Black Lives Matter Founder Alicia Garza: ‘Donald Trump Is Not About Law And Order’

Activist Alicia Garza is famous for coining the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” a mantra that has since become the most influential social movement of the 21st century. Since then, she has traveled to Ferguson, Missouri, following the police shooting death of Michael Brown in 2014, and helped establish the Black Lives Matter network and the Movement for Black Lives’ policy platform.

Garza, who also works as the special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, agreed to take part in an email exchange with the International Business Times to discuss how the movement she helped create moves forward in the President Donald Trump era,  why she stays away from Twitter and what the media gets wrong about Black Lives Matter.

IBT: Donald Trump declared himself the “law and order” candidate, and has tried to paint a picture of a rising tide of violence in America. He recently said new legislation should be developed to protect police. Many scholars and activists, like Michelle Alexander in “The New Jim Crow,” have argued that kind of rhetoric has always been used to develop political support for policies that target the black population (Nixon’s “southern strategy,” Ronald Reagan’s “War on Drugs,” and Hillary Clinton’s comments on “super-predators” are all recent examples). Do you see history repeating itself? Is this kind of rhetoric a threat to black lives?

Garza: We should be clear that Donald Trump doesn’t care about law and order — he skirts the law and avoids order every chance he gets. He has absolutely no track record in addressing issues impacting black communities, and has very little concern for black communities, as evidenced by his involvement in the case of the Central Park Five, where he whipped up racially charged hysteria that nearly ruined the lives of five teenagers wrongfully accused of rape.

The only law and order that Donald Trump cares about is the law and order that lines his pockets, sows division and hatred, and maintains a racially segregated social and economic order. Donald Trump is a predator — he preys on the fears that everyday Americans have about an increasingly unstable world and exploits them.

Is this a threat to black lives? Absolutely. When you have a president that claims to govern for everyone but continues to pass laws that threaten the safety and security of black Americans and black immigrants, it’s a definite cause for concern. For example, his recent executive orders on policing expand “rights” for law enforcement, but doesn’t increase transparency and accountability for law enforcement, who themselves are not above the law but continue to operate that way. Trump’s Muslim ban in part targets black Muslims. His rolling back of the protections that existed for transgender communities impacts black lives. Donald Trump is not about law and order — he is about skirting the law and has absolutely no respect for it.

IBT: Where are you focusing your energy? What specific issues do you think are the most important at the moment?

Garza: Right now, I’m focused on figuring out how we build political power in a tenuous moment where any semblance of democracy is being bulldozed by Trump and his administration. Every issue is important under this administration — it’s difficult to narrow to just a few.  From climate change to police violence to indigenous sovereignty to transgender rights, it’s all important and we all have a role to play.

IBT: President Barack Obama’s Justice Department used consent decrees, among other tools, to try and reform local police departments. What do you expect to see under a Jeff Sessions-led Justice Department?

Garza: What we can expect to see from a Sessions-led Justice Department is a rolling back of civil and human rights. Sessions’ track record is that of denying protections to marginalized groups. I feel great concern for the people working inside the Justice Department who really want to see this country move in a different direction, and who have dedicated their lives to ensuring that everyone’s civil rights are upheld and protected. Already under a Sessions-led Justice Department, transgender rights are being rolled back at a time when they need to be expanded.

–IBT

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Government must admit dumsor and publish timetable – ACEP

Energy think tank, Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) wants the government to admit that there is a significant shortfall in power supply and publish a timetable for load shedding that already ongoing.

Deputy Executive Director of ACEP, Ben Boakye, thinks there is an urgent need for a load shedding timetable to guide Ghanaians.

“There is dumsor. If we have a shortfall of around 150Megawatts and they [Electricity Company of Ghana] are shedding load, it is obvious that there is a gap that ought to be filled,” he said.

He told Joy News’ Raymond Acquah there cannot be any reliable justification for the hold up in the publication of the timetable.

“The timetable always exists, they just need to activate it so I don’t know why there is always a situation to always hesitate to actually activate it. They know when they are going to take off the light, so [they should] just tell us,” he said.

ACEP’s prediction last year that the dreaded load shedding, or dumsor, will return in the beginning of this year was dismissed by then outgoing National Democratic Congress (NDC) government as false.

Last year the think tank revealed its checks indicates dumsor would return due to a shortfall in power supply.

Then Deputy Power Minister, John Jinapor, rejected the forecast and insisted government had put in measures to forestall a return to the load shedding period.

But the former Minister seems to have retracted his defence.

Like many others, Mr Jinapor has been experiencing power outages in his area lately and he took to Facebook to vent his frustration about the situation.

On Friday he posted the following his Facebook page:

“I am now convinced we are effectively in load shedding, technically transformers cannot go off every evening between 7 pm to 12 pm for 4 consecutive days which incidentally is the peak period. Managers of the power must come clean and provide us with a timetable so we can plan our lives. You cannot suppress a cork under water forever.”

Mr Jinapor was referring to an excuse by the current government two weeks ago that faults with some transformers were the cause of the intermittent power outages.

Meanwhile, ACEP’s Deputy Executive Director says it is uncertain when the power deficit can be filled.

“It depends on how long it takes to bring the gas back on stream,” he said.

According to him, the government needs at least €2 million to fix the current power shortfall.

–Joy News

Trump Administration Revokes Transgender Toilet Rules

The Trump administration on Wednesday revoked federal guidelines specifying that transgender students have the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity, taking a stand on a contentious issue that has become the central battle over LGBT rights.

Officials with the federal Education and Justice departments notified the U.S. Supreme Court late Wednesday that the administration is ordering the nation’s schools to disregard memos the Obama administration issued during the past two years regarding transgender student rights. Those memos said that prohibiting transgender students from using facilities that align with their gender identity violates federal anti-discrimination laws.

The two-page “Dear colleague” letter from the Trump administration, which is set to go to the nation’s public schools, does not offer any new guidance, instead saying that the earlier directive needed to be withdrawn because it lacked extensive legal analysis, did not go through a public vetting process, sowed confusion and drew legal challenges.

The administration said that it would not rely on the prior interpretation of the law in the future.

The departments wrote that the Trump administration wants to “further and more completely consider the legal issues involved,” and said that there must be “due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy.” Although it offered no clarity or direction to schools that have transgender students, the letter added that “schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that his department “has a duty to enforce the law” and criticized the Obama administration’s guidance as lacking sufficient legal basis. Sessions wrote that the Department of Justice remains committed to the “proper interpretation” of the anti-discrimination law known as Title IX but said deference should be given to lawmakers and localities.

“Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue,” Sessions said.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos echoed that sentiment, saying that this is an issue “best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find — and in many cases have found — solutions that protect all students.”

DeVos also gave assurances that the department’s Office for Civil Rights “remains committed to investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable in our schools,” and she noted that she considers “protecting all students, including LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.”

The decision — delayed in part because DeVos and Sessions hit stalemates regarding timing and specific language — drew immediate condemnation from gay and transgender rights advocates, who accused President Trump of violating past promises to support gay and transgender protections. Advocates said the withdrawal of the federal guidance will create another layer of confusion for schools and will make transgender students, who are already vulnerable, more so.

“Attacking our children . . . is no way to say you support and respect LGBTQ people,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Others said the practical effect on the nation’s schools would be muted, in part because a federal judge already had blocked the Obama guidance in response to a lawsuit from 13 states that argued it violated states’ rights. And it is possible the U.S. Supreme Court could settle the matter soon, as it plans to consider a Virginia case involving a transgender teenager who was barred from using the boys’ bathroom at his high school.

The Trump administration’s move drew cheers from social conservatives who oppose the idea that a student can identify as a gender that differs from their anatomy at birth.

Vicki Wilson, the mother of a child at Fremd High School in Palatine, Ill., said she sympathizes with children who have “difficult personal issues” to deal with, but thinks that “young men shouldn’t be permitted to deal with those issues in an intimate setting like a locker room with young women.”

School district officials in Palatine, bowing to federal pressure, allowed a transgender girl to change in the girls’ locker room at her school. “No school should impose a policy like this against the will of so many parents,” Wilson said during a news conference organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization.

The administration’s letter was the source of some disagreement between the two issuing departments, with Sessions eager to rescind the Obama administration’s guidance as court proceedings in related cases approached, and DeVos keen to leave it in place. Unlike Arne Duncan, Obama’s education secretary for seven years, DeVos does not have a close personal relationship with the president she serves; she also lacks the experience and political capital Sessions garnered as a Republican senator.

Sessions is widely known to oppose expanding gay and transgender rights, and DeVos’s friends say she personally supports those rights. The new letter is sure to ignite another firestorm for DeVos, who is fresh off her contentious nomination fight and has drawn protests from parents and teachers who believe she is unqualified for the job.

The letter also puts Trump squarely in the middle of the civil rights debate: Despite a flurry of activity in the early weeks of his presidency, Trump had not previously waded into the issue of gay and transgender rights.

Trump declined to sign an executive order last month that would have dramatically expanded the rights of people, businesses and organizations of faith to opt out of laws or activities that violate their religion, such as same-sex wedding ceremonies. Many took it as a sign that he would take a more liberal approach on gay issues than his Republican cohorts.

But in an interview with The Washington Post last year, then-candidate Donald Trump had indicated he would rescind the guidance based on the belief that it was a matter best left up to the states.

In the daily news briefing Wednesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer played down the reports of disagreement within the administration — saying the debate came down to timing and some specific wording — and reiterated the states’ rights argument.

“The president’s made it clear throughout the campaign that he’s a firm believer in states’ rights,” Spicer said.

The Obama administration’s guidance was based on the position that barring students from bathrooms that match their gender identities is a violation of Title IX because it amounts to sex discrimination.

Many advocates contend the guidance merely formalized what courts have increasingly recognized: That discrimination against gay and transgender people is a form of sex discrimination because it is rooted in stereotypes about men and women. As a result, they believe transgender people already have the right under Title IX to use their preferred bathroom.

The new letter scrambles the calculus for a number of lawsuits working their way through the courts, particularly the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender Virginia teen who sued his school board for barring him from the boys’ restroom. The case is scheduled for oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court next month. A lower court cited the Obama administration’s position on transgender student rights in siding with Grimm.

Grimm said he was disheartened that the Trump administration is withdrawing the guidance. The Gloucester, Va., school board continued to bar him from the boys’ bathroom even after the Obama guidance was issued, but Grimm said the directive was “incredibly empowering.”

“It certainly bolstered hope that the future for transgender students was looking up in a way that it hadn’t been previously,” Grimm said.

Amber Briggle, the mother of a 9-year-old transgender boy in Denton, Tex., said she views the Trump administration’s position as a temporary setback and hopes that the Supreme Court will affirm transgender students’ rights. But the withdrawal of the Obama directive is a blow, she said, because the guidance made her feel that Washington cared about children like hers and understood the support they need.

“I just don’t think my family matters to the Trump administration,” she said.

Catherine Lhamon, who headed the Obama Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, said in a sworn declaration that the administration developed the guidance after receiving discrimination complaints from parents of transgender children and questions from teachers and administrators who were having to develop policies with regard to their transgender students.

In 2011, the Education Department received two complaints of discrimination against transgender students in schools. By 2016, that number had leapt to 84, according to the declaration filed in federal court.

In a kindergarten class where students line up by gender to go to the bathroom, “a student has to decide which line to get into, and the teacher has to decide which line to accept that student into, and both of them have to field questions from other students in the class,” Lhamon said in an interview. “Any of those choices raises potential for discrimination and potential for harm that all of the students and teachers in a school have to navigate. It’s not an abstraction for the people who live it every day.”

Lhamon said the withdrawal of the guidance and the notion that the federal government needs more time to consider the issue of transgender accommodations creates chaos in schools and sends a damaging message to children.

Without federal guidance, schools are likely to look to their state governments for clarity, said Francisco Negron Jr., chief counsel for the National School Boards Association.

That could open up battles across the country similar to one last year in North Carolina, when the legislature voted to require people in public buildings to use the restrooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates.

Fifteen states have explicit protections for transgender students, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group; lawmakers in several other states are working to restrict bathroom access for transgender students. The American Civil Liberties Union, which tracks the legislation, said legislators in 14 states filed 20 bills that could lead to restroom restrictions for transgender people, with some proposing that states penalize schools that violate those restrictions. So far, five of those bills have failed.

Many school districts held off on writing restroom policies as they waited for the outcome of the Grimm case. Among them was Fairfax County, Va., one of the largest districts in the nation, which was preparing to draft regulations on restroom access for transgender students to reflect its nondiscrimination policy.

Elizabeth Schultz, a Fairfax County School Board member who opposes expanding the protections, said she hopes the new Trump administration action will lead the district to abandon its efforts.

If the threat of revoking federal funds “is no longer wielded against our local authority, there’s no precipitating reason to continue,” she said.

–Washington Post

Russia’s ambassador to UN, dies suddenly at 64

The Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin, died suddenly in New York on Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

He died at age 64, one day before his 65th birthday.
Churkin suffered from cardiac arrest while at the Russian Mission on East 67th Street, a law enforcement official said. He was taken to New York’s Presbyterian Hospital, where he died.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said “the outstanding Russian diplomat died while he was in his current working role.”
“We offer our condolences to the relatives of Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin,” the ministry said.
Samantha Power, former US ambassador to the UN, said she was heartbroken by Churkin’s death and credited him with trying to help Russian-US relations.
“Devastated by passing of UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin,” Power tweeted. “Diplomatic maestro & deeply caring man who did all he cld to bridge US-RUS differences.”
Matthew Rycroft, the British ambassador to the UN, called Churkin’s deah the loss of a “diplomatic giant.”
–CNN

Trump Set to Pick His National Security Adviser

President Donald Trump is looking to make a decision to fill the position of national security adviser in a few days, following the resignation of Michael Flynn, he told reporters Saturday. Trump will interview four candidates in this regard Sunday, he added.

Flynn was forced to step down from the position after it emerged he had discussed the country’s sanctions on Russia with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., before President Trump took office. The retired general also allegedly misled Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with the Russian ambassador.

Trump’s first choice to replace Flynn, retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward, turned down the offer Thursday. The former Navy SEAL told the Associated Press he refused the position for “purely a personal reason.”

Former CIA chief David Petraeus was also ruled out as a candidate for the position. The retired general resigned as head of the CIA in 2012 and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, who he was having an affair with.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the president will interview the four candidates and may even add a few more names to the list.

Here are the four candidates currently under consideration by Trump:

Keith Kellogg

The first name on the list is the current acting national security adviser, retired Army Gen. Keith Kellogg, who has significant military experience. The 72-year-old did two tours in Vietnam and was the recipient of a number of commendations, including the Bronze Star.

Trump confirmed that Kellogg was in the running for the position. The president tweeted Friday that Kellogg, “who I have known for a long time, is very much in play for NSA — as are three others.”

John Bolton

The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is a veteran of the George W. Bush administration. His vast diplomatic experience could provide much-needed credibility to the position Trump is looking to fill, especially after the Flynn debacle.

“The one thing that makes Bolton more qualified than anyone else for the Trump era is that he has a veteran genius-level understanding of the organizational structure of our nation’s diplomatic and intelligence apparatus,” a foreign policy insider told the Free Beacon.

Lieutenant General Robert Caslen

Caslen is the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The West Point graduate, who served in the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq, was in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2011. He played a role in the search for survivors in the damaged parts of the building, reports say.

Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster

McMaster is another candidate for the position of Trump’s national security advisor. The Ph.D. holder is reportedly a great tactician and strategic thinker, known for commanding a troop of the U.S. 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in 1991. In what is considered as one of the biggest tank battles since World War II, he led his troops at 73 Easting to destroy the larger Iraqi Republican Guard force.

–IBT

New U.S. Travel Ban to Spare Green Card holders: Trump Official

A new version of a Trump administration travel ban will not stop green card residency holders or travelers already on planes from entering the United States, U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security John Kelly said on Saturday.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s initial attempt to clamp down for security reasons on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and on refugees snarled to a halt amid a judicial backlash and chaos at airports.

“The president is contemplating releasing a tighter, more streamlined version of the first (order). And I will have opportunity to work (on) a rollout plan, in particular to make sure that there’s no one in a sense caught in the system of moving from overseas to our airports,” Kelly said at the Munich Security Conference.

Asked whether green card residency permit holders would be allowed in, Kelly said: “It’s a good assumption and, as far as the visas go, … if they’re in motion from some distant land to the United States, when they arrive they will be allowed in.”

He promised “a short phase-in period to make sure that people on the other end don’t get on airplanes. But if they’re on an airplane and inbound, they’ll be allowed to enter the country.”

A draft of the replacement executive order shows that the administration aims to put restrictions on citizens of the same seven Muslim-majority countries covered by the initial order, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cites an internal State Department memo.

The replacement order could be issued as early as Tuesday, the Journal reported, citing a U.S. government official.

The administration would seek to implement the new order a week to two weeks after it is signed, and covers citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, the Journal said.

Trump’s original order, which he said was meant to head off attacks by Islamist militants, barred people from those same countries from entering for 90 days and excluded all refugees for 120 days, except those from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.

The abrupt implementation of the order last month plunged the immigration system into chaos, sparking a wave of criticism from the countries affected, and from Western allies and some of America’s leading corporations, especially technology firms.

–Fox News

Robert Harward turns down Trump’s national security adviser offer

US President Donald Trump’s choice for national security adviser has turned down the job offer.

Retired Vice-Admiral Robert Harward was widely tipped for the post after Mr Trump fired Michael Flynn on Monday.

A White House official said Mr Harward cited family and financial commitments, but US media said the sticking point was he wanted to bring in his own team.

Mr Flynn had misled US Vice-President Mike Pence over his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US.

The latest setback emerged hours after Mr Trump robustly denied media reports of White House disarray, insisting in a news conference that his administration was running like a “fine-tuned machine”.

The White House is expected to name its new communications director on Friday, and US media say the job will go to Mike Dubke, the founder of Republican media group Crossroads Media.

Mr Harward told the Associated Press the Trump administration was “very accommodating to my needs, both professionally and personally”.

“It’s purely a personal issue,” added the 60-year-old former Navy Seal who is currently based in Abu Dhabi as an executive for US defence contractor Lockheed Martin.

Asked about reports that he had asked to bring in his own staff at the National Security Council, Mr Harward said: “I think that’s for the president to address.”

Mr Flynn, a retired army lieutenant-general, was ousted amid claims that before he was even appointed as national security adviser he had discussed sanctions with a Russian envoy.

This would have potentially breached a law banning private citizens from engaging in diplomacy.

Mr Flynn initially denied having discussed sanctions with Sergei Kislyak, Moscow’s ambassador to Washington.

But on Monday, Mr Trump asked for his resignation following revelations that Mr Flynn had misled the vice-president about his conversations with the diplomat.

Leading Republicans have called for an investigation into intelligence leaks that led to Mr Flynn’s resignation.

Two other contenders – retired General David Petraeus and acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg – have also been tipped to take on the job.

Mr Kellogg, a retired three-star general, was named acting national security adviser after Mr Flynn stepped down.

The 72-year-old had a long career in the US Army, serving in Vietnam and Iraq, before retiring in 2003 and becoming a security consultant for software giant Oracle Corp.

Mr Petraeus, a celebrated former four-star general, retired as CIA director in 2012 after it emerged he had given top-secret material to his biographer, with whom he was also having an extramarital affair.

He is still serving two years’ probation after his conviction for mishandling classified information, and would need to notify his parole officer if he wished to move to Washington DC.

–Associated Press