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  1. #61
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    US targets anti-Trump activists' Facebook accounts

    The warrants seek information from three accounts related to the massive Inauguration Day protests in February.

    Two weeks ago, Lacy MacAuley was shocked when she opened her email inbox to find a message informing her that the US Department of Justice had served a warrant to Facebook to access her personal account.

    "I had heard that Facebook was fighting some warrants, but I certainly didn't give it much thought," recalled MacAuley, a Washington, DC-based activist and prominent anti-fascist.

    "I didn't expect that email," she told Al Jazeera by telephone.

    Three warrants were served that demand Facebook provide the US government with all information from the accounts of two activists and a page affiliated with massive protests against right-wing President Donald Trump's inauguration on January 20.

    The requested information includes the entirety of photos, videos, posts, private messages, video calls, billing information and other data between November 1, 2016, and February 9.

    The other two warrants target activist Legba Carrefour and the "Disrupt J20" page, which has since been renamed "Resist This".

    MacAuley and Carrefour had been protest spokespersons leading up to the inauguration, and the Disrupt J20 page was a digital space where visitors discussed and organised demonstrations.

    If successful, the warrant for Disrupt J20 could result in some 6,000 visitors to that page having their names and public and private activity on and with the page passed on to the government.

    Facebook was barred from informing its users that the DOJ was seeking their online information for seven months. Government lawyers dropped the gag order in mid-September.


    Rights groups have decried the warrants as a "fishing expedition" aimed at creating a database of information on activists who oppose Trump's administration.

    MacAuley says the warrants are "clearly politically motivated", describing the government's efforts as unnecessary invasions of their privacy.

    "The government doesn't need to see all the details of my private life," she argued. "[US Attorney General] Jeff Sessions doesn't need to see my family photos, information about my romantic partner and details about my surviving intimate [violence]."

    Contacted by Al Jazeera, the DOJ and the US Attorney's Office District of Columbia both declined to comment on this story.

    'Prosecutorial overreach'

    Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union's DC chapter (ACLU-DC) filed a motion in court asking for the warrants to be thrown out.

    MacAuley, Carrefour and Emmelia Talarico, who administered the Disrupt J20 page, are being represented by the ACLU-DC.

    Scott Michelman, a senior lawyer at the ACLU-DC, described the warrants as "a serious case of prosecutorial overreach".

    "This is a deep invasion of privacy and it's unconstitutional," he told Al Jazeera.

    "It's a fishing expedition," Michelman said. "Perhaps what's most chilling is that they permit these activists to be investigated by the very administration they are protesting."

    The warrants are linked to demonstrations that resulted in the mass arrest of more than 230 people who were at an anti-fascist bloc march during Trump's inauguration.

    MacAuley, Carrefour and Talarico were not among those arrested.

    During that march, anti-fascists made their way through the capital's streets. Some of them smashed windows and spray-painted graffiti on walls and vehicles.


    Police clashed with them, using rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and pepper spray.

    The majority of the more than 230 arrestees were handed a slew of felony charges, most of which are related to rioting and property damage, that could land them behind bars for upwards of 70 years.

    Among those arrested were protesters, legal observers, medics and bystanders. Although many later had the charges dropped and others reached plea deals with the government, 194 are still facing the charges.

    Several rights groups accused the police of using excessive force and carrying out indiscriminate arrests during the incident.

    In June, the ACLU-DC filed a lawsuit against the city, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and Police Chief Peter Newsham over the police crackdown on January 20.

    The suit accuses the MPD of making wrongful arrests, violating protesters' constitutional right to free speech, denying detainees from accessing food and water and carrying out invasive body searches.

    'Signs of desperation'

    Sam Menefee-Libey, an activist with the DC Legal Posse, a group that supports the Inauguration Day defendants, argued that the warrants are part of the government's ongoing campaign to dissuade and intimidate anti-Trump activists.

    "It is a continuation of the US Attorney [Office]'s fishing expeditions, and it has a chilling effect on anti-Trump resistance," he told Al Jazeera.

    "They're targeting people publicly associated with Disrupt J20 in the lead-up to the Inauguration Day protests … and they are just going after some of the most public figures."

    In August, the DOJ issued a warrant to the web hosting company DreamHost for information about the operations of the website www.disruptj20.org and an estimated 1.3 million visitors to that page.

    If the government can lift the lid on Facebook, then we are all vulnerable.

    DreamHost fought that warrant in court. In response, DOJ narrowed the warrant's scope.

    DC Superior Court Judge Robert Morin subsequently granted prosecutors' request to collect several records from the company, including users' emails and membership lists.

    "I think that these broad electronic searches are signs of desperation as much as the grossly stacked charges are," Menefee-Libey said.

    "They're trying to save face in light of the police brutality on Inauguration Day because they know they don't have a case."

    For her part, MacAuley believes that the warrants are an indication that the US is "in a very dangerous place".

    "We are in danger of drifting toward fascism and authoritarianism," she said.

    "If they are targeting us now, who will they come for next? Everyone knows someone who is politically active, and everyone knows someone who has criticised the Trump administration on Facebook," she concluded.

    "If the government can lift the lid on Facebook, then we are all vulnerable."

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/fea...171957479.html

  2. #62
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    Trump’s Troll Army Isn’t Ready for War in Syria

    The alt-right crowd breaks with the president.

    By BEN SCHRECKINGER - April 07, 2017

    The fractured elements of what was once called the alt-right were unified once more on Thursday night in condemning Donald Trump's airstrike in Syria as a mistake. Or as Milo Yiannopoulos put it, "FAKE and GAY."

    This loose confederation of Web-savvy, anti-establishment right-wingers formed an important vanguard of Trump's online support in last year's election, and its unified opposition to the airstrike forewarns a political downside to intervention in Syria. While foreign wars tend to boost presidents' popularity in the short term, Trump risks losing the segments of his base that flocked to his isolationist, "America First" message.

    In addition to its nationalist, anti-interventionist and anti-"globalist" views, the alt-right and its fellow travelers have also displayed a marked affinity for Syria's ally Russia, whose government has returned the love by tweeting images of the alt-right's mascot, Pepe the Frog, from official accounts. In reacting to the airstrikes, leaders of the movement placed those ideological reflexes over their personal loyalty to Trump.

    Most noteworthy were the herculean efforts of blogger Mike Cernovich, who took to the livestreaming application Periscope to rally opposition to the strike in a marathon session that went on for several hours.

    Just days after Donald Trump Jr. suggested he be given a Pulitzer Prize, Cernovich tweeted, "Sources telling me U.S. attack in Syria planned for tonight, we must stop! #NoMoreWar," at 7:40 pm Eastern time, an hour and a half before NBC News broke the news of the airstrike.

    During the course of the livestream Cernovich - at times holding his infant daughter Cyra in his arms - blamed a variety of actors for fomenting the conflict. "They want war. Deep state, all these people want it, man," he said. Of the media, he said, "They're trying to con Trump into believing the people want war."

    Cernovich also expressed his belief that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad had been framed for the chemical attack, though he had not decided by whom. "It was probably ISIS did it to themselves," he said on the livestream, while also tweeting, "Did McCain give 'moderate rebels' (ISIS) in Syria poison gas and Hollywood style film equipment?"

    Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, founder of pro-Trump "Western chauvinist fraternal organization" the Proud Boys, joined Cernovich as a guest via Skype, and shared his skepticism. To illustrate a parallel from his own life, McInnes recounted a story in which he said a female friend accused a man of rape and McInnes violently confronted the man, only to be convinced by the man's incredulous response that he was not guilty of rape. (In a text message, McInnes, who left Vice a decade ago, maintained his skepticism about the source of the chemical weapons attack but signaled support for Trump's response).

    Earlier in the day, alt-right online philosopher Stefan Molyneux also joined Cernovich to condemn the action and question whether Assad was really responsible for the chemical weapons attack.

    Other callers offered even more disturbing theories. One man expressed his concern that the "deep state" had approached Trump and threatened to kill him and his family if he did not get in line and voiced his suspicion that "the whole thing" could be traced back to Barack Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice. "Yeah, could be," responded Cernovich.

    Others who have been associated with the alt-right were similarly dismayed by the news.

    Yiannopoulos - who has kept a low profile since losing a CPAC speaking gig and a six-figure book deal over revelations that he once spoke favorably of pederasty - declined to elaborate on a text message describing the airstrike as "FAKE and GAY."

    White nationalist Richard Spencer, whose embrace of hard-core racism has led Yiannopoulos and others to distance themselves from the "alt-right" label, displayed no such reticence, calling the strike "a sad, shocking and deeply frustrating moment."

    "I condemn the strikes," he said. "I'm going to wait and see. Perhaps Trump is slapping Assad across the nose and won't go further. Perhaps Russia was informed of the attacks. Worst-case scenario: We're replaying the 2000s: A conservative comes to office on a populist message and becomes a globalist and neocon shill. Again, I'll wait and see but I'm prepared to denounce Trump."

    Spencer was not alone in vacillating between condemnations of the strike and expressing hope that Trump will not take further action against Assad. The anonymous alt-right Twitter troll Ricky Vaughn tweeted, "THERE IS NO ENDGAME IN SYRIA if we remove Assad. No leader that can hold together that country." He also tweeted, "Hoping this is 88D chess giving Trump political space and an excuse for meeting with and negotiating with Putin."

    Over on The_Donald subreddit, a central hangout for Trump's alt-right fans, debate raged all night. One poster attempted to douse the discontent by writing, "Calm the **** down all you concern trolls. This isn't WWW3 - its trump putting America first. We need to stop Assad from killing his people. They flee and guess where they are going?" The /pol/ section of the message board site 4Chan, another hotbed of online Trump support, was similarly torn asunder by the news, with one poster writing, "/pol/ hates Trump now. What happened?"

    Meanwhile, internet troll Charles Johnson was not prepared to accept that the U.S. really had struck at Assad, saying that a source at CENTCOM told him the strike had actually targeted the Islamic State. "I'm very skeptical of any claims made in the media on military matters," he said. "Especially since the Iraq War."

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/sto...ria-war-214998

  3. #63
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    Trump choosing white men as judges, highest rate in decades

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is nominating white men to America’s federal courts at a rate not seen in nearly 30 years, threatening to reverse a slow transformation toward a judiciary that reflects the nation’s diversity.

    So far, 91 percent of Trump’s nominees are white, and 81 percent are male, an Associated Press analysis has found. Three of every four are white men, with few African-Americans and Hispanics in the mix. The last president to nominate a similarly homogenous group was George H.W. Bush.

    The shift could prove to be one of Trump’s most enduring legacies. These are lifetime appointments, and Trump has inherited both an unusually high number of vacancies and an aging population of judges. That puts him in position to significantly reshape the courts that decide thousands of civil rights, environmental, criminal justice and other disputes across the country. The White House has been upfront about its plans to quickly fill the seats with conservatives, and has made clear that judicial philosophy tops any concerns about shrinking racial or gender diversity.

    Trump is anything but shy about his plans, calling his imprint on the courts an “untold story” of his presidency.

    “Nobody wants to talk about it,” he says. “But when you think of it ... that has consequences 40 years out.” He predicted at a recent Cabinet meeting, “A big percentage of the court will be changed by this administration over a very short period of time.”

    Advocates for putting more women and racial minorities on the bench argue that courts that more closely reflect the demographics of the population ensure a broader range of viewpoints and inspire greater confidence in judicial rulings.

    One court that has become a focus in the debate is the Eastern District of North Carolina, a region that, despite its sizeable black population, has never had a black judge. A seat on that court has been open for more than a decade. George W. Bush named a white man, and Barack Obama at different points nominated two black women, but none of those nominees ever came to a vote in the Senate.

    Trump has renominated Bush’s original choice: Thomas Farr, a private attorney whose work defending North Carolina’s redistricting maps and a voter identification law has raised concerns among civil rights advocates.

    Kyle Barry, senior policy counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said that when diversity is lacking, “there’s a clear perception where the courts are not a place people can go and vindicate their civil rights.”

    In recent decades, Democrats have consistently named more racial minorities and women on the courts. But even compared to his Republican predecessors, Trump’s nominees stand out. So far, he has nominated the highest percentage of white judges in his first year since Ronald Reagan. If he continues on his trend through his first term, he will be the first Republican since Herbert Hoover to name fewer women and minorities to the court than his GOP predecessor.

    The AP reviewed 58 nominees to lifetime positions on appellate and district courts, as well as the Supreme Court, by the end of October. Fifty-three are white, three are Asian-American, one is Hispanic and one is African-American. There are 47 men and 11 women. Thirteen have won Senate approval.

    The numbers stand in marked contrast to those of Obama, who made diversifying the federal bench a priority. White men represented just 37 percent of judges confirmed during Obama’s two terms; nearly 42 percent of his judges were women.

    Some of Obama’s efforts were thwarted by a Republican-led Senate that blocked all of his nominations he made in the final year of his presidency, handing Trump a backlog of more than 100 open seats and significant sway over the future of the court.

    Trump has moved aggressively to name new judges, getting off to a much quicker start than his predecessors. He has nominated more than twice as many as Obama had at this point in his presidency. While there have been clashes in the Senate over the nomination process, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled that he is committed to moving judicial nominees through.

    Many of Trump’s white, male nominees would replace white, male judges. But of the Trump nominees currently pending, more than a quarter are white males slated for seats have been held by women or minorities.

    Of the eight seats currently vacant that had non-white judges, only one has a non-white nominee.

    White House spokesman Hogan Gidley says Trump is focused on qualifications and suggests that prioritizing diversity would bring politics to the bench.

    “The president has delivered on his promise to nominate the best, most-qualified judges,” Gidley said. “While past presidents may have chosen to nominate activist judges with a political agenda and a history of legislating from the bench, President Trump has nominated outstanding originalist judges who respect the U.S. Constitution.”

    Trump, who has cited the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch as a key achievement, has focused on judges with conservative resumes. His picks have been welcomed by conservative legal groups.

    Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society who has advised Trump on judges, said the president’s judicial picks should be evaluated based on his nominations to the Supreme Court and appellate courts, given that home-state senators traditionally offer recommendations for district courts that carry significant weight when the lawmaker and the president are of the same party.

    There have been 19 nominees to those higher courts; more than two-thirds are white men.

    And past presidents also have pushed for diversity at the district courts. The Obama White House would make clear diversity was a priority and “if we found good candidates, we would encourage senators to take a look at them,” said Christopher Kang, who worked on judicial nominations in the Obama administration.

    Alberto Gonzales, who served as attorney general for George W. Bush, says that when considering nominees “sometimes President Bush would look at the list we gave him and he would say, ‘I want more diversity, I want more women, I want more minorities.’”

    In his first year, Obama’s confirmed judicial nominees were 31 percent white men. Bush had 67 percent, Bill Clinton 38 percent, George H.W. Bush 74 percent and Reagan 93 percent.

    For its analysis, The Associated Press looked at all lifetime appointments to federal judgeships — including all seats on the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals, U.S. District Courts and International Courts of Trade— counting nominations to higher courts as new appointments. For the biographical information of each judge, the AP used data from the Federal Judicial Center.

    In the case of pending Trump nominees, reporters called each nominee or their representative to collect information on race, gender and birthdate. In eight cases where nominees declined to give their race, officials familiar with the information confirmed that all identified themselves as white males.

    more at : https://apnews.com/a2c7a89828c747ed9439f60e4a89193e


 

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