Nel's New Day

August 17, 2017

DOJ Warrant: ‘There Should Be an Uproar over This’

Filed under: protests — trp2011 @ 10:43 PM
Tags: , , , ,

A recent guideline to surviving an authoritarian government comes from 80 years experience in surviving Polish resistance. The first directive is “assume all communications and activities are monitored.” As the author points out, surveillance roots out dissent, builds mistrust among people, and controls the actions of the general population. It forces everyone to monitor their speech and actions as if they are being constantly watched. This scrutiny escalated after 9/11 with the PATRIOT Act, but Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is raising it to a level in the United States that people had not thought possible.

For many decades, almost all people in the nation considered voting to be a right easily achieved if they are eligible according to age and a few other requirements. With a restrictive 2005 Indiana law upheld by the Supreme Court, people began to understand that voting might be a privilege mostly for white, financially comfortable people. Over half the states, including almost the entire South, have limiting ID laws; many of them also have other laws restricting over 5 million eligible voters at the polls. DDT is now cutting down voting since his new voting commission has requested detailed voter registration information from all the states. In Colorado alone, at least 5,000 people, some of them who had actively assisted in the voting process, have deregistered because of DDT’s demand for their records. They express fear at what he will do with the information.

[Note that DDT’s response to people’s request for privacy is to ask, “What do they have to hide?” What a question from a man elected president who refuses to release his tax returns and hides everything else he can about his administration.]

With his strong support of white supremacists, DDT and his DOJ are upping the ante on dissenters against his administration, going far beyond widespread ridicule about respected journalists and media outlets. Initially, AG threatened to subpoena journalists and force them to give up their sources before grand juries in lieu of prison. Now information has been released that the DOJ is trying to collect complete information about 1.3 million visitors to an anti-DDT website, #DisruptJ20.org, on DreamHost, regarding protests on DDT’s inauguration day.

John Borchert, deputy chief of the Felony Major Crimes Trial Section of the Justice Department, signed the search warrant on July 12 seeking “evidence about individuals who participated, planned, organized or incited the January 20 riot.” DOJ is demanding “all information that might identify the subscribers…including names, addresses, telephone numbers and other identifiers, email addresses, business information…and source of payment for services including any credit card or bank account information.” DreamHost said that the DOJ wants “the time and date of the visit, the IP address for the visitor, the website pages viewed by the visitor (through their IP address), and even a detailed description of the software running on the visitor’s computer.

Regarding the DOJ warrant, ACLU stated:

“One of the core principles enshrined in the Fourth Amendment is a prohibition on general searches — meaning, the government cannot simply go fishing for a wide range of information in the hope that some kind of useful evidence will turn up.”

DreamHost refused, stating that the users’ information “could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment. That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.” The host already disclosed information relevant to the ongoing criminal investigation after 214 people were charged with vandalizing a car and breaking windows. DOJ now wants information about everyone who visited the site, however, not just the people who have broken laws. The warrant doesn’t say why or what will happen to the information on the 1.3 million visitors.

TechFreedom president Berin Szóka supports DreamHost’s refusal on the basis of the Fourth Amendment:

“The Founders outlawed general warrants precisely to prevent governments from harassing their political opponents en masse. If the DOJ can unmask over a million Internet users simply for visiting a website, without any further alleged connection to criminal activity, then no American is safe to use the Internet to access dissident speech. The fear of being unmasked — and subjected to harassment, or far worse — will chill the speech of millions more.”

Phishing for records of all visitors is comparable to getting search warrants for everyone in a city of 1.3 million if a criminal is suspected of residing there.

DDT is also accelerating his repression of dissent by increasing the severity of charges against the 214 protesters in Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day 2017 to a felony level that includes inciting rioting, conspiracy to riot, and destruction of property. For many of them, prosecutors have no more proof than their presence at the protest and their black clothing, but they will go to trial—next March. If they fight the charges in court and lose, they could be in prison for 70 to 80 years, just for breaking windows or perhaps nothing. When Wilbur Ross came back from Saudi Arabia, he marveled that they faced no protesters. The sentences of prison and death there for protesting could be replicated in the United States. At least 18 states consider 30-plus bills to curb protests by increasingly severe penalties for demonstrators.

U.S. customs and Border Protection tried to get Twitter records in March for an account that supposedly shared material from federal employees who disagree with DDT’s policies. After Twitter sued, DOJ dropped the request. A woman was tried in May because she involuntarily laughed during AG Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing. She was responding to Sen. Richard C. Shelby’s (R-AL) statement about Sessions’ record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented.” The DOJ argument was that her laugh constituted “disorderly and disruptive conduct” meant to “impede, disrupt, and disturb the orderly conduct” of Congress. Last month, a judge threw out the conviction for Desiree A. Fairooz, 61, but ordered a new trial on September 1.

Robert Mercer, the billionaire who owns Breitbart and bought the presidency for DDT, also has Cambridge Analytica, the source that has profiles of 5,000 pieces of data on about 220 million voters in the U.S. and uses the information to target them through their emotions. Basically, it’s a propaganda machine. As a communications director Andy Wigmore said, “The computer never stops learning and it never stops monitoring.” Gaining detailed information about the 1.3 million is a great addition to Analytica. These records can be used to prosecute—and persecute—anyone who opposes DDT in a highly technological redo of the Joseph McCarthy witch hunts for “political dissidents.”

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, said:

“The U.S. Supreme Court has said that forced disclosure chills speech. Visiting a website is First Amendment activity and this is quite troubling.”

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) told Sessions:

“When the government attempts to seize personal information, including email and physical addresses, for more than a million Americans who visited a website, it shows that the president is willing to use his Justice Department and the machinery of government to go after his political opponents.”

Even some Fox commentators don’t support DOJ’s actions. Judge Andrew Napolitano said talked about its “very serious constitutional problems.” He added that DOJ may have gone to a superior court for the warrant request, rather than a federal judge because “none of them would sign it.” Napolitano said, “There should be an uproar over this.”

DreamHost’s scheduled hearing tomorrow, August 18, in DC Superior Court has been postponed. Judge Robert E. Morin, who overturned Fairooz’s conviction, may be assigned the case some time in the future.

As Heather Heyer, the counter-protester killed by a neo-Nazi, said, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” We need to be outraged by the DOJ collecting information from protest websites.

There has been no mention of subpoenas for white supremacist websites setting up their violent actions in Charlottesville (VA) last weekend. Of course, The Daily Stormer has lost its domain name and access through U.S. hosts. Even Russia and China won’t give a home to its website. The group can go onto the dark Web, but not being indexed in popular search engines may cut down on recruiting–for a while.

 

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August 15, 2017

White Supremacy: The Party of Trump

Filed under: protests — trp2011 @ 11:03 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Every day, I hope that I can address something other than Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in my blog posts, but every day, he becomes more and more disgusting. When he was elected and inaugurated, well-meaning people—and others—called for time to give him a chance. Almost thirty weeks after he took over the United States, he has shown himself to be worse and worse. Today was a low point in the past 206 days. It doesn’t mean that we have hit rock bottom, but we are sinking into a giant cesspool with fecal material added every day. DDT added another general to the White House nine days ago. John Kelly (left) was supposed to bring some order and discipline surrounding DDT, but situations have only worsened in the ten days since he became DDT’s chief of staff. Today he just hung his head during DDT’s press conference today at Trump Tower, the first time that DDT has gone to this home since he was inaugurated.

After complaints about the lack of press conferences during his 200+ days, DDT has started holding them since he began his vacation at Bedminster (NJ) on August 4. As with his rallies, his responses are filled with insults and slurs before he walks out in anger when he doesn’t like the questions. Today’s meeting with reporters was supposedly about infrastructure, but DDT focused on protecting white supremacists and attacking the counter-protesters in Charlottesville last weekend when three people died and 35 were injured.

DDT had veered from his Saturday statement that blaming people “on many sides” to yesterday’s forced statement written by someone else that cited responsible groups such as the KKK and neo-Nazis. When a reporter asked him today why he waited to blame white supremacists for the violence, he unleashed his “fire and fury” in his attacks on everyone except his small white supremacist base.

In an attempt to appear presidential, he started out by saying that he didn’t blame the white supremacists on Saturday because of his natural caution—an approach that he has never taken. DDT said, “I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters.” An examination of his past reactions reveals that he never shows any “caution” if the perpetrator appears to be a member of a racial or religious minority, for example calling a robbery at a casino in the Philippines an act of terrorism.

DDT’s customary incoherence appeared when he was asked about whether he would call Heather Heyer’s death from a white supremacist who sped his car into a crowd as terrorism. He said he would call it “the fastest one to come up with a good verdict,” whatever that means.

The “alt-left” is now being used by conservatives as a pejorative term for people who support diversity, and DDT joined the white supremacists in using this term and accused them of being “very, very violent.” Conservatives hope that their new term for progressives will make it on the same level as the racist “alt-right” in their effort to shut down their protests against white supremacy.

DDT claims that within the crowd of neo-Nazis and white supremacists are “very fine people.” He said, “If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Trump said, talking about the torch-lit procession changing the Nazi “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.” He speaks as if he were actually a part of the crowd. DDT’s justification of the white supremacists’ actions is that they are protecting statues of people like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson—treasonous military leaders who declared war against the United States—with American Revolution leaders George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. He accused protesters of trying to “change history” and “change culture.”

The last question DDT took as he left the podium was whether he planned to visit Charlottesville. He said: “Do you know I own a house in Charlottesville? I own actually one of the largest wineries in the United States, that’s in Charlottesville.”

It’s all about Donald.

The morning before the press conference, DDT retweeted a violent image of a train running down a CNN reporter. Fifteen minutes later the tweet disappeared from his Twitter feed but has stayed on the internet. This act follows the death of a woman in Charlottesville Saturday morning after she was deliberately struck by a car driven by a white supremacist and after another heated exchange with CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

A senior White House official described the DDT at the press conference as a person out of control, subject to personal instincts and whims. “That was all him — this wasn’t our plan,” the official said. Another person described him as “distracted” and “irritable” in his interactions with top aides since his statement yesterday. He was angry about what he perceived as his unfair treatment, feeling that he had already given in too much to opponents, and sympathized with “protesters” who defended their “heritage.” The resignation of four CEOs from his manufacturing advisory committee only fueled his fury.

DDT has energized white supremacists. After his press conference, former KKK leader David Duke tweeted,

“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth.”

White supremacist leader Richard Spencer wrote, “Trump’s statement was fair and down to earth.”

The White House leaped to present GOP lawmakers with their talking points (aka marching orders) regarding DDT’s position on the left along with a transcript of his comments at the press conference in case they were lucky enough to miss it.

These are some of the “fine people” who DDT protects. Four white supremacists beat up 20-year-old DeAndre Harris, an instructional assistant in a special education class who called out “Go home! Leave town!” The white supremacists left him with a concussion, broken wrist, and chipped tooth. Harris is alive only because his friends saved him. The photograph is available because of one man’s bravery. One of the men pointed a 9mm pistol or a Glock semi-automatic at photographer Zach D. Roberts, but Roberts took the photo anyway. The man ran when he heard the click of the camera three feet away. The police did not help Harris, nor did it reach out to Roberts for any photos. One of the white supremacists may, however, be Michael Ramos who unsuccessfully tried to delete Facebook admissions of his beating Harris. Freelancer Chuck Modiano also videoed parts of the vicious beating.

 

Duke and Spencer may be delighted with the Charlottesville rally and DDT’s approval, but the white supremacists who attended it are less satisfied. They are amazed that they’re losing their jobs and getting death threats. Peter Cvjetanovic is confused about the photo taken as he marched and chanted with white supremacists went viral. “I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was….  I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.”

TV news hosts on regular shows are predictably jarred, but even Fox network host Kat Timpf is disgusted. “I’m still in the phase where I’m wondering if it was actually real life,” she said. https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/business/media/wow-stunned-tv-hosts-reacted-in-real-time-to-trump.html  Her co-host, Guy Benson, said that DDT “lost me” when he described the “very fine people” participating in the white supremacist rally. He said:

“They were chanting things like, ‘Jews will not replace us.’ There’s nothing good about that.”

Charles Krauthammer said, “What Trump did today was a moral disgrace.” He added that the president had broken from his predecessors who recognized the history of civil rights.

After dealing with DDT for over two years, Republican lawmakers may have figured out that he’s a racist. They have spent his first 200+ days defending his white nationalism, but the “very fine people” comment may have pushed several of them over the edge. A few Republicans such as Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT), John McCain (AZ), Marco Rubio (FL), and Cory Gardner (CO) had spoken up before today. Added to this list after today’s press conference are Sens. Jeff Flake (AZ), Rob Portman (OH), David Perdue (GA), Todd Young (IN), Susan Collins (ME), Jerry Moran (KA), Tom Tillis (NC), John Hoevan (ND), James Lankford (OK), Tim Scott (SC), and Dean Heller (NV). The acid test for all these GOP senators will be how they vote for his agenda in September.

When Republicans want votes from progressives, they brag about being the “party of Lincoln.” In 2017 they have become “the party of Trump.”

August 14, 2017

Republicans, DDT Responsible for White Supremacy

At least one person was killed and 35 others were injured in Charlottesville (VA) last weekend in a protest against a white nationalist (aka supremacist) rally. Fringe far-right groups had called for “Unite the Right” in reaction to the proposed removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, and people came from throughout the country. Far-right group members carried assault rifles and wore paramilitary clothing; some had large shields, helmets, and gas masks. The collection of neo-Nazis, KKK, and other rightwing organizations, once considered the fringe, focused on racial, religious, and LGBTQ minorities. Chants included “White lives matter,” “Jew will not replace us,” “Blood and soil” (a Nazi slogan describing the bond between Aryan people and German land), and “Fuck you, faggots.” Their heroes are the treasonous people who declared war against the United States.

Counter-protesters had gathered on a side street when the Dodge rammed them and then backed up to injure others. The death of Heather Heyer, 32, and injuries of nineteen other people came from a car that sped up and drove into the helpless crowd, in an attack identical to the federal government definition of terrorism of vehicles as weapons against innocent people. The car’s driver, 20-year-old James Alex Fields, was “infatuated” with Adolf Hitler and Nazism in high school, according to his former history teacher, Derek Weimer. He was dropped from basic training two years ago “due to a failure to meet training standards” according to an Army spokeswoman. Fields was photographed holding a Vanguard America shield and wearing their uniform, but the hate-group organization disavowed him as a member. Dillon Ulysses Hopper, self-identified “CEO,” was a Marine for over a decade, leaving last January, and a recruiter for three of those years. Vanguard describes itself as a “white identitarian political movement” with only members “of at least 80% White/European heritage,” straight, non-felons, and non- sexual degenerates. It uses the Nazi slogan “Blood and Soil” and stresses that “the glory of the Aryan nation must be recaptured” in the United States, free of Jewish influence.

Two state troopers were killed in a helicopter crash on their way to help law enforcement. Saturday’s event was the third time that “alt-right” groups came to the city after the city council voted in May to sell Lee’s statue and rename Lee and Jackson parks. White supremacist Richard Spencer led dozens of torch-wielding demonstrators on May 13 in a rally resembling those of the KKK. Although several statues of Confederate leaders have been removed, over 700 Confederate monuments remain to commemorate the war against the United States.

David Duke, former KKK leader, celebrated the rally:

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”

Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer expressed the opinion of tens of millions of people in the nation when he blamed the developing racism and White Nationalism on Dictator Donald Trump (DDT):

“I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in America today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president.”

DDT avoided tweeting about the tragedy for several hours, only making a statement after his wife, Melania, made her sixth tweet since DDT’s inauguration. (Unfortunately, she copied former First Lady Michelle Obama—again.) Even then, DDT did not reference Charlottesville; his tweet was generic “come together as one” and “Charlottesville sad!” Later he made a statement in which he blamed everyone:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides—on many sides.”

White supremacists were delighted with DDT’s statement and the fact that he ignored a question about white supremacists. Commenters on the white nationalist message board Stormfront praised DDT, stating that DDT’s comments could also be a criticism of Black Lives Matter.

DDT was warned of increasing white extremism three months ago but only dropped terrorism by whites from his domestic terrorism funding. According to an FBI report, white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016…more than any other domestic extremist movement.” His initial refusal to address the specific problem in Charlottesville and his silence on the bombing of a Minnesota mosque is in direct contrast to his insistence that “radical Islamic terrorism” will flourish until political leaders name the conflict. He also refused to answer a question about whether the violence could be called terrorism.

Signer pointed out DDT’s support for white supremacists:

“Look at the campaign he ran. Look at the intentional courting, both on the one hand of all these white supremacist, white nationalist groups, anti-semitic groups; and then look on the other hand, the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence, put to bed all those different efforts, just like we saw yesterday.”

Two days before the white supremacist march on Charlottesville, Sinclair Broadcasting Group mandated that their outlets show a piece by Mark Hyman that compared the removal of Confederate statues, described as “heroes,” to the Taliban blowing up the 2000-year-old “Buddha of Bamiyan” statues in Afghanistan. Sinclair already owns or operates 173 stations, including such major stations as KOMO in Seattle and KATU in Portland (OR), and hopes to acquire another 60.  Already the nation’s largest television station operator, the acquisitions would give the far-right media company access to 72 percent of the country’s population.

DDT didn’t release his feeble condemnation for white supremacist groups for 48 hours—after the conservative polling company Gallup showed a drop in his approval ratings to 34 percent. A large number of people in the nation thought it was too little, too late. Three CEOs on his manufacturing business council agreed and resigned: Merck’s Ken Frazier, Under Armour’s Kevin Plank, and Intel’s Brian Krzanich. Elon Musk (Tesla) had quit earlier after DDT rejected the Paris Agreement. DDT attacked only the black CEO in his tweet.

Always trying to distract, DDT tweeted today, “The Obstructionist Democrats have given us (or not fixed) some of the worst trade deals in World History. I am changing that fast!” He also insinuated that he might pardon former sheriff in Arizona, Joe Arpaio, convicted of disregarding a state judge’s order to stop anti-immigrant traffic patrols. DDT called the racist Arpaio a “great American patriot,” perhaps not a good move considering his racist approach to last weekend’s events.

Some GOP congressional members did openly disagree with DDT’s Saturday statement about the travesty:

“Mr. President, we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”—Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)

“Very important for the nation to hear [President Trump] describe events in Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by white supremacists.”—Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL))

“We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”–Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

“What ‘White Nationalists’ are doing in Charlottesville is homegrown terrorism that can’t be tolerated anymore that what any extremist does.”—Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

David Duke responded:

“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

He’s right: the GOP fed the needs of white supremacists to get their votes. Carol Anderson, Professor of African American Studies at Emory University, has a brilliant article on how conservatives have gotten hooked on the addiction to the drug of white supremacy that all should read.

Some well-meaning progressives are calling for protesters to not confront white supremacists in their rallies by holding separate events, but they fail to remember that peaceful protesters against racism have been approached by white supremacists and attacked. Protests against white supremacists are ratcheting up. In Durham (NC), 170 miles south of Charlottesville, people pulled down a monument celebrating soldiers who attacked the United States during the Civil War, and Jim Gray, mayor of Lexington (KY), said he will remove two Confederate monuments. Officials in Tennessee and Maryland are also calling for the removal of Confederate monuments.

Marchers may have thought they were anonymous, but the torches lighted their faces for hundreds of photographs that have spread across the nation. Some of them have already lost jobs, school placements, and, in some cases, their families. The vicious slurs from The Daily Stormer toward the murdered woman also led to the website losing its provider, GoDaddy. Google has rejected the Stormer’s application.

Because of DDT and the GOP, people in the U.S. daily struggle against white nationalists. DDT is the leader of the GOP, and he promoted the takeover of the GOP by white supremacists. He started his racist campaign against President Obama with the birther movement and shared neo-Nazi imagery and memes on his campaign tweets. The endorsement of white supremacy continued with his hire of personal advisers Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, and Stephen Miller. DDT’s pick for attorney general blocks reproductive rights for women, claims affirmative action only for whites, increases laws against cannabis to put more blacks in prison, and deports only undocumented immigrants who are racial minorities. DDT’s administration wants only fear and division. People in the United States no longer feel safe because of the growing white supremacist domination.

March 7, 2017

Wear Red!

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. Yesterday, the Senate voted to remove President Obama’s executive order Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces. Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. With a party line of 49 to 48, three senators didn’t vote: Flake (AZ), Isakson, (GA), and Sullivan (AK). Five women—Capito (WV), Collins (ME), Ernst (IA), Fischer (NE), and Murkowski (AK)—voted against women’s rights. Recently, Kellyanne Conway, Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) counselor, said that feminists hate powerful women. She’s wrong: feminists hate the actions of powerful women in keeping all women from having rights.

Companies bidding on federal contracts worth $500,000 or more will not need to disclose their history of federal labor or civil rights laws violations of workplace safety, minimum wages, and overtime laws. Companies with contracts of $1 million of over can force employees into arbitration for claims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other discrimination. Wrongdoings can’t be publicized by keeping the claims out of court and refusing to allow employees to tell anyone else, even in the case of sexual harassment and assault. Workers reporting discrimination or harassment are sent to private proceedings arbitrated by people chosen and paid for by employers. Proceedings, filings, and decisions are secret.

The GOP repeal of President Obama’s regulations guarantees that workers, especially women who are in the majority of low-wage jobs, lose their “day in court” just by taking a job. People cannot regain their rights until Congress passes a law to reinstate their protections.

A report from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) shows what women have lost.

Action: Call your senator (202-224-3121) and say either thank you for voting against the bill—as I will in Oregon—or say that you are disappointed because the senator voted for H.J. Res. 37 that significantly harms victims of sexual harassment and workers.  

Other activities: Women are striking, but 9thers cannot because they can lose their jobs, cause serious problems for others, or suffer abuse in their own homes. Simple protests are not spending money except at small, women- and minority-owned businesses. Another action of solidarity for A Day without a Woman is to wear red.  

Male allies can care for children, do housework, and talk with workplace decisionmakers about family-friendly policies such as paid leave or flexible scheduling.

Yesterday Republicans unrolled its new repeal attack on the Affordable Care Act that includes defunding Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of reproductive health services in the nation annually serving 2.5 million women, men, and adolescents at its 650 health center. Nearly 80% of these people had incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level and prevents an estimated 579,000 unintended pregnancies each year. In 2016, 26% of patients at a Planned Parenthood site said it was the only place they could go for the services they required. Abortions comprise only three percent of its services, and taxpayer money pays for absolutely none of these. Videos used by Republicans in their attacks on Planned Parenthood were proved to be bogus, and even VP Mike Pence couldn’t find any wrongdoing in his state of Indiana.

Defunding” is a misnomer because Planned Parenthood gets paid for its work. The only month that the organization receives is reimbursement for non-abortion health services such as birth control, Pap smears, breast exams, and STI tests, through Medicaid and the Title X family planning program. The bill only prevents Medicaid from working with Planned Parenthood. People could no longer choose Planned Parenthood for health care. Their clinics work like very other health care provider, including hospitals in obtaining reimbursement. People would no longer be allowed to choose Planned Parenthood as a health care provider. In many cases, Planned Parenthood doesn’t receive reimbursements for all the costs of their services.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) lied when he said that there are 20 federal community health centers for every Planned Parenthood. This would only be true by counting every dentists’ offices, homeless shelters, food banks, mental health clinics and cosmetic surgeons as “community health services.” The truth is that only qualified health centers number only one-third of Planned Parenthood clinics, and the wait is twice the time–a death sentence for the need for immediate care.

Doubters need to know that Resistance does work, no matter how small. Andrew Puzder, a major violator in sexual harassment, discrimination, and wage violations, won’t be labor secretary. Women who protested the loss of their health care at town hall meetings made GOP members of Congress so nervous that seven Republican senators are no longer strong supporters of repealing health care. One North Carolina school district need to cancel classes for tomorrow because of female teachers’ plans to strike.

The reason for a strike on International Women’s Day is to show how much women contribute to the work force. Visibility makes a huge difference, as shown by the women’s marches, estimated at almost four million people, on the day after DDT’s inauguration.

Actions on International Women’s Day are taking place around the world, for example one in London on budget day. The English movement has adopted the broom as a symbol because together the bristles are strong. Nina Lopez, a coordinator for the Global Women’s Strike, said:

“International Women’s Day feels very different this year. Women are spearheading a global movement for change–this is feminism of the 99%. It’s not just about breaking through the glass ceiling or getting in the boardroom, it’s about recognizing the value of caring and unpaid work. Women throughout the world are doing double the work [of men] because the majority do the work of the home, yet they are still being paid less. That has to end.”

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is closing the Tower Bridge for the women’s march because, he said, it is “unacceptable that in 2017 in London, the most progressive city in the world, your gender can still determine how much you get paid.” He encouraged men and boys to join the march.

Men, in case you think that tomorrow is a sexist event, you have an International Men’s Day on November 19. I’m curious what missing rights you would want.

Some people object to strikes, boycotts, or other actions that aren’t “ladylike.” A letter to an Oregon newspaper objected to “pussy hats” but didn’t protest DDT’s blatant comments about “grabbing [women] by the pussy.” Without protests, however, women’s work is largely invisible and women’s rights are non-existent. In the home, women have more chores and child care duties than men, and at work women are more likely to have tasks that men don’t want to do. Women get paid less or nothing for their extra efforts while their work is taken for granted. A popular book a few years ago was Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, purporting to show how women can gain ground. Most women who “lean in,” however, just get fired from their jobs. Significant social change doesn’t come without protests—and that includes strikes and boycotts.

Women in the United States by the numbers:

  • 59 countries have had female presidents or prime ministers in the past century, but not the United States.
  • 20 percent of the seats in Congress are held by women, compared to 30 percent in Europe.
  • 10 percent of U.S. mutual fund managers are female, compared to 20 percent elsewhere.
  • 19 percent of women in the U.S. are self-made, compared to 50 percent in Asia.
  • 1 year ago the U.S. Army denied burial rights at Arlington National Cemetery to female World War II pilots because they had never been true soldiers. A second act of Congress was required to restore their rights—again.

In response to DDT’s boast about sexually assaulting women with impunity, Michelle Obama said:

“It reminds us of stories we heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how . . . even though they worked so hard, jumped over every hurdle to prove themselves, it was never enough.”

In the last presidential election, 53 percent of white women voted for DDT and many of them supported Republicans. They are now amazed that the GOP plans to take away their health insurance. It’s time for women to wake up and see what they are losing by voting for people who promise to take away women’s rights.

International Women’s Day Message: Wear red, down tools, and buy local.

March 2, 2017

Resist!

Filed under: protests — trp2011 @ 9:12 PM
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“Protests don’t do any good.” That’s what a progressive friend of mine said yesterday. I launched into my monologue, including the protests against the Vietnam War and for civil rights which we’re both old enough to remember. By the time I finished, he agreed with me—although perhaps out of exhaustion. Earlier this week, “hundreds” of Trump supporters gathered across the country but failed to display much energy. At the same time, the Resistance Movement is overwhelming the nation.

Unlike the Vietnam War protesting, this activism is not around a single issue. The “women’s march” was about far more than women; it showed how all of us need to come together to fight back against the authoritarian regime from the federal government. Everyone needs to know that we are not alone while we are all at risk.

A question after that first march on January 21 was what would happen after the event that went around the world. The outrage demonstrated by hundreds of thousands of people is vital, and retention of that energy is crucial. While conservatives tell protesters to “get over it,” something they never did with Barack Obama, and others call for compromise, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has shown that there is no benefit in conciliation because Republicans consistently prove that they will settle only for their own way, always refusing to cooperate. They have zero interest in democracy.

One benefit for protesters is that DDT has made radical promises about finding jobs for people that he cannot possibly fulfill. The unemployment rate is down to 4.6 percent—in my state of Oregon, the lowest in 50 years at 4.3 percent. Another problem for conservatives is the false claim that GOPcare will give a better deal to people than “Obamacare,” which now enjoys a 54 percent approval rating. DDT supporters will have less money after the tax “reform” gives away the money only to the wealthy. Others will lose Social Security and Medicare if congressional Republicans get their way.

Until these disasters come to fruition, however, the United States is already on its way to an autocracy, Paul Krugman’s polite term for dictatorship, and our only path is fighting back:

“A crucial part of the story is that the emerging autocracy uses the power of the state to intimidate and co-opt civil society—institutions outside the government proper. The media are bullied and bribed into becoming de facto propaganda organs of the ruling clique. Businesses are pressured to reward the clique’s friends and punish its enemies. Independent public figures are pushed into collaboration or silence. Sound familiar?”

A great beginning was Indivisible, the grass roots movement that started with a guide to protesting. The presence of these people was noticeable whenever the Pledge of Allegiance was recited at the town hall meetings during the congressional recess as the crowd emphasized the word in “one nation indivisible.”

Michael Moore also has a “ten-step program” to rally people that echoes much of the Indivisible document. His first directive is calling Congress—every day! Dial 202-225-3121 (or 202-224-3121 if busy). Or directly call senators and representatives. There’s even an app called “5 Calls” that directly dials numbers. Make it part of your daily routine, Moore writes, just after waking up, brushing teeth, walking dog or staring at cat, and making coffee. Members of Congress are commenting on the number of calls they are receiving. Sen. Angus King (I-ME) said that he received 20,000 in one week instead of the normal 2,500.

Item #9 is even easier for people who hate to make telephone calls. With the current DDT obsession on suppressing the media, do it yourself. Moore suggests that everyone establish their own “media empire” by sharing progressive articles on all their social media. Some of my favorite outlets are americanprogress.org (including thinkprogress.org), alternet.org, dailykos.com, truthout.org, readersupportednews.org, reprohealthwatch.org, and msnbc.com/maddowblog. You probably have other favorites.

The last item on Moore’s list feeds into DDT’s terror of being ridiculed. Share humor with people—all those clips from SNL, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, Andy Borowitz, and your other favorites. Those of you think that mocking the president is not fair need to consider his greed, misogyny, bigotry, narcissism, authoritarianism, and ignorance that should remove his right to lead the nation.

Follow your congressional members by subscribing to these sites.

  • FiveThirtyEight, the respected blog that crunches political numbers for analyses of politics and economics, has the Trump Score to show how individual members of Congress compare to DDT’s positions. It’s a start.
  • GovTrack has more detailed information and provides alerts on individual congressional members’ votes and updates on bills that they sponsor. It’s a good way to look at voting records and follow bills and committees.
  • Countable gives pro and con positions about specific bills and stances from political organizations about specific issues.

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, suggests boycotting retailers that carry Trump products as an act of protest. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus have dropped Trump items, and Macy’s, which dropped DDT products, is now being pressured to eliminate the Ivanka Trump line. Activism caused Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, to resign from DDT’s economic counsel. This website contains telephone numbers for Trump-carrying businesses to call about dropping your purchasing power.

Immediately after DDT was inaugurated, people trying to call the White House comment line found it disconnected, but it seems to be operating now between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm EST at 202-456-1111. When it was not operating, White House Inc., created by Revolution Messaging, began connecting people to DDT’s businesses. The person may ask about making reservations or setting up a tee time, but you can still ask for management and talk about the issues.

DDT and the Republicans legislators claim that they have sworn off regulations, but they will certainly create ones that make lives worse. At this time, everyone can comment on proposed rules. After laws are passed, executive agencies can fill in the details within the boundaries of the law. These regulations must be shared with the public before public adoption in a comment period.

The first step is to go to the list of proposed regulations. For example, one of the ones listed is called “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Market Stabilization.” Reading the draft rules shows that the government wants to reduce open enrollment for the ACA from two months to two weeks—November 1 to December 15. The end of the comment period for this proposed regulation is March 6, 2017. There are directions on how to comment.

Some organizations, for example the Sierra Club, have pages for its supporters to submit public comments on issues of their concern; signing up for email lists from the organizations that champion your causes is useful. This process goes beyond signing petitions because your comments must be reviewed. The most useful comments are those that provide facts, analyses, and impacts, and the number of voices always matters.

folding-chair

Why do protests make a difference? They make causes more visible, demonstrate power, give a sense of unity, build relationships, and provide a sense of energy and hope. If protests didn’t work, conservatives wouldn’t bother trying to make them illegal in at least 18 states. No significant social progress has ever occurred without protests. The most amazing part of Michael Moore’s ten steps is the Resistance Calendar with daily protest postings—almost 20 for just today, March 2. As Shirley Chisholm said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.” Pick up your folding chair and join the resistance!

December 4, 2016

Victory at Standing Rock

CANNON BALL, ND - DECEMBER 04: Fireworks fill the night sky above Oceti Sakowin Camp as activists celebrate after learning an easement had been denied for the Dakota Access Pipeline near the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The US Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it will not grant an easement to the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under a lake on the Sioux Tribes Standing Rock reservation, ending a months-long standoff. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CANNON BALL, ND – DECEMBER 04: Fireworks fill the night sky above Oceti Sakowin Camp as activists celebrate after learning an easement had been denied for the Dakota Access Pipeline near the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Protesters across the United States celebrated today after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would “explore alternate routes” for the Dakota Access Pipeline instead of granting an easement for the pipeline. Over 2,000 U.S. military veterans had joined the thousands of protesters at the site to protect them from the authorities, and federal officials had given them until tomorrow to leave the site.

Native American tribes began last April to block the part of the current 1,172-mile-long pipeline’s $3.8 billion project designed to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota at the confluence of the Missouri and the Cannonball rivers because it threatened the water supply, damaged sacred sites, and violated federal law and tribal treaties with the U.S. “Oahe” means “a place to stand on” in the Dakota language. Pipeline opponents argued in court that the pipeline “crosses areas of great historical and cultural significance” and “crosses waters of utmost cultural, spiritual, ecological, and economic significance.” Sally Jewell, Secretary for the Interior, said that the government will conduct “an in-depth evaluation of alternative routes for the pipeline and a closer look at potential impacts” and “underscore that tribal rights reserved in treaties and federal law, as well as Nation-to-Nation consultation with tribal leaders, are essential components of the analysis to be undertaken in the environmental impact statement going forward.”

dakota-pipeline-map

The small protest that started eight months ago developed into a standoff after the Standing Rock Tribe was supported with hundreds of tribes and joined by thousands of celebrities and activists from around the country throughout the sweltering summer into the freezing winter weather. Police departments from 24 counties and 16 cities—as far away as 1,500—have sent law enforcement officers to Standing Rock, using the 1996 Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) as an excuse that it fits the category of “community disorders, insurgency, or enemy attack.” North Dakota taxpayers will be required to pay for all these out-of-state officers, including their wages, overtime costs, meals, lodging, and mileage reimbursement. The state already has a $1 billion revenue shortfall for the current year, and law enforcement costs were up to $10.9 million as of November 22. Morton County had spent another $8 million, and local courts and jails were on the hook for 575 arrests.

Arrested demonstrators, called “water protectors,” report having been strip searched and detained in dog kennels. Police set dogs on the protesters. Last week local law enforcement announced fines of up to $1,000 to vehicles delivering supplies to the Standing Rock encampments.

Police commonly use water cannons, rubber bullets, and pepper spray. By mid-November, their treatment of the protesters so accelerated that the police are now being sued by protesters. Police shot streams of icy water in the freezing temperatures and fired tear gas and rubber bullets against the demonstrators for six hours. Water froze to people’s bodies, and 300 people were treated for injuries. Twenty-six of them were taken to hospitals.

Police took this action after pipeline opponents tried to remove two burned military vehicles from a bridge so that they could get supplies and emergency medical services from Bismarck. Law enforcement denied that they had water cannons, claiming that they used a “fire hose” to spray “more as a mist” but not “directly on them” in order “to help keep everybody safe.” A medic saw the police “hosing people down with their water cannon that continued for the entirety of the four hours I was out there watching.” He added that they flushed the eyes of people sprayed with tear gas with water and milk of magnesia that turned to black ice on the ground. Medics also reported that the demonstrators were unarmed and largely nonviolent.

Rubber bullets fired at demonstrators caused one elder to lose consciousness, another man to experience a seizure, and a woman to have her eye injured. Sophia Wilansky, 21, underwent surgery after her arm was severely injured by a concussion grenade. Her father said that she will need multiple surgeries to regain use of her arm and hand because “all of the muscle and soft tissue between her elbow and wrist were blown away,” he said. “She will be, every day for the foreseeable future, fearful of losing her arm and hand.”

The police denied using grenades and accused the protesters of having explosives. Eyewitnesses including medics, however, “watched police intentionally throw concussion grenades at unarmed people” and said that evidence of these grenades was “the lack of charring of flesh at the wound site, and by the grenade pieces that have been removed from her arm in surgery and will be saved for legal proceedings.” Black Elk—resident of the reservation, an ethnobotanist, and instructor at the local college, said that police reactions to protest became “progressively more militant, more violent.”

Another method of intimidation against protesters has been to arrest them on bogus charges and then refuse them public defenders for “pretty mundane administrative mistakes,” according to a local attorney. For example, one man was rejected a public defender because he wrote “none” instead of “0” to a question regarding how many cars he owned. In October, a judge dismissed  riot charges against journalist Amy Goodman, who had filmed a confrontation between protesters and pipeline security officers. At least 130 demonstrators have had charges dropped due to lack of evidence, indicating that prosecutors are more interested in intimidating activists than securing convictions and signaling the “unprecedented” nature of Morton County pursuing baseless cases.

dakota-pipeline-oceti-sakowin-camp

The federal government has claimed ownership of the land where Oceti Sakowin camp (above) sits, but that land is within the area of the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty, which designated land for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. In 1889, Congress divided the Great Sioux Reservation into six separate, smaller reservations and forced the tribes onto smaller parcels of land. Yet terms of treaties are not removed until officially repealed by Congress, and the Supreme Court has ruled that subsequent treaties do not do away with an earlier treaty unless the new treaty specifically addresses and removes the terms of the older treaty.

Interactions between Native American tribes and police are too often violent throughout the rest of the nation. Although these tribes are sovereign nations, 70 percent of them are under the legal authority of police and sheriff’s departments from nearby non-tribal communities. Indians alternate with blacks to have the highest rates of deaths by law enforcement, and these deaths are undercounted for a variety of reasons.

The continued stoppage for the project is at risk because Donald Trump (DT), planning for his presidential inauguration on January 20, 2017, says he will support pipelines like this one. Kelcy Warren, the chief executive of the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners, donated at least $103,000 to DT’s campaign. DT has said that he sold his shares worth $500,000 and $1 million in Energy Transfer Partners, but there has been no proof that he did this. He also owns $100,000 to $250,000 of stock in Phillips 66 that has a 25 percent stake in the Dakota Access project. Bruce Gali, a 67-year-old member of the Pitt River Tribe, said that it wasn’t the end until “all the razor wire comes down, until the helicopters stop flying overhead, the spotlights turn off, the drill pad is dismantled.”

Once again, the media showed its bias when it ignored the protests by the water protectors at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Despite it being “the longest-running protest in modern history” with “the largest, most diverse tribal action in at least a century, perhaps since Little Bighorn.” Despite the thousands of U.S. veterans who came to protect the water protectors. Despite the accelerating police militancy. From October 26 through November 3, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC combined spent less than an hour describing the demonstrations and violent law enforcement. In this time period, Fox network spent 4.5 minutes. Sunday “news” shows have ignored the events there since September. The few remaining progressive hosts on MSNBC did cover some of the events at Standing Rock, and Joy Reid invited a member of the tribe to be interviewed for her show—the first and only time that the “mainstream” media did this.

For the time being, however, there is victory at Standing Rock. We’ll see how the media treats this event.

September 20, 2016

Kaepernick Starts New Movement, Creates Dialog about Entitlement

I hate writing headlines. Long ago, as a journalism teacher, I learned that they needed verbs and should never use a form of the verb “to be.” But how to encapsulate almost 1,500 words into fewer than ten–almost impossible for me. This blog is about racism, sexism, peaceful protest, white entitlement, a new movement–and more. Here goes!

Colin Kaepernick has started a movement. In only three weeks since the San Francisco 49ers quarterback sat during the playing of the national anthem before a football game, professional athletes have been joined by athletes in colleges, high schools, and youth leagues throughout the nation to protest against the injustice for people of color and LGBT people in the United States. Instead of remaining seated, however, protesters are kneeling to show respect for the anthem and military while drawing attention to racial inequality and police brutality. The photo below is of Kaepernick and Eric Reid before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte (NC).

colin-kaepernick

The most recent protest came from four players on the Philadelphia Eagles who raised their fists during the anthem after Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man with raised hands, was shot and killed by Tulsa (OK) police officers. At least 15 black men have been killed by police since Kaepernick began his protest on August 26.

Death threats have been sent to youth as young as 11 years old, and professional players have lost endorsements. Ohio’s high school athlete, Rodney Axson, decided to join the protest after he heard his teammates refer to players on the opposing team with the “n-word.” Since then, he has been the brunt of this term as well as a message that reads “Lets Lynch Ni—gers.” The school now plays the anthem while the team remains in the locker room. The same thing happened after lesbian Megan Rapinoe, Seattle Reign’s professional soccer star, knelt during the national anthem.

Lincoln (NE) Southeast High School student Sterling Smith explained his kneeling:

“I’ve learned that walking in the ‘wrong neighborhood’ past 10:00 o’clock wearing colored skin can get you questioned by the police because you clearly have ulterior motives. I’ve learned that blatant racism is only humor and that I need to ‘not take it so seriously.’ I’ve learned that going to a store will get you followed by employees because obviously your intentions are to steal.”

Donald Trump led the hatred toward a man who conservatives call “unpatriotic,” and NFL executives have unleashed their anger, one of them going as far as to call him a “traitor.” The flag is sacred to these people while women are disposable as shown by Darren Sharper’s nomination to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Less a month ago, he was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison as a serial rapist after pleading guilty in May 2015 for drugging and raping women in four different states as well as pleading guilty or no contest to rape or attempted rape charges involving nine women. Sharper also has other pending cases, including those in state courts. Asked about the nomination, a Hall of Fame said that it’s not about “character.” And Sharper always stood for the national anthem.

David Brooks’ column criticizing athletes for kneeling in protest goes beyond absurd as he revises history to persuade athletes to stand instead of kneel. He describes America’s “civil religion” in 1776 being based on the “moral premise—that all men are created equal.” The omission of women is correct because women still aren’t equal, but the only “equal” men in 1776 were the white landowners. Blacks were considered three-fifths of the other white men as determined in the U.S. Constitution and white men who didn’t own property couldn’t vote. An attempted justification for the clause (Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution of 1787) explains that only enslaved blacks were three-fifths of white people, but this clause remained in the U.S. Constitution until the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments passed almost 100 years later after the Civil War.

Brooks continues his history piece by explaining that this “promised land” is “a place where your family or country of origin would have no bearing on your opportunities.” The entitled white man producing this elegant rhetoric couldn’t be more wrong, and the facts are the reason behind the protests. Yet Brooks attempts to educate protesters that their belief comes from colleges’ not requiring U.S. history—the same high school class that has been co-opted by revisionist historians who want to conceal any bigotry or genocide in our “promised land.”

Another criticism from Brooks is that the number of people in the U.S. who feel “extremely proud” of the nation has fallen since 2003. That was the year of George W. Bush’s preemptive war on Iraq and the acceleration to move the country’s assets from the poor and middle-class workers to the wealthy coupon-clippers. One issue in which he might be right is that “we have a crisis of solidarity.” Unlike Brooks’ impression that the “solidarity” can come from standing instead of kneeling during the national anthem, however, it could come from a cultural shift away from Brooks white entitlement encouraged by Donald Trump’s support of white supremacy.

Missing from Brooks’ pap is that the protest comes from the verse of the anthem that “celebrates the killing of freed slaves who fought against a U.S. government that had kept them in bondage,” as journalist Adam Johnson wrote. Johnson also pointed out that the NFL started the standing for the national anthem in 2009 as the NFL got much more money from the Defense Department instead of being “passed down generation after generation,” as Brooks claims in his column.

Jim Aloisi wrote this statement—and much more—about David Brooks’ column:

“We don’t need the salve of fiction or myth to bring us together as Americans. What we need is a good dose of honesty about our past and our present, an honest conversation leavened and facilitated by civility. The last thing we need is repression of deeply felt emotions that lead to the kind of silent statements being made on sports fields across the nation. If Americans stand in solidarity for anything, it ought to be respect for the exercise of free speech and expression. In this instance, respect for the exercise of that freedom ought to be joined by a candid respect for our history, and a frank acknowledgment of conditions that today still cause many of our citizens to be treated unequally. If we get that right, solidarity will follow.”

Other white conservatives also trash Kaepernick. Columnist Jonah Goldberg thinks that politics has no place in sports. Wayne Newton said that Kaepernick should “get the hell out” if he doesn’t like racism. Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, and others claim that Kaepernick’s wealth takes away his right to protest racism. People angry about street violence in protest to racial inequality also oppose peaceful protests.

Some treat the protest as an isolated event in sports, but Leonard Pitts wrote about Jackie Robinson long ago writing, “I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.” As Pitts wrote, protest in the United States “is an act of faith, an expression of the belief that a country founded on that great, self-evident truth can do—and be—better.”

The biggest accusation toward Kaepernick is that he is “un-American” for his actions—always a device to shut people up. (Think of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s committee on “Un-American Activities.”) Calling Kaepernick “a noble and courageous man,” Harry Belafonte said:

“To mute the slave has always been to the best interests of the slave owner … When a black voice is raised in protest to oppression, those who are comfortable with our oppression are the first to criticize us for daring to speak out against it.”

The day after Kaepernick made his first statement about his protest, a black GI started #VeteransForKaepernick to answer complaints about the football player’s disrespect of veterans and soldiers. Answers showed their discontent with U.S. actions—police brutality toward black GIs, lack of treatment for those who return home with physical and mental trauma, homeless, lack of jobs, suicide, etc.

Women who want to protest the nomination of Darren Sharper to the Hall of Fame can sign this petition to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell.

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