Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke turns himself in to authorities on Tuesday, November 24, to hear charges of first-degree murder in the October 2014 killing of Laquan McDonald.
The day before Chicago authorities plan to release a violent video showing the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, the Chicago police officer who allegedly shot him 16 times in October 2014 will face first-degree murder charges, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Jason Van Dyke, 37, is the first Chicago police officer to be charged with first-degree murder in nearly 35 years, according to the Tribune. Van Dyke appeared in court Tuesday to hear the charges and is scheduled to have a bond hearing Tuesday afternoon. The city of Chicago said it would release a recording of the shooting from a police car dashboard camera, which showed Van Dyke "jumping out of his squad car and within seconds unloading 16 rounds into 17-year-old McDonald," lawyers for McDonald's family told the Tribune. They added that "after the first few shots knocked McDonald to the ground, Van Dyke fired another volley that struck the teen repeatedly as his body lay in almost a fetal position on the ground."
The police narrative of the events has been at odds with what was recorded on the video. The police have said that after responding to a report of someone trying to break into cars, they found McDonald in the street, puncturing the tires of a car with a knife. When ordered to drop the knife, the police say McDonald turned and walked away. The responding officers didn't have a Taser and called requested backup, but they followed McDonald.A second police car arrived and the two cars tried to box McDonald in. Police say he punctured one of the police cars' tires with a knife and damaged a windshield. When police got out of the car, according to initial police claims, McDonald lunged at them with a knife and Van Dyke shot him.
But the video reportedly shows McDonald walking away when Van Dyke opens fire, and an autopsy showed that several of the bullets hit McDonald in the back. In April, the city of Chicago gave the McDonald family a $5 million settlement before they filed suit, according to the Tribune, but the city prevented the video fromgoing public until the investigation into Van Dyke concluded. In response to a public records lawsuit filed by freelance journalist Brandon Smith, a judgelast week ordered the city to release the video.
The graphic nature of the video has city leaders preparing for protests. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called Van Dyke's actions "hideous," and asked the city's religious and political leaders to urge peaceful protests. But several leaders told the Tribune that Emanuel and the city have handled the situation poorly and that people in the community feel betrayed and angry.
"There is a group that is not listening to him and not listening to us either, but nevertheless we are hoping these protests and demonstrations will be peaceful," the Rev. Ira Acree, a pastor at the Greater St. John Bible Church in Chicago, told the Tribune. "But we know they are coming, because if there was no protest that would mean we've become immune to this madness."
Gowdy, chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, convened Thursday's hearing to discuss the process of vetting refugees who are attempting to enter the United States. During his opening statement, Gowdy attacked President Barack Obama,whose comments, Gowdy said, are designed to "cut off debate rather than discuss foreign policy."Obama has insisted that refugees are put through a rigorous screening process, but Gowdy said there are few reliable sources of information in chaotic regions such as Syria to verify information presented by refugee applicants.
"It's not that we don't have a process—we don't have any information," he said. "You're talking about a country that's a failed state, that doesn't have any infrastructure, all the data sets—the police, the intel services—you normally would go to to seek that information, don't exist. That is not a Republican presidential hopeful. That is the head of the FBI."
"The president says we're scared of widows and orphans. With all due respect to him, what I'm really afraid of is a foreign policy that creates more widows and orphans," Gowdy said, suggesting that the president begin"a foreign policy in the Middle East, including Syria, where people can go back to their homelands. Which is their preference. Maybe he ought to defeat that JV team that you thought you had contained."
Five witnesses discussed various aspects of the application process for refugees to settle in the United States and US policy toward refugees from Syria. Anne C. Richard, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration at the State Department, told the committee that the United States has been providing billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance since the conflict in Syria began. Through diplomatic channels, the United States has also tried to encourage other countries toaccept more refugees. She noted that in 2015, the United Statestook in 1,700 refugees from the conflict, and that it plans to accept an additional 10,000 in the 2016 fiscal year.
"I know the murderous attacks in Paris last Friday evening have raised many questions about the spillover of not just migrants to Europe, but also the spread of violence from war zones in the Middle East to the streets of a major European capital," Richard said. Refugees admitted to the United States "are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States," she said, including fingerprint and background checks and lengthy in-person interviews by specially trained Department of Homeland Security officers. The screening involves several national law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the National Counterterrorism Center and the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, as well as the departments of state, homeland security, and defense.
"The vast majority of the 3 million refugees who have been admitted to the United States, including from some of the most troubled regions in the world, have proven to be hardworking and productive residents," Richard said. "They pay taxes, send their children to school, and after five years, many take the test to become citizens."
Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, a refugee resettlement agency, told the committee that he was "disheartened" by the response of those who would block Syrian refugees outright.
"I mistakenly thought that signs and attitudes like 'Irish need not apply,' 'no coloreds,' 'no beer sold to Indians,' and 'No Jews or dogs allowed' were ugly relics buried in our past," he said. "Apparently not. A number of governors have unearthed these skeletons of xenophobia, racism, and Islamophobia for political gain."
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, advocated the halting of refugee resettlement in the United States, and said that while he supports US resources going to humanitarian and refugee protection, he doesn't think the vetting process is safe. More refugees could be helped by encouraging them to stay in the Middle East, he said.
The hearing came just a few hours before the House voted overwhelmingly to approve a measure that would require the director of the FBI, the secretary of homeland security, and the director of national intelligence to confirm that each refugee applicant from Syria and Iraq poses no threat. (See Mother Jones' report on that bill here.)The Senate may not take up the bill until after Thanksgiving, and White House officials have said the president will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.
"You can't say there's no risk, and I appreciate that nobody's tried to say that," Gowdy said at the conclusion of the hearing. "We all agree that we are dealing with an enemy that affirmatively wants to do whatever bad thing they can do to us. And I just think it's put the American people in a really, really tough position."
Armstrong Williams, a key adviser to GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson.
When Ben Carson gets into trouble because his statements about his past or his policy views are challenged, Armstrong Williams, a trusted Carson aide and friend for more than 20 years, charges in to try to spin the campaign to safety. At Tuesday night's debate, Carson flip-flopped on the minimum wage and insisted that China was somehow involved on the ground in Syria. The next morning on MSNBC, Williams, a talk show host who owns a PR firm, was insisting that Carson had not backtracked on the minimum wage but had evolved and that unnamed sources had told Carson about the Chinese in Syria. Again and again, Williams, who has long been Carson's business manager, speaks for Carson, a candidate who claims he is running on honesty and integrity.
Yet a decade ago, Williams played a leading role in a government ethics scandal. In 2005, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that Williams engaged in "covert propaganda" to promote a George W. Bush administration initiative. The Department of Education in 2004 handed a $188,543.48 contract to Williams, through the PR firm Ketchum, to push President Bush's No Child Left Behind education legislation—an effort that included media appearances in which Armstrong touted the initiative without disclosing he was on the administration's payroll.
The GAO report followed a January 2005 USA Today story revealing that Williams—a leading African American conservative and Clarence Thomas protégé, and a syndicated columnist—won this lucrative contract from the Department of Education. His responsibilities included "regularly comment[ing] on the NCLB Act during the course of his broadcasts," interviewing then-Secretary of Education Rod Paige on his shows, producing ads promoting the NCLB, and encouraging other black media outlets to cover the law, according to the GAO report. But Williams never told audiences or those who booked his appearances on other networks about this arrangement.
The day after the USA Today article appeared, Williams told the Washington Post that he understood "why some people think it's unethical," and said it was a "fair assessment" if people thought his opinion has been purchased by the government. He also said he was truly supportive of the law, and that he wouldn't be accepting such contracts in the future. His acknowledgement didn't stop Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) from asking the GAO to examine the arrangement and determine whether any rules had been violated.
The GAO initiated an investigation and concluded, "We find that the Department [of Education] contracted for Armstrong Williams to comment regularly on the No Child Left Behind Act without assuring that the Department's role was disclosed to the targeted audiences. This violated the publicity or propaganda prohibition for fiscal year 2004 because it amounted to covert propaganda."
In his 2005 interview with the Washington Post, Williams said the Department of Education had approached him with the contract offer.But in its report, the GAO, citing a Department of Education inspector general report, said Williams had approached the secretary of education with the idea in March 2003. This happened at a time when the Bush administration was under fire for commissioning other covert domestic and foreign propaganda. Williams told then-Nation Washington bureau chief (and current Mother Jones Washington bureau chief) David Corn that there were other unnamed right-wing pundits being paid to shill for government positions, but never identified them.
Armstrong's syndicated column was subsequently pulled from the Tribune Media Services, and his TV show was temporarily dropped from at least one network. Williams eventually agreed to a $34,000 settlement with the US government, but he did not admit to any wrongdoing in the case and did not face any criminal charges. Williams has gone on to become a very successful businessman; he owns seven television stations, according to Breitbart News. The conservative website adds that Williams angered a lot of conservatives in October when he called for taxpayer money to be used to hire the Fruit of Islam, a paramilitary arm of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, to stabilize dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago and Baltimore.
Williams and the Carson campaign did not respond to questions about the episode.
During the period between his 18 years in Congress and his two terms as Ohio's governor (2011-present), GOP presidential hopeful John Kasich hosted "From the Heartland," a Fox News show where hediscussed a variety of social and political topics with guests. The show aired from 2001 until 2007 and in February of that final year, Bill Nye the Science Guy and David Sereda – a UFO activist and the director of a 2005 documentary called "Dan Akroyd Unplugged on UFOs"– were on the show to discuss a "Heartland Special Investigation into UFOs."
Kasich then introduced his guests and let Sereda talk about his "exclusive" footage of alleged UFOs over Lake Erie. After Sereda talked about the footage, Kasich jumped back in.
"Alright, Bill Nye, you're the science guy," he said. "You gotta be a little bit wacky to think that UFOs are down here, and that some people believe that folks have actually got on these ships? I mean, tell us, you're the science guy."
Nye could barely conceal his contempt.
"What we always say in the skeptical community, we encourage you to to evaluate the quality of the evidence," Nye said, before bemoaning the fact that in all the billions of photos taken each month, "you think you'd get one good picture, just one good picture! Those pictures, to me, are lights in the sky."
Questions about the existence of UFOs has prompted their study for decades, even within the US government. Kasich approached the topic in an evenhanded manner, asking Sereda to separate ridiculous "conspiracy" theories from "what could be real."
"I rely on the expert witness testimony," Sereda said, listing a former Air Force pilot and the late astronaut Gordon Cooper, who claimed that he and a camera crew filmed a UFO landing on a dry lake bed in California in 1957.
"Guys, we're out of time, this debate could go on forever," Kasich saidat the end of the segment. "And guess what? I think we're going to end up having it again."
He was right. Last weekend an alleged missile launchspotted over Los Angeleswas seen by some as another example of possible UFO activity and inspired another round of UFO debate. Kasich's campaign did not respond to questions about the "Heartland" segment.