Former Obama Justice Department official slams Sessions over drug sentencing reversal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF YAHOO NEWS)

Former Obama Justice Department official slams Sessions over drug sentencing reversal

Caitlin Dickson

Breaking News Reporter
Yahoo News May 15, 2017

Vanita Gupta, the former head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, called Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ harsh new sentencing policy “incredibly disappointing” in an interview Monday.

Last week, Sessions directed all federal prosecutors to pursue “the most serious, readily provable offense,” including those that carry mandatory minimum sentences — effectively reversing course on Obama-era policies aimed at drug sentencing reform.

Gupta, who also served as principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Obama administration, said the move was not entirely surprising given Sessions’ record in the Senate of resisting criminal justice reform. Still, she told Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric, the new policy marked a “resounding step backwards into the 1980s of failed policies in our criminal justice system that resulted in us having the highest incarceration rate of industrialized nations in the world.”

“It’s a real throwback in a lot of ways, and very troubling,” Gupta said, arguing that Sessions seems more guided by politics and rhetoric than evidence showing that mass incarceration is ineffective as a means of promoting public safety.

Evidence-based criminal justice reform is “one of the few issues that has brought Americans of all political stripes together over the last several years,” she said. “Yet the attorney general and [the Trump] administration seem to be out of line with the evidence and the momentum for reform.”

Gupta’s comments echoed a statement issued by former Attorney General Eric Holder last week, in which he called Sessions’ new tough sentencing policy “dumb on crime.”

Gupta had some equally harsh words for the president’s newly created commission to target voter fraud and its co-chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a leading proponent of restrictive voting laws.

Obama Deputy AG’s concerns over Trump’s Election Integrity Commission in two words: ‘Kris Kobach’

Vanita Gupta, former principal deputy assistant attorney general and acting head of the Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division under President Obama, spoke to Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric about President Trump’s creation of an Election Integrity Commission. She described her concerns in two words: “Kris Kobach,” the Kansas secretary of state.

In addition to the fact that several studies have found no evidence of mass voter fraud in the U.S., Gupta said there is “simply no way to take this commission seriously or to think that it is in any way independent, given that Kris Kobach has been named at the helm of it.”

Kobach, who has publicly supported Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 election, insisted on CNN Monday that the commission “is not set up to disprove or to prove President Trump’s claim, nor is it just looking at the 2016 election.”

“We’re looking at all forms of election irregularities — voter fraud, voter registration fraud, voter intimidation, suppression — and looking at the vulnerabilities of the various elections we have in each of the 50 states,” he said.

But Gupta isn’t buying it.

“It really just feels like a response to a political promise,” she said, adding that more than anything, the commission “seems to be setting the stage for efforts at mass voter suppression down the road.”

“I think those of us who care about voting rights are deeply, deeply troubled by this commission,” Gupta said.

Obama Deputy A.G. on Sessions, Comey’s firing and Trump’s Election Integrity Commission

Vanita Gupta, the former principal deputy assistant attorney general and acting head of the Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division under President Obama, spoke to Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric about Attorney General Sessions rolling back Obama- era guidance on sentencing, the firing of FBI Director James Comey and President Trump’s newly created Election Integrity Commission.

Read more from Yahoo News:

Chinese Media Keeps Up It’s Angry Tirade Toward India Because Of Dalai Lama’s Visit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF YAHOO NEWS AND IANS (INDO ASIAN NEWS SERVICE))

Chinese media keeps up angry tirade on Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit

Indo Asian News Service

Beijing, April 6 (IANS) The Chinese media on Thursday kept up its tirade against India over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, with an editorial in a state-run daily suggesting that if China, with its higher military capabilities and support among India’s neighbours, wants it can create trouble in Jammu and Kashmir.

In an editorial, titled ‘India’s use of Dalai Lama card tactless’, the Global Times says: “With a GDP several times higher than that of India, military capabilities that can reach the Indian Ocean and having good relations with India’s peripheral nations, coupled with the fact that India’s turbulent northern state borders China, if China engages in a geopolitical game with India, will Beijing lose to New Delhi?”

It said that China considers India as a friendly neighbour and partner and has “never provoked” bilateral disputes or made any “pressing demand” on India over the Dalai Lama. “New Delhi should respond to Beijing’s goodwill with goodwill.”

The editorial comes a day after Beijing summoned the Indian envoy Vijay Gokhale to protest the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which China considers disputed and part of south Tibet. India has maintained that Arunachal Pradesh is an inseparable part of its territory. The protests come as the Dalai Lama is in Arunachal Pradesh and is on way to Tawang for a major Buddhist event.

The editorial says that while the Dalai Lama has been to Arunachal Pradesh before, what makes this trip different is that he is “received by and accompanied by India’s Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju. When China raised the concern over the visit, Rijiju commented that China shouldn’t intervene in their “internal affairs.”

The editorial is mistaken on this point, as Rijiju, who belongs to Arunachal Pradesh, was not in Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday and did not receive the Dalai Lama or accompany him. Rijiju is set to accompany the Tibetan leader during his visit to Tawang. The Dalai Lama was received by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday, who is accompanying him on his road journey.

The daily says, in faulty English, that on the one hand New Delhi takes a stance that it opposes the Dalai Lama engaging in anti-China activities on the soil of India, but “it has long attempted to use the Dalai Lama as a card”.

“When India emphasizes the relationship with China, it would place a tight control on the Dalai. When it has a grudge against China, it may prompt the Dalai to play certain tricks as a signal sent to China,” it goes on to say.

It suggested that India is using the Dalai Lama as a “diplomatic tool” to put pressure on Beijing on the NSG and Masood Azhar issues, but it termed it “a clumsy and rude move”.

The editorial said that since the Tibetan leader is a highly politicised symbol in China’s diplomacy, a country’s attitude toward him almost affects the entire relationship with Beijing.

“The West has fully recognised the nature of the Dalai Lama as a diplomatic card and is extremely prudent in using it.

It said that earlier the Dalai Lama was received by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in December. “At a time when the Dalai Lama has been given a cold shoulder in many places of the world, New Delhi is bucking the trend and treating him as a favourite.”

The editorial warned that “New Delhi probably overestimates its leverage in the bilateral ties with China”.

“The two countries in recent years have continuously strived to improve their relationship and the peace on the border area has been maintained. India has benefited from the good momentum of bilateral relationship as much as China. If New Delhi ruins the Sino-India ties and the two countries turn into open rivals, can India afford the consequence?”

On Wednesday too, the Global Times in a belligerent editorial had said that New Delhi’s inviting the Tibetan spiritual leader to the “sensitive region” would “gravely damage” India-China relations.

It said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “unlike his predecessors” was taking a different stance on the Dalai Lama issue by “raising public engagements with the monk and challenging Beijing’s bottom line” on Arunachal Pradesh.

–IANS

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