Category Archives: News & Photo Features

Elizabeth Warren Announces Her Plan for Immigration Reform

One of  hundreds of candlelight Lights for Liberty vigils that took place across the country on the eve of Trump’s raids took place at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Garden City, Long Island. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has put forth her plan for immigration reform. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As Donald Trump prepares to unleash raids on undocumented migrants in cities across the country, while thousands of men, women and children seeking asylum are crammed into unliveable detention camps for weeks and months without end – a humanitarian crisis created through a combination of cruelty and ineptitude – US Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for Democratic nomination for president, announced a plan to create an immigration system that is fair, humane, and reflects American values. 

“Donald Trump wants to divide us — to pit worker against worker, neighbor against neighbor. He wants Americans to blame their troubles on those who are new to our country, or who don’t look the same, even as his administration robs us dry. He has tried his best to make it appear that immigrants are not welcome on our shores. 

“We can be better than this. Americans know that immigrants helped weave the very fabric of our country in the past — and they know that immigrants belong here today. 

“I’ll work with Congress to pass broad-reaching reform, but I’m also prepared to move forward with executive action if Congress refuses to act. We cannot continue to ignore our immigration challenges, nor can we close our borders and isolate the United States from the outside world. Instead we need big, structural change: a fair immigration system that preserves our security, grows our economy, and reflects our values. That’s good for immigrants, good for workers, and ultimately good for the United States.”

Here is a summary: – Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, introduces her plan for immigration reform © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com


A Fair and Welcoming Immigration System

Immigrants have always been a vital source of American strength. They grow our economy and make our communities richer and more diverse. They are our neighbors, our colleagues, and our friends — and every bit as much a part of America as those who were born in the United States. 

President Trump sees things differently. He’s advanced a policy of cruelty and division that demonizes immigrants. He’s axed programs that protect young Dreamers and asylum seekers fleeing violence and upheaval. He’s championed dramatic cuts to legal immigration, and imposed a bigoted ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries. He’s threatened to close our ports of entry to lawful transit and commerce, and exploited a crisis of his own making at the border to score cheap political points. But while Trump may have taken the system to its most punitive extreme, his racist policies build on a broken immigration system and an enforcement infrastructure already primed for abuse. 

I saw that in McAllen, Texas, in the eyes of mothers who fled violence only to be ripped apart from their babies at the U.S. border. I saw it in the tears of families as they waited for their loved ones at Logan Airport in Boston on the night Trump announced his Muslim Ban. I saw it in the tired faces of little children made to march in formation between makeshift tents in the hot summer sun at the Homestead detention facility in Florida. 

I also see it when I talk with our Dreamers about their aspirations and their fears. When I meet with business owners who watch their competition exploit undocumented workers for a competitive advantage, and with farmers who cannot access the labor they need. When I sit with families who have been waiting decades for a visa to reunite with their loved ones, and with mixed-status families who worry that a parent, brother or sister could be ripped away at any time. 

We must address the humanitarian mess at the border and reverse this president’s discriminatory policies. But that won’t be nearly enough to fix our immigration system. We need expanded legal immigration that will grow our economy, reunite families, and meet our labor market demands. We need real reform that provides cost-effective security at our borders, addresses the root causes of migration, and provides a path to status and citizenship so that our neighbors don’t have to live in fear. That’s why today I’m announcing my plan for immigration reform — to create a rules-based system that is fair, humane, and that reflects our values. 

Eliminating Abusive Enforcement 

President Trump has weaponized deportation in ways that are costly, ineffective, and designed to maximize pain. It’s time to end this cruelty — and refocus on true threats to public safety and national security instead. As president, I will: 

Decriminalize migration and refocus enforcement on serious criminal activity. Entering the country without authorization has always been a violation of civil immigration law, but thanks to a former segregationist Senator, it’s also a criminal violation. This additional criminal provision is totally unnecessary for border security, and for a century, it was rarely enforced. But since the early 2000s, it has been used to build and sustain a massive immigration detention complex. In 2016, over half of all federal criminal prosecutions were for immigration violations — more than prosecutions for terrorism, organized crime, hate crimes, or financial fraud. This obsessive focus ties up federal prosecutors and overwhelms federal courts. It’s costly and unnecessary. And under Trump, it has become increasingly abusive. We should repeal this criminal prohibition to prevent future abuse. As president, I will immediately issue guidance to end criminal prosecutions for simple administrative immigration violations; end Operation Streamline, which subjects migrants to mass prosecutions; and refocus our limited resources on actual criminals and real threats to the United States. I will also issue prosecutorial guidance to prioritize immigration cases with security concerns, and make sure government attorneys are properly exercising their discretion for individuals who pose no public safety risk. 

Separate law enforcement from immigration enforcement to strengthen our communities. There are good reasons to keep immigration enforcement and law enforcement separate. When law enforcement is forced to also handle immigration violations, people are less willing to report crimes for fear of revealing their immigration status. Combining these functions sows distrust and harms public safety. As President, I’ll put in place strict guidelines to protect sensitive locations like schools, medical facilities, and courthouses from enforcement actions. I’ll expand programs that grant protections to immigrant victims of serious crimes who come forward and assist law enforcement. And I’ll end programs like 287(g) and “Secure Communities” that force local cops to enforce federal immigration laws so they can focus on effectively serving their communities. 

Remake CPB and ICE in a way that reflects our values. Our immigration agencies should protect Americans and uphold the rule of law, not pursue punitive anti-immigrant policies that target communities of color. I’ll hold immigration enforcement to the same due process standards as other law enforcement agencies — no more warrantless arrests or stops deep in the interior of our country. I’ll reshape CBP and ICE from top to bottom, focusing their efforts on homeland security efforts like screening cargo, identifying counterfeit goods, and preventing smuggling and trafficking. And to change the culture, I’ll insist on transparency and strengthen the authorities of independent internal watchdogs to prevent future abuses. 

Create accountability for the abuse perpetrated during the Trump Era. President Trump and his Administration are comfortable looking the other way while criminal abuses of immigrants pile up. When I am President, I will not. I’ll designate a Justice Department task force to investigate accusations of serious violations — including medical neglect and physical and sexual assaults of detained immigrants — and give it independent authority pursue any substantiated criminal allegations. Let there be no ambiguity on this: if you are violating the basic rights of immigrants, now or in the future, a Warren Administration will hold you accountable. 

Significantly Reduce Immigration Detention 

Americans are rightfully horrified by scenes of chaos and abuse at our border. Separating parents and children and detaining families and other vulnerable populations is not only staggeringly expensive and inhumane, it has no proven deterrent effect. To end unnecessary detention and rebuild a more humane system, a Warren administration will: 

End unnecessary detention. We already have the tools to effectively track and monitor individuals without shoving them into cages and camps along the border. As President, I’ll issue guidance ensuring that detention is only used where it is actually necessary because an individual poses a flight or safety risk. I will put additional layers of protection in place for certain groups, including asylum seekers, families and pregnant women, and LGBTQ+ people who are more vulnerable in a general detention facility. And I’ll enforce strict standards for remaining detention facilities, including for medical care and to end the use of solitary confinement. 

Eliminate private detention facilities. There is no place in this country for profiting off cruelty. I’ll end the contracts ICE has with private detention providers, and push for legislation to permanently ban for-profit detention. 

Expand the executive use of parole and invest in alternatives-to-detention. DHS has broad authority to parole individuals who are detained prior to their cases being heard in immigration court. Community-based alternatives to detention are safer, save money, and can be more effective at ensuring compliance. I’ll significantly expand successful programs, which include case management, referrals to legal and social services, and periodic check-ins and surveillance. These programs provide a measure of dignity for those in the system, and their expanded use would save over a billion dollars each year in unnecessary detention costs. 

Provide Rights and Due Process in our Immigration Courts 

It’s not enough to merely correct the excesses of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. To prevent future abuses, we need to treat migrants moving through the system in a manner that reflects our Constitution and our values. A Warren administration will: 

Establish professional, independent Article I immigration courts. DOJ both oversees the immigration court system and enjoys massive authority to manipulate those courts to implement the president’s immigration policy agenda. Immigration court rulings can even be overturned by the Attorney General — a fundamental conflict of interest exploited by Jeff Sessions. I’ll work to create a credible, independent system by passing legislation establishing Article I judicial review for immigration cases modeled on our federal courts. I’ll deploy smart efficiency measures, beginning by restoring judges’ ability to prioritize and manage their own dockets. And my administration will recruit highly qualified immigration judges with a diverse set of legal experiences so that everyone receives appropriate justice. 

Eliminate expedited removal and provide due process. Due process ensures basic fairness for individuals attempting to navigate complex laws and prevents law enforcement and Presidents from abusing authority. But mostimmigrants facing deportation do not have attorneys — and in the Trump administration, that even includes toddlers. In fact, one-third of deported immigrants never even see a judge: instead, the immigration officer serves as both prosecutor and jury. I’ll eliminate the use of expedited removal proceedings and guarantee hearings. I’ll call for creating a national-scale immigration public defender corps, and a Warren administration will provide access to counsel in immigration court. 

Welcome Those In Need 

Our laws and our values compel us to help those fleeing violence and oppression, but Trump’s racism has contributed to a climate of fear for those seeking refuge in our country. As president, I will: 

Reject exclusionary policies based on race, religion and nationality. I’ll reverse Trump’s bigoted Muslim Ban on my first day in office. I’ll withdraw the Trump policy that forces immigrant families to choose between staying together and ensuring their children — many of whom are American citizens — have access to critical services. And I’ll reinstate Temporary Protected Status designations and Deferred Enforced Departure to protect individuals at risk in their home countries, including migrants from the Caribbean and Africa that have built lives and businesses in our country. 

Raise the refugee cap. At a time when 70 million are displaced around the world, President Trump has abused his authority to lower the refugee cap for the United States, admitting just over 22,000 refugees in total last year. I’ll welcome 125,000 refugees in my first year, and ramping up to at least 175,000 refugees per year by the end of my first term. 

Affirm asylum protections. We should welcome those fleeing violence, not imprison them in cages. As president, I will reverse Trump’s efforts to stack the deck against asylum applicants. I’ll ensure that asylum seekers can safely present themselves at ports of entry for humane, efficient processing, including by ending the metering and “Remain in Mexico” policies. I’ll restore President Obama’s promise to extend asylum for those fleeing domestic or gang violence and affirm asylum protections for gender identity and sexual orientation-based asylum claims. I’ll streamline processes to eliminate the backlog of individuals waiting for an asylum adjudication. And I’ll pardon those convicted of providing food and water to migrants — because no one should go to jail simply providing humanitarian aid to another person in need. 

Grow Legal Immigration and Establish a Fair and Achievable Path to Status 

As president, I’ll work to expand legal immigration. I’ll also take executive action to provide a measure of protection for those who are undocumented, while pursuing a legislative solution that provides a path to citizenship. 

Expand legal immigration. America should welcome more legal immigration — done in the right way and consistent with our principles. We should use targeted immigration as a tool to create jobs and businesses and grow our economy. We should reflect our values, which means expanding family reunification and making it easier for relatives of citizens and green card holders to come to the United States. We should put American workers first by ensuring that workers already here get the first opportunity to fill any available positions. We should empower workers, not employers, by coupling any expansion of legal immigration with real accountability on employers who break the rules, exploit workers, or don’t adhere to basic labor standards. And we should be transparent and data-driven in our immigration policies, using the best available information to identify true needs in the labor force and to address those needs in a way that incorporates the input of both workers and companies. 

Make it easier for those eligible for citizenship to naturalize. Today over 9 million green card holders are eligible to apply for citizenship but many have not chosen to naturalize due to unnecessary barriers, including the cost of applications, the complexity of the process, and administrative issues and backlogs. I’ll work to make it possible for everyone who is eligible to naturalize to do so. 

Reduce the family reunification backlog. As many as 4 million immigrants who are otherwise eligible to come to the United States legally are prohibited because of by-country visa caps. My administration will redistribute unused visas to reduce this backlog and reunite more families with their loved ones. I’ll also urge Congress to repeal laws that make family reunification more difficult to achieve. 

Repeal the 3- and 10-year bars. The law currently requires a person unlawfully in the United States to depart the country for three or ten years before they can apply for legal status. I’ll petition Congress to repeal that requirement. In the meantime, I’ll reinterpret “extreme hardship” to include family separation, making it easier to obtain a waiver allowing people to apply for legal status without having to leave the country for an extended period of time. 

Provide a fair and achievable pathway to citizenship. For the good of our economy and our communities, it’s long past time to provide a path forward for the approximately 11 million undocumented individuals currently living and working in the Unites States. We should immediately reinstate the DACA program and protections for our Dreamers and their families. I’ll expand the program to cover more young people by extending the cut-off date, eliminating the arbitrary application age requirement, and extending the “minor” designation to anyone who was brought to the U.S. under the age of 18. But Dreamers have families and communities that are productive, longtime members of our American family and need protection too. The same is true of the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders. I’ll extend the individual exercise of discretion to offer deferred action protections to hardworking immigrants who have contributed to our country for years and have built careers and families here. And I’ll push for a far-reaching legislative fix that provides a fair but achievable path to citizenship for them. 

Limit the penalties considered for status determinations. Part of focusing on real threats means distinguishing between actual criminals and law-abiding immigrants. We shouldn’t penalize people for prior convictions under statutes that criminalize border crossing for the purpose of status determinations. And we should establish a statute of limitations for how long a misdemeanor will be considered as part of an individual’s immigration adjudication. Citizens with minor, non-violent criminal records should not be permanently excluded from being a part of American society — and immigrants shouldn’t be, either. 

Create an Office of New Americans. I’ll establish an Office of New Americans dedicated to supporting new immigrants as they transition into our society and economy, and task that office to draft a national strategy for integration. We should provide English, civics, and employment- focused classes and training for immigrants who want to enroll, and work with faith groups and other community organizations to provide support services for refugees and asylees, providing the tools to make it easier for newcomers to integrate into their communities. 

Address the Forces Displacing Migrants from Their Home Countries

Migration has spiked around the world, the result of poverty, climate change, violence and injustice. Migrants have come to our country fleeing naturaldisasters or conflicts that forced them from their homes. 

In recent years, many have fled north from the Northern Triangle. But the solution to Central American migration isn’t placing children in cages, it’s stabilizing the countries that families are risking their lives to escape. Rather than addressing rampant corruption, criminal gangs, and some of the world’s highest rates of gender-based violence, President Trump has cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for programs that provide vital support. 

We cannot fully address migration until we address its root causes. Now more than ever, the United States must reclaim its role as the world’s beacon of hope — and that means proposing bold and nuanced solutions to these complex challenges. As president, I will: 

Restore and increase aid. I’ll commit at least $1.5 billion annually in aid to fully fund programs that target crime, disrupt trafficking, address poverty, reduce sexual violence, and enhance programs for at-risk youth in Central America and throughout our hemisphere — and I’ll rally the international community to match those funds. 

Step up efforts to address transnational crime. A Warren administration will expand efforts to reduce corruption and improve the rule of law, investigate and prosecute human trafficking, employ targeted financial sanctions against drug kingpins and money launderers, and provide robust funding for efforts to counter gangs. 

Inform and protect those seeking refuge. My administration will provide information about the right to seek asylum, reinstate the Central American Minors program, and coordinate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help resettle children and families who need protection. We’ll also do more to spread awareness about the dangers of attempting migration across borders to help prevent vulnerable people from being exploited along the way. 

Biden Gives Speech on Foreign Policy that Defines His Quest for Presidency

Foreign policy is Joe Biden’s forte. It is a lane he can travel relatively apart from the two dozen others vying for the Democratic nomination for President, and also is the starkest contrast to Trump. It is also gets to the heart of everyday Americans’ most horrific anxieties – living with the fear of nuclear war, climate catastrophe, trade wars that upend businesses and household budgets – and where a president has the most unconstrained power. The proverbial finger on the nuclear button.

Biden alluded to the fact US administrations have not been infallible regarding foreign policy. And though Bernie Sanders (and others) will use his vote as a Senator for the Iraq War as a cudgel as he and Obama did against Hillary Clinton, that vote only confirms one of Biden’s most crucial arguments to replace Trump: a President must be credible. Iraq was a product of Bush/Cheney administration lies – about Weapons of Mass Destruction, about Saddam Hussein’s culpability for 9/11, about what the Senate “authorization” actually authorized.

The speech Biden delivered at the NYU Graduate Center on Fifth Avenue in New York City on July 11 summed up in the clearest terms the former Vice President’s rationale to be President – as he summed it up, “In 2019, foreign policy is domestic policy, and domestic policy is foreign policy.”

He delivered the speech in moderated, controlled tones. It was workmanlike, but, as he would say, “deadly serious.” Here is a highlighted transcript – Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features


Vice President Joe Biden, seeking the Democratic nomination for President, lays out his foreign policy vision in a speech at NYU Graduate Center, July 11 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Ladies and Gentlemen, political wisdom holds that the American public doesn’t vote on foreign policy – but that’s an old way of thinking.

In 2019, foreign policy is domestic policy, and domestic policy is foreign policy.

They are a deeply connected set of choices we make about how to advance the American way of life and our vision for the future.

And, like everything about this election, the threat Donald Trump poses to our national security, and to who we are as a country, is so extreme, we cannot afford to ignore it. His erratic policies and failures to uphold basic democratic principles have muddied our reputation, our place in the world, and our ability to lead it. 

So let me start today, by reminding everyone about what’s been lost amid the chest-thumping, the self-inflicted setbacks, and the manufactured crises of this administration.

American foreign policy must be purposeful and inspiring, based on clear goals and driven by sound strategies – not Twitter-tantrums.

And the overarching purpose of our foreign policy must be to defend and advance the security, prosperity, and democratic values of the United States. 

Every President in modern history prior to Donald Trump, Democrat and Republican alike, has understood and carried out this basic directive – often imperfectly – but never before has it been so thoroughly abandoned.
 

I knew when I saw how Donald Trump responded to the events in Charlottesville – assigning a moral equivalence between those who promote hate, and those who oppose it – that the threat to our democracy was unlike any in my lifetime.
 
Less than a year later, Trump again stood before the press – this time on foreign soil, in Helsinki – and repeatedly deferred to Vladimir Putin – over American interests, the American intelligence community, and, I would argue, the American people. It was one of the weakest, most shameful performances by a U.S. president in modern history – perhaps ever.

And one we saw repeated just last month at the G-20 summit, where Trump smirked along with Putin – making a joke out of Russia’s very real, very dangerous assault on our institutions.

Trump debases our cherished democratic values every time he plays sycophant to strongmen. When he refuses to condemn Saudi Arabia for the gruesome murder of a journalist and American resident. Or when he “falls in love” with a murderous dictator in North Korea. 

He undermines our democratic alliances, while embracing dictators who appeal to his vanity.  And make no mistake, the world sees Trump clearly for what he is – Corrupt, insecure, ill-informed, impulsive. Dangerously incompetent and incapable of leadership. 

It’s why we’ve seen such a precarious drop in how the rest of the world views the United States. One recent poll found America’s leadership is now less respected than China’s and on par with Russia. 

If we give Donald Trump four more years – we may never recover America’s standing in the world or our capacity to bring nations together. And that would be catastrophic for our security and our future.

We can’t let that happen. As President, I will remind the world who we are.  The United States of America does not coddle dictators. The United States of America gives hate no safe harbor. 

There will be no more Charlottesvilles. No more Helsinkis. 

The challenge of following this disastrous presidency, however, will not be to just restore our reputation and credibility. 

We must enact a forward-looking foreign policy for the world as we find it today – and as we anticipate it will be tomorrow.

Much has shifted in the past few years. The international landscape is more crowded, competitive and complicated.

And when we look at what’s different today, two key points stand out, one is that the speed and intensity of our gravest challenges means that the fates of nations are more intertwined than ever before. 

Climate change, nuclear proliferation, great power aggression, transnational terrorism, cyberwarfare, disruptive new technologies, mass migration – none of them can be resolved by the United States, or any nation, acting alone. America’s security, prosperity and way of life require the strongest possible network of partners and allies working alongside us.  

Yet Donald Trump’s brand of America First has too often left America alone, making it that much harder to mobilize others to address threats to our common well-being. 

The second is the rapid advance of authoritarianism, nationalism, and illiberal tendencies around the world – not just in Russia and China, but also among our allies, places like Turkey, the Philippines, Hungary. 

In every part of the world, technology and instant information are driving change at an unprecedented pace and scope, causing many to feel confused and vulnerable.  

Democratic governments – paralyzed by hyper-partisanship, hobbled by corruption – are having a harder time delivering for their people. Trust in our institutions is down. Fear of the “other” is up.  

Together, these forces have driven a dangerous resurgence of extreme nationalism and illiberalism, of protectionism and xenophobia.

And Donald Trump and demagogues around the world are leaning into these forces for their own personal and political gain.

But this is not a moment for fear. 

This is the time for us to tap the strength and the audacity that took us to victory in two world wars and brought down the Iron Curtain. That triumph of democracy and liberalism over fascism and autocracy is what created the Free World. And this contest won’t just define our past –  It will define our future as well.

Today, democracy is under more pressure than at any time since the 1930s. 

Freedom House has reported that, of the 41 countries consistently ranked “free” from 1985 to 2005, 22 have registered net declines in freedom in the last five years.

Yet, when the world’s democracies look to America to stand for the values that unite us – to truly lead the Free World – Donald Trump seems to be on the other team.  When those living under oppression, yearning for freedom, look to the United States for hope – Trump has nothing to offer.

We cannot forget that democracy is the root of our society, the wellspring of our power,  the source of our renewal. It strengthens and amplifies our leadership to keep us safe in the world. It’s the engine of our ingenuity that drives our economic prosperity. It’s the heart of who we are and how we see the world – and how the world sees us. 

As president, I will ensure that democracy is once more the watchword of U.S. foreign policy – not to launch some moral crusade, but because it is in our enlightened self-interest.

We must restore our ability to rally the Free World – so we can once more make our stand upon new fields of action and together face new challenges.  

We only have one opportunity to reset our democracy. After Trump, we have to be prepared to make the most of it. 

So, what does that mean in practice? 

First, it means repairing and reinvigorating our own democracy, even as we strengthen the coalition of democracies that stand with us on every continent.  

I will start by putting our own house in orderremaking our education system so that a child’s opportunity in life isn’t determined by their zip code or race; reforming our criminal justice system to eliminate inequitable disparities; putting the teeth back in the Voting Rights Act. 

I will seek greater transparency in our Campaign Finance System. We need to get big money out altogether, and ensure that foreign dark money doesn’t continue to pollute our politics. 

We need to dedicate greater resources, including cyber resources, to defending our elections.

I served as a founding member of a Trans-Atlantic Commission on Election Integrity to fight back against Russia’s attacks on Western democracies. We asked candidates across Europe and North America to sign a pledge, committing to transparency in campaign finances and to reject the use of fabricated or hacked materials. Now that I am a candidate for office – I have signed that pledge, and I urge everyone running for president to do the same. It’s the right thing to do. 

As individuals, and as a nation, we have to prove to the world that the United States is prepared to lead – not just with the example of our power, but the power of our example. 

To that end, as president, I will take decisive steps to renew our core American values and return transparency to our government. 

We believe in freedom of religion, which is why I will end the Muslim ban. 

We believe in free speech, which is why I will end the Global Gag Rule that prevents money from going to international NGOs that even talk about family planning. 

We believe in the power of a free press, which is why I will immediately return to daily press briefings at the White House, State Department, and Department of Defense. 

We are a nation of immigrants. President Trump took those words out of the mission statement of our citizenship and immigration services. I will restore them.   
 
Our Statue of Liberty invites in the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I will reverse Trump’s detrimental asylum policies and raise our target for refugee admissions to a level commensurate with our responsibility  and the unprecedented global need. 

A Biden administration would immediately end the horrific practice of separating families at our border and holding children in for-profit detention centers. 

And I would order a review of Temporary Protected Status to vulnerable populations  who cannot find safety in their countries ripped apart  by violence or disaster – including Venezuelans and Haitians.

We’ve always been a nation that chooses science over fiction – and from climate change to standards for harmful environmental toxins to global health policy. We’re going to return facts to our policy making.  

Renew a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls, at home and abroad. And revitalize our national commitment to advancing human rights and democracy around the world.

These changes – and many more, which I’ve released on our website –  are just a start – a day-one down payment on our commitment to living our democratic values at home

And then, I will invite my fellow democratic leaders to put strengthening democracy back on the global agenda. 

We will organize and host in the United States, during the first year of my administration, a global Summit for Democracy to renew the spirit and shared purpose of the nations of the Free World.

Building off the successful model we instituted during the Obama-Biden administration with the Nuclear Security Summitleaders who attend must come prepared with concrete commitments to take on corruption, counter authoritarianism, and advance human rights in their own nations.
   
We have to be honest about our friends that are falling short and forge a common agenda for action to address the greatest threats to our shared values. We’ll include civil society organizations from around the world that stand on the frontlines in defense of our democracies. 

Vice President Joe Biden, seeking the Democratic nomination for President, lays out his foreign policy vision in a speech at NYU Graduate Center, July 11 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And we’ll challenge the private sector, including tech corporations and social media giants, to make their own commitments.   

America’s openness fueled their success. Now I believe they have a duty to make sure their algorithms and platforms are not misused to sow division at home, or to empower the surveillance state, facilitate repression and censorship in China and elsewhere, spread hate, or spur people to violence.   

Second, we will equip our people to succeed in the global economy with a foreign policy for the middle class.  To win the competition for the future, we must double down on sharpening our innovative edge and uniting the economic might of our friends to counter abusive economic practices. 

We know that economic security is national security. But there are a lot of communities across this country that are hurting because we’ve neglected the basics. 

Our trade policy has to start at home, by strengthening our greatest asset – our middle class. 

We have to take care of everything I’ve talked about on the campaign trail – giving every student the skills or training they need to obtain a good 21st century job; making sure every single American has access to quality, affordable healthcare; investing in rebuilding our bridges and roads, modernizing our airports and trains; making sure Americans have access to broadband networks; reforming our taxes to reward work, not just wealth; leading the clean-economy revolution to create 10 million new jobs right here in the United States. 

I will make investment in research and development a cornerstone of my presidency so that the United States is leading the charge with innovation. There’s no reason we should be falling behind China or anyone else when it comes to clean energy, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, 5G, and high-speed rail. And there’s no reason that we cannot ensure that our people are ready – for the transition that will inevitably accompany this new technology. 

Ladies and Gentlemen – we have the greatest research universities in the world. The most agile system of venture capital. We’re virtually energy independent. We have a strong tradition of the rule of law. And most important, we have an extraordinary population of workers and innovators who have never let our country down.

A foreign policy for the middle class will also work to make sure the rules of the international economy are not rigged against us. Because when American businesses compete on a fair playing field – we win.

President Trump may think he’s being tough on China, but all he has delivered is more pain for American farmers, manufacturers, and consumers. His economic decision making is as short-sighted as the rest of his foreign policy. China is playing the long-game – extending its global reach and investing in the technologies of the future – while Trump is designating our closest allies – from Canada to the European Union – as National Security Threats in order to impose damaging and pointless tariffs. 

By cutting us off from the economic clout of our partners, he knee-caps our capacity to take on the real economic threat. 

We do need to get tough with China. If China has its way, it will keep robbing the U.S. of our technology and intellectual property, or forcing American companies to give it away in order to do business in China.

And the most effective way to meet that challenge is to build a united front of friends and partners to challenge China’s abusive behavior – even as we seek to deepen cooperation on issues where our interests converge, like climate change and preventing nuclear proliferation.

There’s no going back to business as usual on trade.  We need new rules, and a new process that has the voices of all stakeholders at the table – including leaders representing labor and the environment.

We must negotiate from the strongest possible position. On our own, we represent about one-quarter of global GDP. When we join together with fellow democracies, that number doubles. China can’t afford to ignore half the global economy. That gives us substantial leverage to shape the future rules of the road on everything from the environment to labor, trade, technology and transparency so they continue to reflect democratic interests and values – America’s interests and values. 

Not China’s. Not Russia’s. 

The world does not organize itself. If we do not shape the norms and institutions that govern relations among nations, rest assure – that some other nation will step into the vacuum, OR – no one will – and chaos will result. 

Which brings me to my final point. 

The Biden foreign policy agenda will place America back at the head of the table, working with our allies and partners – to mobilize global action on global threats, especially those unique to our Century.

American leadership is not infallible. We have made missteps and mistakes. 
 
Too often we have relied solely on the might of our military  instead of drawing on our full array of strengths. 

Let me be clear – I will never hesitate to protect the American people Including, when necessary, by using force. 

As Vice President, I worked with President Obama to craft the military and diplomatic campaign that ultimately defeated ISIS. In fact, it turned out Trump’s secret plan to destroy the so-called caliphate was to continue the plan we put in place.  

We have the strongest military in the world – I would argue in the history of the world. As President, I will ensure it stays that way. I will make the investments necessary – to equip our troops for the challenges of the next century, not the last one.

But the use of force should be our last resort, not our firstUsed only to defend our vital interests, when the objective is clear and achievable, and with the informed consent of the American people. 

It’s past time to end the Forever Wars, which have cost us untold blood and treasure. 

As I have long argued, we should bring the vast majority of our troops home – from the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and narrowly focus our mission on Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

And we should end our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. [This prompted applause.]

Staying entrenched – in unwinnable conflicts – drains our capacity to lead on other issues that require our attention, and it prevents us from rebuilding the other instruments of American power.  

So I will make it my mission – to restore American leadership – and elevate diplomacy as our principal tool of foreign policy.  

I will reinvest in The Diplomatic Corps that this administration has hollowed out – and put our diplomacy back in the hands of genuine professionals.

Above all, diplomacy requires credibility.And Donald Trump has absolutely corroded our country’s credibility.

In the conduct of American foreign policy – and especially in times of crisis – a President’s word – is his or her most valuable asset. 

But by pulling out of treaty after treaty, reneging on policy after policy – walking away from America’s responsibilities, and lying – about matters big and small –  Trump has bankrupted America’s word in the world.

And he has alienated us  from the very democratic allies we need most.

Trump has taken a battering ram to our NATO alliance – he treats it like an American-run protection racket. 

He just doesn’t get it.

NATO is at the very heart of America’s national security. And more than that, it’s the bulwark of the liberal democratic ideal. It is an alliance – first and foremost – of values. 

That makes it far more durable, reliable, and powerful than partnerships built by coercion or cash.

The same is true of our core alliances in Asia.

And let’s be clear: working cooperatively with other nations that share our values and goals doesn’t make America a sucker – it makes us more secure and more successful. 

We amplify our own strength, extend our presence around the globe, and magnify our impact – while sharing the burden among willing partners.

No country, even one as powerful as ours, can go it alone against challenges that respect no borders and cannot be contained by walls. 

As president, I will do more than just restore our historic partnerships I’ll lead the effort to reimagine them – to better meet the challenges we’re grappling with today. 

To keep NATO’s military capabilities sharp, while also expanding our capacity – to take on non-traditional threats like weaponized corruption, cyber theft, and new challenges in space and on the high seas. And, by the way, the increase in NATO defense spending started under the Obama-Biden administration.

We need to look for opportunities to strengthen cooperation with democratic friends – beyond North America and beyond Europe – reaching out to our partners in Asia, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, and India to fortify our collective capabilities. 

Sustaining our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security. 

Integrating our friends in Latin America and Africa  and seizing opportunities throughout the broader network of democracies. 

And in order to regain the confidence of the world –  we’re going to have to prove that America says what it means, and means what it says. 

Especially when it comes to the challenges that will define our time:  the renewed threat of nuclear war, mass migration, disruptive technology, and climate change.

We cannot be a credible voice on non-proliferation and nuclear security while we are abandoning the deals we negotiated. 

From North Korea to Iran, Russia to Saudi Arabia, Trump has made the prospect of nuclear proliferation, a new nuclear arms race, and even the use of nuclear weapons more likely.  

I’ve worked on these issues my entire adult life.  I understand what’s at stake and I understand the consequences of failing to act. That is why, as President, I would renew our commitment to arms control for a new era. 

The historic Iran nuclear deal we negotiated blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Yet Trump cast it aside, prompting Iran to restart its nuclear program and become more provocative – raising the risk of another disastrous war in the region. 

If Tehran returns to compliance with the deal, I would re-join the agreement and work with our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.
 
In North Korea, I will empower our negotiators and jumpstart a sustained, coordinated campaign with our allies and others – including China – to advance our shared objective of a denuclearized North Korea.  

I will pursue an extension of the New START Treaty, an anchor of strategic stability between the United States and Russia, and use that as a foundation for new arms control arrangements.

And I would take other steps to demonstrate our commitment to reducing the role of nuclear weapons. 

As I said in 2017, I believe the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring – and if necessary, retaliating against a nuclear attack. As president, I will work to put that belief into practice, in consultation with our Allies and our military.

By the same measure, we cannot push nations to meet their humanitarian obligations to address the biggest refugee and migration crisis since World War II  if we are not living our democratic values and firmly rejecting Trump’s nativist rhetoric

It shames our nation when a father and his baby daughter drown seeking our shores, when children are locked away in overcrowded detention centers – denied even the most basic necessities – when families are ripped apart.

Abandoning our deepest-held values does nothing to increase security at our border – and everything to diminish our standing in the world. 

We need sensible policies that improve screening procedures at our legal ports of entry and make smart investments in border technology.  

We need to work again with Canada and Mexico as neighbors – not adversaries. And we need to focus on the root causes driving migrants to our border.

As Vice President, I secured commitments from the leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to take on the corruption, violence, and endemic poverty in their countries that are driving people to leave their homes. Then I worked with a Republican Congress to approve a $750 million aid package to help support those reforms.  

And guess what – it worked.  Security improved and migration flows began to decrease in countries like El Salvador.

Trump announced an end to our aidto Central America – via tweet, with no understanding of the consequences. 

If elected President, I will relaunch that initiative, with a top-to-bottom review of our funding to the region to determine how we can continue to drive reforms that deliver results.  

When it comes to the technologies of the future – like 5-G and Artificial Intelligence – other nations are devoting national resources to dominating their development and determining how they are used. 

We have to ensure that 21st century technologies are used to promote  greater democracy and shared prosperity– not to curb – freedom and opportunity at home and abroad.

As new technologies reshape our economy and society, we must ensure that these engines for progress are bound by laws and ethics  as we’ve done at every technological turning point in history.
 
A Biden administration will join together with our democratic allies to develop secure, private-sector led 5-G networks, leaving no community – rural or low income – behind.  

And the last example  I’ll end on today  is how the United States must lead the world to take on the existential threat we face – climate change. If we don’t get this right, nothing else matters.

I’ll put us on track to achieve a clean-energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050. 

And, equally important  because the United States is only 15 percent of global emissions, I’ll leverage our economic and our moral authority to push the world to urgent action. 

Vice President Joe Biden, seeking the Democratic nomination for President, lays out his foreign policy vision in a speech at NYU Graduate Center, July 11 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and convene a summit of the world’s largest carbon emitters, rallying nations to raise their ambitions and push our progress further – faster. 

We’ll lock in enforceable commitments that will reduce emissions in global shipping and aviation – and we’ll pursue strong measures to make sure other nations can’t undercut us economically as we meet our own commitments.  

That includes insisting that China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon, stops subsidizing coal exports and outsourcing pollution to other countries by financing billions of dollars of dirty fossil-fuel energy projects through their Belt and Road Initiative. 

These are ambitious goals and we won’t accomplish any of them without the United States – flanked by our fellow democracies – leading the way.

We are facing enemies – both without and within – hoping to exploit the fissures in our society, undermine our democracy, break up our alliances, and return us to an international system where might determines right. 

The answer to this threat is more openness – not less. More friendships, more cooperation, more alliances. More democracy. 

Vladimir Putin wants to tell himself and anyone he can dupe into believing him that the liberal idea is “obsolete” – because he’s afraid of its power.  

No army on earth can match – how the Electric Idea of Liberty – passes freely from person to person, jumps borders, transcends languages and cultures – how it can supercharge communities of ordinary citizens into activists and organizers and change agents.  

We must once more harness that power and rally the Free World to meet the challenges facing our world today. And it falls to the United States of America to lead the way. 

No other nation has the capacity. No other nation is built on that idea – that promise. 

And it’s in our self-interest.

We have to champion liberty and democracy. We have to reclaim our credibility. We have to look with unrelenting optimism and determination toward the future. 

Thank you, and God protect our troops. 

Vice President Joe Biden, seeking the Democratic nomination for President, lays out his foreign policy vision in a speech at NYU Graduate Center, July 11 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See more detail on Biden’s foreign policy platform:

Biden Plan for Restoring America’s Leadership to Meet Challenges of 21st Century Starts With Reinvigorating Democracy

As US World Cup Champions Get Keys to City, Rapinoe Issues Challenge: ‘It’s Our Responsibility to Make this World a Better Place’

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

They came in incontrovertible triumph, a study in strength, talent, perseverance, grit, discipline – celebrated role models for girls and women everywhere. True champions, the US Women’s National Team battled on the to become four-time World Cup Champions, winning two consecutive titles, pitch as well as off, their fight for equal pay elevated to national politics.

Just before stepping off for their ticker-tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes through New York’s financial district to City Hall where they would receive the Keys to the City from Mayor Bill De Blasio, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law prohibiting unequal pay on the basis of a protected class for all substantially similar work and forbidding employers from asking prospective employees about their salary history. He also called on U.S. Soccer to pay the women’s national team the same as the men’s national team

“There is no rationale why women should not get paid what men get paid. These are women’s soccer players, they play the same game as the men’s soccer players, and they play it better – so if there is any economic rationale, the men should get paid less than the women,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York will continue to lead the way forward and stand in solidarity with women and girls in every corner of this state. By signing this legislation, we are not only doing the right thing, we are also doing the moral thing and equal pay for equal work is now the law in the State of New York.”

There were signs calling for “Equal Pay,” but few chants could be heard over the squeals of delight when the 2019 World Cup Champions came into view.

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

During the parade, US Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro was all smiles, and when it was his turn to come to the stage – greeted by chants of “Equal Pay, Equal Pay” – was conciliatory, suggesting that prayers – or rather, the court case – would be answered to the women’s satisfaction.

“To our Women’s National Team and the millions who support them, in recent months, you’ve raised your voices for equality.  Today, on behalf of all of us at U.S. Soccer, I want to say, we hear you, we believe in you and we’re committed to doing right by you.

“That’s why, over the years—from our development programs to our youth national teams to our professional leagues to our women’s national team—U.S. Soccer has invested more in women’s soccer than any other country in the world.  We will continue to invest more in women’s soccer than any country in the world.  And we will continue to encourage others, including FIFA, to do the same.

“We believe that all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay.  Together, we can get this done.

“Because as this team has taught us all, being the greatest isn’t just about how you play on the field, it’s about what you stand for off the field.  It’s about who we are—as a sport and as a country.  The 2019 Women’s World Cup Champions!  The United States of America!  One Nation, One Team!  Go USA!”

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Then Megan Rapinoe came to the stage, a glittering star among stars not just for winning the Golden Boot for most goals and the Golden Ball as the tournament’s most valuable player and co-captaining the team to their victory, but for her bold stand for equal pay, for social justice (she was one of the few athletes who knelt in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick), and her rejection of any invitation by Donald Trump to visit the White House, prompting his twitter ire.

She went out of her way to express appreciation to Cordeiro. “Thank you, you were incredible during the World Cup….. everyone gets booed in a position of power. I will stick my neck out, endorse Carlos. I think he’s on the right side of things. I think he will make things right…”

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Her speech, delivered on the City Hall steps extemporaneously and without notes, was a call to action, and a call to come together.

“This is my charge to everyone. We have to be better, we have to love more, hate less, listen more, talk less, we got to know that this is everybody’s responsibility – every single person here, every single person who’s not here, every single person who doesn’t want to be here, who agrees and doesn’t agree, it’s our responsibility to make this world a better place.

“I think this team does an incredible job of taking that on our shoulders, and understanding the position we have and the platform we have in this world.  Yes we play sports, yes we play soccer, yes we’re female athletes, but we’re so much more than that. You’re so much more than that. You’re more than a fan who supports sports, who tunes in every four years. You’re someone who works these streets every single day, you  interact with your community every day. How do you make your community better, how do you make the people around you better, your family, your closest friends, the 10 closets people, the hundred closest people to you. It’s every single person’s responsibility

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“There’s been so much contention in these last years. I’ve been a victim of that. I’ve been a perpetrator of that. If I’ve (hurt) the Federation  sorry for some of the things I’ve said – not all the things. But it’s time to come together. This conversation is at the next step. We have to collaborate. It takes everybody.

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“This is my charge to everybody: Do what you can. Do what you have to do. Step outside yourself. Be more, be better, be bigger, be better than you ever have been before. If this team is a representation of what you can be when you do that, please take that as an example. This group is incredible. We took so much on our shoulders to be here with you today, to celebrate with you today. And we did it with a smile. So do the same for us.”

Then she ended with classic, mischievous outrageousness: “New York City! You the mother-[expletive] best!!!”

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

__________

© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging atwww.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us onfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Fans Cheer US Women’s National Team as They Parade Through ‘Canyon of Heroes’ – Photo Highlights

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

It was a day to celebrate grit, determination, perseverance and pure excellence, as tens of thousands turned out to cheer the United States Women’s National Team on their 2019 World Cup victory as they floated through Lower Manhattan’s “Canyon of Heroes,” the second of the team’s ticker-tape parades, with the first only 2015. Notably, the vast majority of parade watchers were mothers and daughters. They held signs thanking the team for being such wonderful role models, and signs that called for Equal Pay.

Here are highlights from the parade:

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

__________

© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging atwww.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us onfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Joe Biden on July 4th: ‘The liberal idea is the American idea; the liberal idea is what built the Free World’

Vice President Joe Biden campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President in Iowa.

Celebrating the Fourth of July with Iowans in Marshalltown, Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President, expressed what the holiday is really about and how Donald Trump doesn’t get it. Here is his speech, as prepared for delivery, with segments highlighted:

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s great to be back in Iowa celebrating the independence of our country and the incredible promise of the American future. 

243 years ago, a group of rebels in Philadelphia pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to a revolutionary idea—to the self-evident truth that all men—and women—are created equal. 

And ever since then presidents and patriots have gathered together on the 4th, as we are gathered today, to reflect on the greater meaning of our American experiment. 

In 1821, just decades after revolution, John Quincy Adams proclaimed: “[America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind.”

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln invoked the Declaration to make the case for the Civil War, reminding Congress that it would be: “a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men; to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all.”

In 1962, deep in the grip of the Cold War, Kennedy made the pilgrimage to Independence Hall to declare that: “this Nation—conceived in revolution, nurtured in liberty, maturing in independence—has no intention of abdicating its leadership  in that worldwide movement for independence to any nation or society committed to systematic human oppression.”

Three different presidents, of three vastly different eras, united by their faith in the power of the idea that is America. Constant in their dedication to the pursuit of humankind’s highest ideal—liberty. 

What, I wonder, will Donald Trump say this evening when he speaks to the nation at an event designed more to stroke his ego than celebrate American ideals?

Will he speak to the example America must set to inspire the world? Will he offer a robust defense of the democratic values that have always been our strength in times of crisis? 

We all know the answer to that. Donald Trump is incapable of celebrating what makes America great—because he doesn’t get it. 

He cannot distinguish between our Allies and our adversaries—because he does not grasp that America is the “march of the mind” toward greater openness, greater understanding, greater human freedom to pursue lives of meaning and fulfillment. 

And if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation. We can’t let that happen.

Trump’s embrace of dictators and strongmen is a fundamental rejection of everything our founders wrote into their Declaration. 

Vladimir Putin in Russia, Kim Jong Un in North Korea, Mohamad bin Salman in Saudi Arabia—their drive to concentrate greater and greater power in their own hands and to silence their opposition, including through brutal assassinations—that is the death of liberty. 

Last week, Putin gave an interview where he crowed: “the liberal idea has become obsolete.” 

Trump thought he was talking about Democrats in California. Not a joke.  

Our president does not understand the difference between liberal as opposed to conservative politics, and liberal as opposed to autocratic systems of government. 

Well, I’m here to tell Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump, and anyone who needs to hear it:the liberal idea is the American idea. And it will never be obsolete—not as long as there remain patriots committed to the higher ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

The liberal idea is what drives innovation and entrepreneurship. The liberal idea is what inspires art and exploration and human curiosity. And—critically—the liberal idea 
is what built the Free World. 

The Free World is an American design. We created it, together with our democratic allies in Europe and in Asia after World War II, to hold in check the abuse of power by any one nation, and to affirm a collective defense, open economies, and human rights. 

The Free World drove the march of democracy, prevented a third great war, protected the territorial integrity and sovereignty of small states, allowed unprecedented economic growth and development, and advanced basic human rights and fundamental freedoms in every corner of the world. 

Ours is a community of values that stands in opposition to all who seek to profit by the oppression of others.  

That’s why Putin wants to see it destroyed. That’s why he’s actively working to tear apart our democracy. 

Ladies and gentlemen – America is the heart of the Free World—and we must defend it. 

That is how the Fourth of July is best honored – by remembering that our Declaration is first and foremost a call to arms, in defense of liberty.

But we must also remember, as JFK put it, that ours is: “not the individual liberty of one 
but the indivisible liberty of all.”

Donald Trump doesn’t get that either. 

My liberty, depends on yours. Our liberty as a nation rests on our ability to ensure equal access, equal opportunity – not just for our own children, but all our children. 

We have to take on the inequalities in our system that are causing too many today—
in America and around the world—to question their faith in the ability of democracy to deliver for them. 

It’s not enough to be for political equality—we have to be for economic fairness as well.  

It’s not enough to be against the way Donald Trump conducts himself—the way he assaults the dignity of women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals—we have to be against his policies that are further entrenching economic inequality in this nation. 

That are rigging the system against the middle class.

That too is an attack on our democracy—on our liberty. 

That’s the message I’ve been taking all across this nation.  

And it’s all the more clear today – on the day we celebrate our independence—this country wasn’t built by Wall Street bankers and CEOs and hedge fund managers. 

It was built by you. By ordinary Americans – given half a chance – doing extraordinary things. That’s the history of the journey of America.

My dad used to have an expression. He’d say a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about one’s place in the community. It’s about being able to look your child in the eye and say everything is going to be ok.  And mean it.

But today so many people can’t do that. That’s what we have to change. That is my north star.

The moral obligation of our time is to rebuild the middle class. And this time, everybody comes along – no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, religion,who they love or where they live or whether they have a disability. 

For me, it’s all about restoring the dignity of work – being able to provide security and joy for your family.

But how can a person’s dignity be maintained if they can’t afford to care for a sick child  or a family member because of a pre-existing condition – or because they’ve reached a point where their health insurer says “no more?”

I can’t imagine what Jill and I would have done with Beau if we couldn’t get the best care to ease his pain and suffering while dealing with an incurable disease.

How can a parent maintain their dignity if their talented and qualified child wants to go beyond high school to trade school or community college or college, but they can’t afford to get them there?

I remember how my father felt when he told me the bank wouldn’t give him a loan to help me go to college. He said, “I’m so ashamed.” I got there – but I’ll never forget that look on his face. 

Today’s corporate culture and this Administration don’t care about your dignity. They don’t care about economic fairness.

They’re squeezing the life out of workers. They’re making it harder for you to bargain for your personal worth as well.

40% of workers have to sign non-compete clauses at some point in their careers. 

These non-compete agreements have one purpose: to hold down the ability of workers 
to bargain for themselves and to keep their wages low. 

And why do companies classify so many low-wage workers as managers? 

So they can get out of paying overtime and take more in profits for themselves. That cost more than 4 million hourly workers $1.2 billion in lost wages last year.

And speaking of overtime – it’s long past time we make a $15 minimum wage at the federal level. 

It’s time we started to reward work over wealth in this country. 

Let me ask you something. 

The stock market is roaring. Do you feel it?

Or how about that big tax cut passed by Trump and the Republicans? Did you feel it?

That tax cut exploded the deficit by some $2 trillion – and now the Republicans are using it as an excuse to go after the social safety net. 

Let’s not kid one another. If Trump and the Republicans win in 2020 – they’re coming after Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security. 

They’ve already said it.  And we can’t let that happen. 

So, we need to reverse the Trump tax cuts on the super wealthy. And then we need to get rid of the capital gains loophole. 

A just economy—an economy that advances liberty for all—isn’t one where the super wealthy pay lower tax rates than teachers and firefighters.

The Fourth is also a reminder of an important lesson we learned early in this county.

As Benjamin Franklin supposedly said at the signing: “We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Folks, we need to unify this country. We have to overcome this status quo of division—that’s the only way we’ll be able to get anything done. 

And we can do it without compromising our principles. Marshalltown knows that better than anyone—what do you do when disaster strikes? You come together.  

Mr. Mayor, how did you begin rebuilding after that God-awful tornado? By working together with the city council and the local businesses. 

It didn’t matter whether folks were Democrats or Republicans then—all that mattered was getting Marshalltown back up and running.

You made that happen—you’re still making that happen.  

It goes to show that all that stands in our way is a broken political system.

Folks, for all our problems, I’m more optimistic today than when I got elected to the United States Senate as a 29-year old kid. 

And here’s why: We’re better positioned than any nation in the world to lead the 21st Century. 

We have the strongest military in the world. We have led not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. The most productive workers among major world economies. North America is energy independent. We have the world’s greatest research universities. 

No other nation in the world can match us. The only thing that can tear America apart is America itself. 

The only thing that would make the liberal idea obsolete is if Americans walked away from liberty itself. 

Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. 

This July 4th, let’s remind the world who we are.

This is the United States of America.  

This is the nation that willed ourselves into existence with nothing but faith in ourselves and in the power of an idea. 

There’s not a single thing we can’t do – together.

God bless all of you. May God protect our troops.

Politicos, Officials, City Workers Join WorldPride NYC 2019 March

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo was joined at the WorldPride 2019 parade by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chris Quinn, Randi Weingarten, Adriano Espaillat, Jim Gaughran, Jen Metzger, David Weprin, Amy Paulin. Chad Griffin, Alphonso David, Counsel to the Governor, State Senator Brad Hoylman, who’s been a champion, Kristen Browde, Dolores Nettles, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, as well as Cuomo’s three daughters Cara, Mariah, Michaela. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

What a difference 50 years makes – from the Stonewall Uprising when the forces of government were marshaled against the gay and lesbian community, to today, when government officials and even members of New York City’s Police Department, flocked to take part in WorldPride NYC 2019, the largest Pride event in history.

US State Senator Charles Schumer, with his familiar bullhorn, declared,, “I was the first US Senator to march, and I won’t be the last.”

US Senator Charles Schumer. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, revved up the crowd to chant “ERA, ERA” and Congressmembers Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velazquez joined the parade.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State officials were there in force, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, who appropriately crowed about the gains a progressive legislature accomplished, NYS’s first black woman Attorney General Leticia James, Comptroller Thom DiNapoli, and a score of state senators and assemblymembers..

NYS AttorneyGeneral Letitia James. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Cuomo did not come empty-handed: he used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense (S3293/A2707), fulfilling his pledge to ensure nobody uses this abhorrent legal defense strategy in the State of New York. The Governor signed the measure, a key component of his 2019 Justice Agenda, on WorldPride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. The Governor also vowed to double down next legislative session on his campaign to legalize gestational surrogacy, which the Assembly failed to take up this year.

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The gay and trans panic defense is essentially a codification of homophobia and transphobia, and it is repugnant to our values of equality and inclusion,” Governor Cuomo said at a press conference on the street before joining the parade. “This defense strategy isn’t just offensive – it also sends a dangerous message that violence toward LGBTQ people is somehow OK. It’s not, and today we’re sending this noxious legal tool to the dustbin of history where it belongs.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, who is running for the Democratic Nomination for president, marched with the city’s First Lady Chirlane McCray.There were also the NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer with his family, Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, members of the City Council including Speaker Corey Johnson,

There were contingents from just about every city agency, from Sanitation to Transportation, the Department of Social Services, to the Bar Association and teachers.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“In the month of June, we celebrated 50 years of Pride here in New York State and around the world,” stated New York’s Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul. “We marched in parades from Buffalo to Albany, and finished the month with World Pride in New York City this past weekend.

“We celebrated how far the LGBTQ+ community has come since the Stonewall Uprising in 1969, and reflected on the progress we still have to make.

“Throughout this legislative session over the last six months, we made history. GENDA is now the law of the land, ensuring permanent protections for transgender New Yorkers. Young people are now protected from the barbaric practice of conversion therapy. Finally, with the stroke of a pen, we ended the legalized hatred that was once allowed by the gay and trans ‘panic’ defense. 

“I am always proud to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and continue the fight for equality.”

LGBT Bar NY applauds the victory of New York State banning conversion therapy. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here are more highlights:

US Senator Charles Schumer. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Congressman Jerry Nadler. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
State Senator Brad Hoylman. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
State Assembly Member DickGottfried. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and family. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See more photos:

Record Numbers Turn Out for WorldPride NYC 2019, A Celebration of Pride & Joy

See also:

At WorldPride NYC Parade, NYS Governor Cuomo Signs Law Banning Gay, Trans Panic Legal Defense

__________

© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Record Numbers Turn Out for WorldPride NYC 2019, A Celebration of Pride & Joy

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

They came together in celebration, not anger or fear. The common thread among the 150,000 who marched, coming from around the world and across the country, and the estimated 2.5 million who watched along the WorldPride NYC 2019 parade route: Free to be me.

The parade, which took eight hours to complete and was estimated to be the largest Pride event in history, was particularly poignant, honoring the 50th anniversary since the Stonewall Uprising, which are considered the trigger to the modern LGBTQ movement.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Jim Foray, among the Grand Marshals at the parade, was there that night. He was living just a block away and recalled the Stonewall as a “sleazy bar where we were grateful and exploited.” The bar, reputedly owned by the Mafia, was regularly raided by the police.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

What a difference 50 years has made, noted Julian Sanjivan, NYC Pride March Director. “They had no way of knowing what the next 50 years would bring, no way to know they were starting a global movement, changing hearts and minds everywhere.” And who could have expected an openly gay and married man, a mayor from South Bend, Indiana, Peter Buttigieg, running for President.

Fear and loathing has given way to pride and joy.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Five Grand Marshals lead both the 50th NYC Pride March: the cast of POSE, represented by Dominique Jackson (Elektra), Indya Moore (Angel), and MJ Rodriguez (Blanca); Phyll Opoku-Gyimah; Gay Liberation Front; The Trevor Project and Monica Helms.

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah is the nucleus of the award-winning celebration and protest that is UK Black Pride. Widely known as Lady Phyll – partly due to her decision to reject an MBE in the New Year’s Honours’ list, to protest Britain’s role in formulating anti-LGBTQ+ penal codes across its empire – she is a senior official at the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) trade union as the Head of Equality and Learning. She’s a community builder and organizer; a Kaleidoscope Trust Trustee; an Albert Kennedy Trust patron; Diva Magazine columnist, and public speaker focusing on race, gender, sexuality and class.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Gay Liberation Front was the very first LGBTQ activist organization formed after the Stonewall Rebellion. The courageous members of GLF fought to give political shape and direction to a whole new generation of LGBTQ militancy that spread with unprecedented vigor and impact across the nation and the world.  

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The organization works to save young lives by providing support through free and confidential programs, including TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat. They also run TrevorSpace, the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, and operate innovative education, research, and advocacy programs.

Monica Helms is a transgender activist, author, and veteran of the United States Navy, having served on two submarines. She is also the creator of the Transgender Pride Flag, in 1999, and subsequently donated the original flag to the Smithsonian Institution in 2014.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It was indeed a demonstration of world pride – there were marchers from Copenhagen, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Portugal, Australia, Holland, and so many other places.

American cities and states were represented as well, from coast to coast and in between – from Palm Beach and Orlando to Palm Springs, San Francisco and Venice (California), Austin to Washington DC, Brooklyn, Boston, even Native American tribes.

Here are highlights from the WorldPride NYC 2019:

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Austin Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Capital Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Boston Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Brooklyn Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Orlando Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Palm Springs Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Ft. Lauderdale Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Houston Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Tampa Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Twin Cities Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Italian LGBTI Association. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Bologna Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Germany. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
United Kingdom. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Portugal Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Amsterdam Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Blackfeet Nation. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrating 43 years. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Paying homage to Gilbert Baker, founder of the Rainbow flag WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Paying homage to Gilbert Baker, founder of the Rainbow flag WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
What a difference 50 years make. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

A clear sign of the changing times was the outpouring of elected and government officials who joined the march. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense, a key component of his 2019 Justice Agenda,.

See also:

At WorldPride NYC Parade, NYS Governor Cuomo Signs Law Banning Gay, Trans Panic Legal Defense

See next: Officials Join WorldPride NYC Parade 2019

__________

© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging atwww.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us onfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

At WorldPride NYC Parade, NYS Governor Cuomo Signs Law Banning Gay, Trans Panic Legal Defense

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo did not come empty-handed to the WorldPride NYC 2019 parade, perhaps the largest LGBTQIA+ Pride event in history: Cuomo used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo did not come empty-handed to the WorldPride NYC 2019 parade, perhaps the largest LGBTQIA+ Pride event in history: Cuomo used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense (S3293/A2707), fulfilling his pledge to ensure nobody uses this abhorrent legal defense strategy in the State of New York. The Governor signed the measure, a key component of his 2019 Justice Agenda, on WorldPride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. The Governor also vowed to double down next legislative session on his campaign to legalize gestational surrogacy, which the Assembly failed to take up this year.

“The gay and trans panic defense is essentially a codification of homophobia and transphobia, and it is repugnant to our values of equality and inclusion,” Governor Cuomo said at a press conference on the street before joining the parade. “This defense strategy isn’t just offensive – it also sends a dangerous message that violence toward LGBTQ people is somehow OK. It’s not, and today we’re sending this noxious legal tool to the dustbin of history where it belongs.”

At a press conference before joining the parade, Governor Cuomo said, “What a great, great day this is. New York is so proud. New York is so, so, so proud to host WorldPride. 

“New Yorkers are just New Yorkers. Look, all New Yorkers should be very proud because New York has always been the home of the LGBTQ equality movement, always. It all started here. It started at Stonewall, it started when we hosted the first Pride Day ever. And we’ve kept that legacy alive. This is the leading State in the United States of America for LGBTQ equality. And we don’t just say it, we do it. We prove it here in New York.

“What was the first state to address AIDS and announce the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic? New York. What was the first state to end discrimination against transgender people? New York. What was the first big state to pass marriage equality and send a message across the nation? New York. What was the first state to pass GENDA and end discrimination against transgender people? New York. What was the first state to ban conversion therapy? New York.

“And today, we’re going to sign a bill that ends the codification of homophobia. Because we have now as a law in this state, something called the gay and trans panic defense. That a person can argue – they were so emotionally disturbed when they found out a person was gay or trans that that is actually a justification or an excuse for murder. Not in this state. We are going to – not in this state. Not in this state. Not in this state. Not in this state. Not in this state. And we are going to end the gay and transpanic defense and we are going to do it right now. I will sign this now and end this law. It is now over.

“Congratulations, New York. Let’s lead once again.”

The gay and trans panic defenses allow those accused of violent crimes against LGBTQ people to receive a lesser sentence, and in some cases, avoid conviction, by placing the blame on a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The passage of this bill would close a loophole in state law that currently allows individuals to use the gay and trans panic defenses after attacking another person based upon a perception, or discovery of, that victim’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Senator Brad Hoylman said,”By banning the so-called gay and trans panic defense, New York is sending a message to prosecutors, defense attorneys, juries and judges that a victim’s LGBTQ identity shouldn’t be weaponized against them. I’m proud to be a member of a legislature that protects the rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers and thank Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Assemblymember O’Donnell for their leadership on this critical issue. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, I am extremely grateful to Governor Cuomo for signing this critical piece of legislation into law and look forward to continuing to work with him to make New York a more inclusive, equitable home for the LGBTQ community.”

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo was joined at the WorldPride 2019 parade by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chris Quinn, Randi Weingarten, Adriano Espaillat, Jim Gaughran, Jen Metzger, David Weprin, Amy Paulin. Chad Griffin, Alphonso David, Counsel to the Governor, State Senator Brad Hoylman, who’s been a champion, Kristen Browde, Dolores Nettles, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, as well as Cuomo’s three daughters Cara, Mariah, Michaela. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Delores Nettles said, “In 2013, my daughter Islan was killed in Harlem for being who she was. Her attacker used the discriminatory ‘trans panic’ defense. I am so grateful that New York is banning this legislation so that no mother has to go through this again. We must keep fighting so that all trans people can live free from violence and discrimination. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for advocating tirelessly for this bill and for signing it into law today.”

“Banning the “gay and trans panic” defense in New York is an important and long overdue step toward treating the LGBTQ community equitably,” Ethan Rice, Senior Attorney, Fair Courts Project at Lambda Legal. “LGBTQ people in New York should never have to experience violence. When it happens, LGBTQ people certainly should not be faced with blame for this violence. These “defenses” have no place in our justice system. Lambda Legal commends the Governor for signing this bill today and for his ongoing advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community.”

NYC’s Pride Center celebrating at WorldPride NYC 2019. There was much to celebrate: Governor Cuomo had just signed legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Glennda Testone, Executive Director of NYC’s LGBT Community Center said, “New York State government has taken another great step in the right direction, legally halting some enduring elements of homophobia and transphobia ingrained in our society. After establishing marriage equality, passing GENDA and ending conversion therapy in our state, Governor Cuomo showed that he is not done fighting for LGBTQ equality, and neither are we. We thank him for taking the gay and trans panic defense out of New York’s court system and for his commitment to equal rights for all people.”  

“Using an individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender as a defense for violent behavior is abhorrent and will not stand in the State of New York,” Harlem Pride and The NYC Black and Latino LGBTQ Coalition said. “We applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership and dedication to protecting the LGBTQ community and closing the legal loophole keeping this archaic practice in place.”

Guillermo Chacon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS and founder of Hispanic Health Network said,”As we celebrate LGBT Pride and the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising we recognize that outlawing the gay and trans panic defense is long overdue in New York.  We appreciate that this legislation will be signed to ensure this can never happen again and that people impacted by homophobia and transphobia are no longer taking the blame for this antiquated loophole. We thank Governor Cuomo for advancing this important issue and I look forward to him signing this law to increase protections for the LGBTQ community.”

Rod Townsend, Community Leader said, “A person’s gender identity or sexual orientation is never a justifiable reason for violent attack, and Governor Cuomo closes the loophole in state law that allowed for it in cases of first degree murder today.  We look forward to seeing justice for individuals impacted by these crime and will fight to further limit the use of this appalling “blame the victim” strategy in cases of violence against LGBTQ people everywhere.”

Amanda Babine, Director of Policy & Programs at the New York Transgender Advocacy Group said,”Banning the ‘gay and trans panic’ defense was a huge win for the LGBTQI community, especially for our Transgender, Gender-Non-Conforming, & Non-Binary siblings. This year alone, ten Transgender women of color have been found dead, one right here in New York. The New York Transgender Advocacy Group stands with pride next to Governor Cuomo as he continues to be a champion for the LGBTQI community here in New York State.”

Brooke Malloy, Executive Director, Rockland County Pride Center said, “New Yorkers do not tolerate hate. We are a state of love and inclusion, and hold firm to our belief in equality for every person. The fact that there ever was a legal defense for crimes committed against the LGBTQ community, specifically based on their actual or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation is disgusting. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for his leadership in ending this abhorrent law, and for always speaking up and protecting LGBTQ New Yorkers.”

Kelly Metzgar, Executive Director, Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance said,”New York State prides itself on being an inclusive, progressive state, where every person can feel safe and welcome. With his work to end the gay and trans panic defense, Governor Cuomo continues to ensure that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, receives equal protection under New York State law. I wish to personally thank Governor Cuomo, on behalf of residents in the Adirondack North Country for his relentless work to defend the rights of all who call this beautiful state our home.”

Christopher Goodwin, Supervisor of The MOCHA Center Rochester said, “We at The MOCHA Center and Trillium Health applaud Governor Cuomo for taking swift, progressive action to protect and uphold the rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers. Thanks to his efforts, a dangerous loophole rooted in hate has been erased from our criminal justice system. The gay and trans panic defense should never have been allowed. LGBTQ New Yorkers are grateful that we can now feel safer knowing that we are one step closer to having our lives equally valued and represented under the law.”

Jeff Rindler, Executive Director, Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center said, “This revision to our legal system has been long overdue. The human rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers are non-negotiable, and now this hateful excuse will no longer be a permissible defense for homophobic and transphobic hate crimes, which are on the rise. For transgender women of color who experience higher rates of violence, this law is the next step in solidifying protections for our community. I applaud and thankGovernor Cuomo and all the advocates and legislators who worked tirelessly to pass this legislation.”

Kelsey Louie, CEO, GMHC said, “The beginning of the Stonewall rebellion was in New York City and it was in reaction to hate-fueled actions. Fifty years have passed since the beginning of our LGBT rights movement and New York has been a model for LGBT equality, setting a national standard that the rest of the country must follow. We thank Governor Cuomo for closing a loophole which permitted the murder of gay and trans New Yorkers due to their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This ensures that justice will be served for LGBTQ New Yorkers who are the victims of homophobia and transphobia.”

Kristen Prata Browde, Board President, LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York and Co-Chair Board of Directors, National Trans Bar Association said,”This shows the kind of change that good government can and should bring. Banning the trans and gay panic defense is a huge step towards equality for LGBTQ New Yorkers. Governor Cuomo not only recognized the absurdity of giving someone a lesser sentence or even a pass after murdering someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, he fought hard for the ban. As the Governor signs the bill he is once again showing that New York truly is a beacon to the world and to every LGBTQ person.”

The Governor also released a new video for social media featuring Delores Nettles, the mother of Islan Nettles, a transgender woman who was brutally murdered in Harlem in 2013 and whose assailant used the gay and trans panic legal defense in court. Watch the video here.

Cuomo Takes Bow in Delivering on Justice Agenda, Calling Legislative Session ‘Most Productive in Modern Political History’

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo took a deserved bow in delivering on the Justice Agenda he laid out at his inauguration, calling this year’s Legislative Session “the most productive in modern political history.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo took a deserved bow in announcing historic progressive accomplishments during this year’s Legislative Session, delivering on his 2019 Justice Agenda first laid out in December, and calling it “the most productive in modern political history.”

“These sweeping reforms will ensure social and economic justice for all New Yorkers, address the devastating impact of climate change, support New York’s ongoing commitment to workers’ rights, modernize transportation systems across the state, and enhance the Empire State’s nation-leading commitment to gender equity and LGBTQ rights. All of this was done while enacting fiscally responsible policies including holding spending growth to 2 percent for the ninth consecutive year, enacting a permanent property tax cap and cutting taxes for the middle class,” the governor’s office stated.

“Six months ago we laid out our 2019 Justice Agenda – an aggressive blueprint to move New York forward – and today I’m proud to say we got it done,” Governor Cuomo said. “At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what you accomplish, and this was the most progressively productive legislative session in modern history. The product was extraordinary, and we maintained our two pillars – fiscal responsibility and economic growth paired with social progress on an unprecedented and nation-leading scale.”

Here’s a synopsis:

Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act: This legislation enacts the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, creating the most aggressive climate change program in the nation with goals to: reach zero carbon emissions in the electricity sector by 2040; install 9 GW of offshore wind by 2035; 6GW of solar by 2025; 3 GW of energy storage by 2030; and directs state entities to work toward a goal of investing 40 percent of clean energy and energy efficiency resources to benefit disadvantaged communities. Additionally, the law creates the Climate Action Council comprised of the leaders of various state agencies and authorities as well as legislative appointments to develop a plan outlining how the state will achieve an 85% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels by 2050, and eventually net zero emissions in all sectors of the economy. 

Permanent Property Tax Cap: Made permanent the 2% property tax cap, building upon the approximate $25 billion in taxpayer savings since it was implemented in 2012.

MTA Money and Management: Funded the MTA with an estimated $25 billion raised through Central Business District tolling, a new progressive mansion tax, and the elimination of the internet tax advantage. Implemented overdue MTA reforms including the developing a reorganization plan, modifying MTA Board appointments to align with appointing authority, requiring the MTA to undergo an independent forensic audit and efficiency review, and calling for a major construction review unit made up of outside experts to review major projects.

Advancing LGBTQ Rights: Governor Cuomo is enacting transformative legislation in support of LGBTQ rights, including the elimination of the gay and trans panic defense—closing a loophole in state law that allowed individuals to use the gay and trans panic defenses after attacking another based upon that victim’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The Governor also enacted into law the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and a ban on LGBTQ conversion therapy.

Establish a Farmworkers Bill of Rights: This legislation established a farmworkers bill of rights, granting overtime pay, a rest day and the right to unionize.

Enact Additional Sexual Harassment Protections: This package of reforms will lower the high bar set for employees to hold employers accountable under the New York Human Rights Law for sexual harassment by amending the requirement that conduct be “severe or pervasive” to constitute actionable conduct; extend the statute of limitations for employment sexual harassment claims filed with the Division of Human Rights from one year to three years; and protect employees’ rights to pursue complaints by mandating that all non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts include language stating that employees may still participate in government investigations conducted by local, state, and federal anti-discrimination agencies

Expand Statutes of Limitations for Rape: Statutes of limitations on rape cases impose a ticking clock on how long victims are able to come forward if they want to seek charges. Over the last year, victims who have suffered in silence for decades have bravely spoken about their abuse, and also have laid bare the state’s limited ability to prosecute their abusers due to the passage of time. In recognition of this fact, states across the country are lengthening or eliminating the statutes of limitations on crimes of sexual violence. This legislation extends the statute of limitations for Rape in the Second Degree and Third Degree, and expand the civil statute of limitations for claims related to these offenses, allowing victims greater opportunity to obtain justice.

Closing the Gender Wage Gap: Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has fought aggressively to increase safeguards for women in the workplace and close the gender pay gap in New York. This package of reforms includes legislation to expand the definition of “equal pay for equal work” to prohibit unequal pay on the basis of a protected class for all substantially similar work and to close any loopholes employers try to use to pay people less on the basis of their gender, race or other protected classes; as well as a salary history ban, which prohibits employers from asking or relying on salary history of applicants and employees in making job offers or determining wages.

Reauthorize and Expand the MWBE Program: The Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise program has been highly successful since its inception, establishing the highest goals for MWBE participation in the entire nation and awarding thousands of state contracts to minority-owned and women-owned businesses. This legislation reauthorizes the MWBE program and extends the provisions of law relating to the participation of MWBEs in state contracts to ensure this effective program continues.

Tenant Protections: This package of reforms, known as Housing Stability and Tenant Protection act of 2019, enacts the most sweeping, aggressive tenant protections in state history, safeguarding affordable housing for millions of New Yorkers.

Remove the Non-Medical Exemptions for Vaccines: The United States is currently experiencing the worst outbreak of measles in more than 25 years, with outbreaks in pockets of New York primarily driving the crisis. As a result of non-medical vaccination exemptions, many communities across New York have unacceptably low rates of vaccination, and those unvaccinated children can often attend school where they may spread the disease to other unvaccinated students. This new law will remove non-medical exemptions from school vaccination requirements for children and help protect the public amid this ongoing outbreak.

Ensuring Quality Education: School aid increased by over $1 billion, bringing total school aid to a record $27.9 billion. In addition, new reporting requirements will address imbalances in the distribution of resources by prioritizing funding at the individual school level in order to advance a more transparent, equitable education system.

Makes the Jose R. Peralta DREAM Act a Reality: Finally opens the doors of higher education to thousands of New Yorkers by giving undocumented New York students the same advantages given to their citizen peers, including access to the Tuition Assistance Program and state administered scholarships such as Excelsior.

Expands Eligibility for the Excelsior Scholarship Free Tuition Program: As the state’s successful free tuition program enters its third year, students whose families make up to $125,000 annually will now be eligible to apply for the program, allowing more than 55 percent of full-time, in-state SUNY and CUNY students—or more than 210,000 New York residents—to attend college tuition-free when combined with TAP assistance.

Criminal Justice Reform: Sweeping criminal justice reform was delivered by eliminating cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent offenses, ensuring the right to a speedy trial, and transforming the discovery process.

Continued Investment in Infrastructure: Builds upon the Governor’s unprecedented commitment to invest $150 billion in infrastructure projects over the next five years.

Delivering on the Gateway Tunnel Project: This legislation establishes the Gateway Development Commission and creates a comprehensive rail investment program for purposes of the project. This bi-state effort, in cooperation with New Jersey, represents significant progress on a crucial project for our nation’s economy and security while restoring our role as a global leader in infrastructure.

Protecting the Environment: The launch of the Green New Deal—the most aggressive environmental protection initiative in the nation, the ban of single-use plastic bags, launch of the food waste recycling program and investment of an additional $500 million in clean water infrastructure, increasing the State’s historic investment to $3 billion, all of which serves to protect New Yorkers while combatting some of the most pressing threats to the environment.

Keeping New Yorkers Healthy: By codifying provisions of the Affordable Care Act, New Yorkers can rest assured that their health needs will be covered, regardless of Washington’s actions.

Supporting Workers’ Rights: Extended Janus protections to all local governments and guaranteed the right to organize and collectively bargain.

Promoting the Democracy Agenda: To boost New York’s voter turnout and ensure that New York’s elections remain fair and transparent, the following initiatives were enacted this year: synchronized federal and state elections, pre-registration for minors, early voting, universal transfer of registration, and the advancement of no-excuse absentee voting, and same-day registration.

Common Sense Gun Reform: Building upon the SAFE Act—the strongest gun control legislation in the country—additional measures were enacted this year to ensure guns were kept out of the wrong hands, including the Red Flag Bill, ban on bump stocks, and extending the background check waiting period.

Signing the Child Victims Act: The signing of this long-awaited legislation provided necessary relief to child victims of sexual abuse by amending New York’s antiquated laws to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions, regardless of when the crime occurred.

Closing the LLC Loophole: Closed the LLC loophole by limiting political spending by an LLC to a total of $5,000 annually, which is the same limit as corporations. The new law also requires the disclosure of direct and indirect membership interests in the LLC making a contribution, and for the contribution to be attributed to that individual.

2019 Women’s Justice Agenda Accomplishments: With the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, Comprehensive Coverage Contraceptive Act, and the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, as well as the ban on revenge porn, and strengthened protections for breastfeeding in the workplace, Governor Cuomo continued his commitment to ensuring fairness and equality for women across New York State.

New capital funding investments this year include:

  • Full Funding for Extreme Winter Recovery: $65 million in State funding for the Extreme WINTER Recovery program. Provides enhanced assistance to local governments for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of local highways and roads impacted by New York State’s harsh winter weather. This unprecedented infrastructure investment in local roads and bridges is in addition to the $478 million in State funding provided through the CHIPS and Marchiselli programs, and $200 million for PAVE-NY and Bridge NY.
  • $120 Million Public Housing Investment: Building on the State’s unprecedented $550 million investment in the New York City Housing Authority, the Governor and Legislature are providing an additional $100 million in capital funding to help support its ongoing transformation while providing $20 million to support housing authorities and other housingoutside of New York City.
  • $100 Million for the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative: The Governor and Legislature are providing $100 million in capital funding to support the State’s up to $300 million commitment to communities impacted by Lake Ontario Flooding. Launched last month, the REDI Commission is working with localities along the shoreline to identify and support projects that will reduce the flooding risk to infrastructure while strengthening the region’s local economies.
  • $20 Million for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority: A $20 million capital appropriation is provided to support the first year of a five-year $100 million commitment from the Governor and Legislature to theNFTA to fund a five-year capital plan for maintenance and improvements of Metro Rail.
  • Penn Station 33rd Street Entrance: $425 million in capital funding will support the Penn Station 33rd Street Entrance project, and others associated with improvements to the Long Island Railroad. Just last month, the Governor unveiled final design renderings for the new main entrance to Penn Station located at 33rd street and 7th Avenue, which will provide much needed direct access to the LIRR Main Concourse and the New York City Subway.
  • $20 Million Investment in Public Libraries: A $20 million capital appropriation to public libraries will help libraries across New York State as they continue to transform into 21st century community hubs.
  • $30 Million for Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program: A $30 million capital appropriation will support the Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program, which under the Governor’s leadership is enabling independent colleges across the state to make critical investments in their infrastructure and equipment by providing matching capital grants.
  • $25 million Security Investment to Protect Against Hate Crimes: A $25 million capital appropriation is included for security projects at nonpublic schools, community centers, residential camps, and day care facilities at risk of hate crimes because of their ideology, beliefs, or mission.

Worse than Watergate: Former Prosecutor Discusses Nixon-Trump Parallels & Case for Impeachment

Nick Akerman, former Watergate prosecutor, discusses parallels between Nixon and Trump and the case for impeachment for obstruction of justice at Temple Emanuel of Great Neck, Long Island  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

With House Judiciary Committee hearings beginning on the Mueller Report and the possibility the findings might trigger hearings to impeach Donald Trump, it is helpful to hear from Nick Akerman, who served as Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor with the Watergate Special Prosecution Force under Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski which ultimately led to the resignation of Richard Nixon. He is an expert on criminal and civil application of the Racketeer and Corrupt Organizations Statue (RICO), the Economic Espionage Act, the federal Securities Laws, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and State Trade Secret and Restrictive Covenant Laws. He also is an expert on computer crime and the prosecution of competitively sensitive information and computer data. Akerman, who appears regularly on MSNBC on subjects including the FBI’s ongoing investigation into alleged Russian tampering with US elections, recently opined on the comparisons between Watergate and Trump’s culpability during a talk on “The Critical Issues Confronting Our Nation”  at Temple Emanuel of Great Neck. Here are highlights and some notes:

There is the obvious comparisons but differences:  in Watergate, a bunch of American guys flew up from Miami, burglarized Democratic National Committee, took documents. A low tech operation and they got caught in a low tech way –they put tape over door and cop caught them. What was insidious about what happened [in 2016 campaign] is that it was a high tech operation against DNC, this wasn’t done by individuals in the United States but by Russians, sitting at computers in Moscow, hacking into DNC as referenced by fact 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted by Mueller’s team.

In Watergate, we never knew what the burglars were trying to get; by the time they were caught, they didn’t get much.

Here, Russian operatives were hacking into DNC on multiple occasions, taking documents which they used and released during the course of 2016 presidential campaign that clearly had impact on what happened in campaign.

Back in Nixon era, had a conspiracy between Nixon and a foreign power in 1968 – which we didn’t learn about until 40 yrs later [so it never was part of the impeachment]- there was suspicion that Nixon had scuttled the Vietnam peace process during the 1968 campaign because he was concerned Johnson would settle and his lead over Humphrey would disintegrate –We learned later from notes of H.R. Handelman, that Nixon orchestrated it– that Anna Chenault interceded with the South Vietnamese government to keep them from coming to peace table. [As a result], Nixon make the war go on for four more years and some 26,000 Americans were killed (after 1968; 58,000 Americans altogether. Johnson knew of Nixon’s interference, confronted Senator Dirkson and said Nixon’s action constituted treason, but Johnson couldn’t release the information publicly, because would have revealed the US was bugging the South Vietnamese government]. Johnson was concerned that if he released that information that Nixon had interfered during campaign, it would appear that he was trying to throw the campaign to Humphrey.

In that, it sounds familiar: Obama was also concerned that it would appear he was exposing Russian interference to aid Trump in order to tilt the election to Hillary Clinton. [But it was also because when he presented the information to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he refused to support it and Obama did not want to appear partisan.]

What Mueller said destroyed Trump’s claim of total exoneration based on Attorney General William Barr’s so-called summary of Mueller report. Mueller said, “If we had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

What kind of statement is that to make about the president of the United States? This is not a ringing endorsement of innocence by any means.

Mueller basically said he was tied to regulations issued by Department of Justice that don’t permit DoJ to indict a sitting president.

In Watergate, we didn’t have that problem [the rules governing Mueller as special counsel were very much constricted after the renegade Starr, and more constricted that the Nixon special counsel]. Archibald Cox was really independent, not part of DoJ, but careful to follow DoJ guidelines and regulations. When he was fired and Leon Jaworski came in, the staff believed Nixon should have been indicted but Jaworski overruled – in retrospect he was right – Congress was involved, the American public was being informed. His view: impeachment process was going on and he should provide evidence to the House Judiciary committee. So he could do the job. That’s not what we have today.

Mueller in his statement said it was also important to investigate a sitting president, to preserve evidence when memories are fresh and documents available. [Documents have already been destroyed, or kept out of the hands of investigators.)

What does that mean in prosecutor speak? Why is it important to investigate while the trail is hot? It might be that the people who conspired with the president could be prosecuted. More importantly, what he’s saying is that if the president committed crimes, the evidence should be put together, and if leaves office within statute of limitations (for obstruction of justice it is 5 years), so if leaves after one term, he is subject to being indicted.

[Some want to pass a law suspending the statute of limitations while a sitting president can’t be indicted, if that is the DoJ policy; note: that is only policy, not part of the Constitution or any law that prevents a sitting president from being indicted.]

[But because under the current policy, a sitting president can’t be indicted, that leaves the only remedy to Congress to impeach, especially since Trump has blocked evidence and witnesses.]

Mueller report lays out a complete trial for obstruction of justice- 8 instances of obstruction – any one of which anybody but a sitting president could be, should be, and has been convicted of.

There is a statement by over 1000 former DoJ employees and prosecutors (including me) who said precisely that: if this evidence were out there on anyone else, that person would have been indicted and convicted of obstruction.

For example, Trump requested [former FBI Director James] Comey drop the FBI investigation into [National Security Adviser] Michael Flynn – that purpose was to impede and stop the investigation.

Trump tried to stop Russian investigation by firing Comey – he admitted that to Lester Holt on tv and to the Russians [in the Oval office].

He tried to stop the investigation by firing [Special Counsel] Bob Mueller and asked [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions to limit the scope of investigation into Russian meddling in the election to only focus on future elections, and not 2016.

He attempted to influence and probably did influence his former campaign manager Paul Manafort to refuse to cooperate with Mueller, and that was extremely significant [because Manafort had such critical insight into what happened during the campaign, while Mueller was unable to get the Russians who were out of reach; recall Trump also jumped at the suggestion of handing over the former Ambassador McFaul in exchange for Putin extraditing the Russians, and allowing Putin to interrogate Americans Putin suspected of interfering in his election, like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.]

Trump publicly attacked his former fixer Michael Cohen and Cohen’s family, to intimidate him to not cooperate with Mueller investigation.

Why? Because there are practical problems with respect to charge anyone in the Trump campaign: the US doesn’t have subpoena authority in Moscow and other countries, so it is  not an easy investigation. Whereas with Watergate, almost everything happened in the US, we could subpoena records, witnesses, and didn’t have to worry about foreign agents in foreign countries not subject to subpoenas.

But one huge problem: our federal criminal law does not address this new digital age. We had no problem in 1973 finding crimes – burglary was simple. Our laws have not kept up with new technology.

Page 167 of the Mueller report, right in the middle of the redacted portion relating to dissemination of stolen docs and emails from the DNC, right before the Democratic National Convention, is a whole series of emails disseminated by Wikileaks at the direction of the Kremlin to sow dissention of Sanders versus the Clinton supporters.

Within 30 minutes of the release of the Access Hollywood tape [in which Trump gloated over his ability to grab women by the pussy, because being a celebrity he could get away with it], Wikileaks, with the Russians, was releasing the Podesta emails to distract attention away. [It also came out simultaneously to Obama Administration releasing information of Russian waging a disinformation campaign on social media.]

This was pretty slick, sophisticated operation. But if you look at the Mueller report, it ruled out charges on the  theory that trafficking in receipt  of stolen property under National Stolen Property Act only covers tangible property, not intangible. Mueller couldn’t charge beyond reasonable doubt the crime of trafficking in stolen property, because it was data.

As for collusion, which is cooperation  members of Trump campaign were cooperating in accepting this help. That is an important distinction, because of the difficulty in investigating crimes outside US – DoJ has no subpoena power in Russia, no ability to extradite Russians indicted for hacking into DNC or other Russians involved in use of social media to suppress Clinton vote – other major allegations –

[That makes no sense, since the government frequently prosecutes theft of intellectual property, which this was, and because it is illegal for a campaign to accept anything of value from a foreign country, which opposition research and social media campaign surely had value. They have the evidence that they could present at trial – even in absentia, if the Russians don’t want to defend themselves, that is their choice. But the evidence would show that Don Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort learned at the Trump Tower meeting that Putin wanted to help Trump win the election; that Manafort met on several occasions and delivered polling data that would help the Russians target enough communities in the swing states to suppress the Clinton vote and give Trump the 77,000 votes, across three states, that clinched the Electoral College. Kushner met with head of sanctioned bank and likely promised overturning sanctions; Michael Cohen and Felix Slater were negotiating the Trump Tower Moscow deal; Roger Stone was the intermediary with Wikileaks, and Wikileaks was working with the Russian hacker, Gucipher 2.0, and Michael Flynn met with Russians to guarantee that Trump would overturn sanctions.

[Here’s the thing: Trump, himself, probably only wanted to cement relationship with Putin for when he lost the election, but Putin saw the advantage in having a puppet in the White House who would overturn sanctions on Russian banks and businesses and individuals, promote oil and fossil fuels (the foundation of Russia’s economy) while dismantling the shift to clean, renewable energy; weaken US support of NATO, Paris Climate Agreement, and Iran Nuclear Agreement,  break US as a global power while Russia and China become dominant political and economic powerhouses around the world including the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Trump may not have cared to win the presidency, but Manafort, Flynn, Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Robert Mercer certainly did and were serving as agents of Russia. Meanwhile, other Trump-connected figures, like Broidy and George Nador, were working on behalf of Saudi Arabia and UAE and not only did Trump support their embargo of Qatar, where the US has its largest military base in the Middle East, but now is allowing Saudi Arabia to have the technology for high-tech bomb components.

[The fact that Putin and others knew about the private dealings, and who knows what from before, like money laundering for Russian oligarchs with Trump Organization properties and tax evasion, that made him and many of his aides like Michael Flynn all vulnerable to kompromat and doing Russia’s will.]

There are two buckets [of criminal activity]: the break in at DNC, hacking emails, stealing documents, while a group another group of Russian intel officers in St. Petersburg, was involved in social media disinformation campaign to microtarget Clinton voters and suppress their vote by passing fake news about Clinton – 13 Russian intel operatives were indicted February 2018 on this use of social media. [But what is not readily realized is how closely the Russian campaign dovetailed with the Trump Campaign’s social media disinformation campaign operated by Brad Parscale, now Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, who boasted about a disinformation campaign designed to suppress votes by women, blacks and liberals; Parscale was connected to Cambridge Analytica, a Steve Bannon/Robert Mercer entity, that linked up with Russia, and in England, was connected to the Brexit disinformation campaign. Facebook and Twitter had their own professionals embedded in Parscale’s office, while both social media giants were also disseminating the Russian bots.]

What we learn in Mueller report: Manafort provided  [Russian agent Konstantin] Kilimnik with polling data multiple times, not just in cigar bar – but multiple times, on one occasion, in context of talking about battleground states, PA, MI, WI. If you take those three states with 66,000 votes among them, that’s how Trump won [the Electoral College]. So we have evidence, from [Rick] Gates (Manafort’s right hand man who revealed to Mueller), we have kalynick, Russian agent, getting polling data, talking about 3 states in particular, and Russians micro-targeting voters to suppress vote, but Mueller had to prove somebody in the Trump campaign engaged in conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt.

[See: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/08/manafort-russian-poll-share-konstantin-kilimnik-trump-investigation-2016-election-latest].

[Here’s the thing about surveillance and Trump’s charge of spying: they were monitoring the Russians and these encounters with Trump-connected Americans came up. Trump never said anything uncovered was untrue; to the contrary, his insistence that he must have been spied upon is proof that what they uncovered was accurate. The point of counter-intelligence is to determine if foreign agents have infiltrated or turned Americans into agents or moles, witting or unwitting “useful idiots.”]

The three states that elected Trump, on multiple occasions were talking about using data to send false news to potential Clinton voters, but what you can’t do is execute search warrant on St. Petersburg, pick up Russians for questioning.  Mueller knew the key to investigation was Paul Manafort  [so needed Manafort to turn and give evidence. That’s where Trump’s obstruction comes in, dangling the possibility of a pardon if he would just shut up].   

In the end Mueller had a failure of proof because Manafort lied to him. When Manafort appeared before judge in DC, Amy… she found he lied about polling data [so why didn’t Manafort get more time, or have cooperation deal torn up?]. He was covering up the campaign; he was given 7 ½ years [a tiny amount of time for a guy who committed some $50 million in tax and financial fraud and basically was paying off his debts by selling out the country, essentially handing over secrets to a foreign power]. He was also indicted by New York State. The issue is whether at some point will he realize he doesn’t want to spend full 7 ½ years and cooperate – if he does, the Mueller team is no longer in place, so we are left with AG Barr who is basically a political hack for Trump and has done everything to paint rosy picture of Trump’s involvement, lied about what was in Mueller report, setting up situation for a month before the report was released, giving the impression Trump was exonerated by the report, when he wasn’t.

So it is an open question: what happens if Manafort decides to cooperate, if Roger Stone, right in the middle of dissemination of stolen documents, interacted with Gucifer 2.0, what happens if these people suddenly decide to cooperate? [More likely Barr’s DoJ will stop any investigation or prosecution altogether so the truth never comes out, the evidence is destroyed and Trump skates free.]

Impeachment, the “I” Word

That leaves us with the House of Representatives and the impeachment process.

Impeachment is a whole different animal – a political process not a legal process [I always hear that it is ‘political’ but what does that mean? Shouldn’t it be about Rule of Law, not about which party is in power?] The House doesn’t have to show evidence beyond reasonable doubt to start an impeachment case – doesn’t have to deal with same standard, but the House acts as grand jury, in doing so, brings charges, which then go to Senate, and it takes 2/3 of the Senate [67 votes] to remove somebody from office, based on impeachment from House. The obvious problem now is that 2/3 of Senate is not in any way, shape or form, going to remove Trump from office and the public is just not there at this point [which is why Trump and new fixer Rudy Giuliani have been undermining Mueller and the FBI, in the “court of public opinion”]. I totally believe Pelosi is correct, the public just doesn’t understand what Trump did.

[But it is chicken and egg- Trump has obstructed access to the evidence which would change public opinion and force the Senate to vote to impeach or else look like they support a criminal in the white House. In Watergate, the House finally was able to force Nixon to give over the tapes that damned him.]

Barr purposely muddled waters when he issued  the ‘summary’ of the Mueller report – Mueller report over 400 pages, it is long and takes some background in knowing what happened beforehand.

The other significant document is the New York Times – the long [investigative] report they have done on Trump’s taxes. It is no coincidence Trump doesn’t want to turn over taxes – they go through that long history of tax avoidance, and what the Trump family did [and the fact he lost more money than any other American] – but if boils down to a long history of tax evasion – evading gift taxes, estate taxes, income taxes. Most of what was reported in the Times is passed statute of limitations, 6 years – but other matters.

[But here’s where impeachment would come in –not for a crime that is avoided because of statue of limitations, but shows unfit for office, unfit to be the one issuing tax policy, financial protections for consumers that he wants to overturn, shows he is vulnerable to blackmail from others who knows he committed tax fraud, bank fraud, lying to mortgage companies and insurance companies, as well as lying to the government, and the likelihood of money laundering, as well. These practices make him vulnerable to blackmail and collusion by anyone who knows, and the Russians could certainly have found those documents, like any other secret document. It’s like when an old drunk-driving offense is dug up during the campaign. But there are criminal financial practices that Trump apparently engaged in within the 6 years, and even during his time in office.]

In 2016 [during the campaign], we know that Trump sold two properties at 100 Central Park South, to son Eric for $330,000, even though the Trump Organization valued at $800,000 and $700,000, essentially passing assets not at true value,  just like Fred Trump did to Donald to evade gift taxes.

Trump knows that the real vulnerability to him are the tax returns. Also, he doesn’t want the facts of Mueller report to be brought to life.

Keeping the Public in the Dark

One thing in Watergate: Cox was appointed in May 1973 and by June 1973, the Senate select committee was in full gear, there were TV hearings where people understood what happened, we had testimony that the burglary was connected to the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), John Dean [White House counsel] laid out the elaborate obstruction of justice plot, the hush money to Watergate burglars – so as of summer of 1973, the public was pretty well educated.

[But Watergate was essentially one crime at the center, the burglary, when Trump campaign involved many different illegal, unethical activities, including the tacit agreement with the Russians that would overturn sanctions, which motivated the Russians to commit crimes on Trump’s behalf, which Trump encouraged, egging on the release of Wikileaks, for example. In some ways, Trump committed his offenses in the open, including saying on TV he fired James Comey because of the Russia investigation giving the impression, ‘how could it be illegal if he does it openly.’ But many more are surreptitious and convoluted. But Trump is already named as Individual Number 1 in campaign finance violations, which had it been any other president, would have been sufficient on its own to initiate impeachment.]

We haven’t had that. Prior to the new [Democratic-controlled] House, it was controlled by Republicans who kept everything out of the public [except when Nunes forced the release of FISA materials, intending to signal to intelligence officers to back off], the Senate didn’t do anything in public. What has to happen now has to be to bring the Mueller report to life: get McGahn [and Hope Hicks, Don Jr., Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner] to testify; these are people who worked at the Trump White House or still do, who have already provided testimony to the Mueller team.

One of things Trump administration tries to do – same as Nixon – is to stonewall. By not providing witnesses, documents. The recent court rulings are significant – tax returns. Most significant in last the 10 days is that New York State can provide tax returns to the House committees, and NYS tax returns mirror the federal returns.

Federal statute requires treasury to produce tax returns [What makes you think was Trump submitted to State jibed with Federal return?]

Where this is going will be a road to slog – court actions, committees – their job is to bring life to 435 page report that most American don’t have time or inclination to read.

[Why stonewall? First place, to diminish the weight of the charges; second, to push the process into the election campaign so he can argue that it is only political, and get the DoJ to impose its policy, which Comey conveniently ignored, of indicting or prosecuting someone during a campaign. That’s why there was a hiatus before the 2018 election.]

Around same section, p 176 –there is a prosecution decision Mueller explains that’s redacted –about whether or not to charge federal computer crimes statute. But just as the same as Russian intel officers who had hacked, Mueller concludes he doesn’t have enough evidence. The statute is computer fraud and abuse statute – hacking statute – the only reason to charge anybody would be if he were actually involved in the hacking done by Russians. We don’t know what’s under the redaction, but it is significant.

You can pick up bits and pieces. It is important that the public know about and be brought to attention.

AG Barr Muddies Waters

What Mueller writes about the law refutes that letter that Barr provided the White House and DoJ as a ‘job’ letter to be appointed as new AG. [It shows his ignorance of the law.] You wouldn’t want a first year law student to be writing, it’s just wrong. He says obstruction of justice doesn’t apply to anything other than a judicial proceeding which is wrong, the DoJ brings it up with FBI cases all the time. In Watergate, the principles in obstruction were charged with cover up of the FBI investigation, just like Trump did with Comey and Russia.

In the letter Barr provided to White House and DoJ [which is why Trump appointed him] Barr says that corrupt intent doesn’t apply because it’s an ‘amorphous’ statute. But there is a specific charge: simply acting with improper purpose to corruptly interfere, impede and obstruct a due administration of  justice – straight forward. Yet Barr doesn’t buy into that. Barr was never a prosecutor, always a political appointee, and never tried a case. It’s disturbing for somebody who is AG supervising everyone else doing that.

Watergate was essentially simple, as you point out, and reduced to one crime, a two-bit burglary and a cover up – Trump’s crimes are many.

What about security of voting systems? If Russians can hack into the DNC (and voting rolls in 20 states), what protection is there?

That is a huge problem. The [Trump administration] has said we don’t have evidence Russians hacked in [to voting machines] but the systems are so antiquated, they don’t have means to capture audit trails to know if anyone did.

[The intelligence contractor Realty Winner is in prison for five years for blowing the whistle on the attempt by Russian military intelligence to attack U.S. elections, specifically by trying to “phish” more than 100 local election officials, which is not given the credit it should for opening the Russian investigation, separate and apart from George Papadoplous. See https://www.npr.org/2018/08/23/641229886/reality-winner-sentenced-to-5-years-3-months-for-leaking-classified-info. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who blocked Obama’s attempt to expose Russian meddling during the 2016 campaign, also is blocking House bill to modernize voting equipment.]

[Here’s the biggest problem: while the Constitution has a provision for Impeachment, there is no provision to review an election that has been stolen. You can have a criminal billionaire who pays hackers to flip switches to win the Electoral College, pay them a cool million dollars apiece to sweat out a year or so in jail, or pardon altogether.

[It’s circular – Trump will obstruct, stonewall, and don’t know that witnesses won’t destroy evidence, docs, tapes, unless there is impeachment inquiry.

[But I don’t understand the confusion over prosecuting for collusion – or conspiracy – when clearly, there were over 100 contacts between Trump, family, associates, campaign aides, and the Trump campaign benefited from the social media disinformation campaign to targeted districts, very possibly based on the polling data that Manafort supplied; from telegraphing his interest in lifting sanctions, weakening NATO, selling nuclear arms to Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea, and knowing (from the Trump Tower meeting with Kushner, Manafort and Don Jr)  that Putin favored his election. It makes no sense that they can’t prosecute because data was stolen, not material, but data is intellectual property and it is criminal to steal intellectual property – which has value. So does the social media campaign waged by Russians based on  Trump campaign’s own polling data, which by the way mirrored what Brad Parscale was doing – with an objective to suppressing turnout by women, blacks and liberals –  who is now Trump’s 2020 campaign manager. And what about the Cambridge Analytica link which had Russia, Wikileaks (and Roger Stone), the Mercers and Steve Bannon and Brad Parscale’s fingerprints.]

__________

© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin