Thursday, December 22, 2016

Stevie Wonder and John Conyers In Detroit Street Naming Ceremony

"Honored to join my friend Stevie Wonder at his street naming ceremony. Congratulations Stevie Wonder." said John Conyers, Jr.
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Stevie Wonder and John Conyers

Isn't it lovely? Stevie Wonder gets a street in Detroit

A grateful Stevie Wonder brought warm spirits to a frigid Detroit afternoon as city officials christened a street in honor of the iconic Motown star.

Signs marking Stevie Wonder Avenue now grace the corners of Milwaukee Avenue at Woodward, a mile from Motown's original headquarters and just two blocks from the site of Wonder's first Detroit home — a house at Milwaukee and Brush where the Saginaw native moved as a young prodigy in  the early 1960s.

"I know things can't last forever, but I'm going to freeze this moment in my mind and make it last," Wonder told fans and Detroit dignitaries ahead of the sign unveiling.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, and Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones were among those on hand for the dedication, an effort spearheaded by Wonder's cousin Sharon DuMas and approved by the City Council in late 2015.

Amid the speeches and razzmatazz, there was a cozy family feel to Wednesday's proceedings, where Wonder was flanked by his older brother and longtime stage escort, Calvin Hardaway.

A crowd of about 400 braved an hour delay and temperatures in the 20s for the occasion, where Wonder also announced that he'll be bringing his House Full of Toys holiday concert to Detroit in 2017. The annual children's benefit has been a Los Angeles tradition for two decades, with Wonder performing alongside guests such as Alicia Keys, Justin Bieber and John Legend.

Wednesday's event found Wonder delivering familiar messages of peace and unity, declaring his affection for Detroit and breaking into an impromptu rendition of "You Are the Sunshine of My Life."

Duggan, presenting Wonder an honorary key to the city, told the 66-year-old star that the street dedication "is a way of saying thank you for all you've given us."

"You changed history, and you did it getting your start here in Detroit," the mayor said.
Jones lauded Wonder as an "artist whose music has inspired generations, raised consciousness and put expressions of love into words."

A grinning Wonder listened on — and periodically joined in — as a choir from the Detroit School of Arts performed the chestnuts "Do I Do," "Isn't She Lovely" and "All I Do."

From there, it was on to the street corner, where Cass Tech High School's marching band laid down "Sir Duke" as Wonder, Duggan and Motown Museum chief Robin Terry tugged a rope to unveil a blue "Stevie Wonder Avenue" street sign.

"Obviously it's an amazing feeling, unbelievable," Wonder told media afterward. "I never imagined in my lifetime this would happen."

He spoke optimistically about the Motown Museum's planned $50-million expansion.

"As Detroit goes through its expansion and growth, it's only appropriate for that to happen for a jewel (that is) so much a part of Detroit's legacy as Motown," he said. "So I'm very happy about that."
He also applauded plans to make the expanded museum accessible to the blind and deaf.

Asked about President-elect Donald Trump, Wonder — a Hillary Clinton supporter and longtime Democratic booster — mostly played diplomatic, declining to directly attack the incoming U.S. leader.

"Our choice is to do good by each other, or to do bad by each other — to do good for each other, or do bad for each other," he said. "I think that the president-elect has a decision he has to make."

He also paid tribute to Detroit, the city where he honed his musical skills as a teen under the tutelage of Berry Gordy Jr. and Motown's other heavyweights.

"My love of the city is a reflection of the music I've written," he said, later adding: "Detroit is all in everything that I've done."

For now, Stevie Wonder Avenue signs will grace two corners of the Milwaukee-Woodward intersection. DuMas, who led the street renaming campaign, said she'll be lobbying the city to rename the entirety of Milwaukee Avenue, which runs 1.7 miles from East Grand Boulevard to the Lodge Freeway.

"I felt like it was time for this. We lost Michael Jackson and Prince. But Stevie is here," she said Wednesday. "I wanted to give him his flowers while he's here."

Stevie Wonder Avenue joins a list of area streets named for homegrown music stars, including Berry Gordy Boulevard, Aretha Avenue, Miracles Boulevard and Temptations Drive in Detroit. In Royal Oak, Glenn Frey Drive was unveiled earlier this year in honor of the recently deceased Eagles founder.

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Candidate For DNC Chair U.S. Representative Keith Ellison In Detroit

Reverend Brian Ellison of the Church of the New Covenant Baptist Church of Detroit introducing his brother, U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, candidate for the Democratic National Committee Chair.

"We've got to stand up tall for small. Beyond a 50 state strategy, we need a 3,141 county strategy. We need a precinct strategy. We need to make sure our party is putting voters first." said U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, candidate for the Democratic National Committee Chair.

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Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon

This is the first time in history that a candidate for the DNC chair has actually traveled the country, going into the congressional districts and precincts to advocate for voting rights in the Democratic Party.
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U.S. Representative Keith Ellison
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Representative Thomas Stalworth III and
Debbie Williams of Families and Children Justice

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CONYERS Statement On Criminal Charges In Flint Water Crisis

Detroit, MI - Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) released the following statement after criminal charges were filed concerning the Flint water crisis:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“We welcome all efforts to secure justice for the people of Flint, including the investigation of criminal actions by emergency managers and others. However, much remains to be done in the pursuit of justice for Flint residents and to ensure that no other community suffers from the actions of unaccountable political appointees that they did not elect.

“The simple fact is that no matter how many people are prosecuted or sued by Attorney General Schuette, it will not undo the damage Flint has suffered. The State must continue its efforts to ameliorate the harms committed in Flint and the Governor and others must ensure that sufficient resources are provided to those who continue to be harmed.  If the state is unwilling to secure the requisite funding, the City of Flint should have the opportunity to bring a civil action seeking compensation from the State for the harms it caused to the citizens of Flint. The State also needs to finally repeal its Emergency Law which is antidemocratic, discriminatory, and a vehicle for corporate privatization, conflicts of interest, and corruption.

“Until Flint’s water is fully safe, its children are made whole, and we see consequences for all those who stripped Flint’s citizens of their political and civil rights to protect themselves, there will be neither justice nor resolution for the people of Flint.”

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016


The report contains key observations and opportunities for progress

cid:image001.png@01D1CEE4.662DFBD0Washington, D.C. –Members of the bipartisan encryption working group – established in March 2016 by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) – today released a year-end report laying out key observations and next steps.

For nearly a year, the Encryption Working Group has held numerous meetings with a variety of federal, state, and local government entities, former government officials, private industry and trade associations, civil society organizations, consultants and legal experts, academia, and cryptographers. These meetings have produced critical information, culminating in a year-end report that lays out four key observations and identifies several areas for future discussion next Congress.

The report concludes:

“Encryption is inexorably tied to our national interests. It is a safeguard for our personal secrets and economic prosperity. It helps to prevent crime and protect national security. The widespread use of encryption technologies also complicates the missions of the law enforcement and intelligence communities. As described in this report, those complications cannot be ignored. This is the reality of modern society. We must strive to find common ground in our collective responsibility: to prevent crime, protect national security, and provide the best possible conditions for peace and prosperity.

“That is why this can no longer be an isolated or binary debate. There is no ‘us versus them,’ or ‘pro-encryption versus law enforcement.’ This conversation implicates everyone and everything that depends on connected technologies—including our law enforcement and intelligence communities. This is a complex challenge that will take time, patience, and cooperation to resolve.  The potential consequences of inaction—or overreaction—are too important to allow historical or ideological perspectives to stand in the way of progress.”

Below are key observations of the report.

1.      Any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest.
2.      Encryption technology is a global technology that is widely and increasingly available around the world.
3.      The variety of stakeholders, technologies, and other factors create different and divergent challenges with respect to encryption and the “going dark” phenomenon, and therefore there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the encryption challenge.
4.      Congress should foster cooperation between the law enforcement community and technology companies.

Based on these observations, the report has identified several areas for future discussion by the committees next Congress, such as exploring opportunities to help law enforcement agencies navigate the process of accessing information from private companies; examining options to improve law enforcement’s ability to leverage metadata; reviewing the circumstances, resources and legal framework necessary to help law enforcement agencies exploit existing flaws in digital products; considering the implications of alternative legal strategies such as compelling individual consumers to decrypt their devices, and the role of encryption in fostering greater data security and privacy.

The members of the working group issuing the report are House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), and Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Bill Johnson (R-OH), and Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY).
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House Dems: Russia hacking probe needs political 'safeguards'

Lawmakers say Trump’s dismissal of Russian hacking and his business investments could ‘threaten the impartiality’ of an investigation. 

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are demanding intelligence officials put “safeguards” in place to ensure any investigation into Russian hacking is free of political influence ahead of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The lawmakers say Trump’s repeated dismissal of the Russian hacking along with his possible business investments in the county could “threaten the impartiality” of an investigation while he’s president.

The letter, sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey, also calls on federal investigators to make public additional details about Russian attempts to undermine the election, including whether there is a criminal investigation and if so, when it started.

“We strongly and urgently request that safeguards be put in place — prior to the completion of the presidential transition — to ensure that any criminal investigation into these matters is conducted in an independent manner and free of improper partisan influence,” House Judiciary Committee ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.) wrote Wednesday.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), top Democrat on the committee’s crime panel, also signed onto the letter, obtained by POLITICO.

“To the extent that this investigation extends to any U.S. persons — including any associate of President Elect Donald Trump — we ask that you confirm this as well,” they added.

Conyers and Jackson Lee also cite Trump’s potential conflicts of interest surrounding his business holdings, including possible financial ties to Russia, as the need for an independent investigation.
The Judiciary Democrats say any probe into Russian cyber warfare should be treated with just as much importance as the controversial investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
“These and other incidents concerning investigatory actions — or lack thereof — in the run up to the recent election have deeply shaken the reputation for fairness previously enjoyed by federal law enforcement and reinforce the need to appropriately handle any pending criminal investigation,” they write, citing Comey’s decision to publicly re-open the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email practices days before the election.

Conyers and Jackson Lee also echo calls for an “independent and bipartisan commission” to fully investigate Russia’s actions in the run-up toNov. 8. The letter comes after growing demands from key senators for GOP leaders to establish a select congressional committee to dig into the issue.
President Barack Obama and other top intelligence officials have said Russia was behind the election hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic documents, including Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails and personal information for lawmakers and staffers, and resulted in the resignation of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz just hours before the Democratic convention.

But the president-elect and some Republicans have dismissed allegations of Russia’s role in the document dumps and the country's attempts to sway voters in Trump’s favor ahead of Election Day.

“If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?” Trump tweeted last week. He’s also called the claims “ridiculous” and “just another excuse.” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper announced onOct. 7, more than a month before the election, that U.S. intelligence agencies agreed that Russia had conducted the hacking operations in an attempt to meddle in the election.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has publicly sparred with top intelligence officials, saying they have refused to brief him and other members of the panel on the issue in recent weeks. Nunes last week announced plans for committee members to visit the intelligence agencies in January to learn more about the Russian investigation.

So far, top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have rejected requests for a separate probe, saying the committees with jurisdiction over cybersecurity can handle the investigation.

The Senate and House Intelligence Committees are taking the lead on investigating the issue but several other committees, including House Judiciary, have some jurisdiction.

Key lawmakers, including incoming Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), have argued that a select panel is needed to head off problems from too many committees being involved.

McConnell again ruled out the idea of a special committee during an interview with a Kentucky PBS outlet Tuesday.

"It's a serious issue, but it doesn't require a select committee," McConnell said. "We already have a committee set up to do this."

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CONYERS & JACKSON LEE Of House Judiciary Call For Safeguards From DOJ & FBI On Russian Hacking Investigation

 Conyers and Jackson Lee: Make Russian Hacking Investigation Your Top Priority & Release Investigative Docs to the Committee

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Washington, DC – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) sent a letter today to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) calling for safeguards to be put in place to ensure the investigation into Russian hacking is made a top priority and is completed in a thorough and bipartisan manner throughout the Presidential transition. Conyers and Jackson Lee also called for DOJ and the FBI to be transparent in their investigation of Russian hacking, by releasing copies of all relevant investigative materials regarding the investigation to the House Judiciary Committee, in the same way it did during its investigation of Secretary Clinton’s private email server.
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Monday, December 19, 2016

CONYERS: Electoral College belongs in 1787

Under the right circumstances, the political will for reform can exist.

By John Conyers. Jr.

Dean of the U.S. House
'of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
With the Electoral College meeting Monday to formally elect Donald Trump as our 45th president, it is time that we reconsider whether a political compromise approved in 1787 bears any principled or practical reason for being today.

Several serious concerns were raised at a forum I organized earlier this month featuring leading experts in history, constitutional law and political science. Most obviously, we learned that the Electoral College is anti-democratic. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has so far received over 2.8 million more votes nationwide than Trump — the largest divergence between the popular and electoral votes in history. This is the second time there has been a divergence between the popular vote and the Electoral College in the last five elections, and the fifth time that a popular-vote loser won the White House.

We also learned that the Electoral College is rooted in slavery. At our forum, Yale law professor Akhil Amar explained that slave states opposed direct elections for president because “in a direct election system, the North would outnumber the South, whose many slaves . . . could not vote. But the Electoral College . . . instead let each Southern state count its slaves, albeit with a two-fifths discount, in computing its share of the overall count.”

Our forum also made clear that many of the arguments in defense of the Electoral College are anachronistic. Electoral College defenders argue that it serves to check the passions of ordinary voters, pointing to Alexander Hamilton’s view in The Federalist Papers that the Electoral College would help ensure “that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

However, the Electoral College does not meet to deliberate about who should be president. The general public does not even know the electors’ identities, and the Electoral College’s choice for president has largely been reduced to mere formality. Members of the Electoral College are party loyalists who are subject to various state laws, some of which prohibit them from even exercising independent judgment. This is why over time there have been very few faithless electors, and none that have decided an election’s outcome.

Rather than protect small-population states and rural areas from domination by large-population states and urban areas, the current system encourages candidates to overlook a majority of states and focus nearly all their campaign efforts on the small number of so-called swing states. In 2016, for instance, both major party candidates largely bypassed three of the four largest states by population during the campaign. They also skipped 12 of the 13 smallest states, from “Blue” Rhode Island to “Red” Wyoming.

Finally, some Electoral College defenders argue that direct elections for president could lead to messy nationwide vote recounts. Our experience in Florida in 2000, and Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin this year, have taught us that statewide recounts under differing and confusing rules bring neither clarity nor finality to our electoral process. By contrast, a national popular vote is historically far more likely to establish a clear winner, avoiding the necessity of recounts altogether.

Many voters have told me that the political obstacles to reform are insurmountable, with a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate and ratification by three-quarters of the states. Yet in 1969 I was one of 338 members of the House of Representatives who voted on a bipartisan basis to amend the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College. As that shows, under the right circumstances the political will for reform can exist.

However, other options are available, with 11 states accounting for 165 electoral votes having already entered an interstate compact to cast their electoral votes for the national popular vote winner. Legislation to enter the compact has been recently passed by at least one legislative chamber in four more states, potentially bringing us even closer to the 270-vote threshold needed for the interstate agreement to kick in.

The Supreme Court has long held that the “conception of political equality from the Declaration of Independence, to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, to the 15th, 17th, and 19th Amendments can only mean one thing — one person, one vote.”

It is time that the election of our nation’s president and vice president reflect those principles as well. The greatest democracy on Earth deserves no less.

2016 National Popular Vote Tracker
Compiled from official sources by: David Wasserman @Redistrict, Cook Political Report @CookPolitical
*Denotes Official/Certified Results; "Swing State" defined as state that flipped from '12 or was decided by less than 5%.
StateClinton (D)Trump (R)OthersClinton %Trump %Others %Dem '12 MarginDem '16 MarginMargin ShiftTotal '12 VotesTotal '16 VotesRaw Votes vs. '12
U.S. Total65,844,59462,979,6167,804,20348.2%46.1%5.7%3.9%2.1%-1.8%129,075,630136,628,4135.9%
13 Swing States21,433,21422,249,3422,348,06946.6%48.3%5.1%3.6%-1.8%-5.4%43,939,91846,030,6254.8%
Non-Swing States44,411,38040,730,2745,456,13449.0%45.0%6.0%4.0%4.1%0.1%85,135,71290,597,7886.4%
13 Swing States
New Hampshire*348,526345,79049,84246.8%46.5%6.7%5.6%0.4%-5.2%710,972744,1584.7%
North Carolina*2,189,3162,362,631189,61746.2%49.8%4.0%-2.0%-3.7%-1.6%4,505,3724,741,5645.2%
Non-Swing States
District of Columbia*282,83012,72315,71590.9%4.1%5.0%83.6%86.8%3.1%293,764311,2686.0%
New Jersey*2,148,2781,601,933123,83555.5%41.4%3.2%17.8%14.1%-3.7%3,640,2923,874,0466.4%
New Mexico*385,234319,66693,41848.3%40.0%11.7%10.1%8.2%-1.9%783,758798,3181.9%
New York*4,547,2182,814,346348,56259.0%36.5%4.5%28.2%22.5%-5.7%7,072,0837,710,1269.0%
North Dakota*93,758216,79433,80827.2%63.0%9.8%-19.6%-35.7%-16.1%322,932344,3606.6%
Rhode Island*252,525180,54331,07654.4%38.9%6.7%27.5%15.5%-11.9%446,049464,1444.1%
South Carolina*855,3731,155,38992,26540.7%54.9%4.4%-10.5%-14.3%-3.8%1,964,1182,103,0277.1%
South Dakota117,442227,70124,90431.7%61.5%6.7%-18.0%-29.8%-11.8%363,815370,0471.7%
West Virginia*188,794489,37134,88626.5%68.6%4.9%-26.8%-42.2%-15.4%670,438713,0516.4%

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