- President Trump has faced widespread criticism for sending federal agents to Portland to crackdown on ongoing protests against racial injustice.
- On Monday, Trump said he wanted to send agents to a number of cities, “All run by liberal Democrats,” including Chicago and New York.
- Administration officials have said deployments to Chicago are already in the works, though they are to deal with gun violence.
- Illinois officials initially rejected the plan, but yesterday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she supported help from the feds as long as it was a partnership between them and local officials, unlike in Portland.
Portland as a Test Case
As violence clashes between protestors and federal law enforcement agents continue to shake Portland, President Donald Trump is threatening to send feds to more U.S. cities, despite widespread objections from numerous mayors.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration deployed federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Marshals to Portland in order to respond to the protests against racial injustice that have been ongoing for over 50 days since the death of George Floyd.
The move reinvigorated the protests, which had largely died down before the arrival of the federal agents. As a result, state and local leaders in Oregon have accused the federal agents of escalating the violence and demanded that they be removed.
Numerous leaders across the country have also condemned the move and questioned its legality. Some have called the deployment of the federal officers to Portland a political stunt for Trump’s own political gain as he falters in the polls heading into the November election.
However, Trump and his administration have remained steadfast in their decision, and according to a DHS official who spoke to Bloomberg on Tuesday, even more agents have been deployed to Portland as the clashes have grown.
Other critics and experts have also expressed concerns that what is happening in Portland is just a test case, and that Trump is simply trying out these tactics there before moving on to other cities.
“My sense is they chose Portland because if they had rolled this out in, say, Minneapolis, it would mean to come in direct confrontation with many more Black activists,” Joe Lowndes, a professor of political science at the University of Oregon told USA Today. “With Portland, it’s a whiter city and they can demonize Antifa or the idea of anarchist looters and kind of take race out of it in a direct way, and make it seem more sympathetic.’’
Trump Threatens to Send Feds to More Cities
Regardless of the political incentives, the idea that Portland is just a trial-run seems to become more and more realistic.
On Monday, reports began circulating that DHS was making plans to deploy about 150 federal agents in Chicago this week. Later that day, Trump himself told reporters he was considering expanding the deployments.
“I’m going to do something,” he said. “Because New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these, and Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats.”
On Tuesday, an administration official told Bloomberg that a formal announcement on more deployments is expected to be made at some point this week. Meanwhile, preparations are already being made to send officers to Chicago.
However, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the plan, rather than being sent to crack down on protests, the feds are being deployed to Chicago to focus on gun violence which has surged in the city over the last year.
While no official public announcement has been made by the Trump administration, state and local leaders in Illinois have still pushed back against the alleged plan, with many top officials also seeming to indicate that this is already something in the works.
During a press conference Monday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker slammed the move.
“This is a wrong-headed move on the part of Donald Trump, on the part of Homeland Security,” he said. “I have put a call into the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. He has refused to call us back.”
“We’re going to do everything we can to prevent them from coming, and if they do come, we’re going to do everything we can from a legal perspective to get them out,” he added.
Those remarks also appeared to echo similar ones made by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot the day before.
“Our democracy is at stake, and I’ll be darned if I’m going to let anybody – even if their name is Mr. President – bring those kind of troops to our city and try to take on our residents,” she told reporters. “That’s not going to happen in Chicago. And I’m going to use every tool at my disposal to stop them.”
Also on Monday, Lightfoot, along with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and the mayors of several other cities, wrote a letter to the administration rejecting the deployment of federal forces in their cities, and demanding they be withdrawn.
“We write to express our deep concern and objection to the deployment of federal forces in our cities, as those forces are conducting law enforcement activities without coordination or authorization of local law enforcement officials,” the mayors wrote. “The unilateral deployment of these forces into American cities is unprecedented and violates fundamental constitutional protections and tenets of federalism.”
“Furthermore, it is concerning that federal law enforcement is being deployed for political purposes,” the letter continued. “The President and his administration continually attack local leadership and amplify false and divisive rhetoric purely for campaign fodder.
But in a press conference Tuesday, Lightfoot also said that she welcomed a federal partnership to crack down on gun violence, though she reiterated that the federal deployment cannot mirror that of Portland’s.
“What I understand at this point, and I caveat that, is that the Trump administration is not going to foolishly deploy unnamed agents to the streets of Chicago,” she said. “We have information that allows us to say, at least at this point, that we don’t see a Portland-style deployment coming to Chicago.”
“Unlike what happened in Portland, what we will receive is resources that are going to plug in to the existing federal agencies that we work with on a regular basis to help manage and suppress violent crime,” she added. “I’ve been very clear that we welcome actual partnership, but we do not welcome dictatorship.”
DHS Officials Speak Out
However, it is not just mayors that have voiced their opposition to the deployments. On Tuesday, Buzzfeed News reported that interviews they conducted of 17 DHS employees who requested anonymity “reveal that many at the agency disagree with the show of force.”
“This administration’s utterly transparent fearmongering of sending federal officers out against peaceful protesters in Portland and Chicago has no purpose other than to support Trump’s reelection bid,” one employee said.
“It is blatantly unconstitutional and an embarrassment to the agency and the career civil servants who work here.”
Others also told the outlet that the move harms the public’s perceptions of the DHS, thus hampering its effectiveness, with one employee saying the deployments “absolutely hurts the reputation of the agency. Most people have no clue what we do, but now they will have this ham-fisted response in their mind as they think about CBP.”
See what others are saying: (Bloomberg) (USA Today) (The Wall Street Journal)
Conservatives are Mad at “Woke” Xbox for Minor Climate-Related Updates
The fury comes after Xbox announced it was slightly altering existing consoles to better utilize and save energy.
Same War, New Battlefield
Mere days after M&M canceled their “spokescandies” due to backlash from the right, led largely by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, conservatives have found a new front for their ongoing culture war: Xbox.
Carlson spent months complaining that small character redesigns were “woke” because they made the animated anthropomorphized M&M’s — in his own words — “less sexy.” His campaign finally proved successful on Monday when the company announced it would be doing away with the spokescandies and replacing them with actress Maya Rudolph.
Conservatives, now facing a sudden dearth of non-issues to complain about, quickly found a new issue to rage against. Xbox announced in a blog post earlier this month that it is making minor updates to lower its environmental impact as part of an effort to reach Microsoft’s goal of being carbon-negative by 2030.
Now, instead of having an Xbox wake up to update games, apps, and software during random times of the night, it will do that at a time of night when a user’s local energy grid is generating the most power it can from renewable sources.
Xbox also said it would automatically update some older consoles to a power-saving mode that aims to reduce electricity consumption when it is turned off — a feature that is already the default on newer consoles.
According to The Verge, the only difference for users is that an Xbox in power-saving mode takes around 15 seconds to boot up instead of doing so immediately as the console does in “sleep” mode. The change is a small price to pay for what the outlet described as “significant” energy savings.
Xbox Under Fire
To many leading conservative voices, the minimal shifts were just another example of “woke” culture.
While discussing M&M’s spokescandies Tuesday morning, “Fox and Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt brought up Xbox’s new changes with Fox radio host Jimmy Failla.
“So Xbox has also announced that they’re going woke too, you know, because of climate change,” Earhardt said.
“I mean, it’s crazy what they’re doing, but we understand what this is. It’s not that it’s actually going to offset emissions, okay — the level of reduction is infinitesimal,” Failla claimed, without evidence. “But they’re trying to recruit your kids into climate politics at an earlier age; make them climate conscious now.”
“Yeah, I didn’t think of that — you’re right, they’re going after the children,” Earhardt agreed, despite the fact that internal data from Microsoft shows just around 10% of Xbox owners are under the age of 18.
Other prominent conservatives also did their part to bait Americans into anger on social media, including America’s Foundation, which posted a tweet stating that “the woke brigade is after video games.”
The post linked an article from the right-wing website TheBlaze, which asserted that “Xbox will force gamers to power down to fight climate change.” That, however, is false — Xbox has said users can switch back and change the settings any time they want
Still, top lawmakers continued to share the article and spread its false claims, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.).
“First gas stoves, then your coffee, now they’re gunning for your Xbox,” he wrote in the post, which was flagged by Twitter and given an “added context” warning.
The same warning, however, was not placed in a very similar post by Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Tx.), who also shared the article.
“They want to take your guns. They want to take your gas stoves. And now they want to take your Xbox. What’s next?” he wrote.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Daily Beast) (VICE)
Washington State Launches Investigation Into Abuse at Private Special Ed. Schools
Allegations include staff kicking a fourth-grader and dragging a child with autism around by his leg.
Washington State’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has launched an investigation into a system of private schools for kids with disabilities after ProPublica and the Seattle Times reported on allegations of abuse.
The series of articles focused on Northwest School of Innovative Learning (NWSOIL). NWSOIL is a set of private schools that serve 500 Washington public school students with serious disabilities. ProPublica and the Seattle Times found years of complaints from parents and school districts against NWSOIL alleging abuse, overuse of isolation rooms, and unqualified aides teaching instead of certified professionals.
One district claimed NWSOIL staff kicked a fourth-grader. Another alleged that a child with autism was dragged around by his thigh.
Many former NWSOIL employees also claim that they were pressured by their parent company to to enroll more students and skimp on basic resources, like staffing.
In a seven-page letter, OSPI reminded NWSOIL of its authority to revoke or suspend a school’s approval, meaning that it could shut NWSOIL down.
“Given the serious nature of the allegations made in the articles, OSPI is examining what, if any, actions need to be taken with respect to Northwest SOIL’s approval to contract with Washington school districts,” Tania May, assistant superintendent for special education at OSPI, wrote in the letter.
OSPI has demanded any records of mistreatment, maltreatment, abuse, or neglect as well as documents pertaining to restraint or isolation of students and calls to the police. They are also seeking information about the student-to-teacher ratio and staff qualifications.
In the letter, OSPI claims that all of this was previously unknown to them as well as to police, Child Protective Services, and local school districts. They are asking NWSOIL for an explanation as to why the allegations were not reported.
NWSOIL defended itself in a public statement.
“Use of restraints and seclusion are always used as a last response when a student is at imminent risk of hurting themselves or others,“ it said. “We strongly deny any allegation that we understaff and/or pressure staff to increase admissions in order to maximize profits.”
Washington state representatives are considering a reform bill that will give them more oversight on the publicly funded system of private special education schools.
In this legislation, OSPI and at least one district that sends students to this program would be required to visit before approving the contract. It would also standardize district agreements with programs like NWSOIL, including financial safeguards to make sure funds are being used appropriately.
See the full series: (ProPublica) (The Seattle Times)
Mass Shootings in Half Moon Bay, Oakland Rock California
Just since Saturday, at least 19 people have been killed and 17 have been injured in mass shootings in California.
California Sees Third Attack in Under a Week
Two California localities experienced separate mass shootings Monday, just days after an attacker killed 11 and injured nine others in a suburb of Los Angeles.
The first of the most recent shootings took place in Half Moon Bay, a small coastal town about 30 miles outside of San Francisco, where a gunman killed seven and critically injured an eighth at two different locations.
According to authorities, police were dispatched to the first location around 2:20 pm and found four people shot to death and a fifth victim also suffering gunshot wounds. Shortly after, three more people were found dead at another site nearby.
About two hours later, police discovered the suspect in his car in the parking lot of a San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office substation with a semiautomatic handgun in the vehicle that officials later confirmed he had purchased legally.
Sheriff Christina Corpus said the man was taken into custody “without incident” and is “fully cooperating.” He has been identified as a 66-year-old Half Moon Bay resident of Asian descent.
Currently, the gunman’s motive is unknown, but the Sheriff told reporters Monday that both of the locations he targeted were nurseries, and it has since been reported that they were mushroom farms.
“All evidence we have points to this being an instance of workplace violence. The Mountain Mushroom Farm, the first location, is where the subject was employed,” Corpus said in a press conference Tuesday, though she added that, so far, the “only known connection between the victims and the suspect is that they may have been coworkers.”
As of writing, it remains unclear why he targeted the second location. A mushroom farm called Concord Farms has told reporters that it was the site of the second shooting — which a law enforcement official confirmed to The Washington Post.
In a statement to the media, a spokesperson said the farm had “no past knowledge” of the alleged gunman or his possible motives. Little has been released about the victims, though Corpus said Tuesday they were all adults and a “mixture of Asian and Hispanic descent,” some of whom were migrants.
Authorities had previously stated that, because people both live and work on the farms, children were among those who witnessed the shooting. However, on Tuesday, one official walked that back and said while children were indeed in the vicinity, police do not have information about specific witnesses.
Just hours after the violence in Half Moon Bay, seven people were injured, and one other was killed during a shooting at a gas station in Oakland. Very little has been reported about the incident, but police have said that the shooting was “between several individuals.”
Renewed Calls for Gun Control
Californians continue to reel from the rapid succession of mass shootings in a state known for its strict gun control laws.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates against gun violence, the state ranks No. 1 in the country for gun law strength. An analysis led by the organization found that California has the sixth-lowest rate of gun ownership and the eighth-lowest gun death rate.
Many of California’s top lawmakers have argued that the state’s relatively low gun violence statistics emphasize the need for more federal regulations.
“The Second Amendment’s becoming a suicide pact,” Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) told CBS News in an interview.
“We’ll continue to find whatever loopholes we can and continue to lead the national conversation on gun safety reform. And the data bares out. It works. It saves lives,” he continued. “California’s 37% lower than the death rate of the rest of the nation, and yet, with all that evidence, no one on the other side seems to give a damn. I can’t get anything done in Congress.”
Following the Monterey Park shooting, U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Ca.), alongside other Democratic colleagues, introduced two gun control bills in the upper chamber. The first would ban assault weapons, while the second aims to raise the minimum age to purchase assault weapons from 18 to 21.
President Joe Biden quickly threw his support behind the measures, urging Congress to pass them.
“The majority of the American people agree with this commonsense action,” he said in a statement Monday. “There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our children, our communities and our nation.”
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