Left Justified


Journalists Collectively Picked as Time Persons of the Year

December 12, 2018 by Gail Nussbaum in Politics

Calling out endangered journalists as a group as their “Persons of the Year,” Time magazine named four individual journalists to represent this broad category, including Jamal Kashoggi, Maria Ressa, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

Time dedicated four of its covers to endangered journalists to highlight the fact that 2018 saw journalists from around the world come under attack, and sometimes murdered, for doing their jobs. The magazine, which has been spotlighting the most influential men, women and ideas of the past year since 1927 labeled the honorees for 2018 as the “guardians” in the growing “war on truth” which has been developing around the world.
Recognizing Kashoggi is the first time a person has been given this honor posthumously, Time’s editor in chief Edward Felsenthal explained. The Guardians just beat out the third runner-up for the honor special counsel Robert Mueller, who is now leading an investigation of possible collusion between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russian government involvement in that campaign. President Trump was Time’s second runner-up for the honor.

Kashoggi was a journalist for the Washington Post, but was a Saudi Arabian citizen who was highly critical of the Saudi royals. He was murdered earlier this year inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. It is suspected that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Kashoggi’s execution.
“This is the first time we have chosen someone no longer alive, but it’s rare that a person’s influence grows so immensely in death,” Felsenthal said when he announced the magazine’s choices.

A second Time cover showed the staff from the Capital Gazette, which lost five employees last summer when a killer came into the paper’s Annapolis, Maryland office and started firing.

The third cover depicted Maria Ressa, who reported on the violent actions taken by the government of the Philippines. Two Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe were featured on the fourth cover. The pair were jailed for a year after they revealed their findings of the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

“In 2018, journalists took note of what people said, and of what people did. When those two things differed, they took note of that too,” Time’s Karl Vick wrote in an essay about the selection. “The year brought no great change in what they do or how they do it. What changed was how much it matters.”
In his essay on the picks, Felsenthal wrote that 52 journalists were killed in 2018, courageously risking “all to tell the story of our time.”

Judge Advances Trump Lawsuit to Next Level

December 6, 2018 by Gail Nussbaum in News and Media, Politics

Tax March Washington, DC in front of the Trump International Hotel. Courtesy of Ted Eytan.

A federal judge in Maryland gave permission for lawyers in Maryland and Washington, DC to issue subpoenas in a lawsuit that claims President Donald Trump used his luxury hotel in DC to make money via his role as US President, violating the emoluments clause of the US Constitution.

The attorneys general in DC and Maryland say they are prepared to serve as many as 20 companies and government agencies with subpoenas this week. This is the first time in US history that a lawsuit claiming a president as violated anti-corruption clauses as reached the stage of discovery.

Another, similar lawsuit brought by Democratic legislators got past a first step in federal court in Washington, and two lawsuits filed in New York were thrown out of court. That decision is being appealed. None of these cases got to the level of discovery, yet.

State and federal government agencies and customers and competitors of the Trump International Hotel, which is right down the street from the White House, will be getting subpoenas, according to General Brian Frosh, Maryland attorney general. Even if lawyers from the Department of Justice are able to stop the case, Frosh says that will only delay the inevitable, but not derail the process.

“They have a very high burden to win on a writ of mandamus, I don’t think they can meet that standard here,” Frosh said. “They’ve done everything they possibly can to stop us from getting discovery.”

A writ of mandamus is a process that can halt the legal proceedings by claiming they are illegal or improper.

Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine described the emoluments clauses in the Constitution as “our nation’s original anti-corruption laws.”

Meet the New History-Making Congress

November 30, 2018 by Gail Nussbaum in Politics

Colin Allred

This month’s midterm elections made history. Throughout the country the people elected the largest number of Democrats to Congress in 40 years, and the most diverse in history.

More than three dozen Democrats will join the House of Representative for the first time, and many of those freshmen are coming to Washington with new ideas covering a wide range of backgrounds and ideologies. The following are just a short sample of the types of voices about to take their seats as the people’s representatives.

Colin Allred is a civil rights attorney and former NFL linebacker. He won his district against incumbent Republican Pete Sessions in a conservative Texas district. Allred says his goal in Congress is to be a moderate voice at a time when there is a feeling that some more liberal Democrats are driving the party to the left.

“All of us who come from the red-to-blue districts, we are the closest to where the American people are,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure that our new members coming from safer districts and the members that are already there understand why we have the majority.”

Sharice Davids is unique in many ways. An expert in mixed martial arts, her law degree is from Cornell. She is the only Democrat out of the six representatives the deeply red State of Kansas is sending to Washington, and the first non-white woman. As if those characteristics were not enough to distinguish her, Davids is also the first openly gay member of Congress and one of just two Native American women elected for the first time. The new Congresswoman will be part of what will be a history-making number of women as well as women of color taking their places in the House.

Lucy McBath turned tragedy into activism after the death of her son Jordan during an argument over loud music at a gas station in 2012. Before her activism she was a flight attendant, but then became a prominent figure for gun control. McBath was able to outvote GOP freshmen Congresswoman Karen Handel after the Congress failed to act in response to the Parkland High School mass shooting in Florida earlier in 2018. Representing her district in Georgia, McBath tweeted:

“Never thought I would be here. This is for you, Jordan. And for every single family impacted by gun violence in this country – let’s get to work.”