Daily Archives: Jul 8, 2018

( Rochester NY) Following a peaceful rally and march on Saturday, a group of Black Lives Matter activists and supporters blocked the intersection of Clinton Avenue and Woodbury Boulevard. The protest was to bring attention to police violence in black communities, structural racism in Rochester, the fight against white supremacy, and the need for allies to uplift black lives. It also marked two years since Rochester Police arrested 74 people during a Black Lives Matter rally in the East End.

Rochester police responded to the intersection, blocked by a ring of protesters with linked arms, and issued an order to disperse. When it wasn’t heeded, police arrested the 16 protesters, one by one, and took them from the intersection.

The Black Lives Matter rally started a little after 4 p.m. in Washington Square Park, with around 150 people listening to speakers and performers and making call-and-response chants. The rally, which had been organized through the Black Lives Matter ROC  Facebook page, then turned into a march down Broad Street to the intersection with South Union Street, where protesters staged a die-in and made chalk outlines representing black victims of police shootings and brutality — Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, and India Cummings among them.

The march wound its way to the intersection of Howell Street and Chestnut Street, pausing again. The rally and march had not asked for a permit from the city in order to cause a disruption, but along the way police redirected traffic away from the route and a Monroe County Sheriff’s helicopter circled above.

When the march reached the Clinton and Woodbury intersection, it was clear that the group intended to block the intersection as long as possible in an act of civil disobedience. By about 7 p.m., when police ordered the group to disperse, around 40 people were still in the area, with the circle of protesters willing to be arrested in the middle and others holding signs and chanting on the nearby street corners.

More than 50 police officers, wearing riot helmets with visors, moved in from both sides along Clinton, circling the group of 16 sitting people and arrested them one by one over the course of about an hour.

Black Lives Matter ROC organizers declined to comment to media. And the Rochester Police Department has not yet responded to request for comment

    President Trump said he was “close” to choosing a Supreme Court nominee Sunday after a weekend at his New Jersey golf club evaluating four leading candidates and mulling the likely response of key senators and his core supporters to each prospect, according to White House officials and Trump advisers involved in the discussions.

    Over rounds of golf with friends, meals with family, and a flurry of phone calls and meetings with aides, Trump remained coy about his final decision, which is expected to be announced Monday evening from among the four federal judges atop his shortlist: Brett M. Kavanaugh, Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett.

    “I’m very close to making a decision,” Trump told reporters Sunday afternoon. “Have not made it official yet. Have not made it final.”

    He added: “It’s still — let’s say it’s the four people. But they’re excellent. Every one. You can’t go wrong.”

    In a tweet Monday morning, Trump said: “I have long heard that the most important decision a U.S. President can make is the selection of a Supreme Court Justice.” He indicated he would stick to plans to make the pick public in a 9 p.m. news conference.

    Hardiman, a runner-up when Trump chose Neil M. Gorsuch as his high court nominee last year, received a wave of new attention in the weekend discussions, according to two people briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly about it.

    But White House officials cautioned Sunday that Trump’s informal conversations with golf partners and friends did not necessarily hint at whom he would ultimately select, a decision that could tilt the bench to the right for decades.

    At various times, Kavanaugh, Barrett and Kethledge have been seen as the leading candidates. Trump likes the suspense: With a showman’s sense of timing, he boasted last year that he kept Gorsuch’s selection closely held until the prime-time announcement.

    But some involved in the process said the situation is more fluid this time than it was with Gorsuch.

    This weekend, Trump recounted how close he came last year to selecting Hardiman, who was recommended by the president’s sister and sometimes-confidante, retired federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry. She served with the Pennsylvania-based Hardiman on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.

    And Hardiman’s working-class roots — he drove a taxi during his days as a law student at Georgetown University — have been cited as a plus inside the White House, along with his conservative rulings. His boosters, sensing this weekend that Hardiman could be ascending on the president’s list, have been busy making phone calls to friends in Trump’s inner circle.“He’s got a story that’s compelling beyond the taxicab,” former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a friend of Hardiman’s, said in an interview. “I’m talking to people about his service work with his church in West Virginia and about how he has helped people seeking asylum from communist countries. He speaks Spanish. His wife comes from a Democratic family, and he knows how to engage with all kind of people, not just Republicans.”

    Kavanaugh, who lives in the Maryland suburbs, serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; Michigan’s Kethledge is on the 6th Circuit; and Indiana’s Barrett is on the 7th Circuit.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who will lead the confirmation fight on Capitol Hill, spoke with Trump by phone Friday, according to two Republican officials briefed on the exchange.

    The officials underscored that McConnell did not push any choice on the president. But, they said, McConnell did note that Hardiman and Kethledge could fare well in the Senate because their reputations and records were not as politically charged as others on the president’s short­list of nominees.

    A McConnell spokesman declined to comment. The New York Times first reported McConnell’s call with Trump.

      Prime Minister Theresa May struggled Monday to keep her government from imploding after the resignations of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a tousle-haired frontman for the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, and David Davis, her once loyal “Brexit minister” in charge of negotiating the country’s divorce.

      The bombshell departure of Johnson, a flamboyant politician and former London mayor, throws the spotlight on Tory leadership. Ever since the 2017 bungled election, there has been speculation over how long May would remain in the top job. That question has never been more urgent.

      But until now, it was thought there was no credible candidate who might challenge May for the keys to 10 Downing Street. The Whitehall mandarins and the British political class thought that Johnson would bide his time. But on Friday, he infamously called May’s new plans for exiting the European Union a big pile of excrement and suggested that it would be difficult for hardcore Brexit-backers like himself to back her strategy. His departure hints at the possibility that he may mount a leadership challenge.

      The surprise resignations expose May to pressure from restive Conservative party members outraged over what they see as the prime minister’s plan for a “soft Brexit” that keeps Britain tied to many E.U. rules and regulations after it leaves the bloc next year.

      Hard-line Brexit backers — who want May to seek a clean, decisive break from Brussels — were in open revolt over her recently revealed proposals. They denounced the latest road map as a timid capitulation: “Brexit in name only” that ignores the 52 percent of voters who opted in June 2016 to leave the European bloc.

      May replaced Davis on Monday morning with 44-year-old Dominic Raab, a leading pro-Brexit campaigner during the E.U. referendum who served as her housing minister.

      Where May’s Brexit plans go now is an open question. Business leaders in Britain who run companies that make airplanes and automobiles are clamoring for answers and warning that May’s government is steering the ship toward the rocks.

      The appointment of Raab is unlikely to settle the waters. May still faces threats from her hard-line Brexiteers, who are openly debating a no-confidence vote that could sweep her from power.

      In Parliament, May paid tribute to Davis and Johnson even though “we do not agree about the best way of delivering our shared commitment to honor the result of the referendum.”

      She praised Davis for setting up a new department and Johnson for his “passion” — a comment that generated much jeering in the chamber.

      The European reaction was muted on Monday.

      “Politicians come and go, but the problems they have created for their people remain,” European Council President Donald Tusk said Monday of Davis’s exit, just before being informed of Johnson’s resignation. He said the same sentiment extended to Johnson as well.

      Tusk added: “The mess caused by Brexit is the biggest problem in the history of EU-UK relations, and it is still far from being resolved.”

      The pound sterling held steady after Davis’s announcement but slid after the Johnson resignation. Markets, meanwhile, ticked up.

      President Trump is scheduled to arrive Thursday for a visit that will be closely watched for any comments on Brexit and U.S. relations with the European Union.

      In his letter of resignation late Sunday, Davis told May that her tactics and proposals make it “look less and less likely” that Britain would leave Europe’s single market and customs unions — two promises May has made.

      Davis warned May her approach will just lead to further demands from Brussels and will give Europe control of large swaths of the British economy.

      Speaking to the BBC on Monday, Davis said he had to resign because as Brexit secretary he did not support May’s strategy and so could not do his job.

      Critics of Brexit found such admissions astounding and evidence of chaos and lack of leadership — two years after the referendum and eight months before Britain leaves the union.

      One of the leading campaigners for leaving the European Union, the radio show personality and European parliamentarian Nigel Farage, said: “For Brexit to succeed we must get rid of this awful, duplicitous PM.”

      In another sign of widespread confusion, Steve Baker, who resigned as David Davis’s deputy at the Brexit ministry, charged on Monday that they had been “blindsided” by May’s new proposals.

      Davis said of May’s approach: “It seems to me we are giving too much away too easily.”

      The outgoing minister suggested that May’s promise that Britain and its parliament would “take back control” from Brussels was hollow. “This is painted as returning power back to the House of Commons,” Davis said. “In practice, it is not doing so.”

      For two years, chief negotiator Davis has been the white-haired, ruddy-cheeked face of Brexit. But talks in Brussels were notoriously slow, mostly because May’s government could not — and still cannot — agree on what kind of future relationship Britain wants with Europe on trade, immigration, law, tariffs and border checks and security.

      Recently it was revealed that Davis had only attended four hours of talks in Brussels in 2018, going as long as three months without meeting the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

      David Lammy, a prominent member of the opposition Labour party, derided Davis as “a man who can’t take responsibility. For two years he’s been in charge of Brexit. No one in the world is as much to blame for this monumental mess as himself.”

      The prime minister’s plan for a soft Brexit was pushed forward by May at a crunch cabinet meeting at her countryside manor, called Chequers, on Friday.

      In that meeting, May had appeared to win over her fractious cabinet and secure approval for her plan, which was to be published as soon as this week in a lengthy White Paper that would stake out Britain’s vision for future relations with Europe.

      While May’s plan for exiting the European Union has not be fully revealed to all members of her party — let alone to parliament, the business community or the public — the brief outline that was released shows she supports a middle way of compromise with Brussels, keeping Britain closely aligned with Europe on standards, “a common rule book for industrial goods and agricultural products.”

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