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PRISONERS OF WAR: ‘Biden’ DOJ Can’t Produce Evidence It Supposedly Used To Indict the January 6th Protest Cases

They are prisoners of war because there is a war going on with evil Democrat-communists.

The Biden Justice Department Can’t Seem To Produce the Evidence It Supposedly Used To Indict the January 6th Protest Cases.

Offering pleas to misdemeanors and dismissing felonies violates written DOJ policies.

By Human Events |   August 5, 2021

There has been a severe lack of urgency in how the Biden Justice Department (DOJ) has gone about complying with its post-indictment due process obligations owed to defendants charged in connection with the January 6th protests. Under federal law, the prosecution has no “rights” when it comes to criminal cases—all “rights” belong to and are owed to defendants, by both the Executive and Judicial Branches. It is the obligation of the Executive to afford defendants their rights in the manner in which investigations and prosecutions are conducted; it is the duty of the Judiciary to ensure that the defendant’s rights are protected from deprivation by the misconduct of the Executive until such time as a jury determines the defendant’s guilt.

The position adopted by the DOJ in its memorandum seeks to make the DOJ’s problems the problems of the defendants and the court.

A few weeks back, DOJ prosecutors handling January 6th cases began to file legal memoranda offering weak excuses for why they are unable to comply with their obligation to provide discovery consistent with the federal rules and the defendants’ right to a “fair and speedy trial.” These memoranda describe the undertaking that the DOJ now refers to as the “The Capitol Breach” investigation.

The documents tell a sad tale in which a poor, beset-upon DOJ is saddled with an overwhelming undertaking connected to the events of January 6th, made all the more impossible by the obligation to comply with the Constitution and court rules established to protect the rights of criminal defendants. Here is a passage from one such memorandum that was filed by the Biden Justice Department in the matter of United States v. Timothy Hale-Cusanelli.

[T]he government’s investigation into the breach of the United States Capitol on January 6th, 2021 (the ‘Capitol Breach’) has resulted in the accumulation and creation of a massive volume of data that may be relevant to many defendants. The government is diligently working to meet its unprecedented overlapping and interlocking discovery obligations by providing voluminous electronic information in the most comprehensive and usable format.

Identical memoranda have been filed by the government in multiple other cases as well, including in the matter of United States v. Nathaniel DeGraveUnited States v. Justin McAuliffe, and United States v. Aaron Mostofsky.

Nothing in the passage above addresses the failure by prosecutors in innumerable cases to comply with “Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.” Under the Rule, a defendant is entitled, upon request, to production of certain evidence and information in the possession of the government. Two broad categories of material that fall within Rule 16 include any evidence the government intends to offer during trial to prove the defendant’s guilt; and any records, documents, items, etc., in the possession of the government that are “material to preparing the defense.”

The DOJ’s “Memo of Woe” continues:

The investigation and prosecution of the Capitol Breach will be the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence. In the six months since the Capitol was breached, over 500 individuals located throughout the nation have been charged with a multitude of criminal offenses. … There are investigations open in 55 of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 56 field offices.

The circumstances confronting Justice Department prosecutors here are entirely of their own making. No law or rule compelled the DOJ to file all the cases at the earliest possible moment it could. Nothing prevented DOJ management from, you know, “managing” the caseload by filing cases in smaller numbers at the outset, starting with most serious alleged offenders. This would have allowed prosecutors to work through the discovery problems in order to meet their obligations under the Constitution and procedural rules, rather than bringing the entire system to a grinding halt by needlessly dragging hundreds of people into court all at one time.

The position adopted by the DOJ in its memorandum seeks to make the DOJ’s problems the problems of the defendants and the court. The DOJ has an obligation to produce discovery that it cannot meet, and it seems to expect that the defendants and court are required to sit and wait while it solves its problems. But DOJ’s hopes in that regard are likely misplaced.

THE DOJ FAILS TO PRODUCE DISCOVERY

This point was brought home to a DOJ prosecutor on July 30th during a status conference in Hale-Cusanelli. The prosecutor had filed its “Memo of Woe” on July 15th.

During the hearing, Judge Trevor McFadden, an appointee of President Trump, noted that the government was continuing to charge and arrest new defendants, even when it was telling the Court and counsel that it was unable to comply with discovery obligations in the hundreds of cases it had already filed. Hale-Cusanelli has been detained without bond since his arrest on January 15th, and the prosecutor told Judge McFadden matter-of-factly that the DOJ would not be able to meet its discovery obligations earlier than 2022.

The government is deemed to have “knowledge” of everything captured on that footage, whether it has actually examined and cataloged the video or not.

Judge McFadden, however, was unmoved. Over the objections of the prosecutor, and despite her uncategorical statement that the government could not produce discovery ahead of the trial date suggested, Judge McFadden set trial in the case for November 9th—barely more than three months away. If the government fails to comply with its obligations to produce all discovery by the deadline imposed by the Court, a variety of remedies are available to address such failures, including exclusion of evidence and/or dismissal of charges.

This discovery issue is more complicated than it might first appear. The biggest problem faced by the government is what to do about the supposed 14,000 hours of videotape footage captured by both the open and hidden surveillance cameras that cover the entirety of the Capitol and its surrounding buildings and grounds. That footage exists, it is in the possession of the prosecutors and/or FBI, and under federal criminal law, the government is deemed to have “knowledge” of everything captured on that footage, whether it has actually examined and cataloged the video or not.

If there is anything that might arguably be described as “exculpatory” in that massive volume of video, the law applies the concept of “constructive knowledge” of that evidence to the government in a criminal prosecution. In a case called Kyles v. Whitley (1995), the Supreme Court held that prosecutors are deemed by law to have knowledge of all the facts about a case that are known to their investigators or contained in the case file, even if the prosecutors have no actual knowledge of some of the facts.

The problem for the prosecutors in the January 6th cases is that Kyles can be used by the defense to argue that the prosecutors and agents are deemed to know and have an obligation to produce prior to trial, whatever exculpatory might exist in the 14,000 hours of videotape. This will be true even if they have no actual knowledge of such exculpatory evidence as it might relate to an individual defendant in a particular case. The failure to produce that evidence in discovery prior to trial constitutes “suppression”—i.e., a violation of Brady v. Maryland (1963).

In other words, the fact that the DOJ has not yet been able to review all 14,000 hours of footage is not an excuse for failing to meet the government’s obligation under the Constitution to provide notice of exculpatory evidence to the attorneys for the hundreds of January 6th defendants. It cannot meet this obligation simply by making all 14,000 hours available to the defense. It must provide information to the defense about where in that massive amount of data such evidence might be found.

Understanding this constitutional burden, however, the prosecutor in the Hale-Cusanelli case was quite clear in stating the DOJ will not be able to comply with its obligations prior to November 9th, the trial date set by Judge McFadden. This circumstance is not unique to that one case. If the government cannot provide discovery of the video evidence—which may or may not include exculpatory material—in the Hale-Cusanelli case until sometime in 2022, then it cannot provide that discovery in any of the hundreds of other cases it has filed.

HIS “ACTIONS DIDN’T MATCH HIS RHETORIC”

The government’s confession that it is unable to timely process and review the thousands of hours of footage—along with social media posts, location history data, and cell tower data for thousands of devices present inside the Capitol—has likely produced the outcomes in a growing number of cases seen in the past several days. In three cases the Biden Justice Department accepted guilty pleas to misdemeanors where a felony charge was alleged in the indictment returned by a grand jury.

Prosecutors are seeking to avoid more trial dates being set while they remain unable to produce discovery as required by law.

Many of the indictments sought in the January 6th protest cases include a mix of both felony and misdemeanor crimes alleged to have been committed by the named defendants. A “plea agreement” is a document that establishes an agreement between the prosecution and the defense as to how the charges will be resolved. Ordinarily this will include a guilty plea to one or more of the crimes alleged in the indictment, combined with an agreement by the prosecution to dismiss all the remaining charges.

A “plea agreement” in a federal case is an agreement made only between the prosecution and the defendant. The Court is not involved in negotiating the terms of the agreement, and is not a party to the agreement. A plea agreement that dismisses charges filed by a grand jury must be “accepted” by the Court before it becomes valid. If the judge rejects the terms of the agreement the case goes forward to a trial on all the crimes charged in the indictment. If the liberal judges who make up the vast majority of the judges presiding over the January 6th protest cases are accepting these “petty” misdemeanor guilty pleas while dismissing felonies, that too is a comment on the manner in which these cases are being handled because the judges know such outcomes violate DOJ policy.

On August 4th, the government entered into a plea agreement in the matter of United States v. Karl Dresch, agreeing to dismiss the felony crime of “obstructing an official proceeding” in exchange for Dresch’s guilty plea to the “petty” misdemeanor crime of unlawful “parading” inside the Capitol. (A “petty” misdemeanor is one for which the maximum sentence is no more than six months in custody.)

Dresch has been detained in custody awaiting trial since his arrest in mid-January. His length of detention had exceeded six months—the maximum term for the charge to which he pled guilty. By offering to allow Dresch to plead to just the petty misdemeanor, the government knew he would be sentenced to “time served” and immediately released. And that is exactly what happened.

This time it was not a Trump-appointed Judge who let that be the outcome. Rather, District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an appointee of President Obama, took the guilty plea and sentenced Dresch to “time served.” She did so without once asking the Biden Justice Department to justify its decision to dismiss the felony. In fact, Associated Press reporter Alanna Durkin Richer writes, “the Judge said a deal with prosecutors allowing him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor was appropriate because his ‘actions didn’t match his rhetoric’ and he didn’t hurt anyone or destroy anything at the Capitol.”

On July 30th, the government went forward with change of plea hearings in two other cases under the same circumstances and with the same outcomes, with the exception that neither defendant was detained in custody pending trial. In both United States v. Eliel Rosa and United States v. Jack Griffith, the DOJ agreed to accept guilty pleas to “petty” misdemeanors, and in return dismissed felony offenses charged against each defendant. In each case, the presiding judge was an appointee of President Obama. Court docket entries in a few other cases have scheduled change of plea hearings over the next two weeks, strongly suggesting that prosecutors are seeking to avoid more trial dates being set while they remain unable to produce discovery as required by law.

THE DOJ’S DOUBLE BIND

In negotiating the terms of plea agreements, it is contrary to Justice Department policy to accept a misdemeanor guilty plea when a felony was charged. The DOJ Policy Manual, “Principles of Federal Prosecution,” provides instruction on the decision-making that is involved in resolving a case through a plea agreement. “Section 9-24.430” of the manual states:

If a prosecution is to be concluded pursuant to a plea agreement, the defendant should be required to plead to a charge or charges:
That is the most serious readily provable charge consistent with the nature and extent of his/her criminal conduct;
That has an adequate factual basis;
That makes likely the imposition of an appropriate sentence and order of restitution, if appropriate, under all the circumstances of the case; and
That does not adversely affect the investigation or prosecution of others.

The problem is that when deciding that a misdemeanor is “the most serious readily provable charge” to accept in a plea agreement after having sought and obtained a felony charge in the indictment, the prosecutor is confronted with another DOJ policy—the one he/she was supposed to have followed when the charges were brought in the first case. “Section 9-27.300” of the DOJ manual states:

[T]he attorney for the government should bear in mind that he/she will have to introduce at trial admissible evidence sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction, or else the government will suffer a dismissal, or a reversal on appeal. For this reason, he/she should not … recommend in an indictment, charges that he/she cannot reasonably expect to prove beyond a reasonable doubt by legally sufficient and admissible evidence at trial.

At the time the indictment was sought, the prosecutor was supposed to have made a judgment that there was sufficient admissive evidence to prove the charged felony at trial, beyond a reasonable doubt. Going before the court with a plea agreement that seeks to dismiss a felony and accept a plea to a misdemeanor calls into question the determination made to pursue a felony at the start of the case.

Prosecutors sought and obtained felony charges in many cases based on almost no meaningful review of actual evidence about what happened…

What’s more, how did the prosecutors who sought the indictments against the January 6th defendants know they would have “legally sufficient and admissible evidence at trial” to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt if, after nearly seven months, they are still making excuses to the courts for their inability to provide discovery of such evidence to the defense in these cases? What was the evidentiary basis for the initial felony charge?

What is obvious now in hindsight is that the Biden Justice Department prosecutors sought and obtained felony charges in many cases based on almost no meaningful review of actual evidence about what happened; it used fear and hysteria to justify doing so. Now they are being pressed to provide the evidence that is supposed to support the felony charges they brought, and are unable to do so in the timeframe required by law. So they are abandoning the cases on the best possible outcome available—the least serious of all federal crimes, “petty” misdemeanors.

Now that the DOJ has gone down the path of exchanging guilty pleas to misdemeanors for some defendants charged with felonies, it will become more difficult to not do the same for a much larger number of defendants where the facts are substantially the same.

The complications the government created for itself in its decision-making about what crimes to charge do not excuse it from complying with the rules of discovery and due process. But that is what the government has been telling the Judges and Defendants in the January 6th cases in its “Memo of Woe,” now making its way through various “Capitol Breach Cases.”

Producing discovery in a meaningful manner and balancing complex legal-investigative and technical difficulties takes time. We want to ensure that all defendants obtain meaningful access to voluminous information that may contain exculpatory material, and that we do not overproduce or produce in a disorganized manner. That means we will review thousands of investigative memoranda, even if there is a likelihood they are purely administrative and not discoverable, to ensure that disclosures are appropriate.

The simple reality is that the DOJ has not—even after seven months—complied with its discovery obligations such that the defendants’ statutory and constitutional rights had been met. They offer only excuses and ask for more time. The consequence is that defendants are forced to remain in a state of limbo, subject to detention or court supervision, and unable to move on with their lives. In other words, an arbitrary deprivation of life, liberty, and property without due process of law.

The Biden Justice Department needs to comply with its obligations or dismiss cases until it’s able to do so.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Heartbreaking Interview with Father of Jake Lang: He Saved Trump Supporter Philip Anderson’s Life on Jan. 6 from Capitol Police — Now He’s a Political Prisoner in Washington DC

FBI Director, Agents & Bureau to Be Sued Over “Gestapo Tactics” in Crackdown of Jan. 6

COUP: Overwhelming Evidence That January 6th Was A Planned Set-Up

January 6th Was A Set-Up

Capitol “Investigation” Criminalizes Political Dissent

EDITORS NOTE: This Geller Report column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Anti-Free Speech, Pro-Radical Islam Reporting

Attention Canadian Broadcasting News Agency (CBC),

My name is Shabnam Assadollahi. I am a Canadian of Iranian origin, an award winning human rights advocate and freelance writer.

Reference your February 18th article “Protesters outside Masjid Toronto call for ban on Islam as Muslims pray inside.

As an Iranian, a former refugee and former child prisoner of Evin for 18 months by the Islamic Republic of Iran who has been advocating for democracy and woman’s rights, I am strongly against the Political and Radical Islam and openly have shared my views about Motion-103. I am also appalled by a small group of people protesting in front of the mosque on Friday, some held hateful banners while ordinary Muslims were in and out and praying. IMHO, what that minority small group did yesterday was NOT activism but another form of hate.

I read your bias coverage of the demonstration at the mosque in Downtown Toronto and the connection you made between the demonstration and the controversy over Motion-103 which reminded me of what Muslim Brotherhood’s frequent cover up in Egypt and Iran’s Qods Forces propaganda in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria.

Religious freedom is part of our Canadian values and such small group’s hateful rally will only harm our Free speech but we already have laws to protect Every member of our nation. Shouldn’t your remind ALL Canadians to take pride to know that in 1982 the Charter of Rights and Freedoms made all Canadians equal? Don’t you think that this is the most important value that has been holding us together as Canadians?

As a former radio producer working for over twelve years knowing the ethics in journalism, I have observed that you frequently give a disservice to all Canadians by not sharing the complete information which can have an effect on one’s response to an issue. The last thing any of us should do is promote divisiveness because of lack of information especially coming from taxpayers funded media outlet.

This well documented article by CIJNews-Canada shows the supplications at Masjid Toronto Mosque located in downtown Toronto which is affiliated with the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC). According to this investigative journal, the mosque operates in two locations in downtown Toronto: Masjid Toronto at Dundas (168 Dundas St. West) and Masjid Toronto at Adelaide (84 Adelaide St. East).

Dr. Wael Shihab was appointed in April 2014 to a full-time resident Imam of the mosque Masjid Toronto. Shihab has a PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University and he was the head of the Fatwa (Islamic opinion) Unit of IslamOnline.net (English website) and the Shari’ah (Islamic Law) consultant of the Shari’ah department of OnIslam.net. Shihab is also a member of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) headed by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, who played a major role in launching both aforementioned websites.

Shihab’s views as presented in articles and Islamic rulings posted on Onislam.net:

“Slay them one by one and spare not one of them; The solution to the global violence, extremism and oppression is Islam; Qaradawi’s book “Jurisprudence of Jihad” should serves as a guidance to Muslims; Thieves’ hands should be chopped off no matter their social status; Person who underwent gender reassignment surgery should return to his original gender; Muslims should avoid gays as homosexuality is evil and succumbing to the temptations of the Satan; Wife should not reject her husband’s call for having sex”

The above preaching is also against our Charter of Rights and Freedoms which ONLY creates hate and spreads radicalism among the worshipers, especially the youth. At the same time, a group of protesters rallying in front of this mosque and shouting for banning a religion in Canada is no difference from what the Islamic Republic of Iran is doing to atheists, Sunnis, Bahais Christians, and Jews, to name a few. Islamic republic of Iran also does not recognize Bahai as a religion/ faith. What is the difference between this small group of protesters, the radical Imams as such and what Iran regime is doing to Bahais? IMO: No difference.

Going in front of a place of worship calling to ban the worshipers’ faith on a “FRIDAY” especially a few weeks after a mass shooting happening in a mosque is NOT Canadian and it is not defending Free speech; but IMO is Hate Speech. The acts of radicalism by the small group of people is absolutely unacceptable. What they do will only assist the MSM and the Muslim Brotherhood to take advantage and to attack Freedom loving Canadians and to silence Freedom of Speech.

It is very sad that some Canadians from Islamic faith express that they don’t feel safe under Canada’s Charter of Rights and equality laws. When government and the media choose one group over another in a country that is diverse, they attack the very fabric that holds all of us together by saying that we are failing at diversity. If we do not treat all groups equally and say no to hatred to all; not singling out one group over another, then would only degrade our Charter.

It is appalling that when NCCM calls Canada to pass M-103, Canadian MSM such as yours cries for their call and yet QC imam Sayed AlGhitawi calls for the annihilation of the Jews and CBC and the rest of Canadian MSM won’t give any coverage on his hate speech.

It is the responsibility of our officials, educators and the media to remind all people living in this country that we are all equally protected-that no one needs an extra motion or extra protection-for that would make some “more equal” than others.

I have a reasonable fear of radical Islam” which I sent to MPs, and Senators Thank you.

Kind wishes,

Shabnam Assadollahi

RELATED ARTICLE: Quebec legislature adopts sharia blasphemy motion condemning ‘Islamophobia’

EDITORS NOTE: According to Wikipedia CBC News.

In 2009, CBC President Hubert Lacroix commissioned a study to determine whether its news was biased, and if so, to what extent. He said: “Our job — and we take it seriously — is to ensure that the information that we put out is fair and unbiased in everything that we do”. The study, the methodology of which was not specified, was due to report results in the fall of 2010.

In April 2010, the Conservatives accused pollster Frank Graves of giving partisan advice to the Liberal Party of Canada, noting his donations to the party since 2003. Graves directed a number of public opinion research projects on behalf of the CBC as well as other media organizations, and also appeared on a number of CBC television programs relating to politics. An investigation conducted by the CBC ombudsman found no evidence to support these allegations, stating that personal donor history is not relevant to one’s objectivity as a pollster.

In March 2011, the Toronto Sun accused Vote Compass, an online voter engagement application developed by political scientists and launched by CBC during the 2011 federal election campaign, of a liberal bias. The accusation centred on the observation that one could provide identical responses to each proposition in Vote Compass (i.e., answer “strongly agree” to all propositions or “strongly disagree” to all propositions) and would in each case be positioned closest to the Liberal Party in the results. This claim was directly addressed by Vote Compass representatives, who noted that the propositions in the application are specifically constructed in such a way as to avoid acquiescence bias and that the result described by the Toronto Sun was arrived at by gaming the system.[11] Vote Compass also released analyses of the data it gathered from the federal election, which have further negated efforts to discredit it. It is widely speculated that suspicions of bias were fuelled by Sun Media in an effort to promote its anti-CBC agenda and the concurrent launch of its cable news channel. The criticism appears to have been isolated to the 2011 Canadian federal election edition of Vote Compass and has not re-emerged in any subsequent editions of Vote Compass, either in Canada or internationally.

In February 2015, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made comments relating to the allegations. Speaking to Radio-Canada, the outlet’s on-air Quebec division, Harper commented saying he understood that many at Radio-Canada “hated conservative values”. Radio-Canada did not deny the allegations.

During the 2015 federal election, CBC was again accused of bias by some viewers and outlets. The majority of these claims spawned from a promise by the Liberals and New Democratic Party of Canada after the two groups promised to increase funding for CBC. The pledges came after the then Conservative government had cut $115 million from the CBC in the 2012 budget. Shortly before the pledges were made, CBC president Hubert Lacroix complained of the Conservative cuts, saying “the cuts make us weaker and affect morale, critics, key stakeholders and even some of the citizens we serve.”

Montana is an example of anti-refugee sentiment spilling forth in wake of Trump victory

This is an Associated Press story that ran on Christmas day so not sure how many of you saw it.

sk_rossi

S.K. Rossi

For background, Montana had a small refugee program many years ago, but up until this year it was alone with Wyoming in not having one at all.  That changed in 2016 as Missoula ‘welcomed’ its first African and Middle Eastern refugees. I traveled to the state this summer and can attest to the sentiment outlined in this story.

For new readers you might like to see our Montana archive, here.

S.K. Rossi, advocacy and policy director for the ACLU of Montana: “It’s pretty widely known that this is going to be a hard year…”

From AP at The Seattle Times:

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The push to restrict refugee resettlements and immigration in the U.S. that figured so prominently in Donald Trump’s election is now headed to states that are preparing to convene their legislative sessions early next year, immigration advocates said.

In Montana, which took in just nine refugee families from January to early December, about a dozen bill requests related to refugees, immigration and terrorism have been filed ahead of next month’s session. The measures include requiring resettlement agencies to carry insurance that would defray the cost of prosecuting refugees who commit violent crimes and allowing towns and cities to request a moratorium on resettlements in their communities.

Refugee rights advocates say those measures are a sign of what is to come as the anti-refugee rhetoric that featured prominently in the presidential election spills over to statehouses and local governments.

“It’s pretty widely known that this is going to be a hard year for those of us who are seeking to protect the rights of refugees and immigrants,” said S.K. Rossi, advocacy and policy director for the ACLU of Montana.

The president-elect campaigned on building a border wall with Mexico to stop illegal immigration, deporting immigrants who are in the nation illegally and halting the resettlement of refugees to strengthen the federal program that vets them.

[….]

“It absolutely does not end with the presidential election,” McKenzie [Michele McKenzie, deputy director of the Minneapolis organization The Advocates for Human Rights] said. “It’s a national strategy by a small but organized group of anti-immigration advocates and anti-refugee advocates.”

[….]

“We need to get serious,” said Nancy Ballance, a Republican state representative from Ravalli County.

Ballance said refugees are a “gigantic issue” in her southwestern Montana county, just south of the liberal college city of Missoula. “People expect to see some legislation brought,” she said.

It is pretty clear that legally state legislators can’t do much to change the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), but here we have the ACLU lobbyist making the crucial point about efforts in the Montana (yours too!) legislature.

“Filing this and making it a public conversation automatically undermines the refugee process,” Rossi said.

“They can’t legally undermine the process, but they can socially undermine the process.”

Continue reading here.

Trickle up!

You have a right to ask questions and demand that your elected officials at all levels of government be transparent, and consider your economic worries and your safety concerns when the federal government targets your communities.

Efforts like these in the Montana legislature are important to help create controversy because the ultimate goal is for the controversy to ‘trickle up’ to Congress and to the new Trump Administration. There is no doubt that the USRAP must be trashed or reformed, but that pressure must come from the states (and local governments) to Washington.  Politicians hate noise and so it is your job as grassroots activists to make political noise!

To that end, since Montana’s lone House member is likely going to the Trump Interior Department, it is critical that you, in Montana, make the selection of his replacement a referendum on the refugee program. See The Hill (scroll down to Rep. Zinke).

Endnote: I am off to jury duty, be back later!

Emote, protest, get naked for your professor, and get credit

Pity poor Emma Sulkowicz lugging a mattress around the Columbia University campus now for almost a full academic year.

This act, recalling Christ carrying his cross (that is if any on our college campuses know about this part of our Judeo-Christian heritage any more) has drawn attention to her alleged rape by fellow student and one-time lover, Paul Nungesser, who in turn has filed a Title IX suit against the university for allowing the campaign of harassment against him. Nungesser was cleared by a “campus court” (itself a disturbing extra-legal development).

Sulkowicz’s back-bending activity, however, is actually her senior thesis, “Carry That Weight,” directed by Jon Kessler, a professor in the School of Visual Arts. Kessler, who has received several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, in the 1980s and 1990s made “kinetic sculptures,” and used video and surveillance equipment in his work to express “political urgency” after 9/11.

Sulkowicz seems to have learned from her professor about the new academic requirements and purposes of art, as her words in an email to AP reveal:

“I think it’s ridiculous that Paul [Nungesser] would sue not only the school but one of my past professors for allowing me to make an art piece. It’s ridiculous that he would read it as a ‘bullying strategy,’…when really it’s just an artistic expression of the personal trauma I’ve experienced at Columbia. If artists are not allowed to make art that reflect on our experiences, then how are we to heal?”

Sadly, Sulkowicz’s performance art project reflects a growing trend of professors giving students assignments that have little to do with real academics. Most colleges now require (or at least allow students to get credit for) service-learning, a sort of charity for liberal causes that garners academic credit. The exercises typically require work in homeless shelters, inner-city schools, parks, and even prisons.

For example, at Boise State University students taking Advanced Spanish Conversation and Composition (SPAN 303) last month went to Idaho Correctional Center in order to translate letters by Hispanic inmates for the American Prison Writing archive page. Students also learned about the collection in the prison library and job training programs for the inmates.

Predictably, the students’ “reflection papers,” many handwritten and on posters interspersed with photos, testified to how the program succeeded in changing stereotypes they held about prisoners. No doubt, the professor, Doran Larsen, whose c.v. includes a collection of prisoners’ writings, was pleased.

In this advanced Spanish language course, discussions with inmates and casual writing (in English) pushed aside hours of study that could have been devoted to Cervantes and Marquez. Likewise, the assignments accompanying service-learning projects are a degraded form of academics. “Reflection papers” replace traditional essays and research papers. One handwritten reflection paper on a poster board display paper looks like a third-grader’s journal. In the past, it would have been their language skills and knowledge about Spanish that mattered. Today, however, students are judged by their attitudes, not their knowledge.

Even in composition classes, reflection papers and participation in preselected protests, such as “Take Back the Night,” take the place of writing formal essays. Composition teachers, as I learned at the 2011 Conference on College Composition and Communication, take students on protests to study the “rhetoric” of slogans and “bodies,” instead of having them read classic works.

Such ideological and emotional assignments, and “performance art,” grew out of the 1960s protest movement and the rejection of Western standards. The radicals who went into academe embraced the new standards and have passed them on.

Performance art has become a favorite of feminists, who follow theorist Helene Cixous, who insisted, “Women must write through their bodies, they must invent the impregnable language that will wreck partitions, classes, and rhetorics, regulations and codes….”

One of the most famous purveyors of this mode is Karen Finley, who in her younger days famously smeared chocolate and honey over her body to express her feelings about the objectification of women. She then took her outrage over the revoking of funding by the National Endowment for the Arts to the Supreme Court, where she, along with her three co-litigants, lost. What is such a transgressive artist going to do without public funding?

She soon found a teaching position at New York University.

She landed there after she was denied a position at Georgia State University (where I earned my master’s degree) as a visiting professor after she refused to sign Georgia’s loyalty oath (requiring that applicants promise not to overthrow the government by violent means). At a 2009 South Atlantic Modern Language Association meeting, English department co-chair Matthew Roudané introduced her and related the story about how he had offered her the position after her NEA difficulties.

In her presentation, Ms. Finley recounted going into “a subtle form of body trauma” after seeing Georgia’s loyalty oath.

“You have to start with an individual, emotional place,” she insisted, describing her principled resistance and her form of art.

She would have fit in at Georgia State. One of my professors allowed another graduate student to write her final paper in the form of a “quilt” of colored paper. A feminist, she was defying the linear, patriarchal form of writing, i.e., organized with a thesis statement and argued logically.

Students are now being asked to follow the lead of performance artists like Finley and do assignments in the nude. This is the case of a visual arts class at UC-San Diego taught by Roberto Dominguez, who famously concocted an electronic Transborder Immigrant Tool, winning awards from the Endowment for Culture Mexico-US. In 2010 he used students to conduct a virtual sit-in to protest cuts in the budget for the California state university system.

Dominguez, naturally, has given a different version to the original complaint by a parent. He told Inside Higher Ed that students have two “clothes-free” options for the class: “The students can choose to do the nude gesture version or the naked version (the naked gesture means you must perform a laying bare of your ‘traumatic’ self, and students can do this gesture under a rug or in any way they choose—but they must share their most fragile self—something most students find extremely hard to do).”

In contrast, “’The nude self gesture takes place in complete darkness, and everyone is nude, with only one candle or very small source of light for each individual performance…. A student may decide to focus on their big toe, their hair, an armpit, as being a part of their body that is ‘more them than they are.’”

Presumably, this should alleviate parental concerns. But a room with naked (in distinction from nude) students in front of their nude professor blubbering about how they feel about their armpits illustrates vividly the decay of academe.

Such assignments do not prepare students for the world of work and adult responsibilities, where their emotions do not factor in performance reviews, where they are expected to communicate in a clear and logical manner, and where they will have to know certain facts in order to build a bridge, argue a legal case, treat a heart attack victim, or teach children to read. Nor do such assignments prepare them to participate as free and literate citizens in a constitutional republic.

So where is the oversight? In the case of the Boise State prison service-learning program, we can see that the inmates are indeed running the asylum. Sadly, this is happening in most of our institutions of higher learning.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the John Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Second Florida hotel cancels anti-Common Core conference

Laura Zorc, SE State Coordinator for Florida Parents Against Common Core, in an email states that the Rosen Hotel, Orlando has cancelled the contract for an anti-Common Core conference. This comes on the heels of the Ritz Carlton/Marriott cancellation.

Billy Hallowell from TheBlaze reported on June 19th, “The Common Core State Standards Initiative has created a fair bit of angst among critics who view it as a poor — or even dangerous — plan to amend the nation’s educational schema. Considering this dynamic, it’s no surprise that some concerned Florida parents are planning to protest a national Common Core conference that is slated to be hosted later this month by The Center for College & Career Readiness.”

“But when FreedomWorks, a non-profit organization, agreed to help these parents by providing a grassroots training to accompany their protest, the conservative organization charges that a hotel abruptly canceled its reservations. The hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, however, is denying these claims, stating that the anti-Common Core initiative’s goals had nothing at all to do with the decision — and that the decision was based on crowd-control concerns,” writes Hallowell.

Whitney Neal, director of grassroots initiatives at FreedomWorks, told TheBlaze that the Ritz, a hotel nearby the venue that is hosting the national Common Core conference (the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Resort and Spa), cancelled the conservative group’s reservations — and after the group had already paid for and booked the space.”

Both the anti-Common Core training and protest of the National Conference on College and Career Readiness and Common Core State Standards will take place on June 28-29, 2013 as planned according to Zore.

Zore states in an email to supporters, “[This] Protest is a legal protest Thank you to a commissioner from Orange county. We have insurance, permit, and police depart has been notified.   The Ritz cannot stop us from being on public property. Since we are in the spotlight now we really need all the parents we can get to come out for this 2 hour protest [against] this National CC conference.”