Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a secret conference call on Monday and invited only “faith-based” media outlets. All mainstream media outlets were banned. Even reporters whose “beat” is religion were barred from the call. One reporter from a non-faith-based media outlet was accidentally invited, then disinvited when the error was discovered.
Outrage and concern have been growing since CNN Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Michelle Kosinski, who covers the State Department, first reported the unusual secretive conference call was being held.
Criticism has grown after the State Dept. refused to release a list of media outlets invited and on the call, and refused to release a transcript, all of which are standard operating procedure.
There is also concern that the State Dept. has refused to reveal if there were a variety of religions represented on the call. Secretary Pompeo is known as a far right conservative Christian. When he was the Director of CIA he would speak publicly about the Rapture and reportedly has “depicted the fight against terrorism as a war between radical Muslims, on one side, and the Christian faith on the other.”
The State Dept. also appears to be offering false information to cover up the event.
“The Department regularly engages in a broad array of media activities,” a State Dept. representative told HuffPost. “Some of those engagements …. are open to any interested domestic or international press.”
“Other engagements are more targeted or designed for topic, region, or audience-specific media. This has always been the case.”
That, in fact, has not always been the case, as Andrea Mitchell, a veteran journalist and NBC News’ Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, noted on Twitter Monday night:
State dept defending @SecPompeo limiting briefing today to “faith based media” saying they regularly do targeted media and “other engagements are more targeted or designed for topic, region, or audience-specific media.” Can’t recall religion being a test before for journalists
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) March 19, 2019
State dept will not provide transcript of @SecPompeo call with so-called “faith based media” not say who took part or what criteria were for participating. Usually transcripts are provided for all on the record interviews.
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) March 19, 2019
CNN Global Affairs analyst John Kirby, a former State Department spokesperson under President Barack Obama, told CNN, “it is typical practice that any on the record interview in which a Cabinet official participates is transcribed and published at the earliest appropriate opportunity,” proving false the State Dept.’s claims.
“These officials are public servants. What they say — in its entirety — is inherently of public interest. It’s inappropriate and irresponsible not to observe that obligation,” Kirby, who served as a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy, also said.
And while the State dept. would not even verify to HuffPost that the call took place, CNN reports Sec. Pompeo’s call was held “to discuss ‘international religious freedom’ ahead of his trip to the Middle East.”
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Viral Video Shows Pickup Truck Ramming Crowd Protesting ICE – They Say a Guard Was Driving, Cops Did Nothing
Protestors Were Also Pepper Sprayed
A video that has gone viral on social media shows a group of protestors sitting peacefully across a road in front of Rhode Island’s Wyatt Detention Facility Wednesday night, chanting for the release of about 120 immigrants. A black pickup truck approaches, honks, briefly stops, then runs into the crowd. Children and one person in a wheelchair were part of the protest, organizers say.
“It was terrifying because we didn’t know what exactly his intention was,” said Amy Anthony, a spokesperson for Never Again Action told The Washington Post. “It certainly appeared he was trying to hit us.”
BREAKING: Here is HD video of an ICE guard driving his truck into us as we sat peacefully blocking the Wyatt Detention Center.
We’re putting our bodies on the line because we see the camps and the roundups. We’ve learned from our ancestors: NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE. pic.twitter.com/KnOu5xoOEb
— ✡️ Never Again Action ✡️ (@NeverAgainActn) August 15, 2019
Several protestors were injured and taken to a hospital for treatment. None of the injuries were severe.
“The driver, protesters say, was a correctional officer employed by the privately run facility who was wearing a badge and a uniform — an assertion backed up by video of the incident,” The Washington Post reports.
Local police did not arrest the driver, and in fact took no action at all, according to Anthony.
The driver was allowed to walk into the prison, while prison guards were allowed to pepper spray the protestors.
After the first ICE guard ran us over with his truck, the rest of them ran over & pepper-sprayed us. The police present just stood by and watched, doing nothing.
— ✡️ Never Again Action ✡️ (@NeverAgainActn) August 15, 2019
“If this is the way this correctional officer is behaving in public when people are recording, it’s not hard to imagine the behavior is much worse behind the walls in the facility where no one can see what is happening,” Anthony noted.
The Wyatt Detention Facility is a publicly-owned but privately-run prison facility that contracts with various government agencies, including ICE, to detain prisoners.
It is unclear if private prison guards have the legal right to pepper spray protestors exercising their First Amendment rights.
On its website Never Again Action says it is “a mass mobilization of Jews who are organizing to shut down ICE.”
They also say, “We’ve been taught the signs by our ancestors. As our government runs concentration camps, and rounds up and cages our neighbors, we are called to speak out: #NeverAgainIsNow.”
‘Anti-American’: Trump Order Regulating Social Media Companies, Possibly Favoring Conservatives, Blasted by Experts
“The mother of all bad ideas”
The Trump administration is drafting an executive order that would regulate the largest social media platforms and “Big Tech” companies in the country, from Google to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Pinterest. President Trump’s goal apparently is to make these critical platforms extra-friendly to conservatives, who falsely have been claiming there’s an anti-conservative bias in the way Silicon Valley operates in the public realm.
While multiple reports say the executive order is not finalized, TechCrunch and CNN on Friday report the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would be charged with regulating Big Tech and social media platforms. The FCC is headed by a Trump loyalist who opposes net neutrality,
The executive order, currently titled “Protecting Americans from Online Censorship,” is a direct response to both right wing activists’ false claims of censorship and left-wing bias among social media platform operators, and an invitation-only White House meeting last month, labeled a “social media summit” that included mostly just “right wing extremists.”
On Friday, CNN reported the draft Trump executive order “could lead to a significant reinterpretation of a law that, its authors have insisted, was meant to give tech companies broad freedom to handle content as they see fit.”
It would “significantly narrow the protections afforded to companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.”
It also “would reflect a significant escalation by President Trump in his frequent attacks against social media companies over an alleged but unproven systemic bias against conservatives by technology platforms.”
Justice staff writer Melissa Gira Grant at The New Republic tweeted, “if this reporting is accurate, Trump has decided to chip away at Section 230 by executive order.”
The Legal Director for Public Knowledge, a D.C.-based nonprofit that says it “promotes freedom of expression, an open internet, and access to affordable communications tools and creative works,” offered this push-back:
obviously the FCC has no authority to do this, even if the White House told it to, for about a dozen reasons. but even if it did, it would at most open up platforms to more claims from aggrieved users but would do zero to narrow 230(c)(1) https://t.co/CPTSiZqaXq pic.twitter.com/MTqfZQrVzP
— John Bergmayer (@bergmayer) August 9, 2019
NYC-based nonprofit PEN America, which works “to protect free expression,” including press freedom and safety, blasted the proposed order, calling it “an anti-American edict that would empower FCC & FTC to be viewpoint-based arbiters of online speech.”
“Thankfully, 1st Amendment forbids that,” the group adds. “It’s regrettable that this Administration doesn’t seem to know that.”
The Editor-in-Chief of the tech site Lifewire calls it “The mother of all bad ideas.”
President Preps Order Forcing Social Media Sites to Give Conservatives Special Rights as Trump Sons Attack Twitter
One Trump Son Starts Following Alt-Right Social Media Site Popular With Extremists
Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are attacking the social media site their father says helped put him in the White House, as President Donald Trump appears to be following through on a promise to go after social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. That promise is based on false and debunked claims that “Big Tech,” from Google to social media sites, are biased against conservatives.
Politico reports the Trump White House is circulating several different drafts of what would become an executive order that would somehow regulate free speech on social media platforms, which are publicly-traded private companies. Trump last month promised conservatives he would explore “all regulatory and legislative solutions” to try to control social media companies and other Silicon Valley “Big Tech” corporations, like Google.
“If the internet is going to be presented as this egalitarian platform and most of Twitter is liberal cesspools of venom, then at least the president wants some fairness in the system,” a White House official told Politico.
What the White House and President Donald Trump are ignoring is conservative extremists are the ones more often engaging in politically motivated and white supremacist domestic terror attacks, like the one in El Paso this weekend that left 22 people dead. Just recently FBI Director Christopher Wray told a U.S. Senate committee that the “majority of the domestic terrorism cases we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.”
Any claims of anti-conservative bias also are not taking into account the offensive behavior by some conservatives, including violating the social media platforms’ terms of service, which apparently lead to them being suspended or removed from those sites.
As for Twitter being a “liberal cesspool,” as the White House called it, the fact is the President has an extremely low approval rating.
Meanwhile, both Trump sons in what appears to be thinly-veiled support for their father’s impending executive order, blasted Twitter this week, while Eric Trump started following the alt-right and far right social media platform Gab. Gab is known to be more friendly to extremists, the alt-right, anti-Semitism, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and white supremacists, as NBC News’ Ben Collins noted Thursday morning:
A reminder that Gab is where the Tree of Life Synagogue shooter posted mountains of anti-Semitic screeds, convinced the “migrant caravan” was an “invasion” plotted by a Jewish cabal, before writing “Screw the optics, I’m going in.”https://t.co/sh28JAtBDF
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) August 8, 2019
Eric Trump does not appear to have joined Gab, at least not under his name, although there are several parody accounts that appear when searching the site. He did, however take to Twitter to call the popular social media site “an absolute mess.”
Days earlier Eric shared an article from Breitbart, which is known as a home to the alt-right, titled “Former Google Engineer: Google Will Try to Prevent Trump from Being Re-elected.”
This is just one of several tweets Donald Trump Jr. has posted or retweeted in recent days:
Yea, no bias at all from big tech and the social media masters. Truly sick. https://t.co/GFf2CnfUrf
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 7, 2019
Image: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
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