By Robert A. Vella

As you probably know, this blog focuses heavily on speaking truth to power.  When it is done skillfully, there are very few other things we do that have the same impact on people.  When it is also done artfully, that impact can be especially profound and enduring.  MLK’s “I have a dream” speech is a perfect example which challenged institutional racism in an unassailable fashion.  Likewise, JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you” and “We shall go to the Moon” speeches challenged the American people to be better and to work towards the common good.  There is an exquisite beauty in such instances that reaches deep into the human psyche forever to remain.  Truth, in its purest form, is the greatest of our treasures.  Scoundrels fear it most of all.

I want to share with you a magnificent quote which speaks truth to power from an unusual source.  Dan Le Batard is a sports talk host who works for ESPN.  The company has been determined to squelch its journalists from discussing political issues because it, like all large consumer-dependent businesses, is constantly worried about offending people and losing sales.  So, addressing political controversies is absolutely taboo at ESPN;  and, it suspended news anchor Jemele Hill in 2017 (and fired her in 2018) for correctly condemning President Trump as a “white supremacist.”  The mistake ESPN wittingly or unwittingly made in that case and in others is conflating normal political disagreement with overt displays of racism which Trump has been doing since he ran for office.  In fact, big corporations like ESPN have a long history of speaking out against racism and other forms of discrimination because it’s in their self-interest to do so.  Businesses which portray an image of intolerance towards specific groups inevitably damage their marketability.  What Trump is doing is trying to blur that distinction and turn blatant racism into a mainstream political issue.  Le Batard has rightly exposed that misstep by ESPN.

From:  Dan Le Batard will apparently avoid suspension, while ESPN insists their no politics rule remains in force

“So, what happened last night. This felt un-American. Basically, a chant, ‘Send her back.’ It’s not the America that my parents came to get for us … There’s a racial division in this country that’s being instigated by the president. And we here at ESPN haven’t had the stomach for that fight because Jemele (Hill) did some things on Twitter, and you saw what happened after that. Then, here, all of the sudden, nobody talks politics on anything unless we can use one of these sports figures as a meat shield in the most cowardly possible way to discuss the subject.

“That’s what you’re seeing, and the only way we can discuss it around here — because this isn’t about politics, it’s about race — what you’re seeing happening around here is about race being turned into politics. And we only talk about it around here when Steve Kerr or Popovich says something. We don’t talk about what is happening unless there’s some sort of weak cowardly sports angle that we can run it through. When sports has been a place where this stuff changes.”

Related story:  Trump administration planning changes to U.S. citizenship test

Here’s the rest of today’s news:

From:  Internal drug company emails show indifference to opioid epidemic

Victor Borelli, a national account manager for Mallinckrodt, told Steve Cochrane, the vice president of sales for KeySource Medical, to check his inventories and “[i]f you are low, order more. If you are okay, order a little more, Capesce?”

Then Borelli joked, “destroy this email. . .Is that really possible? Oh Well. . .”

Previously, Borelli used the phrase “ship, ship, ship” to describe his job.

Those email excerpts are quoted in a 144-page plaintiffs’ filing along with thousands of pages of documents unsealed by a judge’s order Friday in a landmark case in Cleveland against many of the largest companies in the drug industry. A Drug Enforcement Administration database released earlier in the week revealed that the companies had inundated the nation with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills from 2006 through 2012. Nearly 2,000 cities, counties and towns are alleging that the companies knowingly flooded their communities with opioids, fueling an epidemic that has killed more than 200,000 since 1996.

Related story:  Border Patrol has stored enough fentanyl to kill 794M, own agents at risk: Watchdog

From:  The Trump Administration Isn’t Providing Legal Aid To Migrant Children In Temporary Shelter

The Office of Refugee Resettlement, the government agency that operates all shelters for migrant children, has confirmed it has not yet contracted with any legal aid providers to give the kids access to counsel. The children face deportation proceedings and are already getting court dates, according to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), which has stepped in to offer free legal counsel in the absence of a contract.

RAICES, a legal services and advocacy group that represents unaccompanied minors in 13 shelters throughout Texas, told HuffPost that the administration is violating its legal obligations to provide the children with lawyers and is putting them in danger. The group decided to send lawyers to the Carrizo Springs facility on Tuesday on a pro bono basis, and plans to visit weekly so that the children will not be taken advantage of and deported without access to legal aid.

From:  Federal judge temporarily halts congressional Democrats’ subpoenas of Trump financial records

A federal judge temporarily blocked subpoenas from congressional Democrats for President Trump’s financial records after an appeals court weighed in on the issue.

The appeals court in Washington intervened Friday in the legal battle between the lawmakers and Trump over whether the president’s private business violates the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sent the case back to the U.S. District Court judge handling the lawsuit proceedings for another look at how the untested separation-of-powers issues at stake affect whether the case should move ahead and, if so, at what pace.

From:  Mueller probe witness now faces child sex trafficking charge

An indictment made public Friday in federal court in Alexandria charges Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, 60, with transporting a 14-year-old boy from Europe to Washington, D.C., in February 2000 and engaging in sex acts with him.

That charge comes on top of child pornography charges that had been leveled against him when he was arrested last month.

Nader’s name shows up more than 100 times in Mueller’s report. It details his efforts to serve as liaison between a Russian banker close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and members of President Donald Trump’s transition team.

From:  Ex-NSA contractor sentenced to nine years in prison for stealing secret documents

A former National Security Agency contractor was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison for stealing classified material over more than two decades in what may be the largest breach of classified information in U.S. history.

Harold Thomas Martin III, 54, was arrested in August 2016 when law enforcement agents raided his Glen Burnie, Maryland, home and found he had stored a massive trove of government documents and digital files in his home and vehicle. He worked for Booz Allen Hamilton at the time of his arrest. He pleaded guilty in March.

From:  In British PM race, a former Russian tycoon quietly wields influence

LONDON (Reuters) – For almost a decade, Alexander Temerko, who forged a career at the top of the Russian arms industry and had connections at the highest levels of the Kremlin, has been an influential figure in British politics. He’s one of the Conservative Party’s major donors. He counts Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to be Britain’s next PM, among his friends.

From:  Thousands protest in Moscow after opposition barred from city vote

MOSCOW (Reuters) – More than 10,000 people took to the streets of Moscow on Saturday to protest against the exclusion of most opposition-minded candidates from an election for the Russian capital’s legislature.

Election officials barred around 30 candidates, mostly opposition-leaning, from running for the 45-seat legislature on the grounds they failed to garner enough genuine signatures from voters to qualify.

The barred candidates say they have secured the required number of signatures, but that they had been excluded because they were challenging the control over the legislature exercised by those loyal to President Vladimir Putin.

Puerto Rico: Impeachment committee forms as protesters call for Gov. Rosselló to resign

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