Archive | September 21st, 2019

Most Of America’s Terrorists Are White, And Not Muslim

Right-wing terror is real, and it’s a problem.

When it comes to domestic terrorism in America, the numbers don’t lie: Far-right extremists are behind far more plots and attacks than Islamist extremists. 

There were almost twice as many terrorist incidents by right-wing extremists as by Islamist extremists in the U.S. from 2008 to 2016, according to a new report from The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal.

Looking at both plots and attacks carried out, the group tracked 201 terrorist incidents on U.S. soil from January 2008 to the end of 2016. The database shows 115 cases by right-wing extremists ― from white supremacists to militias to “sovereign citizens” ― compared to 63 cases by Islamist extremists.Incidents from left-wing extremists, which include ecoterrorists and animal rights militants, were comparatively rare, with 19 incidents. 

When it comes to right-wing extremism, attackers are also ‘mostly men’ and ‘almost purely white.’Reporter David Neiwert

While the database makes a point of distinguishing between different groups within right-wing extremism, lead reporter David Neiwert told HuffPost that “those are all gradations of white supremacy, variations on the same thing.” When it comes to right-wing extremism, attackers are also “mostly men” and “almost purely white,” Neiwert said.  

Attacks by right-wing extremists were also more often deadly, with nearly a third of right-wing extremist incidents resulting in deaths compared with 13 percent of Islamist extremist cases resulting in deaths. However, the sheer number of people killed by Islamist extremists ― a total of 90 people killed ― was higher than the death toll at the hands of right-wing extremists ― 79 people killed.- ADVERTISEMENT –

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has focused his rhetoric and policies almost entirely on countering Islamist extremism, and not white supremacist extremism.  

“As with a lot of things related to Trump and the Islamophobic right, the reality is viewed through an upside-down looking glass,” Neiwert said. The reality is the most significant domestic terror threat we have is right-wing extremism.

Jeremy Christian, accused of fatally stabbings two men who tried to stop Christian from harassing...
Jeremy Christian, accused of fatally stabbings two men who tried to stop Christian from harassing two young black women who appeared to be Muslim, in Portland, Oregon — May 30, 2017.

The Investigative Fund’s findings reflect those of previous studies of domestic terrorism. The New America Foundation, for instance, which has been tracking deadly terror incidents on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11 attacks, also finds an almost two-to-one ratio of attacks by far-right extremists to Islamist extremists, with 21 deadly attacks by far-right extremists, compared to 11 by Islamist extremists.

Despite the facts, many Americans still associate terror attacks with Islamist extremists rather than far-right extremists, Neiwart noted. 

“I think the larger perception in the public ― and this includes many progressives and liberals ― is the inversion of the reality: that the greatest threat we face is Islamist radicals,” Neiwert said. “And it’s reflected in the way the press report upon various kinds of domestic terror attacks: When it’s a white domestic terrorist, they underplay it, write it off to mental illness.”

The reality is the most significant domestic terror threat we have is right-wing extremism.Reporter David Neiwert

The media has a long history of double standards when it comes to covering terrorism ― starting with how slow mainstream media is to label attacks by white perpetrators as “terrorism,” and quick to label them as such when attackers are perceived as nonwhite or “other” ― and specifically, Muslim.

Part of problem is the complex nature of how officials choose to categorize attacks as terrorism. The FBI has specific criteria its uses to classify terrorist incidents ― but the public doesn’t always agree with officials’ labels. For instance, many people condemned the government for not labeling Dylann Roof a terrorist after he killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, even though he specifically said he was there “to shoot black people,” according to witnesses. 

“There’s actually a debate over whether what Dylann Roof did was domestic terrorism, when it so plainly is domestic terrorism,” Neiwert told HuffPost. “A lot of this has to do with embedded judgements about where these threats come from ― and that has to do with fear-mongering around Islamophobia.”

Investigative Fund's interactive map showing terrorism incidents by ideology since
Investigative Fund’s interactive map showing terrorism incidents by ideology since 2008. 

The solution, according to Neiwert, lies with the government first acknowledging the scale of the problem of far-right extremism, and then dedicating resources to fighting it.

So far Trump has shown a clear double standard in his response to terrorism: After Islamist extremists attacked London on June 3, for instance, Trump condemned the violence on Twitter the same day ― but after an attack in Portland, Oregon, by a white supremacist on May 26, Trump waited more than two days before tweeting about it. After the London attack, Trump also called on the courts to reinstate his travel ban on certain Muslim-majority countries ― which was roundly criticized. After the Portland attack, Trump made no calls to change policy to prevent future attacks.

The Trump administration also reportedly just dropped funding for nonprofit Life After Hate, a group that helps people leave the white supremacist movement.

Bradd Jaffy@BraddJaffy

Trump administration has dropped funding for a group dedicated to de-radicalizing neo-Nazis and stopping white extremism. via @playbookplus

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1,8902:18 PM – Jun 23, 2017Twitter Ads info and privacy2,846 people are talking about this

But it’s not just Trump that’s the problem. The Fund’s database goes back to 2008 and shows clearly how government resources have been disproportionately dedicated to tackling Islamist extremism over right-wing extremism. The government succeeded in interrupting the vast majority of Islamist extremist terror cases since 2008, for instance: 76 percent of incidents tracked were “foiled plots,” which the group noted showed “a significant investment of law enforcement resources.” When it came to right-wing extremism, only about a third of incidents were interrupted ― 35 percent ― and the majority of the cases included acts of violence that led to deaths, injuries or damaged property. 

At the end of the day, it’s not only on the government to acknowledge the reality of the growing threat of far-right extremism, according to Neiwert, it’s on everyone from members of the media to average Americans.

“First thing we need to do is recognize that it’s there, it’s a problem, it’s a threat ― as great a threat as Islamists,” Neiwert said. “And it needs to be taken seriously.”PHOTO GALLERYMemorial For Portland Train Stabbing VictimsSee Gallery

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FAMILIAR FACTION OF REGIME CHANGE ADVOCATES LASH OUT AT JOURNALISTS REPORTING FROM SYRIA

KEVIN GOSZTOLA

Rania Khalek (left), Max Blumenthal (center), and Anya Parampil (right) | Source: Facebook

 Rania Khalek (left), Max Blumenthal (center), and Anya Parampil (right) | Source: Facebook50915

Editor’s Note

Disclosure: Kevin Gosztola co-hosts the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast with Rania Khalek. Yes, this is absolutely a biased defense of Rania Khalek and Max Blumenthal.

Journalists Rania Khalek and Max Blumenthal were condemned for traveling to Damascus, Syria, to report on recent developments in the country.

The attacks came from a select but influential group of individuals, who resent the manner in which Khalek and Blumenthal have undermined that narrative for supporting regime change operations by Western forces and the militia groups aligned with them.

Both have been targeted before by these individuals who have forced or attempted to force the cancellation of their speaking events or render them toxic to publishers so their journalism does not reach a wider audience. This resentment is a product of an obsession that involves exaggerating their influence in order to justify a campaign that convinces people they should be viewed as pariahs.

Molly Crabapple is a New York artist and writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Guardian, CNN, and Vanity Fair. She equated their journalism to Nazi propaganda.

“This is some Goebbels shit,” Crabapple declared. “Prancing around Syria on a government luxury tour, posting tourist photos near torture centers, and mocking Syrian refugees who can never return to their country without risking being tortured to death.”

It was part of a thread on Twitter that received more than 1,900 likes and was shared over 700 times.

Referring to a photo Khalek shared on Instagram, Crabapple added, “Note that no one in this photo knows Arabic. They are traveling around with a regime driver and translator, on a regime junket. There is zero independent journalism being done, though lots of eating at swanky restaurants.”

Mariam Elba, a fact-checker and associate research editor for the Intercept, reacted, “LMAO Rania and Max are in Damascus. Neither of them speak Arabic, yet they claim to be ‘talking’ to many Syrians there. Why aren’t they disclosing who’s translating for them and helping them out?”

However, Khalek can speak Arabic. “I speak a good amount of Arabic,” Khalek told Shadowproof. “[I] still struggle a bit with some words, but I was basically their translator this whole trip.”

Khalek has lived in Lebanon for nearly three years. She suggested her Arabic has improved a lot since she moved there.

Tana Ganeva, who has been published by the Washington Post, the Intercept, Rolling Stone, and Glamour, replied to Crabapple, “Do the regime driver and translator know how irrelevant these people are? Where do they even publish at this point?”

Replying to Crabapple and Ganeva’s jokes about Khalek and Blumenthal, Maryam Saleh, an editor and reporter for the Intercept, added, “I wonder whether Verso still stands by its decision to publish Max’s Islamophobic drivel.”

Verso Books published Blumenthal’s book, The Management of Savagery: How America’s National Security State Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump, in April. He received praise from Reza Aslan, Gabriel Byrne, Andrew Cockburn, Juan Cole, Chris Hedges, Oliver Stone, and Asa Winstanley.

The book examined how the United States funded the mujahideen in Afghanistan and drew the Soviet Union into a prolonged war then allowed these same militants to become threats to the safety and security of Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian countries. Through extensive research, it argued America’s efforts to nation-build and overthrow regimes have made the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorism and the rise of ultra-nationalism, including Islamophobia.

Clarissa Ward hyperventilated. “Started to read a certain ‘journalist’s’ thread from inside Damascus this AM, then found myself getting palpitations which progressed into spasms of rage. How can anyone be so blindly credulous? Are narcotics involved? It is such a disgrace.”

Remarkably, Ward was a CNN correspondent and subject of reporting by Blumenthal that showed she contracted Bilal Abdul Kareem to take her into “rebel-controlled territory.” Kareem was an English-language propagandist for Jabhat al Nusra, the al Qaida affiliate in Syria.

One of the photographs Khalek posted to Instagram from Saydnaya, Syria, went viral because she described what she saw as a “breathtaking view in Syria” and these people objected.

According to Khalek, Saydnaya is known to Syrians as a “historic Christian village in the mountains that has a church more than 1000 years old at the very top.” Not only is it a summer destination for Syrians but the village also “managed to protect itself from jihadists during the war with its own militia.”

Nick Waters, a senior investigator for Bellingcat, which has produced analyses of the war in Syria that promote regime change, mapped where Khalek snapped the image. In a tweet with 400-plus likes, Waters asserted she was “only a couple of degrees away from the infamous Saydnaya prison, where tens of thousands of people have been tortured and executed.”

Outrage spread immediately as these individuals contended Khalek was trying to whitewash the crimes of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime. But given how Khalek and Blumenthal frequently are labeled as “Assadists” by this faction of people, how does that allegation make any sense?

These two journalists cannot both be Assadists and be hiding a torture chamber, where prisoners are said to have been brutalized and hanged. A good Assadist would make sure it was in the photograph because they would want to send a message to the world that they will not bow to malicious propaganda spread in order to whip up opposition to the regime. So, it would seem they aren’t very good regime boosters at all.

Aside from the baseless and contradictory allegation, Blumenthal covered the 2017 Amnesty International report on the Saydnaya prison. It claimed 5,000 to 13,000 prisoners were executed, but then in a footnote it mentioned that these were “hypothetical calculations.” It actually was only able to document and confirm 375 deaths.

Even that number may be questionable. The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) is a public relations operation for opposition groups in Syria. It operates out of Doha, Qatar, and it was the SNHR’s numbers that Amnesty relied upon for this non-hypothetical number.

Khalek, Blumenthal, Anya Parampil, who traveled with them, and several others were pictured at a conference for union activists. Members of U.S. Labor Against the War attended, and later, the three journalists met with people through arrangements of their own. None of this was part of any government-planned itinerary.

A broader yet similar backlash occurred in November 2016 when Khalek went to Damascus as part of a delegation of journalists that included reporters from the BBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and various other Western media outlets. There were people from think tanks as well, and they were going to cover a conference organized by the British Syrian Society, which is a nongovernmental organization that was co-founded the father of Asma al-Assad, the wife of the Syrian president.

Charles Lister, who was a lobbyist for the arming of Salafi-jihadist militants in Syria at the Qatari-funded Middle East Institute in Washington D.C., posted a copy of a program for the conference. It listed Khalek as a speaker, although she never agreed to speak at the gathering.

The Syrian government never paid for any part of the trip, but the very same people upset with Khalek and Blumenthal for going to Damascus in 2019 made Khalek toxic so that progressive media outlets were discouraged from publishing any reporting from her trip. She lost her position as a member of the editorial board of the Electronic Intifada, a website known for its coverage of the Palestinian struggle for human rights and liberation.

A few months later, this group pushed the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter at the University of North Carolina to cancel a speaking event with Khalek and subsequently the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) group in Concordia canceled her planned appearance for Israeli Apartheid Week.

Oz Katerji, who works for the Turkish State Broadcaster, TRT World, pledged, “I will never stop fighting against Assad’s propaganda campaign, over my dead body.”

“I will never stop. Not with any of you. I will never rest while you are given platforms or publishing opportunities,” Katerji proclaimed. He maintained Khalek is “no journalist” but rather a “shill” for Assad and Iran. He described people like Khalek (including this author) as enemies of mankind and hoped God would have mercy because he had no plans to show mercy.

More than two years later, Katerji obsessively returned to the campaign he engaged in to have Khalek blacklisted.

“Pro-Assad propagandist Rania Khalek is back in Damascus today on a solidarity trip for the Assad regime from war crimes charges. She was no-platformed by SJP activists,” Katerji wrote. “In response to SJP activists no-platforming Khalek for Assadism, prominent figures signed an open letter in her defense.”

He continued, “Since then she has been employed as a propagandist by the Kremlin and doubled down on war crimes denial.” He bluntly called Khalek a “pro regime war crimes denier and propagandist for mass murder.”

Katerji listed several people who signed a letter of support for Khalek when she was blacklisted: Ali Abunimah, Max Ajl, Reza Aslan, Medea Benjamin, Noam Chomsky, George Ciccariello-Maher, Andrew Cockburn, Jonathan Cook, Lee Fang, Glenn Greenwald, Bassam Haddad, Doug Henwood, Zaid Jilani, Ken Klippenstein, Antony Loewenstein, John Pilger, Vijay Prashad, and Corey Robin.

While Katerji may not be as influential as Lister or Crabapple, his relentless zeal is effective in stirring animosity on social media through deliberate efforts to slander people who depart from the political narratives for U.S. foreign policy that he supports.

Katerji and others were part of an effort to cancel an event for Blumenthal’s book, Management of Savagery, that was to be held at the Politics and Prose bookstore in D.C. in April.

Many of the outlandish gripes from this faction were incorporated into a scurrilous article from the Jerusalem Post staff about Blumenthal. It was filed under “anti-Semitism” and published while he was in Damascus.

***

Altogether, these campaigns to silence Blumenthal, Khalek, and others have a cumulative impact. They discourage anyone from traveling to Syria to spend money and resources on reporting that may not bolster the agenda for intervention.

Khalek was forced out of regular work in U.S. progressive media and now works for a project called In The Now that openly is funded by Russian state media. Blumenthal independently operates The Grayzone and no longer enjoys the same level of support from progressives that he did a few years ago.

“It is wrong for Westerners to reduce Syria, which is home to some of the oldest cities in the world, to one man,” Khalek argued. “Syria is not Assad. Syria is a historically and culturally rich country of millions who are completely erased by these regime change lobbyists who want to enforce a journalistic siege on the country to prevent Americans from seeing the reality of Syria.”

Khalek maintained, “All the bullying and intimidation is meant to stifle attempts at reporting the reality of the government areas where the overwhelming majority of Syrians live. If Americans saw the reality, the regime change narrative would collapse right away.”

“Journalists should do what they can to report from all areas. That’s a part of the job. But for some reason, they don’t want anyone to report from government areas,” Khalek concluded.

Blumenthal pointed out that the correspondents from the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as D.C. think tanks, are able to have a great time in Damascus and return home to push for the country’s “continued destabilization.” They can access Syria like anyone else would by getting government visas and face little condemnation because nobody questions their ideological commitment to the broader U.S. foreign policy agenda.

Management of Savagery exposed how detached from reality these people are. They do not want to confront the reality that the U.S. relied on Islamic State militants in Syria to pressure the Syrian government. That eventually pushed Russia to back the Syrian military and its efforts to rid Syria of jihadist elements. They say nothing about how Turkey and Saudi Arabia has funneled millions and tons of weapons into Syria to aid any opposition group that will fight the Syrian regime, regardless of whether this means terrorists are effectively armed.

An array of Gulf countries, pro-Israel lobbyists, and individuals from the defense industry maintain a commitment to “rebels” in Syria, even as an uprising hijacked by Islamic fundamentalists dithers. They are disappointed the CIA backed away from sending advanced TOW missiles and communications equipment to militant groups to fight Assad’s regime. They care little about the costs of meddling in a country in a manner that elevates jihadists.

If they have to resort to exaggerating actual examples of human rights abuses in order to drum up support for war, they will, even if that makes it possible to discredit valiant efforts for justice. And that is why they do not like it when journalists, like Blumenthal and Khalek, travel to Syria.

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Pompeo says God may have sent Trump to save ‘Israel’ from Iran

Mike Pompeo
Image captionMike Pompeo is among the administration’s most religious members, even attending a bible study group with other Cabinet members

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said it is “possible” that President Donald Trump was sent by God to save Israel from Iran.

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network during a high-profile trip to Israel, he said it was his faith that made him believe that.

He also praised US efforts to “make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state, remains”.

The comments came on a Jewish holiday celebrating rescue from genocide.

The holiday, Purim, commemorates the biblical rescue of the Jewish people by Queen Esther from the Persians, as the interviewer noted to Mr Pompeo.

What did Pompeo say?

He was asked if “President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from an Iranian menace”.

“As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” said Mr Pompeo, a former member of Congress for Kansas and CIA director.

“I am confident that the Lord is at work here,” he added.

Mr Pompeo came under fire during his tour of the Middle East for holding a conference call and only inviting “faith-based” members of the media to join.

How often do US officials invoke religion?

Mr Pompeo is not the first Trump official to suggest a divine will behind Mr Trump’s actions: In January, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told a religious television network that God “wanted Donald Trump to become president”.

Vice-President Mike Pence and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions have also referenced Christianity or bible verses in official remarks.

His administration is also the first in 100 years to have a Cabinet member bible study group – of which Mr Pompeo was a member.

What is the current state of US-Iran relations?

Since becoming president, Mr Trump has sought a hard-line stance against Iran.

In May 2018, Mr Trump withdrew the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, calling it “a horrible one-sided deal”.

On Friday, his administration imposed new sanctions on 14 individuals and 17 organisations allegedly involved with Iran’s nuclear programme, claiming Iran would not answer questions about its weapons and research.

The new sanctions have barred these individuals and organisations from accessing the US financial system or any US assets.

And the threat of secondary US sanctions also discourages other countries from doing business with the targeted entities, making them “radioactive internationally”.

What about US-Israel relations?

Also on Thursday, Mr Trump announced a change in US policy toward the Golan Heights, saying that the territory Israel has occupied from Syria since 1967 should be recognised as part of Israel.

In recent days, Mr Trump has accused his Democratic rivals of being “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish”.

The president is due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week, when he is in Washington to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) annual meeting.

The remarks by Mr Pompeo, and the Golan announcement by Mr Trump, come just weeks before Israeli elections are held on 9 April.

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No War for Oil, Say Climate Advocates, as Trump Admin Pushes for Conflict With Iran

“Oil has fueled violence and the climate emergency for far too long.”

by: Andrea Germanos,

Protesters hold a sign against the Iraq War outside the White House in 2004.

Protesters hold a sign against the Iraq War outside the White House in 2004. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/flickr/cc)

After President Donald Trump threatened Iran via tweet Sunday, climate campaigners on Monday drew renewed attention to the danger of pursuing war for oil.

Their calls came after Trump tweeted the U.S. is “locked and loaded” in response to a weekend attack on Saudi oil facilities and suggested he was merely waiting for the directive from Riyadh. The White House has blamed Iran, without evidence, for the attacks.  

The focus on wars for oil came as thousands of young activists worldwide mobilize for the global #ClimateStrike on Sept. 20.

Commenting on the simmering tensions, author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben wrote on Twitter, “Getting ready for war to insure the supply of a substance that is wrecking the planet.”

Climate group Greenpeace International weighed in as well, urging the use of “diplomacy over force” and “peaceful renewable energies” over fossil fuels.

Greenpeace PressDesk@greenpeacepress

Between 1/4 and 1/2 of all wars between countries since 1973 are linked to oil. Oil has fuelled violence and the climate emergency for far too long. We must choose diplomacy over force, and peaceful renewable energies, like wind and solar, over dirty, destructive oil. https://twitter.com/planetlabs/status/1173005460514885632 …

Planet@planetlabs

Smoke billows from Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia after drone strikes set fire to the major oil facilities. Captured by a Planet Dove satellite today, September 14, 2019. pic.twitter.com/ioEYKFPHHo

“Fossil fuels are dangerous,” tweeted environmental scientist Jonathan Foley late Sunday. “For our security. For our economy. For our health. And for the planet.”

“Let’s not be held hostage by this industry any more,” he added. “It’s time to move to a better world.”

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on No War for Oil, Say Climate Advocates, as Trump Admin Pushes for Conflict With Iran

‘Saudi Arabia First’: Trump Accused of Letting Saudis Dictate US Foreign Policy After Oil Facility Attack

“Congress will not give you the authority to start another disastrous war in the Middle East just because the brutal Saudi dictatorship told you to,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

by: Jake Johnson

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on the sidelines of the second day of the G20 Summit at INTEX Osaka Exhibition Center in Osaka, Japan on June 29, 2019. (Photo: Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Kingdom Council/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Donald Trump is taking marching orders from Saudi Arabia, said progressive members of Congress and foreign policy analysts, after the president tweeted Sunday that the U.S. military is prepared and waiting for the kingdom to assign blame for attacks on its oil facilities over the weekend.

“There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed,” Trump said.

“The U.S. is not obligated to fight Saudi Arabia’s wars and we urge Trump to discard his repeated willingness to cede U.S. policy to other nations.”
—Jamal Abdi, National Iranian American Council

Karen Attiah, global opinions editor at the Washington Postcalled the tweet the “clearest expression of Trump’s ‘Saudi Arabia First’ doctrine yet.”

“The Saudi regime has drained its economy of billions to bombard Yemen for years,” said Attiah. “All there is to show for it is a humanitarian disaster. This is the regime Trump wants to take targeting orders from.”

Saudi and U.S. officials were quick to claim Iran was behind the attack, which paralyzed Saudi oil output and sent crude prices skyrocketing. The two countries based their accusations on flimsy satellite evidence and unspecified intelligence.

Iran denied responsibility for the attacks and accused the Trump administration of spreading “deceit.”

Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said in a statement that allowing the Saudis to dictate U.S. foreign policy heightens the risk of “triggering a regional war more catastrophic than the 2003 invasion of Iraq.”

“The U.S. is not obligated to fight Saudi Arabia’s wars,” said Abdi, “and we urge Trump to discard his repeated willingness to cede U.S. policy to other nations.”

Lawmakers reminded the president that Congress alone—not the White House nor the Saudi dictatorship—has the constitutional authority to approve U.S. military action.

“Mr. Trump, the Constitution of the United States is perfectly clear,” tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. “Only Congress—not the president—can declare war. And Congress will not give you the authority to start another disastrous war in the Middle East just because the brutal Saudi dictatorship told you to.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) echoed Sanders in a tweet on Monday.

“Congress has the constitutional power to declare war,” said Omar. “Not the president. Not the Secretary of State. And definitely not Saudi Arabia.”

The Washington Post reported Sunday that Trump is “contemplating what U.S. officials characterized as a serious military response.”

Sunday night, the Trump administration released satellite images purporting to show the oil facility attacks, apparently carried out with drones, originated from Iran or Iraq.

But, the New York Times reported the photos do “not appear as clear cut as officials suggested, with some appearing to show damage on the western side of the facilities, not from the direction of Iran or Iraq.”

NIAC’s Abdi slammed Trump for threatening military action on Saudi Arabia’s behalf even “before the facts have become clear.”

“We do not know definitively who was behind the attacks, though Houthi forces in Yemen have been at war with the Saudi coalition since 2015 and have claimed responsibility for them,” said Abdi. “Iran has a motive, given the economic warfare being waged against it, but there is no smoking gun to implicate them.”

“Those jumping to conclusions without sufficient evidence,” Abdi said, “seem eager to embroil the U.S. in another war that does not serve our interests.”

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Nazi lawmaker proclaims supremacy of ‘Jewish race’

Israeli lawmaker proclaims supremacy of ‘Jewish race’

Likud’s MK Miki Zohar says Jews are the smartest in the world, so know Netanyahu isn’t corrupt

By STUART WINER

Likud MK Miki Zohar at an Interior Affairs Committee meeting in the Knesset in Jerusalem, February 20, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud MK Miki Zohar at an Interior Affairs Committee meeting in the Knesset in Jerusalem, February 20, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A lawmaker from the ruling Likud party said Wednesday that the “Jewish race” is the smartest in the world and possessing of the “highest human capital,” which is why, he said, the Israeli public did not buy into the allegations of wrongdoing by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

MK Miki Zohar made the comments during a radio debate with veteran political journalist Dan Margalit about the corruption investigations in which Netanyahu is either a suspect or has given testimony.

His assertions led to a Twitter spat with Joint (Arab) List party MK Ahmad Tibi, who noted Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews as a race during the Holocaust.

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Citing recent opinion polls that show Netanyahu enjoying strong support despite being a suspect in three graft investigations, Zohar argued that the media focus on the probes has not convinced the Israeli public that the prime minister is unsuited to lead the country.

“I can tell you something very basic,” Zohar said during the Radio 103FM debate. “You can’t fool the Jews, no matter what is the media writes. The public in Israel is a public that belongs to the Jewish race, and the entire Jewish race is the highest human capital, the smartest, the most comprehending. The public knows what the prime minister is doing for the country and how excellent he is at his job.”

Tibi, in response, tweeted a picture of Zohar with the message: “An elected official in ‘the Jewish state’ presents: race theory.”

Tibi, whose party and its members have often raised ire among their Jewish colleagues with their open support for the Palestinian cause, followed that tweet up with a photo of himself reading Amos Elon’s book “The Pity of It All,” which examines how the Holocaust brought an end to German-Jewish culture.

Ahmad Tibi@Ahmad_tibi

אחרי דברי @zoharm7 . רקוויאם גרמני מאת עמוס אילון

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Zohar tweeted back: “And on the back cover there is a photo of Albert Einstein, another Jew who brought great news to the world.”

“What’s the connection between you and Einstein?” Tibi rejoined. “It isn’t even a relative relationship.”

In a follow-up interview with Hadashot TV news, Zohar at first denied that he had spoken about the supremacy of the “Jewish race,” but, presented with a recording of his earlier comments, doubled down and reiterated: “The Jewish people and the Jewish race are of the highest human capital that exists.”

“What can you do? We were blessed by God… and I will continue to say that at every opportunity,” he said. “I don’t have to be ashamed about the Jewish people being the Chosen People; the smartest, most special people in the world.”

Zohar cited the many innovations and discoveries made by Jews, and said that Israel had achieved more in its 70-year span than some peoples had in thousands of years.

“You can understand why we usually win a lot of Nobel Prizes,” he said.

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Galloway: ‘It’s not personal it’s politics’

‘It’s not personal it’s politics’: George Galloway speaks ahead of West Bromwich campaign – with video

By Pete Madeley

To his supporters, George Galloway is the ultimate rascal, an outspoken politician intent on holding those in power to account, no matter how much trouble it gets him into.

George Galloway is confident he will stop Tom Watson from retaining his seat at the next general election

To his opponents – and he has many – he’s a reprehensible character, an enemy to Britain who thrives on peddling conspiracy theories and causing division while he is cosying up to repressive and violent regimes.

Others remember him as the old guy who pretended to be a cat during Celebrity Big Brother – an episode which has gone down as one of the most bizarre in television history.

Things are rarely quiet when Mr Galloway is around, and his decision to pick Sandwell as the scene of his latest political showdown ensures there will be serious helpings of sound and fury once the general election campaign starts in earnest.

WATCH: George Galloway interviewed in West Bromwich

The 65-year-old former MP plans to oust Labour’s Tom Watson from the West Bromwich East seat he has held for 18 years, touting himself as the pro-Brexit and pro-Corbyn candidate that Mr Watson is not.

“It’s not personal. I’ve always had very good relations with Tom – and I’ve got the texts to prove it,” he says with a mischievous grin, as we talk in the D’Vine cafe on West Bromwich High Street.

“It’s a political decision. I’m a strong campaigner for Brexit and he is the wrecker in chief.”

He says his good friend Jeremy Corbyn has been “forced” by Mr Watson into turning Labour into a Remain party, in defiance of a 2017 election manifesto pledge.

Mr Galloway is a good friend of Jeremy Corbyn, who has been at odds with deputy leader Tom Watson

“Jeremy is surrounded by a Remainer clique who have their hands around his throat,” Mr Galloway said. “I have known him for 40 years and I know what he really thinks about the European Union.”

He looks back fondly on memories of he and Mr Corbyn sitting up all night in Parliament to block pro-EU legislation. “Jeremy Corbyn knows how bad the EU has been for working class people in Britain,” he adds.

“If it was not for Watson, Corbyn would already be Prime Minister. I thought enough is enough. I’m going to give a labour Brexit argument and see how people respond.”

He says Mr Corbyn has made “a lot of mistakes”, and “could have been better as a leader” by standing up to his opponents within his party. “But I’d give my right arm to put him in Downing Street,” he said.

“Watson and his pals would burst the tyres on Corbyn’s bike to stop him getting there.”

Mr Galloway speaks to Peter Madeley in West Bromwich

Asked if by attempting to stop a Labour candidate from winning in West Bromwich East he was not hindering Mr Corbyn’s chances of becoming PM, he said: “No, because I’ll be voting for him in Parliament.”

He agrees that his own Brexit position is similar to that of Boris Johnson – who he says he despises – and Nigel Farage, in that he wants a clean break from the EU.

“But that’s where the similarities end,” he tells me. “I’m for the workers. They want Britain to be an offshore bargain basement place with no labour standards.”

Posted in UKComments Off on Galloway: ‘It’s not personal it’s politics’

Never Forget the War in Afghanistan

Let’s remember: the only reason U.S. troops are dying in Afghanistan is because they are deployed to Afghanistan

by: Sonali Kolhatka

Afghan children look on as a US soldier from the Provincial Reconstruction team (PRT) Steel Warriors patrols in the mountains of Nuristan Province on December 19, 2009. (Photo: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghan children look on as a US soldier from the Provincial Reconstruction team (PRT) Steel Warriors patrols in the mountains of Nuristan Province on December 19, 2009. (Photo: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

When President Donald Trump announced this week that a highly anticipated peace deal with the Taliban was dead, Afghans braced for more violence. Their fears were realized as fresh fighting broke out immediately between Taliban forces and U.S.-backed Afghan government forces. With little remaining incentive to taper off the violent attacks, the Taliban have once more unleashed the full force of their ferocity in order to take over Afghanistan. Nearly 18 years after the U.S. began its war, Afghanistan remains mired in unending violence.

Taliban forces had been marking their participation in peace talks with a relentless series of deadly attacks all along while their representatives were meeting with U.S. officials in Doha, Qatar. Presumably the militant organization was leveraging its capability for violence as a negotiating tactic with U.S. officials.

But they hadn’t counted on the fickle nature of an unpredictable U.S. president whose seat-of-the-pants foreign policy is driven more by ego and whim than by facts. Trump cited the killing of a U.S. soldier during a recent Taliban attack as a reason for ending the peace talks. He went as far as announcing on Twitter last Saturday that he had planned to host on Sunday Taliban representatives and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Camp David, but that after the Taliban’s attack, he “immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations.”

While many politicians and media pundits fixated on the audacity of inviting the Taliban onto U.S. soil—and days before the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at no less a sacrosanct space than Camp David—the real question was why Trump felt that this latest troop casualty was a deal-breaker. Thirty-four-year-old Elis Angel Barreto Ortiz, a Puerto Rican service member of the U.S. military, was the 16th American soldier to be killed in Afghanistan this year. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview on Sunday, “It’s not appropriate [the Taliban] killed an American. And it made no sense for the Taliban to be rewarded for that kind of bad behavior.”

Except that the Taliban had been engaging in such behavior for months now. In late June two U.S. soldiers were killed in a firefight with Taliban forces in Uruzgan province just a few days before a round of peace talks took place. Soon after those talks, another U.S. soldier was killed in a Taliban attack in Wardak Province. That event also did not dampen U.S. officials’ hopes for a deal, as special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad continued his plans days later to travel to Afghanistan and then Doha to resume talks with the Taliban.

So what changed? Did Ortiz’s life mean so much to President Trump that he suddenly began caring about the violence facing American soldiers in Afghanistan and decided not to reward the Taliban with a peace deal? Such logic is hardly likely, not just because Trump has revealed himself to be utterly lacking in empathy (especially toward Puerto Ricans), but because if the president wanted to safeguard the lives of U.S. soldiers, withdrawing them from Afghanistan would be the most direct way forward.

Simply put, the reason American troops are dying in Afghanistan is because they are deployed to Afghanistan. Therefore, the best way to immunize soldiers from a violent death at the hands of the Taliban is to withdraw them from Afghanistan altogether. Reports suggest that his former national security adviser John Bolton tried to dissuade Trump by planting negative stories in the press over his opposition to signing a deal with the Taliban. Some commentators have expressed relief that the ultra-hawkish Bolton was ousted from the White House before be could start a war. But it appears as though, when it came to Afghanistan, he succeeded in keeping an existing war going.

The Afghan war has been going on for so long that perhaps we have forgotten why U.S. troops were deployed in the first place. With the commemoration this week of the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, many Americans may assume that we launched a war in Afghanistan to retaliate against the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Broadly speaking, that sentiment is correct—it was essentially a war of revenge. By that measure, have we punished Afghan civilians enough? More than 30,000 Afghan civilians—none of whom had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks and who were themselves being held hostage by the Pakistani-backed Taliban—have been killed since the first bombs dropped on Oct. 7, 2001.

The rate of death has not tapered over the years. In fact, 2018 was the worst year on record for Afghan civilian deaths since 2001, with 3,804 people being killed, 927 of them children. And this year, civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. forces and their Afghan allies surpassed the number killed by the Taliban.

Our war has cost the Afghan people more than ten times the number of deaths than al-Qaida cost the U.S. on 9/11. While politicians and others blithely claim to #NeverForget the deaths of thousands of innocent American lives, we have not only forgotten about the Afghan lives lost at our hands, but we have rarely, if ever, allowed their deaths to enter into our collective public consciousness.

Trump has declared the Afghan peace deal “dead.” Given the unpredictability of this president, that may not be the last word on the matter, as we have seen in other foreign policy hot zones such as North Korea.

But had the deal gone through, would it have actually led to peace for the people of Afghanistan? Sadly, that aspect of the war has been of the least importance to negotiating parties. Some Afghans were even relieved the deal was over. One survivor of the same Taliban bombing that killed Ortiz told The New York Times: “It’s always the poor people who are stepped on and killed. … Nobody cares about us—not Trump, not our own government.”

Had the deal gone through, it would have left military power and political control of large parts of the country in the hands of a violent, fundamentalist faction that knows nothing about running a society (except in the image of a misogynist form of Sharia law) and everything about guerrilla warfare. Just as the U.S. was never truly interested in the welfare of civilians in wartime, it has shown no interest in civilian safety under the auspices of a peace deal. The fight for real peace is and always will be left in the hands of the beleaguered Afghan civilian population.

Had U.S. troops begun withdrawing, we would have seen an end to direct American participation in a brutal and deadly war, but the legacy of U.S. violence would have remained intact in the country. For now, Afghans will continue to face attacks from both the Taliban and the American war machine.

Posted in USA, AfghanistanComments Off on Never Forget the War in Afghanistan

S. African women: “My body is not your war zone,”

At #SandtonShutdown, South African Women Disrupt Business as Usual as Fury Over Gender-Based Violence Boils Over

“My body is not your war zone,” read one protest signs.

by: Andrea Germanos

Protesters march against gender-based violence, organised by several NGO?s and organisations at the JSE in Sandton on September 13, 2019 in Sandton, South Africa.

Protesters march against gender-based violence, organised by several NGO?s and organisations at the JSE in Sandton on September 13, 2019 in Sandton, South Africa. There has been a public outcry after the rape and murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana in Cape Town. Several protests and marches have been held across the country to highlight the plight of women and children who are constantly fall victims of gender-based violence. (Photo: Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Thousands of protesters rallied outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Friday to protest staggering levels of violence against women in South Africa after a spate of recent killings and rapes fueled civil unrest over the issue.

Protesters carried placards with messages including “My body is not your war zone,” and “We should not need protection to survive in our streets and our homes.”

Images and videos of the action, which kicked of before dawn, were shared on Twitter  with the hashtag #SandtonShutdown.

Pearl Boshomane Tsotetsi@Pearloysias

For all the womxn whose bodies have been casualties of this war against us. (Excuse the shaky video) #SandtonShutdown

View image on Twitter

1611:09 AM – Sep 13, 2019

Ndlunkulu@_uZamaNgcolosi

✊

Standing together for all Women. We won’t be next. #SandtonShutdown

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

3811:15 AM – Sep 13, 2019

“Business can no longer continue as an innocent bystander,” wrote advocacy group Action Aid South Africa wrote in a tweet explaining the choice of the financial center as a target.

#TheTotalShutdown@WomenProtestSA

A 2% levy on profits to help fund the fight against GBV and femicide.
All JSE-listed companies must contribute to a fund to resource the National Strategy Plan on GBV and femicide. #SandtonShutdown #PayThePatriarchyTax #IWontBeNext

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

192:37 PM – Sep 13, 2019

From BBC News:

There was a sombre mood at the protest, which brought traffic to a standstill in Johannesburg’s Sandton district.

Tears were rolling down the women’s faces as they started singing “Senzeni na?”, which loosely translated from Zulu means “what have we done to deserve this?”

New national police data underscores the depth of the problem.

Over 41,000 rapes were committed in the year ending March 2019—an increase of almost 4 percent from the previous year. Over 2,700 women were also murdered in the time frame. That amounts to a woman being murdered every three hours, Bloomberg noted.

Catalyzing the recent surge of protests was the brutal murder and rape of university student Uyinene Mrwetyana by a Cape Twon post office employee. The attack reportedly occurred when she was checking on a package. 

Her murder, and recent others, have been a flash point, triggering protests including one last week that blocked the entrance to the World Economic Forum in Cape Town and launching the #AmINext movement.

“Every week, there is a story in South Africa that should stop us in our tracks—a newspaper report detailing what feels like a freak detonation of psychotic, demented violence against women, a one-off explosion of hate that somehow just keeps on happening,” Cape Town-based writer Rosa Lyster wrote at The New Yorker.

Referring to Mrwetyana’s murder, Lyster continued, “Confronted with the reality of how she died, and the knowledge that ‘the post office;’ must now be added to the long list of places to be scared of, women around the country are reaching what feels like a breaking point.”

“Mrwetyana’s death, so grotesquely emblematic of the state’s failure to protect women and children,” wrote Lyster, “seems to have channeled the anger that so many feel and directed it toward a clear target. The feeling that someone should do something is turning, quickly, into the conviction that someone is going to have to.”

Posted in Human Rights, South AfricaComments Off on S. African women: “My body is not your war zone,”

Majority in US Back Free College Tuition and Student Debt Cancellation, New Poll Finds

The proposals of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been dismissed as “extreme” by some of their opponents, but most Americans support such ideas.

by: Julia Conley

Students pull a mock “ball & chain” representing the $1.4 trilling outstanding student debt at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

A majority of voters support the bold proposals for free college tuition and the wiping out of student debt put forward by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 Democratic primary, according to a new Hill-HarrisX poll out Friday.

The survey found that out of more than 1,000 respondents, 58 percent of people said they support government-funded public college tuition and the cancellation of student debt for the more than 44 million Americans who currently hold it.

“We will make public colleges and universities and HBCUs debt-free. And what we will always also do, because this is an incredible burden on millions and millions of young people who did nothing wrong except try to get the education they need, we are going to cancel all student debt in this country.” —Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)The student debt crisis has left young Americans as a group owing more than 1.5 trillion for their college and graduate educations, and is largely blamed for keeping millennials from being able to buy homes and start families. 

At the Democratic debate on Thursday night, Sanders restated his support for wiping out student debt and allowing all Americans to attend two- and four-year state colleges tuition-free.

“What we will also do is not only have universal pre-K, we will make public colleges and universities and HBCUs debt-free,” the Vermont independent senator said. “And what we will always also do, because this is an incredible burden on millions and millions of young people who did nothing wrong except try to get the education they need, we are going to cancel all student debt in this country.”

According to the Hill-HarrisX poll, 72 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independent voters support free college tuition and student debt cancellation, while 40 percent of Republicans back the plans.

While both Sanders and Warren have proposed offering free public college to all Americans, Warren’s debt cancellation program would only be offered to families who earn under $250,000 per year—the bottom 95 percent of earners. Sanders has proposed wiping out student debt for all those who carry it.

Sanders would fund his plan by imposing a speculation tax on stock trades, raising an estimated $2.4 trillion over 10 years, while Warren’s Ultra-Millionaires Tax would fund her proposal.

At the Democratic debate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) suggested progressive candidates are “extreme” and have made “promises [they] can’t keep,” while South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said in an earlier debate only that he supports “reducing” student debt and addressing college “affordability.”

On MSNBC Thursday, Sanders campaign co-chair Nina Turner said that while poll numbers have fluctuated slightly for the top candidates in recent weeks, surveys have consistently shown that Americans support free college tuition and student debt forgiveness.

“Polls are snapshots in time,” Turner told Katy Tur, adding that Sanders “understands the cries, the fears, the needs, and the dreams of the American people in this country. Hello Green New Deal, hello college for all, canceling student debt, standing up for the working people of this country.”

John Nichols@NicholsUprising

“Hello Green New Deal. Hello College for All, canceling student debt, standing up for the working people of this country…”
@ninaturner 4002:54 PM – Sep 13, 2019

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Posted in USA, EducationComments Off on Majority in US Back Free College Tuition and Student Debt Cancellation, New Poll Finds


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