Tag Archives: New Jersey

‘We all hate you’: Eighth graders on field trip to DC refuse to pose with Paul Ryan

paul ryan with kids

This is what “civil discourse” and “political engagement” passes for this day. The teachers and parents of these children are so proud. Course they are just following in the footsteps of demorat leaders. Stay classy kids!

From Daily Mail: A free-thinking group of eighth grades refused to pose with House Speaker Paul Ryan during a field trip to Washington DC on Thursday.

Half of the students from South Orange Middle School in New Jersey stood on the other side of the street as their classmates had their photo taken with Ryan outside the United States Capitol.

When he uploaded the image to Instagram, the ones who had refused to be in it flooded the comments section with insults and complaints‘Half of us stood across the street including me because we hate you,’ said one.

Another spoke to DailyMail.com to explain his decision to not take part. ‘The fact that he puts his party before his country, he likes to think of what his party will think of him other than what his country will think of him,’ Matthew Malespina, 13 said. Ryan’s Republican stance on healthcare, education and LGBT rights were among the things Matthew disagreed with.

The school has not commented on their protest but Matthew’s mother said it gave all students the option to take part or not.  ‘The school allowed the children to make a choice, they were very good about that. It was all quite peaceful,’ she said.

The children were taking part in a field trip to DC when they were told on Wednesday that they would be meeting Ryan.

Matthew texted his mother immediately to tell her that he was concerned and she urged him to let the teachers know he was uncomfortable with it.

When Ryan emerged from the Capitol on Thursday, some students who had agreed to take part were gathered on the steps to have their photograph taken. The others were stood across the street and Ryan was unaware that they had refused.

On Friday, he uploaded the photograph with the willing students to Instagram, writing alongside it: ‘Got that #FridayFeeling’.

The students pounced, pointing out in the comments section that half did not want to be associated with him and accusing him of merely using them as a photo-opp.

‘I find this really funny because this is my school and more than half of us chose to step out of that picture. And to add, the school is from a very liberal town, so I’m very proud to say that I was amongst the students who stood ACROSS the street.

‘Plus most of the kids who were standing there were only there to make fun of him because he’s a walking talking meme, ‘said one.

They were met with comments from Republican supporters who accused them of being disrespectful to the office of the Speaker of the House.

Matthew’s mother Elissa supported his decision, telling DailyMail.com she was proud of him and the rest of the children for standing up for what they believe in.  ‘We’ve always talked about politics so we’ve always been a family that has been politically active. We didn’t indoctrinate him, he has had a mind of his own ever since he was a small child and he’s gathered up his own views. We are lucky to live in a community with a large number of active and engaged young people.’

Read the rest of the story here.

FYI: From the South Orange Middle School web site (not sure of the exact date):

South Orange Middle School celebrated its second schoolwide “Winter Blast of Kindness” Day last week — and the entire school felt like one big celebration. The event was filled with scores of activities for students and staff that emphasized the importance of being kind to one another, family members and teachers.

Launched last year by health teacher Allison Cahill and social worker Allison Steiner (who were joined this year by PE teacher Jackie Gronek) the idea stemmed from a desire to respond to the issue of bullying by creating a climate of kindness throughout the school.”

At least these children have mastered the proggies’ technique of being a hypocrite.

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Student gets into Stanford after writing #BlackLivesMatter on application 100 times

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Twofer: Ahmed played the victim and racism/Muslim cards.

From CNN: If you’re applying to college, you can spend hours crafting the perfect admissions essay. Or you can just write the same word 100 times. It worked for Ziad Ahmed.

The Princeton, New Jersey, high school senior was recently admitted to Stanford University after writing #BlackLivesMatter 100 times in response to the application question, “What matters to you and why?”

Ahmed has been flooded with attention since posting his essay answer to Twitter. “First, there was a word limit on the question prompt — you couldn’t have less than 100 words,” he explained in an interview with CNN.

“As I completed my application, my academic work, volunteer activity, extracurricular and activism created a picture, but it became apparent to me as I neared that final question that the picture lacked my voice,” he added. “It was important that to me that the admissions officers literally hear my impatience for justice and the significance of this issue.”

Ahmed, 18, is a practicing Muslim and a self-described activist. He says much of his passion stems from him experiencing racism of his own.

He says he decided to use the hashtag because it conveyed his frustrations with the judicial system’s failure to protect the black community from violence, systemic inequity and political disenfranchisement.

CNN reached out to Stanford to confirm Ahmed’s story. A university spokesman said the school does not comment on student applications.

As a freshman in high school Ahmed founded Redefy, a nonprofit organization that advocates for social justice. Its mission is to defy stereotypes, defeat hate and promote tolerance through workshops for young students.

Ahmed says that as a Muslim who has faced bigotry in the United States he feels an affinity for African-Americans. “The Islamophobia that is heavily present in this country is connected to the legacy of racism and oppression that the black community continues to face,” he said.

Ahmed told CNN he has been bullied online by white extremists since his successful Stanford application made headlines. But he says he’s also been overwhelmed by an outpouring of support and congratulations.

He hopes his story will encourage others to fight intolerance and social inequity.

Ahmed is still deciding which school he will attend. But wherever he goes to college, he said it’s his goal to listen, develop and innovate to become a better advocate and a better citizen. “I am many things, but I am an unapologetic progressive activist first and foremost,” he said.

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Montvale, New Jersey will not be a sanctuary city, mayor vows

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Mayor Michael Ghassali

Laws and legal immigration still mean something to some politicians.

From NorthJersey.com: As a Syrian immigrant whose family fled Aleppo in 1980, weeks before hundreds of civilians were killed in a brutal siege, Michael Ghassali knows well the horrors facing today’s refugees.

But as the mayor of Montvale, Ghassali said, his allegiance is to the laws of his adopted country – even those he may personally disagree with. That is why Ghassali has vowed that under his administration, Montvale will not be a sanctuary city.

“I will not be signing any executive orders that will ask our employees to defy federal laws. A mayor should not be advocating the defiance of federal laws,” Ghassali announced in a Facebook post last week that has elicited both praise and condemnation.

The statement was in response to pressure from various advocacy groups that Ghassali said have approached him to declare the borough a safe haven for undocumented immigrants illegal aliens.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order last month suspending travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries and indefinitely barring Syrian refugees from coming into the country. The order has been blocked by an appeals court, and Trump has said he will issue a revised order. But it sparked protests across the country, and local politicians have taken a public position either supporting it or opposing it.

Trump also has called for a crackdown on illegal immigration. On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a sweeping set of orders that authorize all agents to enforce the nation’s immigration laws more forcefully, instructing them to identify, apprehend and quickly deport every undocumented immigrant they encounter.

Several North Jersey towns have either approved or are considering resolutions to become sanctuary cities, a term that generally means local police would limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement officers.

Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah, who is also a Syrian-born immigrant, issued an executive order in January declaring the borough a sanctuary city. “As an immigrant from a country ruled by a dictator, it is important to me that our commander in chief upholds the U.S. Constitution as the law of the land,” Khairullah said last month.

Ghassali recalled in an interview this week his experience entering the country at 15 years old and the hurdles his family faced.

In Syria, his father was a tailor, working hard for a middle-class life for his family of four children. Ghassali remembers always feeling safe in Aleppo, even at night. Nevertheless, the Islamist uprising, revolts against the secular government led mostly by the Muslim Brotherhood, had been brewing in the country since 1976.

“My father was wise enough to know what was going on. He told us, ‘At some point, this will not be a safe place to live.’ And he decided that we should leave,” Ghassali said.

In 1980, members of Ghassali’s family boarded a flight with green cards in hand and headed to New York City, where they had family from his father’s side waiting for their arrival. They settled in Dumont. Ghassali said he became a citizen in 1987.

“I know firsthand the vetting system is intense – it’s always been that way. I don’t know how much more intense it could get,” said Ghassali, a Republican who ran for mayor as an independent.

“I wish the administration spent more time analyzing the current process before issuing such an executive order,” said Ghassali. “They should spend the time to look at the current process before causing havoc among the refugees.”

Ghassali said he has family members who are refugees or have been killed in the war in Syria. “My whole network is either a refugee or has a family or friend who is a refugee. I feel it. It is very personal,” Ghassali said. But, he said, “I have to remove emotions out of this if I want to do my job.”

A close friend of Ghassali’s who attends the same Syriac Orthodox church in Teaneck has been in the country illegally for 15 years, he said. Ghassali said that declaring Montvale a sanctuary city would not change the reality of his friend’s situation. “He’s been scared for 15 years,” Ghassali said. “That doesn’t change when a mayor signs an executive order.”

Ghassali said he hoped his stance was not misconstrued as being against diversity. About one-fifth of Montvale’s approximately 8,000 residents are foreign-born, according to 2015 census. Twenty-two languages are spoken at home, Ghassali said.

Ghassali is married to an Iraqi immigrant. On his block alone, he said, his neighbors hail from India, Pakistan and parts of South America. “Montvale is not against refugees, against immigrants, against diversity,” he said. “We are as diverse as they come.”

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New Jersey Democrats push measures to protect illegal immigrants, vow to defy Trump

wisniewskiFrom Fox News: Sanctuary city advocates in one state with a Trump friendly Republican governor are digging in their heels in the face of President Trump’s threat to cut off federal funding.

Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey introduced bills this week calling on the state to reimburse so-called sanctuary cities that lose federal funding. And on Wednesday, Assemblyman John Wisniewski* introduced legislation designating New Jersey a “sanctuary state,” generally preventing law enforcement officers from initiating contact with immigration officials, and from using state resources for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws. *Wisniewski’s education includes a J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law.

In addition, several towns that have significant immigrant populations have declared themselves sanctuaries, saying they will not reach out to immigration officials about illegal immigrants they arrest or provide a service to unless they are serious criminals or a national security threat.

“We are putting President Trump and his administration on notice,” said Wisniewski in written public announcement about his legislation. “New Jersey will not be a ‘willing partner’ to the unjustified and inhumane deportations of our neighbors and friends.” New York and California also have moved toward declaring their states sanctuaries for illegal immigrants.

Trump, who made cracking down on illegal immigration a cornerstone of his campaign, has issued executive orders and directives aimed at border security and tracking down and deporting undocumented people illegal aliens.

He directed the Department of Homeland Security to identify and publish a list of sanctuary communities. Although no strict definition of the term exists, it is generally used to describe communities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

The New Jersey measures have little chance of passing, given GOP resistance and Gov. Chris Christie’s veto threat, said Ross Baker, a Rutgers University professor of political science. “It’s more of a gesture to the immigrant community,” Baker told Fox News. “It’s a message to them that they would be protected against hypothetical actions by the federal government.”

In Maplewood, Mayor Victor DeLuca consulted with police administrators before crafting a sanctuary ordinance that became final at the end of January. DeLuca said police officials said they did not want the responsibility of enforcing federal immigration laws. “The police said ‘We don’t do it now,’” DeLuca told Fox News, “and there was a feeling on our part that wanted to make clear that there are distinctions between the role of the police department and the role of immigration officials.”

New Jersey has more than 500,000 illegal immigrants, according to estimates.

Republicans in the state legislature say they will not support sanctuary towns in any way. Christie, a Republican, says he will veto any legislation that would favor sanctuary cities.

Proponents of strict immigration enforcement say sanctuary communities are violating the law. “To have lawmakers in Trenton say ‘O.K., we’ll show the president, if they withhold funding, we’ll pay,’ is violating federal law,” said Ron Bass, founder of United Patriots of America, a New Jersey-based group that pushes for strict enforcement. “It’s like the state saying to sanctuary cities ‘You rob the bank, I’ll drive the [getaway] car.’”

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Muslim mayor declares borough immigrant sanctuary

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Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah

Keep it up demorats. You are going to get Trump another four years with your disrespect for law-abiding citizens.

From NJ.com: Syrian-born Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah signed an executive order Friday declaring the borough a sanctuary for immigrants.

The order signed Friday allows equal protection treatment for all borough residents, regardless of immigration status. The move comes one week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Syria, from entering into the U.S.

“It is important to me as a person who came to the U.S as an immigrant, that we uphold our laws and values,” Khairullah said Saturday. “The U.S is the land of opportunity and dreams for many people all over the world.”

“No department, committee, agency, commission, officer or employee of the Borough of Prospect Park shall use any Borough funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of Federal Immigration Law,” the order reads.

Trump has signaled that he plans to take away federal funds from municipalities that declare themselves as (ILLEGAL) immigrant sanctuaries but Khairullah said he that wasn’t a factor in Prospect Park. “We are in a unique position that we don’t rely on federal funding,” Khairullah said. “Even if we were in that position, we would try to figure something out.”

Khairullah joins the ranks of other New Jersey mayors, such as Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, who have vowed to continue to protect (ILLEGAL) immigrants.

Prospect Park’s order recalls the borough’s history, founded by Dutch immigrants, and the continued diversity of its population. About a third of borough residents are foreign-born, according to Census data.

Khairullah was born in Syria and fled the country as a child. He later arrived in the United States in 1991. His political career started in 2001 when he was elected as a councilman in the borough. He has now served as the mayor for 11 years. Khairullah has long been an advocate for his native country and its embattled residents. This past September, he disclosed that he had lost two relatives in the ongoing civil war.

Khairullah, who has criticized Trump for his anti-immigrant stance, has also called out Gov. Chris Christie for his similar stance on Syrian refugees.

On Thursday, hundreds gathered in nearby Paterson to protests Trump’s travel ban.

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California considers an end to bail: ‘We’re punishing people simply for being poor’

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Proponent Assemblyman Rob Bonta

California: Where all decisions are now made under the interpretation of some fluid rules of “social justice.”

From Sacramento Bee: On any given day, most inmates in California jails have not yet been convicted of a crime. About 63 percent are being held awaiting trial, according to data collected by the Board of State and Community Corrections, an average of nearly 47,000 people. Federal statistics on the largest urban counties show that from 2000 to 2009, California kept unsentenced felony defendants in jail at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the country.

For state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, the problem is clear: Bail is “just too expensive.” The median amount in the state is $50,000, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, five times higher than the national average.

Too many Californians find themselves stuck in custody because they cannot afford to bail out, the Los Angeles Democrat said, a personal crisis that can ripple across their lives in dramatic ways.

“They can’t pay their rent. They can’t pay child support or take their kids to school. There’s so many other consequences to that,” Hertzberg said. “That isn’t patriotic. That isn’t American. That isn’t the right thing to do.”

With criticism mounting that it creates unequal justice based on wealth, California is rethinking monetary bail. Hertzberg and Assemblyman Rob Bonta are pursuing legislation this session to overhaul the practice, while Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye formed a working group in the fall to explore possible changes.

“The only nexus is between who gets out and who has money,” Bonta, a Democrat from Alameda, said. “We’re punishing people simply for being poor.”

Political interest in the issue has been surging nationally, with New Jersey and New Mexico recently eliminating bail for minor crimes. But any measure will likely face heavy opposition from bail bond agents, police officers and district attorneys who see the current system as integral to public safety.

Topo Padilla, president of the Golden State Bail Agents Association, said monetary stakes are the best way to ensure that someone appears in court after being released. “I can’t guarantee it either. But I have someone to back the game up. I have a co-signer,” he said. “And we do that at no cost to the taxpayers.”

California allows each county to set its own bail schedule by crime. In Sacramento, for example, rates range from $5,000 for possession of a controlled substance to $20,000 for resisting or deterring an officer to $1 million for sexual assault of a child.

Offenders can pay the entire amount, to be returned at the conclusion of their case, or apply for a surety bond through companies that charge a 10 percent fee. Those who cannot afford either option may ask a judge to adjust the amount based on factors such as their criminal history, the seriousness of the crime and their likelihood of showing up for their next court date.

It took David Howell 39 days and three requests for a bail reduction before he secured his release from the Sacramento County jail early last week.  In late December, the retired California Highway Patrol dispatcher was arrested on a charge of possession of a firearm while under a restraining order. He was stunned and “devastated” to find out that bail had been set at $200,000, twenty times the standard rate in Sacramento County for that misdemeanor.

At age 62, his only previous arrest had come in October, for a misdemeanor violation of the restraining order. He has disputed the allegations of domestic violence that prompted the order and his subsequent charges in court. Unable to afford the massive bail fee, Howell said, “I felt trapped.” For weeks, he could not take daily treatments for two eye conditions that are slowly making him blind.

Bail was eventually dropped to $100,000 and then, on Friday, to $15,000, in recognition of Howell’s short criminal history. After deliberating for two days about whether the money would be better spent on future legal costs and medical bills, he paid $1,500 for a commercial bail bond because fighting his case would be easier from outside jail.

“You feel like you’ve been thrown away. You feel like nothing,” Howell said. Despite his years in law enforcement, his faith in the fairness of the legal system is lost: “All the time I had been working in a dream world.”

Though Bonta and Hertzberg announced the bail overhaul as a legislative priority when the session began in December, nothing specific is proposed. Ideas have been floated to introduce risk assessment into the process, lower the schedule of bail rates or even do away with monetary bail altogether.

Consensus on a solution has not emerged, even among political allies. Hertzberg said he doesn’t mind the idea of someone bailing out of jail, as long as it is affordable, and his goal is not to put bail bond companies out of business.

Others working on the legislation, such as the American Civil Liberties Union of California, would like to see monetary bail eliminated. Legislative advocate Mica Doctoroff said the integrity of criminal justice is compromised when families have to pay a for-profit company to secure their loved ones’ freedom, potentially putting them into debt, even if the charges are later dropped. “You and your family can end up being forced to pay these fees for a crime you didn’t even commit,” she said.

The difficulties of mounting a defense from behind bars increase pressure on those who cannot post bail to simply accept a plea bargain and resolve their case, Doctoroff added. “Our existing money bail system has really driven justice and freedom further out of reach for far too many people in California, particularly low-income people and people of color.”

Read the rest of the story here.

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Boy Scouts ban 8-year-old transgender boy

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Joe Maldonado/CBS Photo

From CBS News: The Boy Scouts of America is facing tough questions after banning a child over his gender identity. Joe Maldonado, 8, who was born a girl and now identifies as a boy, was removed from his New Jersey Cub Scout troop. Joe’s family says parents of other children had complained.

Joe’s mother, Kristie Maldonado, says the organization already knew her son was transgender when she signed him up for the Cub Scouts, reports CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett. But now, the Boy Scouts of America, which is no stranger to controversy when it comes to membership rights, is telling them he’s not welcome.

“As a parent, how do you know that you don’t just have a girl who is a tomboy, and that it’s a transgender issue?” Barnett asked his mother. “I took a couple years; I didn’t realize it,” Maldonado said. Joe was born Jodi, but has been identifying as a boy for over a year. 

“Why did you want to join the Boy Scouts?” Barnett asked Joe. “Because all of my favorite friends were there,” Joe responded.  Joe was part of Cub Scout Pack 87 in New Jersey, but was recently removed over his legal gender, which is female.  “They knew full well he was not born a boy?” Barnett asked. “They all know Joe as when he was Jodi,” Maldonado said.

In a statement, the Boy Scouts of America defended its actions, saying in part, “No youth may be removed from any of our programs on the basis of his or her sexual orientation,” but adding, “Gender identity isn’t related to sexual orientation.”  In recent years, the Boy Scouts have reversed bans on gay scouts and scout leaders. But this incident could spark a new debate.  Joe’s mom says the messages of support she’s received from the around the world have been overwhelming.  “I’m a scout leader here in the U.K., and would love him to be a member of our troop,” one mother wrote to her.

“How does it feel to receive that kind of support from another scout group in another country?” Barnett asked Maldonado. “It’s beautiful, it’s beautiful,” Maldonado said.

The Boy Scouts of America says its programs are for those who are identified as boys on their birth certificates. The organization told CBS News it offered the family alternative, co-ed programs for Joe, but Maldonado told us she’s not interested and instead wants an apology for her son. 

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