August 15th, 2014
IJReview / By
On Friday, Governor Rick Perry was indicted by a grand jury for following through with his pledge to veto funding for prosecutors investigating government corruption.
From the Huffington Post :
A special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he promised publicly to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit, which is run by Travis County District Rosemary Lehmberg’s office. Several top aides to the Republican governor appeared before grand jurors in Austin, including his deputy chief of staff, legislative director and general counsel. Perry himself wasn’t called to testify.
He was indicted by an Austin grand jury on felony counts of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. Maximum punishment on the first charge is five to 99 years in prison. The second is two to 10 years.
Here’s the thing: Perry has been under investigation since 2013. The case against Perry , which is spearheaded by left-leaning watchdog group Texans for Public Justice, only materialized after Perry told Lehmberg that he would not provide any funding to the Public Integrity Unit unless she stepped down; she had recently served half a 45 day jail sentence for drunk driving,
The governor’s spokesperson responded by saying Perry, “exercised his constitutional veto authority through line item vetoes in the budget.”
According to the Associated Press :
Perry was indicted on charges of abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony with potential punishments of five to 99 years in prison, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony that carries a punishment of two to 10 years.
Washington politicians are presumably watching with nervousness to see if it’s actually possible to go to prison for committing a crime while in office.
August 15th, 2014
By Rebecca Shabad
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) on Thursday called on President Obama to use executive authority and declare martial law in Ferguson, Mo., where protesters have clashed with police after the shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
“My own feeling is right now is President Obama should use the authority of his office to declare martial law,” Lewis said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.” “Federalize that Missouri National Guard to protect people as they protest,”
Lewis, an icon of the 1960s civil rights movement, said it is “unreal” to see what the police are doing in Ferguson.
“People have a right to protest. They have a right to dissent. They have a right to march in an orderly peaceful nonviolent fashion,” he said. “Ferguson, Mo., is not the Congo, not China, not Russia. We can do better.”
The Ferguson Police Department is facing criticism after officers armed with military-grade weaponry on Wednesday night cracked down on protesters. The police fired tear gas into crowds and also briefly arrested two reporters from the Huffington Post and Washington Post during the crackdown.
Lewis said the police force operating there in military garb is only further inciting protests, and said the state’s National Guard should be ordered in.
Asked if Obama could unilaterally declare martial law without permission from Gov. Jay Nixon (D-Mo.), Lewis cited President Kennedy’s use of national guardsmen in the 1960s.
In 1961, Lewis said Kennedy federalized the National Guard in Montgomery, Ala., to protect the public during unrest amid the civil rights movement.
“And if it hadn't been for the National Guard, ordered there by President Kennedy, and the U.S. marshals, some of us would have died there that night,” Lewis said.
President Obama spoke about the situation just after Lewis’s interview and urged for “peace and calm” in Ferguson.
Obama made no mention about sending in National Guard troops, but did say he spoke with Gov. Nixon Thursday afternoon. Nixon said he plans to remove the local police force.
Lewis’s colleagues from the Congressional Black Caucus also released an updated statement about the violence Thursday in which one lawmaker said the current police crackdown already amounted to martial law.
“A young, unarmed man was shot by a police officer. A small town is under what is essentially martial law. Tear gas and rubber bullets are being used against everyday citizens,” said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). Serious and sweeping civil rights violations may have taken place in Ferguson, Missouri.”
Conyers said removing the St. Louis County Police Department from Ferguson is “an important step towards restoring peace and allowing for an independent, thorough investigation to take place.
“The people of Ferguson deserve nothing less,” he said.
More from the Hill
August 15th, 2014
By Tyler Durden
Escalation over the Ukraine conflict, a/k/a Cold War 2.0, just took another major step forward. Because here comes the cavalry... literally.
While the world is focused on the first deployment of US marines in Iraq in nearly a decade, as "humanitarian advisors" of course so as not to destroy the Nobel peace prize-winning aura of the US president who is rapidly becoming a warmonger on par with his predecessor, a far more dangerous development took place overnight with nobody noticing, when the Pentagon announced thatapproximately 600 soldiers from the Army’s 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division will deploy to Poland and the Baltic states to help reassure European allies who feel threatened by Russian military moves.
And while most Americans may be geographically challenged, Russians know very well that all of these countries border on Russia. As such this very demonstrative military expansion by NATO powers to "pre-contain" Russian military agression will only lead to one thing: even more "defensive" escalation.
Some more detail on the latest US dispatch of troops in the area now defined by the second coming of the Cold Warfrom Stripes.com:
The troops and their equipment — which include M-1 Abrams tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers — will go to Europe in October for a three-month series of training exercises.
The troops will originate out of Fort Hood, Texas (keep this in mind for a post later today) and will replace 600 paratroopers from the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade. "These land training exercises … help foster interoperability through small unit and leader training," Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said.
In addition to ground forces, the U.S. has also sent F-16 combat aircraft to Poland and participated in NATO air policing missions over the Baltics.
So why is the US sending military reinforcements at a time when every troop movement is scrutinized with a microscope around the globe:
The exercises came at the request of host nations that fear a resurgent Russia, which annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine earlier this year and continues to support a pro-Russia separatist movement in eastern Ukraine.
So to summarize: the countries that are most worried about Russian military aggression, those which by definition border on Russia, have decided to preempt Russia and demand additional US military presence on their territory, believing that the Kremlin will not see this US military build up as one which threatens Russia with even further NATO expansion on its borders. .
Brilliant. Why? Because recall what happened in December 2013 long before the Ukraine semi-hot proxy civil war was raging:
It seems [Putin] had a Plan B in case things escalated out of control, one that fits with what we wrote a few days ago when we reported that "Russia casually announces it will use nukes if attacked." Namely, as Bloomberg reports citing Bild, Russia quietly stationed a double-digit number of SS-26 Stone, aka Iskander, tactical, nuclear-capable short-range missiles near the Polish border in a dramatic escalation to merely verbal threats issued as recently as a year ago.
This comes from an article titled "Russia Stations Tactical, Nuclear-Capable Missiles Along Polish Border", in which we explained how Russia has done precisely this when it stationed a "double-digit" of SS-26 nuclear missiles in Kaliningrad on the border with Poland, over "concerns" what NATO encorachment close to its territory could imply.
And now, NATO appears to have decided to find out just what Russia's response to such an incremental tacticalarms build up will be.
One thing is certain: the US response to a fresh contingent of this...
... with a range of this:
Will hardly be wrapped in the tidy, media-friendly package of on ICBM build-up for "humanitarian advisory" purposes...
More from Zero Hedge
August 15th, 2014
While Congress is on recess and President Obama vacations in Martha's Vineyard, a coalition of free press groups is escalating an already-aggressive campaign against the Obama administration for allegedly freezing out the press and cracking down on reporters.
The flood of critical letters and petitions and statements from First Amendment groups marks a new level of tension in a relationship that for years has been deteriorating. Though Obama, as a candidate in 2008, was widely seen to enjoy favorable media treatment, his administration now is fielding accusations that it's one of the least transparent in history.
Society of Professional Journalists President David Cuillier, in a statement earlier this week, blasted the administration for what he called "excessive message management and preventing journalists from getting information on behalf of citizens."
SPJ is among the groups that's been leading the charge on the issue.Last month, more than three dozen groups, including SPJ, wrote to the White House about what they described as growing censorship throughout federal agencies.
Cuillier's latest statement came in response to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest's Aug. 11 letter to his organization regarding their complaints.
In it, Earnest said Obama's commitment to transparency is "unwavering." While he acknowledged "there will always be a healthy, natural tension between journalists and the White House," Earnest vowed greater transparency going forward and pointed to several steps the administration has taken: like processing more "freedom of information" requests, declassifying records and releasing information on White House visitors.
"Typical spin and response through non-response," Cuillier shot back.
He said he hopes the administration is "sincere" about being more open, "but we want action. We are tired of words and evasion."
Media groups are gearing up for another confrontation on Thursday, when they plan to present a petition with 100,000 signatures -- backed by the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Freedom of the Press Foundation and others -- to the Justice Department. It calls for the administration to halt legal action against New York Times reporter James Risen, who detailed a botched CIA effort during the Clinton administration to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Risen's reporting is at the center of criminal charges against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. Federal prosecutors want to force Risen to testify about his sources at Sterling's trial, and the Supreme Court recently refused to get involved in the case.
Risen argued he has a right to protect his sources' identity, either under the Constitution or rules governing criminal trials. A federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., earlier rejected Risen's bid to avoid being forced to testify.
At the same time federal prosecutors have fought Risen in court, Attorney General Eric Holder has suggested that the government would not seek to put Risen in jail should he refuse to testify as ordered.
But journalist groups want assurances. Risen also is expected to speak during a press conference at the National Press Club on Thursday afternoon. ...
August 14th, 2014
We have been reporting a broad increase in the burgeoning US police state for several years, now.
Arresting journalists is a thing that has been done by virtually every banana Republic and totalitarian state that has ever existed.
These journalists had their constitutionally protected 1st amendment rights absconded for reasons not readily apparent, which goes hand in hand with the regime currently in power in the US.
What we're seeing at present in Ferguson could be a backlash to this new Police State as fostered overall by Big Government.
But it also most likely speaks to an increasingly lawless populace which believes in taking things that it desires rather than working for it, due to an government enabled oppression which simply does not exist.
Overall this could be described as a 'reaping of the whirlwind' which a both lawless and duplicitous President has brought upon the American people over the prior six years, and an increasingly militarized police state as also enabled by a government mostly out of control....
UK Daily Mail
Two journalists were detained and arrested without charge or explanation inside a McDonald's after heavily armed SWAT officers stormed the fast food restaurant amid rising tensions following the death of the unarmed teen in broad daylight on Saturday.
Huffington Post justice reporter Ryan J. Reilly and Washington Post staffer Wesley Lowery both were taken into custody after describing the increasing militarization of Ferguson by the suburbs predominantly white police force as they faced off against outraged members of the suburb's African American community.
The standoff between protestors and the police followed the release of police radio chatter and 911 transcripts in the moments after Brown's controversial death and posted by the hacker collective Anonymous.
Lowery and Reilly were taken into custody by officers just before 8pm ET after armed and camouflaged police swarmed into McDonalds and demanded that patrons leave.
The sequence of events was described by the two men via Twitter after their release and incredulous colleagues posted pictures of their arrest to social media as they occurred.
According to Lowery and Reilly police told them they were closing down the McDonalds, which has become a make-shift base for reporters assigned to Ferguson since Brown was fatally shot up to eight times by an officer on Saturday.
Asked why they had to leave, the two men were told that it was for their safety because after dark the police would not be taking 911 calls to the area. The police then requested identification from Lowery and Reilly and then eventually arrested them after they lost patience with the reporters while they packed their bags and attempted to leave the McDonalds.
Washington Post reporter Lowery also took to Twitter to claim that he was assaulted by officers. 'Officers slammed me into a fountain soda machine because I was confused about which door they were asking me to walk out of,' he wrote on Twitter.
Martin D. Baron, the Post's executive editor, issued a statement saying 'here was absolutely no justification' for Lowery's arrest and said the organization was appalled by the officers' conduct.
In a statement, the Huffington Post said that their reporter 'was arrested Wednesday while covering the protests in Ferguson, Missouri surrounding the death of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown, who was shot to death by a police officer last week.
'Reilly tweeted at around 8:00 P.M. EDT that SWAT officers invaded the McDonald's at which he was working, requesting his identification after he took a photo of them,' the statement said.
'The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery was also working at the fast food restaurant.'
In an interview with MSNBC following his release, Reilly called the police officers' mentality 'extremely disturbing.'
'It was madness,' Reilly said. 'Originally the swat officers walked through, and I took a couple photos at that time. They talked to the manager... As they decided to leave, they reversed course and decided they were going to shut down the McDonalds and asked everyone to leave, asked us to begin packing up our stuff.
'Evidently I was not moving quickly enough for their liking, at which point I was given a countdown, I was told I had 45 seconds, 30 seconds, pack up all my stuff and leave, at which point the officer in question… held me back, grabbed my things and shoved them into my bag, and basically he then arrested me. He handcuffed me... he used his finger to put a pressure point on my neck.'
'He would not tell me what I was under arrest for…he was in complete SWAT gear,' Reilly continued.
'The most frustrating thing…I repeatedly asked over a dozen times for his name or ID number was never given it... The worst part was he slammed my head against the glass purposely on the way out of the McDonalds then sarcastically apologized for it.'
'It was just a terrible experience,' he continued. 'I recognize I’m in sort of a place of privilege here both as a journalist and as a white person frankly, in that evidently the police chief made the decision to not hold us. ... The mentality of the officers was extremely disturbing. They essentially acted as a military force.'
Lowery took to Twitter to write, 'Apparently, in America, in 2014, police can manhandle you, take you into custody, put you in cell & then open the door like it didn't happen.'
The two men were eventually released without charge and all attempts at asking the names of their arresting officers were rebuffed.