Archive | December 23rd, 2017

“Slave Ship Conditions” for Somalis as Deportation Flight Sheds Light on Horrific Practices Under Trump

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By Julia ConleyCommon Dreams 

Megitu Argo (L) and her daughter Ebany Turn cry as a family of Somali refugees speaks to the audience about their cousin's deportation back to Somalia at a rally for immigrants and refugees in Seattle, Washington, on January 29, 2017. (Photo: JASON REDMOND / AFP / Getty Images)

Megitu Argo and her daughter Ebany Turn cry as a family of Somali refugees speaks to the audience about their cousin’s deportation back to Somalia at a rally for immigrants and refugees in Seattle, Washington, on January 29, 2017. (Photo: JASON REDMOND / AFP / Getty Images).

Attorneys for 92 Somali nationals who were held in “slave ship conditions” for nearly 48 hours during a deportation flight, say that the group’s harrowing experience is indicative of immigration officials’ procedures under the Trump administration.

The passengers were denied food, water, and access to a bathroom, according to a class-action lawsuit, filed by the Somalis with the help of four immigrant rights groups including Americans for Immigrant Justice and the Immigration Clinic at the University of Miami.

Their hands and feet were shackled during the first leg of the trip to Dakar, Senegal on December 7, and while the plane sat on a tarmac there for 23 hours before Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) decided to reroute the flight back to the US due to “logistical concerns.”

“When the plane’s toilets overfilled with human waste, some of the detainees were left to urinate into bottles or on themselves,” according to the lawsuit. “ICE agents wrapped some who protested, or just stood up to ask a question, in full-body restraints. ICE agents kicked, struck, or dragged detainees down the aisle of the plane, and subjected some to verbal abuse and threats.”

“I think it’s reflective of the Trump Administration’s overall crackdown on immigration as well as reflective of their attitude towards Somalia and towards Muslims,” said Kim Hunter, who represents two of the plaintiffs in the case, in an interview with the Guardian.

In addition to drawing attention to the “inhumane conditions and egregious abuse” the lawsuit alleges, immigrant rights advocates are urging the government to reopen the passengers’ deportation cases.

The US has generally avoided removing people to Somalia in recent decades in light of security concerns there. Al-Shabaab, an armed group with ties to Al Qaeda, is active in the country and killed more than 500 people in a truck bombing in October. Many of the deportees, who escaped as refugees fleeing civil war, fear they could be targeted by the group if returned to Somalia.

One plaintiff, named in the lawsuit as Musa, “believes news of this aborted flight has reached the general Somali public. He believes that having been on the December 7 flight jeopardizes his safety upon his return, and he believes that al-Shabaab will kill him for being a Westernized Somali.”

Some of the passengers were brought to the US as children, and at least one was detained after a routine check-in with immigration officials.

“This is now a disturbing pattern where ICE is targeting people who have been living in the community for many years on these orders of supervision and with work permits and suddenly they are snatched from their families and communities,” said Rebecca Sharpless, another attorney representing the passengers. “It is not safe for these men and women to return, especially in light of the escalation of terrorist violence in Somalia in the last weeks.”

While the Trump administration has insisted it’s focusing its deportations on those with criminal backgrounds, lawyers representing the Somalis say about one-third of the passengers had no criminal record while others had been convicted only of petty crimes like shoplifting.

“I’m not terribly convinced we’re deporting the worst of worst,” Hunter told the Guardian.

The passengers are currently being held in a detention center outside Miami, while their lawyers work to halt another attempt to deport them.

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Rex Tillerson’s State Department: Human Rights? Big Deal!

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By Heather Digby PartonSalon 

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) speaks with delegates as he arrives to attend the UN Security Council Ministerial Briefing on Non-Proliferation and the DPRK, at the United Nations, on December 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo: EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ / AFP / Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with delegates as he arrives to attend the UN Security Council Ministerial Briefing on Non-Proliferation and the DPRK, at the United Nations, on December 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo: EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ / AFP / Getty Images)

The US has long had a disconnect between ideals and reality when it comes to human rights. After all, the country was founded on the idea of the inalienable right to life, liberty and happiness, even as it held slaves and stole the land of its Native inhabitants in a genocidal rampage. There were Red scares, Jim Crow, deportations, internment and mass incarceration, some of it still happening today. And that’s just what we did in our own country. Indeed, it’s obvious that throughout American history, our elegant paeans to freedom and liberty and the rights of man were not universally applied.

Progress on human rights seems to come in fits and starts and is commonly denied to minority populations as long as possible. Still, hypocrisy being the proverbial tribute vice pays to virtue, there is value in having ideals even if you don’t entirely live up to them. At least they remain alive and part of the dialogue. When a nation is the world’s only superpower, it especially behooves its leaders to make the effort to promote and adhere to such ideals as much as possible, lest the rest of the world gets the wrong idea and decides it is a menace they need to oppose. This is just common sense.

Most people think Jimmy Carter was the first president to put human rights front and center in US foreign policy. But that had actually been coming for some time, mostly from the Congress and at the behest of the public, which had been awakened by the Vietnam War to the downside of American power abroad. This included the ugly revelations about US support for authoritarian right wing regimes around the world in the name of opposing Communism.

In large part, this new focus was a reaction to the realpolitik philosophy of Henry Kissinger, which saw concern for human rights as an impediment to effective foreign policy that was likely to damage necessary alliances. This was perhaps most vividly illustrated by Kissinger’s support for Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator and war criminal, who was seen as a useful ally in the anti-Communist cause, even though he indulged in the wanton torture and murder of his political opponents.

As early as 1974, in the wake of Richard Nixon’s downfall, Congress was holding hearings and making demands that the US put human rights at the center of its foreign policy. This was not just a moral consideration, although that was paramount. It was also a practical concern, since America’s global credibility had been so damaged by the Vietnam debacle that it was no longer able to properly exert influence on its own behalf with soft power. Congress stepped into the foreign policy arena with a demand that the government raise the issue in international institutions and, more importantly, restrict aid to governments that consistently violated human rights.

The executive branch under Nixon and Gerald Ford were none too happy. The State Department forcefully defended governments accused of human rights violations, and Kissinger even quashed reports to Congress on human rights violations in allied countries, insisting they were counterproductive to national security. Congress responded by passing the Foreign Assistance Act, which requires the State Department to provide the reports. When he came into office in 1977, Carter simply followed Congress’ lead and made human rights a central focus of US foreign policy.

And to greater and lesser degrees, it remained there going forward. Whether the president was a “realist,” an “internationalist,” a “liberal interventionist,” a “neoconservative” or some permutation thereof, promotion of human rights was seen as a part of American foreign policy. Of course, that has been used for cynical purposes and ignored when convenient; it rings especially hollow in light of our recent “preemptive” invasion, torture and drone wars in the Middle East. But the ideal remained intact even among the worst offenders in the Bush administration, which at least paid lip service to the concept as one of its rationales for its failed nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When Donald Trump said he was going to make America great again, everyone had different ideas about what exactly he meant. But his bloviating about how much he loves torture and mass executions should have alerted everyone to the fact that human rights were not going to be central to his foreign policy.

Nonetheless, one might have expected that his secretary of state would at least be conversant with the concept. But apparently Rex Tillerson didn’t have a clue. According to Politico, three months into the job he blithely announced that it was “really important that all of us understand the difference between policy and values like freedom, human dignity and the way people are treated.” This caused a furor among foreign policy experts, since Tillerson was obviously completely unschooled in the subject.

Apparently, a deputy named Brian Hook, a former Bush administration official, wrote up a memo for Tillerson explaining how the US looks at human rights. And guess what? After nearly half a century we’re back to Henry Kissinger’s foreign policy from the 1970s. According to Politico, which got a peek at the memo, Hook explained to the neophyte diplomat that “the US should use human rights as a club against its adversaries, like Iran, China and North Korea, while giving a pass to repressive allies like the Philippines, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.” As Tom Malinowski, former assistant secretary of state under Obama, told Politico, this “tells Tillerson that we should do exactly what Russian and Chinese propaganda says we do — use human rights as a weapon to beat up our adversaries while letting ourselves and our allies off the hook.”

It’s certainly the case that Trump happily excuses repressive regimes, but he doesn’t seem to differentiate between those that are allies and those that are adversaries. He just loves those strongmen. Likewise, he frequently insults close American allies who are not human rights abusers. So he didn’t read this memo (or rather, nobody read it to him.)

Either way, whether it’s Tillerson’s crude dismissal of human rights and values, his deputy’s cynical Kissinger-esque realpolitik or Trump’s fatal attraction to tyrants and despots, it would appear that promotion of human rights is no longer an American ideal. It’s just another norm tossed on the dumpster fire we call the Trump presidency.

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Zionist Trump, Jerusalem and international law

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Trump, Jerusalem and international law

Trump the servant of Israel

By Lawrence Davidson

The relevance of international law

It is not easy to write anything new about President Trump’s 6 December 2017 announcement that he – and  supposedly the US as a nation – was recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. After all, plenty of very smart and attentive people have already commented on this decision. I particularly like those who pointed out that Trump’s move replicated that of Arthur Balfour. As Balfour had assumed in 1917 that he could promise Palestine to the Zionists, so Trump seems to have assumed he could legitimise Jerusalem as Israeli territory. The connection seems to support the philosopher George Santayana’s observation that those who know no history are bound to repeat it.

As was the case with Balfour, neither Trump nor the US Congress (whose edict the president has so eagerly carried out) has any legal authority to proceed in this fashion. In the case of Trump and the Congress, what should get in their way is international law – which, when represented in signed treaties, is incorporated into US law. The Geneva Conventions are such a case. Part of these conventions (again, now made US law) makes it illegal to conquer territory and then absorb it by moving your own citizens in while ethnically cleansing the original population. One can also cite the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court declaring apartheid policies a crime against humanity. This is not US law but reflects international consensus. Israel is in violation of aspects of the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute, as well as a host of United Nations resolutions.

Trump, along with the Republicans and Democrats in Congress, seems to be ignorant, or perhaps just callously unconcerned about international law – even when it has become their law! Nowhere is it referenced in Trump’s announcement. It is doubtful that he and those in Congress give it any thought at all. It is this shameless stupidity that concerns me. For, to the extent that we ignore international law, the world returns to the conditions that led to World Wars I and II, and of course, to the holocaust.

“Open eyes and fresh thinking”

  • Trump: “When I came into office I promised to look at the world’s challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking.”

Comment: This state of mind cannot be completely achieved because we all are shaped by culture and personal past experiences. However, it can be approximated if one is (a) conscious of one’s biases and assumptions and (b) knows enough relevant history to recognise what is indeed relatively “fresh” and original. I think it is safe to say that President Trump is nowhere near this level of consciousness. Rather than clear-headed and original, he behaves erratically and is very much in the grips of cultural prejudices and personal biases.

Trump, though a particularly outrageous example of this impaired condition, is not the only American leader to mistake his own ignorance for clear-sightedness (George W. Bush comes to mind). It is perhaps because it is so difficult to really see the world’s problems “with open eyes and fresh thinking” that wiser men and women than Trump have laid down international laws designed to prevent nation-states from taking actions that have, beyond doubt, proven to be disastrous.

“Alternative facts”

  • Trump: The announcement on Jerusalem “marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians”. Recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating the US embassy there will “advance the cause of peace”. We know this to be so because putting off this step for the past 20 years has not advanced that cause.

Comment: Trump’s reasoning here is, well, unreasonable, and historically mistaken. Previous presidents did not delay moving the US embassy because they thought not doing so would help bring about Palestinian-Israeli peace. First, they promised to make this move for domestic political reasons during election campaigns – a nod to the Zionist lobby’s funding potential. Afterward, they held back because to actually take this step would only make things in the Middle East worse, and not only for the Palestinians and the Israelis. The United States has other Muslim rulers in the region who are its “allies” Trump’s predecessors, or at least their advisors, knew that the men who ruled Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the like had populations with significant numbers of people who would be quite agitated over just the move Trump has now undertaken. These US leaders feared, not without reason, that ceding Jerusalem to the Israelis would destabilise those allies and boost the threat of terrorism.

No doubt aided by an abiding ignorance, President Trump has replaced the facts which held back the hand of his predecessors with “alternative facts”. For instance, he has replaced the facts that make up the history of Jerusalem as related to both Islam and Christianity, and the millennia-old emotions that go along with it, with the reality of an illegal 50-year occupation of the entire city by Israel. Having rendered truth in this fashion, the president concludes that his decision must be in the interest of both the US and peace because it is “nothing more or less than the recognition of reality”.

How simple is President Trump’s world! Simple as only the ignorant can see it. No wonder Secretary of State Tillerson (who is not without his own short-sightedness) called President Trump a “moron”.

Don’t misunderstand me

Much of the rest of the president’s speech was an attempt to assure the world that what he had just declared was not as “fresh” and new as he at first claimed.

  • Trump: “I want to make one point very clear… The United States remains deeply committed to helping to facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides.” We are “not taking a position on any final status issues”.

Comment: It is at this point that you have to ask just what world the president is living in. Actually, the answer is not that hard to come by. It is a personal world that is singularly egocentric. As such, it has no real relevance to US national interests and certainly not to Palestinian-Israeli conflict resolution. Its only reference point is Trump’s own, largely unrestrained, self-serving urges and needs.

According to reports coming from inside the White House, Trump was interested in the alleged prestige of being the president who actually went through with the promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today I am delivering.

He sought out those who would encourage his goal – those who are hardly any more knowledgable then he – his Christian fundamentalist Vice-President Mike Pence, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is a family friend of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Trump is also reported to have been encouraged to take this step by the Senate minority leader, Charles Shumer, a man whose only foreign policy interest is in supporting Israel. Trump ignored the advice of his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and secretary of defence, James Mattis, both of whom thought the move ill-advised. So, now we have the Zionists and Christian fundamentalists standing behind Trump, patting him on the back. The rest of the world stands in front of him, aghast. Typical of the self-serving type he is, Trump only cares about the blandishments pushing him in the direction he wants to go.

That direction is decidedly backwards. Back in the direction of no rules, no international law, not even any binding treaties to bother with. Just free rein for the whims of the leader.

Power and the will

 

One gets the sense that Trump feels he can simply create a new reality by the exercise of his will. I want to emphasise the word “feels” here because I do not think the president reasons out these actions. He experiences a feeling that suggests to him a way he can change things. He does not weigh this feeling against history or contemporary reality. For example, take his description of the eventual new US embassy in Jerusalem as “a magnificent tribute to peace.

This equating of what one feels or wills with what will actually be is a sign of a delusional personality – someone who can’t tell the difference between his own opinion and hard facts. To have such a person in a position of power is dangerous indeed. We know this from experience. The only things that may keep such impulsive people in check are rules – rules that are at once humane and based on historical lessons learned, and rules that are enforced.

Such rules exist. They were introduced in the form of a growing body of international law as nations confronted the consequences of modern warfare and brutality. Unfortunately, today these rules are rarely enforced – and never done so when it comes to superpowers and their close allies.

So Donald Trump, with his alleged “open eyes” and “fresh thinking,” pays no attention to the rules. Announcing his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he leads us all backwards toward disaster.

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Two More Killed in Palestine’s Third ‘Friday of Rage’

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  • A solidarity march staged in Mexico City after Trump declared his formal recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital
    A solidarity march staged in Mexico City after Trump declared his formal recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital | Photo: Reuters.
More than 50 Palestinians have so far been wounded in clashes following the United Nations vote on the United States’ Jerusalem declaration.

Two more Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces during protests on the northern Gaza border, it has been reported.

RELATED: Palestine’s Abbas Condemns US as ‘Dishonest Mediator’

The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed the two men were shot dead with live ammunition used against the protesters. The victims have been identified as 24-year-old Zakaria al-Kafarna, and Mohammad al-Mallahi from Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza.

Across the Palestinian territory, protesters marched after Friday prayers in a third “Friday of rage” against U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the Israeli state, a move widely condemned by the international community.

The protests were organized after the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution condemning Trump’s Jerusalem declaration. The vote was a reiteration of worldwide solidarity with Palestine and growing Israeli isolation.

A total of 128 countries voted for the resolution while only nine voted against it, even after the U.S. president threatened to cut aid to non-compliant countries.

“This isn’t like it used to be, where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars,” Trump said.

Among the U.S. supporters were Guatemala and Honduras. Guatemalan Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel defended the vote, saying the nation has supported Israel on numerous occasions throughout history.

RELATED: UN Vetoes US President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration

Argentina, Antigua-Barbuda, Haiti, Mexico and Paraguay abstained from the vote.

Demonstrations have so far taken place in Bethlehem, Salfit, Nablus, Ramallah and Tulkarem. In Jerusalem’s Old City, police suppressed a march en route to Damascus Gate.

The Ministry of Health reported that 40 people were wounded in Gaza, while 17 more were injured in the West Bank after being hit either with live ammunition or rubber-coated steel bullets.

In Bethlehem, one youth was shot in the head with a steel bullet. In Salfit, two youths were hit with live fire; one remains in critical condition, according to the Red Crescent. Near Ramallah, Israeli forces prevented an injured man from receiving medical attention.

The latest casualties bring the Palestinian death toll to 12 in the third week since Trump’s Jerusalem declaration.

The use of live ammunition has been deemed “excessive force” by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’d al-Hussein, who called on Israel to open an independent investigation into casualties on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared that the Palestinian Authority will not accept any peace plans proposed by the United States, insisting it “is not going to be based on the two-state solution on the 1967 border, nor is it going to be based on international law or UN resolutions.”

During a press conference in Paris, Abbas also asked for European countries to play a stronger role.

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Four Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Submit File to the ICC Prosecutor

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Image result for NAZI ARMY KILLING JEWS CARTOON

Four Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Submit File to the ICC Prosecutor:

Israel is Unable and Unwilling to Conduct Genuine Investigations and Prosecutions

New York – Four Palestinian human rights organizations: The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Al Dameer Association for Human Rights and Al Haq, submitted their fifth substantive communication to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) during the Assembly of States Parties at the United Nations headquarters last week.

In light of Israel’s inability and unwillingness to conduct effective investigations, the interests of justice now demand that the Prosecutor at the ICC move to open an investigation into the serious international crimes committed during the July-August 2014 Israeli military offensive—so called “Operation Protective Edge”—on Gaza, occupied Palestinian territory.

The confidential communication examines Israel’s investigative system in light of the complementarity requirements established in Article 17 of the ICC Statute. It is based on the first-hand experiences of the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.

In the aftermath of the 2014 offensive these organisations submitted a total of 369 criminal complaints to the Office of the Israeli Military Advocate General. The overwhelming majority of the alleged violations have not been investigated, while those that have been addressed were subject to unjustified delay. More than three years from the 2014 offensive, not one indictment has been issued in relation to the 369 complaints. More fundamentally, the communication explains that the limitation of Israel’s investigative system to only “exceptional incidents” precludes investigation of policy-level decisions and senior military and civilian officials whose acts and omissions resulted in the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes against the civilian population in Gaza.

“This clearly underscores that a genuine criminal investigation and prosecution process for these complaints is being systematically avoided”, said Raji Sourani, Director of Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. “The consequences are that legal accountability and justice will be deliberately denied the vast majority of victims and survivors—as has been the case following the two previous large-scale Israeli military offensives in Gaza”.

The human rights organizations conclude that the structure of the Israeli investigative system precludes effective, independent and impartial investigations, and does not operate in accordance with the requirements of international law. The Israeli investigative system accordingly fails to satisfy the complementarity requirements established in Article 17 of the ICC Statute.

“The operation of the Israeli investigative system and the results the system has produced, ultimately demonstrates its deficiencies,” said Issam Younis, Director of Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. “The system operates so as to shield both policy-level decisions and senior military and civilian officials from effective investigation, thereby allowing for the continuance of Israel’s illegal occupation policies and practices”.

This communication supplements the information that has been submitted to the Prosecutor by the organizations since November 2015. The four previous communications contain evidence of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by high-level Israeli civilian and military officials in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since the ICC was granted jurisdiction over crimes committed since 13 June 2014.

In light of the documented ongoing impunity for alleged serious and widespread violations of international criminal law, and the imperative to deter the possible commission of serious international crimes in the future, the human rights organizations urge the Prosecutor to request authorization to proceed from the preliminary examination to a full investigation forthwith. “In so doing”, said Shawan Jabareen, Director of Al Haq, “it is vital that the views of Palestinian victims are addressed in the interests of justice, and that full reparations are made. Justice for Palestinian victims must be obtained as a prerequisite for genuine and lasting peace.”

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Birth Anniversary: Quaid-e- Azam Emphasized on National Unity

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Image result for Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s CARTOON

By Sajjad Shaukat
Besides Christmas, every year, on December 25, Pakistanis celebrate Quaid-e- Azam Muhammad
Ali Jinnah’s birth anniversary with every possible way of showing reverence to their country’s
founder. It is called the Quaid-e- Azam Day. Jinnah was born on December 25, 1876 and founded
Pakistan in 1947. On this very day, seminars, debates and programmes are held to remember the
services of the founder of the nation.

Although various programmes are held about the personality, vision and the hard work of this
great leader who struggled a lot to get a separate homeland for the Muslims of the Sub-continent,
yet the best way to celebrate Quaid-e- Azam Day is to pledge national unity which was
emphasized by Quaid-e- Azam and to promote the soft image of Pakistan, as envisaged by the
founder of the country.

This very day has come at a time when Pakistan is facing multiple threats of grave nature
internally and externally, which are not only worrying all the citizens, but are also creating
divisions among the federal and provincial governments including political parties. This drastic
situation is distorting Pakistan’s image abroad.

While, it was due to the selfless practical unity among the Muslims under the leadership of
Quaid-i- Azam that Pakistan became a tangible reality, on August 14, 1947. But that unity started
declining after passing through various crises, and the result was separation of East Pakistan in
1971, as India manipulated differences between East Pakistan and the West Pakistan.

However, Pakistan’s security forces have been facing a different war against the enemy which
employs subversive activities of various kinds which also include internal and external
challenges. Pakistan is in the state of new war, being waged by the Armed Forces and
intelligence agencies against terrorists. In this regard, Pakistan’s Armed Forces have successfully
broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the military operations Zarb-e- Azb and
Radd-ul- Fasaad. Army and top intelligence agency ISI have broken the network of these terrorist
groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts. Peace has
been restored in various regions of Pakistan.

But, external elements have, again, started terror attacks in Pakistan to weaken it. India intends
to obtain various hidden purposes by blaming Islamabad for terrorism. Foreign intelligence
agencies such as American CIA, India RAW and Israeli Mossad which have well-established
their network in Afghanistan are fully assisting cross-border incursions and terror-activities in
various regions of Pakistan through Baloch separatist elements, Jundullah, Tehreek-e- Taliban
Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL) including their
affiliated outfits. On a number of occasions, these insurgent groups claimed responsibility for
their acts of sabotage.

With the backing of CIA and Mossad, India is also trying to sabotage the China-Pakistan
Economic Corridor (CPEC). Recent terror-attacks in various regions of Pakistan and particularly
in the Balochistan province might be noted as instance.

Externally, Pak Army has boldly been responding to India’s unprovoked firing at the Line of
Control (Loc) in Kashmir. While, the fundamentalist party BJP led by the Indian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi is implementing anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan agenda. They leave no stone
unturned in distorting Pakistan’s image.

Unfortunately, it is because of lack of unity among our politicians, leaders and media that foreign
opportunists have been manipulating the chaotic situation of Pakistan in order to fulfill their
secret agenda by destabilizing the country which is the only nuclear country in the Islamic
World.

Overtly, American high officials remark that they seek stability in Pakistan, but covertly, they
continue to destabilize it to obtain the illegitimate interests of Israel. American top official have
also been accusing Pakistan of cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan so as to conceal their own
terrorism-related assaults in Pakistan, while insisting upon the country to do more against
terrorism. Besides, the US-backed propagandas campaign also continues against Pakistan.
Taking cognizance of Pakistan’s internal and external challenges, addressing the
participants on the event of commemorating the Defence Day, Pakistan’s Army Chief
General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on September 6, 2017, “Pakistan has done enough in’ the
war on terror and now it is time for the world to do more…Pakistan has made numerous
sacrifices fighting terrorism but today the country is being accused of not doing enough to
eradicate the menace.” He praised PAK Army for defence of the country and its response to
Indian perennial violations at the LoC.

Referring to Afghanistan, he remarked, “Pakistan has tried to support its neighbouring
country beyond its means…But we cannot fight the Afghan war in Pakistan…The
international powers should not hold us responsible for their shortcomings.”
Without naming the US-led intelligence agencies, Gen. Bajwa reminded the nation and the world
that “Pakistan is aware of all the conspiracies against the country and CPEC and its soldiers are
ready to sacrifice their lives for the people of Balochistan like people of Balochistan did for
Pakistan…they are closely observing those who want to stir unrest in the province.”
According to the press-statement of the ISPR, Gen. Bajwa reiterated army’s determination
to eliminate terrorism from the country.

Nevertheless, although Quaid-e- Azam supported the Two Nation Theory which was basis of the
Ideology of Pakistan, yet some hostile elements misinterpret it including the vision of Jinnah. In
fact, Mohammad Ali Jinnah who was against every sort of extremism, had favoured a moderate
Pakistan where other religious communities and minorities would also live without any
restriction, along with the Muslims.

It may be recalled that August 11 was official declared National Minorities Day by the former
government in 2009 in line with the historic speech of founder of the nation Quaid-e- Azam
Mohammad Ali Jinnah at the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. In his speech, Quaid-e-

Azam said, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques
or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste
or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

In the same speech, Quaid-e- Azam said, “We are starting in the days where there is no
discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between
ones caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all
citizens, and equal citizens of one state.”

It is mentionable that in accordance with the vision of Quaid-e- Azam, the Constitution of 1973
protects the real rights and interest of minorities, living in Pakistan.
While, India which claims an arch secular state has surprised the world because of continued
attacks on other minority groups, especially Christians, Muslims and Sikhs—and events of
forced conversion of Christians and Muslims into Hindus.

Unlike India, where religious minorities are being targeted by the Hindu fundamentalist outfits
like the ruling party BJP, RSS, Shiv Sena etc., all the minorities such as Christians, Ahmadis,
Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists enjoy fundamental rights in Pakistan, including all other
rights of citizenry in Pakistan.

It is noteworthy that the founder of the country had strongly supported the idea of peace in the
world as well as with other countries. In this respect on August 15, 1947 Quaid-e- Azam stated,
“Our object should be peace within, and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain
cordial friendly relations with our immediate neighbours and with the world at large.”

Regarding the status of women, Mohammad Ali Jinnah pointed out on March 25, 1940 at Islamia
College for women, “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by
side with you; we are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are
shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the
deplorable condition in which our women have to live.”

In accordance with Quaid-e- Azam’s vision, now, Pakistani women are not only working in
various public and private sectors, but also in the armed forces of the country.
Notably, Pakistan which came into existence on the basis of Islamic principles to provide respect
and protection to all the segments of society is giving full safety to all the minorities as
mentioned in the Constitution. Besides other minority groups, particularly Christians are not only
serving in the armed forces, but are also working in other departments. Without any
discrimination by the Muslims, they also run their own business and are working in private
sectors.

Nonetheless, while commemorating the Quaid-e- Azam Day, let us use this opportunity not only
to bring ourselves closer to each other by displaying selfless national unity, but also to promote
soft image of Pakistan in order to castigate the conspiracy of our external enemies.

 

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Birth Anniversary: Quaid-e- Azam Emphasized on National Unity

Trump Embodies the Crisis of Capitalism: A Conversation With Naomi Klein

NOVANEWS

By Laura Flanders

President Donald Trump talks with journalists after signing tax reform legislation into law in the Oval Office December 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump praised Republican leaders in Congress for all their work on the biggest tax overhaul in decades. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump talks with journalists after signing tax reform legislation into law in the Oval Office December 22, 2017, in Washington, DC. 

After the spate of disastrous floods, fires and quakes that have shocked us this year, this is a good time to revisit Naomi Klein, whose work continues to dig deep into the way that the global capitalists use shock and chaos to advance their agenda, regardless of the impact on the vulnerable. It’s hard to think of a national or global emergency that Donald Trump hasn’t tried to exploit for his own purposes, but still, a year after his election, roughly 30 percent of Americans polled continue to support his presidency. What is Trump selling? Who’s buying? And why? And what do those who consider themselves part of the resistance need to say “yes” to, after so many months and years of saying “no” to Trump and Trumpism? Naomi Klein is the author of 2017’s No Is Not Enough, as well as The Shock DoctrineNo Logo and This Changes Everything. You can watch this conversation — and many more like this — on the Laura Flanders Show, or subscribe to the free podcast: @lfshow

Laura Flanders: I’m waiting for the book that has “YES” as big on the cover.

Naomi Klein: Yeah, yeah. No, it’s true. I don’t like that when you look at it from far all you see is “No,” because that’s the opposite message of the book.

There’s a really important insight in this book, which has to do with the story we tell about capitalism. It’s changed. No longer the lifting of all boats. Can you just stop there and talk about the implications?

Well, I mean, we are in this moment where the ascendant moment for the so-called free-market project is in profound crisis, and in truth, it’s been in crisis for a long time. It’s been a kind of slow crisis with various stages, right? It was in crisis really, since it no longer became possible to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the consent of all the countries involved.

Lots of people would say it is crisis.

… that it is crisis, absolutely. I think there was a period from the ’80s and ’90s, let’s just say, the Reagan/Thatcher moment through the Clinton era, maybe up until … Seattle [in] 1999, where there was still … the promise and the propaganda of just, “We just need more capitalism and that’s what’s going to fix it. We need to deregulate markets further, we need to privatize everything. We need to lock it all in with these corporate free trade deals …”

… and that in so doing, we’d raise all boats.

Yeah, that it was going to spread around the world, prosperity for everyone. That phase of bringing in every corner of the globe into this singular project, that is what’s been in crisis, and it’s been in crisis because, for a long time, it was largely at the level of promise. Like, “If we do this, then this will happen….” But now, we’re in a moment where there’s a mountain of data, thanks to theorists like Thomas Piketty who have shown us so dramatically how inequality has widened everywhere — that these policies have been adopted, and lived experience, right?

So, that crisis, I think, has been building now for a couple of decades, but the 2008 financial crisis, watching the powerful break all of their lives in broad daylight, right? Intervening so dramatically in the market, doing all the things that they said couldn’t be done, everyone saw that, and once you see it, you can’t unsee it. You understand that the rules can be broken.

The other aspect of this is that the story about lifting all boats is up against a scenario, a reality where I think the last story I heard today was five people — five men — have between them the wealth equivalent to half the rest of the population, the rest of the world’s assets? Something like $400 billion.

Yep, 50 percent, yeah.

So, what you say in the book is that we replace that story of “capitalism will help everybody” with the story of “it’s winners and losers and you don’t want to be a loser.”

Right, right, and that is key to understanding Trump, because what he has been selling in this period as the wealth gap has widened, this period of a small group of super winners, and a whole lot of people who are just losing, is: “I will teach you how to be a winner.” I think it’s really important to understand that that is what he has been promising since he wrote The Art of the Deal. Like, “I’m going to teach you how to be like me, never mind that wealth is inherited, never mind that everything was handed to me….” And this is what he was selling at Trump University. “I’m going to turn you into the next Donald Trump.” University, right. That’s what “The Apprentice” was, right?

Yeah.

This ticket up to the “promised land,” up the elevator to Trump Tower, and it was precisely because … the alternative to that was getting worse and worse, that that was such a helpful sales pitch for him.

You make the point that he’s not the explanation for us being in this situation, but he is an expression of it … we all live in this ranking, rating world with enormous implications. I think, among other things, for organizing. How do you see it playing out?

Well, you know, I end the book with this section that I worried would be a little bit controversial, about how we need to kill our “inner Trump;” and I want to be clear, I’m not saying, “Kill Trump.” Our “Inner Trump.” The parts of ourselves that are a little bit Trumpish. I’m not saying that we are all the same as Trump, I’m not saying we are all equally responsible … but I am saying that he is a product of our culture. That he could become president is a product of our culture, and we’re all in the culture.

We don’t all have the same experiences of the culture, but the same culture that made it possible for the United States to have its first nuclear-armed reality TV star is the same cultur[e] … that [is] splintering our attention spans, and making so many of us think of ourselves as brands; as opposed to people in communities, and even our organizations, to think of ourselves not as part of a broad-based social movement, which needs all of our talents.

The way a social movement thinks … is “the more the merrier,” and the way a brand thinks is very proprietary. It’s very “Am I going to get the credit? Am I going to build my brand…?” And there’s a real conflict, and I think it’s important to talk about this is a non-accusatory way, because we’re products of our culture…. We may have a critique of it, but we’re still in this system, and we’re still products of it. The neoliberal project is in its fourth decade. So, I think we can talk about this without it degenerating into kind of, “You’re a sellout, you’re a jerk.”

Well, it is true that both things are happening at once. At the same time as we have these rankings and ratings, we also have more and more people talking about intersectionality and thinking of how things are connected in non-ranked kind of ways … and we have some examples … of intersected agendas … that are actually winning…. I’m thinking of the Jeremy Corbyn outcome of the British election. He didn’t win, but he certainly surpassed everybody’s expectations with a manifesto that reflected a very unranked set of priorities except for putting the many first. “The many, not the few” was his slogan.

But that’s important, right? That there was not the few, because I can see sort of Democrats going, “Oh, we like the ‘for the many’ part, but we’ll drop the ‘for the few’ because we’re not going to admit that there actually is a conflict going on. That there are interests who are trying to enrich themselves at the expense of the many….” And I think that’s been part of the problem, that unwillingness to kind of name names and say it’s a conflict.

If he could do it, could we do it?

I think so. I mean, this is the extraordinary part … and of course, Bernie Sanders did do it in his own way, because he did name names. He did say, “We are up against a billionaire class and there are many more of us.” He did it, and one of the things I like about Bernie as a politician is that he is able to do that without malice, and do it in a way that is not personal, but is structural.

So, I mean, I’m really heartened by the Corbyn campaign, because it proves that it’s possible to lead with ideas. I mean, Jeremy Corbyn is the antithesis of a Trump-like figure, but more importantly, to the UK, he’s the antithesis of Tony Blair. He is the antithesis of the colonization of the political class by the logic of corporate branding, and it was Tony Blair, as you know, who was the first person to do this.

When I was writing No Logo, and talking about the rise of this model and how it was seeping into every aspect of life, one of my examples was like, “In the UK … imagine talking about a political party as a brand.” That was shocking, that they were talking about rebranding Labour … and then he rebranded Britain, “Cool Britannia….” What I wrote at the time was that Tony Blair’s Labour Party — “New Labour” — was a labor-scented party. He was severing the traditional relationship between the Labour Party and … working people. That the brand, the logo, no longer had a relationship with the product … and the elite opinion-making was, “Well, you wouldn’t actually want to have anything to do with real workers, right?” Then, along comes Jeremy Corbyn and runs this campaign that features workers….

… I want to drill down into just some of the examples that you see of this work happening today, and how people are overcoming some of this brand culture to do the work [to] inch us forward … as the Canadians have said, “Leap us forward.” Talk about the Leap Manifesto, why is it called that and what’s in it?

Right, and there are many really good examples, I think, in this country…. The Vision for Black Lives [is] a just incredibly inspiring example of a people’s platform that was drafted by social movement, and when it came out almost a year ago, I think commentators were surprised at its ambition. They expected the movement to only focus on police violence, and it does focus on police violence, but it’s a sweeping vision for how to change society, right?

So, with the Leap, that’s basically what we did a year earlier when we were in the middle of a federal election campaign in Canada, and we found ourselves in a situation where none of the parties that had a chance of winning that election had a platform that we felt was nearly ambitious enough, given the overlapping crises we face. One of those crises is climate change. Another one is racial injustice. Another one is systematic betrayal of the treaties and land rights of Indigenous people, and on and on.

So, our little organization helped host a meeting of 16 movement leaders and organizers that just kind of carved out some space to dream. To say “Okay, what do we want instead? What does the world look like instead…?” And it was really hard, because we realized we didn’t have … a muscle memory of doing this, and it’s just like, “Well, we know how to come together and say we really don’t like this trade deal or we really don’t like this politician” … but … we broke into smaller groups and filled up whiteboards, and what was clear is that there was a connective tissue…

All those intersections again.

Yeah, yeah, and a lot of it had to do with care. Care, consent, moving from a culture that is based on endless taking and disposing of the resources of the Earth, of human beings, of pushing beyond limits as if there’s no consequences, to a culture of radical care and consent. We launched this document, it was rat-savaged … in the corporate media, but people continued to use it and adapt it, and take it … we’re hearing from a lot of people in this country who are interested in the model.

Well, that’s my last question. I was reminded in your book of how the right come into a crisis. When you reminded me that it was Mike Pence who was behind that post-Katrina plan to basically do away with all the protections for workers that had been put in place by activists on the Gulf Coast for many years … and I’m left always, reading your wonderful work with this sense of, “How can we take advantage of crisis with as much oomph as they did…?” And maybe you just need to remind our audience who is Mike Pence and what it was [like] to come across him again.

Well, when I was writing The Shock Doctrine, the book begins with Hurricane Katrina as the ultimate example of this tactic that the book focuses on: of using periods of severe collective trauma to push through policies that you’d never be able to push through without a crisis, because there’s no consent. I mean, it’s the ultimate abuse of the principle of consent democracy, whatever you want to call it, and New Orleans — it was particularly abusive because people were not in their city. I mean, they were not home.

There had been many of them put onto buses and planes at gun point and given one-way tickets out of the city, and when they were gone, that’s when their housing projects were demolished. That’s when their schools were turned into charter schools or shut down completely, and New Orleans became this laboratory for these pet ideological, very profitable projects, and so, there was this meeting where this was all mapped out when New Orleans was still partially under water. It was at the Heritage Foundation….

You can put a checkmark next to a lot of them today … and when Trump appointed Mike Pence as his running mate, I knew I knew the name from somewhere, but I couldn’t quite place it, and then I remembered that his name was at the bottom of that document, because he was at that time, the chair of the Republican study group.

So, this is why … Laura, you know me, I don’t put out books quickly. It takes me five years, and this book I kind of wrote in a little bit of a frenzy, because I really wanted it to be out before there is a major crisis other than the crisis that is Donald Trump, because I’m really worried about what this configuration of characters would do if they had an external shock to exploit, whether it’s an economic crisis, even a Katrina-like event, or heaven forbid, a terrorist attack like Manchester…. There needs to be that confidence in moments of crisis to put forward a transformational agenda, and that confidence is often missing. I think that’s going to change though, because I think the movements are in a different position.

We can’t wait for that crisis to come up with that agenda.

No, we’ve got to get ready.

Posted in USAComments Off on Trump Embodies the Crisis of Capitalism: A Conversation With Naomi Klein

UK Is on Course for the Longest Fall in Living Standards Since Records Began

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It felt like a long time to go when, in 2012, then-Chancellor George Osborne meekly warned that the economy was “healing” more slowly than anticipated and that austerity may last until 2018.

Now 2018 is around the corner and instead of Britain seeing light at the end of the long and painful austerity tunnel, it’s clear following the Conservative government’s Autumn Budget that the age of austerity is far from over — and that the inequality gap in the world’s sixth richest country is widening.

Far from achieving Prime Minister Theresa May’s promises to tackle Britain’s “burning injustices”, several key members of her Social Mobility Commission (SMC) recently resigned in protest over the lack of progress towards “making Britain fairer”. Alan Milburn, a Labour politician and chair of the SMC, which monitors the progress of improving social mobility in the UK, quit the Commission earlier this month along with his whole team, citing months of “indecision, dysfunctionality and lack of leadership” and stating there was “little hope” that May’s administration would deliver a more equal society.

The humiliating SMC resignations came just days after the release of Chancellor Hammond’s Autumn Budget, which led multiple reports and organizations to warn that amid a gloomy economic forecast, Britain would maintain devastating cuts to public spending while, in typical Tory fashion, hitting the poorest households the hardest.

The Resolution Foundation, an independent think tank aimed at improving living standards for low- and middle-income families, is one organization that has voiced such warnings. In its aptly titled post-Budget report, “Freshly Squeezed”, the Foundation warns that Britain is on course for its longest fall in living standards since records began in the 1950s.

The report describes the unprecedented scale of today’s economic downturn and its likely impacts on public and household finances. It states that on a 10-year rolling basis, productivity growth in Britain is set to fall to 0.1% by the end of 2017, marking it as the “worst decade for productivity growth since 1812 — when Napoleon was busy invading Russia.”

As a result of the economic downgrade, the British economy is predicted to be £42 billion worse off in 2022. Faced with such a foreboding forecast, the Chancellor has been forced to abandon the Tories’ principle financial objective to reach a budget surplus for public sector borrowing by 2025, and accept that borrowing will increase by an additional £15 billion.

The Foundation notes that this grim economic outlook will put more pressure on family budgets, with real household disposable incomes predicted to fall for an unprecedented 19 successive quarters between 2015 and 2020.

Widening the Inequality Gap

In concrete terms, changes made to tax and welfare benefits mean that the poorest third of UK households will lose an average of £715 a year by the end of Parliament, while the richest third will gain an average of £185 a year, according to the Foundation.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies shares the Resolution Foundation’s concerns, warning that the uncertainty over Brexit combined with a steady loss in productivity means Britain may ultimately suffer two decades of zero earnings.

The IFS referred to Hammond’s Autumn Budget as “pretty grim reading”, estimating that due to a fall in productivity, earnings and growth through 2022, the UK’s public finances will still be in the red by the middle of next decade.

According to the IFS’s Budget analysis, average earnings in Britain are on course to be £1,400 a year lower in 2021 than what was forecast in 2016. IFS Director Paul Johnson told The Guardian, “We are in danger of losing not just one but getting on for two decades of earnings growth. We will all have to get used to the idea that steadily rising living standards may be a thing of the increasingly distant past.”

A “Nothing-Has-Changed” Budget

The Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, was quick to condemn Hammond’s Budget, referring to it as a “nothing-has-changed budget” from an “out-of-touch” government. In response to the IFS analysis, McDonnell said it “exposed the appalling failure of seven years of this government’s austerity economics and its grim consequences for working people.”

During his Budget speech, Hammond briefly touched on the controversial roll-out of Universal Credit, the Tories’ “one-payment-for-all-benefits” system. While some hoped Hammond might announce a U-turn on Universal Credit in the Budget, the Chancellor merely promised that the long wait that claimants are forced to make before they receive their first Universal Credit payment would be shortened from six weeks to five. It was hardly a move that will help those struggling financially to avoid falling into rent arrears and getting mired more deeply in poverty as they wait for benefit payments.

Child Poverty on the Rise

The introduction of Universal Credit has been implicated with the surge in child poverty Britain has seen in recent months. Prior to the Autumn Budget, the IFS published a report predicting that the number of children living in poverty will increase to an unprecedented 2.5 million over the next five years, as government welfare cuts continue to hit poorest households the hardest.

The IFS said the arrival of Universal Credit, alongside the freezing of benefits and the reigning in of tax credits, would see child poverty surge, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country. It also predicted that the gap between the rich and poor will definitively widen, putting a question mark over Theresa May’s earliest pledge to help “just about managing” families across the UK

In fact, research shows that rising inflation in Britain is making life harder for those families, while cuts to benefits is putting additional pressure on low-income earners. A report by the Child Poverty Action Group found that a couple, in which both members work full-time jobs at the National Living Wage in 2017, will generate income that will meets only 87 percent of basic living costs. For a single parent working full-time on the National Living Wage, the figure drops to 83 percent.

Amid this toxic concoction of rising inflation and benefit freezes, the Chancellor was urged to use the Autumn Budget to help ease the plight of families on low-incomes. But instead of stamping out socially and economically failing austerity policies, and helping to ease the relentless battle facing so many low-income households, Hammond opted to continue a program of welfare freezes that by 2022 will see child poverty rise to record levels.

Living National Wage Not In-Line With Inflation

Instead of raising the National Living Wage to a realistic amount in line with rising inflation, the Chancellor increased it from £7.50 an hour to jut £7.83 an hour. As the Living Wage Organisation reports, the government’s National Living Wage is calculated on a target to reach 60 percent of median earnings by 2020 — not what employees and their families actually need to live on, with the price of everything from petrol to pharmaceutical prescriptions rising.

A case in point is Emma, from Sheffield in the north of England, who is a single mother of two young children. Emma, who has a part-time job and has her earnings topped up with welfare benefits, admits she is worried about the cost of living and the government’s ongoing attack on the benefits system.

“I work hard to bring up my children on my own and work as many hours as I possibly can,” she said. “The price of food and bills are going up but my wages or my benefits aren’t moving. Things are getting tighter and I worry that the government is trying to penalize people like me.”

Posted in Human Rights, UKComments Off on UK Is on Course for the Longest Fall in Living Standards Since Records Began

Best of 2017: Ten Stories of Money and Politics

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A billionaire president surrounded by the wealthiest cabinet in modern history. Special elections that shattered records for campaign spending. A foreign government spending millions on Facebook ads to influence an election.

Keeping pace with the news cycle in 2017 was not easy — but fear not.

For your holiday reading the OpenSecrets blog team has put together some of our favorite stories from this very memorable year in politics.

FEC is after Trump and his JFCs for anonymous donations, other violations

Mere days before his inauguration, then-President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign committee received a sharply worded letter from the Federal Election Commission about multiple campaign finance violations — from accepting contributions the legal limit to pocketing those from anonymous donors. “Refused” and “Anonymous” were frequent donors of Trump’s candidacy.

Senate vote on prescription drug price legislation calls loyalties into question

Americans want cheaper prescription drug prices, yet a proposal for importing lower-cost drugs from Canada failed in the Senate. Our analysis showed that senators who voted against the amendment had received vastly higher political contributions from the US pharmaceutical industry.

Seven years later: Blurred boundaries, more money

Next month is the eighth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United ruling that gave birth to super PACs and a mechanism for funneling unlimited cash to influence US political campaigns. We reflected on the 5-4 court decision last year by tracking the rise of super PAC spending that has no appearance of stopping anytime soon.

More than Mar-a-Lago: Members of all Trump clubs could have access to the president

Mar-a-Lago resort is not only Trump’s so-called “Winter White House” but also an opportunity to mingle with the new president — assuming you can afford the $200,000 annual membership. A CRP analysis found that the Mar-a-Lagians whose names have been publicized have spent a minimum of $4.9 million on federal-level political contributions since 1989. More than three-quarters of that has gone to Republicans. 

Wellspring’s dark money crucial to judicial group, helps others in Trump orbit

A single conservative mega donor poured millions into a campaign that blocked Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, from filling the empty court seat later filled by Trump’s choice, Neil Gorsuch. CRP broke the story in its analysis of tax documents filed by Judicial Crisis Network, the small nonprofit behind the campaign.

250 donors shelled out $100k or more for Trump’s inauguration, providing 91% of funds

President Donald Trump raised over $100 million for his 2017 inaugural festivities, shattering previous records. In this story, we detailed the generous donors who funded Trump’s 2017 celebrations. For more, see the donors who gave more than $100,000 for recent inaugurations.

Dark money, super PAC spending surges ahead of 2018 midterms

Shadowy politically active nonprofits (or “dark money” groups), deep-pocketed super PACs and other outside groups have never spent so much, so early in an election cycle, our data shows. Outside groups spent nearly $48 million through August — or more than double the $21 million the groups spent at this point in the 2016 presidential election cycle.

Audit shows NRA spending surged $100 million amidst pro-Trump push in 2016

The National Rifle Association‘s spending surged by more than $100 million in 2016, surpassing any previous annual NRA spending totals on record, according to documents obtained by CRP. The NRA’s unprecedented spending helped deliver Donald Trump the White House and for Republicans, control of Congress.            

Money flows into net neutrality debate ahead of FCC vote

Roughly eight of 10 Americans opposed the Federal Communications Commission’s planned repeal of Obama-era net neutrality protections. It didn’t matter. The repeal passed 3-2 by along party lines, with the FCC’s Republican commissioners siding with the interests of internet service providers (ISPs).

Out of the swamp … or into the shadows?

Hordes of federal lobbyists have deliberately moved into the shadows to avoid the spotlight (and the reporting requirements) of an FEC-registered lobbyist, a CRP special report reveals. Our investigation found nearly a third of previously registered lobbyists who stayed at the same organization but are no longer registered have titles that indicate they may still be working on influencing policy.

Looking to the Future:

The 2017 special elections continue into the 2018, following a string of resignations this month. The 2018 midterms, which could determine which party control the House of Representatives are only 11 months away. Stay tuned…

Posted in USAComments Off on Best of 2017: Ten Stories of Money and Politics

“Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It”

NOVANEWS

By Shane BurleyAK Press 

Donald Trump, flanked by Republican lawmakers, celebrates Congress passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the South Lawn of the White House on December 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. The tax bill is the first major legislative victory for the GOP-controlled Congress and Trump since he took office almost one year ago. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Donald Trump, flanked by Republican lawmakers, celebrates Congress passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the South Lawn of the White House on December 20, 2017, in Washington, DC. The tax bill is the first major legislative victory for the GOP-controlled Congress and Trump since he took office almost one year ago. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Shane Burley’s Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It looks at the rise of fascist politics in the US, how the different strands work, and the different, intersecting movements that have arrived to confront fascist violence. In the below excerpt, Burley discusses what exactly fascism is beyond the hype and misinformation.

Building on a wealth of scholarship and research, Burley analyzes the foundational principles of fascism that tie together the battles of World War II to the neo-fascist “alt-right” insurgency.

***

The search for what is called “generic fascism” has been ongoing since the Second World War. Does the Third Reich serve as a model even though it gave in to suicidal imperialism and a genocidal flurry of ethnic rage? Is the Iron Guard the perfect example even though it suppressed all other points to their prime enemy, “the international Jew?” Does Mussolini define the term since he invented it, though his racial policies were less pronounced than most? Does National Shinto in Japan provide a proper model even though its religious nature and distinct cultural landscape makes it unique?

The journey, instead, has been to find a clean definition that would encompass all historical instances and, by virtue of its descriptive qualities, begin to rope in more recent movements, putting small insurrectionary movements on the same ideological footing as those that terrorized Europe. Many want to define fascism as a specifically interwar project, describing it in terms of its state policies, aesthetics, and particular aims — a definition that presumably leaves it in the past as no movements of any consequence match the NSDAP) or Italian Fascist Party directly. For many far-right philosophers, like Alt Right co-founder and former paleoconservative professor Paul Gottfried, fascism was merely a brief political project that attempted to reclaim the “True Right.” That right, he asserts, is in opposition to the “false right” that makes up much of American conservatism. Gottfried would agree with Hawley that American conservatism has been made up, primarily, of three elements: hawkish foreign policy, free market economics, and conservative social ideas defined, largely, by Christianity. But how does conservatism relate to human equality?

Roger Griffin presents a concise, intensely ideological term to define fascism: “palingenetic ultranationalism.” His definition, which was taken up broadly by what is referred to as the “new consensus,” rejected the view popular in academia that fascism is defined by its structural qualities, those unique to World War II, instead of its ideological core. Instead of having a perfect generic example, Griffin identified the ideological types that are shared across cultures and time periods, using the theory of “ideological morphology.” Originally proposed by Michael Freeman, ideological morphology looks at what defining features a broad set of specific ideologies needs to be “recognizable.” This means the aesthetics, style, and organizational form does not define it, but rather the ideological qualities that can be shared broadly, in entirely different contexts. Fascism then is a form of extreme nationalism, broadly defined, that bases itself on a mythological past that a group intends to return to. This term does not reflect state policies, whether authoritarian or libertarian, because all of those are subservient to its meta-politics. The fascist project is not about achieving totalitarianism, it is about reclaiming the mythological identity and order, and if totalitarian means are the way to get there then so be it. The fascist projects of the past have used authoritarian political parties as their avenue to power as well as command economies to see a vision through, but all of that was due to their situation and political climate. In the modern fascist movement, a whole range of political possibilities are welcome, as long as they share a (somewhat) agreed-upon vision of the essentials.

Fascism Viewed From the Left

I present an alternative to the popular and innacurate view of fascism: Fascism is what many on the right have argued is the “True Right.” While many movements on the ostensible right make equality a lower priority, such as the submission of equality to market liberty — whether as plain market fundamentalism or the extremes of “anarcho-capitalism” — they rarely agree that inequality is a sacrament. In contrast, inside of fascism inequality is explicit, as is identity. At the same time, I define fascism not from the center but from the left. A definition of fascism needs to remain vital and evolving and must provide examples and understanding that is useful not only for historical tracking, but counter-organizing and resistance. To do this I develop a definition of fascism that is broader, one that includes the various strands that connect to each other. Proto-fascism, para-fascism, right populism, and others, can be identified as movements that do not meet the definitive rigor of fascism but are aptly targeted by antifascists since they are a proven part of the fascist progression. For those who identify as antifascists, these groups can be thought of as concentric circles, movements that are using the same logic as fascism without filling out its entire ideological checklist. While most movements that I discuss do not use the term “fascism” to define themselves, they either fit its definition perfectly (the Alt Right) or flirt with it so openly (the militia movement) that they can be seen as ideological allies.

In keeping with Roger Griffin’s project to outline a key rhetorical definition for fascism, I offer one that, though seemingly universal, does have its own problems, as finding the perfect terminology to define all fascist movements may be a quest without end: “Inequality through mythological and essentialized identity” is an attempt to sum all of these threads up, hitting the various points that fascism uses to define itself.

Inequality

Standing before the London Forum in 2012, Richard Spencer said that the defining characteristic of the Alt Right was inequality. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men were created unequal,” he said, making a clear break with the foundational document of American political independence that the conservative movement clings to as their moral authority. For fascists across the board, the defining factor of their ideology is more than the conservative de-emphasis of equality: inequality, for them, is critical, crucial, and correct. They believe that people are of different abilities and skills, qualities and characteristics, and that those differences should be ranked vertically, not horizontally. How this inequality is interpreted often shifts between different schools of thought and political movements, but they often take antiquated notions about race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, body type, and other qualities to show that groups of people, defined in a myriad of ways, can be ranked as “better or worse.” Even between those groups, such as inside of the “white race,” people are not seen as fundamentally equal. Equality is a social lie that leads to an unhealthy society where the weak rule over the strong through democracy. In a properly stratified society an elite of some kind would have authority over the unwashed masses, though the way this authority plays out is so radically diffuse in contemporary fascism that there is no universally agreed upon blueprint. While identity is central to this constructed inequality, there is a heavy focus on analyzing and ranking abilities, from the size of biceps to the numbers generated from outdated IQ tests.

Populism

It is impossible to have fascism, either as a semi-coherent ideology or a movement, without some element of right-wing populism. This could take the form of anti-elitism, ranging from opposition to international banks to perceived tribal elites as is true in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. This anti-elitism plays into the revolutionary character of fascism, adds to its appeal to the working class, and is an attack on the left and the bourgeoisie. As will be mentioned later, this attack on elites is not an attack on elitism as such, as fascism, in the way we define it here, requires an elite caste of some sort. In the political sense, populism is the force by which hard fascist ideologues gain traction to move their political voice onto the national stage, often riding the same inspiring forces that the left does, such as labor issues, environmental catastrophe, and war. While this may seem a force used opportunistically by the ideological fascist contingent — such as explicit neo-Nazis or the Alt Right — there is an element of this right populism, the “common man against the elites,” that is present even in the most reasoned and consistent fascist political thought, from the German Conservative Revolution to the French New Right. Fascism is particularly modern this way, even though it is a repudiation of that modernity, since it requires a mass movement and could not have been possible in an age before mass politics.

Identity

Identity is the second part of our proposed definition, in which I use the amorphous qualifier “essentialized.” Identity is a crucial part of the fascist project, but it is primarily not a chosen identity. Instead, they argue, identity is something that moves far beyond nominal politics, social signifiers, and cultural attitudes. Identity can be something that echoes from deep in your past, the “story of your people,” a national myth, a tribal uniform. This is why race has been the most common form of identity that fascists consider crucial and also underlines the importance that racism still has in Western society. For identity adherents, race informs their past, who they are related to, who they should have allegiance to, and it drives their personality, intelligence, and vices. Gender, in the same way, should also be seen as essential, and traditional gender roles are not social constructs but universal truths that dictate our path. To reject our racial and gender identities as guiding forces is then to reject nature. While fascism, as an invention of the modern world, has often relied on vulgar scientism to define these racial and gender arguments, there are spiritual and metaphysical ones that run parallel as well.

Inequality has to be pinpointed through identity: who you are, rather than what you do. You are a certain race, gender, and national ethnicity, and so those should define your place in a hierarchy and in the groups with which you have affinity. While race is often a major fault line for the boundaries of this identity, there are broader cultural-linguistic ethnocentrisms that can take hold of this, especially when a multicultural nation lacks any central history of monoracial uniformity.

Revolution

The term “revolution” shares the same troubling confluence of definitions, finding little commonality beyond the fact that it is a great “shuffling off” of the past. This is a good place for us to start and to suggest that we define revolution as any attempt to undermine, destroy, and replace fundamental social institutions. In the traditional -Marxist-Leninist understanding this meant the taking over of one class by the other, a forced proletarianization of the ruling classes, and a destruction (to a degree) of state infrastructure so a -counter-state can be built and run by — and for — the workers (in theory, at least, to increase equality). As J. Sakai says, the fascist revolutionary project is less about the fundamental change in the functions of society and more about how they can use those functions, or replacements, as a vessel for themselves.

By “revolutionary” the left has always meant overthrowing capitalism and building a socialist or communal or anarchist society. Fascism is not revolutionary in that sense, although it may use those words. Fascism is revolutionary in a simpler use of the word. It intends to seize State power for itself.

Fascists have less ideological consistency because no fascist thinker has created a grand hegemony in thought that defined the movement henceforth. Instead, we can comfortably say that fascism is a revolutionary project, but how that revolution plays out is fiercely debated. At the bare minimum, it is an undermining of the foundational ideas of Western democracy, rejecting the idea that the people, generally, can rule themselves. If the fascist project intends to see imperial state power as a mechanism for achieving their ends (inequality through essentialized identity), then it could have more in common with the Marxist-Leninist conception of revolution. In this case, it would be destroying the elements of the liberal state in order to further embody a state created to enforce tribal interests and inequality. For non-state fascists, whom I will get to later, it may mean a revolution to destroy the current order and make space for the creation of ethnocentric tribal communities that can then battle for hegemony (or trade, depending on who is in charge). Whatever the distinct vision, the fascist idea is radical; it wants to see systemic change. It does not just want to reinforce the tacit inequality and structural oppression that exists inside of capitalist states; it wants to build a society where inequality and bigotry are explicitly endorsed. This requires a complete reordering of society, even if it is simply giving in to ideas that have been implicit to Western colonialism and white supremacy for centuries.

Elitism

While the “führer” principle is part and parcel of a fascist movement, it can be leadership outside of state or party functions. This brings us back to the idea of institutionalized hierarchy, with an aristocratic elite forming in a variety of ways. In the work of -proto-fascist jurist and Nazi-sympathizer Carl Schmitt, liberal democracy must “suspend democracy” in order to continue the project of democracy. Figures of supreme importance move through liberal modern societies past its laws and regulations so as to prop up the illusion that mass rule is maintained, but if democracy were to remain pure, it would collapse under the weight of its own inherent inequalities. Fascism drops the illusion that extralegal authority needs to be banned and instead concludes that the actions of dominant figures should be done by virtue of their superior spirit rather than the mandate of the common man. The central idea here is that some people are superior and that a ruling caste must be established in all levels of social arrangement.

Cult of Tradition

From the fascist view of history, identities are only forged through the mythological belief that there is a tradition that must be returned to. In author Umberto Eco’s quest to find the principles of “Eternal Fascism,” he identifies the “Cult of Tradition” as the most essential quality of fascism, where a desire to return to a “tradition,” which may or may not be true in the literal sense, is a reaction to modern developments like logic, science, or democracy. As we will see with the esoteric spiritual beliefs that color fascist movements, far-right authors like Julius Evola have outlined the idea that there is an underlying tradition of hierarchy inside all of the world’s societies and religions. The belief that there is a tradition that must be reclaimed is essential to the revolutionary rightist mission. Fascism is a particularly modernist concept, one that attempts to take the ideas of industry, technology, and futurism, and apply a reactionary understanding of society to it. Fascists often see themselves as trying to reclaim something that is natural, normal, and ever-present throughout history. This means theorizing how a proper society works after all of the modern “degeneracies” are cast off.

The Colonization of the Left

While this is discussed more thoroughly below, one key element of a fascist project is the adoption of politics associated with the left. From deep ecological mysticism that motivated aspects of German nationalism through the takeover by the NSDAP to the anti-imperialist rhetoric of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists, fascist ideologues need this left-right crossover in order to develop a “new synthesis” that does not play by the conventionally understood left-right political spectrum. This should more appropriately be seen as a right takeover of the left: the use of leftist political tactics and strategies to push the core right-wing meta-politics of inequality and essential identity. If the left uses “state socialism” to enforce equality, the tools of which are command economics and state intervention, then fascism will use a mirror of those state systems to sanctify inequality and tribal privilege. If the left uses anti-colonial struggle to confront the ongoing attack on indigenous communities, then the right will use parallel ideas like indigenous sovereignty and the reclamation of ethnic identity as an argument for white separatism and racial advocacy. While the left develops tools to meet certain larger goals, fascism uniformly attempts to capture those methods for far different results.

Violence and Authority

Violence is often cited as a defining feature of fascism, by combining the immediatist nihilism of Mussolini’s early movement with the sober revelations of Nazi extermination plans into a coherent understanding. Violence is and remains a significant component of fascism, but much of this derives from the idea that the alienating effects of modernity must be smashed, and that mythic warrior societies show a path forward, especially for the veneration of “masculinity.” It is this discontent with the pathological boredom of industrial capitalism that has historically created some of its broadest appeals to the left, as well as some of its most pernicious sacrifices of human life and dignity. At the same time, while political authoritarianism may not be a defining feature of fascism, the appeal to some sort of authority, from aristocratic rule to physical “Übermensch,” is essential to guiding the unwashed masses.

***

Another defining feature of fascism is that it will constantly redefine itself. It will not resurrect (successfully) the fascist movements of the past, but it will always appeal to the uniqueness of countries, cultures, and contemporary technological and scientific developments. It adapts to religious perspectives, the drive toward ecological conservation, the fear of imperial domination, the regrets of Western colonialism, and the leftist language of national liberation, cultural appropriation, and anti-racism. Fascism necessitates the adoption of elements of the left, as mentioned, and as its opposition shifts and the colors of art and human expression evolve, it will find new vessels for its mission to reimagine the human experience. Fascism is not about politics, it is about consequences, the results of the choices that people make, whether in the halls of power or in the quiet musings where people determine who they are. Fascism grows in the arts, in poetry, in philosophy, in spirituality, in the formation of community bonds, and the ways we see ourselves. Politics is only the public manifestation of a cosmic shift in attitudes and values. In all the ways that inequality is sanctified, that boundaries are made dividing personhood and the struggle for democracy and equality are undermined, a tradition of the “True Right” is establishing its grip on society.

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