Swastika made of feces found at Rhode Island school

(JTA) — A swastika made with human feces was found in a dormitory bathroom at the Rhode Island School of Design.

The existence of the swastika was confirmed by the school on Thursday, but reportedly was discovered a week ago.  It was discovered in a gender-neutral bathroom, according to reports.

“This level of disrespect and vitriol is completely unacceptable and RISD Public Safety is investigating it as both an act of vandalism and a crime of hate,” a statement from the school said.

The incident is being investigated as an act of vandalism and a potential hate crime, Rhode Island Public Radio reported.

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J Street, JCPA launch conferences grappling with Jewish advocacy under Trump

J Street

WASHINGTON (JTA) — J Street, the liberal Middle East policy group, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the public policy umbrella for Jewish community councils around the country, launched annual conferences in Washington that each focused on challenges to Jewish activism during the Trump administration.

J Street’s adversarial relationship to the new administration was explicit in its programming, while the JCPA was not so blunt, but agendas for both conferences, running Sunday through Tuesday, indicated a rough transition from the Obama administration, which was largely friendly to the aims of both groups.

Both conferences include sessions dedicated to advancing the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; President Donald Trump has said he is agnostic about the outcome, reversing 15 years of U.S. policy favoring two states as a final status arrangement.

The JCPA program focused on civil rights, particularly criminal justice reform. Panelists at sessions on Sunday morning spoke of their fears that the Trump administration would reverse Obama reforms, including greater oversight of community policing.

Panels at both conferences spotlighted Islamophobia, or hostility to Muslims, while J Street also had panels on refugees and JCPA on immigration rights. Trump has come under fire for his attacks on Muslims during his campaign and for banning entry to refugees and to travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries once he became president.

JCPA ran two separate sessions in sequence on Sunday on advocacy under Trump, one with figures in and out of the Jewish community who are among Trump’s sharpest critics and the next with figures, representing the Emergency Committee for Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition, who support his agenda.

In addition to an array of Jewish groups that come under the JCPA umbrella, there were guest speakers at the conference representing groups that also are aligned against aspects of the Trump agenda, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Immigration Law Center and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

J Street made no bones about its oppositional agenda, with one training session entitled “Fighting for Our Future; Harnessing our Power in the Age of Trump.” On Saturday night, in a pre-conference event, J Street U, the group’s university affiliate, marched on the White House, for, it said on its Twitter feed, “peace, democracy & an end to rising Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.”

Speakers at J Street include some of the Trump administration’s most outspoken critics, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who lost last year’s Democratic primaries to Hillary Clinton; Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Clinton’s vice presidential pick; Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives and top Obama administration Middle East officials. Also appearing are Israeli opposition and government figures; and Saeb Erekat, the top Palestinian Authority negotiator.

Jeremy Ben Ami, the J Street president, said Trump’s policies necessitated a broader agenda for the group, which had until recently focused more on Middle East issues, advocating for the Obama administration’s peace policies and the Iran nuclear deal. That advocacy often makes the group the target of criticism by larger Jewish organizations, who object to its frequent criticism of Israeli government policies.

“There are some really important fights ahead on foreign policy, on Israel, on the Iran deal, on Palestinians, on Israel at the United Nations,” Ben-Ami said Sunday at a briefing for reporters. “But there are also issues we haven’t related to as J Street, which we will, like refugees, immigration and Islamophobia.”

CLEAR UPTICK IN US ANTISEMITISM SINCE ELECTION, SAYS ADL

 

The desecration of Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and the St. Louis area have prompted an outcry from Jewish groups nationwide: The problem of antisemitism in the United States appears to be rapidly worsening. They can see it and they can feel it.

And the rest of the country is beginning to sense it as well.

But who is measuring it? That would be the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which records hate crimes nationwide, and the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish nongovernmental organization that tracks and verifies antisemitic incidents on an annual basis.

Neither the FBI nor the ADL has yet issued a report for 2016, much less for the beginning of 2017, which has witnessed a slew of high-profile attacks and threats against Jews and their institutions.

But both can discern from their collection of reported incidents a clear increase in activity beyond what they have seen in recent memory.

“Regardless of what final numbers of antisemitic incidents will be, we’re definitely seeing an uptick in reporting – and that’s actually why it takes longer to go through this data and verify everything. It was happening before Election Day, but definitely since Election Day, we’ve seen an uptick,” said Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” he added.

The ADL was alarmed by a spike in antisemitic behavior on social media in 2016, facilitated by the anonymity that attackers enjoy on platforms like Twitter. The group issued a special report on the phenomenon late last year that found more than two-thirds of 19,253 antisemitic tweets targeting journalists during the presidential election campaign had been sent by roughly 1,600 Twitter accounts.

Now it is investigating over 70 bomb threats phoned in to Jewish community centers over the past two months – and into its own headquarters, prompting a brief evacuation last week.

The perpetrators of the bomb threats have not yet been identified, and law enforcement has been unable to confirm whether one individual is orchestrating the campaign or whether several people are involved.

“We’re looking at the impact of this, so who does it is important – we need to find out – but what the impact of this is on the communities is our primary concern,” Segal said.

The ADL has also received reports of approximately 90 different white supremacist flyers being distributed on college campuses, an unprecedented number.

“Alt-right groups have determined that now is their time to strike,” said Segal, referring to a political coalition of nativists and ethnic-nationalists who supported President Donald Trump’s political rise.

FBI and ADL reports from 2015 recorded an increase in antisemitic incidents from the prior year, which at the time was considered significant.

But that “relatively small” increase has now been dwarfed by recent developments, Segal said, making note of a decade-long decline in activity leading up to the recent spike.

“I don’t think we can draw a direct line from any one thing to say that’s why antisemitism seems to be up, except for perhaps one place: social media,” Segal said.

“The reality is,” he continued, “more people are likely to encounter a swastika on their [cell]phone than they are in their neighborhood.

And when you see the number of trolls engage online in this antisemitic narrative, our concern is that their Internet activities will mainstream these hateful messages and have real-world consequences.”

Jewish Federations of North America president and CEO Jerry Silverman has expressed deep concern over the issue.

Talking to The Jerusalem Post on the sidelines of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors winter meeting in Tel Aviv, Silverman said: “The level of hate crimes, both antisemitic and against other faiths, around the world scares me deeply.”

On the other hand, he said, the Jewish community has great confidence in law enforcement authorities, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, all of which he referred to as “great partners.” He also referenced training that has been conducted over the past few years in all community infrastructures.

“We’ve increased the capacity and capability of our security network over last three years because the wave was building and we saw what was happening,” Silverman asserted.

With clear methods and protocols in place, he said, “it’s business as usual” within a very short space of time following an incident.

“A phone call creates an environment of terrorism that is designed to change behavior,” said Michael Siegal, former chairman of the Jewish Federations of North America Board of Trustees and a member of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors.

“The good news is that the calls have not manifested themselves into anything serious, even though the call in and of itself is serious,” said Siegal, who also serves as head of the Secure Community Network, a project of the JFNA and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“When you have to evacuate a JCC and see children standing outside, as a parent, you wonder whether or not I should continue to send kids to those environments,” he reflected. “But we don’t know if it’s one person or an organization, and until we work with the government to discover who is doing these particular calls, the pattern is that it’s probably one person or organization – very sophisticated – but not a groundswell of lots of people doing something.”

Indeed, Siegal’s successor on the board of the JFNA, Richard V. Sandler, pointed to a recent Pew Research Center study that found Jews as a religious group received the warmest ratings among Americans.

“I don’t believe myself that as a result of whatever happened over the last year that there are a greater number of antisemites in the country,” Sandler said.

“Antisemitism is a problem; always is. I think more have felt the freedom to raise their ugly heads, but hopefully that will subside.”

Silverman, too, sees light in the darkness, highlighting the thousands of dollars donated by Muslim charities to renovate the vandalized St. Louis cemetery and the fact that Vice President Mike Pence made time in his schedule to help clean up the damage. He added that he himself had received phone calls from the largest nonprofits in America offering their help.

“We don’t know enough information at this point, frankly, for this in any way to change our culture or our attitudes,” he said. “What it does is make us more alert and smarter in how to deal with it, and it allows us as communities to come together – and that’s a good thing.”

JEWISH CEMETERY IN PHILADELPHIA DESECRATED

 

http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-cemetery-in-Philadelphia-desecrated-482654

 

A Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia was found desecrated on Sunday with dozens of tombstones found overturned.

Mt. Carmel Cemetery was the second Jewish funerary grounds targeted within a single week, after a cemetery near St. Louis suffered similar vandalism the previous weekend. US Vice President Mike Pence visited that site this week and vowed to fight the scourge of antisemitism with the weight of the White House.

 

An ABC affiliate reporter in Philadelphia described dozens of headstones pushed over, if not more than a hundred.

Toppling Jewish tombstones is a storied antisemitic attack, raising few doubts within the community over the motives behind the vandalism.

The Anti-Defamation League and federal and local agencies have warned of a historic spike in antisemitic incidents over the past year, and especially since the elections in November.

New Jersey resident Aaron Mallin discovered the damage at the Mt. Carmel Cemetery while visiting his father’s grave, Philadelphia news outlet 6ABC reported.

“It’s just very disheartening that such a thing would take place,” Mallin was quoted as saying. “I’m hoping it was maybe just some drunk kids.

But the fact that there’s so many it leads one to think it could have been targeted.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nahshon condemned the attack. “Philadelphia Jewish cemetery desecration is shocking and a source of worry. Full confidence #US authorities catch and punish culprits,” Nahshon tweeted.

The World Jewish Congress tweeted: “It’s just very heartbreaking.”

On Saturday, swastikas and vulgar graffiti were discovered in Orchard Park, New York, near Buffalo. The Buffalo News said a dozen residents found their vehicles and property defaced with spray-painted swastikas and vulgar graffiti. The vandals also wrote racial slurs and Nazi symbols on playground equipment at South Davis Elementary School.

At Las Vegas confab, Republican Jews find reasons to like Trump

LAS VEGAS (JTA) — Republican Jews have President Donald Trump to thank for their party’s renewed dominance of Washington politics. So what do they think of him?

Marlyn Appelbaum paused to contemplate the question at the opening of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s confab at the Venetian resort hotel in Las Vegas Friday evening. Then, she avoided mentioning the president.

“My biggest thing is pro-Israel,” said Appelbaum, the head of a teacher training institute in Sugar Land, Texas. “I was real upset at the last eight years. I think things for Israel are going to turn around.”

Her answer captured the vibe at the RJC’s annual two-day Leadership Meeting. Amid giddy celebration of the end of the Obama years and the advent of a new Republican administration, RJC officials and members seemed to make an effort to get excited about Trump, with whom their group has a fraught history.

Vice President Mike Pence, center, takes the stage with his wife Karen Pence, right, after they were introduced by former Vice President Dick Cheney, left, at the Republican Jewish Coalition annual leadership meeting, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

By contrast, US Vice President Mike Pence, one of the pro-Israel community’s closest friends, was greeted effusively at the event, where he addressed the crowd.

Michael Epstein, an RJC board member emceeing Friday’s dinner, delivered a dreams-come-true welcoming speech: “For the first time in RJC history we have a sitting Republican vice president sitting with us for our Shabbat dinner!” Epstein announced after Pence’s speech. The crowd erupted in applause.

“And a Republican president who is going to make our country great again!” Epstein added. Only a couple tables in the corner clapped.

Still, “Make America Great Again” kippahs dotted the Venetian’s byways, and Elliot Lauer, a board member perhaps best known as Jonathan Pollard’s lawyer, delivered a dvar Torah Friday evening in which he likened Trump’s victory to the triumph of the Jews in ancient Persia celebrated on Purim.

Asked about Trump, RJC members clad in bespoke suits and flowing gowns highlighted his political effectiveness.

“He did say things that were offensive,” said Robert Lewit, a retired psychiatrist from Florida who in the Republican primaries supported Marco Rubio, his state’s US senator. But “he’s innately a brilliant politician, making immigration an issue, advocating for a US economic revival.”

Though unimpressed by Trump’s star turn on “The Apprentice” reality show, Lewit’s wife, Jane, said, “No one saw what he saw: the forgotten man,” a reference to Trump’s appeal to working and middle class Americans. “In any case, it’s better than what was. I happen to have had a total antipathy for our last president, and everything he stood for.”

It has been a rocky road for the RJC and Trump. At the group’s presidential candidates’ forum in December 2015, Trump mocked the wealthy Jewish donors by saying he too was rich and so immune to their purchasing power. He also said he would be “neutral” on brokering Israeli-Palestinian peace and refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In this Dec. 3, 2015, photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Then there were Trump’s affronts to minorities, like Muslims and Hispanics, which did not sit well with a Republican constituency that has in recent years spearheaded calls for the party to be more inclusive. And when Trump appeared last spring hesitant to disavow his burgeoning support from the “alt-right,” a loose grouping of anti-establishment conservatives that includes within its ranks unabashed anti-Semites, the RJC went dark.

The group hardly issued statements mentioning Trump. None of its events at the Republican National Convention in July were open to the press — in contrast with the group’s high profile in past years. Its get-out-the-vote drive barely mentioned Trump and focused on vulnerable GOP senators in states with large Jewish communities. And even its inauguration party last month was closed to the media.

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, DC on February 15, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Now, the RJC is trying hard to get behind the president. Trump’s pivot from his “neutrality” on Israel in 2015 to an eager embrace earlier this month of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – and his policies on the Palestinians and Iran — have helped the RJC belatedly come around.

“There was not a consensus [on the RJC board],” said Elliott Broidy, a venture capitalist who was among about a dozen of the 50 or so board members who backed Trump prior to his nomination. “Even when he was our presumptive nominee. Over time, people became more supportive. Now that he’s president, there’s deeper support on the board.”

Fred Zeidman, another board member who is close to former President George W. Bush and could never quite bring himself to endorse Trump during the presidential campaign, said it was incumbent on all Republicans to make sure government works now that the GOP is in control of all its levers.

“I have a vested interest in making this White House a success,” said the Houston-area businessman.

Asked by journalists Friday about Trump’s most recent Jewish controversies — including the White House’s omission of reference to the Jews in a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was widely criticized by Jewish groups, including the RJC — the group’s director Matt Brooks talked about Israel.

Matt Brooks, director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. (Screen capture: YouTube)

“There’s a professional complaining class in the Jewish community that will criticize and attack Donald Trump no matter what he says,” Brooks said. “People who genuinely have an open mind, individuals and organizations, see he is following through on commitments he made on campaign, he is repositioning in a positive way the US-Israel relationship.”

Brooks also pointed to the vice president. “He’s a terrific partner to President Trump, you have a terrific team with the both of them.”

In his speech, Pence too vouched for Trump’s pro-Israel bone fides. “If the world knows nothing else, it will know this: America stands with Israel,” he said.

“We told the ayatollahs of Iran they should check the calendar, there’s a new president in the Oval Office. President Trump will never allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, this is my solemn promise to you.”

Pence also described his recent visit to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, where a Holocaust survivor gave him a tour. The crowd was clearly moved.

In one ballroom of the Venetian, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who has defended the Trump White House from allegations it is covering up Russian interference in the elections, pleaded with RJC members to have the president’s back, according to people who were present. Boris Epshteyn, a top White House aide who is emblematic of an emerging vocal minority among Republican Jews who have adopted the alt-right’s confrontational style, made a similar pitch in another ballroom.

Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who owns the Venetian and who contributed tens of millions to the effort to elect Trump, had a private meeting with Pence prior to his speech. At Trump’s inauguration, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, were accorded a rare honor to political donors, appearing on the capitol’s dais for the swearing-in.

Despite his access, Sheldon Adelson’s hoped-for administration officials have been waylaid: Former US House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Elliott Abrams, a mandarin in the Reagan and the George W. Bush administrations, are all on the outside looking in.

Casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson in attendance at the 4th Annual Champions Of Jewish Values International Awards Gala at Marriott Marquis Times Square on May 5, 2016 in New York City. (Steve Mack/Getty Images via JTA)

Seen as responsible for freezing them out is Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon, a hero of the alt-right and the bane of neoconservatism, an interventionist outlook that many Republican Jews still support.

But RJC members were able to hold up their Jewish representatives in government, however few. Rep. David Kustoff, the freshman from Tennessee, joked, in an easy drawl, that “Jewish Republicans in the House grew by 100 percent,” with him joining Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-New York.

Eric Greitens, the steel-jawed Missouri governor, described how he rallied a diverse community this week to help clean up a vandalized St. Louis area Jewish graveyard, an effort joined at the last minute, by none other than the vice president. Pence called out inspiration over a bullhorn. Pence stood on the back of a pick-up truck. Pence wielded a rake.

Anita Feigenbaum, executive director at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery speaks to the crowd on February 22, 2017 in University City, Missouri. Governor Eric Greitens (R) and US Vice President Mike Pence (L) were on hand to speak to over 300 volunteers who helped cleanup after the recent vandalism. (Michael Thomas/Getty Images/AFP Photo)

Greitens, having depicted a sweaty, intense Pence, getting down and dirty for the Jews, finally got around to Trump.

“The president had called me earlier that day,” Greitens said. “He said, tell the people of Missouri that we stand with them in the fight against anti-Semitism.”

ADL offers $10,000 for help finding Philadelphia cemetery vandals

A prominent Jewish group is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandals who desecrated a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia on Sunday.

“We are horrified by the desecration at Mount Carmel Cemetery,” the Anti-Defamation League’s Philadelphia regional director Nancy K. Baron-Baer said in a statement Monday.

“This act is cowardly and unconscionable, and is all the more despicable coming on the heels of a similar vandalism at another Jewish cemetery in St. Louis last week. We urge anyone with information on this crime to report it immediately to the Philadelphia Police Department at 215-686-TIPS.”

Police said that the incident at the city’s Mount Carmel Cemetery was an act of vandalism and have opened an investigation, according to a local ABC affiliate.

Police did not say whether they were treating the case as a possible hate crime.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon condemned the incident, writing on Twitter that the “Philadelphia Jewish cemetery desecration is shocking and a source of worry. Full confidence US authorities catch and punish culprits.”

Jewish cemetery desecration is shocking and a source of worry . Full confidence authorities catch and punish culprits .

The discovery of the vandalized Jewish headstones in Philadelphia Sunday follows a similar incident last week in which over 150 graves were damaged at a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis.

In the ADL statement, Baron-Baer said, “We stand with the Jewish community and all decent Philadelphians in condemning this crime, and we are inspired by the outpouring of support from law enforcement, community leaders and neighbors. We all must band together in the face of senseless crimes like the vandalism at Mount Carmel Cemetery.”

New Jersey resident Aaron Mallin, who made the discovery when visiting his father’s grave, told the local TV station he hoped it was not an anti-Semitic attack.

“I’m hoping it was maybe just some drunk kids. But the fact that there’s so many it leads one to think it could have been targeted,” Mallin said.

The vandalism at the Jewish graveyard in Missouri was decried by leading American Jewish groups, who called on the US authorities to take action in response to a perceived recent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the US. It was also followed by US President Donald Trump’s first explicit condemnation over the trend.

On Wednesday, US Vice President Mike Pence visited the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery outside of St. Louis where the incident took place, joining Missouri’s Jewish Governor Eric Greitens and other volunteers in an interfaith service and cleanup effort.

US Vice President Mike Pence visits a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis following an act of vandalism at the site. (YouTube screenshot)

In addition to the vandalism at the Jewish cemeteries, there were also instances of anti-Semitic vandalism at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and in a suburb of Buffalo, New York, over the past week.

At Drake University, an anti-Semitic slur was discovered carved into a chair in a university lecture hall. The university is investigating the incident as a hate crime.

“Let me be clear that we will not tolerate acts of oppression and hate, and will do everything in our power to deal with this,” University Provost Dr. Sue Mattison said in an email sent to students.

In the suburb of Orchard Park outside of Buffalo, about one dozen swastikas and racial slurs were drawn on cars and a building.

A nearby elementary school playground and railway overpasses were similarly vandalized.

The spray-painted swastikas and slurs were discovered on Saturday morning and were believed to have been painted late on Friday night, according to reports.

At least 11 cars and an apartment building in the Village of Orchard Park near Buffalo were vandalized with the spray-painted swastikas and slurs, according to local reports. The reports began coming in to police at 3 a.m. on Saturday and continued throughout the morning.

Public and private surveillance camera footage is being checked to find the perpetrators, according to village police. Investigators believe more than one person could be involved, according to the reports.

Bristol Palin (White Idiot): “All Black Actors Look The Same, How Can We Choose One To Get The Oscar?”

Abstinence advocate and culture war blogger Bristol Palin recently lashed out at black actors who have complained that the slate of nominees for this year’s Oscars were all white. In a blog post on Tuesday, Palin said she agreed with Fox News contributor Stacey Dash’s opinion that both Black History Month and the BET network should not exist as special privileges for the black community.

“Either we want to have segregation or integration. If we don’t want segregation then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the [NAACP] Image Awards,” Dash told Fox News host Steve Doocy last week.

“Stacey Dash couldn’t be more right,” Palin commented on her post. “What more do black people want? They complained about slavery – we abolished it. They complained about oppression in the 60’s – we made sure there was no more of it. Then they started bitching about how America has never had a black president – we gave them Obama. Now they’re trying to make it look like we’re intentionally depriving them of money and fame. I mean, come on, people! You’ve got drug dealers, you’ve got rap and hip-hop singers, you’ve got just as much money as white people, and not to mention, your numbers are growing. It seems to me like we ought to be complaining about you, not the other way around!” Palin fumed.

Former Gov. of Alaska’s daughter went on to say that “even if there were black actors who are good enough” to be nominated for an Academy Award, “it’d be too difficult to choose one, since they all look alike.” “How do you tell apart Lawrence Fishburne from Samuel L. Jackson? You don’t! At least I can’t. I mean, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think Sam Jackson played Morpheus in the Matrix Trilogy. So, don’t be talking about the Oscars when you clearly don’t deserve one.”

“And another thing, there are black people in the audience at the Oscars, just like there are millions of black people all across America. Have you ever wondered why black actors never get nominated for an Award? Even though they’ve got millions of their black countrymen in the audience supposedly supporting them? It’s because black people can’t act – and they know it. All they’re good for is dancing, and not like ballet or normal dancing. They can do hip-hop and street dancing and that’s it. When it comes to a fine art like acting, they’re not capable of it. I mean, look at Denzel Washington. The man must have been in a hundred movies so far, and he always plays a black guy. Actors are supposed to transform into different roles. I mean, what’s up with that? No wonder black people are mad, it’s always someone else’s fault if you ask them,” Palin concluded.

Trump to Ask for Sharp Increases in Military Spending, Officials Say

WASHINGTON — President Trump will instruct federal agencies on Monday to assemble a budget for the coming fiscal year that includes sharp increases in Defense Department spending and drastic enough cuts to domestic agencies that he can keep his promise to leave Social Security and Medicare alone, according to four senior administration officials.

The budget outline will be the first move in a campaign this week to reset the narrative of Mr. Trump’s turmoil-tossed White House.

A day before delivering a high-stakes address on Tuesday to a joint session of Congress, Mr. Trump will demand a budget with tens of billions of dollars in reductions to the Environmental Protection Agency and State Department, according to four senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the plan. Social safety net programs, aside from the big entitlement programs for retirees, would also be hit hard.

Preliminary budget outlines are usually little-noticed administrative exercises, the first step in negotiations between the White House and federal agencies that usually shave the sharpest edges off the initial request.

But this plan — a product of a collaboration between the Office of Management and Budget director, Mick Mulvaney; the National Economic Council director, Gary Cohn; and the White House chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon — is intended to make a big splash for a president eager to show that he is a man of action.

Mr. Trump’s top advisers huddled in the White House this weekend to work on his Tuesday night prime-time address. They focused on a single, often overlooked message amid the chaos of his first weeks in the White House: the assertion that the reality-show candidate is now a president determined to keep audacious campaign promises on immigration, the economy and the budget, no matter how sloppy or disruptive it looks from the outside.

“They might not agree with everything you do, but people will respect you for doing what you said you were going to do,” said Jason Miller, a top communications strategist on the Trump campaign who remains close to the White House.

“He’s doing something first, and there’s time for talk later,” Mr. Miller added. “This is ultimately how he’s going to get people who didn’t vote, or people who didn’t vote for him, into the fold. Inside the Beltway and with the media, there’s this focus on the palace intrigue. Out in the rest of the country, they are seeing a guy who is focused on jobs and the economy.”

The budget plan, a numerical sketch that will probably be substantially altered by House and Senate Republicans — and vociferously opposed by congressional Democrats — will be Mr. Trump’s first big step into a legislative fray he has largely avoided during the first 40 days of his administration.

Thus far, instead of legislating, he has focused on a succession of executive orders on immigration and deregulation written by Mr. Bannon’s small West Wing team.

Resistance from federal agencies could ease some of the deepest cuts in the initial plan before a final budget request is even sent to Congress. And Capitol Hill will have the last word.

To meet Mr. Trump’s defense request, lawmakers in both parties would have to agree to raise or end statutory spending caps on defense and domestic programs that were imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Mr. Trump is in a highly unusual position at a time when most presidents are finding their footing or confronting crisis. Despite his lament that he was handed “a mess” by President Barack Obama, Mr. Trump inherited a low unemployment rate, a lack of international crises requiring immediate attention and majorities in both houses of Congress.

By contrast, when Mr. Obama took office, the country was losing 700,000 jobs a month, and the global financial system was teetering on the edge of collapse. By the time he stepped up to the rostrum for his first joint congressional address on Feb. 24, 2009, he had already accrued an impressive string of accomplishments, including the passage of a massive stimulus bill through the Democratic-controlled Congress, a gender pay-parity act, a children’s health insurance law and executive actions that would ultimately help stabilize the financial and automotive sectors.

With the prospect of a second Great Depression still high, Mr. Obama sought to rally the country, vowing, “We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, who was Mr. Obama’s first chief of staff, said in an interview Sunday night that Mr. Trump was trying to create a “sense of urgency, which most people aren’t feeling right now, which was a reality to us” in order to generate support for his unspecified economic agenda, including an infrastructure bill and a tax overhaul.

“When it comes to all of these executive orders, the question is, does the public view what he’s doing as action or motion?” Mr. Emanuel added. “If you don’t have real action, you create a sense of motion, so the public views it as progress.”

In putting together their budget plans, White House officials are operating under the assumption that the rate of the United States’ economic growth this year will be 2.4 percent, according to one person who has been briefed on the matter. That is slightly ahead of current projections, but it is well below the 3 percent to 4 percent growth that Mr. Trump promised during the campaign.

For next year, the operating assumption is only slightly higher, that person added, a sign that the budget process will not be too out of step with economic reality.

The turmoil that has engulfed Mr. Trump’s West Wing is largely of his own devising — part of a calculated effort by Mr. Bannon to move boldly despite his team’s lack of experience, and despite the reluctance of many mainstream Republicans to work for a president whom many of them opposed in the party’s brutal primaries.

“During his first month in office, President Trump has done exactly what he said he was going to do,” said Thomas Barrack Jr., a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s who ran his inaugural committee. “No president has worked harder or accomplished as much, even with tremendous political resistance forcing him to operate with a small team of outsiders possessing little government experience.”

Lawmakers in both parties have complained that the president’s big words are not yet matched by detailed policy prescriptions or a legislative affairs team capable of executing such undefined promises as repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act or rewriting the tax code.

The budget outline will give Mr. Trump an opportunity to add some specifics to an agenda that has been defined by bellicose speech and the broadest possible policy strokes.

Still, aides said Mr. Trump did not plan to change his style for Tuesday’s address. The speech, they said, is likely to have more in common with his clipped inaugural address — in which he declared, “The time for empty talk is over” — than the fine-print litanies of policy proposals favored by President Bill Clinton or the high-flung invocations of national purpose preferred by President George W. Bush and Mr. Obama.

Mr. Trump’s team, conscious of his recent reversals and a first-month approval rating that is among the lowest ever recorded, has emphasized his determination to break the partisan gridlock and inaction that has kept congressional approval ratings in the 15 to 30 percent range for years.

At the start of an interview last week with Sean Hannity of Fox News at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, called him “President Action, President Impact, Donald J. Trump.”

In a round-robin of Sunday show interviews, Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s policy adviser, maintained that the president had accomplished more in his first month than most of his predecessors had in their entire administrations.

In reality, most of Mr. Trump’s executive actions have had no more effect on actual policy than news releases. And his nail-in-the-coffin order on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal came well after the agreement had been put on life support by labor protests and liberal opposition.

One West Wing official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about strategy, said the administration craved the split-screen television images of Mr. Trump at round-table discussions with business executives every few days on one side, and the vehement protesters of his administration on the other.

But his critics say such photo opportunities are all an act, a not-very-entertaining real-life rendition of “The Apprentice” by an ineffective rookie president.

“This man is not a doer,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, who will host a Monday “pre-buttal” of Mr. Trump’s Tuesday speech. “Oh, please. He has nothing to show for what he’s been doing in office for 40 days. It’s all been squandered.”

The End of a Myth: Most New Serial Killers in America are not White Males

Every so often the story of a serial killer and their horrid crimes break the news. In typical media fashion they cast their light on the case, whilst they ignore other similar crimes around the country.

In the past few days the news of another serial killer in Cleveland has broke the news and as with the crimes of this nature, his story is just as sick and twisted. Thus far police have found the bodies of three black women stuffed in garbage bags, and expect to find more victims of 35 year old Michael Madison. So far he’s uncooperative with police, other than telling them there are more victims.

When people see his picture in the news, they’re confused because he doesn’t fit the media’s version of what we think a serial killer should look like—he’s a black man. Some brush it off as an anomaly, and think white men still hold the market on serial murder. Others remember the case of Anthony Sowell another black serial killer with eleven victims in Cleveland and think perhaps it’s just a something about the area. The hard truth however is black serial killers do exist in great numbers, and actually far outnumber their white counterparts. It’s just not kosher to for the media to tell the truth about the subject.

In a book I published on the subject in May of 2012 (Rise of the Black Serial Killer), I discovered there have been 843 black serial killers from 1850 to present in the United States, compared to 832 whites, 64 Hispanic, and 10 Asians. Since writing the book I’ve continued to research the subject and have been dismayed how many have turned up. To date there are 914 black serial killers, with 37 of the 71 new killers having surfaced in the past year (the other 34 new killers are ones I missed in my previous research of old court, prison, and media records).

 

The number to remember is from May 2012 to July 2013 there have been 37 new black serial killers surface. Some of these killers started as early as 1982 and have just been caught; others like Michael Madison are new to the game. Some had as few as two victims, others as many as eleven—the point each met the criteria to be listed serial killers as set by the FBI. However, aside from Michael Madison few of these killers have seen the light of day in the media. Had it not been for the horrid crimes of Anthony Sowell or the recent kidnapping case of the monster Ariel Castro bringing attention to Cleveland, the story of Michael Madison would have never seen the light of day. He wouldn’t have even registered a blip on the media radar.

I’ll continue to watch the story of Michael Madison unfold, but I’ll not forget to dig through old records and watch for new serial killers to surface. Look for the second expanded edition of my book to hit stores in a few weeks. It’ll list the names and crimes of the new killers, and I’ll dive into answering a few of the minor critiques I’ve had from criminologists and psychologists. Until then remember 49.38% of all serial killers in the United States have been black, despite blacks only making up about 13% of the population. Another key stat to remember is black males aged 18-40 make up the largest demographic of serial killers having committed about 46% of all serial murders, yet their population is less than 3% of the total US population. This means a minority in a minority commits the majority of serial murder, a fact the media continues to ignore.

by Justin Cottrell, author of Rise of the Black Serial Killer

‘I want an investigation’: Father of slain SEAL blames Trump’s carelessness and ego for son’s death

The father of a Navy SEAL killed during a mission that Donald Trump approved just a week into his administration blames the president for his son’s death.

William Owens told The Miami Herald that he refused to meet with Trump when the remains of son, William “Ryan” Owens, were returned to Dover Air Force Base.

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,” Owens recalled explaining to the chaplain. “I told them I don’t want to meet the president.”

“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him.”

Owens questioned Trump’s motivation for signing off on a mission just six days into his presidency.

“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why?” he asked. “For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?”

Although U.S. military officials told The New York Times that “everything went wrong” during the mission, the Trump administration has called the operation a success. Administration officials have claimed that an investigation would tarnish the memory Owen’s son, but the father disagrees.

“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” he remarked. “I want an investigation. … The government owes my son an investigation.”

Owens suggested that Trump’s order to ban travel from seven majority-Muslim country a day before his son’s death may have compromised the mission.

“It just doesn’t make any sense to do something to antagonize an ally when you’re going to conduct a mission in that country,” he insisted. “Did we alienate some of the people working with them, translators or support people. Maybe they decided to release information to jeopardize the mission.”

“I think these are valid questions,” Owens added. “I don’t want anybody to think I have an agenda, because I don’t. I just want the truth.”