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Legal Experts Furious Over Trump Pardon of Arsonists Whose Actions Sparked Occupation of Federal Property

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‘No Good Reason for These Pardons’

‘As an Oregonian, I’m Disgusted’

President Donald Trump Tuesday morning pardoned two Oregon ranchers whose illegal actions inspired, or “sparked,” a 41 day siege and occupation of federal government offices and land that culminated with the death of one of their supporters.

Many remember well Cliven Bundy, the racist rancher who owed over $1 million in grazing fees to the federal government. So-called “sovereign citizens” and “militia” men came to his aid in 2014 during a standoff that pitted the heavily armed anti-government extremists against federal law enforcement agents – the very people President Trump always claims to support.

In 2016, Bundy’s sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon, to protest the federal government’s treatment of two local ranchers who had been convicted of arson on tens of thousands of acres of federal lands. Among the several fires they set, at least one of reportedly directly threatened the lives of at least four firefighters.

Those two ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, were just pardoned by the President of the United States, and legal experts – along with some who personally lived through the occupation that forced area schools and businesses to close for over a month – are furious.

Calling the pardons “astonishing,” former U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, now a frequent legal contributor on MSNBC, wrote: “There is no good reason for these pardons. Trump is using a tool meant to do justice in a wholly arbitrary fashion.”

She added:

Anti-government extremism expert and writer JJ MacNab, who covered minute-by-minute the Bundy sons’ siege of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge calls the Hammonds “Serial arsonists who threatened the lives of federal employees and used a sander on a kid’s skin to punish him.”

Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Ryan Haas notes that Trump’s pardon lets the Bundy family claim “complete victory.”

More weigh in:

 

 

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Giuliani Says the US State Dept. Helped Him Pressure a Foreign Country to Investigate Trump’s Political Opponents

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Debunked Conspiracy Theory at Heart of Giuliani’s Actions

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani says the U.S. State Department helped him pressure a foreign country, Ukraine, to investigate Trump’s political opponents.

“Giuliani pressed for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and the release of damaging information on Paul Manafort,” NBC News reports, adding that the Democratic National Committee was among Trump’s opponents Giuliani targeted.

The former New York City mayor who has been assisting Trump in his public attacks against the Mueller investigation and the Dept. of Justice says the State Dept. put an attorney whom is a close ally of recently elected President Volodymyr Zelensky “in contact with me.”

“Not [the] other way around, and I told him they should not be cowered [out of] fully investigating serious possible crimes like bribery, extortion, fraud, money laundering and illegal interference in 2016 election,” Giuliani said.

All this stems from right wing conspiracy theories that sought to make it appear as if the former Vice President and his son, Hunter Biden, had taken “improper” action.

A Ukrainian prosecutor general told Bloomberg News that “he found no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden and his son. PolitiFact, meanwhile, reported that it found no evidence to ‘support the idea that Joe Biden advocated with his son’s interests in mind,'” NBC News adds.

But is the president using the Dept. of State to dig up dirt on his political opponents a crime?

One former Justice Dept. prosecutor weighs in on the news:

And a Biden campaign official responds:

 

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‘Hate the Straight’: Straight Pride Group Launches Attacks on Companies Refusing to Sponsor Its Offensive Parade

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An organization insisting that straight people represent an oppressed and marginalized group are holding a “Straight Pride” parade on August 31 in Boston. The organization, Super Happy Fun America, is claiming that the 15 or so U.S. companies they chose to list as “potential sponsors” despite having received zero interest in sponsoring their parade, are now “corporations that hate the straight” for refusing to do so.

Super Happy Fun America (SHFA) has deemed that some of these companies, including Netflix, TripAdvisor, JP Morgan Chase, and Ben and Jerry’s, are “heterophobic” corporations or sent “heterophobic” responses – all because they don’t want to tarnish their corporate reputations by sponsoring what some have called a hate fest.

In a blog post Tuesday Super Happy Fun America wrote that “rather than show their support for equality and inclusivity, we received hateful and heterophobic emails, threats against our 1st amendment rights, and attempts to take down our website.”

“The responses from global corporations effectively demonstrate the serious need for our civil rights movement is needed now more than ever!” they claim, falsely. “We will not be intimidated by their threats against our happiness and fun. Straights are a legitimate sexual orientation and we demand the same rights as everyone else. The Straight Pride parade is enormously popular and we call on all freedom loving patriots to join us on August 31st. The door is always open for sponsorships from companies who recognize the value of our civil-rights movement, and we encourage others to get involved.”

The door is “always open,” it would seem because SHFA doesn’t seem to have any sponsors.

Among those refusing to sponsor the “straight pride” parade are ride-sharing company Lyft.

“Super Happy Fun America received a letter from Lyft labelled ‘Cease and Desist’ with a demand to ‘immediately remove the Lyft name, logo, and branding from your regrettable website,” SHFA writes. “It appears that Lyft is yet another heterophobic global corporation. We believe that there is nothing ‘regrettable’ about advocating for equal rights for straights as we celebrate our community’s diverse history, culture, and identity.”

Netflix is another target of SHFA.

“Netflix is a heterophobic company steeped in hatred and bigotry,” SHFA claims. “They not only rejected our offer but threatened us with litigation if we did not stop using their name and logo, which is perfectly legal for editorial or informational purposes,” SHFA claims.

Netflix labelled us bullies and declared that their legal department “is here, it’s queer, and it’s telling you to steer clear.”

Then we comes to Trip Advisor. Perhaps taking a page from Netflix’s response, the legal eagles, “TripAdvisor’s letter stands out for its inclusion of songs that LGBTQ+ people have adopted as anthems,” Boston public radio station WBUR reports.

Here are a few amusing excerpts, emboldened by WBUR:

I am writing on behalf of TripAdvisor LLC concerning Super Fun Happy America’s [sic] unauthorized use of TripAdvisor’s logo, as displayed on your website at superhappyfunamerica.com/2019/07/09/corporate-sponsors/. I’m Coming Out and saying this clearly: you are infringing upon TripAdvisor’s intellectual property rights. Further, your statement that you are “in negotiations” with TripAdvisor as a “potential sponsor” is completely false.

To be precise, your use of the TripAdvisor trademark and our Beautiful logo infringes TripAdvisor’s trademark and trade name rights. TripAdvisor’s trademarks are protected in many countries around the world and Over The Rainbow, including in the United States under Registration Nos. 2727627, 3171193, 4612678 and 4454774. We have become a well-known brand for our reviews of hotels, restaurants, experiences and even the occasional YMCA, but we weren’t Born This Way – we obtained that recognition through significant advertising and promotion since as early as 2000. As a result of the breadth of the services it provides and its widespread renown, TripAdvisor enjoys substantial rights in its mark and name.

Contrary to your claims, TripAdvisor is not “in negotiations” with your organization for sponsorship of its “Straight Pride Parade.” Similarly, we have not authorized you to use our name or logo in any way. You Need To Calm Down – you are not sponsored by, associated or affiliated with TripAdvisor in any way, and thus, your use of our marks could confuse the public as to an affiliation with TripAdvisor. These inaccurate statements, which I trust do not show your True Colors, infringe on TripAdvisor’s rights under the Lanham Act, and impinge upon our Freedom! to decide with what organizations we want to associate our brand. Have A Little Respect and remove those statements. TripAdvisor and I Will Survive without being associated with your event.

Despite claiming they have every right to use logos of corporation just because they’ve sent them an email, it appears BestBuy has been successful in getting theirs removed. It appears here but not here.

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Trump Nominates Anti-Labor Anti-Regulation Lawyer Who Calls Ergonomics ‘Junk Science’ to be Labor Secretary

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President Donald Trump’s pick to become his third Secretary of Labor (fourth if you count Acting Secretaries) is well-known in Washington, D.C. as an anti-labor lawyer who is an expert at suing the federal government to eliminate regulations.

Eugene Scalia, who also happens to be the son (and one of nine children) of the late, far right Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, is the President’s latest nominee.

Eugene, or “Gene” Scalia is an attorney in private practice, working for the same law firm that positioned George W. Bush in the Oval Office by winning Bush v. Gore at the U.S. Supreme Court. Scalia worked at that same firm at the same time his father was on the Court deciding the case.

Scalia is known for successfully defending one of the nation’s largest employers, Walmart, in a case that ultimately struck down a law requiring large companies to spend at least 8% of their payroll expenses on healthcare. Walmart went on to become known as an employer who pays low wages and is effectively subsidized by the government which provides welfare for its workers.

A 2014 Mother Jones article reveals Eugene Scalia “spent most of the ’90s focused on labor law, primarily opposing workplace safety rules for white-collar employees.”

He defended SeaWorld against federal safety rules implemented after an orca killed a trainer during a live show in 2010. (Scalia has argued in court that the company has no more responsibility to protect its trainers than the NFL has a duty to combat on-the-field injuries.)

Scalia is also known for suing the federal government at least seven times over the Dodd-Frank law that increased regulations on the financial industry.

A 2012 Bloomberg article titled, “Suing the Government? Call Scalia!” begins with this anecdote:

Staffers inside the Securities and Exchange Commission have a nickname for the massive Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law, which imposes hundreds of new federal rules on business: They call it the “Eugene Scalia Full Employment Act.” Funny, right?

Finally, Scalia has a history at the Labor Dept., having worked there as its chief legal officer thanks to a recess appointment by President George W. Bush. Scalia was not confirmable in the Democratically-controlled U.S. Senate because of his anti-labor positions, including calling ergonomics – an important field of study and industry that reduces human error and protects workers’ physical and mental health – “quackery” and “junk science.”

At this point it’s important to note the role of the Dept. of Labor is to protect workers, not Walmart. Not corporations. Not employers. Workers. That’s why for over a century, since 1913, there has been a Dept. of Labor, not a Dept. of Employers.

Trump’s pick, which reportedly was suggested by, among others, far right wing GOP Senator Tom Cotton, will continue the work – striking down regulations faster than you can say “OSHA” – his disgraced predecessor, Alex Acosta, started.

 

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