Singer Chris Brown arrested on Florida felony battery charge
By TAMARA LUSH
Saturday, July 7
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Singer Chris Brown walked off stage after his concert in Florida and into the hands of waiting deputies, who arrested him on a felony battery charge involving a nightclub photographer last year.
Tampa Police released more details about the battery warrant Friday after Brown posted $2,000 bond to be released from the Palm Beach County Jail.
The warrant accuses Brown of hitting Bennie Vines Jr., who was hired by a club in Tampa to take pictures during an event hosted by Brown in April 2017.
Vines told officers Brown punched him while he was snapping photos. Brown was gone by the time officers arrived that night. Vines refused medical treatment, but he told the officers that he wanted to prosecute over a minor lip cut.
Emails to Brown’s agents weren’t immediately returned.
The entertainer is in the middle of his Heartbreak On A Full Moon Tour and was scheduled to perform in Tampa Friday night.
Brown has been in repeated legal trouble since pleading guilty to the felony assault in 2009 of his then-girlfriend, Rihanna, ahead of the Grammys. He completed his probation in that case in 2015.
In 2013, Brown was charged with misdemeanor assault after he was accused of striking a man outside a Washington, D.C., hotel. He was ordered into rehab but was dismissed for violating facility rules.
Brown spent 2½ months in custody, with U.S. marshals shuttling him between Los Angeles and the nation’s capital for hearings.
After he completed court-ordered anger-management classes, Brown was accused of throwing a brick at his mother’s car following a counseling session.
After Brown posted a picture to his 44 million Instagram followers in January showing his 3-year-old daughter, Royalty, cuddling with a pet monkey, California fish and wildlife agents seized the capuchin monkey named Fiji from his home in Los Angeles. Agents said then that Brown could face a misdemeanor charge carrying up to six months in jail for lacking a permit for the primate.
Hawaii whale shark study aims to create better protections
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — A marine researcher in Hawaii has noticed an increased rate of whale shark encounters around the islands, spurring a research program to document the endangered species that are rarely found in U.S. waters.
In 2016, Maria Harvey came up with a research idea for the Hawaii Uncharted Research Collective, a nonprofit organization that is charting whale sharks around the state to hopefully create better protections for the species, West Hawaii Today reported Friday.
Stacia Goecke, the organization’s chief scientist and co-founder, says whale sharks have been overfished around the world, leading to a decline in the overall population.
She says efforts have been made to protect the species, but the population remains in peril in the U.S. and there is little government oversight to ensure their safety.
Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com
Counterpoint: Character Is Destiny
April 17, 2018 by Robert Weissman
“Character is destiny,” the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, famously said.
Two and a half millennia after Heraclitus lived, Donald Trump and his administration are proving the point.
Without undertaking a psychological inquiry into his emotional well-being, we know a lot about President Trump’s character, based on what he says and writes about himself, not to mention what we’ve seen from him over four decades as a public figure. He is boastful (he brags about it). He’s transactional. He’s hyper-materialistic, and he cares a great deal about appearance. His relationship to the truth is, at best, shaky (he brags about that, too). He likes conflict and unpredictability. He believes that admitting error is a sign of weakness and that he should hit back 10 times as hard at his critics. He doesn’t like to read, doesn’t care much about policy details, and makes decisions from the gut.
These are not the kind of values and attributes I’d like to pass on to my children — but there’s no question that they have brought Donald Trump great success, including propelling him to unlikely victory in a presidential campaign.
But these character traits are ill serving Trump well as president, and indeed threatening the country. It is character even more than policy that has immersed Trump in an unprecedented parade of scandals. It is character as much as policy that is most imperiling our nation. Consider:
— As the original sin of his administration, Trump refused to divest his expansive business holdings. There is no such precedent for a president maintaining such all-encompassing conflicts of interest, which violate the spirit and arguably the letter of the U.S. Constitution’s anti-bribery (“emoluments”) clause. But Trump imagines himself immune from standards applied to others. He cares too much about seeing his name atop buildings that he owns. The direct result has been a profound corruption of government policy making — on everything from taxes to clean water policy — as the administration makes decisions that directly effect Trump’s business empire.
— Trump continues to repeat the lie that voter fraud is a significant problem and explains why he lost the popular vote. His grandiosity does not enable him to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton received more votes. As a result, he looks silly for embracing transparently untrue claims; and, more seriously, he perpetuates a myth designed to suppress the vote of minority voters.
— Trump cannot stomach the fact that his campaign is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for possible collusion with Russian interference in the 2016 election. If it is true that there was no collusion, then Trump should welcome an inquiry to resolve the matter. But Trump believes himself above the law and disdains the constitutional checks and balances that are the bedrock of our working democracy.
What he believes in his gut is that if attacked, he should hit back harder. Hence the reckless decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, and his repeated efforts — so far, stillborn — to dismiss Mueller. Irrespective of whether any Russian collusion occurred, the president cannot be permitted to fire an independent investigator simply because the investigator is looking into allegations of misconduct by the president himself, or those close to him. That’s the pathway to authoritarian rule.
All of these are problems — and many others — of Trump’s own making. By and large, they don’t reflect any particular ideology or program. Rather, they are a direct outgrowth of his personality and character.
The effect of these character defects are broader still. Trump’s example has been emulated by his Cabinet and political appointees, who apparently have similar qualities. The grandiosity and disregard for ethical standards is pervasive in the administration, evidenced most recently by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s use of a lobbyist’s condominium for just $50 a night.
Even more consequentially, Trump’s impetuousness has created a chaotic White House with seat-of-the-pants decision-making. It is entirely likely that the White House’s erratic process will lead our nation into a dangerous and unnecessary war with Iraq, North Korea, Syria or an enemy to be determined.
Most elected officials run for office out of a sense of public service — but they also tend to have very healthy egos. For better or for worse, that’s almost part of the job description. Still, as he himself says, President Trump is not like other politicians. He is a character unlike others, and his character is unlike others. As a result, we’re destined to lurch from crisis to crisis, peril to peril, as long as he is president.
About the Author
Robert Weissman is president of Public Citizen (www.citizen.org).
BOMBSHELL…..Malcolm Nance states on MSNBC that 13 Russian oligarchs planned Trump’s run for POTUS in 2013. With DJT PRESENT.
House Republicans are coming for your 401(k)
Rudy Giuliani Attacks Stormy Daniels But Disgraces Himself
Inside Sources: Freedom of Speech Should Protect All Opinion
March 04, 2018 by Devin Watkins
President Trump has called this country’s libel laws a sham and a disgrace and said he wants to change libel laws to allow liability for publishing “knowingly false” statements. He has said we need to “open up” libel laws and allow more litigation against newspapers in particular.
He’s got that half right in that changes may be needed in our nation’s libel laws. But those laws do not need to be opened up to greater liability. Instead, we need greater protection for opinions expressed concerning matters of fact.
The president doesn’t have direct influence over libel laws because those laws are set at the state level, but the change he wants isn’t needed, anyway. If a news organization knowingly publishes a false statement of fact, even about a public figure, the paper can already be sued for libel.
The problem with libel law stems from the fact that constitutional protections fail to match the original understanding of the Founders that opinion is not libel. That is, a person expressing an opinion cannot be punished by the law for expressing that opinion.
The Supreme Court has a mixed record in this regard. The court moved closer to the original understanding when it decided in Gertz v. Robert Welch (1974) that “there is no such thing as a false idea.” The court held that “however pernicious an opinion may seem, we depend for its correction not on the conscience of judges and juries but on the competition of other ideas.”
But then this constitutional limitation on libel’s applicability to statements of opinion was pulled back by the court in Milkovich v Lorain Journal (1990), which held that the libel law limit did not include opinion with a “provably false factual connotation.” This idea undermines the otherwise consistent understanding of the court that “if there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in … matters of opinion.”
If a statement truly is a matter of opinion, not a claim of privately known facts, then the statement should not be considered libel. People must be able to disagree with a government official about a factual conclusion, such as President Trump’s inauguration crowd size. But as long as a person claims no special knowledge about a fact (by, for instance, merely relying on third-party news reports), the opinion should be protected speech.
Much of the way the Founders’ understanding of the freedom of speech in libel cases was formed in the wake of a 1734 trial of John Peter Zenger, a German-American printer and journalist in New York. In this case, Zenger accused the governor of destroying land deeds, arbitrarily replacing judges, and taking away trial by jury. Many of these accusations were publicly known facts, which Zenger sought to prove true, as well as his own interpretation and conclusions concerning these facts.
Zenger’s lawyer, Andrew Hamilton, successfully argued to the jury that truth was an absolute defense to libel. The Founders would have understood that this applies to the truth about a person’s opinions and conclusions as well.
That is not to say that newspapers can publish whatever they want, of course. Even under current legal precedent, a newspaper could be held accountable if, say, someone is harmed as a result of publishing knowingly false information from a secret source who claims personal knowledge about a situation.
Americans should disregard Trump’s occasional calls to expand libel laws. Maybe the president thinks certain statements he dislikes are purposefully false but can’t be proved. That’s hardly a problem with libel laws — it’s a problem with his evidence.
The only failure of the libel laws is the failure to protect clearly all opinion under the freedom of speech. The American people have the right truthfully to tell others what they believe to be true.
Frivolous Lawsuits Funded by Murray Energy Endangering Thousands of Jobs in West Virginia and Adding to Electricity Costs
Harrison County Power
CHARLESTON, WV – Murray Energy, the nation’s largest underground coal company, is funding frivolous lawsuits that now jeopardize thousands of jobs in West Virginia and will result in continuing the already record pace of electrical energy price increases in the state. The company has provided what is estimated to be hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to a front group named the Ohio Valley Jobs Alliance (OVJA) to fight natural gas power plants in West Virginia. OVJA Secretary-Treasurer Jim Thomas has confirmed the organization’s legal actions are funded by Murray Energy.
“There is no way to sugar-coat this,” said Drew Dorn, Director of ESC Harrison County Power, LLC and President of Energy Solutions Consortium, LLC. “Murray Energy is trying to kill thousands of jobs on these projects. Murray Energy has made huge amounts of money off of natural gas in rights-of-way and other means, but when it comes to West Virginia natural gas making electricity, the company is trying to achieve through the courts what it could not through the marketplace. The bottom line is that West Virginia’s existing power plants are an average age of 40 years old and West Virginians could lose out on new power plants and all of the economic benefits that surrounding states are realizing from their construction and operation due to Ohio’s Murray Energy.”
In the latest action to delay or kill new natural gas power plants in West Virginia, the Ohio Valley Jobs Alliance has filed an appeal of the air permit for the proposed Harrison County Energy Center being developed by ESC Harrison.
An economic impact study by Dr. Tom Witt, formerly of West Virginia University and an undisputed expert in the West Virginia economy, show that the positive economic impact from construction alone of the Harrison County facility will be $880 million and an additional overall annual economic impact of $287 million each year while supporting local business and local natural gas exploration and production. The plant will support 400 jobs during construction producing 2,543 job years and 713 ongoing jobs (direct, indirect and induced). Another plant being proposed, Brooke County Power, will support an additional 1,164 jobs, will have $1.25 billion of economic impact during construction and $440 million per year in ongoing economic impact.
“All of these jobs and economic impact are now endangered by Murray Energy’s actions,” explained Dorn. “There is no substance to the OVJA appeals and its frivolous actions are only serving to delay job producing, clean, economic investment in West Virginia. The state used to have among the lowest electricity costs in the nation – but has now slipped twenty spots. And every state with cheaper electricity uses more natural gas than West Virginia. The impact of high electric costs reaches far beyond hardship to residential electric customers by discouraging industrial companies who are considering large investments in manufacturing plants with thousands of jobs in West Virginia.”
In addition to developing the Harrison County project, Energy Solutions Consortium, is working to construct a natural gas power plant in Brooke County, West Virginia. Murray’s front group, OVJA, also vigorously fought that project’s siting certificate and has now formally appealed the project’s siting certificate and submitted comments opposing the issuance of its air permit.
During the hearing on the siting certificate for the Brooke County natural gas power plant before the West Virginia Public Service Commission, Thomas stated that Murray Energy was paying for OVJA’s legal work and funding its legal opposition to the proposed natural gas power plants in West Virginia. When the siting certificate for the Brooke County power plant was issued, the Ohio Valley Jobs Alliance appealed the certificate decision to the West Virginia Supreme Court in a further effort to delay or kill the project. OVJA has also brought legal challenges against natural gas power plants in Moundsville, West Virginia and Cadiz, Ohio.
Previously, when an air permit for the Moundsville Power natural gas power plant was approved by the WV Air Quality Board (WVAQB) in July of 2016, Thomas confirmed that OVJA’s Board had not signed a contract for representation with the attorneys representing them in the appeal, had not received invoices for their work and the substance of the appeal was not a result of any feedback from OVJA. In other words, OVJA was not the real party in interest.
OVJA’s delaying tactics included appealing the issuance of the Moundsville Power air permit to Kanawha County Circuit Court where it languished nearly a year and a half before a final ruling was issued. The Conclusions of Law in Judge Tabit’s ruling denying the appeal stated: “The OVJA has, through its officers, admitted that it has taken this appeal solely to try to protect the coal industry, not to protect human health or the environment. Vol. 1, pp. 148-51, 160. The OVJA was formed and operates for the sole purpose of advancing the interests of the coal industry. Supporting the coal industry may be a legitimate endeavor, but the right to mine coal or to construct, own, or operate coal burning power plants is not a substantial right in the context of this proceeding.” While Tabit’s ruling upheld the WVAQB’s issuance of the air permit, the lengthy legal delays resulted in the project’s suspension.
OVJA has also attempted to intervene in cases in Ohio where the Ohio Public Utility Commission previously declared that the organization did not have standing. Most recently, OVJA has filed Freedom of Information Act requests for an announced natural gas power plant in Cadiz, Ohio that has recently received approval from the Ohio Public Utility Commission.
When asked for a comment on the jobs killing activities of the OVJA, Drew Dorn stated that “Natural gas fire power plants are being built in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia. Power prices in those states are more affordable, and jobs are rising. It is not just the huge benefit during construction, but the industries that low power prices attract; the smelter in Kentucky, the Shell cracker in Pennsylvania, the PPT Cracker in Ohio, all major projects and employers that should have been in West Virginia. OVJA is only helping one entity, Murray Energy, and the cost of these activities is being borne by the working families of West Virginia.”