he was forced to make a split-second decision to shoot McDonald because the teen posed a threat and ignored commands to drop the knife.
Jurors found Van Dyke’s testimony rehearsed and unconvincing. Some even questioned whether his tears on the stand were genuine.
"His memory and the facts in evidence didn't line up," said one juror, a white man.
Hours after the conviction, the Chicago Police Board released a statement reminding the public that Van Dyke and four fellow officers still face possible firings.
While Van Dyke’s trial focused on his actions alone, a trial slated for next month could have a much broader sweep — putting the alleged police “code of silence” itself on trial.
Three of Van Dyke’s fellow officers will face trial on charges that they conspired to cover up the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
Walsh, former Detective David March and Officer Thomas Gaffney all “submitted virtually identical false information” that exaggerated the threat posed by McDonald, according to a recently unsealed court filing from the special prosecutors handling their case. All three are charged with obstruction of justice, official misconduct and conspiracy.
And they “failed to conduct a thorough and accurate investigation” in an attempt to cover up what really happened the night McDonald was shot, the filing said.
The case goes deeper than false police reports, prosecutors allege. Officials also provided incorrect information to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, the Illinois State Police and in emails to one another. On the night of the shooting, detectives allegedly watched the dashcam video with Van Dyke at the area headquarters, even though Van Dyke had yet to be interviewed by investigators for the Independent Police Review Authority, the city agency that then investigated police shootings.
One unnamed sergeant sent an email to a lieutenant saying Van Dyke “did exactly what he was trained to do. We should be applauding him, not second guessing him,” according to the filing.

Friday, October 5

Another View on Medically-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Treatment

I found this article when I was perusing the Net, just going from link-to-link, reading anything of interest as I went along. I'd stopped to read a blog post about writing, and ended up on this article about MAT, or medically-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. Tell me what you think please down in the comments, what you think of the opioid crisis, what you think of MAT, and/or what you think about opioids in general. I'm listening!

This is actually from Quora, I'm posting the question which was asked and a response to it.

Beth Macy
Beth Macy, Bestselling author (Dopesick, Factory Man, Truevine)

Tuesday, October 2

Here We Go Again With #he'snotmypresident Getting HIs All Straight and White America

With everything going on in this country I would think that the government would have much more important things to do than pick on LGBTQ couples like this. They've already been granted the rights, why not let them keep them?

       State Department changes visa rules for same-sex partners of foreign diplomats

A State Department official said a policy change affecting same-sex partners of foreign diplomats was made to “ensure and promote equal treatment” for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Lawmakers and gay rights advocates are criticizing a new State Department policy that denies family visas to the same-sex domestic partners of diplomats posted in the United States and gives those already in the country three months to marry or lose their visas.

The change reverses a policy put in place in 2009 under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that defined family to include domestic partners of diplomats posted at embassies or the United Nations. That allowed them to attain visas and accompany their diplomat partners as household members, a status that was not extended to unmarried heterosexual couples.
A State Department official said the change, which took effect Monday, was made to “ensure and promote equal treatment” for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
“The change in policy ensures consistent treatment between opposite-sex partners and same-sex partners by requiring that same-sex partners, like opposite-sex partners, must marry to qualify for derivative diplomatic visas,” the official said.
In 2014, the State Department rolled back partner benefits and protections for same-sex couples after an unmarried heterosexual couple filed an equal employment opportunity complaint, asking to be recognized as domestic partners.
The State Department gave affected couples until Dec. 31 to marry, either in the United States or in a third country where same-sex marriage is illegal, and present a valid marriage certificate. Those who do not will have to seek a change of visa status or leave the country to seek a new visa abroad.
Only 12 percent of the countries in the world recognize same-sex marriage. Former secretary of state John F. Kerry ordered ambassadors to pressure their host countries where it is illegal to allow U.S. diplomats to bring their same-sex spouses with them openly, and report progress to him annually.
The Trump administration policy is an example of evolving practices since the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he opposes same-sex marriage, but he has promised to treat all employees with respect.
The State Department has become more welcoming of gay employees, a far cry from the days when gay diplomats were denied security clearances because they were believed to be susceptible to blackmail. The group GLIFAA represents LGBT staff, many U.S. embassies around the world fly rainbow flags during gay pride month and senior officials speak at the annual gay pride event held in an auditorium and beamed by closed circuit around the building.
A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity under administration rules, said 105 families currently in the United States are affected by the changed policy, 55 of whom are connected with international organizations.
But critics said there was no reason for the change and that having spousal visas in the passports of same-sex domestic partners could expose them to prosecution and punishment in countries where homosexuality is illegal.
Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), who is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the policy change “cruel, utterly unnecessary” and warned it could open U.S. diplomats to retaliation.
“Denying visas to same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. officials is a discriminatory reversal of a policy that recognized that not all same-sex couples around the world have the freedom to marry and unfairly targets LGBT families,” said Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), a gay congressman who spoke at the State Department’s annual gay pride event in June. He urged the administration to reconsider a “dangerous and bigoted policy.”
Foreign missions were alerted to the change, which was first reported in August by the Washington Blade, in a diplomatic note sent in July.
“Same-sex spouses of U.S. diplomats now enjoy the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex spouses,” the note said.
The new policy grants some limited exceptions for diplomats representing countries where same-sex marriage is illegal. The domestic partner still could get a visa as a family member so long as that country recognizes same-sex spouses of U.S. diplomats posted there. But officials posted to international organizations, such as the United Nations, do not represent a foreign government, and there are no exceptions to the policy.
Domestic partners currently get “derivative” visas stamped in their passports, with the principal in the household identified by name. But the exact relation to the principal is not spelled out, and nothing on the visa stamp will change as a result of the new policy.
Hyung Hak “Alfonso” Nam, president of U.N. Globe, which represents LGBT staff at the United Nations, said he fears the policy’s impact on the partners of diplomats from countries where same-sex marriage is taboo. He warned that some could be vulnerable to prosecution, and that it will create hurdles for couples considering a posting at U.N. headquarters in New York.
“Either they will have to get married or find some means to come separately and get married here at City Hall,” he said. “The ones really impacted are those who will have difficulties going to a country that performs same-sex marriages.”
David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, said diplomats are in an elite class and unlikely to face persecution. He characterized it as “mean-spirited.”
“Those diplomats should be able to bring their partners and families with them,” he said. “There’s no logic or moral benefit to keeping them out. It just seems to be a way to pick on them.”

Thursday, August 30

U.S. is denying passports to Americans along the border, throwing their citizenship into question

So now he's targeting American citizens who appear to be of Latino descent, who were born in certain areas of the country, actually trying to deport people who were born here! Tell me that's not racist!

On paper, he's a devoted U.S. citizen.
His official American birth certificate shows he was delivered by a midwife in Brownsville, at the southern tip of Texas. He spent his life wearing American uniforms: three years as a private in the Army, then as a cadet in the Border Patrol and now as a state prison guard.
But when Juan, 40, applied to renew his U.S. passport this year, the government's response floored him. In a letter, the State Department said it didn't believe he was an American citizen.
As he would later learn, Juan is one of a growing number of people whose official birth records show they were born in the United States but who are now being denied passports — their citizenship suddenly thrown into question. The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Latinos along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown on their citizenship.
In a statement, the State Department said that it "has not changed policy or practice regarding the adjudication of passport applications," adding that "the U.S.-Mexico border region happens to be an area of the country where there has been a significant incidence of citizenship fraud."
But cases identified by the Washington Post and interviews with immigration attorneys suggest a dramatic shift in both passport issuance and immigration enforcement.

In some cases, passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates are being jailed in immigration detention centers and entered into deportation proceedings. In others, they are stuck in Mexico, their passports suddenly revoked when they tried to reenter the United States. As the Trump administration attempts to reduce both legal and illegal immigration, the government's treatment of passport applicants in south Texas shows how U.S. citizens are increasingly being swept up by immigration enforcement agencies.

Juan said he was infuriated by the government's response. "I served my country. I fought for my country," he said, speaking on the condition that his last name not be used so that he wouldn't be targeted by immigration enforcement.

The government alleges that from the 1950s through the 1990s, some midwives and physicians along the Texas-Mexico border provided U.S. birth certificates to babies who were actually born in Mexico. In a series of federal court cases in the 1990s, several birth attendants admitted to providing fraudulent documents.

Based on those suspicions, the State Department began during Barack Obama's administration to deny passports to people who were delivered by midwives in Texas' Rio Grande Valley. The use of midwives is a long-standing tradition in the region, in part because of the cost of hospital care.

This midwife said she provided several fraudulent birth certificates along the Texas-Mexico border. She helped deliver about 600 babies in the United States. (Carolyn Van Houten / Washington Post)
The same midwives who provided fraudulent birth certificates also delivered thousands of babies legally in the United States. It has proved nearly impossible to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate documents, all of them officially issued by the state of Texas decades ago.

A 2009 government settlement in a case litigated by the American Civil Liberties Union seemed like it had mostly put an end to the passport denials. Attorneys reported that the number of denials declined during the rest of the Obama administration, and the government settled promptly when people filed complaints after being denied passports.

But under President Trump, the passport denials and revocations appear to be surging, becoming part of a broader interrogation into the citizenship of people who have lived, voted and worked in the United States for their entire lives.

"We're seeing these kind of cases skyrocketing," said Jennifer Correro, an attorney in Houston who is defending dozens of people who have been denied passports. 

In its statement, the State Department said that applicants "who have birth certificates filed by a midwife or other birth attendant suspected of having engaged in fraudulent activities, as well as applicants who have both a U.S. and foreign birth certificate, are asked to provide additional documentation establishing they were born in the United States."

"Individuals who are unable to demonstrate that they were born in the United States are denied issuance of a passport," the statement said.

When Juan, the former soldier, received a letter from the State Department telling him it wasn't convinced that he was a U.S. citizen, it requested a range of obscure documents — evidence of his mother's prenatal care, his baptismal certificate, rental agreements from when he was a baby.

He managed to find some of those documents but weeks later received another denial. In a letter, the government said the information "did not establish your birth in the United States."

"I thought to myself, you know, I'm going to have to seek legal help," said Juan, who earns $13 an hour as a prison guard and expects to pay several thousand dollars in legal fees.

In a case last August, a 35-year-old Texas man with a U.S. passport was interrogated while crossing back into Texas from Mexico with his son at the McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge, connecting Reynosa, Mexico, to McAllen, Texas.

His passport was taken from him, and Customs and Border Protection agents told him to admit that he was born in Mexico, according to documents later filed in federal court. He refused and was sent to the Los Fresnos Detention Center and entered into deportation proceedings.

He was released three days later, but the government scheduled a deportation hearing for him in 2019. His passport, which had been issued in 2008, was revoked.

Attorneys say these cases, where the government's doubts about an official birth certificate lead to immigration detention, are increasingly common. "I've had probably 20 people who have been sent to the detention center — U.S. citizens," said Jaime Diez, an attorney in Brownsville.

Diez represents dozens of U.S. citizens who were denied their passports or had their passports suddenly revoked. Among them are soldiers and Border Patrol agents. In some cases, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have arrived at his clients' homes without notice and taken passports away.

The State Department says that even though it may deny someone a passport, that does not necessarily mean that the individual will be deported. But it leaves them in a legal limbo, with one arm of the U.S. government claiming they are not Americans and the prospect that immigration agents could follow up on their case.

It's difficult to know where the crackdown fits into the Trump administration's broader assaults on legal and illegal immigration. Over the last year, it has thrown legal permanent residents out of the military and formed a denaturalization task force that tries to identify people who might have lied on decades-old citizenship applications.

Now, the administration appears to be taking aim at a broad group of Americans along the stretch of the border where Trump has promised to build his wall, where he directed the deployment of national guardsmen, and where the majority of cases in which children were separated from their parents during the administration's "zero tolerance" policy occurred.

The State Department would not say how many passports it has denied to people along the border because of concerns about fraudulent birth certificates. The government has also refused to provide a list of midwives who it considers to be suspicious.

Lawyers along the border say that it isn't just those delivered by midwives who are being denied. Babies delivered by Jorge Treviño, one of the regions most well-known gynecologists, are also being denied. When he died in 2015, the McAllen Monitor wrote in his obituary that Treviño had delivered 15,000 babies.

It's unclear why babies delivered by Treviño are being targeted, and the State Department did not comment on individual birth attendants. Diez, the attorney, said the government has an affidavit from an unnamed Mexican doctor who said that Treviño's office provided at least one fraudulent birth certificate for a child born in Mexico.

One of the midwives who was accused of providing fraudulent birth certificates in the 1990s admitted in an interview that in two cases she accepted money to provide fake documents. She said she helped deliver 600 babies in south Texas, many of them now being denied passports. Those birth certificates were issued by the state of Texas, with the midwife's name listed under "birth attendant."

"I know that they are suffering now, but it's out of my control," she said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of her admission.

For those who have received passport denials from the government, it affects not only their travel plans but their sense of identity as Americans.

One woman who has been denied, named Betty, said she had tried to get a passport to visit her grandfather as he was dying in Mexico. She went to a passport office in Houston, where government officials denied her request and questioned whether she had been born in the United States.

"You're getting questioned on something so fundamentally you," said Betty, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concerns about immigration enforcement.

The denials are happening at a time when Trump has been lobbying for stricter federal voter identification rules, which would presumably affect the same people who are now being denied passports — almost all of them Latino, living in a heavily Democratic sliver of Texas  

"That's where it gets scary," Diez said.

For now, passport applicants who are able to afford the legal costs are suing the federal government over their passport denials. Eventually, the applicants typically win those cases, after government attorneys raise a series of sometimes bizarre questions about their birth.

"For a while, we had attorneys asking the same question: 'Do you remember when you were born?' " Diez said. "I had to promise my clients that it wasn't a trick question."