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VICE News: 9 Times Sarah Sanders Straight Up Lied to the Press | Njus International

9 Times Sarah Sanders Straight Up Lied to the Press

Politics VICE News

Sanders’s relationship with the press was contentious at best and straight up confrontational at worst.
'White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied to the press. A lot. Like her boss, Sanders’s relationship with the press was contentious at best and straight up confrontational at worst. Whether the issue at hand was the Russia investigation, Trump’s inclination to incite violence at MAGA rallies, or how many “terrorists” had been apprehended at the southern border, Sanders had no trouble twisting the truth — even when her reputation took a hit. To be fair, the Trump administration would put any press secretary in a tough spot. As of June 7, Trump had told 10,796 lies since the start of his presidency, according to the Washington Post . Sometimes Sanders got caught toeing the line for the administration. Other times, there seemed to be no good reason for lying at all. As she gets ready to step down at the end of the month, here’s a non-exhaustive list of some of the biggest whoppers from the White House briefing room: She told the press that the FBI had “lost confidence” in Comey — and admitted she lied Sanders got caught lying by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and his team documented it in their report. Sanders said FBI Director James Comey’s firing was based primarily on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s recommendation to fire the him. Trump undercut that claim in his interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, where he said he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation and he would’ve done it anyway. Sanders also said that “the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.” That, she later told Mueller, was based on nothing, and was said in “the heat of the moment.” She then told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that what she told Mueller was “a slip of the tongue.” She straight up lied about lying about Trump’s hush money payments Asked during a press briefing about whether the president had any knowledge of the hush money payments Michael Cohen made to women to keep quiet about their alleged affairs with Trump, Sanders said: “Look, the president has addressed these directly and made very well clear that none of these allegations are true.” That wasn’t true. Trump did know, as his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani and Trump himself both later admitted. When that info came out, Sanders was asked if she had lied on behalf of the president. “We give the very best information that we have at the time,” Sanders said. “I do that every single day and will continue to do that every day I’m in this position.” She tried to defend Trump’s alleged use of the n-word by lying about black employment Former Trump adviser and contestant on \'The Apprentice,\' Omarosa Manigault-Newman claimed in her memoir that Trump was a “racist, misogynist, and bigot” — and had repeatedly used the n-word backstage during the filming the reality TV show. Asked if she could guarantee that the president had never used the n-word said, Sanders, in short, said nope. \'I can't guarantee anything,” she said. “But I can tell you that the president addressed this question directly; I can tell you I've never heard it.\' She went on to say that black employment had risen dramatically under Trump, way more than it did under former president Barack Obama. That was clearly wrong: \'This president, since he took office, in the year and a half that he's been here has created 700,000 new jobs for African-Americans,” Sanders said. “That's 700,000 African-Americans that are working now that weren't working when this president took place. When President Obama left after eight years in office — eight years in office — he'd only created 195,000 jobs for African-Americans. President Trump in his first year and a half has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years.\' She was right about how much black employment had risen during Trump’s presidency; she was off by a factor of 15 on how many jobs for black people Obama had created during his presidency. Between 2009 and 2017, there were 2.9 million new jobs created for African Americans in the U.S. She issued a half-hearted apology on Twitter. She tweeted a doctored video of Jim Acosta allegedly accosting an intern CNN’s Jim Acosta has become known for his not backing off tough questions during Sanders’ press briefings, and he’s the only journalist from a major news organization who temporarily had his White House press credentials revoked. The reason for his losing his access was based on this video, which Sanders tweeted out, that appeared to show Acosta physically brushing aside a White House intern, who was instructed to remove the microphone from Acosta. Trouble is, that video was doctored. It was sped up in a way that made it appear that Acosta had been more forceful than he actually was. Here’s the original, alongside Sanders’ version: “We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” Sanders said. “This conduct is absolutely unacceptable.” Acosta had his press credentials restored less than two weeks later . She said 4,000 suspected or known terrorists had tried to enter the country through the southern border There were only six immigrants at ports of entry whose names were listed in the federal database of known or suspected terrorists who were apprehended at the southern border in the first half of 2018, Customs and Border Protection told NBC News . By comparison, 41 immigrants on terror watch lists were picked up at the Canadian border. She said Trump never encouraged violence at MAGA rallies “The president in no way, form, or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence of anything,” Sanders told reporters in June of 2017. “Quite the contrary.” Trump has, very clearly, encouraged violence. \'I'd like to punch him in the face,\' Trump said in February of 2016 from his soapbox during the presidential campaign. “In the old days, protesters would be carried out on stretchers.” She peddled the claim that Obama wiretapped Trump campaign Trump recently admitted that he basically made them up — when he said that Obama wiretapped his campaign, it was “a little bit of a hunch,” Trump told Fox’s Sean Hannity in April — but Sanders stuck with the line until the end. In March of 2019, she accused Democrats of orchestrating the entire Mueller investigation, by means including the wiretapping of the Trump campaign, which didn’t happen . “They were behind pushing a fake dossier, they were behind the wiretapping, they were behind spying on a U.S. campaign,” she said on CNN in March. “100 percent, they were behind it.” She said Chicago has the “strictest gun laws in the country” “One of the things that we don’t want to do is try to create laws that won’t stop these kinds of things from happening,” Sanders said during a press conference following the 2017 mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas. “If you look to Chicago, where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes last year, they have the strictest gun laws in the country. That certainly hasn’t helped there.” Chicago does not have the strictest gun laws in the country. The city used to have a handgun ban; that was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2010. Chicago also used to punish violators of its gun policies more strictly than it does today. Gun regulation advocates regularly call on the state of Illinois to increase the restrictiveness of its gun laws. “Illinois could further improve its grade by strengthening the regulation of gun dealers, limiting bulk firearm purchases, and restricting large-capacity magazines,” the Giffords Law Center noted in its annual report of states’ gun laws. It did note that the state has among the most restrictive gun laws in the country, but Illinois does not have the toughest gun laws in the country. She said she was “thankful” for the press During a briefing right before Thanksgiving of 2017, Sanders told journalists in the White House briefing room that they should say something their thankful for before asking a question, and said, “Obviously, you probably know and it’s no secret, that I’m clearly very thankful for all of you in the room. I think that goes without saying.” The journalists in the room couldn’t contain their laughter. Cover image: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talks to reporters during the daily press briefing in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)'

Flint, Michigan Has Been Betrayed — A Lot. Residents Say It’s Happening Again.

News VICE News

“To have faith in someone, for a Flint resident, is taboo.”
'Residents of Flint, Michigan, are running out of reasons to trust that officials will ever bring them any sort of justice. They had hoped Attorney General Dana Nessel would get tough on the state officials behind the city’s lead-tainted water crisis. But on Thursday, Nessel announced the attorneys leading the investigation had dropped criminal charges against all eight officials involved and would have to start the investigation over entirely — after $30 million and years of investigative work. The prosecutors said they had “grave concerns” with the way the investigation was carried out by the prior state administration but didn’t fully elaborate. And that’s just the most recent frustration. Flint has watched as an investigation meant to offer closure dragged on for years. Nick Lyon, the state’s former Health and Human Services director and the highest-ranking official to be charged, was facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter over a legionnaires’ outbreak that killed at least 12 people. Eden Wells, the state’s former chief medical executive, was charged with misconduct in office. It’s unclear if they and other officials will ever face charges again. Many residents had hoped in particular that former Gov. Rick Snyder would be held responsible, but he never faced charges at all . Flint is a majority black city where 41% of the population lives below the poverty line. “To have faith in someone, for a Flint resident, is taboo,” Catrina Tillman, a spokesperson for the city’s First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, told VICE News. She said the citizens now feel betrayed not just by the lies initial water crisis but the lack of accountability. Seven of the original 15 defendants reached plea deals with Flood and avoided jail time. Fadwa Hammoud, the new special prosecutor, dismissed former special prosecutor Todd Flood in April. Four years later, no closure In 2014, Michigan appointed the emergency managers that switched the city’s water supply to save money. The state-appointed special prosecutors then overruled Flint’s city council when it tried to bring the water back to its original source. But the water supply wasn’t properly treated, corroded the pipes, and people almost immediately became sick from elevated lead levels and rashes. By 2015, evidence had appeared of a spike in legionnaires’ disease, a severe lung infection that can be deadly. But in July of that year, a state official had said “anyone who is concerned about lead in the drinking water in Flint can relax.” Six months later, in January 2016, Gov. Snyder finally declared a state of emergency and acknowledged that children living in the majority-black town had been poisoned. He urged all Flint children younger than 6 to receive blood-lead level testing. “To have faith in someone, for a Flint resident, is taboo.” The federal Environmental Protection Agency had repeatedly told the state about the problems with its water, but Michigan’s officials ignored the warnings. When prosecutors finally opened up a criminal probe into the officials accused of being responsible, they allegedly overlooked information and persons of interest, according to the new prosecutors handling the case. That’s one reason why Flint’s mayor, Karen Weaver, said in a statement Thursday that she welcomes a new probe. She said “millions of documents and a lot of devices” should have been turned over to prosecutors. The attorneys could reinstate charges at any time and add new defendants — like Snyder. But it’s not clear how quickly that will happen, if ever. Prosecutors aren’t speaking to the community directly until a “community conversation” in Flint on June 28. Years could pass before the city sees justice. \'I want to remind the people of Flint that justice delayed is not always justice denied and a fearless and dedicated team of career prosecutors and investigators are hard at work to ensure those who harmed you are held accountable,\' Nessel said in a statement . Not all the officials involved in the investigations agree with her. Both former Attorney General Bill Schuette and former special prosecutor, Todd Flood, who are no longer involved, deny there was any reason to restart the investigation. But Nessel said she trusts the prosecutors who say it’s necessary for a complete and thorough investigation. “We don’t even know what the impacts are yet, it’s going to take years to study the mental health and cognitive impacts, to assess the physical ailments that may come from this crisis,” said LaTricea Adams, president of Black Millennials for Flint , a grassroots environmental justice group. While Flint’s lead levels have improved significantly and the city has replaced old pipes, nearly five years after the crisis began, the city’s residents still don’t trust they have clean drinking water coming out of their taps. Some toddlers in town have never been able to drink fresh water at their own homes, according to Tillman, the spokesperson for a local church. “It feels like a slap in the face,” Tillman said. Cover image: Flint resident Freddie Fisher shouts out \'No justice, no peace!\' as she joins more than 50 Flint residents who rally on the five-year anniversary of the Flint water crisis at the Capitol Building on Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Lansing, Mich. (Jake May/MLive.com/The Flint Journal via AP)'

Ivanka Made Bank from Her Dad's Hotel in D.C.

Business VICE News

Trump raked in almost $4 million last year from her stake in her father’s Washington D.C. hotel.
'WASHINGTON — Ivanka Trump raked in almost $4 million last year from her stake in her father’s Washington D.C. hotel, a local favorite among well-heeled foreign dignitaries that stands just a 15-minute stroll from the White House. She also earned at least $1 million from her fashion line of handbags, shoes and dresses, according to financial disclosures released on Friday. All told, Ivanka , 37, and her real estate-tycoon husband, Jared Kushner , 38, together earned somewhere between $29 million to $135 million last year, according to a tabulation of the lengthy disclosure forms by Bloomberg . That windfall — worth many times what most Americans will earn in their lifetimes — arrived while the couple served as advisors to President Trump, Ivanka’s father. The wealth and far-flung business interests of Trump and his family have raised conflict of interest concerns and questions from Democrats in Congress about whether the Trump clan’s personal financial incentives may be playing a role in U.S. foreign policy decisions. Trump’s hotel in D.C., from which Trump himself reportedly earned $41 million last year, has been especially contentious. In one instance, lobbyists representing the government of Saudi Arabia reserved an estimated 500 rooms at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. within a month of Trump’s election in 2016, according to The Washington Post , spending a total of more than $270,000. While the cash have been rolling in, Ivanka’s husband Jared has had a heavy hand in formulating U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, including an attempt to negotiate peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. The forms also show that Kushner owns a stake in a real estate firm called Cadre worth at least $25 million. That company pulled in more than $90 million in foreign funding from a mysterious and opaque offshore entity based in the Cayman Islands during the time since Kushner entered the White House, according to a recent report in The Guardian . Trump himself earned more than $400 million from his real estate and golf empire last year, according to his own disclosure forms. House Democrats have launched investigations into Trump’s finances and subpoenaed his tax returns, and filed a lawsuit alleging that Trump’s private business activities run afoul of the Constitution’s ban on receiving gifts or payments from foreign governments, a term referred to as the “emoluments clause.” Ivanka said last year she plans to shutter her clothing line to focus on her job advising her father in the White House. Cover: Ivanka Trump, right, sits with Kim Kardashian West, who is among the celebrities who have advocated for criminal justice reform, as they listen to President Donald Trump speak about second chance hiring in the East Room of the White House, Thursday June 13, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)'

Migrant Detention Centers Are Getting Slammed with Mumps and Chicken Pox

Public Protection VICE News

Since September, U.S. immigration officials have quarantined 5,200 adult migrants due to ongoing disease outbreaks
'Thousands of undocumented immigrants have been quarantined because of mumps and chickenpox outbreaks in several U.S. detention centers. Since September, U.S. immigration officials have quarantined 5,200 adult migrants due to ongoing disease outbreaks at detention centers nationwide, according to CNN . Often, that means people are blocked from seeing visitors, but in certain circumstances quarantines have also curtailed immigrants’ access to legal aid. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday that thousands of detainees across 39 detention centers have been exposed to mumps or the chickenpox — two highly contagious illnesses that can be prevented with a vaccine — while at least 100 migrants have been exposed to both illnesses, according to CNN . Unvaccinated and exposed people are quarantined regardless of whether they’re actually sick to avoid the spread of the disease. Only 297 detainees have come down with mumps so far. On March 7, however, immigration officials confirmed 2,287 detainees were in quarantine. That means more than twice as many people are now being blocked from critical services until the outbreaks die down. In part, the outbreak could be attributed to the influx of Central American migrants streaming across the southern border, many of them seeking asylum. Detention centers have become overcrowded. “It’s not surprising that when you have people stacked on top of each other like sardines, when an outbreak does start, it’s going to rip through one of these facilities like wildfire,” Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, of the Legal Aid Justice Center, told WVTF in Virginia . There are 24 confirmed or suspected mumps cases at a detention facility in Farmville. Mumps has an incubation period of 12 to 25 days. In March, lawyers for 17 immigrants detained in the Pine Prairie Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center in Louisiana said their clients were blocked from their attorneys for two weeks during a quarantine regarding mumps — though immigration court proceedings continued. Quarantined detainees were also blocked from the library, where they might access translations and paperwork for detention proceedings. The Louisiana facility is privately owned, and individual facilities are able to set their own protocols for handling quarantines. Similarly, the Denver Contract Detention Facility in Colorado — also operated by a for-profit company — has had multiple chicken pox outbreaks and several cases of mumps. Colorado Rep. Jason Crow argued that the facility has only one physician to treat its 1,600-plus detainees. And a jail contracting with ICE in Bergen County, New Jersey, has been placed under quarantine due to mumps. There have been at least 167 mumps cases confirmed in Texas immigration detention facilities this year alone, according to Houston Public Media. “We should be vaccinating all at-risk people as early as possible, particularly if we are about to confine them in a closed space with a bunch of other unvaccinated people in the setting of an outbreak. This is ridiculous,” said Jody Rich, professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Brown University and a volunteer with Physicians for Human Rights, told Houston Public Media in May. Cover: In this Sept. 10, 2014, file photo, detained immigrant children line up in the cafeteria at the Karnes County Residential Center, a detention center for immigrant families, in Karnes City, Texas. The Trump administration stopped using the center to hold parents and children in March 2019. It’s cut back on family detention even as it complains it has to “catch and release” migrant families, many of them Central American parents and children who seek asylum. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)'

2020 Democrats Hate the Hyde Amendment. But They Vote for It Anyway.

Politics VICE News

“Let me be clear on the Hyde Amendment, I would repeal it tomorrow.'
'The top contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination have made reversing a measure that blocks federal funding for abortion a top priority on the campaign trail. But Democrats back in Washington, D.C. apparently haven’t gotten the message. Despite the outcry, the Democrat-controlled House is set to pass a package of federal spending bills next week that still includes the rule, called the Hyde Amendment. The fight just isn’t a risk Democrats want to take, especially not when a potential government shutdown is on the line. “Let me be clear on the Hyde Amendment, I would repeal it tomorrow,” Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark, the Democratic caucus vice chair, said in a press conference Tuesday, according to Buzzfeed News . But, right now, she went on, “We felt that the Hyde Amendment was going to become a focal point that could collapse everything in the [spending] bill.” The Hyde Amendment is not a permanent law, but a rider on annual budgeting bills that must be consistently renewed. Named after former Illinois Republican Rep. Henry Hyde, it was first passed in 1976 and currently bans federal money from Medicaid and other government health insurance programs from being used for abortions, except in the cases of rape, or incest, or if a pregnancy that threatens a mother’s life. Earlier this week, Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Barbara Lee of California, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts introduced a provision to remove Hyde from the funding package. But on Tuesday night, House Rules Committee ruled it was “out of order,” keeping it from even going to the floor for a vote. That effectively spelled the end of the effort to repeal Hyde this year. “I wish we never had a Hyde Amendment, but it is the law of the land right now and I don't see that there is an opportunity to get rid of it with the current occupant of the White House and some in the United States Senate,\' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN . Members of Congress don’t vote directly on Hyde — rather, they vote for the enormous package of spending bills that include Hyde. Democrats running for the White House have tried to capitalize on that technicality. \'Let's be clear, I've not voted for the Hyde Amendment,\' California Sen. Kamala Harris told NPR . \'The Hyde Amendment is the law. And so it has been attached to other funding bills, and until we repeal it, which is what I am in favor of, it will be attached to federal government funding bills. That's the problem with the Hyde Amendment.\' Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has tried to make a similar argument. But those statements might be a bit overly broad — given that every House or Senate member who’s running for president has voted for bills that included Hyde language, as New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said in a press conference this week. Now, four 2020 candidates — current Reps. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, Tim Ryan of Ohio, and Eric Swalwell of California — may be forced to vote on it as early as next week, when the House is expected to vote on 2020 federal spending bills that will include Hyde, according to NPR . Senators will likely have to vote on the bills, and the Hyde language, later this year. A longstanding fight For decades, Hyde remained relatively uncontroversial, at least within the halls of Congress. Even Democrats who generally supported abortion rights did not necessarily want to use taxpayer dollars to pay for it. “If it’s not government’s business, then you have to accept the whole of that concept, which means you don’t proscribe your right to have an abortion and you don’t take your money to assist someone else to have an abortion,” then-Sen. Joe Biden told UPI in 1986 . But outcry against Hyde has swelled in recent years, thanks in part to the grassroots activism of reproductive justice advocates, who’ve railed against Hyde’s disproportionate effects on low-income women and women of color. In 2014, 75% of abortions took place among low-income people ; 64% were among black or Latina women. In 2016, with Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee, the Democratic Party added repealing Hyde to its platform for the first time. Since then, Democratic worries over abortion access have only deepened, thanks to Republican states’ successful efforts to pass laws that would ban abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy and take down Roe v. Wade , the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Now, the top candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination are united in their support for repealing Hyde. Many of those candidates — like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and California Sen. Kamala Harris — have also backed a bill that would effectively repeal Hyde. (It’s unlikely to pass.) Last Tuesday, Biden became the first Democratic candidate to say he supported Hyde. That sparked a fierce backlash from abortion rights advocates and Biden’s rivals for the presidency; when MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asked Elizabeth Warren if Biden’s position was wrong, she responded simply, “Yes.” “Under the Hyde Amendment, under every one of these effort to chip away or to push back or to get rid of Roe v. Wade , understand this: Women of means will still have access to abortions,” she explained. Two days after declaring his support for the Hyde Amendment, Biden reversed his decades-long position on it. “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” Biden said, according to the New York Times . Cover image: Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., waves after speaking during a campaign event at the Unity Freedom Presidential Forum Friday, May 31, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)'

Meet the Muslim Patrol That’s Looking Out for Brooklyn Mosques

Community VICE News

A group of Muslim volunteers in Brooklyn have taken to the streets in patrol cars that look like NYPD Vehicles, in an effort to create a community watch
'BROOKLYN, New York — A recent spate of attacks on houses of worship — including the shootings at a synagogue in San Diego at the end of April and the Easter church bombings in Sri Lanka — have put religious communities on edge across the globe. But in Brooklyn, a group of Muslim volunteers have created a new community patrol service, aptly named the Muslim Community Patrol and Services, to keep a lookout over the community. Similar to Jewish and Asian community patrol groups that came before it, MCPS began shifts in late March, going around their local neighborhoods and communicating with law enforcement when they come across incidents. “A lot of crime is deterred just by the presence itself —having the lights on, having the cars look like the way they are,” one of the volunteers, Mohammad Khan, told VICE News. The patrol cars look very similar to those of the NYPD, which volunteers say help their deterrence efforts. But unlike the NYPD, MCPS are not law enforcement and are bound by the law, meaning they can’t run red lights or carry firearms. The MCPS have just over 30 volunteers trained in CPR, self-defense, active shooter training, among others. The patrols are scheduled, unscheduled and random, and their dispatch is online 24/7 so that they can respond to any type of call that comes in. “There are over 350 mosques in New York City. Most of them don't have security,” said Khan. “So if something happens like God forbid another attack like [the one in] New Zealand can take place in any of these mosque in New York City, because they don't have patrol. They don't have security.“'

The Last Days of the White Helmets In Syria

News VICE News

There were once thousands of these volunteer first responders, who stepped up when state agencies failed.
'IDLIB, Syria — Only a few hundred White Helmets are left in this last remaining Syrian town that's not under Bashar Assad’s control. And their days may be numbered: The Syrian Army and its Russian allies have already started a bombing campaign here, killing 25 in the city of about 3 million . There were once thousands of these volunteers across Syria, many of them carpenters, bakers and medical students, who stepped up when state agencies failed to protect and rescue the civilians caught up in rebel-held areas of the Syrian conflict. They've responded to some of the most brutal bombing campaigns of the 21st century. But the regime often targets the White Helmets (the Syrian Civil Defense), employing a “double tap” tactic: They will bomb an area, and when the paramedics come on the scene, they bomb it again. Moaaed Hafi, 27, has faced that danger since he took up ranks with the White Helmets in Eastern Ghouta five years ago. Among his rescue efforts, he’s pulled dozens of young children from underneath the rubble. “The fear exists. But it doesn't make you turn your back and leave. Why? Because you see the civilians calling for you,” Hafi told VICE News. “They see us as their rescuing angels. So it's impossible to desert them and run away.” Hafi was evacuated out of Eastern Ghouta last year at the height of the offensive on that last enclave. Now, he’s stuck in Idlib, with his wife and baby daughter. But Hafi continues to respond to the near daily airstrikes. “If, God forbid, the regime takes control over Idlib, our fate is known,” Hafi said, “If the regime captures any of us alive, we would be killed — arrested first, then killed for sure.” Filmed by Amer al-Sayd Ali. Edited by Jeb Banegas. Additional reporting by Amer Almohibany. This segment originally aired June 13, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.'

Oklahoma Republicans Are Suddenly OK with Housing Migrant Kids at Fort Sill

Law and Order VICE News

They objected when Obama did it, but that was then.
'For some Oklahoma Republicans, using the Fort Sill military base to house migrant kids was objectionable when Obama did it, but it’s fine now that Trump wants to. In fact, they’re even blaming Obama for making it “necessary.” “Decades of immigration failures, made worse by the Obama administration, have created such a crisis on the southern border that it is necessary to turn to military resources to assist unaccompanied minors arriving from Central America,” Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe said in a press release . When Obama used Fort Sill for the same purpose in 2014, Inhofe told Roll Call that using the base in Lawton as a shelter would “impede on the base’s vital responsibility to house and train new recruits.” Not anymore. “I have spoken to the Trump administration and local base officials and am confident that, unlike 2014, there is an organized, responsible plan for temporarily housing unaccompanied minors at Fort Sill that will not have an adverse impact to readiness on the missions at Fort Sill,” Inhofe’s statement continues. The Trump administration confirmed its plan to use part of Fort Sill as a temporary shelter for about 1400 unaccompanied migrant kids on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the Administration of Children and Families’ Department of Health of Human Services told VICE News that the arrival date of the children isn’t set yet. The administration has repeatedly said that the licensed shelters most migrant children are sent to after arriving in the U.S. are nearly at capacity due to a steady increase of unaccompanied minors at the border in recent months. When asked for clarification on the differences between the Trump and Obama administrations’ use of the base for the same purpose, Inhofe’s spokesperson Leacy Burke told VICE News that the senator had been assured that the shelter would only be used temporarily. “[The Department of Defense] has also secured a memorandum of understanding with [the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the agency charged with caring for child migrants] to ensure that any funds expended by DOD in connection with this mission are reimbursed by HHS,” Burke said in an email. “This will preserve precious resources for our men and women in uniform.” In 2018, though, the Trump administration considered using military resources to house detained migrants, Reuters reported . Trump reportedly asked the Pentagon to build new facilities specifically for migrants. Inhofe isn’t the only Oklahoma Republican who criticized Obama for using Fort Sill as a shelter and now supports Trump’s decision to do so. In 2014, Sen. James Lankford, who was in the House at the time, called on the Obama administration to deport the children who arrived at the border. Like Inhofe, he issued a press release supporting Trump’s decision on Wednesday. Inhofe’s office did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment. Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas also criticized the Obama administration’s use of the base in 2014. “Military bases such as Fort Sill have stepped up to temporarily house thousands of unaccompanied minors arriving from Central America,” he said at the time . “However, the Obama Administration cannot continue to rely on such facilities as a long-term solution to illegal immigration.” Patrick Bond, a spokesperson for Lucas, told VICE News that the congressman never opposed Obama’s use of the base as a shelter — but he did say the administration was relying on shelters in military bases as a long-term solution, something he claims Trump isn’t doing. But the Fort Sill shelter was only used temporarily during the Obama administration. The Obama administration announced its plan to use part of the base as an emergency shelter in June 2014 . Just two months later, Politico reported that the Obama administration had expanded its network of licensed shelters and, as a result, would begin phasing out the use of Fort Sill and two other military bases — an Air Force base in Texas and a California Naval base. By August 2014, approximately 190 migrant kids were held at Fort Sill, which had the capacity for 1,200, according to the Politico report. Between May and June 2014, the HHS, which oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement, took in nearly 20,000 unaccompanied children. Slightly fewer than 5,500 kids were in HHS care by August. As Politico noted at the time, the sharp drop in the number of children in ORR custody shows how quickly the Obama administration worked to process and release the migrant children to their sponsors — another policy that was criticized by Republicans, who claimed the asylum-seeking children would skip their court dates if released. Meanwhile, lawyers who work with detained children have told VICE News that the Trump administration has slowed down the reunification process, forcing child migrants to stay in government shelters for longer periods of time. And the Obama administration also reimbursed the DOD for the costs of holding migrant kids at Fort Sill and two other bases. “In 2014 and again in 2016, we entered into [memoranda of understanding] with DOD which expressly provided that DOD would not bear any costs of making their facilities available for the shelters,” Mark Greenberg, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute who served as the assistant secretary of the Administration of Children and Families of HHS, told VICE News. Unlike immigrant advocates, Oklahoma Republicans didn’t oppose Obama’s use of Fort Sill or other military bases on humanitarian grounds — instead, they claimed they didn’t want military resources being used to shelter migrant kids. But now that Trump is doing the same thing, it seems just fine. Cover: UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 2: Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., followed by Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., walk to the Senate Republicans' lunch in the Capitol on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)'

Steve King Is Trying to Prove He's Not Racist with a Bonkers Comeback Tour

Politics VICE News

Banished for racist remarks, Republicans seem willing to allow the disgraced Iowa congressman back into polite company.
'WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve King is making a comeback. At least in his own mind. The Iowa Republican, who has met with European far-right extremists, repeatedly given voice to racist ideas, and is most recently known for questioning why “white supremacy” is considered offensive, has spent the last six months in the shadows after he was stripped of his committee assignments at the beginning of the year. But now he’s on a revival tour, and some Republicans are eager to help get him out of the penalty box. “You know I’m not 100% against him becoming re-involved in the process. He has a district to represent,” Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) told VICE News. “I think he needs to be allowed to know when he can rejoin. I don’t know if that’s tomorrow or next year or when he gets reelected — or what.” Since King was all but neutered by his own party leaders, the eight-term Iowa congressman has been avoiding the spotlight. Some Republicans would like him to stay there, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the third-most powerful House Republican, who called for him to resign and told VICE News she stands by that. But this week King was invited back into polite company by the Iowa Republican Party who welcomed him to President Trump’s fundraiser in Iowa. Then he teamed up with social media personalities-turned-Fox Nation hosts Diamond and Silk to introduce a new, harsh anti-immigrant bill that he named after the alt-right duo. The legislation would divert funds from so-called sanctuary cities to homeless veterans, literally starving cities of promised and expected federal funds. King maintains he and Trump are on the same page when it comes to harshly punishing the nation’s more progressive urban centers, like Philadelphia and San Francisco, for protecting undocumented immigrants. The White House did not respond to a request for comment on that claim. While King wasn’t allowed to travel to Iowa with Trump on Air Force One, the White House didn’t bar him from the private fundraiser. And King reveled in seeing his own fringe-right notions reflected in the president’s remarks on immigration. “I’m glad that we’re at this point now where the president of the United States recognizes it and has made it a central point to his campaign,” King told reporters when he was back at the Capitol the day after the speech. “I’m glad that I heard him speak of this last night in Des Moines.” King has drawn heat for retweeting British white nationalists and for going out of his way to endorse long-shot white nationalist Toronto mayoral candidate Faith Goldy last year. The final straw for GOP leaders in the House was when he told the New York Times, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Out of hiding That’s when most Republicans in Congress abandoned him. But at the Capitol, King is no longer running from the press corps in shame. That’s in part because he feels support from the conservative media machine. Enter Diamond and Silk — Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson — two African-American women who have made bank off their Fox News fame since Trump fully hopped into politics. At their press conference with King on the Capitol grounds this week, they yelled at reporters who dared question King and his support of racist ideologues. “What did you two think of him retweeting a white supremacist?” VICE News asked at their press conference with King. “I’m tired of you all playing the race card. You play the gender card. You play the sex card. It’s tiresome” “What is the definition of a white supremacy?” Diamond shot back. “I’m tired of you all playing the race card. You play the gender card. You play the sex card. It’s tiresome. It’s time to start working for Americans. And stop calling everybody a racist.” Thing was, King, Silk, and Diamond didn’t want to talk about King’s record of giving voice to chauvinists of “Western civilization.” They just wanted to discuss their new bill to punish cities that view themselves as compassionate for not trying to deport their residents who don’t have green cards or work visas. “So is [sic] there any other questions?” King asked. “Let’s make them on topic or we’re not gonna answer.” “Why were you barred from Air Force One?” a reporter asked. “That’s not on topic,” King shot back. “Couldn’t you hear me? I can’t hear you either then. Any other questions?” After some heated exchanges with the gathered reporters King offered a defense of himself. “I’m misquoted in the New York Times,” King said. “There isn’t a single accuser that has come forward and said they’ve ever had a face-to-face dealing with me anything other than respectful.” King’s carefully selected allies agreed. “I think that Steve King should be reinstated in his committee, because he’s doing a job for the American people,” Diamond offered at one point. Republican allies Diamond and Silk aren’t alone in embracing what Democrats had thought was a disgraced King. He’s also got allies in Congress trying to get him re-seated on his coveted committee posts. Of late his congressional besties, Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), and some others have been lobbying GOP leaders to fully empower King again. Gohmert told VICE News that King should never have been booted from his coveted committees —– the posts where lawmakers, especially more senior ones like King, wield the most influence. He believes it was a mistake in the first place. “Yeah. I do,” Gohmert said while walking in to cast a vote. “The New York Times didn’t punctuate the sentence properly.” Democrats are baffled by such sentiments supportive of King. “His remarks are consistently egregious, and he has disgraced himself and the Republican Conference repeatedly” “His remarks are consistently egregious, and he has disgraced himself and the Republican Conference repeatedly,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told VICE News while walking down the steps of the Capitol after casting a vote. But many Republicans see things differently, and even some more moderate Republicans are open to supporting King’s attempted revival tour. “I’ve always gotten along with Steve King, but he went too far on a few of the comments,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told VICE News at the Capitol. Even as Steve King is facing a primary battle and tough re-election bid ahead, Peter King is assuming Steve King will be back representing his Iowa district. “Next Congress will be a different story,” he said. Other supposedly middle-of-the-road Republicans agree, and they’re open to giving Steve King his committee posts back no matter who King RT’s, endorses or quotes. They just want to give him an open airing of his grievances first. “Undecided,” Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) told VICE News on the steps of the Capitol. “Wanna hear the arguments both ways first.” Still, Katko doesn’t support the sentiments that have dripped from Steve King’s mouth though. “Well, his comments aren’t helpful for the party, that’s for sure,” Katko said. That’s the problem, according to Democrats who are bewildered that their GOP counterparts are even contemplating giving King a second life. “I think that that would be an awful value statement for them. If you look at his racist and anti-Semitic and other words, I mean even since he’s been removed from committees he’s still at it. He’s still saying divisive, hateful, bigoted stuff,” Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, told VICE News. “I don’t think he’s learned his lesson. I don’t think he’s ever said, ‘I’m sorry.’” Cover: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, holds a press conference on sanctuary cities with Diamond and Silk at the Capitol on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)'

Survivors of Japanese Internment Are Horrified Trump Is Using a Former Facility to Detain Migrant Kids

Law and Order VICE News

“We’ve already heard of psychological issues among children in these shelters,” said former U.S. Representative Norman Mineta.
'Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here. Satsuki Ina knows what U.S. government detention is like. In fact, that’s where she was born, as part of the forced internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Now, she’s a psychotherapist who’s studied the effects of detention on migrant kids. “I know what’s happening to these children will have a lasting impact on their mental health. Indefinite detention is a form of torture,” said Ina, who grew up in the Tule Lake Segregation Center, a maximum security internment camp in Newell city, California. She’s one of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans the U.S. detained. When the Trump administration announced its plan this week to turn a former WWII internment camp in Oklahoma into an emergency shelter for migrant children, many Japanese-Americans worried history was repeating itself. They’d heard about the effects indefinite detention can have on people, especially children — and some, like Ina, lived it. Research has already shown that detention makes children particularly vulnerable to a host of psychological issues including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention-deficit disorder. And lawyers and therapists who work with child migrants have said those problems are exacerbated by the “prison-like” conditions of temporary emergency shelters. “It’s exactly the same rhetoric — ‘They’re a threat to national security’ — without any evidence,” Ina said. “We want to remind America that this horrible thing that took place during World War II is being repeated.” Fort Sill, an Army base in Lawton City, Oklahoma, held approximately 700 Japanese-Americans during WWII. Detainees slept in four-person tents and were under constant surveillance by armed guards. During the war, the base was one of more than 70 sites across the country where Japanese-Americans were detained. Fort Sill was also used as a prison for the Apache leader Geronimo in 1894. More than 300 other Apaches, including women and children, were also held there. Now, part of the facility will soon become a temporary influx shelter to house 1,400 unaccompanied child immigrants. The rest of the facility will continue to be an active Army base staffed with more than 20,000 personnel. The migrant children won’t come into contact with the military, Department of Health and Human Services officials have said. “What I see repeated over and over again is the government’s use of euphemisms and falsehoods,” said Tom Ikeda, the founder and executive director of Denshō, an organization that collects testimonies from internment camp survivors. His parents and grandparents were also interned during WWII. “The official name for the concentration camps that held Japanese-Americans during World War II was ‘war relocation centers,’” Ikeda said. “When we hear the government today sugarcoat what they're doing, it's a pattern that we've seen throughout the history of this country.” “I know what’s happening to these children will have a lasting impact on their mental health.\' The Trump administration has increasingly relied on influx shelters — like the one in Homestead, Florida , and the now-shuttered “tent city” shelter in Tornillo, Texas — to house unaccompanied child migrants until they can be released to a sponsor, like their parent or another family member. The administration has said it needs to use unlicensed shelters to address the recent influx of migrants, which has led to overcrowding at licensed facilities. In May, Customs and Border Protection apprehended more than 11,000 unaccompanied minors , a 29 percent increase from the previous month. But unlike licensed shelters — which are typically operated by nonprofit organizations with contracts with the government — temporary shelters don’t adhere to state licensing requirements. Last week, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is charged with caring for unaccompanied migrant children, said it would no longer fund certain nonessential services in licensed or unlicensed shelters, including daily schooling, outdoor playtime, and legal services. In this June 17, 2014 file photo, a vehicle drives by a sign at Scott Gate, one of the entrances to Fort Sill, in Fort Sill, Okla. The federal government has chosen Fort Sill, a military base in Oklahoma, as the location for a new temporary shelter to house migrant children. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File) “The state of emergency that was declared at the border earlier this year has managed to both help generate [a state of exception] and to take advantage of this special status to make policy and budgetary shifts working in opposition to any real solution to the problem,” Andrea Pitzer, a journalist and the author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps , told VICE News. “Like the earlier wartime internment, this detention will only do harm to the people detained, and does not advance public safety.” But the completion of Trump’s plan wouldn’t be the first time migrant children have been detained at the former Japanese internment camp. The Obama administration turned three military bases, including Fort Sill, into emergency shelters for child migrants in 2014. At the time, Oklahoma’s congressional delegation opposed the administration’s decision . Republican Sen. James Inhofe, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the Obama administration’s use of the base would “impede on the base’s ability to train new recruits.” But now, Inhofe and other Oklahoma Republicans have said they support Trump’s plan to do the same. A “shameful and immoral” practice In addition to working as a child psychotherapist, Ina regularly visits and interviews detained immigrant children. She, along with other mental health researchers , believe the psychological effects of migrant detention are similar to those experienced by Japanese-Americans incarcerated during the war. “My oldest brother was born in the Topaz, Utah, camp,” Ina said. “Then, she [my mother] got pregnant with me. Later, I asked why she got pregnant again, and she told me it was because she heard families with more children were less likely to be separated.” Most of the men and women who grew up in internment camps would now be at least 75. And Ikeda, who has interviewed hundreds of them through his work at Denshō, has also seen the harmful effects of their childhoods firsthand. “I’ve interviewed men and women who are now in their late 70s and 80s who were children at the camps, and you can see the suppression of their emotions as the result of something they had no control over,” he said. At the temporary shelter in Homestead, Florida, for example, lawyers suing the Trump administration over conditions at the facility recounted signs of anxiety, depression, and even self-harm among the migrant kids housed there. “We’ve already heard of psychological issues among children in these shelters,” said Norman Mineta, 87, a former Democratic member of the House of Representatives who also served as the Secretary of Transportation during George W. Bush’s administration. “The forced evacuation and internment of those of Japanese ancestry was a gross violation of the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.” Mineta, who was interned at a camp in Wyoming as a child, described detaining migrant children for extended periods of time without due process as a similar violation of their rights. “Our only crime was that we looked like those who attacked Pearl Harbor. No charges were ever filed against us. No trials,” he told VICE News. California Democrat Rep. Mark Takano is also the child of Japanese-American victims of the government’s internment policy. His grandparents lost their property during the time they were detained; his father, a child at the time, was burned during his time in the camps. “Families like mine still bear the scars from the suffering they underwent when they were held in Japanese internment camps during World War II. It is shameful and immoral for our government to be holding immigrant children seeking asylum in those very same facilities that caused so much suffering,” Takano told VICE News. “Military bases, makeshift camps, and federal prison cells are not appropriate places to house people who are coming to this country seeking asylum, especially children,” he added. A long list of accusations The Trump administration has repeatedly come under fire for expanding the use of unlicensed shelters for child migrants. The Office of Refugee Resettlement has contracts with nonprofit organizations that operate approximately 168 licensed shelters in 23 states. Administration officials have warned that these shelters are nearly at capacity, largely because of a surge in recent arrivals at the border, which prompted a need for unlicensed emergency shelters like the one that will soon open at Fort Sill. But attorneys who work with child migrants have previously told VICE News that licensed shelters are full because the government has drawn out the process through which children are reunited with their sponsors — not just because more children are showing up at the border. They’ve described these unlicensed shelters as not only inadequate for children but three times more expensive to run than licensed shelters. Although Fort Sill has been used to detain children and families in the past, Ina said she wants to ensure that never happens again. She’s a member of the Japanese-American activist group Tsuru for Solidarity, a Japanese-American group planning a rally outside the Army base on June 22. In March, the group marched from the Crystal City Family Internment Camp, a Texas facility that held more than 4,000 detainees during World War II, to the South Texas Family Residential Center, a family detention center in Dilley, Texas. Ina said the group, which includes internment survivors who are now in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, will bring thousands of paper cranes to the base. “People have said it’s not the same [as what happened to us] because we’re American citizens,” Ina said. “But to be criminalized and imprisoned while being innocent — it’s the same situation.” Cover image: Rep. Norman Mineta, D-Calif. during a Public Works and Transportation hearing on April 2, 1992. (Photo by Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)'

Are You a Country That Is Not the U.S.? Trump Would Gladly Take Your Dirt on His 2020 Opponents.

Politics VICE News

You can now send the president secrets for the low, low price of a two-year investigation.
'Norway, if you’re reading this, President Donald Trump definitely wants to know if you have any dirt on his 2020 opponents. On Friday morning, President Trump doubled down on his assertion that he would gladly accept information from foreign actors on his election enemies. \'Of course you have to look at it because, if you don't look at it, you're not going to know if it's bad. How are you going to know if it's bad?\' Trump told Fox & Friends on Friday morning. It’s the second time Trump has said he would accept foreign intelligence in three days. Despite that whole Robert Mueller investigation, the president first stirred new controversy earlier this week when he publicly told ABC News that he would totally listen to foreign intelligence about his enemies in the upcoming election. What’s the big deal, anyway? \'I think you might want to listen, there isn't anything wrong with listening,\' Trump continued. \'If somebody called from a country, Norway, ‘We have information on your opponent' — oh, I think I'd want to hear it.\' Read more: Why it's not very legal or very cool to get dirt from a foreign government. If you somehow don’t remember, Trump’s White House has been dogged by scandal after the revelation that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. election on his behalf. Mueller’s report concluded that there was insufficient evidence of willful collusion between Trump and the Russian government. Obstructing justice into that investigation was another matter; Mueller declined to clear him on that front, and said charging Trump was not an option due to Justice Department guidelines. \'If we had had confidence that he clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so,\' Mueller said . But Trump doesn’t seem to have learned much from the Mueller probe. He says he would totally go ahead and see what foreign actors have to say about our election — be it China or, yes, Russia. \'I think you might want to listen. There’s nothing wrong with listening,\' he said. \'It’s not an interference. They have information. I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI.\' Read more: House Dems aren't done talking about the Mueller report . Trump’s 2020 campaign spokeswoman confirmed that Trump would handle offers of dirt on his election opponents on a “case-by-case basis.” “He said he would likely do both: Listen to what they have to say, but also report it to the FBI,\' Kayleigh McEnany said. His son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, though, said in an interview earlier this month that he didn’t know if he would alert the FBI if Russia privately approached him again. In an Axios interview , Kushner was asked: “Would you call the FBI if it happened again?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “It’s hard to do hypotheticals, but the reality is, is that we were not given anything that was salacious.” Cover: Donald Trump campaigns in Staten Island, New York on April 17, 2016. (Photo by: zz/Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx)'

This Reporter's Arrest Is Turning Into a Nightmare for Putin

Politics VICE News

“The reality is that Russia has horrible drug laws, and thousands of people are in jail on bogus drug charges.”
'MOSCOW — Ivan Golunov’s fate appeared all but sealed. The Russian investigative reporter, known for his work exposing corruption in Moscow City Hall, disappeared on Thursday, June 6, shortly after filing a story detailing shady dealings in the Russian funeral industry. More than 12 hours later, he emerged in police custody, having been beaten after he refused to sign a confession, according to his lawyer. Golunov was charged with narcotics trafficking, with arresting officers claiming they found bags of an unidentified substance in his backpack when he was detained outside a Moscow metro station, along with scales and laboratory equipment in his apartment following a police raid. The charges didn’t add up. The Moscow journalism community is tight-knit, and Golunov is well-respected within it. No one who knew him believed he was running a drug manufacturing operation out of his small one-room Moscow apartment. Everyone believed, instead, that Golunov — who works for a fiercely independent online outlet called Meduza — was being framed for his work, which focuses on corruption in the Moscow government. Using trumped up drug charges to silence its critics is nothing new for Russian authorities, but what happened next may be without precedent: following public outrage protests on the streets of Moscow over the treatment of Golunov, the Kremlin, and Putin, were forced to tacitly admitted a mistake was made. One day after the Kremlin issued its first statement on the case, Moscow police dropped all charges against Golunov. The officers responsible for his arrest were suspended pending investigation. And on Thursday, Putin fired the head of the Moscow police counter-narcotics unit and the head of the district where Golunov was arrested. It was hailed as a major victory for Russian civil society, demonstrating both the limits of public tolerance of official corruption and the circumstances under which Putin’s regime would back down to popular pressure. More importantly, it suggested that Putin’s system is weakening, with corrupt cops brazenly fighting to protect what’s theirs and fed-up citizens looking for cracks to exploit. The Kremlin, caught in the middle, is struggling to manage the situation. “The reality is that Russia has horrible drug laws, and thousands of people are in jail on bogus drug charges” “No one will ever be the same again,” wrote journalist Oleg Kashin in an op-ed published by online outlet Republic. “The important and truly historic precedent is that the system has learned to hand over its own. The basic principle of the Putin regime has been violated.” Article 228 Among the reasons Golunov’s case galvanized the public has to do with one of the most popular weapons used by corrupt mid-level officials in Russia: Article 228 of the criminal code, detailing penalties for drug possession and distribution. These laws are widely abused by police officers across the country to frame business competitors, critics, or just random citizens to meet department quotas. (The conviction rate, according to The New Times, an opposition-learning Russian-language magazine, is 99.6 percent.). In recent years, a number of high-profile figures have been charged and sentenced for possession or distribution including Chechen human rights activist Oyub Titiev, who earlier this year was sentenced to four years in a penal colony after authorities claimed to find marijuana in his car. “The reality is that Russia has horrible drug laws, and thousands of people are in jail on bogus drug charges,” Alexei Kovalev, Golunov’s editor, told VICE News. “We received a lot of stories from ordinary people that sounded, almost word for word, like Ivan’s case.” Golunov’s case — initiated under Article 228 — became an unlikely rallying cry for Russians increasingly fed up with a corrupt system. Following Golunov’s arrest, demonstrators began picketing outside Moscow police headquarters and did not let up for days. State media personalities, in an unexpected move, took up the mantle as well. Artists and musicians spread the word to their own audiences across the country. Sentiment hit critical mass on Monday, when three of the nation’s most influential daily newspapers ran identical front-page editorials declaring “I am/We are Ivan Golunov.” For the very first time, the entire Russian-language journalism scene was standing together in solidarity against an attack on one of their own. The message sent by the papers was clear: what happened to Golunov could happen to any of us, even non-journalists. Three of the nation’s most influential daily newspapers ran identical front-page editorials declaring “I am/We are Ivan Golunov.” (Matthew Bodner for VICE News) The people, it seemed, heard the message loud and clear. Copies of the newspapers, collected in sets of three, sold out from Moscow newsstands by lunchtime Monday. Already struggling to address public discontent ranging from altering pension ages to trash dumps poisoning small villages, the Kremlin could ignore the Golunov situation no longer. As the three newspapers sold out, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Putin had seen them and was briefed on the situation. He added that the case raised many questions. Though the Kremlin is engaged in a constant balancing act between appeasing corrupt state apparatchiks at various levels and managing public anger towards those officials, there is a generally understood foundational rule: never be seen to bend to public pressure. And yet that’s exactly what Putin appeared to do. “Civil society is reawakening” The question now is, what comes next? Golunov’s freedom has shown Russians that solidarity and pressure on the authorities can produce results, and some have speculated in the aftermath of the journalist’s release that a page had been turned in Putin’s reign. This idea was bolstered by the news that the Chechen human rights activist, Titiev, also believed to have been framed, was now being released on parole. But some Russian experts caution that less has changed than some might think. “The good news is that civil society is reawakening,” says Andrei Kolesnikov, a political analyst at the Carnegie Moscow think tank. “But the reversal is very pragmatic, nothing more. The Kremlin doesn’t want to have unrest because some police officers were trying to solve their own personal problems. The day after Golunov’s release, we can see the same level of political cruelty as before.” Indeed when Golunov’s supporters gathered on June 12 for an unauthorized protest against police misconduct, the police were given a free hand to take their revenge by detaining more than 500 people out of a crowd of around 2,000. So far, on this matter, the Kremlin has been silent. “This was an effort to demonstrate that nothing has changed, and that Golunov’s case was an isolated one,” Kolesnikov says. “What happened to Ivan is happening to thousands of people“ Kovalev, Golunov’s editor, agrees. “They had to give in because of the overwhelming response, but now they are trying to compartmentalize this to the precinct where Ivan was arrested,” Kovalev said. “But let’s hope that this all is going to at least lead to serious questions asked of the police about the problem of fake drug charges. What happened to Ivan is happening to thousands of people, and they cannot be unaware, at the upper-levels, of the scale of the problem.” There is some indication that the government is waking up to the problem, or is at least spooked by its resonance with the public. Since Golunov’s release, Moscow’s political machine has already shown to be surprisingly receptive to easing drug laws. On Tuesday, in the State Duma, an organ that for years has been seen as little more than a rubber-stamp for Kremlin-approved laws, deputies began to mull a softening of Russia’s stringent drug codes On June 13, a member of Russia’s Academy of Sciences appealed to Putin for a broad review of all cases opened under Article 228 and its related codes. Normally such calls would barely scratch the surface, but the Kremlin decided to acknowledge it — if only to say that Putin has not yet seen the letter. ————— Matthew Bodner is a journalist based in Moscow.'

Italy's Far-Right Interior Minister Wants to Send a Boat Full of Migrants Back to a War Zone

Law and Order VICE News

Matteo Salvini, an anti-immigration hardliner, vowed that their rescue ship would not be allowed to dock in his country’s ports.
'The fates of 53 desperate migrants rescued while crossing the Mediterranean hung in the balance Friday, after Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, vowed their ship would not be allowed to dock in his country’s ports — and should be sent back to a literal war zone instead. The group of migrants — which includes nine women and four minors — were rescued by the Sea-Watch 3, a ship operated by a German humanitarian NGO, from a rubber dinghy in distress about 47 miles (76 km) off the Libyan coast Wednesday. Salvini, an anti-immigration hardliner who says his country’s ports are closed to rescue boats, is insisting the ship disembark the migrants in the closest major port of Tripoli, Libya — currently the scene of fierce militia fighting and an unfolding humanitarian crisis. But Sea-Watch is refusing to comply, saying such a move would breach international laws stating that rescued people should be taken to a safe port. “Tripoli is not a port of safety. It is a crime to forcibly return rescued people to a country at war, where they face unlawful imprisonment and torture,” the group said in a statement. According to the United Nations, more than 650 have been killed since a battle for Tripoli broke out in April. Observers say the uncertain fate faced by the Sea-Watch 3’s passengers is the product of an increasingly hardline campaign by Italy and other European states to close their doors to migration across the Mediterranean, in part by criminalizing the work of the NGO-operated rescue vessels working to save lives in the region. The crackdown — which has seen rescue boats seized by officials, subjected to criminal investigations, and stripped of their flags of convenience, rendering them unable to sail — has succeeded in forcing the ships from carrying out what the United Nations says is vital humanitarian work. Of the 10 NGO rescue boats that once plied the waters of the Mediterranean, only Sea-Watch remains active. Federica Mameli, a Sea Watch spokeswoman, told VICE News Friday that instead of Tripoli the ship had headed towards the Italian island of Lampedusa, where it was currently offshore. The NGO’s defiance drew a fierce response from Salvini on Friday, who said the group was “kidnapping women and children in the middle of the sea.” Salvini has accused rescue ships of being “sea taxis” for migrants, and of working in cahoots with human traffickers; on Wednesday, he threatened to use a tough new security decree — which bans ships considered a risk to security or public order from Italy’s territorial waters, on penalty of a 50,000 euro fine ($56,500) — against Sea-Watch. Italy’s campaign against the rescue boats has involved significant criminal cases being launched against crews who have rescued drowning immigrants. Ten crew members from one vessel, the Iuventa, are facing potential jail sentences of up to 20 years in Italy if found guilty of charges of aiding illegal immigration. Dariush Beigui, the Iuventa’s former captain and among those facing charges, told VICE News that Italy’s crackdown on rescue boats had created the conditions for many more migrant drownings. With the Sea-Watch 3, the only NGO rescue boat still plying the Mediterranean, now locked in a standoff looking for a safe port, there's “no rescue ship is left in the area,\' he said. \'We could help, but we are not allowed to.\' “I am terrified of what will happen in the summer months if Salvini continues to criminalize search and rescue crews.” Beigui said. Carlotta Sami, spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency in Italy, told VICE News that the NGO rescue boats played an “essential and vital role” in saving lives on the Mediterranean. While a controversial deal between Italy and Libya to help Libyan coast guards intercept migrants leaving its shores has led to a sharp overall reduction in the numbers making the crossing — just 2,144 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, compared to 15,448 by the same point last year — the death rate for those attempting the crossing appears to have risen significantly, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration. Roughly one in seven crossings have proven fatal so far this year, compared with about one in 27 last year. The pattern of departures from Libya disproved the claim from Salvini and others that the presence of the rescue boats created a powerful “pull factor” for illegal migration, Sami said. Figures from Italy’s Institute for International Political Studies suggest that on days in 2019 when no rescue boat has been operative, an average of 85 people a day have tried to cross the Mediterranean, with the number dropping to 76 on days when a rescue boat was present. She said the directive to disembark the migrants in Libya was untenable, as it went against international law requiring migrants to be delivered to a safe port. “The situation is so bad in Libya that we’ve been asking European countries to evacuate people from there,” she said. “The situation there has worsened. Nobody should be returned to Libya.” But Salvini is insistent that the migrants, who hail from African countries including Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Libya and Burkina Faso, will not be welcomed on his shores. On Twitter, he brushed aside a statement from Sea-Watch’s lawyer Thursday that they were preparing to sue him for defamation for labelling them a “pirate ship.” “The abusers of the NGO are suing me? How scary,” he tweeted. “For the smugglers and their accomplices, the Italian ports are and remain CLOSED.” Cover Image: Matteo Salvini during a political demonstration on May 31, 2019 in the city of Aversa. (Photo by Marco Cantile/LightRocket via Getty Images)'

New York to Anti-Vaxxers: No More Religious Exemptions For You!

Public Protection VICE News

“I’m not aware of anything in the Torah, the Bible, the Koran or anything else that suggests you should not get vaccinated,' said one lawmaker.
'Anti-vaxxers took a big loss on Thursday in the state at the center of the U.S.’s measles outbreak, when lawmakers in New York voted to completely do away with the religious exemption to vaccination requirements for schoolchildren. The U.S. is currently experiencing its worst outbreak of measles since 1992, and New York is the epicenter of that crisis: of the 1,022 U.S. cases of measles this year, the majority have happened in New York state. Many of those cases have happened in sections of the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, where there is an insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish community that resists vaccination on religious grounds. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation quickly after it passed on Thursday, saying it was necessary to protect kids in school. \'The science is crystal clear: Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to keep our children safe. This administration has taken aggressive action to contain the measles outbreak, but given its scale, additional steps are needed to end this public health crisis,\' Cuomo said in a statement . \'The science is crystal clear: Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to keep our children safe.\' Protesters shouted “shame” (and curses) at Cuomo as he signed the bill, but the governor said the public’s health is at stake. \'While I understand and respect freedom of religion, our first job is to protect the public health and by signing this measure into law, we will help prevent further transmissions and stop this outbreak right in its tracks,\' he said. The legislation takes effect immediately, but it does give unvaccinated kids some time — 30 days after entering school — to get a first dose of the required vaccinations. States like California, Arizona, West Virginia, Mississippi and Maine have also done away with religious exemptions. Lawmakers in New York also noted that some who were using the religious exemption might’ve been doing so out of discredited vaccine fears rather than any truly held religious belief. “I’m not aware of anything in the Torah, the Bible, the Koran or anything else that suggests you should not get vaccinated,” said Bronx Democrat Jeffrey Dinowitz, who sponsored the bill, according to the Associated Press . “If you choose to not vaccinate your child, therefore potentially endangering other children .. then you’re the one choosing not to send your children to school.” Cover: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks about the $175.5 billion state budget during a news conference in the Red Room at the state Capitol Sunday, March, 31, 2019, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)'

Trump Says Former White House Counsel Don McGahn Lied to Mueller Under Oath

Politics VICE News

He contradicted McGahn's sworn testimony that Trump tried to fire Mueller.
'In an interview with ABC, Donald Trump accused former White House counsel Don McGahn of lying under oath when he told Robert Mueller that the president directed him to fire the special counsel. \'The story on that very simply, No. 1, I was never going to fire Mueller ,\' Trump told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. \'I never suggested firing Mueller.” When it was pointed out that McGahn had given testimony to the contrary, Trump said: “I don’t care what [McGahn] said, it doesn’t matter.” Trump claims his former counsel “may have been confused” when he told Mueller that the president directed him multiple times to instruct acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller. McGahn, who left the White House last fall, gave 30 hours of testimony to Mueller’s team, in which he claimed Trump issued those directions days after it emerged in the media that Mueller was focusing on Trump’s possible obstruction of justice. McGahn is one of the most-quoted sources in the portion of the report that addresses possible obstruction of justice. When asked why McGahn would lie under oath, Trump said it was because “he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer.” “Or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen — including you, including the media — that Robert Mueller was conflicted. Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest.” Trump’s claim comes at the same time that the White House, citing executive privilege, is attempting to prevent McGahn from giving evidence to the House Judiciary Committee, which is seeking clarity about the conversations McGahn says he had with Trump about firing Mueller. The House voted earlier this week to allow the Committee to seek court approval to enforce the subpoenas against McGahn as well as Attorney General William Barr. Cover: President Donald Trump speaks during a second chance hiring and criminal justice reform event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 13, 2019. (Photo by Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA)(Sipa via AP Images)'

The U.S. Releases Video It Says Shows Iran Attacking Oil Tankers in the Gulf of Oman

News VICE News

Tehran hit back, denying the allegations and accusing Washington of “warmongering.”
'The U.S. released a video that appears to show Iran’s Revolutionary Guard attacking an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. Explosions crippled two oil tankers on Thursday morning in what the U.S. has called “unprovoked attacks.” Both the Japanese-registered Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair were quickly evacuated, with the U.S. Navy rushing to the help the vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, a key route for oil for the region. The Kokuka caught fire, sending plumes of black smoke into the sky. In response to the attack, the price of oil spiked by as much as 5 percent. Initially, Iran said the timing of the attacks were “suspicious,” given they came hours after a meeting between Iran’s supreme leader and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. But the U.S. soon pointed the finger at Tehran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Thursday that Iran was behind the attack, citing intelligence, as well as the experience needed to conduct the operation. At that time, Pompeo provided no evidence to back up his claims, and didn’t respond to any questions. “Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran,” Pompeo said. Iran hit back, denying the allegations and accusing Washington of “warmongering.” “The U.S. economic war and terrorism against the Iranian people as well as its massive military presence in the region have been and continue to be the main sources of insecurity and instability in the wider Persian Gulf region and the most significant threat to its peace and security,” Tehran said in a statement to the UN Security Council. But soon after that statement was issued, the U.S. released still images showing limpet mines attached to the Kokuka and black-and-white video footage appearing to show a Revolutionary Guard patrol boat pulling up alongside the ship and removing unexploded mines. According to a timeline released by Central Command, the first distress signals from the ships were received just after 6 a.m. local time Thursday. It wasn’t until 4 p.m. that afternoon that the Iranian vessel was observed approaching the Kokuka to remove the mines. But the situation was confounded by an account from the sailors on the Kokuka, who said they saw “flying objects” before the attack, which contradicts the U.S. military’s account. Tensions have escalated in the Middle East after Iran announced its plan to pull out of the 2015 nuclear accord, a move that came after Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal last year. Trump exacerbated the situation when he announced he would impose crippling financial sanctions on any country buying oil from Iran. The country’s oil production has fallen to 400,000 barrels in May, compared to 2.5 million in April last year. Some worry that the latest incident, which comes a month after similar attacks against four other tankers in the Gulf, could spark a military conflict in the region. Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesperson for Central Command, sought to tamp down those worries. “The U.S. and the international community stand ready to defend our interests, including the freedom of navigation,” he said Friday. “The United States has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. However, we will defend our interests.” Cover: An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP Photo/ISNA)'

What We Know About the Oil Tankers on Fire in the Gulf of Oman

News VICE News

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the blasts, which he said were intentional.
'Two petrochemical tankers were supposedly attacked in the Gulf of Oman — along one of the busiest oil routes in the world — in broad daylight on Thursday. Both vessels caught fire, but neither sank. The U.S. is already busy pointing fingers. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that based on an assessment of the type of weapons used, Iran was behind the blasts, which he said were intentional. The U.S. also blamed Iran for four oil tanker attacks in May, although nobody took credit for those attacks and Iran denied being involved. Two of the vessels were Saudi-owned. \'Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran,\' Pompeo said Thursday. He noted that Iran said on April 22 that it would “interrupt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz,” or the site of Thursday’s attacks. But he did not provide further evidence. The U.S. has increasingly been warning about the possibility of Iranian aggression, and has strengthened its forces around the Gulf as a result, according to BBC. President Donald Trump imposed heavier sanctions on Iran in May, bruising its lucrative oil sector, and pulled out of a nuclear pact with Iran and other countries last year. But Thursday’s escalation represents another low point in the increasingly tense relationship between the U.S. and Iran. The U.S. Navy has ships in the area and provided immediate assistance to the people on the vessels. Iranian ships also provided assistance, according to the Wall Street Journal . One tanker hit Thursday was Japanese-owned, and came under attack as the country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was visiting Tehran in an attempt to cool tensions with Iran. It was hit twice over the span of three hours, according to the Washington Post. There were 21 Filipino crew members on board, all of whom were rescued and escaped without injury, according to the Japan Times. The vessel was carting ethanol to Singapore. The Department of Defense said 22 crew members had been rescued by the U.S. Navy and were now aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge. The other tanker was owned by Norway’s Frontline, and it’s believed to have been hit by a torpedo on its way to Taiwan, according to Bloomberg News. It burst into flames since it was carrying naptha, a highly flammable petrochemical product. It’s unclear whether it’s still on fire, but Dryad Global, an intelligence firm, said Thursday that it appeared “on fire and adrift,” according to CBS News. All 23 crew members on board at the time of the attack were rescued and taken to Bandar Abbas, an Iranian port. Both ships are disabled but neither appeared to be in danger of sinking, according to the Wall Street Journal. The price of crude oil futures in New York swung about 2% higher Thursday afternoon — after spiking as much as 4% after the attacks before settling — to more than $52 a barrel. Cover: An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP Photo/ISNA)'

Trump Announces Sarah Sanders’ Departure by Saying She Should Run for Governor of Arkansas

Politics VICE News

'She would be fantastic!'
'It’s been 94 days — barring a phony press conference for literal children — since Sarah Huckabee Sanders has held a White House press briefing. And we may never see one again. Trump announced that Sanders will leave the White House at the end of the month in two Thursday afternoon tweets, which called on her to run for governor of Arkansas, her home state. “She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job!” Trump tweeted . “I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas - she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!” Sanders was Trump’s second press secretary after Sean Spicer resigned in 2017. During her tenure, she lied or misrepresented facts several times, including one instance, she admitted — her claim that “countless” FBI agents applauded Trump’s decision to fire James Comey. Sanders joins an ever-growing contingent of people who have unceremoniously left Trump’s inner circle, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions ( “Sessions didn’t have a clue!” ), former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ( “dumb as a rock” ), and former national security adviser Michael Flynn ( pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI ). But Trump’s former communications director, Hope Hicks, did get a goodbye kiss from the president. And if Spicer’s post-White House career is any indication, Sanders will have plenty of opportunities to seem drunk on national TV and interview people for ExtraTV . Sanders has yet to comment on the departure, but her father, a twice-defeated candidate for the GOP nomination for president, unsurprisingly, tweeted about his dear daughter’s career change. Cover image: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on December 18, 2018 in Washington, DC.(Photo by Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA)(Sipa via AP Images)'