Palin: I never blamed Obama for PTSD

— Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin insisted Monday that she “never blamed” President Barack Obama for her son’s recent arrest on domestic violence charges.

Stumping for Donald Trump last month, Palin alluded to her son’s arrest earlier that week and suggested that Obama did not respect and honor military servicemembers returning from duty.

“What my own son is going through, what he is going through coming back, I can relate to other families who feel ramifications of PTSD and some of the woundedness that our soldiers do return with,” she said at a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a day after endorsing Trump. “And it makes me realize, more than ever, it is now or never for the sake of America’s finest that we have that commander in chief who will respect them and honor them.”

Palin insisted Monday in an interview on NBC’s “Today” that she did not say anything “offensive” and was not blaming Obama for her son’s arrest, nor the post-traumatic stress she has suggested led to his arrest.

“I never blamed President Obama. What I have blamed President Obama in doing though is this level of disrespect for the United States military that is made manifest in getting budgets, in not trying to beef it up and let our military do the job that they are trained to do and in specific issues that we’re talking about that are so hot today, specifically let’s get in there and let’s utterly destroy ISIS,” Palin said Monday.

“I don’t regret any comment because I didn’t lay PTSD at the foot of the President. I did say though and suggested very adamantly that there is much more than our Commander-in-Chief can do to prove that he respects our troops and will let them do their job.

Track Palin, a 26-year-old Iraq War veteran, was arrested in Wasilla, Alaska, after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend days before Palin publicly endorsed Trump.

He was charged with domestic violence assault on a female, interfering with a report of domestic violence and possession of a weapon while intoxicated, according to Dan Bennett, a spokesman for the Wasilla Police Department.

Trump said in an interview on CNN later that week that he “suggested” Palin discuss her son’s arrest and the ramifications of PTSD.

And Trump also laid blame for the treatment of veterans at the President’s doorstep.

“Everything starts at the top and he’s the president,” Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon. “All you have to do is look at the Veterans Administration and look at the bad, the horrible care our vets get.”


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Chicago’s South Side to host Obama’s presidential library

— President Barack Obama’s presidential library will be located in Chicago, the Barack Obama Foundation officially announced Tuesday.

The University of Chicago beat out its competitors, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia University and the University of Hawaii, which also touted their ties to Obama and vied for the opportunity to host his presidential center.

CNN reported last month that Obama notified Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois lawmakers of his decision to pick Chicago’s South Side as the anchor to his presidential legacy.

Obama’s birthplace, the city of Honolulu in Hawaii, was also a finalist to host the center, but Chicago had long been the favorite.

“All the strands of my life came together and I really became a man when I moved to Chicago,” Obama said in a video the Foundation posted Tuesday morning.

Chicago is where Obama got his start after graduating from Harvard Law School, working first as a community organizer in Chicago’s South Side before jumping into politics, representing the South Side in the Illinois State Senate. Obama would later spring to the U.S. Senate after winning election statewide in Illinois.

Obama also announced his presidential bid in 2007 in Chicago — where he also claimed victory against Republican nominee John McCain in 2008.

The Barack Obama Foundation decided on Chicago, with the Obamas ultimately signing off on the decision.

In the video, Obama also touted the economic benefits of bringing his presidential library to the city, hoping it will create job opportunities and generate tourism for the city.

“With a library and a foundation on the South Side of Chicago, not only will we be able to encourage and effect change locally but what we can also do is attract the world to Chicago,” Obama said in the video.

David Axelrod, a former top adviser to Obama who also hails from the Windy City, said the library would be a “wonderful asset” to the city that would bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in economic gains.

“It will lift the community and Chicago is very, very excited today,” he said Tuesday on CNN’s “New Day.”

Obama also said the city is where “all the strands of my life came together,” noting that Chicago is not only where he started his career, but where he met his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, and where his daughters were born.

“The people there, the community, the lessons that I learned — they’re all based right in this few square miles where we’ll now be able to give something back and bring the world back home after this incredible journey,” Obama said.

Michelle Obama, who grew up in Chicago’s South Side, said in the video she is “thrilled” to put the library “in the heart of the neighborhood that means the world to me.”

“Every value, every memory, every important relationship to me exists in Chicago. I consider myself a South Sider,” she said.


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Al Sharpton to Baltimore to organize march to Washington, D.C.

— Rev. Al Sharpton is headed to Baltimore this week to meet with community leaders and plan a march from that city to Washington, D.C. to ramp up pressure on federal officials to take action on racial bias in policing.

Sharpton announced his plans Monday as Baltimore erupted into chaos on the same day as the funeral for Freddie Gray, the young black man from Baltimore who died in police custody. As businesses were looted and police cars destroyed and set on fire, community leaders were quick to condemn the rioting as unproductive to their cause.

Sharpton, a civil rights activist who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, hopes to organize a two-day march from Baltimore to Washington in May.

“The march will bring the case of Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Eric Harris to the new Attorney General, Loretta Lynch. Ms. Lynch, in her new role that we all supported, must look and intervene in these cases,” Sharpton said in a press release. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Lynch, the newly-minted attorney general, was sworn in Monday as the violence in Baltimore erupted.

Lynch on her first day met with President Barack Obama to discuss the Baltimore riots and in a statement Monday Lynch urged “every member of the Baltimore community to adhere to the principles of nonviolence” as the Justice Department’s investigation into Gray’s death continues.

“In the days ahead, I intend to work with leaders throughout Baltimore to ensure that we can protect the security and civil rights of all residents. And I will bring the full resources of the Department of Justice to bear in protecting those under threat, investigating wrongdoing, and securing an end to violence,” she said.

Lynch also dispatched two top officials to Baltimore to help city and state officials calm the situation.

Obama also spoke with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Monday and his senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, spoke with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

Sharpton has used his platforms as a radio and T.V. host to raise issues of police brutality and racial discrimination against black men in police forces around the country as high-profile deaths in Cleveland, New York and Ferguson, Missouri shook the nation.


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Congressional Black Caucus channels Ferguson ‘slap in the face’

— Members of the Congressional Black Caucus gave voice to the frustrations of demonstrators who gathered in Ferguson, Missouri, as well as places like Washington, D.C., Monday night to protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, the caucus’ chair, called the grand jury’s decision a “slap in the face to Americans nationwide” in a statement released just moments after St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the grand jury’s decision.

“This decision seems to underscore an unwritten rule that Black lives hold no value; that you may kill Black men in this country without consequences or repercussions,” Fudge said, calling the decision a “miscarriage of justice.”

The shooting of Brown, an unarmed black teenager, at the hands of Wilson, who is white, drove locals and activists around the country to the streets of Ferguson this summer and again this week in anticipation of a grand jury announcement which many hoped would at least deliver a trial in the shooting.

As tensions in Ferguson flared and violence erupted amid largely peaceful protests, the caucus members called on protesters to remain peaceful in expressing their anger and urged activists to channel a moment of frustration into a larger movement to effect change on the justice system and relations between African-American communities and police departments nationwide.

Rep. John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement who helped lead the 1963 March on Washington alongside Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., sent a message to protestors on Twitter:

“Only love can overcome hate. Only nonviolence can overcome violence,” he tweeted. “I know this hard. I know this is difficult. Do not succumb to the temptations of violence. There is a more powerful way.”

The Black Caucus members also stressed the need for the Justice Department to pursue its federal civil rights investigation into the deadly shooting, with several calling the local investigation deeply flawed.

Rep. Karen Bass said in a statement Monday that she was “deeply disturbed” that the grand jury did not indict Wilson.

“The announcement continues a trend of injustice that has rightfully created an environment of anger and concern in Ferguson, Missouri and across the United States,” Bass said. “From the onset, Ferguson law officials have been negligent in their handling of this tragic death.”

She said Ferguson officials “botched” the case from the start, noting that Brown’s body was in the street for hours after he was killed and called officials “mean-spirited” for leaking surveillance footage of Brown stealing cigars from a convenience store shortly before he was gunned down. That footage had not been requested by media in an information request.

“And tonight the grand jury attacked justice by not holding Officer Wilson accountable for his actions,” she said.”

Attorney General Eric Holder pledged Monday night to pursue the civil rights investigation into the shooting and a second investigation into allegations of misconduct by the Ferguson Police Department.

Rep. Lacy Clay, who represents Ferguson and St. Louis County in Congress, called the grand jury’s decision “extremely disappointing” and said he shares “the anger and frustration,” but called on protesters to be nonviolent.

Clay added that he was not surprised by the grand jury’s decision and said he had been concerned about the local investigation since Brown’s death.

“The pursuit of justice for Michael Brown, Jr. and his family is not over,” he said.”

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt said in a statement he hoped the community could “move forward and heal as we work to find better job opportunities in and more investment for challenged communities.”

Blunt, a Republican, added that his thoughts were with Brown’s family and with “those in law enforcement who continue to protect the rights of all they serve.”

Another Missouri lawmaker and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, posted a dozen messages on Twitter as St. Louis County prosecutor began his press conference to announce the grand jury’s conclusion.