Archive | August 17th, 2016

California’s War on the Homeless: From Streetside Attacks to Policies of Dehumanization


By James Anderson

California's War on the Homeless: From Streetside Attacks to Policies of Dehumanization

(Image: Lauren Walker / Truthout)

A man experiencing homelessness in San Diego, Angelo De Nardo, died after being attacked on Moreno Boulevard on July 3, 2016. The assailant had set De Nardo on fire after driving a spike into his head and chest.

Another homeless man was critically injured in San Diego’s Midway District the next morning. A few hours later, on July 4 (“Independence Day”), Shawn Mitchell Longley, an unsheltered homeless man, was found dead in Ocean Beach. Two days later, a flaming towel was thrown on Dionico Derek Vahidy; a witness grabbed the towel off the 23-year-old homeless San Diego resident, but Vahidy died of burns four days later. On July 15, on 1800 C Street, Michael Joseph Papadelis, 55, one of the approximately 866 homeless individuals in San Diego’s East Village neighborhood, suffered severe injuries from apparent blunt force.

The San Diego Police Department arrested a man shortly thereafter in connection with the attacks, after an initial arrest of a suspect later determined not to be the person responsible.

A Statewide Nightmare of Housing Deprivation

The most recent murders and beatings are just the latest in a long history of various forms of violence against homeless people in San Diego and throughout California, a state with the dubious distinction of leading the nation in housing deprivation.

California has the highest number of homeless people of any state in the US. According to the most recent US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Annual Homeless Assessment Report, the state is home to 26 percent of the country’s homeless, with the highest percentage — some 64 percent — ‘unsheltered,’ meaning they stay in places considered not intended for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, streets and abandoned buildings. The estimated number of homeless people in Los Angeles topped 28,400 in 2016, with some 46,874 in Los Angeles County, and San Diego County has over 8,600 homeless, with an estimated 5,093 residing in the city of San Diego.

Of the five largest cities in the US with the highest percentage of the total population homeless, four are in California. San Diego is fifth on that list, while San Francisco is number one.

Michael Storper, a UCLA professor and author of The Rise and Decline of Urban Economies: Lessons from Los Angeles and San Francisco, says that while it may seem intuitive to ascribe the higher rates of homeless in the Bay Area to the high rental costs associated with the tech boom, in fact there is no straightforward relationship between housing prices and homelessness.

Homelessness is “an economic and labor market problem having to do with unemployment and low incomes,” Storper told Truthout. “The core cause of homelessness is people who are not making it in the economy.”

In some ways, the severity of homelessness is worse in cities like Los Angeles or San Diego than in the Bay Area, Storper explained, because public expenditures per person are about one-third lower in Southern California than in the Bay Area. Cities in Southern California thus offer fewer of the services that can make a difference for homeless people.

California: A Case Study in Violence Against Homeless People

The National Coalition for the Homeless released a report in July 2016 showing the largest share of attacks on the homeless throughout the US in 2014 and 2015. A full 25 percent of the incidents documented occurred in the Golden State.

In early May 2016 two brothers accused of beating and kicking a homeless man to death went to court in San Diego County facing charges of murder and torture. And in late 2015 in San Francisco, a 100-pound elderly man with disabilities, Tai Lam, who was sleeping in an alley near a high-end shopping mall received a brutal beating from three young men.

Shooting, abusing and otherwise disrespecting unsheltered persons while riding by on bicycles has become another West Coast trend. Men on BMX bikes shot a homeless man in the foot along the Los Angeles River bike path in 2014, and that same year, Southern California-based BMX bikers posted a video online of them doing tricks involving individuals living in the street in Los Angeles, although nobody was physically harmed.

Michael McConnell, a homeless advocate and small business owner in San Diego, said so long as a city tolerates the structural violence of having large numbers of people unhoused, extra-legal violence against homeless people will remain a problem.

“You’re vulnerable,” he said about those sleeping unsheltered. “You’re lying out on the street, on sidewalks, in your car. You’re going to be susceptible to the violence. And if we dehumanize people, you’re going to be more susceptible because we don’t deal with our neighbors anymore.”

McConnell said San Diego — like cities across California — enacted a slew of policies that torment and criminalize the unhoused. Structures installed under overpasses designed to keep homeless people from setting up encampments, police “sweeps” that displace homeless populations and encroachment tickets that criminalize them, all exacerbate existing problems, he said.

The problems pervade cities across the state. The city of Palo Alto, where the typical rent is 2.5 times the national average and the number of shelter beds was recently recorded as fewer than 20, made sleeping in one’s own car punishable by a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail. Los Angeles enacted laws against loitering that disproportionately impact the homeless, and a section of Chapter IV of the city’s municipal code regarding restaurant establishments is actually titled “Annoyance of Customers Forbidden.” In the Bay Area, Oakland outlawed loitering in public places and instituted a city-wide ban on sleeping in the streets. San Francisco prohibits sleeping in parks at night, disallows encampments and criminalizes the use of vehicles for human habitation, much to the detriment of the homeless who have to live in their cars.

The law in San Diego enjoins citizens not to “annoy any person” along a sidewalk. San Diegans without housing are prohibited from sleeping in tents near the ocean overnight and banned from using a parked vehicle as an abode “either overnight or day by day.”

San Diego’s Contradictory Approach to Homelessness

San Diego officials have condemned the recent spate of extra-legal violence against homeless people in the city but have also defended the responses of the government and law enforcement to problems pertaining to homelessness.

Three years back, the city opened Connections Housing, a residential community designed to reduce street homelessness in downtown neighborhoods by providing 223 housing units, a health center and social services. Since 1999, the San Diego Police Department has operated a Homeless Outreach Team and a Serial Inebriate Program (SIP) to “connect individuals experiencing chronic homelessness directly to safe havens, transitional housing programs, local homeless providers or residential treatment programs.” The SIP, which is jointly funded by the county and the city, “follows the Drug Court Model and provides chronic homeless alcoholics a choice between incarceration and treatment.”

While the cost of living in San Diego still “exacerbates our homelessness problem,” law enforcement are treating the unhoused “with respect and professionalism,” said city councilmember Todd Gloria, who observed that officers “canvassed our homeless” in the wake of the recent wave of attacks.

Police “sweeps,” also known as “abatements,” however, continue.

“Abatements are part of the city’s normal operations to keep neighborhoods clean and safe,” a public information officer told Truthout on behalf of the city.

Anne Rios, the director of Think Dignity, an organization involved in grassroots advocacy and activism with the homeless, said that the constant displacement of and hostility toward unsheltered people creates a volatile climate. “The serious wave of criminalization that has been exerted onto the homeless simply for being poor is incredibly discouraging and reinforces an ideology of ‘us’ against ‘them’ — haves versus have nots.”

Beyond San Diego, homeless individuals across California allege that police have intensified an already hostile climate and caused additional harm. A homeless man filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 2015, asserting officers had hog-tied and hit him when he refused to sign a citation ticket issued on Venice Beach. A homeless man in the Bay Area also filed a claim last year alleging that a sheriff’s deputy beat him at San Francisco General Hospital.

Living With Constant Insecurity

In a small homeless tent village on the sidewalk on G Street in San Diego’s East Village, a woman who goes by the name “Pebbles,” speaking from inside her makeshift shelter, told Truthout that she is used to living unhoused but doesn’t want to do it anymore.

“I’m tired of being robbed,” Pebbles said. It is not only certain citizens who attack homeless people and steal from them, she noted, but also public services like the California Department of Transportation.

“Caltrans [the California Department of Transportation] just takes your shit and throws it away,” she said, explaining how security staff sometimes confiscate the belongings of homeless people who are kicked off the buses, trains or trolleys in San Diego.

Pebbles said she ended up homeless after serving 18 months in prison several years ago. “Sleep with your stuff, basically,” she advises others facing similar circumstances.

McConnell, also an East Village native, said that as homelessness is aggressively criminalized downtown, displaced homeless persons relocate to other areas of the city, which prompts businesses in those neighborhoods to fight back.

“So you have community pitted against community,” he told Truthout, lamenting how it now comes down to who has the most clout in City Hall, who can exercise the most influence on police and who can hire the most security.

About three miles from the East Village, in the Hillcrest neighborhood, where flags on street posts and signs atop businesses read “Happy Pride San Diego,” “We Are One” and “#EQUALITYFORWARD,” business owners have banded together against homeless people.

The local Business Association’s ‘Clean and Safe’ campaign states:

Homeless people act in anti-social ways and drive away customers. Homeless people are drawn to Hillcrest because of the proximity of the neighborhood to Balboa Park, the local hospitals and the generous nature of the neighborhood. As a business owner, the last thing you want to do is have to deal with a problematic homeless people [sic]. This website is designed to help you better engage with this population and prevent them from disrupting your business.

Businesses in Hillcrest hired a private security company, City Wide Protection Services, to “handle” homeless people in the area. Accompanying a photo of two of their private officers in the process of removing a homeless man from a Hillcrest establishment, a post on the company’s Facebook page notes, “This is how we handle business. Great team ready to serve the community.”

They “have us keep on moving,” a woman who identified herself as Rachel told Truthout, describing how police and private security alike address local homeless people like herself. Like others experiencing homelessness in San Diego, she expressed as much concern over the authorities as she did about the recurring extra-legal attacks. With her two dogs, Stony and Buttercup, a pit bull and a chihuahua, Rachel was resting on the corner of University and Fourth Avenue, outside Luna Grill, in the late afternoon on Saturday, July 23, until a City Wide officer on her rounds forced her to relocate.

The following Friday, Rachel and two of her friends, also experiencing homelessness, were in the same spot. It was not private security that displaced them that evening, but the San Diego Police Department. Officers pulled over to the side of the narrow street and started questioning the three outside Luna’s as wealthier San Diegans munched on organic spinach and enjoyed delicately grilled-to-order mahi-mahi inside. After a few minutes, Rachel and her friends were forced to leave.

Within 20 minutes, another homeless man, Aleksandr Karaoglanov, had taken their place. He wore a dirty white short-sleeved shirt that evening with green sweatpants that read “TENNIS” along the thigh and Adidas shoes with no laces. Karaoglanov moved from Russia to San Diego with his wife and kids in 1993. He has been on the streets for three years, he said, and he ended up unhoused after going to jail, losing his job, getting kicked out of his apartment and having police confiscate all of his belongings following a dispute he had with his ex-wife.

“I can’t sleep [near] any business,” he said, lamenting, “I got to go somewhere — Balboa Park, trees — somewhere around the tree… This [is] not right.”

Having sat down near the street corner, Karaoglanov commenced eating the Chinese takeout someone gave him, sipping soup with rice as he spoke. He offered up his fortune cookie, whose message inside read: “Act as if it were impossible to fail.”

Pushes for and Against Hate Crime Legislation

The National Coalition for the Homeless now advocates hate crime legislation that would include homeless persons as a protected group with “the full protection of the law.” The primary purpose of such legislation is to “punish and deter individuals from committing bias-motivated crimes” against unhoused people. Hate crimes legislation generally lengthens the prison sentences of those convicted of offenses that fall within its designation.

But other activists argue against increased police involvement, pointing out that there are other ways of dealing with violence besides lengthening people’s prison sentences. Mary Acosta, program director of the San Diego-based Restorative Justice Mediation Program, said she would be happy to facilitate an initiative that focuses on accountability of offenders toward the unhoused and communities affected by the harm, as opposed to emphasizing carceral punishment of perpetrators of violence against the homeless.

“It would have to be the society embracing a program that would be an alternative to incarceration for those offending parties — for the offenders — to participate in a restorative process in lieu of prosecution or time in jail,” Acosta said.

The notion of a “Homeless Bill of Rights” has gained traction in other states as a way to address the many problems homeless populations face. Missouri previously proposed legislation that would enact homeless hate crimes provisions but also counteract laws targeting the homeless while encouraging greater access to shelter and social services.

Meanwhile, the California legislature passed Penal Code 13519.64, which provides for law enforcement training regarding homelessness and calls for data collection related to housing deprivation.

Craig Willse, author of The Value of Homelessness: Managing Surplus Life in the United States, who worked as a homeless advocate in Los Angeles before becoming an academic, remains critical of proposed hate crime legislation and of the tendency to reduce homelessness to cost-benefit analyses through constant counting of populations for purposes of managing them.

“I think hate crime legislation has proven to be a failed approach — it does not protect vulnerable groups, but does strengthen a racist police and prison system,” Willse told Truthout. “Those laws do not keep people safe. And while individual acts of violence against people living without shelter must be stopped, these kinds of laws, by turning attention to individual perpetrators, turn attention away from the real and systemic source of violence — the state and capitalism.”

In his book, Willse unpacks the invention of “chronic homelessness” as a category and the initiatives that accompany it. “The proliferation of chronic homelessness programs, the circulation of funding, the commissioning of studies and reports — all of this forms part of the nonprofit industrial complex, where the post-social state meets postindustrial service and knowledge industries,” he writes. “Contrary to the rhetoric that associates ‘the homeless’ with waste and cost, housing insecurity and deprivation prove to be sites of economic productivity in which individuals organized as ‘chronically homeless’ become the raw material out of which studies and services are produced.”

Those initiatives remove homeless people from places where they might impede consumerism, Willse explained, and simultaneously invest in a nonprofit industry of population management — one with adverse effects for challenging the conditions responsible for the creation of homelessness in California and beyond.

“The social services approach to homelessness has had a depoliticizing effect — so we deal with individual cases rather than the big picture,” Willse told Truthout. “And I think linking those movements to movements against policing and prisons is a key next step.”

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How Blocking the Saudi Arms Deal Can Help Stop a Lame Duck TPP


By Robert Naiman


The northern city of Saada, a stronghold of the Houthi rebel militia, damaged from intense bombardment by the Saudi led military coalition, in Yemen, Sept. 7, 2015. (Photo: Tyler Hicks / The New York Times)

The northern city of Saada, a stronghold of the Houthi rebel militia, damaged from intense bombardment by the Saudi-led military coalition, in Yemen, September 7, 2015. (Photo: Tyler Hicks / The New York Times)

In this strategy memo on why progressive Democrats and empire-skeptic Republicans should do what they reasonably can to assist efforts to block the recently proposed Saudi arms deal, I will cover four points.

1. What’s going on
2. Why this is a winnable fight
3. Why blocking/trying to block the Saudi arms deal is in the broad interests of humanity
4. How blocking the Saudi arms deal could help block lame duck Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

1. What’s going on:

On August 9, the administration notified Congress of a plan to sell a bunch of tanks and armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia. Congress has 30 days to try to block the sale. Ordinarily, Congress never blocks or even tries to block an arms sale. The notification happens and nobody pays it any mind. But this one is special, because it’s perceived as a proxy for continued US participation in the Saudi war in Yemen, which has brought about a total humanitarian catastrophe. Republican Sen. Rand Paul has announced that he will work with a bipartisan coalition in the Senate and House to block the sale. Oxfam and other human rights groups oppose the arms sale. Just Foreign Policy’s petition to Congress against the arms sale is here.

2. Why this is a winnable fight:

Foreign Policy handicaps efforts to block the sale as “an uphill battle,” because the main beneficiary is General Dynamics, which FP says has big clout on the Hill.

However, FP neglects the fact that two months ago, we had a very similar fight on the House floor and almost won, on an amendment to block the transfer of US-produced (Textron) cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. The vote on the Conyers-Ellison-Grijalva-Lieu-McGovern-Johnson-Lee Amendment was 204-216. All but 16 House Democrats voted yes. 40 Republicans, including many Liberty Caucus members, also voted yes. The amendment was supported by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

3. Why blocking/trying to block the Saudi arms deal is in the broad interests of humanity:

In general, Saudi Arabia is bad and the US relationship with Saudi Arabia is bad and the promiscuous transfer of US weapons around the world is bad and having our relations with other countries be dominated by weapons transfers is bad and the outsize influence of the Pentagon-industrial-Congressional-think tank complex on US foreign policy is bad. And forcing public debate in the political system and the media about these things is good.

In this particular case, it’s plausible that if we can block the Saudi arms sale, or even come close and have a robust public food fight about it, we can help end the catastrophic Yemen war.

From the FP piece:

Human rights groups, by contrast, say the move sends the wrong message to Saudi Arabia.

“The international community must go ‘all in’ on a peace agreement,” said Scott Paul, a senior policy adviser at Oxfam America. “A sale of major arms to Saudi Arabia signals the opposite — that the U.S. is instead all-in on a senseless war that has created one of the world’s largest humanitarian emergencies.”

Blocking the arms sale would send the right message.

4. How blocking the Saudi arms deal could help us block a lame duck TPP:

Obama is using two arguments for passing the TPP [the proposed corporate power-grabbing Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement] in a lame duck session of Congress after the election that overlap with arguments it will likely make if pressed on the Saudi arms deal:

A. TPP is about foreign policy/national security/US leadership in Asia/US commitment to Asia/pivot to Asia/containing China/geopolitical blah blah.

B. Obama is still President. Obama, not Hillary Clinton, will be President until January 20.

A. Even if you don’t buy claims that the TPP will benefit the US economically, the administration argues, TPP is a foreign policy/national security thing. It’s about pivot to Asia, containing China, US leadership in Asia, blah blah. If Congress doesn’t give Obama the TPP, it will unnerve our allies in Asia, who will wonder about the US commitment to Asia and it will embolden China to run amok, blah blah.

Similarly, to discourage members of Congress from opposing the Saudi arms deal, the Obama administration will likely say: “Even if you don’t think this arms deal is a great idea, even if you don’t think the Saudi war in Yemen is a great thing for the US to participate in, if Congress blocks this arms deal, it will cause key US Middle East ally Saudi Arabia to doubt the US commitment to its allies in the Middle East,” blah blah.

If we can beat the Saudi arms deal in the House, it will be a sharp, fresh indication that the House doesn’t care about geopolitical US leadership blah blah very much. Most Americans don’t care about Saudi Arabia or Yemen very much. So, if we can beat the US leadership geopolitical blah blah argument in the House on Saudi-Yemen, which most Americans don’t care about, why would anyone think the House should care about a US leadership geopolitical blah blah argument in the case of the TPP, where there is a real domestic political cost to supporting the TPP in terms of engaged public opinion?

B. One of the things Obama needs to do to win the TPP in a lame duck is to get some group of House Democrats to act according to the belief that lame duck TPP is an Obama loyalty test. This isn’t just a question of who votes yes or no in the endgame. It’s also a question of how forceful people who are eventually going to vote no are in their public opposition prior to a vote. Elijah Cummings will vote no on the TPP if it comes to a vote on the House floor. Yet, as chair of the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee, he rejected the idea that the platform should explicitly oppose the TPP, on the grounds that he wasn’t going to undermine the president in his last six months in office.

If we beat the Obama administration in the House on the Saudi arms sale, the most likely way we win is like the cluster bomb vote: almost all Democrats and 40-50 Republicans. In other words, in rough measure, a lot like a House TPP vote.

So, if we beat Obama in the House on the Saudi arms sale, the message is: Obama is still president, but that doesn’t matter nearly as much to House Democrats anymore as he wants it to matter.

And that would be a sharp psychological warfare blow in September against the idea of lame duck TPP.

You can urge your representatives in Congress to oppose the Saudi arms deal here.

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Human rights After the Failed Coup in Turkey


Image result for ERDOGAN CARTOON

by Dr Richard Falk

[Prefatory Note: This article was first published in openGlobalRights, a section of openDemocracy, on August 11, 2016. It appears here as a post in a modified form.]

The July 15th failed coup in Turkey is a momentous occurrence, with uncertain implications for the future of the country, and serious reverberations regionally and with respect to relations between Turkey and the United States and Europe. It has already been designated as a new  Turkish national holiday, and the main bridge over the Bosporus has been renamed ‘15th of July.’ Although many commentators rightly point to the risk to the rule of law posed by the sweeping post-coup suspensions, dismissals, and detentions, too few qualify these criticisms with a recognition that the defeat of the coup attempt was a major unambiguous victory for human rights and democracy, undoubtedly saving the country from a revival of past militarily oppressive tutelage and likely massive civil strife that could have easily become one more devastating multi-stakeholder Middle Eastern civil war.

The US and Western government’s criticisms of post-coup excesses would also carry more weight if important political leaders in the West had shown less ambivalence at the time of the attempted coup, and indicate their acceptance of the now well established allegations that the coup was plotted by a cleric given sanctuary in the US and carried out by those affiliated with a secretive cult headed by Fetullah Gülen. For the harshest Turkish critics of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the coup was initially actually portrayed as ‘a counter-coup’ in reaction to the President’s alleged override of the constitutional system through his extra-legal and autocratic assumption of supreme leadership. Such critics often even call the July 15th events ‘a theater coup’ staged by the government to create a favorable political climate to further satisfy Erdoğan’s grandiose ambitions. For supporters of Erdoğan the coup attempt was a confirmation of earlier accusations and anxieties that there existed deeply embedded in the Turkish bureaucracy, including its armed forces and intelligence service, a dangerous parallel political structure that was intent on seizing control of the state without recourse to democratic procedures.

Three weeks later, at least within the country, almost all Turkish citizens except those implacably hostile to the AKP government are convinced that it was a genuine military coup attempt by the Gülen movement. Further, there is agreement that its defeat is highly beneficial for the country’s immediate future, and may have created a new set of circumstances in Turkey that could produce a more responsible political atmosphere, including a less polarized political discourse, allowing the opposition parties to play a more useful role in evolving a vibrant democratic political culture.

These potentialities contain extraordinary promise if measured against the poisonous political environment that had existed in Turkey prior to July 15th, with the opposition inalterably opposed  to all aspects of the AKP approach to governance and intensely distrustful of Erdoğan. During the coup attempt the three major opposition parties (including the Kurdish HDP) signed a declaration of unity denouncing the coup attempt and pledging support for democratic procedures, including the rule of law. After this, Erdoğan invited the leaders of the two main opposition parties to the Presidential Mansion (yet unfortunately excluding the HDP) for a meeting to sustain this new spirit of cooperation and also to take an active part in the great national Yenkapı demonstration of August 7th that was attended by several million enthusiastic supporters of the government.

This display of unity among politicians in Turkish society is strongly, if cautiously, backed by views prevalent among the citizenry. Despite persisting concerns about  Erdoğan’s leadership, no tears are being shed for the coup plotters. A Turkish consensus exists that July 15th was the sinister work of the Hizmet movement led by Fetulllah Gülen. For years, I had heard a variety of concerns about this movement, operating in secrecy, publicly preaching a doctrine of Islamic moderation while acting with the cultic devotion of political fanatics. It was known that Hizemt was collaborating with and supportive of the AKP until at least 2009 or 2010 after which a widening split occurred, climaxing prior to the coup attempt on December 17, 2013 when the so-called attempted ‘corruption coup’ occurred. The exposure of corruption at high levels of the AKP led to the resignation of four ministers, but did not deeply shake AKP control or greatly diminish public confidence. In many ways July 15th is being interpreted as a violent Gülenist sequel to their failed hopes of December 17th.

It’s worth noting that Turkish political culture had passively reacted to prior coups in 1960, 1971, 1980, and 1997. In 2016, the citizenry with Erdoğan’s decisive and dramatic encouragement massively and courageously opposed the effort to engineer a military takeover of the Turkish state. This popular involvement in the defense of constitutionalism is a momentous shift in favor of participatory democracy (defending the elected leaders) and the rule of law (upholding the constitutional paths to political control). It is an occasion of populist empowerment that has been extended in the following period by nightly mass rallies in every medium sized and large city in Turkey.

There is an obvious, and intriguing, comparison with events in Egypt over the course of the last five years. Egypt inspired the Arab World in 2011 by the display of the power of a mobilized people to challenge an autocratic and corrupt government, and overthrow a despised, dictatorial leader. The uprising against the Mubarak regime was actually facilitated by the neutrality of the Egyptian armed forces, and its later pledge to guide the country toward constitutional democracy. However, two years later, a military coup with populist backing occurred to overthrow the elected leadership headed by Mohamed Morsi. At present, Egypt is governed by an autocratic leadership that is even more oppressive than what existed during the three decades of Mubarak’s rule. This disappointing return to Egypt’s authoritarian past did confirm the historical agency of ‘the people’ for better and for worse. This is something new in Middle East politics where prior changes in governance almost always resulted from top down challenges reflected tensions within ruling elites. One important exception was the anti-Shah mass movement of 1978-79 in Iran that gave rise to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In Turkey, it was an expression of Erdoğan’s political genius to have recognized at a moment of national crisis that the vast majority of the Turkish people would stand with and fight for the government rather than support the coup attempt; and they did, of course, occupying  key public sites on the night of July 15th, most notably at the Istanbul Airport., and persisting in many encounters as unarmed martyrs in the face of gunfire from coup supporters.

The signals are now mixed as to what will be the effects of the coup on democracy and human rights in Turkey.  On the one side, is the seeming switch on Erdoğan’s part to a more inclusive style of political leadership that had been noticeably absent in recent years. It would be welcome news indeed if Erdoğan abandons the sort of majoritarian democracy that led to his defiant disregard of opposition concerns rationalized as heeding the AKP electoral mandate. Far less encouraging is the seeming over-reaction to the coup attempt expressed by dismissing as many thousands from educational institutions and continuing interference with a free and critical media, although almost all of this journalistic crackdown has been directed at outlets affiliated with the Gülen movement. Unlike the large dismissals from the armed forces and several branches of government, these attacks on the institutions of a free society, do not seem justifiable poat-coup efforts to purge public institutions of dangerous and subversive elements. However, some appreciation of the context is warranted. The Gülen movement infiltrated and transformed the educational system as a way of gaining credentials for its followers to penetrate private and public sectors in Turkey, establishing over the course of decades powerful networks of subversive influence that subordinated their activities to the hierarchical directives of the sect. They also established a large number of media outlets to disseminate their views.

There are external dimensions of the post-coup realities that also complicate the picture, especially the feeling among the Turkish public and politicians that the United States was improperly involved in the coup attempt and, at best, neutral about its defeat. This issue of external solidarity is further being tested by whether the formal request of the Turkish government that Fetulllah Gülen be extradited in accordance with treaty obligations will be honored by the United States, enabling his criminal prosecution, and possibly involving the imposition of the death penalty. Extradition faces formidable technical difficulties. The legal defense of Gülen is sure to include several contentions: that he cannot  receive a fair trial in Turkey;  that Gülen’s activity was ‘political,’ and as such non-extraditable; that evidence of his specific intent in relation to the coup attempt is not present in a legally satisfactory form; and  that efforts to restore the death penalty in Turkey to allow a court to decree his execution would be retroactive, and thus contrary to due process.

Despite the legal difficulties of granting extradition, should it be refused or too long delayed whatever the reasons given, Turkish anger will be intense. In Turkish public opinion harboring Gülen can be understood as roughly equivalent to what Americans would have felt if Turkey had given safe haven to Osama Bin Laden after 9/11; it is helpful to recall that the US felt justified in a regime changing military attack on Afghanistan just because the Kabul government was giving sanctuary to the al-Qaeda leadership and permitting its training facilities to take place. Turkish suspicions are inflamed by the realization that Graham Fuller, former CIA bureau chef in Turkey, together with other CIA former officials, sponsored Gülen’s application for ‘a green card’ legalizing permanent residence in the United States since 1999, reportedly visited Turkey shortly before the coup attempt, and published a pro-Gülen opinion piece strongly defending the movement and Gülen’s probable innocence with respect to the July 15th events. Fuller’s portrayal of Gülen flies in the face of many seemingly reliable insider accounts of how Hizmet movement members plotted, subverted, and were obedient to orders attributed to Gülen.

As of now, despite all the uncertainties, the failure of the coup attempt should be viewed as one of the few success stories of recent Middle East history. Whether this positive impression will soon be erased by repressive developments inside Turkey is uncertain.  Much depends upon whether post-coup political unity is sustained and deepened, and whether a bold initiative is taken to reach an accommodation with the Kurdish movement that has been violently engaged with the Ankara government in recent months. It seems important for outsiders to be patient and to exhibit sympathy with the efforts of the Turkish government and its leaders to rise to these daunting post-coup challenges without unduly compromising human rights and the rule of law in Turkey. The world accorded the United States the benefit of the doubt after 9/11, and it should do no less for Turkey in the aftermath of July 15th. So far the responses from the United States and Europe have been tepid at best, serving to confirm the widespread feelings here in Turkey that somehow the coup attempt was directly or indirectly related to the belief that Washington could more effectively work with Turkey if the country was led by someone other than Erdoğan. No one has speculated on Washington’s Plan B if extradition is denied spurring Turkey to realign with Russia,, Iran, and possibly China. As of now, before the coup attempt, the Turkish foreign policy reset involved moving toward equi-distance diplomacy toward Russia and Iran, offset in its adverse Western strategic perceptions by moves to normalize relations with Israel.

Finally, in this period it is probably wise to separate human rights concerns from an appraisal of Turkish constitutional democracy. It is quite possible that present tendencies toward a more inclusive democracy will continue, and at the same time, denials of human rights are almost certain to persist, and justify scrutiny and vigilance.

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Hillary Clinton’s health in rapid collapse

Hillary Clinton’s health in rapid collapse… voters in shock after photos show her unable to walk up small flight of stairs

Hillary Clinton

(NaturalNews) For at least the last five years, scary signs of Hillary Clinton’s plummeting health have continued to emerge. From her bizarre in-speech “blackouts” to her repeated monstrous coughing fits and her seizure-like bobble head behavior, many people have legitimately wondered whether Hillary Clinton is in the midst of a neurological or cognitive collapse.

Now, adding to the nationwide concerns about the health of this extraordinary woman who has the remarkable courage to wear a bright green Heaven’s Gate cult wardrobe long coat in public, photos have emerged showing Hillary Clinton unable to walk up a flight of stairs without being buttressed by strong-armed men.

This took place just days after President Obama called Donald Trump “unfit” to serve as President. Yet when it comes to questions of fitness to serve, posted this photo summary that says it all:

Literally Unfit For the Presidency! Can’t Walk, Needs Assistance, Can’t Think, Often Confused, Can’t See, Has Double Vision, Wears Long Coats to Hide Her Adult Diapers, Has Multiple Seizures On Camera, Left in Middle of Debate For Unexplained Reason, Called Donald Trump Her Husband, Massive Coughing Fits During Speeches…

Other signs that Hillary Clinton’s cognitive function appears to be collapsing include:

• Her stunning inability to speak in public unless her entire speech is scripted in advance and all questions from the audience are 100% scripted and approved. (Hillary can’t handle the “stress” of an unknown question… even though Donald Trump fields them all day long.)

• Her extreme fear of debating any other political candidate in a live forum, including Bernie Sanders.

• Her tendency to totally FREAK OUT other reporters in her presence, who are visibly horrified at Hillary’s bizarre seizure-like activity:

• Her bizarre, inexplicable barking like a dog and bobblehead microseizures, caught on camera in this video:

• Strange lesions on her tongue, blood clots on her brain, neurological issues and more:

Entire leftist media working desperately to make Hillary Clinton appear to be coherent and energetic

Every Natural News reader knows by now that the entire mainstream media is nothing but FAKE media pretending to be real. Part of the massive election theater they are carrying out involves desperate efforts to hide Hillary Clinton’s bizarre disorders and behaviors from the public.

In fact, the entire media is hiding everything about the Clintons, deliberately refusing to ask any real questions about Bill Clinton’s rapes and sexual abuse of women, the criminal racketeering operations of the Clinton Family Foundation, nor the ever-increasing number of now-dead people who used to work for the Clintons or the DNC. None of these stories earn a single minute of news coverage from the news networks, all of which are 100% in the pocket of the Clinton criminal cartel.

At the same time these news organizations are deliberately hiding the truth about Hillary Clinton’s disastrous health collapse, criminal racketeering behavior and sexual predator husband Bill, they are pushing history’s most fallacious smear campaign against Donald Trump. Every word he utters is twisted, quoted out of context, lied about or condemned by hypersensitive “faux victims” who hate everything America stands for (and can’t the thought of making America great again).

That’s why we’re only finding out about Hillary Clinton’s health implosion through the independent, alternative media. The entire mainstream media won’t dare show Hillary Clinton falling up the stairs, having seizures in public or even attempting to debate another candidate in a live forum.

Unhinged… shrill… short-circuited… this is the person Obama says is “fit” to be President?

Behind the scenes, Hillary Clinton repeatedly displays irrational hostility and anger escalation, yet the entire rigged DNC and leftist media says that Hillary is intelligent, level-headed, compassionate, honest and ethical.

The problem is that nobody believes the media anymore. As more and more truth keeps coming out about Hillary’s State Department scandals (looting millions from Haiti disaster victims, selling out the U.S. uranium supply to the Russians, and so on), any real support for Hillary has all but evaporated.

It’s so bad now that CNN has to stage fake crowds in support of Hillary because no real crowds can ever be found. (All the real people on the left are Bernie supporters, and all the real people on the right are Trump supporters, it seems.)

Even the polls are systematically faked as Reuters recently admitted. They’re mathematically tweaked to make sure Hillary always has a 10 – 15 point boost, even when the real-world popular support for Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders is overwhelming. (In truth, Donald Trump currently enjoys landslide support across America. If the election were held today, he would win by a huge margin.)

After she loses the election, you can find her working at Helga’s House of Horrors

It’s sad but true: Hillary Clinton is an unlikable, scary and repulsive human being that nobody on the planet enjoys being near. No one likes her. Most of her political support actually comes from people who are terrified of being “suicided” by the Clintons. See this recent death of an attorney and this case of a Sanders supporter found dead after he tried to expose DNC fraud against Bernie Sanders.

Setting aside the fringe theories of Hillary Clinton being demonically possessed or a mind controlled biological robot, she dresses like a cult leader and speaks like a medieval dungeon torture maiden. Her most fitting place is not in the White House but rather Helga’s House of Horrors where curious, naive tourists might pay five dollars to witness the bizarre neurological freak show that Hillary Clinton has become.

And even if Hillary isn’t losing her mind, her intact brain is even more frightening due to its criminal, despotic tendencies. If Monsanto’s crackpot scientists somehow manage to keep Hillary Clinton’s brain alive in a jar full of genetically modified brain cell jelly, her continues cognitive existence would pose such a threat to humanity that we’d have to lock the jar away in a remote cave somewhere just to be sure no future civilization ever discovered it and powered it back on, accidentally unleashing the demons of Hellery.

Hillary Clinton is the single greatest argument against immortality technology. Can you imagine the horrific fate of humanity if this anti-human monster were able to live forever? The only real reprieve we all have for the future of the human race is knowing that one day Hillary Clinton’s life will pass away just like everybody else’s. For even if a powerful political person spends a lifetime lying, murdering, deceiving and destroying, the global elite still haven’t figured out how to NOT DIE from old age.

And in that realization, we may take comfort and a measure of certainty in knowing that our world will one day be free from the curse of Hillary Clinton and all the pain, suffering, death and destruction she has deliberately carried out against humanity. Until that day comes, we must keep this demented psycho-witch out of the White House and make sure she can’t bring harm to anyone else.

Learn more:

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Soros Hacked: US Billionaire Manipulated Europeans Into Accepting Maidan

The bulk of George Soros’ documents hacked and published on DC Leaks website shed the light on the magnates’ meddling into Ukrainian affairs and shaping public opinion in Western Europe regarding the February coup of 2014 in Kiev through a series of projects and media campaigns.

DC Leaks’ release of almost 2,576 files from groups run by US billionaire George Soros, has exposed the magnate’s involvement in Ukraine’s Euromaidan affairs as well as manipulation of public opinion in Western and Southern Europe in order to “legalize” the February 2014 coup in Kiev.

“The emergence of a New Ukraine carries with it the opportunity to reinvigorate the European project,” read a 2015 document by the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE) entitled “The Ukraine debate in Western Europe.”

“However, this is complicated by the reluctance of some EU actors to accept the Maidan revolution as democratic and the Ukrainian government as legitimate. These actors have their own agendas — related to geopolitical and economic considerations with Russia — and will therefore be difficult to influence,” the OSIFE document underscored, adding that “for other groups and individuals, on the political left and across various social movements, one can detect confusion regarding the state of affairs in Ukraine.”

OSIFE specified that this “second group” comprised key opinion-makers, a number of traditional mainstream players, emerging political parties — especially in Southern Europe — such as M5S in Italy, Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece, and “a wide range of liberal NGOs in western Europe.”In order to tackle the “problem,” the organization offered to kick off a series of initiatives aimed at shaping public opinion in the West regarding the Ukrainian affairs.

The document revealed that OSIFE pursued three major objectives.

First, it sought to “stimulate debate and doubt in those democratic left movements, parties and audiences of Western Europe where a negative perception of the transformation of Ukraine is hegemonic, or very preponderant.”

Second, it wanted to “discredit the idea that the independence and integrity of Ukraine is an ideological cause of the Right.”

Third, OSIFE intended to “influence the way information about Ukraine is heard and perceived in Southern Europe, especially among the group of doubters.”

The issue was dramatically complicated by the fact that the major driving forces of the so-called “Euromaidan Revolution” of February 2014 were the Ukrainian far-right groups, most notably the nationalist All-Ukrainian Union Svoboda and Right Sector, founded by ultra-right Trident and the Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-Defense (UNA-UNSO) paramilitary group.

“The surge in violence sparked by Right Sector has revealed how uncritical and undiscerning most of the media has been of the far-right parties and movements that have played a leading role in the ‘Euromaidan,'” US journalist Alec Luhn warned on January 21, 2014, in his article for the Nation.

It was again the right-wing militants who championed Kiev’s Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) in eastern Ukraine aimed against the breakaway Donbass regions.

Torch procession in Kiev commemorating Stepan Bandera, leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
Torch procession in Kiev commemorating Stepan Bandera, leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists

However, regardless of Kiev’s activities casting shadow on the image of “New Ukraine,” OSIFE’s plan envisaged spending $750,000 in 2015 on grants, consultancy contracts, fellowships, workshops, exchange visits, conferences and advocacy activities in order to reach the objectives.For instance, the Soros entity planned to provide “greater presence of voices from Ukraine’s civil society in left leaning and alternative press” in the West.

In addition, it sought to amplify “left-wing ‘pro-Maidan’ opinion formers’ voices” in the debate on Ukraine by organizing conferences “on the New Ukraine in partnership with the political science/international affairs department in the leading universities in each of Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Greece.”

“Russia’s line on Ukraine will be subjected to a greater degree of scrutiny and skepticism by the left-wing actors involved in this project, relating to the European anti-fascist movement will be a key entry point in this debate,” the document read.

To manipulate the Europeans’ vision of Maidan, OSIFE planned to involve such reputable mainstream media source as, for example, the Guardian (“to increase coverage of voices from the New Ukraine — e.g. Maidan”) and the alternative press such as Eurozine, Huffington Post, Street Press, Internazionale as “key influencers for the audience we [OSIFE] are targeting.”The document shows that OSIFE envisioned funding translations of articles of Ukrainian journalists and providing individual grants to “investigative” reporters covering the situation on the ground in Ukraine to counter Russia’s narrative.

But that is not all. Another document released by DC Leaks indicates how OSIFE planned to “amplify independent media voices from Ukraine in France.”

To propagate OSIFE’s Ukraine narrative among left-leaning media outlet the organization envisioned “establishing media partnerships between Ukrainian and European outlets allowing content syndication and other collaborative opportunities.”

“We have established contact with Hromadske International, an emerging media outlet in Ukraine combining broadcast and online content,” the report read, adding that Hromadske may become a potential Ukrainian “incubator” for the project.

OSIFE also planned to involve Mediapart in France to kick off the project.

“The good potential synergy between Hromadske and Mediapart… offers an opportunity to launch this project by OSF enabling an introduction between Hromadske and Mediapart,” the report continued.OSIFE foresaw that such a partnership “would allow Hromadske and inroad into France,” with the potential for further expansion of its partnership network in four other EU’s “key countries” — Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece.

The two documents observed constitute only the tip of the iceberg of George Soros’ comprehensive and longstanding policy regarding Ukraine. However, they shed light on the depth of the billionaire’s interference into the affairs of the post-Soviet state.

The Saturday leak turned the spotlight on George Soros’ global activities, exposing work plans, strategies, priorities of the Soros-run entities across the world, covering the period from 2008 to 2016.

“Soros, the master manipulator of governments who pulls the strings at the State Department, will face unprecedented scrutiny,” Thomas Lifson of the American Thinker commented on the hack.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that DC Leaks previously released the content of email and records of the US Democratic Party, as well as those of Gen. Philip Breedlove, a former supreme commander of NATO.

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Most Pro-Palestinian Candidate Ever? Trump Stays ‘Neutral’ in Middle East


Hillary Clinton has long ignored the plight of Palestinians, vouching for Israel’s moral supremacy based on cynical political calculation, while Trump merely shot from the hip, going with his gut. The media cheers Clinton anyway.

Truculent real estate tycoon and reality television star turned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shocked the world once again on Wednesday, by dispatching with the long-held US foreign policy canard of adopting a hawkish stance toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, instead espousing on his website a policy of neutrality on a seminal issue of deep importance for the progressive wing of the party.

Perhaps political suicide, in light of the fact that the candidate is also well-known for his xenophobic approach toward the Islamic community, pontificating about the dangers of “radical Islam,” and calling for a “total and complete ban on Muslims entering the United States,” at least, “until we can figure out what the hell is going on,” this break from tradition is most certainly to be the next thing the candidate will skewered over.

While it is true that the bombastic billionaire is exceedingly unlikely to win the hearts and minds of the 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States,  the break from tradition should, perhaps, be applauded as a sincere attempt at trying to resolve perhaps the greatest diplomatic tragedy in our lifetime, in hopes of bringing peace to one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints.

​”It’s probably the hardest negotiation there is – great negotiators tried and they failed,” Trump states in a video posted under the issues” section of his campaign website. “It’s just so deep-seeded – the hatred, the level of distrust – but I’m going to give it an awfully good shot.”

“I want to remain as neutral as possible because, if you’re not somewhat neutral, the other side is never going to do it,” he said. “But just remember, Israel, I love you. We’re going to see if we can get something done. It has to be done for both sides. It cannot continue to be the way it is.”

Trump’s posture, initially adopted in March before being discarded for a period based on attacks and political reality, was criticized by opponent Hillary Clinton during a March 21 speech before the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, accusing the Republican of drawing a moral equivalency between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

“We need steady hands, not a president who says he’s neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday and who knows what on Wednesday because everything’s negotiable,” said Clinton. “Well, my friends, Israel’s security is non-negotiable.”

Trump’s policy statements may be in keeping with his “America First” slogan, but are unanimously deemed to be ruinous for his electoral fortunes, costing him support of pro-Israel Republicans and Christian Evangelicals alike.

Clinton’s policy is in stark contravention of her brand of being a “champion” for people of all walks of life clearly picking a side as superior even if it means ignoring the suffering of an isolated minority.

The press celebrates Clinton as a brave heroine, while repeatedly pointing out that Trump is a baseless coward who manipulates fear. Maybe, at least on this specific issue, that narrative should be reconsidered.

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Worst Human Being Alive: Tony Blair?



I realize that, living here in the United States, the nation doing the most in the world to create wars, proliferate nukes, and destroy the habitability of the earth’s climate, I really have a duty to pick someone in the United States as the worst individual human being alive.

Movie Poster
Movie Poster
(image by

But the United States operates by incestuous swarm. We have another Cheney running for Congress and another Clinton running for president. We have Trump’s campaign manager in trouble for taking money from Russians, much of which he funneled to Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair’s brother. Meanwhile, Trump’s daughter has been hauled before a virtual Un-American Activities Committee for vacationing with the supposed girlfriend of Vladimir Putin who may or may not have cheated on Rupert Murdoch with Tony Blair — Yes, the same Rupert Murdoch who raises funds for Hillary Clinton, and yes, that Tony Blair — the one whose corrupt deal with Murdoch put him in power in the first place.

These characters, including Blair, are at least honorary Americans. But Blair is something even worse than the worst of the worst of them. Blair did to the Labour Party what Bill Clinton did to the Democratic Party — what Jeremy Corbin is trying to undo and Hillary Clinton trying to permanently entomb. Blair did to Kosovo and Afghanistan and Iraq what Clinton, Bush, and Obama did to those places. But while Bush went home to paint pictures of himself in the bathtub, Blair went on a Clintonite mission to get rich and evangelize for war and corruption.

I don’t know if it’s fair to hold this against him, but Blair took into wars on Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, a nation with far greater resistance to such lawless mass killing than the United States had. That is, he had people telling him openly that his actions would be criminal and reprehensible. He may now be the least popular person in Britain. He can’t go outside without being protested. George W. Bush, like his daddy, in contrast, is just another respectable old retired emperor.

I do think, however, that it is perfectly fair to hold against Blair the fact that he shifted from mass killing straight into mass money making while promoting more death and destruction. Money grubbing British prime ministers from now on will know that they can become stinking rich upon retirement if they do the bidding of their corporate and foreign overlords while in office.

If you think I’m exaggerating, go watch George Galloway’s new film, The Killing$ Of Tony Blair. This film tells the story of Blair’s whole career, and it’s ugly. He cuts a deal with Murdoch to allow media monopolies in exchange for press support. He takes money from a car racing plutocrat in exchange for allowing tobacco ads at car races. He sells out to corporations left and right. He peddles BAE jets to Indonesia for killing people in East Timor. He sells BAE air traffic control systems to Tanzania which has no air force. He simply shuts down a prosecutorial investigation of BAE’s Saudi corruption in the deal that saw Bandar Bush pocket $2 billion. He privatizes schools and hospitals, anything that can make a buck for anybody who knows how to kick some back.

Blair joins with Clinton the First and then Obama in the killing in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and then shifts into former-prime-minister-now-“consultant” mode, taking millions from JP Morgan Chase, Petro Saudi, and other companies for providing his connections to other corrupt people around the world. He takes obscene speaking fees. He hires himself out to dictators in Kazakhstan, Egypt, Kuwait, and Libya. The film juxtaposes their atrocities with Blair’s purchased praise of their many merits. Blair persuaded Bush to protect Gadaffi from lawsuits by alleged victims, but apparently forgot to tell Hillary not to bomb Gadaffi or get him killed.

What really wins Blair the prize of worst person on earth, though, is his acceptance of an appointment as Middle East Peace Envoy to Israel and Palestine, a job he apparently held right up until enough people realized it wasn’t a fake report meant to be funny but an actual no-kidding job that he was actually engaged in.

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America Is Complicit in the Carnage in Yemen

Workers collected remains at a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders after an airstrike in Yemen on Tuesday. CreditAbduljabbar Zeyad/Reuters

A hospital associated with Doctors Without Borders. A school. A potato chip factory. Under international law, those facilities in Yemen are not legitimate military targets. Yet all were bombed in recent days by warplanes belonging to a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, killing more than 40 civilians.

The United States is complicit in this carnage. It has enabled the coalition in many ways, including selling arms to the Saudis to mollify them after the nuclear deal with Iran. Congress should put the arms sales on hold and President Obama should quietly inform Riyadh that the United States will withdraw crucial assistance if the Saudis do not stop targeting civilians and agree to negotiate peace.

The airstrikes are further evidence that the Saudis have escalated their bombing campaign against Houthi militias, which control the capital, Sana, since peace talks were suspended on Aug. 6, ending a cease-fire that was declared more than four months ago. They also suggest one of two unpleasant possibilities. One is that the Saudis and their coalition of mostly Sunni Arab partners have yet to learn how to identify permissible military targets. The other is that they simply do not care about killing innocent civilians. The bombing of the hospital, which alone killed 15 people, was the fourth attack on a facility supported by Doctors Without Borders in the past year even though all parties to the conflict were told exactly where the hospitals were located.

In all, the war has killed more than 6,500 people, displaced more than 2.5 million others and pushed one of the world’s poorest countries from deprivation to devastation. A recent United Nations report blamed the coalition for 60 percent of the deaths and injuries to children last year. Human rights groups and the United Nations have suggested that war crimes may have been committed.


Saudi Arabia, which began the air war in March 2015, bears the heaviest responsibility for inflaming the conflict with the Houthis, an indigenous Shiite group with loose connections to Iran. The Saudis intervened in Yemen with the aim of defeating the Houthis and reinstalling President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, whom the rebels ousted from power. They consider Iran their main enemy and feared Tehran was gaining too much influence in the region.

Although many experts believe the threat to be overstated, Mr. Obama agreed to support the Yemen intervention — without formal authorization from Congress — and sell the Saudis even more weapons in part to appease Riyadh’s anger over the Iran nuclear deal. All told, since taking office, Mr. Obama has sold the Saudis $110 billion in arms, including Apache helicopters and missiles.

Mr. Obama has also supplied the coalition such indispensable assistance as intelligence, in-flight refueling of aircraft and help in identifying appropriate targets. Experts say the coalition would be grounded if Washington withheld its support. Instead, the State Department last week approved the potential sale of $1.15 billion more in tanks and other equipment to Saudi Arabia to replace items destroyed in the war. Congress has the power to block this sale; Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, says he is discussing that possibility with other lawmakers. But the chances are slim, in part because of the politics.

Given the civilian casualties, further American support for this war is indefensible. As Mr. Murphy told CNN on Tuesday: “There’s an American imprint on every civilian life lost in Yemen.”

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Rejecting postracialism: Whiteness, morality and decency

Delta Daily

#BlackLivesMatter has illuminated the crisis of contemporary whiteness in its full flesh by giving white people a glimpse into some of the worst excesses of white supremacy: the execution of people of colour by state actors with impunity.

Beginning with the contention that most white people view racism conceptually as bad, evil or at least something that is undesirable to be associated with, it is disheartening to see so much support for reactionary #AllLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter and similar postracial rhetoric from ostensibly decent people. White America must seek to understand our own existence and its relation to the lived realities of both others and ourselves.

#BlackLivesMatter is a step towards the fulfilment of the modest ethical idea that all human beings deserve dignity and have an inherent right to life; something that the vast majority of #AllLivesMatter supporters (given the benefit of the doubt) may be trying to get across.

The problem with the #AllLivesMatter position is that it stems from a postracial imagination that assumes we have somehow moved beyond race. Unfortunately postracialism does not bind with reality – the legacies of slavery, convict-lease system, lynchings and Jim Crow breathe life into the lungs of contemporary police brutality and the prison-industrial complex, among other issues.

Evidently black life has been systemically deemed disposable. While individual whites may be treated brutally, such abuse has never been institutionalised in our policies and structures of power. This reflects the fact that normatively black life is pathologised while white life is individualised. The interrogation into the personal lives and criminal records of murdered people of colour combined with the relative silence on that of the officers’ reveals this.

The kind of formal equality achieved by the Civil Rights Movement has not stopped historical circumstances that continue to shape the lived experiences of communities of colour profoundly. Increasingly, race has been viewed as a problem of the past for (primarily white) postracialists. At the heart of this confusion is that equality does not always amount to equity; political equality alone may not create an atmosphere of fairness and opportunity for all. Without addressing existing disparities, universal or unspecialised initiatives are empty, thus in terms of protection of human life #BlackLivesMatter.

It is difficult not to view the rise of the #BlueLivesMatter concept as highlighting both an intellectual flaw as well as a gut-wrench reaction to black liberation in some with internalised racism; standing for an idea or community does not necessitate the devaluation of another concept or group. Defending the lives of black citizens does not mean wishing ill upon police officers – it is actually what most people want the latter to do.

A potential product of #BlackLivesMatter could be the improvement of Blue Lives, as pressure from civil society is needed to reform institutions of power and thus create conditions conducive to the formation of relationships with communities of colour. However, while that would be a welcome result, the inherent value of black life must remain primary and is not contingent on the depreciation of any other community.

Perversely, postracialism exists among some white supporters of #BlackLivesMatter intent on showing solidarity. White supporters of #BlackLivesMatter must understand that police brutality, racialised poverty and similar issues are not simply stemming from individual racist whites or cops; we are all racist, it is impossible not to be. When living under a system of white supremacy it is impossible simply to extricate oneself from the system or proverbially stand outside of it.

The belief that one can step outside of this context is itself a position of privilege, reinforcing a system of domination said person is opposed to. Intellectually rejecting a phenomenon does not prevent benefiting from its existence. This country was birthed in the dispossession of indigenous peoples and nurtured in the bondage of Africans; racism is built into the fabric of the settler-state.

For many of us from ethnic white backgrounds, recognising our own privilege and internal racism can be especially challenging given our own families’ histories of oppression. Understandably it can be very painful to reconcile the fact that the Americanising or whitening of our communities was contingent on the exclusion of black Americans, as highlighted by scholars such as David Roediger. While our families may not have been present during slavery or colonialism, in the American context we have still benefited from its occurrence.

For white Americans writ large, moving forward we must re-evaluate how we look back on our history while changing our perceptions of current events. Far too often we relegate historical themes and events as well as modern phenomena led by people of colour as theirs and thus something over there. While we must respect the ownership of experience of oppression we need to begin to question how being on the other end of oppression has affected us.

Inaction in this regard is both a manifestation of privilege and a poverty of understanding; self-criticism is one of humanity’s strongest tools, use it. In conversation with Margaret Mead, James Baldwin hit the proverbial nail on the head: “ …somewhere, something happened to white people one day, I don’t know what it was, which dictated their sense of reality”. In others words, the enforcers and benefactors of white supremacy have been morally damaged, implicitly recognising the fallibility (and thus humanness) of whites. Part of coming to terms with our own history and privilege is understanding the perversion of white supremacy; a system so toxic it even serves to denigrate its benefactors.

Working towards ending white supremacy should be a political project all white people support. Genuine participation stems from a sense of justice and should not require Pavlovian reinforcement from self, other white people or people of colour. When actions against white supremacy are done for self-congratulatory reasons or to alleviate white guilt, integrity and merit are lost from the act; this expectation is itself form and function of privilege.

In order for white people, all of us, to work effectively towards dismantling white supremacy we must first recognise and attempt to expunge our own internal racism and privilege, transform guilt into action and mobilise away from a politics of apathy and towards a politics of responsibility.

These steps must be taken both internally and in our actions in collaborating with and listening to our family of colour. Vital to this process is a humbling; white people need to stop expecting to be celebrated for being decent.

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Making sense of the proposal to upgrade UN mission to South Sudan


Heads of State from East and the Horn of Africa have endorsed a proposal to deploy a rapid protection force to South Sudan, which would later serve under the UN mission (UNMISS) with an enhanced mandate. But this is unlikely to solve the crisis in the world’s newest nation. UNMISS has serious weaknesses and, perhaps more importantly, the South Sudanese conflict is largely economic.

From 7 to 11 of July 2016, Juba, the capital of South Sudan, was put under serious tension and constant bombardment as a result of the fight that erupted once again since December 2013 between the forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and former First Vice-President Dr Riek Machar. The renewal of the conflict has been met with a lot of condemnation, particularly at the international spheres. This led to an outright proposal of the intervention force by IGAD Heads of State, a view that seems to augur well with many other international diplomatic organisations, particularly the UN.

On the 5 August 2016, the Assembly of the IGAD Heads of State held its Second Extra-Ordinary Summit meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and deliberated on the prevailing situation in the Republic of South Sudan. In their resolution, the IGAD Heads of State endorsed the outcome of the meeting of the East African Chiefs of Defense Staff held on 29 July 2016, in Addis Ababa, on the deployment of a Regional Protection Force (RPF) as the basis for further and urgent discussion with the United Nations towards reaching a common ground on speedy deployment of the Force under UNMISS. In their Communique, the IGAD Heads of State further called upon the UNSC to expedite the process of extending UNMISS mandate including the deployment of the Regional Protection Force with distinct responsibilities. And since the IGAD Heads of State have given this hint, it will be much easier for the eagerly awaited United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to extend the UNMISS mandate, that will include the RPF.

However, one pertinent question remains as to whether the suggested RPF plus the existing UN peacekeepers will be effective in bringing the desperately needed stability in the country. First of all, like so many other UN missions, UNMISS has been and is still a highly dysfunctional and a “mafia” mission characterized by so many incompetent international personnel, and many of whom bear “low moral standing” – basically living in debauchery and corrupt to the core.

Secondly, when it comes to protection of civilians, UNMISS has not lived up to its recent mandate – “protection of civilians”. Since 2013, UNMISS has demonstrated its incapability in so many occasions to protect civilians, for example in Bor, Malakal and even in Yambio, where hundreds upon hundreds of vulnerable civilians were left stranded at the mission’s gates.

In addition, UNMISS has from time to time failed to protect its national staff members who are deplorably discriminated and disenfranchised, particularly when one closely looks at the UNMISS operational or systemic policies. It beats conscientious reasoning as to why such a dilapidated organization would be charged with even a bigger and a more challenging task.

Thirdly, the whole of the Eastern and Horn of Africa region is in one way or the other troubled by the insecurities of tribalism and corruption, and that means the RPF to South Sudan will carry all of these inadequacies with them. This, coupled with the already existing enormous systemic challenges of UNMISS and the dynamics and complexities of the South Sudanese conflict, will definitely leave a lot of doubts on the effectiveness and the successes that the forthcoming UNMISS mandate will make  as far as bringing peace to the war ravaged South Sudan is concerned.

The South Sudanese conflict is economically and institutionally driven; therefore, instead of sending in more troops to Juba, more focus in terms of resources and energy should be directed towards the economic and resilience building in vulnerable communities of South Sudan.  As echoed in the Preamble of the UN Charter that, “We the peoples of the United Nations are determined to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples”, one would suggest that UNMISS in terms of manpower and operations should be scaled down and more resources should be channeled to the UN agencies and other humanitarian organisations with clear and well-articulated guidelines in line with South Sudan Development Plan on the areas of economic and social enhancement in which the funding should be used.

The Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) provides a good platform on how to revive the dwindling South Sudanese economy. There is a need to deliver on the Special Fund for Reconstruction (SRF) pledged by the international partners and friends of South Sudan and to be administered by Board of Special Reconstruction Fund (BSRF). South Sudan needs a vibrant economy with well-structured and functioning transitional institutions and mechanisms, instead of a huge, but redundant peacekeeping force.

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