PHOTO COURTESY OF CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
CALIFORNIA STEPS IN AFTER TRUMP ENDS CITY POLICE OVERSIGHT
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – The San Francisco Police Department will be the first in the nation to voluntarily agree to state oversight after the U.S. government ended an Obama-era program aimed at easing tensions amid fatal police shootings of black men across the country, officials announced Monday. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his office will oversee the implementation of nearly 300 reforms recommended by federal officials to help the San Francisco department rebuild community trust. At least 15 law enforcement agencies nationwide had been receiving nonbinding federal advice and technical assistance to improve practices involving use of force, racial bias, recruitment and other issues. However, the DOJ opted in September to stop providing resources or guidance for the Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, program. Instead, the department announced the program would focus on tackling such issues as violent crime and gangs to more closely reflect the Trump administration’s lawand-order agenda. “We made a promise to our residents and to our communities that we were going to transform our police department – and partnering with Attorney General Becerra will allow us to follow through on that pledge,” Mayor Mark Farrell said. Becerra, who has filed a number of lawsuits over Trump administration policies, said the federal government should not abandon local law enforcement agencies that reach out for support. Then-Mayor Ed Lee called for a federal review of the San Francisco Police Department in 2016, after officers exchanged racist and homophobic text messages and 26-year-old Mario Woods was shot by police. The shooting of Woods, a black man suspected in a stabbing, was caught on video and sparked protests that led to the resignation of Police Chief Greg Suhr. The DOJ found that San Francisco police used force against blacks more often than other racial groups and also stopped AfricanAmerican drivers at a disproportionately high rate.
GEORGIA INCARCERATING FEWER AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN ITS PRISONS
ATLANTA (AP) – The number of African-Americans being locked up in Georgia’s prison system has dropped to historic lows. The trend represents a monumental shift in the way Georgia is punishing nonviolent offenders, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. While prison admissions have dropped nearly 19 percent in the past eight years, the incarceration of black inmates fell by 30 percent, according to records from the Georgia Department of Corrections. The number of black inmates entering the prison system last year was at its lowest level in decades, records show. Georgia has long been condemned for its mass incarcerations of African-Americans, which has decimated communities across the state, the newspaper reported. The imprisonment of tens of thousands of African-Americans has “hollowed out neighborhoods of parents and employable men,” said James Forman Jr., author of “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.” “It’s just been devastating.” Black people make up nearly a third of Georgia’s population and nearly two-thirds of its prison population. But records show that those numbers are turning around. In 2009, the peak year of prison admissions, African-Americans accounted for 61 percent of new inmates. Last year, the proportion was 52 percent. Forman, a Yale law professor who grew up in Atlanta, said he is heartened by the trends in prison admissions. “People are finding out there are more economically efficient and morally compassionate alternatives to prison,” he said.
PHOTO COURTESY OF YOUTUBE
RAM TRUCK AD USING MLK SPEECH DRAWS BACKLASH
NEW YORK (AP) – A Ram truck ad that used a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. is drawing a backlash. The ad shows people doing service-oriented tasks set against audio of King’s speech, which urges people to be “great” by serving the greater good rather than being successful. It was supposed to highlight the volunteer program Ram Nation. But it was criticized by viewers and ad experts alike for forging too tenuous a connection with the civil rights hero. On Twitter, most people expressed the idea that using King’s speech to “sell trucks” crossed a line between a heartfelt message and exploiting emotions just to push a vehicle. “They pushed it over the edge,”
said Kelly O’Keefe, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Brandcenter. “You wanted to root for it because the cause is good, but it just didn’t end up fitting the brand, so you ended up feeling a little bit manipulated.” “The use of MLK to promote Ram trucks strikes many people as crass and inappropriate,” said Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University. Watching at home, some viewers expressed distaste for the ad as well. “I liked being reminded of Martin Luther King’s speech (but) I’m not sure it was fitting for a truck commercial,” said Kimberly Stites, who was watching the game in Gretna, Nebraska. “I would have liked it better if they had said something like, `This reminder of all that we can be brought to you by ….”’ Fiat Chrysler said in a statement that it worked closely with the King estate on the ad. The firm managing King’s intellectual property, Intellectual Properties Management, said in a statement that it approved the ad because it embodied King’s philosophy. The ad is not the first one to use a King Speech. Telecom Alcatel used King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in an ad that was also approved by IPM. That ad shows King giving his most famous speech to an empty Mall in Washington, D.C. to illustrate the idea that “before you can touch, you must first connect.”
TRUMP CALLS DEMOCRATS NOT APPLAUDING HIM ‘UN-AMERICAN’
BLUE ASH, Ohio (AP) – President Donald Trump accused congressional Democrats on Monday of being “un-American” and perhaps even treasonous for refusing to cheer positive news during his State of the Union address, as he turned an appearance that was arranged to promote new tax cuts into a session on bashing the political opposition. Even as Trump celebrated the tax cuts and the economy, the Dow Jones Industrial Average took a wild ride during his nearly hour-long speech, falling roughly 1,000 points before erasing some of the losses. Trump has frequently commented on gains by the market during his first year in office, but he stayed silent on the day’s gyrations during his appearance at an Ohio company that makes cylinders. At its close, the Dow had fallen more than 1,150 points, its largest single-day point drop, erasing its gains for the year. Trump’s wife, Melania, accompanied him to Ohio aboard Air Force One but peeled off to visit Cincinnati’s children’s hospital. She was briefed on the state’s opioid epidemic while he pitched the tax cuts he signed into law just before Christmas. During what turned into a wideranging speech, Trump most notably criticized House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi for describing as “crumbs” the bonuses of $1,000 or more that some companies, including the one he spoke at, are giving their workers as a result of the tax cuts. He also accused Democrats of being “un-American” for not clapping even for positive news during his address to the nation last week, in contrast to fellow Republicans, who Trump said were “going totally crazy wild” over everything in the speech. “They were like death. And un-American,” Trump said about the Democrats. “Somebody said treasonous. Can we call that treason? Why not?” “They certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much,” the president said. He said Democrats “would rather see Trump do badly than our country do well.” As for Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, Trump said:
“She’s a rich woman who lives in a big beautiful house.” He said the “crumbs” talk was not a “good day” for Pelosi. He referred to her as the Republicans’ “secret weapon” and predicted his party will fare well in November’s congressional election. Pelosi responded on Twitter, writing: “Every American should be alarmed by how (at)realDonaldTrump is working to make loyalty to him synonymous with loyalty to our country. That is not how democracy works.
SPACEX’S BIG NEW ROCKET BLASTS OFF WITH SPORTS CAR ON TOP
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX’s big new rocket blasted off Tuesday on its first test flight, carrying a red sports car aiming for an endless road trip past Mars. The Falcon Heavy rose from the same launch pad used by NASA nearly 50 years ago to send men to the moon.
With liftoff, the Heavy became the most powerful rocket in use today, doubling the liftoff punch of its closest competitor. The three boosters and 27 engines roared to life at Kennedy Space Center, as thousands watched from surrounding beaches, bridges and roads, jamming the highways in scenes unmatched since NASA’s last space shuttle flight. At SpaceX Mission Control in Southern California, employees screamed, whistled and raised pumped fists into the air as the launch commentators called off each milestone. Two of the boosters— both recycled from previous launches — returned minutes later for simultaneous, side-by-side touchdowns at Cape Canaveral. Sonic booms rumbled across the region with the vertical landings. There was no immediate word on whether the third booster, brand new, made it onto the ocean platform 300 miles offshore. SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk owns the rocketing Tesla Roadster, which is shooting for a solar orbit that will reach all the way to Mars. As head of the electric carmaker Tesla, he combined his passions to add a dramatic flair to the Heavy’s long-awaited inaugural flight. Typical ballast for a rocket debut is usually concrete or steel slabs, or experiments. His ultimate goal is to establish a city on Mars.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TWITTER
JOHN KELLY: SOME IMMIGRANTS ‘TOO LAZY’ TO SIGN UP FOR TPS
DACA WASHINGTON (AP) — Some immigrants may have been “too afraid” or “too lazy” to sign up for the Obama-era program that offers protection from deportation, White House chief of staff John Kelly said Tuesday as he defended President Donald Trump’s proposal on the divisive issue. Kelly discounted the possibility that Trump would announce a temporary extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program beyond March 5, when its protections could expire. He said the administration would not ask Congress to set a later date to give bargainers more time to reach a bipartisan deal, but said the government would not start deporting “Dreamers” who don’t have criminal records. “They are not a priority for deportation,” he told reporters. Kelly spoke as lawmakers have deadlocked in an effort to reach an immigration compromise. Barring an unlikely last-minute agreement, the Senate is expected to begin debating the issue next week, and it is unclear what if any plan will survive. “We just don’t know where 60 votes are for any particular proposal,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., citing the votes needed for passage. Republicans have a slim majority and any measure will need around a dozen Democratic votes to succeed. Kelly said Trump’s recent offer to provide a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million immigrants went “beyond what anyone could have imagined.” A bipartisan offer by six senators that Trump rejected would have made citizenship possible for the 690,000 “Dreamers” registered under the program, nicknamed DACA, which shields immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and stayed here illegally. “There are 690,000 official DACA registrants and the president sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number, to 1.8 million,” Kelly said. “The difference between (690,000) and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn’t sign up.” Immigration experts cite various reasons why people eligible for DACA’s protections do not apply. These include lack of knowledge about the program, a worry that participating will expose them to deportation and an inability to afford registration fees.
ON TRUMP’S DESK: DEMS’ CLASSIFIED MEMO ON RUSSIA PROBE
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump met with a top Justice Department official Tuesday to review a classified Democratic memo on the Russia investigation, less than a week after he brushed aside objections from the same agency over releasing a Republican account.
The dueling memos — and Trump’s silence so far on whether he will release the Democratic version — have set up a standoff between Trump and congressional Democrats and deepened partisan fights on the House intelligence panel. The memos have become the recent focus of the committee’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, taking attention away from investigations into whether Trump’s campaign was involved. The Democratic document is intended to counter the GOP memo, which criticized methods the FBI used to obtain a surveillance warrant on a onetime Trump campaign associate. The president has until the end of the week to decide whether to make it public. On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to discuss differences between the two memos, and “we are undergoing the exact same process that we did with the previous memo, in which it will go through a full and thorough legal and national security review.”
The House panel voted unanimously Monday to release the Democratic memo, sending it to the White House.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NFL SPIN ZONE
PHOTO 911 CALL REPORTING BURGLARY: ‘THIS IS ROB GRONKOWSKI’
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski can be heard on a 911 call calmly telling a dispatcher that his home was burglarized while he was at the Super Bowl. Police in Foxborough, Massachusetts, released a portion of the call on Tuesday. He can be heard telling the dispatcher on Monday: “This is Rob Gronkowski calling, and while I was gone my whole house got robbed, while on the Super Bowl trip. And I just got back.” A police report says someone broke a window to get in. In a Broadcastify.com recording of a call between responding officers and dispatch, a dispatcher says “multiple safes and possible guns” were taken.
The police report redacted all details of what was taken. The report says Gronkowski lives with two roommates, both of whom reported items stolen.