EarthLink – News
What makes Greenland so appealing that Trump would want it?
By The Associated Press | 05:50 EDT
U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel a visit to Denmark next month after his offer to buy Greenland was rejected has thrust this ice-covered semi-autonomous Danish territory into the spotlight . Here’s a look at what makes it special.
WHERE IS GREENLAND?
The world’s largest island sits between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. A 1.7-million-square-kilometer (660,000-square-mile) ice sheet covers 80 percent of the Arctic territory. Greenland’s 56,000 residents are mainly Inuits, the indigenous people. They are concentrated on the west coast in small towns and hamlets or remote coastal settlements where life revolves around fishing and the hunting of seals and whales.
HOW IS IT GOVERNED?
Greenland is part of the Danish realm along with the Faeroe Islands and has its own government and parliament, the 31-seat Inatsisartut. In 1979, Greenland gained home rule from Denmark. Its premier is Kim Kielsen of the left-leaning Siumut party. A police officer-turned politician, Kielsen has been in office since 2014.
Greenland’s economy depends of fisheries and related industries, as well as annual subsidies of 4.5 billion kroner ($670 million) from Denmark, which handles its foreign affairs and defense matters.
The effects of climate change have been particularly dramatic for Greenland, which has seen one of its biggest ice melts on record this summer, contributing to a global rise in sea levels.
Due to global warming , it is believed that oil and other mineral wealth could become more accessible in the Arctic — and Greenland. Nations including Russia, China, the U.S., and Canada are racing to stake as strong a claim as they can to Arctic lands, hoping they will yield future riches.
If these resources are successfully tapped, they could dramatically change the island’s fortunes. However, no oil has yet been found in Greenlandic waters and the thickness of the ice means exploration is only possible in coastal regions.
In 2013, the sparsely populated island removed a 25-year-old ban on uranium mining since the element is often found mixed with other rare earth metals used for smartphones and weapons systems. A southern Greenland mine could be the largest rare-earth metals deposit outside China, which currently accounts for more than 90 percent of global production.
However, conditions are far from ideal and searches for minerals have stalled. Chiefly because of poor infrastructure, lack of sufficient manpower and long winters with frozen ports, 24-hour darkness and temperatures often below minus 30 Celsius (minus 20 Fahrenheit) in the northern parts.
The United States also tried to buy the world’s largest island in 1946. Washington offered Denmark $100 million for Greenland after flirting with the idea of swapping land in Alaska for strategic parts of the Arctic island. Denmark turned the offer down then as well.
U.S. MILITARY OUTPOST
Under a 1951 deal, Denmark allowed the U.S. to build rent-free bases and radar stations on Greenland.
The U.S. Air Force currently maintains only one base in northern Greenland, Thule Air Force Base, 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) south of the North Pole. Former military airfields in Narsarsuaq, Kulusuk and Kangerlussuaq have become civilian airports.
The Thule base, constructed in 1952, was originally designed as a refueling base for long-range bombing missions. It has been a ballistic missile early warning and space surveillance site since 1961.
EarthLink – News
Georgia voters challenge legality of new election system
By KATE BRUMBACK 12:08 EDT
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia voters who want hand-marked paper ballots are challenging the new election system state officials are rushing to implement in time for next year’s presidential primaries, saying the new touchscreen machines remain vulnerable and their results unverifiable, even though they produce paper records.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the state’s purchase of a $106 million election system from Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems last month, with plans to replace the outdated election management system and paperless touchscreen voting machines in use since 2002. He then certified the new system on Aug. 9, and said it will be in place in time for the March 24 primaries.
The voters’ petition, seeking a withdrawal of the certification and a re-examination of the Dominion system, was submitted Monday to Raffensperger’s office. It says the system doesn’t meet Georgia’s voting system certification requirements and doesn’t comply with the state election code.
Georgia law allows voters to request that the secretary of state “reexamine any such device previously examined and approved by him or her” as long as at least 10 voters sign onto the request. The petition submitted Monday includes signatures of more than 1,450 registered voters from 100 counties, including some elected officials, and was filed by voting integrity advocates and the state Libertarian Party.
Additionally, some of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the state’s outdated voting system filed an amended complaint on Friday asking U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to prohibit the state from using the new Dominion system, calling it “illegal and unreliable.”
Raffensperger, in a statement, said the allegations are false and not supported by facts. The state required that voting systems submitted for consideration be federally certified prior to review and the state certification was “a re-examination to confirm the accuracy of the federal certification,” he said.
“At the end of the day, the complaints are raised by activists who want the implementation of Georgia’s new voting system to fail,” he said. “The Secretary of State’s office, on the other hand, is focused on implementing the new system in time for the 2020 elections. Every Georgia citizen who cares about secure and accurate elections should reject these ridiculous tactics.”
In a 153-page order last week, Totenberg ordered the state to stop using its outdated system after the end of this year, calling it “antiquated, seriously flawed, and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination, and attack.”
The petition and the amended lawsuit both take issue with the fact that while the paper record printed by the new voting machines includes a human-readable summary of the voter’s selections, the scanner tallies the votes based on a machine-readable code. Voters can’t be sure that the code on the paper accurately reflects their selections, and meaningful audits can’t be done, they argue.
The law Gov. Brian Kemp signed in April says “electronic ballot markers shall produce paper ballots which are marked with the elector’s choices in a format readable by the elector.” That means the new machines do not comply with the state election code, the petition and amended complaint say.
Also, the new system isn’t much safer than the system Totenberg ordered the state to stop using, the amended lawsuit says. Vulnerabilities could cause the machines to print codes that don’t match a voter’s selections, or could cause a scanner to improperly tabulate votes, it says.
By choosing to move forward with the Dominion system, the amended lawsuit says, state officials “willfully and negligently abrogated their statutory duties and abused their discretion, subjecting voters to cast votes on an illegal and unreliable system — a system that must be presumed to be compromised and incapable of producing verifiable results.”
The petition filed Monday also says Raffensperger improperly certified the Dominion system after failing to designate a certification agent; failing to issue a report prior to certification; using the wrong technical testing standards; failing to certify electronic pollbooks, which are an integrated part of the system; and failing to include security testing.
Another problem the petitioners point to is that Dominion’s system records ballots in chronological order, with timestamps kept on memory cards in encrypted records. Election insiders or hackers with access to decrypted data could use these records to connect a voter with his ballot, violating the requirement for secret ballots, the petition says.
“Voters will no longer tolerate unauditable electronic voting systems in Georgia, and are taking back control of their elections through actions like this petition that officials cannot ignore,” said Marilyn Marks, executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance. The organization was a driving force behind the petition and is a plaintiff in the lawsuit before Totenberg.
EarthLink – News
Man, 20, pleads not guilty in Jewish center video threat
Mon, August 19, 2019 04:15 EDT
STRUTHERS, Ohio (AP) — A 20-year-old man pleaded not guilty Monday to threatening a Jewish community center in a video that authorities say showed him shooting a semi-automatic rifle.
A judge near Youngstown set bond at $250,000 for James Reardon, ordered a mental health evaluation and told him to stay away from Jewish churches and organizations if he is released from jail.
Police arrested Reardon Saturday on charges of on telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing charges, a day after a Jewish organization contacted authorities.
Ammunition, semi-automatic weapons, a gas mask and anti-Semitic information were found at a house in New Middleton where he lives with his mother, police said.
New Middletown police said the video posted on Reardon’s Instagram account last month included the sounds of sirens and screaming with the caption: “Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon.”
The post tagged the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown.
The Youngstown Area Jewish Federation said it found out about the threat on Friday and alerted the police and FBI. The organization said it later learned that “ira_seamus” was an online pseudonym for James Reardon.
“I want to stress that we know of no other threat to the Jewish Community or to any of our agencies at this point it time,” said Andy Lipkin, the federation’s executive vice president. “”Nonetheless, I have directed that we maintain the additional level of security for the near future.”
Reardon was arraigned by video in Struthers Municipal Court.
A message seeking comment was left with his attorney. There was no answer at a phone number for his mother, and a man who answered a number listed for his father hung up.
Media outlets in Youngstown reported that Reardon attended the 2017 white nationalist rally that turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia.
New Middletown Police Chief Vince D’egidio told WFMJ-TV that Reardon has posted several videos in which he used derogatory remarks towards the Jewish and African American communities.
EarthLink – News
NYPD fires officer 5 years after Garner’s chokehold death
By JIM MUSTIAN, MICHAEL R. SISAK and TOM HAYS | Mon, August 19, 2019 04:54 EDT
NEW YORK (AP) — After five years of investigations and protests, the New York City Police Department on Monday fired an officer involved in the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner, the black man whose dying gasps of “I can’t breathe” gave voice to a national debate over race and police use of force.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said he fired Daniel Pantaleo, who is white, based on a recent recommendation of a department disciplinary judge.
O’Neill said he thought Pantaleo’s use of the banned chokehold as he wrestled with Garner was a mistake that could have been made by any officer in the heat of an arrest. But it was clear Pantaleo had broken department rules and “can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer.”
“None of us can take back our decisions,” O’Neill said, “especially when they lead to the death of another human being.”
The decision was welcomed by activists and Garner’s family, but condemned by the head of the city’s largest police union, who declared that it would undermine morale and cause officers to hesitate to use force for fear they could be fired.
“The job is dead!” Patrolman’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said at a news conference, standing in front of a police department flag hung upside down.
His voice cracking with anger, Lynch called Pantaleo an “exemplary” officer and called for union members to participate in a no-confidence vote on the mayor and commissioner.
“It’s absolutely essential that the world know that the New York City Police Department is rudderless and frozen,” he said. “The leadership has abandoned ship and left our police officers on the street alone, without backing.”
Pantaleo’s lawyer, Stuart London, said he would use legal appeals to try to get the officer reinstated. He has insisted the officer used a reasonable amount of force and did not mean to hurt Garner.
Mayor Bill De Blasio, speaking at City Hall, said he hoped the decision would let the city, the department and Garner’s family move forward.
“Today, we are finally seeing justice done,” the Democrat said. “Today will not bring Eric Garner back, but I hope it brings some small measure of closure to the Garner family.”
Garner’s death came at a time of a growing public outcry over police killings of unarmed black men, which sparked the national Black Lives Matter movement.
Video of the confrontation between Garner and the officers trying to arrest him for selling untaxed cigarettes drew outrage and was viewed millions of times online.
The footage showed Garner, 43, and Pantaleo lurching against a glass storefront window and then falling to the pavement. Quickly, Garner, who weighed about 400 pounds (180 kilograms), appeared distressed gasping, “I can’t breathe,” at least 11 times before he fell unconscious.
Weeks later, protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, over the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Throughout the fall of 2014, demonstrators chanted “I can’t breathe” as they marched against police brutality in multiple U.S. cities.
When a state grand jury on Staten Island declined to indict Pantaelo in December of that year, protesters poured into the streets by the thousands, venting frustration that criminal charges against officers using deadly force remained rare, even with video evidence.
Then, a few days before Christmas, a man upset about the Garner and Brown cases fatally shot two New York City police officers as they sat in their cruiser in Brooklyn.
Those killings, in turn, gave fire to the Blue Lives Matter counter-movement, with police union officials arguing that the heated rhetoric against officers was making them unsafe. Some officers began turning their backs on de Blasio at funerals.
Federal authorities kept a civil rights investigation open for five years before announcing last month they would not bring charges.
City officials had long insisted that they could not take action until criminal investigations were complete.
In announcing his decision, O’Neill said Pantaleo’s initial use of a chokehold as the two men grappled was forgivable, given the struggle. But he said the officer should have relaxed his grip once Garner was on the ground.
“Had I been in Officer Pantaleo’s situation, I may have made similar mistakes,” O’Neill said. “And had I made those mistakes, I would have wished I had used the arrival of backup officers to give the situation more time to make the arrest.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton said Garner’s family was “relieved but not celebratory.”
“Pantaleo will go home a terminated man, but this family had to go to a funeral,” Sharpton said at a news conference.
Garner’s daughter, Emerald Snipes Garner, thanked O’Neill “for doing the right thing.” She said she is urging lawmakers to make it a crime for any police officer to use a chokehold.
“I should not be here standing with my brother, fatherless,” she said.
De Blasio had never said whether he believed Pantaleo should lose his job but promised “justice” to the slain man’s family, leading union officials to say the disciplinary process appeared rigged.
Asked whether the mayor forced his hand, O’Neill said the dismissal was his choice. He called Garner’s death an “irreversible tragedy” that “must have a consequence.”
Questions about the handling of the case have dogged de Blasio during his longshot run for president, with some protesters at the recent debate in Detroit chanting, “Fire Pantaleo.”
Asked whether he was worried the police union might start encouraging officers to drag their feet when making arrests, De Blasio said he was certain officers would “do their job.”
Lynch, however, called on officers to “proceed with the utmost caution in this new reality.”
Officers “will uphold our oath,” he said, “but we cannot and will not do so by needlessly jeopardizing our careers or personal safety.”
Associated Press Writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
EarthLink – News
Planned Parenthood leaves federal family planning program
By DAVID CRARY and RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR | 12:12 EDT
NEW YORK (AP) — Planned Parenthood said Monday it’s pulling out of the federal family planning program rather than abide by a new Trump administration rule prohibiting clinics from referring women for abortions.
Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood’s acting president and CEO, said the organization’s nationwide network of health centers would remain open and strive to make up for the loss of federal money. But she predicted that many low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood services would “delay or go without” care.
“We will not be bullied into withholding abortion information from our patients,” said McGill Johnson. “Our patients deserve to make their own health care decisions, not to be forced to have Donald Trump or Mike Pence make those decisions for them.”
Enforcement of the new Title X rule marks a major victory for a key part of President Donald Trump’s political base — religious conservatives opposed to abortion. They have been campaigning relentlessly to “defund Planned Parenthood” because — among its varied services — it is the largest abortion provider in the United States, and they viewed the Title X grants as an indirect subsidy.
About 4 million women are served nationwide under the Title X program, which distributes $260 million in family planning grants to clinics. Planned Parenthood says it has served about 40% of patients, many of them African American and Hispanic. Family planning funds cannot be used to pay for abortions.
In a statement, the federal Department of Health and Human Services said Planned Parenthood knew months ago about the new restrictions and suggested that the group could have chosen at that point to exit the program.
“Some grantees are now blaming the government for their own actions — having chosen to accept the grant while failing to comply with the regulations that accompany it — and they are abandoning their obligations to serve patients under the program,” the department said.
It said it would strive to make sure patients are served.
Planned Parenthood was not the only organization dropping out. Maine Family Planning, which is unaffiliated with Planned Parenthood, also released its letter of withdrawal Monday. The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, an umbrella group for family planning clinics, is suing to overturn the regulations.
A federal appeals court in San Francisco is weighing a lawsuit to overturn the rules, but so far the court has allowed the administration to go ahead with enforcement. Oral arguments are scheduled the week of Sept. 23. Several states and the American Medical Association have joined the suit as plaintiffs.
Abortion rights activists are also pressing Congress to overturn the rule, though it seems unlikely that the Republican-controlled Senate would take that step.
Monday was the deadline set by the government for program participants to submit statements that they intended to comply with the new rules, along with a plan. Enforcement will start Sept. 18.
In addition to the ban on abortion referrals by clinics, the rule’s requirements include financial separation from facilities that provide abortions, designating abortion counseling as optional instead of standard practice, and limiting which staff members can discuss abortion with patients. Clinics would have until next March to separate their office space and examination rooms from the physical facilities of providers that offer abortions.
The Trump administration has also made it possible for faith-based organizations opposed to abortion to receive Title X grants.
Among the recipients of grants this year was Obria Medical Clinics, which runs a network of facilities in California. It promotes abstinence-based sex education and “natural family planning,” and does not prescribe birth control.
The impact of Planned Parenthood’s withdrawal will vary from state to state. Some states, including Illinois and Vermont, have said they would step in to replace lost federal funding.
“We will make sure that access to these services remains available, because in Illinois we trust women,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who joined Planned Parenthood’s news conference on Monday. He said Planned Parenthood serves about 70,000 people in Illinois.
Elsewhere, the impact could be substantial. In Utah, Planned Parenthood is the only Title X grantee; in Minnesota, it serves 90% of patients.
“It will simply be impossible for other health centers to fill the gap,” said McGill Johnson. “Wait times for appointments will skyrocket.”
HHS said in its statement that it’s grateful for the many grant recipients that are remaining with the program. State and local health departments account for a significant share of service providers. “We will work to ensure all patients continue to be served,” the agency said.
Planned Parenthood has called the ban on abortion referrals a “gag rule,” while the administration insists that’s not the case.
Maine Family Planning CEO George Hill said in a letter to HHS that his organization is withdrawing “more in sorrow than in anger” after 47 years of participating in the program.
He said the Trump administration regulation “would fundamentally compromise the relationship our patients have with us as trusted providers of this most personal and private health care. It is simply wrong to deny patients accurate information about and access to abortion care.”
Alonso-Zaldivar reported from Washington.