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Boston march against hate speech avoids Charlottesville chaos

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Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Boston on Saturday to protest a “free speech” rally featuring far-right speakers a week after a woman was killed at a Virginia white-supremacist demonstration.

Rally organizers had invited several far-right speakers who were confined to a small pen that police set up in the historic Boston Common park to keep the two sides separate. The city avoided a repeat of last weekend’s bloody street battles in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one woman was killed.

Police estimated that as many as 40,000 people packed into the streets around the nation’s oldest park.

Officials had spent a week planning security for the event, mobilizing 500 police officers, including many on bikes, and placing barricades and large white dump trucks on streets along the park, aiming to deter car-based attacks like those seen in Charlottesville and Europe.

The rally never numbered more than a few dozen people, and its speakers could not be heard due to the shouts of those protesting it and the wide security cordon between the two sides. It wrapped up about an hour earlier than planned.

Protesters surrounded people leaving the rally, shouting “shame” and “go home” and occasionally throwing plastic water bottles. Police escorted several rally participants through the crowds, sometimes struggling against protesters who tried to stop them.

Some people dressed in black with covered faces several times swarmed rally attendees, including two men wearing the “Make America Great Again” caps from President Donald Trump’s campaign.

The violence in Charlottesville triggered the biggest domestic crisis yet for Trump, who provoked ire across the political spectrum for not immediately condemning white nationalists and for praising “very fine people” on both sides of the fight.

On Saturday, Trump on Twitter praised the Boston protesters.

“I want to applaud the many protesters in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!” Trump tweeted. “Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!”

TWENTY-SEVEN ARRESTED

Twenty-seven people were arrested, largely for scuffles in which some protesters threw rocks and bottles of urine at police dressed in riot gear, Police Commissioner William Evans told reporters.

“There was a little bit of a confrontation,” Evans said. “99.9 percent of the people who were here were here for the right reasons.”

Several protesters said they were unsurprised that the “Free Speech” event broke up early.

“They heard our message loud and clear: Boston will not tolerate hate,” said Owen Toney, a 58-year-old community activist who attended the anti-racism protest. “I think they’ll think again about coming here.”

U.S. tensions over hate speech have ratcheted up sharply after the Charlottesville clashes during the latest in a series of white supremacist marches.

White nationalists had converged in the Southern university city to defend a statue of Robert E. Lee, who led the pro-slavery Confederacy’s army during the Civil War, which ended in 1865.

A growing number of U.S. political leaders have called for the removal of statues honoring the Confederacy, with civil rights activists charging that they promote racism. Advocates of the statues contend they are a reminder of their heritage.

Organizers of Saturday’s rally in Boston denounced the white supremacist message and violence of Charlottesville and said their event would be peaceful.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai spoke at the rally, surrounded by supporters holding “Black Lives Matter” signs.

“We have a full spectrum of people here,” Ayyadurai said in a video of his speech posted on Twitter. “We have people from the Green Party here, we have Bernie (Sanders) supporters here, we’ve got people who believe in nationalism.”

Protests are also expected on Saturday in Texas, with the Houston chapter of Black Lives Matter holding a rally to remove a “Spirit of the Confederacy” monument from a park and civil rights activists in Dallas planning to demonstrate against white supremacy.

A Lee statue in Dallas was vandalized overnight, Mayor Mike Rawlings said.

While Boston has a reputation as one of the nation’s most liberal cities, it also has a history of racist outbursts, most notably riots against the desegregation of schools in the 1970s.

Monica Cannon, an organizer of the “Fight White Supremacy” march, called racism a fact of life in the city.

“Ignoring a problem has never solved it,” Cannon said in a phone interview. “We cannot continue to ignore racism.”

Karla Venegas, a 22-year-old who recently moved to Boston from California, said she was not surprised that the Free Speech rally petered out so quickly.

“They were probably scared away by the large crowd,” Venegas said. “We will not stand for discrimination, racism and Nazis.”

(Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York and Lisa Maria Garcia in Dallas; Editing by Mary Milliken, Lisa Von Ahn and Lisa Shumaker)

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Why Mike Pompeo smirked when asked if North Korea executed negotiators

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“Suffer me that I may speak, and after I have spoken, mock on.”
The Book of Job, 21:3

No wonder Mike Pompeo awkwardly laughed or, as it was described by some observers, “smirked,” when asked about the reports of the execution of four of the people with whom Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo had been negotiating a few shorts months ago. Their roles might have been reversed.

The smirk made its appearance when Mr. Pompeo was being interviewed on a Sunday news show, and was asked for his reaction to reports that life had not gone well for four of the people he had gotten to know during the two sessions North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump had conducted over the preceding 12 months.

The first session had been a phenomenal success and the second, although cut short, did not extinguish the flame of love that warmed Mr. Trumps’ heart whenever he thought of Mr. Kim.

After the first meeting in Singapore in June 2018, Mr. Trump said at a news conference that he and Mr. Kim had “developed a very special bond. People are going to be very impressed. People are going to be very happy… I think our whole relationship with North Korea and the Korean Peninsula is going to be a very much different situation than it has in the past.” Describing Mr. Kim, Mr. Trump said he was “a very talented man.”

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018 and making reference to the historic meeting, Mr. Trump said in the manner of a child explaining the child’s affection for a person of whom the child’s parents disapprove: “He likes me, I like him. We get along. He wrote me two of the most beautiful letters. When I showed one of the letters—just one—to [Japanese] Prime Minister Abe, he said: ‘This is actually a groundbreaking letter.’”

Prior to the February 2019 meeting in Singapore, Mr. Trump said of his relationship with Mr. Kim: “It’s a very interesting thing to say, but I’ve developed a very, very good relationship. We’ll see what that means. But he’s never had a relationship with anybody from this country and hasn’t had lots of relationships anywhere.”

Notwithstanding Mr. Trump’s ardor, the February 2019 summit was cut short by Mr. Trump because he and Mr. Kim could not come to an agreement on the United States lifting economic sanctions and on North Korea cutting back its nuclear arsenal. Mr. Trump explained that “I’d much rather do it [a deal] right than do it fast.”

Mr. Pompeo, the secretary of state who accompanied Mr. Trump on the trip, commented on the early termination of the summit, saying, “We are certainly closer today [to an agreement] than we were 36 hours ago, and we were closer then, than we were a month or two before that.”

Success in negotiations with North Korea is a bit like beauty—it is in the eye of the beholder. What unconfirmed reports say happened in North Korea following the second meeting suggests that Mr. Kim was not quite as pleased with its results as Mr. Pompeo had been. If reports are accurate, Mr. Kim attributed the failure of the talks to four of his representatives and to make sure such an embarrassing failure would not happen again, the negotiators were lined up in front of a firing squad and executed.

During an interview on an ABC News program, Mr. Pompeo was asked about the reported execution and in response, he simply smiled or, as some described it, smirked, while declining to add anything to the reports but saying, “It does appear that the next time we have serious conversations, my counterpart will be someone else.” Here is why Mr. Pompeo smirked.

He is mildly amused by the fact that those negotiators were working for a man whose retributive actions towards his negotiators was so violent. Mr. Pompeo knows that those negotiators work for the same kind of manipulative, corrupt, and unpredictable tyrant as he. Mr. Pompeo smirked because he knows that it was only luck of the draw that he works for Mr. Trump, who lacks the ability, if not the wish, to have those who displease him shot. If he could, he would. He can’t. Mr. Trump’s remedies for dealing with those who displease him is to utter the famous two-word phrase: “You’re fired.”

Mr. Pompeo smirked because he knows how much those who were shot would have preferred to be part of the corrupt Trump White House team rather than the corrupt North Korean entourage, and he knows how lucky he is to be working for his nut job instead of the other one.

There is in truth, little to smirk about when the person who is smirking works for Trump instead of Kim. Both men are beneath contempt.

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Trump says he’ll give Americans the ‘best healthcare ever’ — but only if Republicans win in 2020

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President Donald Trump appears to be holding a healthcare plan hostage unless Americans vote for Republicans in 2020.

In a Fox News interview Sunday with Steve Hilton, Trump said he’s developing a plan that will be far better than the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). But that bill will never become law in the next two years because he wants Republicans to be elected first.

He began by saying that the 80 million Americans who have health care through their employer are “happy” and Democrats want to take it away. As a fact-check, the “Medicare for All” plan would give free health care to people instead of their employer paying for their health insurance.

“What I want to do, Obamacare is a disaster,” Trump said. “I got rid of the individual mandate, which was the worst part of Obamacare. Frankly, except for the one gentleman who decided after campaigning for eight years to repeal and replace at 2:00 A.M., he walked out on the on the floor and went thumbs, we would have healthcare repealed and replaced, but I’m doing it a different way.”

As another fact-check, the bill Republicans put up was a repeal without a replacement. It’s unclear if McCain voted against it for that reason, but many Republicans suggest it was the major problem with the GOP proposal.

“We get rid of the individual mandate as part of the tax cuts and that’s most we are now coming up with a much better plan than Obamacare if we take the House back, keep the Senate, keep the presidency, they will have phenomenal healthcare at a fraction of the cost,” Trump pledged.

If Trump was interested in actually fixing health care, he could work with Democrats to develop a law that both parties could pass. Instead, he’s hoping to take back both chambers of Congress so he can pass the bill he wants without bipartisan agreement.

Watch the interview with Trump below:

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Conference for local officials devolves into fist-fight — and one councilman in the hospital

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Councilman Leonard Mendoza

A conference for local-government officials began with cooler heads, but it devolved into an outright brawl.

The Cerritos Community News and The Los Angeles Times reported the conference battle Sunday at the Indian Wells resort. Several attendees began throwing punches and it resulted in at least one person being knocked unconscious, witnesses reported.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the fight broke out at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa around 12:30 a.m. where seven people were involved in “an altercation and physical battery.” One person was hospitalized.

None of the people involved “were cooperative,” Deputy Mike Vasquez told The Times, noting that there were no arrests.

It’s unclear who started the fight, but it involved members of the Commerce City Council and other officials, a written statement from Mayor John Soria said.

“It was a hectic scene,” one witness said.

The Times reported that a photo was circulating among local officials showing Councilman Leonard Mendoza on the ground with blood at his feet. Another man is seen checking Mendoza’s pulse.

(Screen capture taken from Cerritos Community News)

Mayor Soria said that he learned Mendoza and colleague Ivan Altamirano were talking about something when it “became elevated.” Mayor Soria “went to the area to defuse any potential conflict,” and that’s when he saw Mendoza on the ground. Altamirano was nearby “with a facial injury.”

Altamirano was then attacked “from behind by two individuals” according to Soria.

“I want to be clear in condemning the violent behavior from the individuals who initiated these assaults,” Soria said. “Once additional information is available I intend to call on my council colleagues to take appropriate action regarding any individuals that represent the City of Commerce who were involved in the incident.”

Read the full report from the Cerritos Community News.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts