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Under Color of Law: March + April

By May 25, 2023March 18th, 2024News

Read Shan’s take on various political and cultural happenings (and Tweets!) below.

Dominion v Fox, a new litmus test for defamation:

Many people are disappointed with Dominion reaching a settlement with Fox for about half as much money as they had sued for and I share the disappointment of not seeing Fox news anchors like Tucker Carlson having to testify and be subject to cross-examination. But a large part of the damages would have been based on what is termed “growth damages” meaning what damage to Dominion’s potential growth was caused by Fox’s alleged defamation.

Such damages were far from certain and would have resulted in battle of dueling economic experts so it was smart lawyering on the part of Dominion lawyers to avoid that uncertainty for the certainty of a settlement totaling nearly 800 million dollars.

Far less certain though is whether this settlement will have any real deterrent effect on Fox or other news outlets that depend on feeding their audience a steady diet of whatever Trump and his enablers proclaim.

This was a significant defamation case because of exceptionally strong evidence Dominion had amassed against Fox showing their potential “actual malice” – meaning they knew they were reporting falsehoods about election fraud and Dominion being involved with changing votes – with honorable mention to Lou Dobbs for texting, “I don’t know what Sydney Powell is saying or doing,” with the response, “Powell could be losing her mindSettlements by definition mean no admission of liability and no precedent value but the case nonetheless creates the precedent of piercing the invulnerability of Fox being able to claim they are both reporting the news yet also claim they are just entertaining.

Being a former President Should Mean Nothing When it Comes to a Criminal Case:

Donald Trump has managed to survive two impeachment trials, orchestrate an insurrection from within the White House, and encouraged xenophobia, misogyny, racism and hatred in public discourse for a few decades.

Despite all that he has never been charged with crime until now when Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has charged Trump with over 34 felony charges of falsifying financial records, in relation to hush-money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Despite the mounting evidence, the GOP continues to call this political persecution and worryingly, the public at large seems skeptical of his corruption because of his former presidency and the media is prone to such remarks as: bringing an untested case against anyone, let alone a former president, raises the risk that a judge or appeals court could dismiss or narrow the case.” It’s this kind of mentality that allows Trump and others to evade accountability.

The Trump Indictment, Strategy Behind it all:

DA Bragg has been criticized for his handling of the Trump charges, but he is approaching this is the most tactical way possible. The indictment lays out 34 felonies (not misdemeanors) which are based on the theory that the falsification of business records constitutes felonies because they were made to cover up other crimes.

What are the other crimes? Election laws as well as possibly tax crimes are referenced in the statement of facts accompanying the indictment, but the specifics are not spelled out. This minimalist approach may serve Bragg well at this stage. Part of this strategy is that the indictment itself is bare-bones and not what is commonly called a “speaking indictment”—meaning it does not lay out a full narrative.

While a full narrative would be helpful to public understanding of the case, it also would commit prosecutors to facts which could be attacked publicly, and potentially set up discrepancies with eventual testimony that might raise legal issues both at trial and on appeal.

Putting forth only the minimum facts supporting the charges protects more of the substance of what critical witnesses—like Cohen and former National Enquirer publisher (and CEO of its parent company, American Media) David Pecker—will have already told investigators in interviews, as well as in grand jury testimony.

Read more here.

Another Holy Month, Another Attack on Palestine:

Without fail, every Ramadan, there has been a mounting escalation of violence between Israel and Palestinians. Footage has surfaced all over social media platforms of the brutal attacks at Al-Aqsa mosque – the sound grenades, rubber coated fire bullets, mass arrests and casualties.

This happens amidst Israel’s democratic protests as it seeks to build out a private national guard for Ben Gvir, the National Security Minister who is among the most right politicians in Israel.

Judy Chu, New McCarthyism:

We’re seeing a concerning revamp in the McCarthyistic rhetoric that fueled the divorce between evidence and fear mongering accusations in public discourse.

Now, censorship doesn’t usually start with extreme measures, it starts with undermining the credibility of prominent representatives of the community, v rising trends in violence, and political motivations for polarization. We’re already living in this volatile climate of censorship while watching it worsen everyday.

Ecological Disaster as the New Norm

Philadelphia sent out a mass text alerting citizens that the water would be potentially undrinkable because of contamination in the Delaware River.

In the wake of the East Palestine derailment, and following dozens of other ecological disasters, we must ask what, in addition to climate change, is the catalyst for these catastrophes?

While we have plenty of politicians overtly denying climate change, those who do acknowledge it tend to use it absolve all ecological failures as totally separate from policy. While climate change exacerbates the impact of natural disasters, like tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes and makes them more frequent, there are other drivers like poor irrigation systems, and urban sprawl.

New developments in predominantly low-income areas are a guaranteed buzz of revenue for affluent real estate developers while stripping the land of natural flood deterrents. Low-income neighborhoods, cities, and entire states are often put at greater risk of catastrophe, unable to evacuate or find shelter because of poor resourcing, and ultimately left to deal with the high stakes consequence of disaster.

Please do let me and the team know what topics you would like to hear more from me about – look forward to hearing your voices!

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