Archive for the ‘Heidi Beirich’ Category

When Hatred Is a Joke – The Atlantic

On Sunday, the president of the United States tweeted out a video. The grainy clip featured old footage repurposed for a new world: It depicted a pre-White House Donald Trump engaged in a bit of theatrical violence that played out during a 2007 WrestleMania event. In it, the pre-president, clad in a suit, body-slammed and then repeatedly punched another mana man made anonymous because his face, in the edited video, had been obscured with the familiar logo of the Cable News Network.

The tweet was, in one sense, yet another volley in the White Houses long-running battle against the American mediaone that has in recent days noticeably ratcheted up. And it was yet another example of the presidents seemingly gladiatorial approach to the world and its doings: a Darwinian environment where lifes inherent rivalries resolve themselves in violence. But the tweet was also something much simpler than any of that: It was, on the most basic level, a joke. The video was absurd on its (logo-obscured) face. The president, fighting CNN! Or, rather, FNN, because fake news! Trump had sent out, essentially, a nationwide wink.

So the tweet took Trumps longstanding animosity toward the news media in general and CNN in particular and distilled it down to something relatable and recognizable and, in theory, unobjectionable: laughter. It washed hatred over with humor.

Are We Having Too Much Fun?

The WrestleMania-ed tweet in that sense was both extremely bizarrean unorthodox way for a sitting president to express himself, The New York Times dutifully summed it upand completely at home in the media environment of the present moment. Jokes, after all, have long been used to soften political point-making: There they are at political protests, and there they are on late-night television, shaping Americans knowledge of the political debates whose outcomes will determine our collective future. And hatred, too, has eagerly adopted the guise of the joke to spread its messaging. Richard Spencer, the white nationalist, has a sly sense of irony. So does 4chan. This is a time in which the most recognizable symbol of white supremacy in American culture is a loopy-grinned cartoon frog.

What happens, though, when hatred renders so easily as a joke? And what happens, in particular, when the president of the United States uses his vast platform not only to celebrate violence, but also to suggest that violence is funny? As the writer Wajahat Ali noted at a recent panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival, co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, Trump, as the commander in chief, uses the pulpit and the platform of the office to tweet hate. The president eschews the one-America logic that has guided the communications strategies of so many past presidenciesthe language that aims to unify the nation in its measured appeals to the mass publicand uses his platform instead both to pick fights and to maintain the ones he has started. Trump has put the bully in bully pulpit.

Its a significant shiftnot merely because presidential angry-tweets have, in their reach, the potential to incite violence, and not merely because they are, as CNN put it in a statement about the WrestleMania video, notably juvenile. Tweets like that video, and the many others that have preceded it, also normalize hatred itself. They suggest a zero-sum world: a world of friends and enemies, a world of winners and losers, a world in which struggle is not the exception, but, by pugilistic necessity, the rule. The president, with each 140-character message, takes that old, optimistic bromidethere is more that connects us, as Americans, than divides usand flips it. He suggests that division and tribalism and fear and hatred will guide Americas politics and its future.

Whats even more troubling: He might have reason to make that suggestion. Grainy video of a sucker-punching president neatly captures a shift that has transpired slowly and then mind-bogglingly quickly in recent years: Hatred has come into the mainstream. Fear and its common companion, animositydirected toward immigrants, toward minorities, toward women, toward the news mediaare becoming more and more normalized in our cultural conversations. They are living less and less at the margins of American life.

Hatred, of course, has always been part of that life. As Heidi Beirich, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, pointed out on the same panel, the country was obviously white supremacist from its founding. In recent years, however, Ali noted, hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan (the SPLC currently counts 54 such groups) existed for the most part at the outskirts of society. They hated, as is their constitutional right, but they were judged for it and ostracized for it by the broader body of American politics. Their ideas were, in the Overton sense, unthinkable. The window of acceptability was closed to them.

No longer, Ali suggested. The rise of social media has allowed hatred to be both concretizedsharable tracts, meme-able images, Pepeand, then, amplified. Digital capabilities have meant, as well, that haters can find likeminded people, across the distance. Which has meant in turn that hatred has become empowered as never before. Recent months have seen acts of hate directed against transgender women, Jews, African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, Hindu Americans, Sikh Americans, and others. Acts of anti-semitism, a recent study from the Anti-Defamation League found, spiked 86 percent during the first months of 2017an increase from what had already been a surge of such incidents the previous year.

Into that environment comes a president who regularly makes light of hatredwho implies, one tweet at a time, that hostility is normal and, worse, kind of funny. When the president mean-tweets about Mika Brzezinski, or about Frank Luntz, or about CNN, he is doing it, it seems, out of a sense of real rage, but also because he assumes that animosity itself is entertaining. Slob. Loser. Failing. Psycho. The insults and epithets reduce people to the thing the president best understands: media brands. They treat humans, collectively, as actors in an epic war story in which Trump will always bemust always bethe victor. But they also assume that even war stories can be funny, and that violence, when presented with the right kind of wink, can be a great source of humor. Calm down, the presidents tweets say. Its all just a joke.

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When Hatred Is a Joke – The Atlantic

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July 4, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

‘White Terrorism’ and Donald Trump: Why Has the President Slashed the Grant for Group Combating KKK? – Newsweek

The Trump administration has slashed funding for a group devoted to tackling radical white extremists. The Department for Homeland Security (DHS)announced Fridaythat $400,000 in federal funding was being withdrawn from Chicago-based Life After Hate, one of the few U.S. groups dedicated to combating white nationalism.The group was awarded the grant in the closing days of the Obama administration.

Neo Nazis (National Socialist Movement) take part in a Ku Klux Klan demonstration at the state house building on July 18, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. John Moore/Getty Images

Run by a former extremistskinhead, the group helps members of hate groups including the KKK and Neo-Nazi gangs to build a life beyond racist nationalism.

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The co-founder of Life After Hate, Christian Picciolini, told the Associated Press, “While it’s disappointing that DHS broke its promise to us by changing the rules to the grant after we’d already won it, it is more alarming that the current administration is refusing to acknowledge that white nationalist extremists are a major domestic terrorist threat.”

Oren Siegel, director of the Center on Extremism at the Anti-Defamation League criticized the move in a tweet,linkingto a Time article in which he accusedthe administration of underestimating the threat posed by far-right terrorists.

The new list of grant recipients doesn’t include a single organization dedicated to fighting far-right extremism but several that are focused oncountering Islamic extremism.

Reuters reported in February that administration officials were debating changing the name of the Countering Violent Extremism program to Countering Islamic Extremism or Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) claims there has been a significant spike in hate crimes since Trump launched his bid to become president in 2015, when he received considerable backing from the alt-righta loose collection of white nationalist and anti-establishment conservatives.

Heidi Beirich , director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a statement toNewsweek:The Trump administration doesn t take seriously the threat from the radical right.”

Beirich warned that the U.S. would pay a high price for “wishing away” a movement that, according to the Government Accountability Office, was responsible for 73 percent of deadly terrorist attacks since Sept. 11 2001.

The administration wants Americans to believe the only threat that exists to our democratic way of life comes from Islamist-inspired terror. But the facts and history of our country disprove that utterly. This is a dangerous approach.

Earlierin June, a white nationalist allegedly killed two men who stepped in to defend a woman in a train near Portland being subjected to Islamophobic abuse.

In a statement to Mother Jones, the DHL denied it was cutting funding for Life After Hate because of its opposition to the far-right.

DHS used its discretion…when reviewing each applicant said DHS spokeswoman Lucy Martinez, considering different factors in awarding the grants.

The program has not been altered to focus on any one type of violent extremism, she added.

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‘White Terrorism’ and Donald Trump: Why Has the President Slashed the Grant for Group Combating KKK? – Newsweek

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June 24, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

Google Search Is Doing Irreparable Harm To Muslims – HuffPost

Google asks its employees to Do the right thing. At least, thats what its revised 2015 motto states in an upgrade from the original company maxim, Dont be evil.

But when a user searches Google for information on Islam, the results often link to propaganda, anti-Muslim hate and outright lies. The algorithm for the worlds largest search engine is definitely not doing the right thing especially when it comes to the first page of results, where most users stop their searches.

Basic searches for words like Muslim and Islam return reasonable results with links to reputable sites. But more specific terms, like sharia, jihad or taqiyya often co-opted by white supremacists return links to Islamophobic sites filled with misinformation.

The same thing happens with the autofill function. If a user types in does islam, the first suggestion that pops up to complete the query is does islam permit terrorism. Another egregious example occurs when a user inputsdo muslim. The autofill results include do muslim women need saving.

There are endless possibilities for misinformation, and the consequences are disturbing.

Google

Ninety percent of people dont make it past the first page, Heidi Beirich, a project director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told HuffPost. Its miseducating millions, if not billions of people on many subjects.

Indeed, there is a distinct correlation between anti-Muslim searches and anti-Muslim hate crimes, according to researchers.

The result? At the extreme end of the spectrum, white supremacists commit heinous acts of violence, like in Portland, Oregonand Tulsa, Oklahoma. But more commonly and perhaps more nefariously, such searches normalize a culture of fear, leading to the harassment ofhijab-wearing teenagers and 7-Eleven store clerks.

Google

But Omar Suleiman, a Muslim American imam from Dallas and founder of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, has a plan to take on Google.

Suleiman and his team have been publishing reports on controversial topics in Islam like jihad in the hopes of influencing the search algorithm. His goal is to flood the search results with accurate information on Islam.

Suleiman, 30, realized a few years ago that there was a dire need for factual information during the rise of the self-described Islamic State, when he noticed how right-wing groups were equating ISISs language with the beliefs of the worlds entire Muslim population.

One of Suleimans most popular reports is on the Islamic idea of taqiyya, a term Islamophobes and white supremacists have appropriated and exploited to accuseMuslims of lying to non-Muslims for a sinister objectiveliketaking over the world.

Suleiman explains in the reportthattaqiyya is actually a centuries-old concept that permits a Muslim to conceal his or her faith when under the threat of persecution. Applied more commonly by the minority Shia sect of Islam, taqiyya is rarely, if not ever, applicable to modern-day Muslims.

Because it is an Arabic word, Islamophobes use the word taqiyya solely to instill fear, Suleiman told HuffPost. Its a foreign-sounding word from a religion thats perceived as foreign, and it sends chills down the spines of well-meaning but woefully misinformed patriotic Americans wary of those turban-wearing bearded foreigners, right? What could possibly go wrong? Suleiman wrote in the report.

The Yaqeen Institute has also published reports on honor killings, stoningand jihad, all topics Islamophobes constantly twist to degrade Islam and Muslims.

Allison V. Smith for HuffPost

But taking on the internet is not easy, and may not even be possible.

Suleimans report on taqiyya doesnt come up until the second page of Google search.The first link that appears on the first page, an article from meforum.org, may appear legitimate, but the Middle East Forum is actually an Islamophobic think tank and website that promotesAmerican interests in the Middle East and protects Western values from Middle Eastern threats.TheReligionOfPeace.com and Billionbibles.org are other anti-Muslim websites whose articles appear on the first page.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented a similar andarguably worse problem when users search for the term sharia.

Factual content about Islam in basic searches often gets choked off by anti-Muslim propaganda, writes Alex Amend, digital media director at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Allison V. Smith for HuffPost

However, there is precedent for Google to make a change. The company removed the are Jews evil autofill suggestion late last year, and apologized for mistakenly tagging African-Americans as gorillasin the search feature of the Google photos app.

Were appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened, a company spokeswoman said at the time. There is still clearly a lot of work to do with automatic image labeling, and were looking at how we can prevent these types of mistakes from happening in the future.

Earlier this year, YouTube, which is owned by Google, announced a new set of policies that target offensive content that doesnt necessarily violate the companys guidelines. The policy includes burying the videos and not attaching them to any advertising. Videos that promote the subjugation of religions or races without outright inciting violence, such as by targeting Islam, would be covered by this policy.

Beirich says Googles actions so far are not enough.

Googles algorithm is seriously flawed and its a scary thing, because millions of people around the world are using it, she said. Its a fundamental problem with how search works.

Beirich points to the case of white supremacist Dylann Roof, who went from being someone who was not raised in a racist home to someone so steeped in white supremacist propaganda that he murdered nine African-Americans during a Bible study.

We are teaching [people] reasons to hate black people, Jews, Muslims and [other] minorities, Beirich said.

The SPLC has brought its concerns to Google, but says it has yet to see substantial action.

A Google spokeswoman told HuffPost she had nothing to add when asked about the harmful search results.

Despite the odds stacked against Suleiman, he is hopeful. He is also aware that Yaqeen has nothing close to the$57 million networkfueling Islamophobia, both online and offline, in the United States.

The prize of Islamophobes is the hearts and minds of people, Suleiman said. What we need to continue to do is to discredit these people and their agendas.

America does not do a good job of tracking incidents of hate and bias. We need your help to create a database of such incidents across the country, so we all know whats going on.Tell us your story.

Allison V Smith for HuffPost

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Google Search Is Doing Irreparable Harm To Muslims – HuffPost

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June 24, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

Why Does the Far Right Hold a Near-Monopoly on Political Violence? – The Nation.

Studies show that most people across the political spectrum abhor it. So what might explain the disparity?

Many Republican candidates have included themselves using firearms in their campaign ads. From left to right, top to bottom: Kay Daly, Joni Ernst, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Eric Greitens, Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Will Brooke.

In the wake of the mass shooting in suburban Virginia last week that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and three others wounded, conservatives have been furiously waving the bloody shirt. With LEFT-WING HATE filling half the screen, Sean Hannity blamed Democrats, saying they dehumanize Republicans and paint them as monsters. Tucker Carlson claimed that some on the hard left support political violence because it could lead to the dissolution of a country they despise. Others have blamed seemingly anything even vaguely identified with liberalism for inciting the violencefrom Madonna to MSNBC to Shakespeare in the Park.1

This is all a truly remarkable example of projection. In the wake of the shooting, Erick Erickson wrote a piece titled, The Violence is Only Getting Started, as if three innocent people hadnt been brutally murdered by white supremacists in two separate incidents in just the past month.2

In the real world, since the end of the Vietnam era, the overwhelming majority of serious political violence not counting vandalism or punches thrown at protests, but violence with lethal intent has come from the fringes of the right. Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Centers Intelligence Project says that if you go back to the 1960s, you see all kinds of left-wing terrorism, but since then its been exceedingly rare. She notes that eco- and animal-rights extremists caused extensive property damage in the 1990s, but didnt target people.3

Meanwhile, says Beirich, right-wing domestic terrorism has been common throughout that period, going back to groups like to The Order, which assassinated [liberal talk-radio host] Alan Berg [in 1984] right through to today. Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation Leagues Center on Extremism, told NPR that when you look at murders committed by domestic extremists in the United States of all types, right-wing extremists are responsible for about 74 percent of those murders. The actual share is higher still, as violence committed by ultra-conservative Islamic supremacists isnt included in tallies of right-wing extremism.4

A 2015 survey of law enforcement agencies conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum and the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security found that the police rate anti-government extremists as a greater threat than reactionary Islamists. The authors wrote that right-wing violence appears consistently greater than violence by Muslim extremists in the United States since 9/11, according to multiple definitions in multiple datasets. According to the Department of Homeland Security, Sovereign Citizensfringe anti-governmentalistslaunched 24 violent attacks from 2010 through 2014, mostly against law enforcement. When Robert Dear shot and killed three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015, it became the latest in a series of bloody attacks on abortion providers dating back to Roe v. Wade in 1973. In the 30 years that followed that landmark decision, providers and clinics were targeted in more than 300 acts of violence, including arson, bombings and assassinations, according to a study by the Rand Corporation.5

But while the extreme right has held a near-monopoly on political violence since the 1980s, conservatives and Republicans are no more likely to say that using force to achieve ones political goals is justified than are liberals and Democrats. Thats the conclusion of a study conducted by Nathan Kalmoe, a professor of political communication at the University of Louisiana. In 2010, he asked respondents whether they agreed that various violent tactics were acceptable. Kalmoe found that fewer than 3 percent of the population strongly agreed that sometimes the only way to stop bad government is with physical force, or that some of the problems citizens have with government could be fixed with a few well-aimed bullets. He says that while there were tiny [partisan] variations on these specific items, they werent statistically significant on average.6

Ideology alone isnt a significant risk factor for violence. Theres a much stronger factor of individual personality traits that predispose people to be more aggressive in their everyday lives, Kalmoe says, and we see that playing out with people who engage in political violence. Mass shooters are often found to have had histories of domestic violence, and that was true for James Hodgkinson, the shooter who attacked the Congressional baseball practice in Virginia. Kalmoe says, we often see that violent individuals have a history of violence in their personal lives. People who are abusive, or who have run afoul of the law in other ways, are more likely to endorse violence.7

Political animosity is similarly bipartisan. According to Pew, roughly the same number of Republicans and Democratsaround halfsay they feel anger and fear toward the opposing party.8

Which raises an important question: If red and blue America fear and loathe one another equally, and a similar number believe that political violence is acceptable, then why is there so much more of it on the fringes of the right?9

Part of the answer lies in a clear difference between right and left: for the past forty years, Republicans, parroting the gun rights movement, have actively promoted the idea that firearms are a vital bulwark against government tyranny.10

13

Call it the Minutemen theory of gun rights. While the Second Amendment was framed to protect government-organized militias at a time when we had a very small standing army, the right has promoted the idea that its Americas first freedom, integral to defending our other rights, since the 1960s.14

Its become ubiquitous, from the militia movement that arose in the 1980s and has seen a resurgence in recent years, to the armed standoffs at the Bundy Ranch and the Malheur National Wildlife refuge. It animated Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, as well as the 2013 Los Angeles airport shooting spree, a 2014 mass shooting in Las Vegas that left two cops and one civilian dead and a number of less dramatic acts of violence.15

The belief that democratic government rests on the Second Amendment has become widespread among Americans; one poll found that about two-thirds believe that their constitutional right to own a gun was intended to ensure their freedom. But Robert Spitzer, a political scientist at SUNY Cortland and the author of several books on the politics of guns, says thats a modern idea. While theres a long tradition of some in America feeling deeply mistrustful of our government and there have been incidents throughout our history where people took up arms against the government the more specific idea that theres a right to rebel, or that somehow you can keep the government under control by taking up weapons, found its first serious expression in a law review article published in 1960. And the idea really took hold among a subset of Americans and a subset of gun owners, who argue to this day that this was part of the purpose of the second amendment. They talk about the Minutemen and the Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence. The idea really took hold in the 1970s and 1980s when the NRA itself began to use this same kind of rhetoric.16

Its also infused right-wing politics beyond the gun lobby. Watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots is a common theme in Tea Party circles, where the Gadsden flag dont tread on me! and loose talk of revolution blend seamlessly with mainstream anti-tax ideology and disdain for liberals. While a handful of Democrats competing in red states have run ads featuring them firing weapons, its become almost universal in Republican campaigns, where it not only marks a candidates opposition to gun safety legislation, but also signals that he or she is ready to wage war against the Washington establishment.17

War as a metaphor for politics isnt limited to the right, but it has become a constant in conservative discourse. The first shots of the second American civil war have already been fired, said Alex Jones earlier this month; We are in a clear-cut cultural civil war, according to Newt Gingrich; Pat Buchanan offered that were approaching something of a civil war, and said that its time for Trump to burn down the Bastille; You aint got any idea of the war thats raging outside the four walls of the church, religious right activist Dave Daubenmire told a crowd of anti-gay protesterslast weekend. Dont you understand whats going on? Dont you know its a war? Dont you know they want your children? Dont you understand that those same people singing Jesus loves you this I know want to kill us? Then theres the quasi-apocalyptic prepper mentality, which holds that were on the brink of social collapse so youd better buy gold and stock up on ammo for when the shit inevitably hits the fan.18

Nathan Kalmoe says that theres an important distinction to make between people who have more conventional views, versus people who have much more extreme views. He thinks that, whether on the left or the right, those who are at least somewhat close to the mainstream probably have a greater commitment to non-violent approaches to politics and are socialized into non-violent norms of how participation is supposed to work. But on the right, those lines have become blurred in recent years Glenn Becks goldbuggery, the ravings of the alt-right and the Minutemen theory of gun rights have all become features of the larger conservative landscape, even if theyre not quite mainstream.19

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Kalmoe says that rhetoric alone isnt the main cause of political violence, but violent language and vilifying opponents can nudge people in ways that make them think and act more aggressively in politics. He conducted an experiment that first measured subjects aggressive personality traits. Then he exposed them to two imaginary political ads, one that employed mildly violent political rhetoric and one that used neutral language, and he found that those subjects who had already displayed a penchant for aggressive behavior were far more likely to support political violence after being exposed to the violent rhetoric. So its not that violent rhetoric causes real-world violence so much as it can make people who behave aggressively in real-life more likely to endorse violence against political leaders.20

Liberals believe that mature institutions and the separation of powers are what keep tyranny at bay, not an AR-15. If James Hodgkinson looked around himself and saw a president who acts as if hes above the law and a Congress thats working in the dark to strip away health insurance from millions of people to finance tax cuts for the wealthy but is unwilling to perform its oversight duties, and decided that he would stand up to tyranny with an assault rifle, he would have taken a theme thats exceedingly common on the right to its bloody logical conclusion.21

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Why Does the Far Right Hold a Near-Monopoly on Political Violence? – The Nation.

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June 23, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

Anti-Sharia group offers donors a private tour and cocktails at Trump hotel – The Providence Journal

Amy Brittain, Abigail Hauslohner / The Washington Post

A controversial group that has held rallies against the spread of Islamic law is seeking to harness the allure of President Donald Trump’s brand as it raises money for its upcoming Washington conference.

For $10,000, sponsors of the ACT for America gathering can enjoy “pre-conference cocktails” and a “private tour of the historic Trump International Hotel” alongside the group’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, among other benefits, according to promotional materials published on the group’s website.

The walk through the hotel, located in the stately Old Post Office Pavilion a few blocks from the White House, is scheduled to take place before participants head to Capitol Hill to hold lawmakers’ “feet to the fire” on national security issues, according to plans posted on the group’s website. The organization, which critics have decried as anti-Muslim, has repeatedly claimed that Judeo-Christian culture is under “assault” in America and radical Islam is to blame.

The promotion represents a new twist in the story line of Trump’s luxury hotel, which has sparked several lawsuits and criticism from ethics experts alleging that the president is improperly profiting from foreign governments and other interest groups holding events at the property. Although groups typically pay to book meeting space and food service at the Trump hotel as they would at any event venue, ACT is touting the chance to enjoy access to a signature business owned by the president of the United States.

The October event offers ACT, which has drawn headlines this month for its “March Against Sharia” rallies across the country, a chance to associate itself with a president who campaigned on banning many Muslims from entering the United States and has recently seen his efforts to restrict travel from certain majority-Muslim countries tied up in legal challenges.

Officials from the Trump Organization and ACT declined to answer questions about the event, including whether ACT was paying the hotel for the tour and, if so, how much.

Christine Da Silva, a Trump Organization spokeswoman, pointed to “guest privacy” in declining to discuss the event but said that generally, “private tours about the history of the building are organized periodically.”

An ACT spokesman, David White, did not make Gabriel available for an interview, but in a statement to The Washington Post he defended the group’s work.

“ACT for America embraces the practice of all religions, including Islam,” White said. “We stand opposed to Sharia law, which is not a religion, but a barbaric code that executes LGBTQ people for their orientation, mutilates children, and subjugates individual rights.”

The group has invoked Trump in its efforts to lure donors. Gabriel, who has shared photos of herself at the White House and Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach club, wrote to donors after the election saying that ACT “has a direct line to Donald Trump, and has played a fundamental role in shaping his views.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Gabriel, whose legal name is Brigitte Tudor, describes herself on ACT’s website as “one of the leading terrorism experts in the world.” ACT says it has more than 750,000 members. Its most recent tax filings list about 17,000 volunteers.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization that tracks hate organizations, has labeled ACT an extremist group characterized by “wild hate speech demonizing Muslims” and a mission to advance anti-Muslim legislation around the country. Heidi Beirich, who runs SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said that Gabriel’s national prominence has recently surged.

“Her visibility is higher than it’s ever been,” Beirich said.

Last summer ACT announced that retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, who was advising then-candidate Trump on national security issues, had joined its board of advisers. In August, Flynn appeared at an ACT event in Dallas and referred to Islam as a “cancer,” according to a Dallas Morning News account of his speech. A person close to Flynn told The Washington Post that he is not involved with ACT and has no plans to attend the group’s conferences.

Flynn was fired this year as Trump’s national security adviser after reports that he misled Vice President Mike Pence on his meetings with Russian officials.

In March, Gabriel shared photos of her visit to the White House, where she was reported to have met with a staffer handling legislative affairs. On April 6, Gabriel posted a photo of a red carpet and said she was heading to dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Trump also dined at his luxury Palm Beach club that evening, around the time that U.S. forces launched a military strike in Syria.

Most of the events for ACT’s 2017 “United Against Terror” conference are scheduled to be held on Capitol Hill and at a hotel in Arlington. Katrina Pierson, who was a national spokeswoman for Trump’s campaign, is listed as one of the speakers.

Pierson, when reached by a Post reporter, declined to comment about the Trump hotel promotion or say if she endorses ACT’s beliefs.

“As someone who was targeted in the first ISIS inspired attack in the United States, I don’t feel it’s necessary to comment as to why I would share my story with others when asked in a personal capacity,” she told The Post, referring to her presence at a Muhammed cartoon exhibit in Texas that was attacked by gunmen in 2015.

“Political correctness and cowardness has no place in America,” the group says on promotional materials for the gathering. “We will not be silenced. We will not fail. We will ensure that America remains the brightest star shining on a hill over the world.”

The private tour of the Trump hotel is listed on ACT’s website as part of the “Chairman’s Circle” sponsorship package, which is the top tier available to donors. It also includes four conference registrations, a private lunch with Gabriel, and preferred seating for events.

The Trump International Hotel, which opened last fall, has emerged as one of Washington’s new attractions since Trump won the election.

Although he owns the hotel, he leases the historic building from the federal government. A clock tower remains open to the public through the National Park Service and is available through a separate entrance – giving visitors panoramic views of the city.

A wide array of special interest groups has chosen the hotel for events in the months since Trump has taken office. Prominent bookings have included a conference on U.S. and Turkish relations, a PAC fundraiser for funeral directors featuring former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich and an event highlighting forklift safety issues.

Last week, the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit claiming “unprecedented constitutional violations” by Trump, largely centered on allegations that he has refused to create a meaningful divide between his business and his presidency.

Activists and protesters have routinely made their presence known on the property. In May, a protester projected words in bright blue lights that read “Pay Trump Bribes Here” and pointed an arrow to the front door of the hotel. Last month, a Pennsylvania man was arrested for bring an AR-15 rifle, handgun and ammunition onto hotel grounds.

It is unclear what parts of the Trump International Hotel would be included on ACT’s advertised private tour. Throughout the hotel, there are signs that restrict guest access to certain hallways.

Secret Service spokesman Joseph Casey told The Post that the Trump Organization is generally responsible for securing the property. Casey said the Secret Service has a security presence there only if one of the agency’s protected people, such as Trump, Pence or their family members, visit the hotel.

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Anti-Sharia group offers donors a private tour and cocktails at Trump hotel – The Providence Journal

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June 21, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

Copy of Nooses showing up more in hate incidents around country – KIRO Seattle

by: JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Updated: Jun 17, 2017 – 6:41 PM

“We’ve seen a spike in the use of symbols of hate lately, and the noose is one more example,” said Denison University professor Jack Shuler, who has studied lynching and noose imagery in the U.S.

Two nooses were found at Smithsonian museums in the past week, one outside the Hirshhorn Museum last Friday and one inside the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on Wednesday.

Bananas tied to nooses were discovered at American University in Washington last month, while a noose was found at the nearby University of Maryland and a suburban middle school in Crofton, Maryland.

Two 19-year-old white men were arrested and charged with hate crimes for allegedly hanging the noose at the Crofton school. No arrests have been made in the other cases.

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This comes as other episodes of bigotry have shaken the country, including the spray-painting of a racial slur on the gate of basketball superstar LeBron James’ mansion in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

In Portland, Oregon, two white people were stabbed to death last Friday after they tried to stop a white man from shouting anti-Muslim slurs at two young women. One of the women was wearing a Muslim head covering, and both were black.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks bigotry, said it has seen an increase in hate incidents in the U.S. since the election of President Donald Trump. Between Election Day and Feb. 1, the SPLC said, it collected information on about 1,800 hate-related episodes from almost every state.

“In the past, it would be a couple hundred at most, and that would be high,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Loops of rope have long been used to intimidate African-Americans because they evoke lynchings. The nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative said there were 4,075 lynchings of blacks in the South to spread racial terror between 1877 and 1950.

For blacks, the noose is “comparable in the emotions that it evokes to that of the swastika for Jews,” the Anti-Defamation League said.

“I’ve seen in the last couple of months more instances of nooses being used to intimidate people,” said Shuler, author of “The Thirteenth Turn: A History of the Noose.” ”I think we’re in a situation right now where people who express hateful opinions are being allowed to speak freely and it’s become OK again.”

Beirich blames the rhetoric from Trump’s presidential campaign, during which he pledged to build a wall on the Mexican border and ban Muslim immigrants. Trump also claimed for a long time that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

“Putting those sentiments in public from a presidential campaign has sanctioned a lot of people,” Beirich said. “Things they might have kept inside themselves, that they have kept quiet about, have burst out.”

The noose didn’t stop some visitors to the black history museum.

Stephen Middleton, who brought his extended family to the museum Thursday from Georgia and Maryland, said he wasn’t surprised someone targeted the museum. But “we’re not going to be deterred, we’re not going to be wavered and not going to be intimidated,” he said.

___

Jesse J. Holland covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press in Washington. Contact him at jholland@ap.org, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jessejholland or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jessejholland

2017 Cox Media Group.

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Feds: Neo-Nazi plot targeted civilians, nukes and synagogues – News Talk Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Federal prosecutors say a neo-Nazi arrested after agents found bomb-making materials in his Florida apartment while investigating the slayings of his two roommates planned to use the explosives to harm civilians, nuclear facilities and synagogues.

Court documents filed Monday say a third roommate arrested in the killings told authorities that 21-year-old Brandon Russell had been targeting the sites.

The murder suspect, Devon Arthurs, was arrested last month after telling police he fatally shot 22-year-old Jeremy Himmelman and 18-year-old Andrew Oneschuk because they were neo-Nazis who disrespected his recent conversion to Islam.

Arthurs told police Russell was not involved in the shootings, but that he was planning a bombing.

The documents also state that police found two rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a skull mask in Russells car.

TAMPA (AP) Investigators found white supremacist propaganda, bomb-making materials and a framed photograph of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh at a Florida apartment where a teenager killed two roommates who had once shared his neo-Nazi beliefs before he converted to Islam, police and the FBI said.

Devon Arthurs, 18, led police to the two bodies inside his Tampa apartment last Friday, saying he killed them after they showed disrespect for his new faith, according to police and FBI reports released Monday.

A fourth roommate, a member of the Florida National Guard, was arrested on charges related to the alleged discovery of bomb-making materials.

The investigation began unfolding Friday, when Arthurs held two customers and an employee hostage at gunpoint at a Tampa smoke shop, police said.

Arthurs said he converted to Islam and was upset about American bombings in Muslim countries, among other issues, according to a Tampa police report. He is being charged with two counts of first-degree murder and other charges, and court records did not list an attorney for him.

Officers talked Arthurs into letting the hostages go and dropping his weapon, and took him into custody, according to officials. Police said Arthurs started talking about killing two people, and then he directed them to a condominium complex where the four roommates shared an apartment.

When they arrived at the apartment the fourth roommate, Brandon Russell, was crying and standing outside the apartments front door in his military uniform. He had just finished duty with the Florida National Guard.

Inside lay the bodies of 22-year-old Jeremy Himmelman and 18-year-old Andrew Oneschuk. Both had been shot.

Investigators also found a cooler filled with bomb-making material, two radioactive substances and the Nazi propaganda, according to the FBI. Federal agents arrested Russell, 21, on Saturday on charges related to the explosives.

The FBI said Russell admitted to his neo-Nazi beliefs and said he was a member of a group called Atomwaffen, which is German for atomic weapon.

At first, Russell told agents he kept the explosives from his days in an engineering club at the University of South Florida in 2013, and that he used the substances to boost homemade rockets. The agents wrote that the substance found was too energetic and volatile for these types of uses.

Russell has been charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device and unlawful storage of explosive material. Court records did not list an attorney for him.

Andrew Auernheimer, a notorious computer hacker and internet troll, wrote a post about the killings for The Daily Stormer, a leading neo-Nazi website.

Auernheimer, known online as weev, said in Sundays post that he knew the shooting suspect and both of the shooting victims. He said he banned Arthurs from The Daily Stormers Discord server, an online forum, for posting Muslim terrorist propaganda earlier this year.

He came in to convert people to Islam, Auernheimer said during a telephone interview Monday. It didnt work out very well for him.

Auernheimer described Himmelman and Oneschuk as friends of friends and said they belonged to the Atomwaffen group.

Atomwaffen are a bunch of good dudes. Theyve posted tons of fliers with absolutely killer graphics at tons of universities over the years. They generally have a lot of fun and party, he wrote.

Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Centers Intelligence Project, said the law center had seen recent news reports on Atomwaffen members posting neo-Nazi fliers on college campuses. But the SPLC hadnt examined the groups membership or the ins and outs of the organization before Fridays shooting.

Once again, we see how violent these people are, she said. In the neo-Nazi movement, weve seen a long string of bombers and murderers.

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Pot War, Muslim Travel Ban, Russia Probe: Jeff Sessions In The Middle Of Troubled Trump Issues – Benzinga

Embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the first U.S. senator to endorse President Donald Trumps candidacy, finds himself swept up in virtually every issue that has confounded the administrations efforts to advance any sort of an agenda.

Front and center is his role in whether the Trump team conspired with Russian agents to fix the November election, his subsequent recusal in March from the federal investigation into those ties and whether he broke his own promise to stay out of the affair.

Sessions is supposed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russia Tuesday, but the openness of the session is undecided.

Here are a few things to know about Sessions:

As a Republican senator from Alabama, he went out on a limb and endorsed Trump in February of 2016, when few people thought the real estate mogul had chance, and he was rewarded for his loyalty with the AGs job. Its been downhill ever since.

Last week, former FBI Director James Comey, without being specific, said he had information about Sessions related to Russia that he termed problematic to the investigation.

It was a tantalizing clue that there may be other complicating issues connecting the attorney general to the ongoing investigation, Sen. Chris Coons (DDel.) told Politico.

Comey also said he asked Sessions, his boss, not to leave him alone with Trump after an awkward meeting in February, when Comey alleged that Trump asked him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynns visits and meetings with pro-Kremlin Russians.

Sessions had also said under oath during his confirmation hearing that he had not had contact with the Russians during the election campaign, then admitted it in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee when reports surfaced he indeed had meetings. It was then that Sessions recused himself.

Sessions played a key role in Trumps two executive orders seeking to ban Muslims from first seven, then six nations. His comments about Muslims played a part in the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, refusing to enforce the order.

Yellen was subsequently fired by Trump in January. Both the first and second bans were blocked by federal courts, and the Muslim prohibition now appears headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sessions is also strongly opposed to guest worker visas that allow immigrants to work temporarily in the United States.

Sessions was named head of the Trump campaigns national security advisory committee in March 2016 and was pivotal to Trump naming Flynn as national security advisor, even though it was known that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about meeting with the Russians and discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia for the 2014 invasion of neighbor Ukraine.

Sessions was also instrumental in the naming of Pence as Trumps running mate, and Pence subsequently led the Trump presidential transition team.

Sessions has a history of making racially inflammatory remarks, and his nomination to a federal judgeship in 1986 was denied because of the accusations.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Heidi Beirich told the Washington Post that Sessions has been guilty of using hate speech, and that his presence close to Trump a tragedy for American politics.

Sessions has vowed to wage war on the increasing number of states that have passed marijuana laws allowing it for medicinal and/or recreational use. However, a bipartisan budget committee has rejected Session’s attempts to get money for the effort.

I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store, Sessions said March 15, comparing it to heroin.

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‘Holocaust Revisionist’ Organization Upset At Being Labeled A ‘Hate Group’ – Forward

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A self-described group of Holocaust revisionists has taken issue with being designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Deir Yessin Remembered, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., says that its mission is to spread awareness about a 1948 massacre by Jewish militias that, by some estimates, killed more than 100 Arab villagers. However, the organizations activities have also expanded to include Holocaust denial.

Heidi Beirich, director of SPLCs Intelligence Project, said Deir Yassin Remembered was added to the centers lists of hate groups for 2017 due to the groups support of Holocaust deniers and its questioning of historically accurate facts about the Holocaust, the Michigan news website MLive.com reported on Friday.

Indeed, one blog post on Deir Yessin Remembereds website takes issue with the existence of the Final Solution, the existence of gas chambers, and the number of Jews killed in concentration camps.

The SPLCs annual list of hate groups includes 917 groups across the country this year, 28 of which are in Michigan.

Contact Jesse Bernstein at bernstein@forward.com or on Twitter @__jbernstein.

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When Hatred Is a Joke – The Atlantic

On Sunday, the president of the United States tweeted out a video. The grainy clip featured old footage repurposed for a new world: It depicted a pre-White House Donald Trump engaged in a bit of theatrical violence that played out during a 2007 WrestleMania event. In it, the pre-president, clad in a suit, body-slammed and then repeatedly punched another mana man made anonymous because his face, in the edited video, had been obscured with the familiar logo of the Cable News Network. The tweet was, in one sense, yet another volley in the White Houses long-running battle against the American mediaone that has in recent days noticeably ratcheted up. And it was yet another example of the presidents seemingly gladiatorial approach to the world and its doings: a Darwinian environment where lifes inherent rivalries resolve themselves in violence. But the tweet was also something much simpler than any of that: It was, on the most basic level, a joke. The video was absurd on its (logo-obscured) face. The president, fighting CNN! Or, rather, FNN, because fake news! Trump had sent out, essentially, a nationwide wink. So the tweet took Trumps longstanding animosity toward the news media in general and CNN in particular and distilled it down to something relatable and recognizable and, in theory, unobjectionable: laughter. It washed hatred over with humor. Are We Having Too Much Fun? The WrestleMania-ed tweet in that sense was both extremely bizarrean unorthodox way for a sitting president to express himself, The New York Times dutifully summed it upand completely at home in the media environment of the present moment. Jokes, after all, have long been used to soften political point-making: There they are at political protests, and there they are on late-night television, shaping Americans knowledge of the political debates whose outcomes will determine our collective future. And hatred, too, has eagerly adopted the guise of the joke to spread its messaging. Richard Spencer, the white nationalist, has a sly sense of irony. So does 4chan. This is a time in which the most recognizable symbol of white supremacy in American culture is a loopy-grinned cartoon frog. What happens, though, when hatred renders so easily as a joke? And what happens, in particular, when the president of the United States uses his vast platform not only to celebrate violence, but also to suggest that violence is funny? As the writer Wajahat Ali noted at a recent panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival, co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, Trump, as the commander in chief, uses the pulpit and the platform of the office to tweet hate. The president eschews the one-America logic that has guided the communications strategies of so many past presidenciesthe language that aims to unify the nation in its measured appeals to the mass publicand uses his platform instead both to pick fights and to maintain the ones he has started. Trump has put the bully in bully pulpit. Its a significant shiftnot merely because presidential angry-tweets have, in their reach, the potential to incite violence, and not merely because they are, as CNN put it in a statement about the WrestleMania video, notably juvenile. Tweets like that video, and the many others that have preceded it, also normalize hatred itself. They suggest a zero-sum world: a world of friends and enemies, a world of winners and losers, a world in which struggle is not the exception, but, by pugilistic necessity, the rule. The president, with each 140-character message, takes that old, optimistic bromidethere is more that connects us, as Americans, than divides usand flips it. He suggests that division and tribalism and fear and hatred will guide Americas politics and its future. Whats even more troubling: He might have reason to make that suggestion. Grainy video of a sucker-punching president neatly captures a shift that has transpired slowly and then mind-bogglingly quickly in recent years: Hatred has come into the mainstream. Fear and its common companion, animositydirected toward immigrants, toward minorities, toward women, toward the news mediaare becoming more and more normalized in our cultural conversations. They are living less and less at the margins of American life. Hatred, of course, has always been part of that life. As Heidi Beirich, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, pointed out on the same panel, the country was obviously white supremacist from its founding. In recent years, however, Ali noted, hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan (the SPLC currently counts 54 such groups) existed for the most part at the outskirts of society. They hated, as is their constitutional right, but they were judged for it and ostracized for it by the broader body of American politics. Their ideas were, in the Overton sense, unthinkable. The window of acceptability was closed to them. No longer, Ali suggested. The rise of social media has allowed hatred to be both concretizedsharable tracts, meme-able images, Pepeand, then, amplified. Digital capabilities have meant, as well, that haters can find likeminded people, across the distance. Which has meant in turn that hatred has become empowered as never before. Recent months have seen acts of hate directed against transgender women, Jews, African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, Hindu Americans, Sikh Americans, and others. Acts of anti-semitism, a recent study from the Anti-Defamation League found, spiked 86 percent during the first months of 2017an increase from what had already been a surge of such incidents the previous year. Into that environment comes a president who regularly makes light of hatredwho implies, one tweet at a time, that hostility is normal and, worse, kind of funny. When the president mean-tweets about Mika Brzezinski, or about Frank Luntz, or about CNN, he is doing it, it seems, out of a sense of real rage, but also because he assumes that animosity itself is entertaining. Slob. Loser. Failing. Psycho. The insults and epithets reduce people to the thing the president best understands: media brands. They treat humans, collectively, as actors in an epic war story in which Trump will always bemust always bethe victor. But they also assume that even war stories can be funny, and that violence, when presented with the right kind of wink, can be a great source of humor. Calm down, the presidents tweets say. Its all just a joke.

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‘White Terrorism’ and Donald Trump: Why Has the President Slashed the Grant for Group Combating KKK? – Newsweek

The Trump administration has slashed funding for a group devoted to tackling radical white extremists. The Department for Homeland Security (DHS)announced Fridaythat $400,000 in federal funding was being withdrawn from Chicago-based Life After Hate, one of the few U.S. groups dedicated to combating white nationalism.The group was awarded the grant in the closing days of the Obama administration. Neo Nazis (National Socialist Movement) take part in a Ku Klux Klan demonstration at the state house building on July 18, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. John Moore/Getty Images Run by a former extremistskinhead, the group helps members of hate groups including the KKK and Neo-Nazi gangs to build a life beyond racist nationalism. Daily Emails and Alerts- Get the best of Newsweek delivered to your inbox The co-founder of Life After Hate, Christian Picciolini, told the Associated Press, “While it’s disappointing that DHS broke its promise to us by changing the rules to the grant after we’d already won it, it is more alarming that the current administration is refusing to acknowledge that white nationalist extremists are a major domestic terrorist threat.” Oren Siegel, director of the Center on Extremism at the Anti-Defamation League criticized the move in a tweet,linkingto a Time article in which he accusedthe administration of underestimating the threat posed by far-right terrorists. The new list of grant recipients doesn’t include a single organization dedicated to fighting far-right extremism but several that are focused oncountering Islamic extremism. Reuters reported in February that administration officials were debating changing the name of the Countering Violent Extremism program to Countering Islamic Extremism or Countering Radical Islamic Extremism. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) claims there has been a significant spike in hate crimes since Trump launched his bid to become president in 2015, when he received considerable backing from the alt-righta loose collection of white nationalist and anti-establishment conservatives. Heidi Beirich , director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a statement toNewsweek:The Trump administration doesn t take seriously the threat from the radical right.” Beirich warned that the U.S. would pay a high price for “wishing away” a movement that, according to the Government Accountability Office, was responsible for 73 percent of deadly terrorist attacks since Sept. 11 2001. The administration wants Americans to believe the only threat that exists to our democratic way of life comes from Islamist-inspired terror. But the facts and history of our country disprove that utterly. This is a dangerous approach. Earlierin June, a white nationalist allegedly killed two men who stepped in to defend a woman in a train near Portland being subjected to Islamophobic abuse. In a statement to Mother Jones, the DHL denied it was cutting funding for Life After Hate because of its opposition to the far-right. DHS used its discretion…when reviewing each applicant said DHS spokeswoman Lucy Martinez, considering different factors in awarding the grants. The program has not been altered to focus on any one type of violent extremism, she added.

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Google Search Is Doing Irreparable Harm To Muslims – HuffPost

Google asks its employees to Do the right thing. At least, thats what its revised 2015 motto states in an upgrade from the original company maxim, Dont be evil. But when a user searches Google for information on Islam, the results often link to propaganda, anti-Muslim hate and outright lies. The algorithm for the worlds largest search engine is definitely not doing the right thing especially when it comes to the first page of results, where most users stop their searches. Basic searches for words like Muslim and Islam return reasonable results with links to reputable sites. But more specific terms, like sharia, jihad or taqiyya often co-opted by white supremacists return links to Islamophobic sites filled with misinformation. The same thing happens with the autofill function. If a user types in does islam, the first suggestion that pops up to complete the query is does islam permit terrorism. Another egregious example occurs when a user inputsdo muslim. The autofill results include do muslim women need saving. There are endless possibilities for misinformation, and the consequences are disturbing. Google Ninety percent of people dont make it past the first page, Heidi Beirich, a project director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told HuffPost. Its miseducating millions, if not billions of people on many subjects. Indeed, there is a distinct correlation between anti-Muslim searches and anti-Muslim hate crimes, according to researchers. The result? At the extreme end of the spectrum, white supremacists commit heinous acts of violence, like in Portland, Oregonand Tulsa, Oklahoma. But more commonly and perhaps more nefariously, such searches normalize a culture of fear, leading to the harassment ofhijab-wearing teenagers and 7-Eleven store clerks. Google But Omar Suleiman, a Muslim American imam from Dallas and founder of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, has a plan to take on Google. Suleiman and his team have been publishing reports on controversial topics in Islam like jihad in the hopes of influencing the search algorithm. His goal is to flood the search results with accurate information on Islam. Suleiman, 30, realized a few years ago that there was a dire need for factual information during the rise of the self-described Islamic State, when he noticed how right-wing groups were equating ISISs language with the beliefs of the worlds entire Muslim population. One of Suleimans most popular reports is on the Islamic idea of taqiyya, a term Islamophobes and white supremacists have appropriated and exploited to accuseMuslims of lying to non-Muslims for a sinister objectiveliketaking over the world. Suleiman explains in the reportthattaqiyya is actually a centuries-old concept that permits a Muslim to conceal his or her faith when under the threat of persecution. Applied more commonly by the minority Shia sect of Islam, taqiyya is rarely, if not ever, applicable to modern-day Muslims. Because it is an Arabic word, Islamophobes use the word taqiyya solely to instill fear, Suleiman told HuffPost. Its a foreign-sounding word from a religion thats perceived as foreign, and it sends chills down the spines of well-meaning but woefully misinformed patriotic Americans wary of those turban-wearing bearded foreigners, right? What could possibly go wrong? Suleiman wrote in the report. The Yaqeen Institute has also published reports on honor killings, stoningand jihad, all topics Islamophobes constantly twist to degrade Islam and Muslims. Allison V. Smith for HuffPost But taking on the internet is not easy, and may not even be possible. Suleimans report on taqiyya doesnt come up until the second page of Google search.The first link that appears on the first page, an article from meforum.org, may appear legitimate, but the Middle East Forum is actually an Islamophobic think tank and website that promotesAmerican interests in the Middle East and protects Western values from Middle Eastern threats.TheReligionOfPeace.com and Billionbibles.org are other anti-Muslim websites whose articles appear on the first page. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented a similar andarguably worse problem when users search for the term sharia. Factual content about Islam in basic searches often gets choked off by anti-Muslim propaganda, writes Alex Amend, digital media director at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Allison V. Smith for HuffPost However, there is precedent for Google to make a change. The company removed the are Jews evil autofill suggestion late last year, and apologized for mistakenly tagging African-Americans as gorillasin the search feature of the Google photos app. Were appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened, a company spokeswoman said at the time. There is still clearly a lot of work to do with automatic image labeling, and were looking at how we can prevent these types of mistakes from happening in the future. Earlier this year, YouTube, which is owned by Google, announced a new set of policies that target offensive content that doesnt necessarily violate the companys guidelines. The policy includes burying the videos and not attaching them to any advertising. Videos that promote the subjugation of religions or races without outright inciting violence, such as by targeting Islam, would be covered by this policy. Beirich says Googles actions so far are not enough. Googles algorithm is seriously flawed and its a scary thing, because millions of people around the world are using it, she said. Its a fundamental problem with how search works. Beirich points to the case of white supremacist Dylann Roof, who went from being someone who was not raised in a racist home to someone so steeped in white supremacist propaganda that he murdered nine African-Americans during a Bible study. We are teaching [people] reasons to hate black people, Jews, Muslims and [other] minorities, Beirich said. The SPLC has brought its concerns to Google, but says it has yet to see substantial action. A Google spokeswoman told HuffPost she had nothing to add when asked about the harmful search results. Despite the odds stacked against Suleiman, he is hopeful. He is also aware that Yaqeen has nothing close to the$57 million networkfueling Islamophobia, both online and offline, in the United States. The prize of Islamophobes is the hearts and minds of people, Suleiman said. What we need to continue to do is to discredit these people and their agendas. America does not do a good job of tracking incidents of hate and bias. We need your help to create a database of such incidents across the country, so we all know whats going on.Tell us your story. Allison V Smith for HuffPost

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Why Does the Far Right Hold a Near-Monopoly on Political Violence? – The Nation.

Studies show that most people across the political spectrum abhor it. So what might explain the disparity? Many Republican candidates have included themselves using firearms in their campaign ads. From left to right, top to bottom: Kay Daly, Joni Ernst, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Eric Greitens, Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Will Brooke. In the wake of the mass shooting in suburban Virginia last week that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and three others wounded, conservatives have been furiously waving the bloody shirt. With LEFT-WING HATE filling half the screen, Sean Hannity blamed Democrats, saying they dehumanize Republicans and paint them as monsters. Tucker Carlson claimed that some on the hard left support political violence because it could lead to the dissolution of a country they despise. Others have blamed seemingly anything even vaguely identified with liberalism for inciting the violencefrom Madonna to MSNBC to Shakespeare in the Park.1 This is all a truly remarkable example of projection. In the wake of the shooting, Erick Erickson wrote a piece titled, The Violence is Only Getting Started, as if three innocent people hadnt been brutally murdered by white supremacists in two separate incidents in just the past month.2 In the real world, since the end of the Vietnam era, the overwhelming majority of serious political violence not counting vandalism or punches thrown at protests, but violence with lethal intent has come from the fringes of the right. Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Centers Intelligence Project says that if you go back to the 1960s, you see all kinds of left-wing terrorism, but since then its been exceedingly rare. She notes that eco- and animal-rights extremists caused extensive property damage in the 1990s, but didnt target people.3 Meanwhile, says Beirich, right-wing domestic terrorism has been common throughout that period, going back to groups like to The Order, which assassinated [liberal talk-radio host] Alan Berg [in 1984] right through to today. Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation Leagues Center on Extremism, told NPR that when you look at murders committed by domestic extremists in the United States of all types, right-wing extremists are responsible for about 74 percent of those murders. The actual share is higher still, as violence committed by ultra-conservative Islamic supremacists isnt included in tallies of right-wing extremism.4 A 2015 survey of law enforcement agencies conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum and the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security found that the police rate anti-government extremists as a greater threat than reactionary Islamists. The authors wrote that right-wing violence appears consistently greater than violence by Muslim extremists in the United States since 9/11, according to multiple definitions in multiple datasets. According to the Department of Homeland Security, Sovereign Citizensfringe anti-governmentalistslaunched 24 violent attacks from 2010 through 2014, mostly against law enforcement. When Robert Dear shot and killed three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015, it became the latest in a series of bloody attacks on abortion providers dating back to Roe v. Wade in 1973. In the 30 years that followed that landmark decision, providers and clinics were targeted in more than 300 acts of violence, including arson, bombings and assassinations, according to a study by the Rand Corporation.5 But while the extreme right has held a near-monopoly on political violence since the 1980s, conservatives and Republicans are no more likely to say that using force to achieve ones political goals is justified than are liberals and Democrats. Thats the conclusion of a study conducted by Nathan Kalmoe, a professor of political communication at the University of Louisiana. In 2010, he asked respondents whether they agreed that various violent tactics were acceptable. Kalmoe found that fewer than 3 percent of the population strongly agreed that sometimes the only way to stop bad government is with physical force, or that some of the problems citizens have with government could be fixed with a few well-aimed bullets. He says that while there were tiny [partisan] variations on these specific items, they werent statistically significant on average.6 Ideology alone isnt a significant risk factor for violence. Theres a much stronger factor of individual personality traits that predispose people to be more aggressive in their everyday lives, Kalmoe says, and we see that playing out with people who engage in political violence. Mass shooters are often found to have had histories of domestic violence, and that was true for James Hodgkinson, the shooter who attacked the Congressional baseball practice in Virginia. Kalmoe says, we often see that violent individuals have a history of violence in their personal lives. People who are abusive, or who have run afoul of the law in other ways, are more likely to endorse violence.7 Political animosity is similarly bipartisan. According to Pew, roughly the same number of Republicans and Democratsaround halfsay they feel anger and fear toward the opposing party.8 Which raises an important question: If red and blue America fear and loathe one another equally, and a similar number believe that political violence is acceptable, then why is there so much more of it on the fringes of the right?9 Part of the answer lies in a clear difference between right and left: for the past forty years, Republicans, parroting the gun rights movement, have actively promoted the idea that firearms are a vital bulwark against government tyranny.10 13 Call it the Minutemen theory of gun rights. While the Second Amendment was framed to protect government-organized militias at a time when we had a very small standing army, the right has promoted the idea that its Americas first freedom, integral to defending our other rights, since the 1960s.14 Its become ubiquitous, from the militia movement that arose in the 1980s and has seen a resurgence in recent years, to the armed standoffs at the Bundy Ranch and the Malheur National Wildlife refuge. It animated Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, as well as the 2013 Los Angeles airport shooting spree, a 2014 mass shooting in Las Vegas that left two cops and one civilian dead and a number of less dramatic acts of violence.15 The belief that democratic government rests on the Second Amendment has become widespread among Americans; one poll found that about two-thirds believe that their constitutional right to own a gun was intended to ensure their freedom. But Robert Spitzer, a political scientist at SUNY Cortland and the author of several books on the politics of guns, says thats a modern idea. While theres a long tradition of some in America feeling deeply mistrustful of our government and there have been incidents throughout our history where people took up arms against the government the more specific idea that theres a right to rebel, or that somehow you can keep the government under control by taking up weapons, found its first serious expression in a law review article published in 1960. And the idea really took hold among a subset of Americans and a subset of gun owners, who argue to this day that this was part of the purpose of the second amendment. They talk about the Minutemen and the Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence. The idea really took hold in the 1970s and 1980s when the NRA itself began to use this same kind of rhetoric.16 Its also infused right-wing politics beyond the gun lobby. Watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots is a common theme in Tea Party circles, where the Gadsden flag dont tread on me! and loose talk of revolution blend seamlessly with mainstream anti-tax ideology and disdain for liberals. While a handful of Democrats competing in red states have run ads featuring them firing weapons, its become almost universal in Republican campaigns, where it not only marks a candidates opposition to gun safety legislation, but also signals that he or she is ready to wage war against the Washington establishment.17 War as a metaphor for politics isnt limited to the right, but it has become a constant in conservative discourse. The first shots of the second American civil war have already been fired, said Alex Jones earlier this month; We are in a clear-cut cultural civil war, according to Newt Gingrich; Pat Buchanan offered that were approaching something of a civil war, and said that its time for Trump to burn down the Bastille; You aint got any idea of the war thats raging outside the four walls of the church, religious right activist Dave Daubenmire told a crowd of anti-gay protesterslast weekend. Dont you understand whats going on? Dont you know its a war? Dont you know they want your children? Dont you understand that those same people singing Jesus loves you this I know want to kill us? Then theres the quasi-apocalyptic prepper mentality, which holds that were on the brink of social collapse so youd better buy gold and stock up on ammo for when the shit inevitably hits the fan.18 Nathan Kalmoe says that theres an important distinction to make between people who have more conventional views, versus people who have much more extreme views. He thinks that, whether on the left or the right, those who are at least somewhat close to the mainstream probably have a greater commitment to non-violent approaches to politics and are socialized into non-violent norms of how participation is supposed to work. But on the right, those lines have become blurred in recent years Glenn Becks goldbuggery, the ravings of the alt-right and the Minutemen theory of gun rights have all become features of the larger conservative landscape, even if theyre not quite mainstream.19 The Nation is reader-supported. Donate today to fund more reporting like this. Kalmoe says that rhetoric alone isnt the main cause of political violence, but violent language and vilifying opponents can nudge people in ways that make them think and act more aggressively in politics. He conducted an experiment that first measured subjects aggressive personality traits. Then he exposed them to two imaginary political ads, one that employed mildly violent political rhetoric and one that used neutral language, and he found that those subjects who had already displayed a penchant for aggressive behavior were far more likely to support political violence after being exposed to the violent rhetoric. So its not that violent rhetoric causes real-world violence so much as it can make people who behave aggressively in real-life more likely to endorse violence against political leaders.20 Liberals believe that mature institutions and the separation of powers are what keep tyranny at bay, not an AR-15. If James Hodgkinson looked around himself and saw a president who acts as if hes above the law and a Congress thats working in the dark to strip away health insurance from millions of people to finance tax cuts for the wealthy but is unwilling to perform its oversight duties, and decided that he would stand up to tyranny with an assault rifle, he would have taken a theme thats exceedingly common on the right to its bloody logical conclusion.21

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June 23, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

Anti-Sharia group offers donors a private tour and cocktails at Trump hotel – The Providence Journal

Amy Brittain, Abigail Hauslohner / The Washington Post A controversial group that has held rallies against the spread of Islamic law is seeking to harness the allure of President Donald Trump’s brand as it raises money for its upcoming Washington conference. For $10,000, sponsors of the ACT for America gathering can enjoy “pre-conference cocktails” and a “private tour of the historic Trump International Hotel” alongside the group’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, among other benefits, according to promotional materials published on the group’s website. The walk through the hotel, located in the stately Old Post Office Pavilion a few blocks from the White House, is scheduled to take place before participants head to Capitol Hill to hold lawmakers’ “feet to the fire” on national security issues, according to plans posted on the group’s website. The organization, which critics have decried as anti-Muslim, has repeatedly claimed that Judeo-Christian culture is under “assault” in America and radical Islam is to blame. The promotion represents a new twist in the story line of Trump’s luxury hotel, which has sparked several lawsuits and criticism from ethics experts alleging that the president is improperly profiting from foreign governments and other interest groups holding events at the property. Although groups typically pay to book meeting space and food service at the Trump hotel as they would at any event venue, ACT is touting the chance to enjoy access to a signature business owned by the president of the United States. The October event offers ACT, which has drawn headlines this month for its “March Against Sharia” rallies across the country, a chance to associate itself with a president who campaigned on banning many Muslims from entering the United States and has recently seen his efforts to restrict travel from certain majority-Muslim countries tied up in legal challenges. Officials from the Trump Organization and ACT declined to answer questions about the event, including whether ACT was paying the hotel for the tour and, if so, how much. Christine Da Silva, a Trump Organization spokeswoman, pointed to “guest privacy” in declining to discuss the event but said that generally, “private tours about the history of the building are organized periodically.” An ACT spokesman, David White, did not make Gabriel available for an interview, but in a statement to The Washington Post he defended the group’s work. “ACT for America embraces the practice of all religions, including Islam,” White said. “We stand opposed to Sharia law, which is not a religion, but a barbaric code that executes LGBTQ people for their orientation, mutilates children, and subjugates individual rights.” The group has invoked Trump in its efforts to lure donors. Gabriel, who has shared photos of herself at the White House and Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach club, wrote to donors after the election saying that ACT “has a direct line to Donald Trump, and has played a fundamental role in shaping his views.” The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Gabriel, whose legal name is Brigitte Tudor, describes herself on ACT’s website as “one of the leading terrorism experts in the world.” ACT says it has more than 750,000 members. Its most recent tax filings list about 17,000 volunteers. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization that tracks hate organizations, has labeled ACT an extremist group characterized by “wild hate speech demonizing Muslims” and a mission to advance anti-Muslim legislation around the country. Heidi Beirich, who runs SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said that Gabriel’s national prominence has recently surged. “Her visibility is higher than it’s ever been,” Beirich said. Last summer ACT announced that retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, who was advising then-candidate Trump on national security issues, had joined its board of advisers. In August, Flynn appeared at an ACT event in Dallas and referred to Islam as a “cancer,” according to a Dallas Morning News account of his speech. A person close to Flynn told The Washington Post that he is not involved with ACT and has no plans to attend the group’s conferences. Flynn was fired this year as Trump’s national security adviser after reports that he misled Vice President Mike Pence on his meetings with Russian officials. In March, Gabriel shared photos of her visit to the White House, where she was reported to have met with a staffer handling legislative affairs. On April 6, Gabriel posted a photo of a red carpet and said she was heading to dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Trump also dined at his luxury Palm Beach club that evening, around the time that U.S. forces launched a military strike in Syria. Most of the events for ACT’s 2017 “United Against Terror” conference are scheduled to be held on Capitol Hill and at a hotel in Arlington. Katrina Pierson, who was a national spokeswoman for Trump’s campaign, is listed as one of the speakers. Pierson, when reached by a Post reporter, declined to comment about the Trump hotel promotion or say if she endorses ACT’s beliefs. “As someone who was targeted in the first ISIS inspired attack in the United States, I don’t feel it’s necessary to comment as to why I would share my story with others when asked in a personal capacity,” she told The Post, referring to her presence at a Muhammed cartoon exhibit in Texas that was attacked by gunmen in 2015. “Political correctness and cowardness has no place in America,” the group says on promotional materials for the gathering. “We will not be silenced. We will not fail. We will ensure that America remains the brightest star shining on a hill over the world.” The private tour of the Trump hotel is listed on ACT’s website as part of the “Chairman’s Circle” sponsorship package, which is the top tier available to donors. It also includes four conference registrations, a private lunch with Gabriel, and preferred seating for events. The Trump International Hotel, which opened last fall, has emerged as one of Washington’s new attractions since Trump won the election. Although he owns the hotel, he leases the historic building from the federal government. A clock tower remains open to the public through the National Park Service and is available through a separate entrance – giving visitors panoramic views of the city. A wide array of special interest groups has chosen the hotel for events in the months since Trump has taken office. Prominent bookings have included a conference on U.S. and Turkish relations, a PAC fundraiser for funeral directors featuring former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich and an event highlighting forklift safety issues. Last week, the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit claiming “unprecedented constitutional violations” by Trump, largely centered on allegations that he has refused to create a meaningful divide between his business and his presidency. Activists and protesters have routinely made their presence known on the property. In May, a protester projected words in bright blue lights that read “Pay Trump Bribes Here” and pointed an arrow to the front door of the hotel. Last month, a Pennsylvania man was arrested for bring an AR-15 rifle, handgun and ammunition onto hotel grounds. It is unclear what parts of the Trump International Hotel would be included on ACT’s advertised private tour. Throughout the hotel, there are signs that restrict guest access to certain hallways. Secret Service spokesman Joseph Casey told The Post that the Trump Organization is generally responsible for securing the property. Casey said the Secret Service has a security presence there only if one of the agency’s protected people, such as Trump, Pence or their family members, visit the hotel.

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June 21, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

Copy of Nooses showing up more in hate incidents around country – KIRO Seattle

by: JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Updated: Jun 17, 2017 – 6:41 PM “We’ve seen a spike in the use of symbols of hate lately, and the noose is one more example,” said Denison University professor Jack Shuler, who has studied lynching and noose imagery in the U.S. Two nooses were found at Smithsonian museums in the past week, one outside the Hirshhorn Museum last Friday and one inside the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on Wednesday. Bananas tied to nooses were discovered at American University in Washington last month, while a noose was found at the nearby University of Maryland and a suburban middle school in Crofton, Maryland. Two 19-year-old white men were arrested and charged with hate crimes for allegedly hanging the noose at the Crofton school. No arrests have been made in the other cases. TRENDING NOW: Bill Cosbys wife releases fiery statement after trial. Read it here. Couple trapped in London fire spent final moments calling parents Unseen photos of Mt. St. Helens eruption discovered in forgotten camera at Goodwill. (See them here) VIDEO: Coconut Oil Isnt Actually Good For You, The American Heart Association Says DOWNLOAD OUR FREE NEWS APP This comes as other episodes of bigotry have shaken the country, including the spray-painting of a racial slur on the gate of basketball superstar LeBron James’ mansion in Los Angeles on Wednesday. In Portland, Oregon, two white people were stabbed to death last Friday after they tried to stop a white man from shouting anti-Muslim slurs at two young women. One of the women was wearing a Muslim head covering, and both were black. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks bigotry, said it has seen an increase in hate incidents in the U.S. since the election of President Donald Trump. Between Election Day and Feb. 1, the SPLC said, it collected information on about 1,800 hate-related episodes from almost every state. “In the past, it would be a couple hundred at most, and that would be high,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Loops of rope have long been used to intimidate African-Americans because they evoke lynchings. The nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative said there were 4,075 lynchings of blacks in the South to spread racial terror between 1877 and 1950. For blacks, the noose is “comparable in the emotions that it evokes to that of the swastika for Jews,” the Anti-Defamation League said. “I’ve seen in the last couple of months more instances of nooses being used to intimidate people,” said Shuler, author of “The Thirteenth Turn: A History of the Noose.” ”I think we’re in a situation right now where people who express hateful opinions are being allowed to speak freely and it’s become OK again.” Beirich blames the rhetoric from Trump’s presidential campaign, during which he pledged to build a wall on the Mexican border and ban Muslim immigrants. Trump also claimed for a long time that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. “Putting those sentiments in public from a presidential campaign has sanctioned a lot of people,” Beirich said. “Things they might have kept inside themselves, that they have kept quiet about, have burst out.” The noose didn’t stop some visitors to the black history museum. Stephen Middleton, who brought his extended family to the museum Thursday from Georgia and Maryland, said he wasn’t surprised someone targeted the museum. But “we’re not going to be deterred, we’re not going to be wavered and not going to be intimidated,” he said. ___ Jesse J. Holland covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press in Washington. Contact him at jholland@ap.org, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jessejholland or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jessejholland 2017 Cox Media Group.

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June 17, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

Feds: Neo-Nazi plot targeted civilians, nukes and synagogues – News Talk Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Federal prosecutors say a neo-Nazi arrested after agents found bomb-making materials in his Florida apartment while investigating the slayings of his two roommates planned to use the explosives to harm civilians, nuclear facilities and synagogues. Court documents filed Monday say a third roommate arrested in the killings told authorities that 21-year-old Brandon Russell had been targeting the sites. The murder suspect, Devon Arthurs, was arrested last month after telling police he fatally shot 22-year-old Jeremy Himmelman and 18-year-old Andrew Oneschuk because they were neo-Nazis who disrespected his recent conversion to Islam. Arthurs told police Russell was not involved in the shootings, but that he was planning a bombing. The documents also state that police found two rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a skull mask in Russells car. TAMPA (AP) Investigators found white supremacist propaganda, bomb-making materials and a framed photograph of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh at a Florida apartment where a teenager killed two roommates who had once shared his neo-Nazi beliefs before he converted to Islam, police and the FBI said. Devon Arthurs, 18, led police to the two bodies inside his Tampa apartment last Friday, saying he killed them after they showed disrespect for his new faith, according to police and FBI reports released Monday. A fourth roommate, a member of the Florida National Guard, was arrested on charges related to the alleged discovery of bomb-making materials. The investigation began unfolding Friday, when Arthurs held two customers and an employee hostage at gunpoint at a Tampa smoke shop, police said. Arthurs said he converted to Islam and was upset about American bombings in Muslim countries, among other issues, according to a Tampa police report. He is being charged with two counts of first-degree murder and other charges, and court records did not list an attorney for him. Officers talked Arthurs into letting the hostages go and dropping his weapon, and took him into custody, according to officials. Police said Arthurs started talking about killing two people, and then he directed them to a condominium complex where the four roommates shared an apartment. When they arrived at the apartment the fourth roommate, Brandon Russell, was crying and standing outside the apartments front door in his military uniform. He had just finished duty with the Florida National Guard. Inside lay the bodies of 22-year-old Jeremy Himmelman and 18-year-old Andrew Oneschuk. Both had been shot. Investigators also found a cooler filled with bomb-making material, two radioactive substances and the Nazi propaganda, according to the FBI. Federal agents arrested Russell, 21, on Saturday on charges related to the explosives. The FBI said Russell admitted to his neo-Nazi beliefs and said he was a member of a group called Atomwaffen, which is German for atomic weapon. At first, Russell told agents he kept the explosives from his days in an engineering club at the University of South Florida in 2013, and that he used the substances to boost homemade rockets. The agents wrote that the substance found was too energetic and volatile for these types of uses. Russell has been charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device and unlawful storage of explosive material. Court records did not list an attorney for him. Andrew Auernheimer, a notorious computer hacker and internet troll, wrote a post about the killings for The Daily Stormer, a leading neo-Nazi website. Auernheimer, known online as weev, said in Sundays post that he knew the shooting suspect and both of the shooting victims. He said he banned Arthurs from The Daily Stormers Discord server, an online forum, for posting Muslim terrorist propaganda earlier this year. He came in to convert people to Islam, Auernheimer said during a telephone interview Monday. It didnt work out very well for him. Auernheimer described Himmelman and Oneschuk as friends of friends and said they belonged to the Atomwaffen group. Atomwaffen are a bunch of good dudes. Theyve posted tons of fliers with absolutely killer graphics at tons of universities over the years. They generally have a lot of fun and party, he wrote. Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Centers Intelligence Project, said the law center had seen recent news reports on Atomwaffen members posting neo-Nazi fliers on college campuses. But the SPLC hadnt examined the groups membership or the ins and outs of the organization before Fridays shooting. Once again, we see how violent these people are, she said. In the neo-Nazi movement, weve seen a long string of bombers and murderers.

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June 13, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

Pot War, Muslim Travel Ban, Russia Probe: Jeff Sessions In The Middle Of Troubled Trump Issues – Benzinga

Embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the first U.S. senator to endorse President Donald Trumps candidacy, finds himself swept up in virtually every issue that has confounded the administrations efforts to advance any sort of an agenda. Front and center is his role in whether the Trump team conspired with Russian agents to fix the November election, his subsequent recusal in March from the federal investigation into those ties and whether he broke his own promise to stay out of the affair. Sessions is supposed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russia Tuesday, but the openness of the session is undecided. Here are a few things to know about Sessions: As a Republican senator from Alabama, he went out on a limb and endorsed Trump in February of 2016, when few people thought the real estate mogul had chance, and he was rewarded for his loyalty with the AGs job. Its been downhill ever since. Last week, former FBI Director James Comey, without being specific, said he had information about Sessions related to Russia that he termed problematic to the investigation. It was a tantalizing clue that there may be other complicating issues connecting the attorney general to the ongoing investigation, Sen. Chris Coons (DDel.) told Politico. Comey also said he asked Sessions, his boss, not to leave him alone with Trump after an awkward meeting in February, when Comey alleged that Trump asked him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynns visits and meetings with pro-Kremlin Russians. Sessions had also said under oath during his confirmation hearing that he had not had contact with the Russians during the election campaign, then admitted it in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee when reports surfaced he indeed had meetings. It was then that Sessions recused himself. Sessions played a key role in Trumps two executive orders seeking to ban Muslims from first seven, then six nations. His comments about Muslims played a part in the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, refusing to enforce the order. Yellen was subsequently fired by Trump in January. Both the first and second bans were blocked by federal courts, and the Muslim prohibition now appears headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sessions is also strongly opposed to guest worker visas that allow immigrants to work temporarily in the United States. Sessions was named head of the Trump campaigns national security advisory committee in March 2016 and was pivotal to Trump naming Flynn as national security advisor, even though it was known that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about meeting with the Russians and discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia for the 2014 invasion of neighbor Ukraine. Sessions was also instrumental in the naming of Pence as Trumps running mate, and Pence subsequently led the Trump presidential transition team. Sessions has a history of making racially inflammatory remarks, and his nomination to a federal judgeship in 1986 was denied because of the accusations. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Heidi Beirich told the Washington Post that Sessions has been guilty of using hate speech, and that his presence close to Trump a tragedy for American politics. Sessions has vowed to wage war on the increasing number of states that have passed marijuana laws allowing it for medicinal and/or recreational use. However, a bipartisan budget committee has rejected Session’s attempts to get money for the effort. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store, Sessions said March 15, comparing it to heroin. Related Links: Comey Demolishes Infrastructure Week, Calls Trump A Liar I Read The Tweets Today, Oh Boy: A Week In The 140-Character Life Of Donald Trump _______ Image Credit: By Office of the President-elect – https://greatagain.gov/sessions-highlights-6819d2478fc5#.ow7rot78y, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons Posted-In: News Futures Previews Politics Travel Legal Events Markets Best of Benzinga 2017 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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June 12, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed

‘Holocaust Revisionist’ Organization Upset At Being Labeled A ‘Hate Group’ – Forward

wikimedia A self-described group of Holocaust revisionists has taken issue with being designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Deir Yessin Remembered, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., says that its mission is to spread awareness about a 1948 massacre by Jewish militias that, by some estimates, killed more than 100 Arab villagers. However, the organizations activities have also expanded to include Holocaust denial. Heidi Beirich, director of SPLCs Intelligence Project, said Deir Yassin Remembered was added to the centers lists of hate groups for 2017 due to the groups support of Holocaust deniers and its questioning of historically accurate facts about the Holocaust, the Michigan news website MLive.com reported on Friday. Indeed, one blog post on Deir Yessin Remembereds website takes issue with the existence of the Final Solution, the existence of gas chambers, and the number of Jews killed in concentration camps. The SPLCs annual list of hate groups includes 917 groups across the country this year, 28 of which are in Michigan. Contact Jesse Bernstein at bernstein@forward.com or on Twitter @__jbernstein.

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June 12, 2017   Posted in: Heidi Beirich  Comments Closed


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