Special Council Unseals Plea Deals With Ex-Trump Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor

A plea deal made between the special council headed by Robert Mueller and George Papadopoulous, an ex-Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, was unsealed Monday. Papadopoulous, who was arrested Jul. 27 after arriving at Dulles International Airport, accepted a plea deal and has been working with the special council since his arrest.

Papadopoulous is charged with providing a false statement to the FBI about his contacts with professors he believed to have substantial connection to the Russian government during the 2016 campaign.

During the 2016 campaign, Papadopoulous acted as one of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy advisers and was tasked with improving the U.S. and Russia relationship. While a foreign policy adviser, he exchanged emails with several people he believed to have deep connections with the Kremlin and attempted to use these connections to set up a meeting between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. He also exchanged communications with a Russian professor who claimed to have “dirt” on Hilary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails” and met a Russian National that he believed was the niece of Vladimir Putin

Papadopoulous was interviewed by the FBI in January about his role in the trump campaign and his connections with Russian Professors. In this voluntary interview he lied to the FBI about when the meeting took place. He stated that the meetings happened before he took his position in the Trump campaign and he attempted to down play the nature and significance of the meetings. Stating that he believed one of the professors was just a “guy talking up connections and stuff,” among a list of other lies that attempted to mask his role during the campaign.

Following his initial interview in January, he was interviewed again in February with his council. Following this interview, Papadopoulous deactivated his Facebook account which contained information about his communications with Russian connections and Created a new account that didn’t contain this information. He also later changed his phone number.

Papadopoulous’s misleading testimony is proof that of members of the Trump campaign had contact with professors connected to the Russian government.

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Ex-Trump Campaign Manager and his Business Partner Indicted as the First Charges from Mueller’s Russia-Trump Campaign Collusion Investigations Begin to Roll Out

On October 27, Paul Manafort, a ex-Trump campaign manager, and Richard Gates, his business partner, were indicted on 12 charges stemming from Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the election. Manafort and Gates turned them selves in Monday morning.

The Charges stem from Manafort’s work before becoming Trump’s campaign manager. The charges are Conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, 3 counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts for calendar years 2011-2014 each for both Manafort and Gates, a charge for being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal and for providing a false and misleading FARA statement.

Between 2006 – 2016, Manafort’s and Gates operated as lobbyist in Ukraine without registering with the United States to avoid taxes. Subsequently, Manafort used foreign bank accounts to hide his profits from the government and used money laundering to live a lavish life in the US while avoiding detection. Manafort also lied on his taxes and to tax preparers to hide his foreign bank accounts and holdings.

Manafort joined the Trump campaign in Mar. 2016 but resigned in Aug. 2016 after a report that Manafort may have illegally received $12.7 million in off the book funds from the Party of Regions in Ukraine. The charges stem from Manafort’s actions prior to his joining the campaign and prove no instances of collusion. President Donald Trump took to twitter to comment on the news.

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NAACP Issues a National Advisory To Black Travelers About Flying American Airlines

Tuesday Oct. 24, The NAACP issued a national advisory “alerting travelers—especially African Americans—to exercise caution, in that booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.”

According to the NAACP‘s advisory, the organization has “for several months now has been monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines.”

According to the NAACP, some of the incidents include:

1.) An African-American man was required to relinquish his purchased seats aboard a flight from Washington, D.C. to Raleigh-Durham, merely because he responded to disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers;

2.) Despite having previously booked first-class tickets for herself and a traveling companion, an African-American woman’s seating assignment was switched to the coach section at the ticket counter, while her white companion remained assigned to a first-class seat;

3.) On a flight bound for New York from Miami, the pilot directed that an African-American woman be removed from the flight when she complained to the gate agent about having her seating assignment changed without her consent; and

4.) An African-American woman and her infant child were removed from a flight from Atlanta to New York City when the woman (incidentally a Harvard Law School student) asked that her stroller be retrieved from checked baggage before she would disembark.

The Advisory went into effect Tuesday and will remain in effect indefinitely.

The Advisory notes that “Historically, the NAACP has issued travel advisories when conditions on the ground pose a substantial risk of harm to black Americans, and we are concerned today that the examples cited herein may represent only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when it comes to American Airlines’ documented mistreatment of African-American customers.”

“All travelers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence or harm,” stated Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP in the advisory. “The growing list of incidents suggesting racial bias reflects an unacceptable corporate culture and involves behavior that cannot be dismissed as normal or random.  We expect an audience with the leadership of American Airlines to air these grievances and to spur corrective action.  Until these and other concerns are addressed, this national travel advisory will stand.”

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Colin Kaepernick Files a Grievance Against the NFL and Its Owners for “Colluding to Keep Him Out the League”

On Sunday Oct. 15, Colin Kaepernick’s attorney Mark Geragos, filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners for “colluding to keep him out the league,” demanding an arbitration hearing on the matter.

The filing says that the NFL and its owners “have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States.”

Geragos released an official statement on Twitter saying that the grievance was filed “after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives.”

Some individuals think this move is a good move for Kaepernick who has become a victim of the very racism he protested, such as Chair of the African-American Studies program at University of Mississippi, Dr. Charles Ross.

“At this point he doesn’t have much to lose,” Ross said. ” I think that clearly his strategy of just kind of being quiet over the last year and a half and not doing any interviews, hasn’t beared any fruit.”

“It’ll be interesting to see whether or not the NFL can be dragged into court and some kind of an argument or a case can be made that NFL owners are colluding to keep him from working, which is kind of an obvious thing right now,” Ross said. “Jay Cutler got signed and he was retired. They basically talked him into coming back.”

Kaepernick began kneeling for the national anthem last year as a response to the continued police brutality against unarmed individuals and the justice system’s failure to prosecute police officers who use excessive force. Following the 2016 season, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers to test the free agency.

Six weeks into the season, Kaepernick has yet to find a job. Kaepernick’s agent has reached out to all 32 NFL teams this year to express Kaepernick interest in returning to the field but so far no teams have reached out to him. Some of the quarterbacks that have been signed this year include Blaine Gabbert, Jay Cutler and most recently Brandon Weeden. To view a complete list of the 30+ free agent quarterbacks that were signed before Kaepernick here.

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Law That Protects Individuals Who Deny Goods and Services to Members of the LGBTQ Community Could Go into Effect Friday in Mississippi

HB 1523 or the Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act is set to go into effect Friday, Oct. 6 after the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused a rehearing by a full court on Barber v. Bryant on Sept. 29, a lawsuit attempting to block the legislation. The court argued that since the law isn’t in effect yet and nobody has been hurt by the bill, litigation cannot be brought against the case.

HB 1523 protects state employees and other citizens who hold and act on certain beliefs  from prosecution for denying services such as Photographs or solemnizing marriages to individuals if it is contrary to these beliefs. The beliefs that are protected are the beliefs that marriage is a union between man and women, sexual relations are reserved to such a union and that sex is determined at birth by ones genetics and anatomy,

This bill was signed by Phil Bryant last year and is a direct response to a bill passed in 2015 that legalized same sex marriage across the country.

“As I have said from the beginning, this law was democratically enacted and is perfectly constitutional,” Bryant said in a statement to Fox News. “The people of Mississippi have the right to ensure that all of our citizens are free to peacefully live and work without fear of being punished for their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Some critics of the bill, such as Director of the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies at the University of Mississippi, Dr. Jaime Harker, argue that not only is the bill unconstitutional but that it is reminiscent of the pre-civil rights era in Mississippi when people were allowed to openly discriminate against people depending on their beliefs.

“I don’t know if its intentional or not but what I think [the bill is] going to tell a lot of folks in this state is that its open season on you,” Harker said. “What it does is basically take away your confidence as a citizen of this state, that you can be treated equally as everybody else.”

“You don’t know when or how you may have service denied to you and its that uncertainty that I think is going to be the thing that’s most difficult,” Harker said. “You’re just going to be going about your life and at any random moment, somebody behind a counter because they don’t like the way you look or the way you talk or the shirt your wearing or the sticker on your car, will say ‘we don’t serve your kind here.’ We’ve already had that happen once in this state and it wasn’t good for anybody.”

“[The bill] lists a lot of very particular instances it could apply to, that includes private and state government,” Harker said. “What this means is you have no idea now, as a queer person in this state, when you could be denied service based on, not whether its true or not, but whether their perception is that your queer.”

“If your living together, boyfriend and girlfriend, and they think you’re having sex outside of marriage, that is enough reason [to deny service],” Harker said. “If they think you’re trans because you don’t perform your gender the way they think is appropriate, they can deny service.”

People who experience discrimination can report it to the Campaign for Southern Equality, The group that brought the original litigation against the case to court, by calling their hotline (828.242.1559), by email (info@southernequality.org) or by posting on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/southernequality. Their team of attorneys, clergy and organizers are available to offer support and resources.

“HB1523 is the nation’s most extreme anti-LGBTQ law,” The group says on its website. “It will bring undeniable damage to the lives of thousands of Mississippians, paving the way for deep harm and discrimination. As a community, we will fight this law every step of the way. We stand proudly with LGBTQ Mississippians in working to ensure that everyone can live their lives free from fear of state-sanctioned discrimination. We stand ready to challenge discrimination in all forms and will bring lawsuits against those who discriminate against their LGBTQ neighbors and fellow Mississippians.

“Its time for allies in this state to stand up and let the LGBTQ community know they’re valued,” Harker said. “They’re supported. They’re loved. Especially queer kids. That’s the danger we got right now. I think what a lot of queer kids are going to take from this is ‘you’re not wanted here,’ ‘you’re not welcome here,’ ‘we don’t want your kind here.’ That’s the message they’re going to get and if we don’t want to send that message, we as a community have to send a different one.”

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Atlanta Decriminalizes Marijuana

Monday the Atlanta city council voted unanimously to pass Ordinance
17-O-1152 which would decriminalize marijuana.

Under current Georgia law, individuals found in possession of an amount of marijuana under an ounce face up to a six month jail sentence and up to $1,000 in fees. Ordinance 17-O-1152 would removed the potential for a jail sentence and reduce the maximum fine for individuals with less than an ounce to $75.

According to the Foundation for Economic Education, 92 percent of marijuana arrest come from the black community.

The bill was introduced in March by council member Kwanza Hall.

“Today we stand with every parent of Atlanta who is fearful of or has seen their children’s lives destroyed, or careers ruined because of a racist policy that unjustly incarcerated minorities by more than 90 percent,” Hall said following the bill’s passage Monday.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed still needs to sign the bill but said on twitter he intended to.

 

Marijuana is still illegal under Georgia state law meaning meaning individuals found in possession outside of Atlanta could still face jail time.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price Resigns

Friday, health and human services secretary Tom Price submitted his letter of resignation.

His resignation comes amid growing backlash as Price accrued a bill of at least $400,000 and upwards into $1 million of taxpayers dollars in travel expenses since joining the cabinet in January.

Price offered to reimburse taxpayers for the price of his seat, but that only came to about $51,887 which the president called “unacceptable”

Following Prices resignation, All cabinet travel requests must now be cleared by the White House.

Don J. Wright, a deputy assistant secretary, is the acting secretary.

New York Times

The Atlantic

Washington Post

Saudi Arabia Grants Women the Right to Drive

Tuesday in a royal decree signed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Saudi Arabia announced it would allow women to drive in the kingdom.

The decree will go into effect June 24, 2018.

The decree is a positive change for women in the ultraconservative kingdom. Saudi Arabia is under Sharia Law and has Guardianship laws which forbid woman from doing simple things like leaving home or getting an ID without having permission from a man whether it be a father, husband or son.

In 1990 females drove around the capital in protest and were arrested.

Some of the arguments for not allowing women to drive include male drivers wouldn’t know how to handle a women driver in the car next to them, allowing women to drive would collapse the empire and that driving would harm women’s ovaries.

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The Guardian

Al Jazeera

Things women still can’t do in Saudi Arabia 

Young Dolph In Critical Condition But Expected to Survive After Being Shot Multiple Times in Hollywood

Tuesday Adolph Thornton, Jr., better known by his stage name Young Dolph, was shot outside the Loews Hotel in Hollywood after an altercation that turned violent. During the altercation Young Dolph was pushed to the ground and shot multiple times.

He was transported to the hospital where he is in critical condition but expected to pull through.

Corey McClendon was charged with attempted murder in connection with the shooting Wednesday. McClendon is an acquaintance of Hoe Gotti, a fellow Memphis rapper who has beef with Young Dolph.

Young Dolph was shot at 100 times outside a nightclub in Charlotte earlier this year. Dolph was inside his bulletproof SUV and survived the attack and still made his scheduled performance at the same club. Dolph later made a song about the incident called “100 shots.” The song can be listened to below.

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