John Bolton Claims Donald Trump Endorsed China’s Mass Detention of Uighur Muslims

Donald Trump gave verbal approval of China’s Uighur re-education camps—where as many as 1 million members of the country’s Muslim minority are currently being housed—during a one-on-one meeting with Xi Jinping in June last year, according to a recent account by former national security adviser John Bolton.

In a leaked excerpt from his upcoming memoir The Room Where It Happened, Bolton recalls a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Xi at the 2019 Group of 20 summit in Japan, wherein Xi defended China’s construction of “Vocational Education and Training Centers”: a series of internment camps, set up in the northwestern Chinese territory of Xinjiang, where local authorities have been detaining and indoctrinating Uighurs since at least 2017.

“According to our interpreter,” Bolton writes of the meeting, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.”

The revelation comes amid a raft of allegations levelled against Trump in Bolton’s upcoming memoir, scheduled for release next week. Among them: that Trump begged China to purchase American agricultural products so he would benefit politically; that he pleaded with Xi to ensure he’d win the 2020 U.S. presidential election; and that he suggested “the two-term constitutional limit on presidents should be repealed for him”.

Claims regarding Trump’s alleged approval of the Uighur camps are particularly noteworthy, however, in light of recent events. On Wednesday, within hours of Bolton’s revelations surfacing in the pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, Trump signed a bill calling for sanctions against the Chinese treatment of Uighurs.

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Trump said the legislation—titled the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020—“holds accountable perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses such as the systematic use of indoctrination camps, forced labor, and intrusive surveillance to eradicate the ethnic identity and religious beliefs of Uighurs and other minorities in China.”

Trump did not hold a ceremony to mark his signing the bill into law, Al Jazeera reports. And according to Dr David Brophy, a senior lecturer in Modern Chinese History at the University of Sydney and a specialist on Xinjiang, he probably isn’t too interested in enforcing it.

“Judging from Bolton’s account, Trump is likely to have little enthusiasm to make use of the bill’s provisions to pressure China on the Uighur issue. If he does end up applying sanctions, it won’t be because of any commitment to human rights,” he told VICE via email. “Trump has never really taken a public stance on the camps. While people like Vice-President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo have regularly denounced China’s treatment of the Uighurs, Trump has [historically] avoided almost any mention of them in his rhetoric towards China.”

Dr Brophy wouldn’t speculate on whether the timing of Trump signing the sanctions bill was linked to Bolton’s leaked accounts, or whether it was just a coincidence. He did point out, however, that Trump’s alleged endorsement of the Uighur camps “shouldn’t surprise us.”

“Trump has no qualms about treating entire Muslim populations as potential terrorists,” he said. “This tells us that his political instincts are close to Xi’s when it comes to demonising and repressing Muslim populations.”

It’s no secret that President Trump favours a hardline approach , some of his own policies, such as the Muslim travel ban.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has made his feelings toward Muslims clear on more than one occasion —whether through his own policies, such as the Muslim travel ban, or his checkered history of tweeting Islamophobic messaging on social media. His support of the Xinjiang camps, if it is true, would be yet another damning indictment of the way the American President views and treats Muslim populations around the world.

“[In endorsing the camps] Trump is endorsing a policy of mass detention and re-education, carried out in the name of counter-terrorism, which amounts to a full-scale assault on Uyghur religious and cultural life,” said Dr Brophy. “The US-led War on Terror has unfortunately given repressive regimes around the world an excuse for such policies. Sometimes the US colludes in them, sometimes it criticises them.”

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India Building World’s Largest Quarantine Facility and Converting Hotels, Religious Places into Isolation Wards

Anticipating a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases towards the end of July, India’s capital is planning what is being described as the “world’s largest quarantine facility.” The proposal was announced on June 16 in an attempt to shore up the county’s buckling healthcare system.

The new Delhi quarantine facility, to be set up near the North Indian state of Haryana, will be furnished with 10,000 recyclable beds made from cardboard, which seems to provide a less hospital surface for the virus. Indian doctors have cited findings that SARS-CoV-2 cannot survive on cardboard surfaces longer than about 24 hours.

In the past few days, coronavirus cases have spiked in Delhi from 10,000 to more than 44,000, underlining the city’s inadequate supply of hospital beds and drawing attention to healthcare system’s ill-preparedness, despite an abundance of overseas warnings.

A few days ago, Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia speculated that the national capital would have to deal with more than 500,000 cases by July 31.

Currently, COVID-19 care wards in Delhi’s hospitals can accomodate 5,974 patients, while outside facilities with oxygen and beds can only take in 344 people.

In May, the Delhi government asked 117 private hospitals to earmark 20 percent of their beds to isolate COVID-19 patients. Throughout the outbreak, private hospitals India have been criticised for charging exorbitant rates to those who can least afford it.

A high-level panel has informed the Delhi government that, for every 100 hospital beds, the city would need 400 more beds in hotels, banquet halls or rest houses in religious places for patients with mild symptoms.

The 10,000-bed facility will be set up at the Radha Soami Spiritual Centre in Delhi’s Chhatarpur. Previously, this centre was being used as a shelter for migrant workers who were stuck in the city during the lockdown.

“This will be treated as a hospital for patients with coronavirus symptoms, and we expect to open in the first week of July,” a spokesperson from the Radha Soami Spiritual Centre, who did not wish to be named, told VICE over the phone.

The South Delhi district magistrate BM Mishra said that this temporary facility would function like 20 mini hospitals with 500 beds each, and staffed with 400 doctors working in shifts. The facility will not be providing ventilators, instead referring patients with severe symptoms to specialty hospitals.

The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has also offered to convert its gurudwaras [places of assembly and worship for Sikhs] and schools into COVID-19 care centres, each with 850 beds for patients with mild symptoms. Even hotels and banquet halls are now being used to prepare for a predicted surge in patients.

Similarly, Thane district on the outskirts of India’s worst-hit city Mumbai, has also unveiled a 1000-bed temporary hospital specifically for coronavirus patients.

Back in March, India enforced some of the world’s toughest lockdown policies in an attempt to buy time for India’s healthcare system to ramp up their facilities. Many innovative measures were announced, including converting sports stadiums into quarantine facilities, and turning Mumbai’s exhibition centres and performance theatres into makeshift clinics. The Indian railway ministry also offered 20,000 train compartments to be used as isolation wards in late March, though the large-scale rollout of these is still yet to happen.

In 2019 the Indian the government informed their Parliament that India only had one doctor for every 1,457 citizens. This, combined with strikes by resident doctors in Mumbai and Delhi goes some distance to explain why India’s healthcare system has been so quickly overwhelmed.

“The population of India is too much compared to the number of qualified doctors in the country, and even the corona warriors aren’t getting proper accommodations or salaries,” explained a Dr Arushi Jain, who’s filed a public interest litigation with the Supreme Court, complaining there’s inadequate quarantine facilities for doctors near hospitals.

She points out that the government of India arbitrarily classified doctors as high and low risk, which she felt was unfair and demotivating for those on the frontlines.

India has also repeatedly been criticised for the dilapidated state of its quarantine facilities, where suspected patients have to share bathrooms and are denied proper food, water, or sanitation.

When faced with a surge in coronavirus cases, many countries around the world have taken cues from the makeshift clinics constricted in China. In the U.S, university housing, convention centres and even parks have been turned into temporary hospitals, while Russia built a clinic on the outskirts of Moscow, seemingly inspired by China’s 1,000 bed hospital in Wuhan. Likewise, the U.K. built the NHS Nightingale hospital in nine days to provide intensive care treatment to coronavirus patients.

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First Missouri Cannabis Grow Facility Is Up And Running • High Times

Missouri has had a rocky road to cannabis reform and medical cannabis expansion so far, but now, the state is poised for success with their own, commercial cannabis grow facility now fully up and operational. 

The company operating the new grow, BeLeaf Medical LLC, is based in St. Louis. The grow opened on Thursday of last week and is poised to supply much of the state’s cannabis. 

“We’re hopeful that (at the) end of the third quarter, early fourth quarter, we’ll be able to supply dispensaries with product for general consumption,” Ken Riggs, president of the company, explained to the News-Leader in Missouri.  

The grow site is in Earth City, a suburb of St. Louis, and the customer-facing brand name is Sinse, a reference to Sinsemilla cannabis flowers. They have been around for four years, and they’re already approved for CBD cultivation in the state. They also hold 10 of the state’s commercial grow licenses, and they are set up to cultivate, manufacture infused products, and operate dispensaries. They also had to undergo an intense inspection process to get their doors open, something that they assure patients is quite thorough. 

“It is very detail-oriented, it is extremely — I wouldn’t call it challenging necessarily, but the amount of effort that is required to put forward to get through commencement is substantial,” Riggs said. 

While the company already has plant genetics and clones that meet the state’s requirements, Riggs also hopes to do business with others in the industry in order to provide lots of options and grow his network. He also cautioned that it will take some time, but he plans to expand and be a major, legal cannabis supplier in the state. 

“[Cannabis cultivation] isn’t like flipping on a light switch. You have to ramp up just a little,” he said. 

Plans For More Cultivation Centers

As much ground as Sinse plans to cover, southern Missouri is working on getting a grow going as well. BD Health Ventures and ERBA Holdings LLC are working together to open another cultivation center and accompanying dispensaries, with headquarters based in Humansville  and other locations in Neosho and Springfield. Their plan is to try and supply the southwest part of the state with medical cannabis. The company plans to have 29 full-time staff members by the end of the year. The companies will operate under the Flora Farms brand banner. 

However, despite these positive steps forward, there is still controversy surrounding legal cannabis in Missouri. Both lawmakers and cannabis community members have come after the Missouri health department, claiming that there are conflicts of interest involved with awarding cannabis licenses. 

While it’s unclear when all this will be resolved, or whether having an operation that is up and running will completely solve the issue, Missouri patients are still excited that the industry is able to move forward.

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The Atlanta Cop Who Shot Rayshard Brooks in the Back Was Just Charged With Murder

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The Atlanta cop who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks as he ran away from officers in a Wendy’s parking lot last weekend is being charged with felony murder, among 10 other counts.

Garrett Rolfe and his partner, Devin Brosnan, who has been charged with aggravated assault and violation of oath, are expected to turn themselves in by Thursday evening, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said during a press conference Wednesday.

“I believe a reasonable person would conclude he was not an immediate threat,” Howard said.

An autopsy, performed Sunday, showed that Brooks was shot twice in the back. After the 27-year-old Black man was already on the ground and struggling for his life, Rolfe also kicked him and Brosnan stood on his shoulder, according to Howard. The officers did not immediately render medical aid.

Rolfe was fired shortly after the shooting; Brosnan was placed on administrative leave. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields also promptly resigned.

READ: What You Need To Know About Rayshard Brooks, the Black Man Shot Twice in the Back by a White Police Officer

Howard said Brooks was “peacefully sleeping in his car” in the middle of a Wendy’s drive-thru late Friday when officers first approached. He was largely cooperative up until officers tried to handcuff him.

“His demeanor during this incident was almost jovial,” Howard said. “He received many instructions from the Atlanta officers and he was asked many questions — some of the questions he was asked repeatedly — but for 41 minutes and 17 seconds, he followed every instruction, he answered the questions.”

After Brooks failed a field sobriety test, officers asked him to put his hands behind his back so they could handcuff him — without telling Brooks he was under arrest for driving under the influence, according to Howard. A struggle ensued and the officers tackled Brooks to the ground. After Brooks took off with an officer’s Taser and pointed it over his shoulder as he ran, Rolfe shot him in the back.

Brooks was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died after surgery, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was a father to three daughters and one step-son. He was supposed to celebrate his eldest daughter’s birthday on Saturday, the day after he died. Earlier in the day, he had taken her out to eat and to get her nails done, and he mentioned her birthday while police questioned him.

Before Brooks died, anti-racist demonstrations protesting the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were already sweeping Atlanta, along with the rest of the country. Now protests have erupted for Brooks. On Saturday, the Wendy’s where he was killed was set on fire during protests across the city.

Rolfe’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment. The firm defending him, the LoRusso Law Firm, said in a statement to the Journal-Constitution earlier Wednesday that Rolfe’s actions were justified because Brooks fought with the officers and disarmed them of a Taser.

“Officer Rolfe is well known to the courts and there is no compelling reason to bring any charges against them before the GBI has completed its investigation and published its findings,” the LoRusso Law Firm said in the statement.

Howard said Brosnan agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against Rolfe. Brosnan’s attorney, Don Samuel, denied that in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“The decision to initiate charges by the Fulton County DA’s office is irrational, unethical and obviously based on factors which should have nothing to do with the proper administration of justice,” Samuel said in a statement.

Cover: This undated photo provided by the Atlanta Police Department shows Officer Garrett Rolfe. Rolfe, who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks in the back after the fleeing man pointed a stun gun in his direction, was charged with felony murder and 10 other charges, announced Wednesday, June 17, 2020. Rolfe was fired after the shooting. (Atlanta Police Department via AP)

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More Than 1.5 Tons Of Pot Seized At Canadian Border • High Times

Agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized more than 1.5 tons of pot from a truck crossing into the United States from Canada at a Buffalo, New York border checkpoint, federal law enforcement officials announced on Tuesday. The seizure of 1,517 kilograms of cannabis was made on June 13 at the Peace Bridge crossing linking the Niagara region of Ontario with Buffalo.

After diverting the truck to a secondary inspection area as it attempted to cross the border, agents with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discovered 58 cardboard boxes hidden between pallets of peat moss being carried by the truck. The cardboard boxes held thousands of vacuum-sealed packages containing a total of more than 3,300 pounds of suspected marijuana. Officials estimated the value of the seized cannabis at approximately $5 million.

Rose Brophy, the director of the CBP field office in Buffalo, said at a press conference on Tuesday that last week’s discovery was a record-breaking bust.

“This load in and of itself is the largest seizure in the entry port of Buffalo’s history,” she said.

Alleged Driver Faces Life In Prison

The alleged driver of the truck, Gurpreet Singh, a 30-year-old citizen of India, was arrested and has been charged with unlawfully importing and possessing with intent to distribute 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison upon conviction. Singh has made an initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate and is being held pending a detention hearing scheduled for June 17.

James P. Kennedy Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, noted that with the U.S. border with Canada closed to all but essential traffic because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, smugglers have altered their methods and are making more attempts to move illicit goods through commercial modes of transportation.

“Despite the current travel restrictions at our international crossings, the criminal element has not curtailed their efforts to profit from illicit drug trafficking,” he said in a press release.

Kevin Kelly, the special agent-in-charge of Homeland Security Investigations’ Buffalo border enforcement security team, said that the seized marijuana was likely headed for destinations beyond Upstate New York.

“This marijuana will probably hit Buffalo and proceed either eastbound into New York City or into other major metropolitan cities,” he said. “The bulk of this marijuana would probably not stay in the city of Buffalo.”

This was the second large seizure of cannabis at the Peace Bridge border crossing in less than two weeks. On June 5, CBP officers confiscated more than 800 kilograms of marijuana worth an estimated $2 million from a truck attempting to cross into the U.S. Since March 21, more than 8,700 pounds of illegal drugs, mostly marijuana, has been confiscated at the Peace Bridge crossing.

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A Short List of the Statues People Want Instead of Confederate Leaders

Several years ago, everyone seemed to re-notice that there was an unnecessarily large tribute to three members of the Confederacy on the side of a giant rock just outside of Atlanta. Stone Mountain isn’t just the largest Confederate monument in the world, it’s the biggest bas-relief carving on earth, and the towering depictions of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and their horses are bigger than Mount Rushmore.

The monument was proposed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDOC) in the early 1920s, when Stone Mountain itself had already been established as an important site to the newly resurgent Ku Klux Klan. Helen Plane, the head of the UDOC at the time, asked the monument’s original sculptor to consider including the KKK in the piece, too. “I feel it is due to the Klan which saved us from Negro domination and carpetbag rule, that it be immortalized on Stone Mountain,” she wrote. “Why not represent a small group of them in their nightly uniform approaching in the distance?”

The world’s largest participation trophy was started in 1923, but due to a combination of factors, it wasn’t finished and formally dedicated until 1970—more than 100 years after the end of the Civil War (and 14 years after the last Civil War veteran died).

In 2015, in the wake of the horrific murder of nine people at a historic Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, the necessity of a Confederate monument like Stone Mountain, especially on the site of the KKK’s longtime Memorial Day cross burning, was thrown into question. Activist and filmmaker Bree Newsome famously removed the Confederate flag at the South Carolina State House to the applause of onlookers, leading to her arrest but triggering a domino effect wherein communities began to object to the continued display of other monuments to slaveholders and Confederate leaders. While some organizations called for the Confederate leaders to be sandblasted right off Stone Mountain, a Queens man named Mack Williams had a different idea.

Williams launched a MoveOn petition, asking then-Georgia governor Nathan Deal to add Big Boi and André 3000 OutKast to the monument instead. “By no means do we wish to erase or destroy the current carving, which, regardless of its context, is an impressive and historic work of art,” he wrote. “We simply wish to add new carvings, of Atlanta hip-hop duo OutKast, to the mountainside […] I believe that Daddy Fat Sacks and Three Stacks should be carved riding in a Cadillac (as is their wont).”

More than 15,000 people have signed that petition to signal their approval, including the half-dozen signatures that were added within two hours of this writing. “I tried to make it clear that it was mostly a joke and, you know, I was sticking my thumb in the eye of people who’d take offense,” Williams told the New Yorker. “There’s obviously worthier folks to add to the mountain, but I think OutKast would piss off the right people.” (Two years later, after Heather Heyer was killed by a far-right protester in Charlottesville, he’d changed his mind. “I’m thinking we should probably just blow it of the side of the mountain altogether,” he said.)

Stone Mountain is still there, but as an increasing number of cities have finally started to remove their Confederate, racist, and problematic statues, that giant carving has gotten everyone’s attention again—and, once again, OutKast has been suggested as a replacement. (Blowing the shit out of it is an idea that has also been revisited.)

Big Boi and André 3000 aren’t the only entertainers who have been floated as possible replacements for what could become several thousand pounds of Confederate-shaped scrap metal. Earlier this week, Kassie Thibodeaux started a petition, asking Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards to put a statue of Britney Spears on one of that state’s potentially vacant plinths.

“Not only has Britney proven her talent, but she’s proven her strength of character by not only overcoming highly publicized mental breakdown, but by continuously working towards improving herself. She’s an inspiration to millions,” Thibodeaux wrote. “Do the right thing: Replace the Confederate statues with an actual Louisiana hero and influencial [sic] human being.”

Much like Williams, Thibodeaux actually started her petition a couple of years ago, but she reopened it when statues were being taken down (or pushed over, or just shoved straight into the sea) again this month. “If Britney were to see the petition, I’d hope she’d realize just how deserving she is. That she has inspired and continues to inspire so many lives, and means more to us than most of the historic figures we’ve learned about in history class,” she told Yahoo. “Because unlike members of the Confederacy, Britney’s impact has been one of inclusion and positivity.”

A Tennessee man has also encouraged his state legislature to swap out a questionable traitor or two and replace them with Dolly Parton. “From the Dollywood foundation that has provided books and scholarships to millions of American children, to the millions of dollars she has donated to dozens of organizations such as the Red Cross and COVID-19 research centers, Dolly Parton has given more to this country and this state than those confederate officers could ever have hoped to take away,” Alex Parsons wrote.

It has previously been suggested that a bust of Parton should be put in the Tennessee State Capitol, replacing the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate general who became the first Grand Wizard of the KKK. (He was also a war criminal who massacred 300 mostly Black Union soldiers, many of whom had surrendered, at Fort Pillow. Ulysses S. Grant later wrote that the full account of Forrest’s atrocities “shocks humanity to read.”)

And Richmond, Virginia also weighed in with an inspired choice, with a recommendation that the city’s massive statue of Robert E. Lee should be replaced with an homage to Oderus Urungus, the late GWAR frontman. The band’s drummer, Jizmak Da Gusha, visited the statue last week and seemed to signal his approval from behind his rubbery dog mask. “There’s a petition to put GWAR on that horse instead of Robert E. Lee. I strongly encourage that everyone sign that petition online,” he said in a now-deleted YouTube video. “Fuck that guy.”

As fanciful as some of these requests might sound, they’re not entirely beyond the realm of possibility. Last July, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson signed a law to replace the statues of attorney Uriah M. Rose (who advocated for a “WHITE MAN’S government in a WHITE MAN’S COUNTRY”) and former governor James P. Clarke (who spoke of “[preserving] the white standards of civilization”) in the U.S. Capitol with statues of civil-rights activist Daisy Gatson Bates and country music legend Johnny Cash.

Those statues aren’t on their way to D.C. yet, though. “Right now we are about 15% funded. The process of establishing a steering committee and securing funds has slowed progress,” Kurt Naumann, Director of Administration and Government Relations, told VICE. “Covid-19, too, has slowed down the solicitation of funding. Looking at 2021 for fruition.”

Let’s hope that 2021 brings continued inspiration for who deserves to be permanently memorialized—but we’d like to give our thumbs up for OutKast as a start.

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Mayan Ruins in Guatemala Could Become a U.S. Funded-Tourist Attraction

EL MIRADOR, Guatemala — Deep in a dense, tropical Guatemalan forest lies the ancient Mayan city of El Mirador. It’s more than 2,000 years old, but the site at the center of a current debate over who gets to dictate its future, as well as that of the surrounding jungle: local communities, or scientists who want to turn it into a U.S.-funded tourist attraction.

On one side of the battle is Dr. Richard Hansen. An American archeologist who’s dedicated much of his life to El Mirador, he has been trying to build a privately-managed park in the area for the last 20 years. It would involve building hotels, restaurants, and a miniature train on top of ancient Mayan highways to transport tourists in and out of the jungle and to different ruins.

Hansen says the development would protect the ruins and jungle — a UNESCO-designated forest called the Maya Biosphere Reserve — more effectively than the Guatemalan state is willing or able to.

The people who actually live in the reserve, on the other hand, say if Hansen’s motive was truly conservation, he would support the successful conservation model already in place. That model, the Forestry Concession System, allows local communities to live off the forest in exchange for guarding it from loggers and drug traffickers. It has decreased deforestation rates and earned the support of international environmental groups, U.S. agencies like USAID and the Department of Interior, and former Guatemalan governments.

But that success may not be enough to stop Hansen’s plan from becoming a reality. Guatemala’s new president has expressed interest in it, and congressmen who want to attract more investment to the country support the idea. On top of that, Hansen has convinced four American senators to support a bill that would provide $60M in U.S. taxpayer funding for his park. So regardless of his motivations, Richard Hansen’s decades of work may finally be paying off.

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Discord Removes Servers Dedicated to Pirating Porn

On Wednesday morning, Motherboard published an investigation into the world of porn thieves who steal adult content in bulk from subscription sites like OnlyFans.

As part of that reporting, Motherboard uncovered multiple servers on the chat platform Discord, where people were trading and selling databases of stolen videos and images from creators, as well as sharing tools to continue scraping more content.

By Wednesday afternoon, after the publication of this piece, Discord removed multiple servers and banned the owners of each, a Discord spokesperson told Motherboard in an email.

“Discord prohibits the sale, dissemination, and promotion of cracked accounts,” a spokesperson told Motherboard. “We ban users and shut down servers that are responsible for this behavior. In cases of copyrighted material, we respond promptly to DMCA takedown requests and take the appropriate action.”

The bans are permanent, and the owners can no longer access their accounts for any purpose. Former members of those servers can no longer access those servers, either.

During Motherboard’s reporting, Google removed an OnlyFans scraping Chrome extension when approached for comment.

Stolen content is a problem that has plagued the adult industry for as long as porn has existed on the internet. Several owners of premium platforms similar to OnlyFans urged the industry to do better in how it safeguards content, by protecting models from theft using more advanced fingerprinting, watermarking, copyright takedown support, and technology that could prevent scrapers from using these tools to begin with.

One of the biggest mainstream platforms where stolen content was shared taking a stand against stolen porn is a step in the right direction to preventing theft from happening to others.

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Black and Brown Protesters in New York Were Jailed Longer and Punished More Harshly Than White, Data Indicates

The pepper spray hit Byron Montgomery directly in the face.

The 28-year-old had been filming the arrest of a protester when a New York City police officer warned him to back off. Moments later, his throat and mouth still clogged with pepper spray, Montgomery was placed under arrest and taken to a precinct near the Manhattan neighborhood of Soho. From there, he was moved to a courthouse, where he spent the next several hours confined to a holding pen with more than 10 other people.

As Montgomery waited to be arraigned by a judge, the pepper spray turned powdery and flaked off his clothes. His cellmates started gasping and coughing. When he tried to nap on his side, a bead of sweat ran through the spray residue, onto his face. It felt like his face was on fire.

Montgomery said he was arrested on May 30. He wasn’t released until the night of June 2.

“It had everything to do with that I was a big Black guy and I wasn’t backing down from him. And he felt like he has authority over me, so I’m supposed to listen to him,” Montgomery said later. “My race had a lot to do with why I was arrested, why I got maced, why they kept me there.”

Montgomery is one of more than 2,000 people arrested in New York City so far during protests against racism, police violence, and a criminal justice system that disproportionately penalizes people of color. But protesters and public defenders say they’re seeing a pattern: People of color have already been punished more severely than white people for joining the demonstrations.

In interviews, arrested people say they believe their race was a factor in how the police treated them. Black people report that they were often dealt with less politely and with more force, while their cries for help went ignored. White protesters jailed alongside people of color said they were more able to defy police. Several said that the police never read them their Miranda rights.

The New York Police Department has not released a racial breakdown of arrested protesters and the charges they face, despite repeated requests from VICE News for this information. District attorneys in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx have also not done so.

But public defenders in Manhattan, where more than 150 people have been arrested and arraigned in connection to the ongoing protests, told VICE News that almost all of their clients who faced protest-linked offenses are not white.

Between May 29 and June 6, at the height of protest arrests, the New York County Defender Services handled arraignments for 72 people charged in what the organization dubbed “protest-related cases” in Manhattan Criminal Court. Roughly 70% of the group’s clients were Black. More than 20% were Hispanic. Just about 5% were white. And the vast majority of the protest-connected clients were younger than 26.

“The only folks who were being held were the kids of color, who were being charged with these ridiculous, trumped-up felony cases. And that was just really, really enraging.”

“The only folks who were being held were the kids of color, who were being charged with these ridiculous, trumped-up felony cases. And that was just really, really enraging,” said Jessica Heyman, a New York County Defender Services attorney who handled arraignments for five protest-related cases and staffed the Good Call hotline, which offers legal aid to arrested New Yorkers. All of Heyman’s arraignment clients were people of color.


People march through the street in south Brooklyn to protest police violence and racism, in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. (Photo: Carter Sherman/VICE News)

Attorneys who work for another public defender organization, the Legal Aid Society, said their individual experiences mirror the New York County Defender Services’ data. Rebecca Heinsen handled arraignments for six protesters in Manhattan; they were all people of color. Chelsey Amelkin was set to arraign seven protesters last week in Manhattan; six were people of color. Omar Fortune arraigned five protesters in Manhattan, all of whom were Black or Latinx.

“Few and far between did you see white people being arraigned,” said Janie Williams, a criminal defense attorney with Bronx Defenders who offered aid to people as they left police custody in Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. “White people didn’t have to see the judges that much. It was Black and brown people who were brought through the arraignment process and not given a ticket, not given a summons. They had to sit in jail.”

The NYPD didn’t respond to a detailed list of questions about this story. A spokesperson said the Manhattan DA’s office plans to release data about arrested protesters’ race shortly, but didn’t respond to other questions about the allegations in this story.

A spokesperson at the Bronx DA’s office also didn’t reply to similar questions. A spokesperson for the Queens DA said its office had dealt with only two protest-related cases. (Both were dismissed.)

Oren Yaniv, director of communications for the Brooklyn DA’s office, said that the office didn’t yet have data on arrested protesters’ races. Only 13 people have been arraigned so far in that borough, while more than 100 have received notices to come back to court later.

“My sense is that whatever criticism is out there does not pertain to Brooklyn,” Yaniv told VICE News in an email.

The number of protest-related arrests has dropped significantly over the past two weeks, especially after New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio instituted a curfew on June 1. But the consequences of being arrested in a protest may linger long after everyone involved in the demonstrations is released.

“Generally, people think, ‘Oh, you’re arrested, you know, you’re in the precinct, they let you go and, oh, you’ll never do that again,’” said Rigodis Appling, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society and a founding member of its Black Attorneys of Legal Aid caucus. “No, it’s ongoing. And you’re at the mercy of the criminal justice system, which shows no mercy most of the time.”


“The officers were on my back and I wasn’t focusing on anything other than, “My God, is this when I’m gonna die? For no particular reason other than just covering the protests?” — V. Matthew King, 42, arrested by the NYPD on May 31. (Photo: Joe Hill/VICE News)

Protesters arrested in New York City generally faced one of three processes. Hundreds of people were issued summonses, which are typically given out for lesser violations. (People who are being given summonses aren’t usually arrested. But at the height of the protests, cops arrested people for summons-level offenses anyway.)

Hundreds more were released from custody with what are known as “desk appearance tickets,” which allowed these protesters to go home and be arraigned by a judge in their criminal case at a later date.

Finally, according to available data from DA’s offices, a minority of protesters were held to be arraigned by a judge. Under New York state law, people must be arrested and arraigned within 24 hours. But between the flood of protest arrests and new remote procedures enacted since the coronavirus pandemic struck New York City, people frequently spent far longer in the hands of law enforcement. Though the Legal Aid Society filed an emergency lawsuit against the NYPD, accusing the agency of detaining more than 100 protesters for more than 24 hours, a judge denied the society’s request to immediately free those protesters.

What leads some protesters to get desk appearance tickets and others to be taken straight into arraignments isn’t always clear. While the NYPD Patrol Guide outlines the crimes that can receive a desk appearance ticket (DAT), the public defenders interviewed by VICE News were split on when and why these tickets are doled out.

“I would say, by and large, the DATs are less serious. But there are instances where somebody gets put through for something that’s totally minor, and you’re like, ‘Why didn’t they give you a DAT?’” said Legal Aid Society lawyer Alana Roth. “There’s so much randomness and capriciousness.”

Still, just like when someone is arraigned, when someone gets a desk appearance ticket, there’s still an arrest and an open criminal case hanging over their head.

“Before you get a desk appearance ticket, you are stopped, you are frisked, you are handcuffed, you are put in the back of a police car, you are brought to a precinct, you are fingerprinted, your retinas are scanned, you’re held in a cell for hours until an officer — in his or her discretion — gives you a ticket,” explained Scott Hechinger, a former public defender in Brooklyn who now runs Zealous, an initiative that trains public defenders to become advocates outside of courtrooms as well. “You can’t ignore the trauma and the literal violence that happens and is inflicted on people before they even get the ticket to begin with. It’s a full-fledged arrest.”

A pending criminal case can also complicate someone’s ability to secure housing, to apply for school, or get a job. Some jobs, including those that license people to work with children or drive with a rideshare company, can reject applicants if they have open criminal cases or have been convicted of a criminal offense.

Stephon Baines, a Bronx-based activist who goes by the name “Privilege B,” said he was arrested at a protest in downtown Brooklyn in late May and held by police at One Police Plaza, the NYPD headquarters in Manhattan. Initially, he was alone in a holding pen, unable to distract himself from wondering just how much trouble he was in or if he was the only one who’d been arrested.

“What did I get myself into by just trying to show my rights, trying to flex my rights?” he remembered thinking. The cops eventually brought more protesters into Baines’ pen — until there were about 15 people in a room that was only 30 feet by 30 feet, in Baines’ estimation. It was impossible to socially distance, and Baines didn’t have a mask.

At one point, he said he watched a smirking young white woman get escorted to her cell.

“She was not worried about the police. Actually, I feel like because she was white or maybe I was Black, I was more fearful of what the police would do to me,” Baines, 29, recalled. While he admired her confidence and commitment to the cause, he didn’t feel the same way when he left One Police Plaza, about six hours after his initial arrest.

For days afterward, he struggled with anxiety and depression.

“I’m not safe when I’m around the police,” said Baines. “I lost my appetite, I lost my desire, my will, motivation. But I will say it activated me, after a while. I kind of feel like I’m running out of time. I’m running out of time to fix this issue.”

He’s due in court in the fall.


“I’m a white man who graduated from a prestigious university and my cellmates are Black men. And it doesn’t matter who they are, what they’ve done. But because they’re Black men, they were treated very, very differently from me.” — Sterling Strother, 21, arrested by the NYPD on June 2 and 3. (Photo: Joe Hill/VICE News)

In contrast, Sterling Strother, a 21-year-old white man who recently graduated from Yale, was arrested by the NYPD, booked, and released with a desk appearance ticket for protesting — two days in a row.

“A lot of my cellmates were held in the cell for close to 24 hours at a minimum before receiving a court order to see a judge with a public defender,” he said. “I’m a white man who graduated from a prestigious university and my cellmates are Black men. And it doesn’t matter who they are, what they’ve done. But because they’re Black men, they were treated very, very differently from me.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has pledged not to prosecute arrests on charges of “unlawful assembly” and “disorderly conduct.” (Prosecutors in other boroughs have made similar pledges.) But many Manhattan public defenders told VICE News that many of their arraigned clients are facing charges of burglary in the third degree. That nonviolent felony, for entering or staying in a building with the intent to commit a crime inside it, carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

Of all the arraignments handled by the New York County Defender Services between May 29 and June 6, nearly 70% involved charges for burglary in the third degree.

Despite that high volume of burglary charges, across all of the organization’s 72 clients, just four were allegedly caught holding merchandise from stores that had been broken into.

Six of attorney Amelkin’s intended clients faced charges for that alleged crime. At least four had never been arrested before, and facing a class D felony on a first arrest is unusual, she said. None of Fortune’s five clients, all of whom were younger than 23, had any past criminal convictions. They were all facing charges for burglary in the third degree.

“If they have a felony conviction at the age of 22 or 23, with that much life to live, that’s gonna be a very, very bad thing. That’s gonna be an impediment, to say the least, as they’re carrying on their lives,” Fortune said. “That’s gonna be a hell of an impediment.”

Public defenders suggested that law enforcement could choose to charge protesters or suspected looters with other, lesser charges, such as trespassing or criminal mischief.

“On a given night, you would generally see a mix of misdemeanors and felonies. And every case I arraigned last night was [a] felony,” Amelkin told VICE News the day after she handled arraignments from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. “I do very firmly believe that the choice to charge these as felonies is a political one, and a political statement on the protest.”

When law enforcement charges people with looting-style offenses, public defender Williams said, it creates a perception in the public eye about who gets to be a legitimate protester — and who is merely an opportunistic thief.

“It’s your racism that determines when you look at someone, like, why was this person here? ‘I determined that this white person was here because they were protesting,’” Williams said, mimicking a cop. “And then you have an officer looking at another person, a person of color, a Black person, saying, ‘You know what, I think you were here because you were looting.’”

For many public defenders who spoke with VICE News, the fact that so many of their clients were people of color was ironic, given the nature of the protests. But it was far from surprising.

Black and brown New Yorkers have long been more likely to be arrested. A 2019 NYPD report captured those extreme racial disparities. For just a small snapshot: Though Black people make up just about 23% of New York City’s total population, 66% of all robbery suspects in 2019 were Black. Another 27% were Hispanic. Just 4% of robbery suspects were white people — who account for more than 33% of the city’s population.


“I was just like, yo, no one’s gonna see me get arrested. Like, if something happens to me, like, who’s gonna see this? Like, I’m surrounded by police and they’re just gonna, like, protect each other, like if anything happens to me, you know. That’s what was racing through my mind.” — Dante Campbell, 21, arrested by the NYPD on May 29. (Joe Hill/VICE News)

“Arraignments are open 365 days a year, Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, 9 to 5, 5 to 1,” Roth said. “Even when ‘the numbers are down,’ there’s a steady stream of Black and brown humans that are going through the same exact shit that people are going through when they’re being protesters.”

Even people who weren’t ultimately charged with anything in connection to the protests were sometimes left devastated. A few protesters interviewed by VICE News were arrested, held for hours, and then simply let go — like freelance content creator V. Matthew King, 42, who was arrested in late May while he tried to cover a Lower Manhattan protest.

After warning King to move backwards, cops pushed him to the ground. Two of them put their knees on his back, he said.

“I was trying to get up. But they keep pushing me down. I get up. They push me down. I get up. They push me down,” said King, who is Black. “My phone flew in one direction. My battery flew in another. They remove my bike and toss it aside.”

The officers cuffed King with zip-ties, he recalled, and King tried to fight his rising panic as he watched a fire truck drive through the street. The truck, he realized, was about to run over his phone.

King also works as a courier for food delivery services, which would be impossible without a phone. He recalled begging the officer, “That’s my phone over there. That’s my life. You’re going to make me homeless if you keep it there, please.”

The officer did nothing, King said. And, just as he feared, the truck rolled over the phone and crushed it.

King was eventually taken to One Police Plaza and, hours later, released from custody without being charged with a crime. But the memories of that night haunt him. He watched white protesters be given water, get their masks readjusted, and be spoken to calmly by police, he said. Meanwhile, he recalled being left helpless and essentially told to shut up.

For weeks after the arrest, King didn’t work. He’s battling depression and suicidal thoughts. He can’t trust police anymore. “My mind keeps going, ‘You deserve what happened.’”

Public defender Roth arraigned four clients on protest-related charges in Manhattan in early June. They were all either Black or Latinx and had been held for at least a day. Two were 17 years old.

One was Montgomery.

Montgomery, who has no past criminal convictions, did not get a desk appearance ticket. Instead, he waited hours to be arraigned before a judge. He was charged with “obstruction of governmental administration” and “resisting arrest.”

Prosecutors offered to pause Montgomery’s case and reassess whether they’d move forward with it in six months’ time, Roth said.

“Basically,” Roth said, “they’ve held him in there for 48 hours and then they threw the case in the garbage.”

Days after his release, Montgomery was resilient: He had no plans to stop protesting and fighting to end police violence.

“I don’t want my daughter growing up in a world where she’s protesting about the way people look,” he said. “Most of us have kids, most of us are gonna have kids. Most of us are gonna have grandkids. You don’t want them to have to deal with what everybody else is dealing with. You don’t want them to be a story on the news.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255. It offers 24/7 free, confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Cover: Protesters face off with the NYPD in Brooklyn during weeks long demonstrations responding to the killing of George Floyd. (Photo: Joe Hill/VICE News)

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John Bolton Says Trump Tried to Get China to Help Him Win the 2020 Election

WASHINGTON — John Bolton absolutely unloads on President Trump in his new book.

Portions of Bolton’s yet-to-be-published book leaked to the press Wednesday include absolutely damning new details, from high-minded criticisms of Trump’s presidential conduct to schoolroom-level insults lobbed at Trump from behind his back by senior staff.

Here’s one salacious detail: Bolton claims that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, outwardly one of Trump’s most loyal deputies, once passed Bolton a note that disparaged Trump as “so full of shit,” during his historic 2018 summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, according to The New York Times.

The book casts Trump as wheeling and dealing with foreign dictators while scheming to get himself reelected in 2020. And it recounts Trump essentially confessing to holding up vital military aid to Ukraine while hoping to score an investigation of his 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden, the core of Democrats’ impeachment case against him last winter, according to accounts published within minutes of each other on Wednesday in the Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.

Bolton, who served as Trump’s national security adviser for 17 months, has now become the first top-ranking figure from Trump’s White House to write an entire book blasting Trump’s leadership and misbehavior.

The passages revealed Wednesday suggest that Ukraine was just one instance where Trump tried to get a foreign power to interfere in U.S. politics in order to boost his own reelection prospects in 2020.

In one passage, Bolton recounts Trump begging China’s Xi Jinping to purchase American agricultural products so Trump would benefit politically. The book says Trump blurted out, right there in front of China’s leader, that he wanted to curry favor in Midwestern farm states so he could win votes.

If that could be arranged, Trump offered to keep U.S. tariffs at 10%, instead of the 25% he’d threatened, Bolton writes.

“He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton writes. “He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

In another passage, Trump and Xi appear to agree that the U.S. has too many elections in general, and Trump raises the prospect of serving more than two terms.

“One highlight came when Xi said he wanted to work with Trump for six more years, and Trump replied that people were saying that the two-term constitutional limit on presidents should be repealed for him. Xi said the U.S. had too many elections, because he didn’t want to switch away from Trump, who nodded approvingly,” Bolton wrote in a modified passage from the book under his own byline in the WSJ.

But Bolton, a lifelong hardcore GOP political operator who has served in Republican administrations going back to former president Ronald Reagan, also turns his fire on Democrats — for not fighting hard enough to get Trump impeached last winter.

Bolton argues that House Democrats committed “impeachment malpractice” by failing to look at Trump’s outrageous acts with other countries beyond Ukraine, and attempting to speed up their impeachment inquiry for their own political purposes. They should have also looked at Trump’s attempts to score personal points with the leaders of China and Turkey, including through his willingness to intervene in investigations into Chinese and Turkish companies, Bolton reportedly writes.

Trump also told Xi that China’s construction of concentration camps for its population of Uighur Muslims was “exactly the right thing to do,” Bolton wrote, according to an excerpt of the book printed in the Journal.

No wonder Trump is so mad at Bolton right now — and is on a legal warpath against him.

Trump is now suing to get a judge to order Bolton to stop his own book from coming out. And he wants the U.S. government to claim the book’s earnings, arguing Bolton breached a non-disclosure agreement and wouldn’t wait for an official vetting of classified material to run its course.

Trump has threatened Bolton with “criminal problems” if Bolton’s book comes out.

“If the book gets out, he’s broken the law,” Trump said Monday.

But judging from Wednesday’s revelations, it looks like that train has left the station. Copies of Bolton’s book have already been printed and shipped to warehouses, and the book is due to come out this Tuesday, June 23. Bolton hardly looks like he’s about to turn around and try to shut the whole thing down now.

Bolton boasted about his knowledge of the Ukraine situation around the time of Trump’s impeachment, and he was seen as the key potential witness. But he never actually testified. Bolton spurned the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. And while he later offered to speak to the GOP-controlled Senate, he was never called by Trump’s Republican allies in the upper chamber.

Cover: File photo dated April 9, 2018, of U.S President Donald Trump and John Bolton , the new national security adviser, attending a briefing from Senior Military Leadership in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/ Abaca(Sipa via AP Images)

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