Chief of Staff Wrong About Rep. Frederica Wilson

. . . News Outlets Scramble to Explain Niger Ambush

What Happens When Patient Demands White M.D.?

Jemele Hill Says She Deserved Her Suspension

Torres Named First Latina Editor of El Paso Times

Martin Leaves Sports Columnist Job for WashPost

NAHJ Raises $8,000 for Equipment in Puerto Rico

‘America Is Waking Up to the Injustice of Cash Bail’

Hate Group Draws Little Notice From Authorities

Editorialists Seek Remedies After the System Fails

Citizen-Journalists Say Victory Isn’t Liberation

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Rep. Frederica WIlson, D-Fla., tells CNN that Chief of Staff John Kelly lied about her. (Credit: CNN)

Rep. Frederica WIlson, D-Fla., tells CNN that Chief of Staff John Kelly lied about her. (Credit: CNN)

Chief of Staff Wrong About Rep. Frederica Wilson

The South Florida SunSentinel editorial board called Friday for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to apologize to Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., after the newspaper reported that Kelly “misrepresented a 2015 speech she made at the opening of a new FBI building, an exclusive South Florida Sun Sentinel video of her speech shows.”

“Wilson received major vindication Friday with video showing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was completely wrong about claims he made about the South Florida congresswoman,” Anthony Man and Linda Trischitta reported for the SunSentinel.

“ ‘When you know you’re right, when you know you’re right, you don’t worry about people trying to disparage your character. You know you’re right,’ she said in a telephone interview. ‘So all of that [Kelly’s statement] was just make believe. And he was trying to besmirch my character. And I do not appreciate that. And it needs to stop. I’m not trying to do anything to harm him. Why does he keep trying to harm me and malign my character?’

“In an appearance Thursday at the White House, Kelly delivered a broadside against Wilson, a Democrat who has represented parts of Miami-Dade and South Broward since 2011. Kelly told a story he claimed he witnessed involving her in 2015 — in an attempt to discredit Wilson’s actions this week in her dispute with the president over the way Trump spoke with a constituent of hers, a soldier whose husband was one of four killed in Niger.

“Kelly on Thursday described the 2015 dedication of a new South Florida FBI headquarters in Miramar, which he attended. Kelly, a Marine Corps general at the time, was at the event in his role as the head of the U.S. Southern Command.”

Wilson detracted from the event, he said, when she “stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President [Barack] Obama, and on that phone call he gave the money — the $20 million — to build the building. And she sat down, and we were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.”

“Exclusive video from the South Florida Sun Sentinel of the event shows Kelly’s account was not true.

“What Wilson did at the dedication was take credit for the fast-track approval of legislation — sought by the FBI — to name the building for FBI agents Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove, who were killed in a 1986 gunfight with two people who had robbed armored trucks and banks and murdered several people. . . .”

The editorial board wrote, “Ah, John Kelly. Did you really have to go there? Did you really have to use your gravitas as a retired general and father of a soldier killed in Afghanistan to defend President Trump’s tantrum about a phone call?

“We expected so much more when the president tapped you to replace former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus in July. After five decades of Marine Corps service, we expected you would bring a military precision to help guide this turbulent White House onto a steady, exacting path. . . .”

Yamiche Alcindor and Michael D. Shear added for the New York Times, “The charges and countercharges on Friday veered into the incendiary issue of race. Ms. Wilson is African-American, as is Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, one of four American soldiers killed on Oct. 4 in Niger.

“People in Ms. Wilson’s South Florida district and some members of the Congressional Black Caucus echoed Ms. Wilson’s accusations, though they also noted that Mr. Trump attacks people of all races. . . .

Clifford W. Jordan, 60, the general manager of a nursing company in the same building as Ms. Wilson’s Miami Gardens office, said the criticism of the congresswoman smacked of racism and sexism.

“ ‘There’s all this noise around the one black guy who died in Niger — no one is even talking about the other guys — and now they’re going after this black congresswoman,’ said Mr. Jordan, whose father died in the 1960s while serving as a sergeant in the Air Force.

“ ‘It’s almost like General Kelly was telling the congresswoman, ‘You don’t know your place, you’re not supposed to criticize the president,’ said Mr. Jordan, who is black. ‘That’s how it looks to the black people.’ . . .”

. . . News Outlets Scramble to Explain Niger Ambush

News outlets scrambled Friday to tell readers and viewers what U.S. troops were doing in Niger in the first place, and why four American soldiers died.

The Pentagon is trying to determine whether American forces involved in a deadly ambush in Niger this month diverted from their routine patrol to embark on an unapproved mission, military officials said on Friday,” Dionne Searcey, Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt wrote for the New York Times.

“The questions have come up because the American and Nigerien soldiers on the patrol have given conflicting accounts about whether they were simply ambushed or were attacked after trying to chase Islamic insurgents, according to military officials from both countries. . . .”

Ken Dilanian and Courtney Kube of NBC News, meanwhile, reported, “A senior congressional aide who has been briefed on the deaths of four U.S. servicemen in Niger says the ambush by militants stemmed in part from a ‘massive intelligence failure.’

“The Pentagon has said that 40 to 50 militants ambushed a 12-man U.S. force in Niger on Oct. 4, killing four and wounding two. The U.S. patrol was seen as routine and had been carried out nearly 30 times in the six months before the attack, the Pentagon has reported.

“The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly, said the House and Senate armed services committees have questions about the scope of the U.S. mission in Niger, and whether the Pentagon is properly supporting the troops on the ground there. . . . ”

Doctors-Prejudice

What Happens When Patient Demands White M.D.?

‘I don’t want some spic doctor, I want the other lady!’Dorothy R. Novick, a Philadelphia pediatrician, wrote Thursday in a Washington Post op-ed. “The patient was 6 years old. He leaned back on the chest of his father, who nodded silently and then agreed: ‘He would feel more comfortable.’ My colleague, a physician-in-training who is from Colombia, stepped out and I took over.

“Patients refuse care based on health-care providers’ ethnicity and religion so often that this phenomenon has been dubbed ‘medicine’s open secret.’ A new poll shows that a majority of health-care professionals say they have faced prejudice from patients.

“In 2013, a nurse in Flint, Mich., sued a pediatric intensive care unit after it granted a request from a father to enter ‘no African American nurses’ on his infant’s care plan. Damon Tweedy, an African American psychiatrist, describes similar experiences in bruising detail throughout his memoir, ‘Black Man in a White Coat.’ And when Esther Choo, an Asian American emergency department physician, tweeted last month that white nationalists refused her care, she set off a Twitter storm of health-care providers responding with similar stories. . . .”

The “new poll” to which Novick referred has been underreported. It showed that “A majority of health care professionals — including doctors, nurses, and physician assistants — say patients have made offensive comments to them based on their age, gender, ethnic background, race, weight, or other personal traits. And nearly half have had a patient request a different doctor because of characteristics like these,” according to theWebMD/Medscape survey done in collaboration with STAT.

It said, “African-American (70%) and Asian doctors (69%) were more likely to hear biased comments from patients.”

There have been reports here and there. On June 29, the Chicago Tribune published a commentary by Brit Trogen and Arthur Caplan. Trogen is a medical student and Rudin fellow in medical ethics at New York University School of Medicine; Caplan heads the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU’s medical school.

The problem is widespread,” they wrote. “A 2011 survey conducted by researchers at the University of Calgary and University of Alberta found that 25 percent of family medicine trainees reported having been harassed or discriminated against based on their ethnicity or culture. Women, religious minorities and LGBT individuals have reported similar mistreatment by patients.

“Almost as disturbing as the incidents themselves, however, is the lack of any consistent response from hospitals and medical associations on how to confront these issues. There are few guidelines for physicians — and virtually no official policies — on what constitutes a just response to blatant bigotry from patients and their families. The responsibility for navigating these fraught interactions tends to fall to individual physicians, often the same people receiving the brunt of the abuse. . . .”

Jemele Hill Says She Deserved Her Suspension

Jemele Hill is breaking her silence — telling TMZ Sports she doesn’t blame ESPN for hitting her with a two week suspension over anti-Jerry Jones tweets saying .. ‘I put ESPN in a bad spot,” TMZ reported on Saturday.

“Hill was put in the penalty box for encouraging people upset with Jerry Jones’s national anthem policy to boycott his sponsors. ESPN claimed her comment was violation of the networks social media policy.

“Several of Hills coworkers, celebrities, athletes and activists spoke out against ESPN — Hill says she appreciates all the support, but believes she was treated fairly by the network. ‘I deserved a suspension,” Hill told us at LAX … ‘ I violated the policy. Going forward we’ll be in a good healthy place.’ . . . ”

Torres Named First Latina Editor of El Paso Times

Zahira Torres

Zahira Torres

Zahira Torres has been named editor/news director of the El Paso Times, making her the second woman and first Latina to lead the 136-year-old newspaper,” the Times reported on Friday.

“Torres, 36, returned to El Paso from the Los Angeles Times last year to lead the newspaper’s investigations under former Editor Robert Moore. She has deep roots in El Paso and at the El Paso Times.

“ ‘El Paso is my home and the El Paso Times is where I honed my love for journalism,’ Torres said. ‘We have a dedicated and talented team that works hard every day to shine a light on issues that are important to El Pasoans, whether it is growth, education or the crucial role the city plays in discussions about the U.S.-Mexico border. That work has been and will continue to be critical in helping this community move forward.’

Barbara Funkhouser, a journalism pioneer, was the first woman to become editor of the Times. She led the newspaper from 1980 to 1986. . . .”

Moore stepped down amid Gannett-wide cuts in September “to preserve reporting resources after he was asked to make payroll cuts at the Times, which has eliminated several positions in the past year,” the newspaper reported on Sept. 19.

“That includes a reporting position Tuesday and the departure of Lilia Castillo Jones, the president of the El Paso Times and several sister New Mexico properties, whose position was eliminated as part of a restructuring effort, according to officials. . . .”

The El Paso Times newsroom is 62.5 percent Hispanic [PDF], according to the latest diversity survey from the American Society of News Editors.

Martin Leaves Sports Columnist Job for WashPost

Kimberley A. Martin

Kimberley A. Martin

Kimberley Martin, who joined the Buffalo News as a sports columnist only in August, is departing for the Washington Post as part of a team covering the Washington Redskins.

The move is believed to leave no African American female sports columnists at a daily newspaper, partly a result of shrinking newspaper staffs.

“Of the 48 men of color who were columnists at ‘A’ newspapers and websites, 41 worked for ESPN,” Richard Lapchick wrote in 2015 in “The 2014 Associated Press Sports Editors Racial and Gender Report Card.”

If the ESPN male columnists who are people of color were removed, the percentage of male columnists of color would drop from 17.5 percent to 3 percent [PDF]. Of the 37 women who were columnists at this level, 32 worked for ESPN. If the ESPN female columnists who are women were removed, the percentage of female columnists would drop from 13.5 percent to 2.1 percent.

“It is understood that the size of America’s newspapers has been shrinking for the past several years. One of the few organizations that has been able to increase its hires has been ESPN. . . .”

The Post announcement said, “Kimberley comes to us from the Buffalo News, where she has been a general assignment columnist focusing on coverage of the Buffalo Bills.

“In recent weeks, she has written provocative columns on the debate over whether players should stand or kneel during the national anthem, as well as notable takeouts, including a revealing profile of Bills linebacker and ex-Redskin Lorenzo Alexander and how he’s used Pilates to improve his performance.

“Kimberley is a talented writer and sharp-eyed reporter who is as comfortable breaking down an NFL offense as she is pulling back the curtain on the off-the-field lives of professional athletes. Her work has earned her widespread respect among NFL writers as well as numerous awards, including a first place for project writing by APSE as part of a team of reporters that examined professional football players after retirement. She was named emerging journalist of the year in 2011 by the National Association of Black Journalists. . . .

 

NAHJ Raises $8,000 for Equipment in Puerto Rico

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists has raised more than $8,000 in a crowdfunding campaign “to deliver desperately needed communications equipment to Puerto Rico,” according to the generosity.com site. “This will be used for journalists to help people connect with their families, news and relief efforts in the aftermath of the devastation from Hurricane Maria. Knight Foundation will match the first $10,000.00 donated,” the association said.

The fund drive was approaching 100 contributors on Saturday morning.

“Working with local journalists on the ground, the funds will be used to set up ‘communication stations’ throughout all regions of the island to relay information to an NAHJ coordinator to assist with family unification efforts underway by US media outlets,” the association said on the site.

“The journalists will also use the equipment to help connect people at the local level to relief efforts and spread news and information about what is happening across the island on social media and with media partners. Once the equipment is no longer needed for emergency purposes, NAHJ will donate the phones to a local journalism center. . . .”

‘America Is Waking Up to the Injustice of Cash Bail’

The number of Americans sitting in jail without a conviction is larger than most other countries’ entire incarcerated population,” Bryce Covert reported Thursday in the cover story for the Nation’s Nov. 6 print edition.

She also wrote, “Nearly everywhere in the country, when a person is arrested, he’s taken to a local jail and then appears before a judge, who determines whether charges will be brought against him and, if so, sets the terms of his release.

“Most of the time, that entails a price: For a felony, the typical amount is $10,000. If a person can afford to pay the full amount, he’ll be released immediately and receive that money back from the court if he shows up for subsequent hearings.

“But 44 percent of Americans would struggle to cover a $400 emergency. For those without resources, the path to freedom lies with a bondsman, who typically charges about 10 percent of the full bail amount to act as the guarantor or surety for the rest. If the defendant can’t afford the bondsman’s fee up front, many bond companies will set up an installment plan and charge interest. That money will never be refunded to the defendant, no matter how his case is resolved.

“Bondsmen, however, don’t have to pay the court anything when they get a client released: They simply promise to ensure that he will show up in court for later hearings. If the client fails to do so, the bondsman must pay the bail in full, but in practice bondsmen usually crack down on whoever signed the bond — family or friends, in most cases —and force them to pay it instead.

“In most states, the bail industry has successfully pushed laws that make it very difficult for courts to get full bail amounts from bondsmen. Anyone who can’t afford to post bail or pay the bondsman will . . . sit in jail until the district attorney makes a decision about whether to go forward with the charges. In New Orleans, that is on average a month for a misdemeanor; for a felony, the average is nearly four months. . . .”

In this widely circulated photo, a vehicle plows into a group of protesters at the "Unite the Right" demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday. (Credit: Ryan J. Kelly/Daily Progess, Charlottesville)

In this widely circulated photo, a vehicle plows into a group of protesters at the “Unite the Right” demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., in August. (Credit: Ryan J. Kelly/Daily Progess, Charlottesville)

Hate Group Draws Little Notice From Authorities

ProPublica spent weeks examining one distinctive group at the center of the violence in Charlottesville: an organization called the Rise Above Movement, one of whose members was the white man dispensing beatings near Emancipation Park Aug. 12,” A.C. ThompsonAli Winston and Darwin BondGraham reported Thursday for ProPublica.

“The group, based in Southern California, claims more than 50 members and a singular purpose: physically attacking its ideological foes. RAM’s members spend weekends training in boxing and other martial arts, and they have boasted publicly of their violence during protests in Huntington Beach, San Bernardino and Berkeley. Many of the altercations have been captured on video, and its members are not hard to spot.

“Indeed, ProPublica has identified the group’s core members and interviewed one of its leaders at length. The man in the Charlottesville attacks — filmed by a documentary crew working with ProPublica — is 24-year-old Ben Daley, who runs a Southern California tree-trimming business.

“Many of the organization’s core members, including Daley, have serious criminal histories, according to interviews and a review of court records.

“Before joining RAM, several members spent time in jail or state prison on serious felony charges including assault, robbery, and gun and knife offenses. Daley did seven days in jail for carrying a concealed snub-nosed revolver. Another RAM member served a prison term for stabbing a Latino man five times in a 2009 gang assault.

“ ‘Fundamentally, RAM operates like an alt-right street-fighting club,’ said Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.

“Despite their prior records, and open boasting of current violence, RAM has seemingly drawn little notice from law enforcement. Four episodes of violence documented by ProPublica resulted in only a single arrest — and in that case prosecutors declined to go forward. Law enforcement officials in the four cities — Charlottesville, Huntington Beach, San Bernardino and Berkeley — either would not comment about RAM or said they had too little evidence or too few resources to seriously investigate the group’s members. . . .”

Editorialists Seek Remedies After the System Fails

Is Lamonte McIntyre the only person who has been wrongfully convicted in Wyandotte County?” the editorial board of the Kansas City Star asked on Tuesday.

Lamonte McIntyre

Lamonte McIntyre

“The system failed McIntyre, who was freed last week after spending 23 years in prison for a double murder he did not commit, at every level. The serious misconduct that contributed to this miscarriage of justice should spur a re-examination of other questionable convictions in the county. . . .”

In Pittsburgh, meanwhile, the Post-Gazette said editorially Friday, “The public needs to know what happened the night a Pittsburgh police officer shot Leon Ford five times in Highland Park. A retrial would provide the best opportunity for uncovering the truth and forcing the city police bureau to make any necessary changes to its call-handling procedures.

“On Nov. 11, 2012, police stopped Mr. Ford for traffic violations and confused him with a violent gang member with a similar name. Mr. Ford produced valid identification, but officers were doubtful. Detective David Derbish, then a patrolman, was called to the scene because he had repeatedly dealt with the gang member before.

“The situation grew increasingly tense with Mr. Ford refusing to get out of his car, Detective Derbish claiming to have seen a bulge in Mr. Ford’s pants that he mistakenly thought was a gun, Mr. Ford’s car moving away and Detective Derbish shooting him five times in the chest, paralyzing him for life.

Leon Ford

Leon Ford


“A judge dismissed most of the allegations in Mr. Ford’s federal lawsuit, but a claim of excessive force against Detective Derbish and a claim of assault and battery against Detective Andrew Miller, who was one of the patrolmen involved in the call, went to trial. After deliberating for nearly a week, the jury Oct. 10 sided with Detective Miller but deadlocked on the claim against Detective Derbish.

“Days later, Tim Stevens, a longtime civil rights activist and CEO of the Black Political Empowerment Project, called on Mr. Ford and the city to settle the case against Detective Derbish. Mr. Stevens said ‘there may have been bad decisions on all sides’ that night and that the truth of what happened remains unknown.

“That is precisely why a retrial is needed . . .”

In Chicago, the Sun-Times seemingly editorialized with disgust, though it said “dismay.” “Only in Chicago,” the Tuesday editorial began.

“On Tuesday, a Chicago Police officer and a retired Chicago police officer both took the Fifth Amendment — declining to testify so as not to incriminate themselves — in two separate courtrooms in two separate cases.

“What a sad commentary on the Chicago Police Department. What a sad reminder that reform of the police department must continue full bore, with federal judicial oversight. . . .”

It also said, “If Tuesday were just one strange day in Chicago — if our local police almost never felt it necessary to take the Fifth — nobody would see cause for alarm. In recent years, however, Chicago has watched a shameful parade of some 30 police officers take the Fifth in cases involving allegations of police torture. . . .”

Citizen-Journalists Say Victory Isn’t Liberation

The citizen journalist activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently won an International Press Freedom award two years ago from the Committee to Protect Journalists (scroll down). Its members reported at their peril from behind the ISIS front lines in Raqqa, Syria, which the Islamic State declared to be its capital.

On Wednesday, U.S.-backed forces fighting ISIS in Raqqa said “major military operations” in the city have ended and that the jihadists have lost control of the city, Hilary Clarke, Nick Paton Walsh, Eliza Mackintosh and Ghazi Balkiz reported for CNN.

“The development marks a decisive victory in the fight against ISIS, though US officials said there were still pockets of resistance in the city,” they reported.

But members of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently were cautious.

Their city has been destroyed. According to the CNN report, the group said that “since the US-backed operation to free Raqqa began in early June, there had been 3,829 airstrikes on the city, 90 suicide bombings and 1,873 victims.” It said 450,000 people had been displaced.

Referring to the U.S.-backed Syrian Defense Forces, Abdalaziz Alhamza, co-founder of RBSS, told CNN, “We don’t consider it a liberation because SDF has committed many human rights violations against civilians.

“Most of Raqqa people, including us, were looking forward to the day that ISIS would be defeated, but not in this scenario, having a new leadership that committed many human rights violations. . . . ”

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