Primary upset will test progressives' appeal to voters

In the wake of the 2016 election, many progressive Democrats looked at the defeats the party had suffered and offered a theory: Democrats were losing, particularly in red areas, because they were offering a watered-down message and not standing for bold proposals voters could get excited about. In conservative districts where Democrats had suffered loss after loss, they believed success could be found by touting progressive policies that would appeal to working-class people who felt moderate Democratic campaigns weren’t offering them an appealing alternative.

That theory will be put to the test in Nebraska’s Second Congressional District in November, following an upset primary win Tuesday.

Kara Eastman, who led a nonprofit and was a board member of a community college, defeated former Rep. Brad Ashford for the Democratic nomination. Ashford, a former Republican with a moderate voting record who lost his seat in 2016, had the full backing of the Democratic establishment, earning a spot on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of “Red to Blue” candidates and receiving donations from the PAC of Democratic House leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, but fell short in an attempt at a rematch with Republican Don Bacon.

Election material for Kara Eastman and Brad AshfordElection material for Kara Eastman and Brad Ashford

Eastman ran on a full-throated progressive message. She frankly endorsed Medicare For All, a program that would provide government health care for every American, a $15 minimum wage, higher corporate taxes and abortion rights.

“I’m tired of hearing Democrats don’t have a backbone,” said Eastman in a campaign ad. “That we don’t stand for anything. That changes now. Let me be clear: I’m the only candidate for Congress that stands for universal health care and ending tax breaks for millionaires that threaten the middle class. I will fight to protect Medicare and Social Security, and always defend a woman’s right to choose.”

The second district, in the eastern part of the state that includes Omaha, is more liberal than the rest of the state and has seen tight races in recent years. In 2014, Ashford beat incumbent Republican Lee Terry by three points. Two years later, Ashford lost his seat to Bacon, a retired Air Force brigadier general, by a single percentage point while Trump won the district over Hillary Clinton by two. Barack Obama won the district by a point in 2008, but it swung back to Mitt Romney by seven points four years later.

Following the results, Bacon — who ran unopposed — complimented Eastman as genuine but said he doubted her platform would be successful in November, telling reporters “I don’t think liberal works in this district.” Neutral prognosticators agree with Bacon so far, as the nonpartisan Center for Politics shifted its Crystal Ball Rating for the race from “Toss-Up” to “Lean Republican” following the primary result. There is no current polling on the general election race.

Don BaconDon Bacon

Eastman has already received pledges of support from Ashford and the Nebraska Democratic Party. She credited her field team for the win and said that the general election campaign would maintain a focus of going door-to-door and talking to voters.

“I’m going to continue spending time in the community talking to voters and asking them what their concerns are,” said Eastman in remarks following her primary win, “because in the general election, there are a lot more concerns, right? Because what we’ve found is we all are concerned about some of the things that are happening in our country and people are looking for strong, positive leadership, and sometimes they’re looking for something they don’t even know is out there.”

Crystal Rhoades, chairwoman of the Douglas County Democratic Party and wife of Eastman’s campaign manager, told Yahoo News that she didn’t view Eastman’s positions as radical and believed the candidate understood the values of the district. Rhoades said the previous strategy of running conservative Democrats in an attempt to appeal to a district where registration leans Republican had failed and that the path to victory could be by supporting a “true-blue, never-been-a-Republican, full-blown Democrat.”

“The turnout between Democrats and Republicans is actually pretty even,” said Rhoades. “What we have seen is that Democratic turnout has been lower than it should be and we believe that the reason it has been suppressed is we kept running an extremely conservative Democrat. We believe running a Democrat who is more progressive will actually increase that Democratic turnout and propel her to success in the general election.”

Even if Eastman is able to deliver her message and turn out Democratic voters, the most daunting roadblock is likely her opponent. Bacon may have a potential weakness due to the fact he voted for both the poorly received Obamacare repeal attempt and unpopular Republican tax plan, but according to Paul Landow, a political science professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha, he’s still a great fit for the district.

“Don Bacon has an outstanding profile for this congressional district,” said Landow. “He’s a sharp guy, he’s got a great resume, he’s former military and so is most of Sarpy County. It’s a real uphill battle for Eastman to win this thing.”

Read more from Yahoo News:

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IOC to appeal CAS decision on cleared Russian athletes

The decision was made on Thursday during the IOC Executive Board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, where IOC members agreed to file the appeal with the Swiss Federal Tribunal, AP reports.

We put ourselves in the shoes of athletes who finished behind these Russian athletes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.

It is stated that the CAS decision does not mean these athletes are innocent. They can very well ask us why we did not appeal. If I were one of them I would ask this question. I did not find a good answer.”

Any athlete could say that any slim chance is worth seizing. This is why we took this decision. We are still looking into the legal details and evaluating the CAS full awards. Regardless of the degree of chances we have, we want this to be clarified and to be reviewed by the Swiss Federal Tribunal in the interest of the athletes,” he added.

In February, CAS cleared 28 Russian athletes and dropped lifetime bans imposed by the IOC over alleged doping, stating that the evidence presented by the Olympic governing body was “insufficient” to establish that “an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) was committed by the athletes.”

The IOC branded the CAS ruling “extremely disappointing,” adding that there was an urgent need for reforms in the structure of the top sport court. Former head of a Moscow anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov, whose allegations against Russia provided the basis for the notorious McLaren report, testified in court for the first time, and his evidence was not sufficiently convincing.

Rodchenkov reportedly confused his own evidence while testifying at CAS, admitting that he had never personally seen any Russian athlete doping, and all his accusations were based on the so-called Duchess list compiled by the doctor himself.

READ MORE: ‘Rodchenkov’s evidence is hearsay with limited probative value’ – CAS

Last week, CAS published two findings in the matter of 39 Russian athletes accused of doping, describing Rodchenkov’s evidence as “hearsay with limited probative value.”

By appealing the CAS decision, the IOC undermines one of its basic rules outlined in the Olympic charter, which reads: “The decisions of the IOC, taken on the basis of the provisions of the Olympic Charter, are final. Any dispute relating to their application or interpretation may be resolved solely by the IOC Executive Board and, in certain cases, by arbitration before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).”

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Czech Republic: Fake Chinese “Asylum Seekers” in Appeal against Rejection


At least 70 Chinese invaders pretending to be refugees in the Czech Republic who have had their patently bogus “asylum” applications rejected, have launched an appeal in that country’s court system with the aid of local far left agitators.

According to a report in the Prague Monitor, the invaders, who claimed to have been persecuted because they were Christians, had their applications rejected because they had failed to meet the most basic criteria to qualify as a “refugee.”

Their appeal is being handled by Hana Frankova, a Jewish lawyer from the “Organization for Aid to Refugees” (OPU) which represents about 30 of the invaders.

The report said that in February, the Interior Ministry announced that it had granted “asylum” to eight Chinese nationals but had turned down the remaining 70.

Apparently the Chinese had applied for asylum more than two years ago, and at least 14 had withdrawn their applications and had left the country in the interim

The Czech Interior Ministry said the applicants had to prove they were persecuted in their homeland, and the “fact that they were members of a minority community was not enough for granting asylum to them.”

It is not completely clear why the eight Chinese who were granted “asylum” were treated differently to the 70 who were not, as Frankova pointed out.

The complaints against the ministry’s verdict will be lodged to regional courts across the Czech Republic, depending on where individual applicants live. Frankova expected the courts to deal with the complaints “in several months.”

Meanwhile, a report in the euraisanet news service revealed that Tajiks applying for “asylum” in Poland have met a “dead end” after that country rejected their bogus claims.

The Tajik invasion of Europe started in 2015, when the Tajikistan government banned summarily banned the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT)—until then, the only legal Islamist party in Central Asia.

In 2016, 882 Tajiks applied for “asylum” in Poland, but the failure to convince the Poles that they were actually “refugees” meant that this number fell to 154 in 2017.

As the eurasianet report added, the “fear of potential deportation to Tajikistan compels many to try their luck in other EU nations like Germany, Austria and France, before they complete the asylum-seeking procedure in Poland. It isn’t just the specter of deportation that informs this strategy.

“In other countries, like Germany, France and Austria, there are more migrants, people are used to different cultures and asylum seekers can meet people from their countries,” Muhamadjon Kabirov, an IRPT member told Eurasianet. “For Muslims, there are lots of mosques [in western Europe].”



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IOC ‘regrets’ Russian athletes’ Olympic appeal success

On Thursday, CAS ruled to drop the Olympic lifetime bans of 28 athletes, reinstate their results and make them eligible to compete in the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, stating that the evidence in their cases was “insufficient” to establish that “an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) was committed by the athletes.”

CAS did however partially uphold the appeals of 11 other Russian athletes, but downgraded their lifetime Olympic bans to “ineligibility” only for the upcoming PyeongChang Games, which begin on February 9.

An IOC statement released following the ruling read, “On the one hand, the confirmation of the Anti-Doping Rule Violations for 11 athletes because of the manipulation of their samples clearly demonstrates once more the existence of the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.

“On the other hand, the IOC regrets very much that – according to the CAS press release – the panels did not take this proven existence of the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system into consideration for the other 28 cases.”

The IOC statement outlined that CAS required a “higher threshold” of evidence than required by the Oswald Commission, a WADA-backed investigation into alleged state-sponsored doping, and the findings of which led to the initial bans. The organization said it will “consider consequences, including an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.”

Russian athletes are still only allowed to compete at PyeongChang by invitation from the IOC, as the decision by the organization’s Executive Board on December 5 to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) remains in place. Therefore, the 28 athletes are not automatically guaranteed a place at PyeongChang.

Among those free to compete in the games are Sochi Olympic champion cross-country skiers Alexander Legkov and Maxim Vylegzhanin. Speed-skater Olga Fatkulina, bobsledders Dmitry Trunenkov and Alexey Negodaylo, and skeleton racer Aleksandr Tretiakov – all of whom won gold or silver medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics – were also given permission to take part.

READ MORE: Russia back to 1st in overall Sochi Olympics medal count after CAS ruling

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‘Bookkeeper of Auschwitz’ to begin jail term after appeal rejected

Oskar Groening, a former SS bookkeeper, was sentenced to four years in prison in 2015 after being convicted on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.

The 96 year old, who admitted moral guilt for his administrative role at the camp, has yet to serve any time in prison due to the appeals process.

READ MORE: 94yo ex-Auschwitz guard found guilty of ‘accessory to murder’ of 300,000 Jews

Groening’s latest clemency request has now been rejected by German authorities, according to Deutsche Welle. The reasons for the denial have not been released by the prosecutors office in Lueneburg.  

Charges against him dated back to the summer of 1944, when between May and July approximately 425,000 Jews from Hungary were transported into the Nazi death camp. It’s estimated that at least 300,000 of those individuals subsequently died at the concentration camp.

Groening’s previously appealed against time in prison citing health concerns. However, last year a German court ruled that he was fit enough to be able to serve his sentence.

“Based on expert opinion, the superior regional court finds that the convicted individual is fit to serve out the term despite his advanced age,” the court said in November.

READ MORE: 96yo ‘Bookkeeper of Auschwitz’ fit to serve jail term, says court

According to the Associated Press, authorities are expected to summon the former Nazi bookkeeper to prison. However, it’s thought that Hannover-born Groening could further delay the process through a final appeal over the clemency decision.

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Ross Ulbricht Takes Fight to Supreme Court to Appeal Life Sentence for Building a Website


By Aaron Kesel  — Imprisoned Silk Road creator, Ross Ulbricht, has one last chance at reducing his sentence with an appeal to the Supreme Court. After that, his options in court for appealing his double-life sentence (for victimless crimes) will be extinguished.

Ross Ulbricht was arrested in 2013 for running the infamous darknet marketplace Silk Road. Ross admitted in trial that he helped create the site but denies that he was the only “Dread Pirate Roberts” (DPR) admin of Silk Road. Ross claims he sold the website and stated he was set up as the “ultimate fall guy.”

In fact, Ross Ulbricht’s defense team revealed in 2016, that one month after Ulbricht’s arrest (October 1st) on November 18, 2013, someone logged into “Dread Pirate Roberts” account on the Silk Road forum. The team has also disclosed that “evidence-tampering” may have taken place; these facts were documented in a discovery letter, Bitcoin Magazine reported.

“We have recently learned that someone using the Dread Pirate Roberts account logged into the Silk Road forum nearly seven weeks after Ross was arrested. A record of this was buried deep within the five to six terabytes the government produced in the discovery. The evidence shows that the last login by DPR was made November 18, 2013, four days before the Silk Road forum was taken offline on November 22, 2013. Ross Ulbricht was arrested on Oct. 1, 2013, and has been in custody ever since.”

Lyn says that the recently uncovered evidence is mentioned in the demand for additional discovery that was sent to the AUSA in Maryland:

“There is a record in the database for every account, showing the most recent login. We don’t know when that person or persons originally gained access, or how many times they logged into Silk Road as DPR. We don’t know how many DPRs there were. What we now know from the discovery evidence provided by the government is that the last time someone using the DPR account logged into the Silk Road Forum was November 18, 2013, when Ross Ulbricht had been in prison for nearly seven weeks.”

She continues:

“Joshua Dratel, Ross’ lawyer, said a long time ago that we only know the tip of the iceberg regarding the corruption in this case. This week we have seen another big chunk of ice revealed: evidence tampering and apparently at least one additional DPR. If this backup of the forum database had not been saved or discovered; if logins made by DPR after Ross’ arrest were not found, no one would be the wiser. This begs the question: how much more is there? Unfortunately we may never know, as it’s the nature of digital evidence that it’s easily changed, planted or deleted without a trace. That my son — or anyone — would get a life sentence without parole based on vulnerable digital evidence, especially when it’s been corrupted, puts us all in peril.”

The guy who concocted DPR and mentored Ulbricht, according to Wired, was someone who called himself Variety Jones, and later, Cimon.

A federal judge, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Forrest, sentenced Ross Ulbricht to life in prison without parole in 2015.

It also came out that there was government corruption in the case that the jury was not allowed to know about during the trial. Federal agents Carl Mark Force IV and Shaun Bridges, who were involved in the Silk Road investigation, used their position to steal and extort millions of dollars in Bitcoin for the website and its users. Due to this corruption, Ulbricht’s lawyers subsequently filed for a re-trial motion on March 6th 2015.

On appeal last year, Ulbricht had argued that the evidence gathered with five warrantless “pen/trap orders” allowed the government to monitor IP addresses associated with traffic to and from Ulbricht’s home router, which ultimately violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

That re-trail appeal was denied by the courts last year, with the decision being upheld by a panel of three judges. Citing the 1979 Smith v. Maryland, case which allowed investigators to gather dialed phone numbers without a warrant, the panel of judges said that IP addresses were similar to phone numbers.

His defense “called for a re-evaluation of the third-party disclosure doctrine established by Smith.” But the judges were bound by it “until and unless it is overruled by the Supreme Court,” Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel.

The Supreme Court will be weighing in on these issues and more in the case, as reported by Reason.

Kannon K. Shanmugam, the lawyer managing the appeal, summed up the legal issues that require settling by the Supreme Court in a December memo to potential amici in the case. Even those who might never dream of launching a darkweb site facilitating possibly illegal substance sales should be very worried about how the government convicted and sentenced Ulbricht, he explains:

This case presents two important questions of constitutional law with broader significance for the rights of criminal defendants generally. First, the Second Circuit affirmed the government’s warrantless collection of Mr. Ulbricht’s Internet traffic information by relying on the third-party doctrine, which the Court is reviewing in a different context this Term in Carpenter v. United States….This case would afford the Court an ideal opportunity to address how the doctrine applies to Internet traffic information.

Lyn Ulbricht told Activist Post in an email to this writer that this is one of the most important cases of our time and this is more than just about Ross, this is about our digital rights. Further, isn’t U.S. law supposed to prevent cruel and unusual punishment? You wouldn’t know that was the case with the fact that the judge bypassed a jury and enhanced Ulbricht’s sentencing with unproven allegations that were never brought to trial. The Ross Ulbricht case will set a precedent for the Fourth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. As Lyn stated to Activist Post:

Ross’ petition to the Supreme Court presents important constitutional questions that have broad significance, not only for the rights of criminal defendants but for us all.  Can the government legally collect our Internet traffic without a warrant? Does a judge have the right to bypass a jury and enhance an unreasonable sentence with unproven allegations never brought to trial? The ultimate question here is whether the Fourth and Sixth Amendments are still viable and we should all be concerned about how the court answers.

We completely agree: this is about liberty and digital rights, and limiting government overreach.

Ulbricht is also appealing the obscene length of his sentence at the Supreme Court:

Second, the Second Circuit affirmed the sentencing court’s determination of facts never submitted to the jury, which significantly altered the Guidelines range and ultimately led the court to impose a life sentence—a sentence the Second Circuit admitted “condemn[s] a young man to die in prison.” Several justices have previously questioned whether this kind of judicial factfinding violates the Sixth Amendment. For both these reasons, this case warrants Supreme Court review.

To end with a quote: “This case is the birth of law as applied to our digital future. Watch it as a spectator at your peril.” – Scott H. Greenfield, attorney.

Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post, where this article first appeared. Support us at Patreon. Follow them on FacebookTwitterSteemit, and BitChute

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89-Year-Old Grandma Loses Appeal, Sentenced to Prison for Questioning the Holocaust


Detmold, Germany – An 89-year-old German woman was sentenced to 14 months in prison for incitement of racial hatred after losing an appeal on a prior conviction.

Ursula Haverbeck, often referred to in the German press as the “Nazi Grandma,” is known for extremist views that have run afoul of German hate speech laws in the past—with courts having previously given her fines and another suspended sedition sentence, according to Fox News.

In Germany, anyone who publicly denies, endorses or plays down the extermination of Jews during Adolf Hitler’s regime can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail for incitement of racial hatred.

Wikipedia explains German hate speech laws as:

Volksverhetzung, in English “incitement of the masses”, “instigation of the people”, is a concept in German criminal law that refers to incitement to hatred against segments of the population and refers to calls for violent or arbitrary measures against them, including assaults against the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning, or defaming segments of the population. It is often applied to, though not limited to, trials relating to Holocaust denial in Germany.

According to a report by German state-run broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (DW):

A German court in Detmold has sentenced Holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck to 14 months in prison, after the 89-year-old woman lost her appeal to a prior conviction on Tuesday. However, four months were shaved off her original conviction of 18 months. Prosecutors wanted the sentence upheld, Haverbeck’s lawyers were seeking exoneration.


The Detmold court had initially sentenced Haverbeck to eight months imprisonment in September 2016, after she sent a letter to the town’s mayor, Rainer Heller, claiming that Auschwitz was not a concentration camp.


Following the trial, the octogenarian handed out pamphlets to journalists, as well as the judge and prosecutor, entitled “Only the truth will set you free,” in which she once again denied the Nazi atrocities. Haverbeck was handed an additional 10-month sentence for the stunt.

In the United States, incitement of violence is criminal but “assaults against human dignity of others by insulting, malicious maligning, or defaming segments of the population” are considered an exercise of free speech, and thus protected under the First Amendment.

Essentially, German law has criminalized speech as a means of controlling political discourse—meaning the government will tell you what is acceptable to say, and who is fair game to malign, and what groups and classes are protected.

While some speech may be extreme and repulsive, the prohibition on certain ideas, even the most repugnant, being put into the public marketplace of thought is a fast track to totalitarian governmental control—essentially legitimizing the “thought police.”

According to DW:

Haverbeck and her late husband Werner Georg Haverbeck, who was an active member of the Nazi party in the run-up to and during the Second World War, founded a right-wing education center called Collegium Humanum, which has been banned since 2008. She has also written for the right-wing magazine Stimme des Reiches (Voice of the Empire), which she also used to express her views that the Holocaust never took place.

Haverbeck has been sentenced on similar charges on five other occasions but has not yet served any jail time as she appeals the cases.

In October, she was sentenced to six months in prison by a Berlin court after being found guilty of inciting racial hatred for claiming the gas chambers at Auschwitz concentration camp “were not real.”

Prior to that, in August, she was given a two-year prison sentence by a regional court in Lower Saxony, according to DW.

The 89-year-old has appealed the rulings passed down against her in each case and claims she has been merely been repeating an opinion.

The most recent appeal verdict is not final, either, as Haverbeck’s attorneys plan to take the case to the Higher Regional Court in Hamm – which will serve as the final opportunity to challenge the prison sentence.

As Hall wrote in The Friends of Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

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Re: Israeli President Rivlin rejects Hebron Shooter’s appeal

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin rejected Hebron shooter Elor Azaria’s request for a pardon, Sunday.

According to a statement from Rivlin’s office: “The president has taken into account the offenses you committed and their circumstances… and he has decided to reject the request.”

This rejection comes after Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman, asked for a pardon in a letter to the president two weeks ago.

Azaria is a former army medic who shot and killed Abdel Fatah al-Sharif a Palestinian youth who lay incapacitated on the ground on 24 March, 2016.

Read: Lieberman urges Rivlin to pardon soldier who killed wounded Palestinian

Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter by a military court in January and sentenced 18 months in prison, and was demoted to the rank of private in February.

Videos of the incident show Azaria shooting the incapacitated al-Sharif while he lay immobile on in the street.

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Catalan govt says it will appeal Madrid takeover in Spain’s Constitutional Court

The Catalan government says it will appeal the application of Article 155 in the Spanish Constitutional Court, according to Reuters. It comes three days before the Spanish Senate is expected to approve the implementation of the never-before-used article, which would reassert the central government’s control on Catalonia. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy moved to invoke the article on Saturday, amid his government’s claims that Catalonia’s recent independence vote was illegal and void. If the article is approved, the central government plans to run all departments in Catalonia’s administration or create new bodies to do so. It would also see Catalan President Carles Puigdemont dismissed from his post, along with Catalonia’s vice president and all of the region’s ministers, according to Rajoy.

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