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Jan. 22 2017 5:58 PM

British Police Taser Their Own Race Relations Adviser, Mistaking Him for Wanted Man

A 63-year-old man who helped found an organization to improve relations between the black community and the police in Bristol was tasered by police after he was mistaken for a wanted man. And it was all caught on video. Police are now investigating how it was that police got to the point of firing a Taser at Judah Adunbi outside his home on Jan. 14.

The video shot by a neighbor shows how Adunbi refused to identify himself to the police officers, who repeatedly asked him for his name. “I’ve done no wrong,” Adunbi can be heard saying in the recording. “Leave me alone.” Police then tried to prevent Adunbi from getting into his home and fire the Taser that hit the grandfather in the face. He quickly fell to the ground.

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“I felt that was it. Because of the way I fell back. The way I fell backward on the back of my head. I was just paralyzed. I thought that was it,” Adunbi said. “I thought they were taking my life.”

Adunbi described the humiliating experience of having been taken to the hospital with a Taser still dangling from his face. “They then removed most of the loose wires. They lifted me back on my feet. They tried to pull the one from my face off and realized they couldn’t,” he said.

At first, police charged Adunbi with assaulting an officer but the charges have since been dropped. Still, he said it was difficult for him to understand what actually happened. "It's a little distasteful in my mouth," Adunbi said. "To know that I'm one of the founder members of the Independent Advisory Group, which was created some years ago in order to improve better relationship between the Afro-Caribbean community and the constabulary, and to be treated like this it's difficult."

Jan. 22 2017 3:57 PM

It’s Official: Audit Was Just an Excuse, Trump Is Never Releasing Tax Returns

Just in case there were any doubts, President Donald Trump won’t be releasing his tax returns, even after the frequently cited audit is complete. “The White House response is that he’s not going to release his tax returns,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, during an appearance on ABC’s This Week. “We litigated this all through the election.”

Throughout the campaign, Trump had vowed to release his tax returns once an audit was complete despite the fact that the IRS had clearly said an audit doesn't prevent anyone from releasing his or her own returns. Here's video of Trump saying during a presidential debate that "as soon as the audit is finished it will be released."

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The president seemed to once again push this argument at his news conference earlier this month when he said, “I’m not releasing the tax returns because, as you know, they’re under audit.”

Now there seems to have been a change of heart.

Why won’t Trump release the returns? The American public just isn’t interested, and showed as much by voting for Trump. “People didn’t care,” Conway added. “They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: Most Americans are—are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like.”

Trump had made much the same point in his Jan. 11 news conference, saying that only reporters cared about the returns. Yet a Washington Post-ABC poll revealed this month that almost two-thirds of Americans want the documents to be made public. Although presidents aren’t required by law to release their returns, every president since Richard Nixon has done so voluntarily.

The issue came up because ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Conway about a petition posted on the White House website demanding the release of Trump’s tax returns. The petition was posted on Friday and has garnered more than 220,000 signatures. Petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures are supposed to get an official response from the White House.

One group that is none too happy with Trump’s decision? WikiLeaks, which described Trump’s “breach of promise” as “even more gratuitous than Clinton concealing her Goldman Sachs transcripts.” The group called on someone to leak the documents so they can see the light of day.

Jan. 22 2017 2:01 PM

Trump Response to Protests: From Defiant to Conciliatory in 96 Minutes

It seems President Donald Trump was having a bit of trouble deciding how he felt about the global protests against his new administration that took place around the world on Saturday. First he sarcastically dismissed them as insignificant, and later defended their rights to protest. The first reaction came via a tweet that was posted at 7:47 a.m. EST: “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”

But 96 minutes later, Trump seemed to have a change of hurt and posted a tweet with a very different tone at 9:23 a.m. EST: “Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.”

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The dueling tweets suggest the president may still be operating his Twitter account as a stream-of-consciousness outlet to speak his mind even after he was sworn-in as commander-in-chief. But senior adviser Kellyanne Conway also struck a conciliatory tone, saying Trump would be willing to talk directly with those who organized the women’s march “but none of them has reached out to us” so far. “Folks who are actually open to constructive conversation and solutions, of course we’re open to that,” Conway told Bloomberg News. “He said from the beginning he’d be the president of all Americans.”

Trump and his administration spent a significant portion of his first full day in office complaining the media had maliciously underestimated the number of people who attended his inauguration.

Jan. 22 2017 12:41 PM

Kellyanne Conway: Trump Spokesman Didn’t Lie, He Gave “Alternative Facts”

Now they tell us. Turns out that President Donald Trump’s administration doesn’t lie, it just has different versions of the truth. Kellyanne Conway, the omnipresent senior aide to the president, said Sunday that the White House press secretary wasn’t lying when he lied about crowd numbers at the inauguration, he was merely presenting “alternative facts.” Even though Sean Spicer said something that was evidently false by claiming Trump enjoyed “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration—period,” that is not a lie.

The phrase that will go down in history because with two simple words, Conway perfectly illustrated how the Trump administration has a tortured relationship with the truth. 

Jan. 22 2017 11:59 AM

Women’s March on Washington Was Three Times Larger Than Inauguration

 

It wasn’t even close. Around three times as many people attended the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday than took part in President Trump’s inauguration the day before, according to crowd counting experts cited by the New York Times. Overhead photographs already appeared to show that there were way more people on the streets of Washington on Saturday than on Friday. Webcam shots also seemed to show there were more people on the National Mall on Saturday than Friday. Crowd scientists are now confirming what seemed obvious to the naked eye.

 

Marcel Altenburg and Keith Still from the Manchester Metropolitan University in Britain took a careful look at photos and videos of the National Mall and surrounding area and estimated there were around 160,000 people right before Trump began speaking. In comparison, there were at least 470,000 people in the same area at around 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Jan. 22 2017 9:34 AM

Trump Touts Inauguration Ratings, Ignoring He Fell Far Short of Obama

President Donald Trump is obsessed with ratings, we knew that. After all, he made fun of Arnold Schwarzenegger for low Apprentice ratings and he can’t stop talking about the size of his crowds, whether during the campaign or, now, the inauguration. On Saturday, his press secretary flat-out lied and said Friday had the “largest audience to ever witness the inauguration—period.” And on Sunday, Trump took time off from being the commander-in-chief to celebrate the just-released television ratings for the inauguration, writing on Twitter that the numbers were “11 million more than the very good ratings from 4 years ago.”

The president isn’t lying about the numbers. What he wrote is technically true, but it’s a false comparison. Trump compared his numbers to Obama’s second inauguration for a very good reason—he didn’t even come close to reaching the former president’s 2009 ratings. Some 30.6 million people tuned into the inauguration on Friday, according to Nielsen, which measured the 12 networks that aired at least some live inaugural coverage. In 2009, 37.7 million viewers tuned in to watch Obama be sworn-in, a number that plunged to 20.6 million for his second term.

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What the president did lie about then is that Obama’s 2013 inauguration had “very good ratings.” Far from it. Since 1969, the only inauguration that had lower ratings than 2013 was George W. Bush’s second inauguration in 2005.

Overall Trump’s inauguration ranked fifth in terms of total viewers, behind Ronald Reagan's first inauguration in 1981 (41.8 million viewers), Obama in 2009 (37.7 million), Jimmy Carter in 1977 (34.1 million), and Richard Nixon in 1973 (33 million). Trump just barely beat out Bill Clinton, who had 29.7 million people tune in to his inaugural, and George W. Bush in 2001, when 29 million tuned in.

Jan. 21 2017 9:17 PM

Scenes From the Women’s March on Washington

The thing that should be remembered about the Women’s March in Washington was how gentle and upbeat it was. This is not fake news. Donald Trump will surely do his best to fit the march into his narrative of a vicious, marauding cosmopolitanism, and like everything else in his America the memory of Saturday’s protest will become contested ground. But the truth is that an estimated half a million people amassed in the nation’s capital to protest Trump’s inauguration, and in their sunniness they delivered an implicit rebuke to a president whose inaugural address was essentially the script of Death Wish.

Here’s what the march looked like, through our lenses.

Jan. 21 2017 8:32 PM

White House Press Secretary Lies and Yells at Media. It’s Day 2 of the Trump Presidency.

Donald Trump’s press secretary kept the media waiting for more than an hour today, and then when Sean Spicer finally deigned to appear for his first White House press briefing, he proceeded to hector reporters, tell demonstrable lies, and all but fire himself out of a cannon in the general direction of the press corps. On Day 2 of the Trump presidency, a screeching red-eyed man declared war on the media and reality itself.

The proximate causes of the tantrum were the media’s estimates of the size of the crowd at the inauguration and a journalist’s incorrect report about the removal of an Oval Office bust of Martin Luther King Jr. It turns out the bust had not been removed, after all, a mistake the reporter acknowledged and apologized for. But Spicer, calling it “irresponsible and reckless,” was trying to score some cheap points in order to take on the bigger target—the accurate reporting on the thin crowds at Friday's inauguration.

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“Some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting,” Spicer said as he was gradually swallowed by his suit. He added that photos “were intentionally framed in a way to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall.”

But, anyone might say, the photographs are pretty clear, aren’t they? Kind of hard to argue with the side-by-side photos that compared the crowds from a previous inauguration.

The problem, Spicer assured the press in a jaw-dropping prodigy of illogic, is that it was the first time the National Park Service had laid out white panels to protect the grass and that “highlighted where people weren’t standing.” He made Baghdad Bob look like Edward R. Murrow.

In the end, “no one had numbers,” Spicer said, before adding that “this was the largest audience to ever witness the inauguration—period. Both in person and around the globe.”

It’s of course unclear how he could come to such a conclusion, but flat-out lying seems to be part of it. Spicer mentioned Metro ridership to illustrate how huge the inauguration was, when the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority actually tweeted out preliminary numbers indicating that there were fewer riders during this year’s celebration than during the 2009 and 2013 inaugurations. The Washington Post reported that 570,557 people used the city’s metro system on Friday, which was lower than both the 2009 and 2013 inaugurations.

Spicer went on to put the press on notice: “There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable. And I’m here to tell you it goes two ways. We’re going to hold the press accountable as well.”

Then the new press secretary made a point that should have every White House reporter wondering whether he or she shouldn’t start boycotting these types of briefings during the Trump administration: “As long as he serves as the messenger for this incredible movement he will take his message directly to the American people.”

CNN seemed to suspect something was amiss and made the decision not to air the press briefing live. “The decision was to monitor the statement & then report on it,” CNN’s Brian Stelter wrote on Twitter.

White House veterans were evidently shocked by what they heard. “I’ve never seen anything like this where it was so intense, so harsh and passionate right off the beginning,” said CBS’s Major Garrett. Other observers noted how strange the whole thing was. “It is embarrassing, as an American, to watch this briefing by Sean Spicer from the podium at the White House,” conservative commentator William Kristol, who has long been opposed to Trump, wrote on Twitter.

Spicer spoke not long after Trump had personally blasted the media during a speech at the CIA headquarters, where he also criticized their reporting on the inauguration attendance and named the Time reporter who had incorrectly said the president had removed King’s bust from the Oval Office. It could not have been a coincidence that these attacks came on a day that the new president was being protested by crowds vastly outnumbering the celebrants at his party on Friday. Lying worked in the campaign, and now the habit seems to have carried over to the White House. The ball is now in the media’s court.

Jan. 21 2017 8:05 PM

Petition to Release Trump’s Tax Returns Clears Threshold for Official Response

Well, that didn’t take long. Less than a day after it was posted online, the petition calling on President Donald Trump to release his tax returns has garnered more than 158,700 signatures—more than enough to warrant an official response from the White House.

As Slate’s Josh Levin explained on Friday, the petition platform known as “We the People” survived the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump era. According to the rules during the Obama era, any petition that received at least 100,000 signatures within 30 days has to receive an official White House response. It still isn’t clear whether the Trump administration plans to follow the same rules, although they’re still listed on the site.

Jan. 21 2017 7:12 PM

What Trump Supporters in D.C. Thought of the Women’s March

“I think it’s great. I believe in women’s rights, but I also believe in Trump. That’s why I’m out here. I’m not here to protest. I’m just here to support women’s rights. I think it’s a little bit overboard, I really do. We shouldn’t express ourselves like this. So far it’s been civil so I’m enjoying being here.”

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