Trump administration plans crackdown on protests outside White House

The administration has suggested it could charge ‘event management’ costs for protests and close 80% of the sidewalks

Donald Trump has frequently and falsely crowed about the idea of so-called paid protesters, including most recently the sexual assault survivors who confronted senators in the lead up to the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. Now his administration may be trying to turn that concept on its head, by requiring citizens to pay to be able to protest, among other affronts to the first amendment.

Under the proposal introduced by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in August, the administration is looking to close 80% of the sidewalks surrounding the White House, and has suggested that it could charge “event management” costs, for demonstrations.

Currently the National Park Service is able to recoup costs for special events, but not spontaneous protests like the ones that typically take place in Lafayette Park across from the White House. These charges could include the cost of erecting barriers, cleaning fees, repairs to grass, permit fees and the salaries of official personnel on hand to monitor such demonstrations, all tallied at the discretion of the police.

Naturally, civil liberties groups consider the proposals an affront to the rights guaranteed under the first amendment. As the ACLU notes, such fees “could make mass protests like Martin Luther King Jr’s historic 1963 March on Washington and its ‘I have a dream’ speech too expensive to happen”.

During the Vietnam War the federal government attempted to impose similar barriers to citizens freely assembling in protest and were sued by the ACLU. In their ruling the courts reasserted the fact that “the use of parks for public assembly and airing of opinions is historic in our democratic society, and one of its cardinal values”.

The White House sidewalk, Lafayette Park, and the Ellipse were unique sites for the exercise of those rights, they ruled, and therefore they could not “accord deference to an executive approach to use of the White House sidewalk that is rooted in a bias against expressive conduct…”

"If you have to pay for free speech it's not free" The is considering fees for demonstrations in D.C.. is against the proposed plan, calling it an attack on free speech. WATCH: Public comment on proposal --->

The National Park Service has attempted to justify the proposal by pointing out that large protests, like the Women’s March, overtax their abilities, and place a heavy cost on the government. One might argue when it comes to preserving our right to protest no cost is too high.

The public has until 15 October to comment on the plans.

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Haiti's Prime Minister resigns amid deadly protests

(CNN)Haiti's Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigned Saturday amid violent and deadly protests sparked by a proposed plan to raise fuel prices, according to President Jovenel Moise.

Lafontant resigned before Parliament, which was due to host a vote of no confidence, Yves Germain Joseph, the general secretary of the National Palace, told CNN.
 
Lafontant, who took office in February 2017, informed Moise of his resignation by letter. Moise accepted the resignation, Joseph said.
 
Moise said on Twitter he would address the country Saturday night "in a special edition on the National Television of Haiti."
 
"I take this opportunity to thank Mr. Lafontant and the members of the cabinet for the services rendered to the nation," Moise said on Twitter.
 
The controversial plan to raise fuel prices would increase the cost of gasoline by 38%, diesel by 47% and kerosene by 51%.
 
Since the protests started last week, two people -- a police officer and social leader -- were killed, Joseph said.

 

Stranded Americans

 
Missionary groups from Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina were stranded in Haiti until Monday after protesters took to the streets following the fuel price hike.
American Airlines, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines also canceled flights to Haiti last week because of the protests.
 
One group said burning barricades prevented them from reaching the airport in the nation's capital, Port-au-Prince.
 
Jody Flowers, the lead minister from Chapin United Methodist Church, in South Carolina, was stranded with 13 members of his church until they returned Monday. Despite the violent demonstrations, Flowers expressed some sympathy for the protesters.
 
"When you think about the fact that some Haitians make just $5 a week and the government wants to increase the price of gasoline by 38% that in and of itself points to the reason for the unrest," he said. "Our hearts are just broken for the people out there and we're just thankful for our group, which has a lot of love and hope and a desire to help out however they can."
 
A security alert from the US Embassy in Haiti on Saturday said it was open for routine and emergency services for US citizens, but it issued a number of alerts about specific demonstrations and urged citizens to avoid those areas.
 
The US State Department still advises against travel to Haiti because of civil unrest and crime.
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Insults, demands & advice: Trump’s whirlwind European tour causes stir online

On his EU visit, US President Donald Trump lectured Germany on doing business with Russia, demanded tribute from NATO and offered advice on British politics. Many Europeans were having none of it, venting their spleen on Twitter.

Trump flew into Belgium for the NATO summit on Wednesday, then jetted to the UK for a state visit on Thursday. He is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday.

Trump vs Germany

The US leader started off the NATO summit by accusing Germany of being a “captive to Russia,” arguing that Berlin’s position within the military alliance was compromised because of its reliance on energy from Moscow. This led some journalists to accuse Trump of projecting his insecurities onto a rival, while others pointed out this dispelled claims he was soft on Russia.

@mitchellreports @Yamiche in Brussels: President Trump blasted his way into NATO, and for someone who is being blasted at home for being controlled by Russia, he really projected that on Germany.

@mtracey The funny part is Trump has taken far more consequential actions that are averse to Russia's interests (expelling diplomats, sending arms to Ukraine, approving sanctions, repeatedly bombing their client state) than Germany's, but listen to US media you'd assume the exact opposite

While Trump’s comments provoked fierce reaction online, Chancellor Angela Merkel was more restrained in her response. Online commentators were in no mood for civility, with some calling for Merkel to mete out some rough justice.

READ MORE: Merkel slams Trump’s ‘Russian captive’ comment, defends Berlin’s ‘independent policies’

@TheSarcasmShow I'm pretty sure Angela Merkel could take Donald Trump in a fight

@MrFilmkritik I can’t be the only one who just wants to see Merkel lose it and deck Trump.

One German TV network reportedly responded by digitally replacing the US president with an image of a Trump-shaped blimp made by some British protesters.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dh_Ua5QXkAc4DNt.jpg

He said, no one else said

If making culturally insensitive statements is a Trump trademark, so is declaring victory in disputes before being contradicted by the supposedly vanquished. The NATO summit produced a few such moments.

The former reality TV star has long berated NATO over military spending or lack thereof. Trump came to the summit looking to pick a fight with 24 alliance members failing to meet an agreed target of making their military budgets two percent of their GDP.

Trump later told the press he’d successfully pushed for a spending increase. French President Emmanuel Macron disagreed. Twitter weighed in to mediate. 

READ MORE: Trump warns NATO allies US can ‘do our own thing’ if 2% spending goal not met – reports

In another seemingly off-the-cuff remark, Trump said he wanted NATO members to double their spending, to four percent of GDP. Some felt they could see the malign hand of shady defense contractors at play.

Trump does Britain

UK Prime Minister Theresa May must have choked on her tea when she read Trump’s interview with The Sun on Friday morning. In a bizarre exclusive, Trump was scathing about her Brexit plan and even backed rival Boris Johnson to succeed her at 10 Downing Street. Later in the day, he insisted that the story was “fake news.” Online commentators knew who they were going to believe.

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Brazil: Lula Vows Not To Compromise Dignity On 'Free Lula' Day

Thousands gathered in cities across Brazil to demand the former president be released from prison on the 'National Day of Struggle to Free Lula.'

Thousands of Brazilians mobilized on Friday to demand the release of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as the embattled Workers' Party leader declared he will never sacrifice his dignity for his freedom.

RELATED: Brazil: Lula Absolved of Obstruction of Justice Charges, but Kept in Prison

"I'm not going to exchange my dignity for my freedom," Lula told his former minister Celso Amorim. The imprisoned leader said his opponents wish to "prevent the people from hearing" what he has to say.

Meanwhile, thousands gathered in various cities across Brazil to demand Lula be released from prison in Curitiba, where he is being held. The protests were being held to mark the 'National Day of Struggle to Free Lula.'

Lula began his 12-year prison sentence for alleged corruption – charges he vehemently denies and says are politically motivated to keep him out of the looming presidential elections – in April.

In early July, a regional court judge ruled that Lula should be released until his appeals run out, but the decision was shot down less than a day later by a federal court, shattering the raised hopes of millions.

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Protesters across U.S. call on Trump to reunite immigrant families

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of protesters marched in cities across the United States on Saturday to demand the Trump administration reverse an immigration crackdown that has separated children from parents at the U.S-Mexico border and led to plans for military-run detention camps.

Outside the White House, protesters waved “Families Belong Together” signs and chanted “Shame!” as religious leaders and activists urged the administration to be more welcoming of foreigners and to reunite families.

“The way they treat families, the way they treat immigrants, that’s not America,” said protester Aneice Germain of President Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration, a cornerstone of his 2016 election campaign and his presidency. Trump was out of town at a golf club he owns in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Trump says illegal immigration fosters crime and he implemented a “zero tolerance” policy in May to prosecute all immigrants apprehended for entering illegally. That led to the separation of more than 2,000 children from their parents, causing an outcry this month, even from some allies of the Republican president.

In a rare retreat on an issue that fires up his conservative base, Trump on June 20 ordered officials to detain families together.

Thousands of protesters in New York marched across the Brooklyn Bridge bearing signs with slogans like “Make America Humane Again” and “Immigrants Are Welcome Here.” On the U.S.-Mexico border, demonstrators partially blocked a bridge connecting El Paso, Texas with Ciudad Juarez in Mexico.

In Chicago, thousands gathered to march toward the offices of federal immigration authorities. “I’m here because families belong together,” said Cindy Curry of Westchester, Illinois.A federal judge has ordered families be reunited and the administration asked the military to house immigrant families, leading the Pentagon to mull the construction of soft-sided camp facilities.

Organizers estimated 30,000 people had gathered in central Washington. The peaceful protest appeared to be the largest pro-immigration demonstration in the U.S. capital since at least 2010, when activists rallied to pressure then-President Barack Obama and Congress to overhaul the U.S. immigration system.

A splinter group of several dozen protesters in Washington went to protest at what they said was the residence of Stephen Miller, a White House adviser known for his hardline views on immigration. It was the latest in a string of public protests against Trump administration officials.

They held up a sign saying “Stephen Miller, We Know Where You Sleep.”

Since taking office in 2017, Trump has overseen an increase in arrests of people suspected of being in the country illegally. His administration is also approving fewer family visas.

Immigration has been on the rise in America and across much of the developed world for decades, roiling politics in recent years in Germany, Britain and the United States.

Immigrants made up about one in 20 U.S. residents in 1970. By 2016, their share rose to about one in seven, according the U.S. Census Bureau.

On Twitter on Saturday, Trump criticized the handful of Democratic politicians who have called for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency known as ICE to be eliminated.

“You are doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe by eradicating the worst criminal elements,” he wrote in part of the post addressed to ICE employees.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Jason Lange; additional reporting by Bob Chiarito in Chicago, Miesha Miller in New York, and Sue Horton, Kevin Fogarty and Greg Savoy in Washington; Editing by Susan Thomas and Grant McCool

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Nicaragua Creates Truth, Justice and Peace Commission

The commission will have three months to investigate the deaths and violence committed since during protests against the social security system reform.

The National Assembly of Nicaragua appointed, ratified and swore in members of the Commission for Truth, Justice and Peace Sunday, who will investigate the deaths and violent acts that happened during the protests against the proposed social security system reform.

RELATED: Nicaraguan Truth Commission to Analyze Protests and Deaths

The commission will integrate the Franciscan Priest Uriel Molina, Indigenous and human rights activist Dr. Mirna Cunningham, the Vice President of the National Council of Universities Jaime Lopez Lowery, human rights prosecutor Adolfo Jose Jarquin, and economist Cairo Amador.

Over the course of three months, the commission will investigate the death of protesters and other violent acts that took place since April 19, when clashes between protesters and security forces began.

“The Commission for Truth, Justice and Peace is in your hands, and we want to tell you that you're completely free to do the corresponding investigations,” said Gustavo Porras, president of the parliament.

Porras said the commission's members are prominent Nicaraguans who are committed to peace, and who will carry out the investigation with total freedom.

The creation of the commission was approved during a special session of the National Assembly of Nicaragua on April 29, with 74 votes in favor and none against. The opposition Liberal Party didn't take part in it.

In addition to the truth commission Nicaragua's Public Prosecutor's Office launched Friday an investigation into the protests and deaths. "We will start a formal and responsible investigation into the loss of life of students and national police," Prosecutor Ines Miranda said.

“Vandals promoting chaos by burning Catarina's city hall, taking away peace and tranquility from the families of this touristic town.”

After a peaceful day of protests Sunday, violent opposition groups installed barricades, burned buildings and attacked people while they were praying in Catarina and Niquinohomo. Catarina's city hall and the town house of the National Liberation Sandinista Front (FSLN) were set on fire by some vandals.

The protests were sparked by a proposed reform of the social security system, which the government tried to push for without falling for the IMF recommendations that encouraged tougher austerity measures.

At least 11 people have died during the protests.

Days after the opposition expressed their concerns about the reform, President Daniel Ortega decided to backtrack on it to avoid more blood shed and called for the Catholic Church to mediate the peace dialogues.

On April 24, the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua accepted to be the mediator and witness of the dialogue between Ortega's government and different opposition groups, including dissident student organizations and the Private Enterprise Superior Council.

The government approved on April 16 the reform of the social security system after several negotiation talks during 2017, with the objective of distributing responsibilities between companies and workers, and thus avoiding the privatization of the service.

Even though the reform was suspended and the government of Nicaragua and the Episcopal Conference issued calls for peace and dialogue, some opposition groups have continued to commit violent acts in the streets of Nicaragua and clash with security forces.

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May Day riot in Paris: Masked protesters torch cars, police deploy tear gas

Police in Paris have used water cannons to break up a tumultuous rally. Amid May Day demonstrations, hooded individuals have been throwing smoke bombs and setting vehicles on fire in the French capital.

Live feeds from Paris showed chaotic scenes, as police attempt to disperse violent protesters while redirecting crowds of peaceful marchers to side streets. Loud bangs are heard in the background as smoke and tear gas billow down the streets.

Police pushed back against the rioters, peppering the crowd with tear gas grenades from behind riot shields and hitting the crowd with water cannon. Protesters lobbed firecrackers at the advancing force, as well as picking up and throwing back some of the gas canisters. Armored police vans and fire trucks are backed up advance.

Earlier, law enforcement tweeted there were around 1,200 “hooded and masked” individuals among the May Day demonstrators at the Pont d’Austerlitz bridge in central Paris.

The rioters have torched several vehicles and vandalized shop fronts, including reportedly throwing a petrol bomb through a McDonald’s window.

France marks Labor Day as President Emmanuel Macron finds himself in a protracted battle with unions and students over his reform plans. Railroad workers have been striking since mid-April, angry at plans to freeze salaries, cut over 120,000 jobs, and employ more private contractors.

Students have previously occupied several universities across France, protesting Macron’s move to reform the education system, including introducing new admissions criteria and ranking young people who apply to public universities.

Emmanuel Macron, who has remained unmoved by the protests and vowed to proceed with the reforms, is not in Paris to witness the unrest, having flown to Australia for a state visit.

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Brazil: 'Free Lula!' Protest Continue in Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte

Demonstrators marched through the country's largest city chanting "Free Lula Now!"

Demonstrators, including trade union and political party representatives, marched through Brazil's largest city Sao Paulo late Wednesday chanting “Free Lula!”. The protesters are a continuation of the series of protest, which began last week, calling for former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva be freed from prison.

RELATED: Brazil: Lawmakers Fear for Lula's Safety, Health in Prison, Call for Probe Into Helicopter Audio

Adding to the hundreds of persons, who protested in Sao Paulo, thousands more, including members of social movements and unions, also took to the streets of Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais state, to demand Lula's release.

Minas Gerais state congressman Rogerio Correia, said “only the people are capable of overcoming the crises that the 2016 coup brought to Brazil. It's impressive how more and more people are attuned to the elite's plot and showing their discontent by defending Lula, fulfilling the Constitution and democracy.”

Lula was sentenced to 12 years and one month in prison on corruption charges by Brazil's Fourth Regional Federal Court. The Supreme Court of Justice rejected two habeas corpus appeals submitted by his defense team. Legal experts and observers attribute his case to a salacious media campaign coupled with 'lawfare,' where political foes use loopholes in the judicial system to their advantage, neutralizing their opponents.

After delivering a rousing speech on the grounds of the ABC Steelworkers Union headquarters in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Sao Paulo on Saturday, Lula was hoisted in the air by hordes of supporters. He then complied with the arrest warrant issued by Judge Sergio Moro and was transported by federal authorities to Curitiba last Sunday.

Amid concerns for public safety, Marshalls of the Federal Police Union of Parana requested that the former head of state be "immediately transferred" to a military prison. The Workers' Party (PT) and Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) have also expressed concern for the health and safety of the former president as he remains in prison.

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