Archive | March 23rd, 2018

The Courage to Uncover the Politics and Lies Behind the Carnage in Colombia

A member of FARC's Sixth Front on guard with his weapon in a demobilization camp in the final days before they hand in their arms back to the government on December 28, 2016, in Miranda, Colombia. (Photo: Kaveh Kazemi / Getty Images)

A member of FARC’s Sixth Front on guard with his weapon in a demobilization camp in the final days before they hand in their arms back to the government on December 28, 2016, in Miranda, Colombia. (Photo: Kaveh Kazemi / Getty Images)

Amidst the horror of the internal Colombian war, Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno finds that individuals can have an impact on exposing the toxic truth of gruesome massacres and torturous deprivation. In There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia, Sánchez-Moreno singles out three people whose heroic efforts made a difference in a brutal time. The following excerpt is about one of those persons, investigative journalist Ricardo Calderón.

“Have you ever seen someone be eaten alive by ants?” The question took investigative journalist Ricardo Calderón aback, but the man beside him kept talking, matter-of-factly pointing at an anthill surrounded by four stakes with chains attached to them. “They tie up informants and guerrillas there and coat them with panela [a form of cane sugar]. They last about three days while the ants eat them.” The lawyer was giving Calderón a tour in early 2006 of a vast ranch on a mountaintop near the Magdalena River owned by his client, a paramilitary leader known as “The Eagle.” The Eagle’s lawyer had invited Calderón several times to visit the ranch and talk to his boss. In addition to the anthill, Calderón noticed a large board to which the paramilitaries tied their victims before doing target practice on them, a swimming pool shaped like a guitar, with a bar and jukebox next to it, and a massive house. Farther out, the lawyer had told Calderón, The Eagle had several cocaine-processing labs. On his fairly short drive from Bogotá to the ranch, Calderón had also noticed several large plaster statues of eagles perched along the road, as well as a couple of wrecked Toyota and Ford pickup trucks — The Eagle’s son, the lawyer said, enjoyed drinking and crashing vehicles, then leaving them by the side of the road. His father always replaced them.

The son of a policeman, the scrawny, prematurely balding, chain-smoking Calderón had grown up during the heyday of the Medellín cartel. He had attended a school in Bogotá for the children of police officers, so, ever since he was a small child, he had heard macabre stories about drug lords and police raids. He had attended many funerals for fathers of his classmates, including the one for Colonel Jaime Ramírez, who in 1984 had discovered Pablo Escobar’s cocaine-processing lab, Tranquilandia, and was then gunned down by assassins. Calderón also developed a sense of which kids’ fathers might be on the take, based on how much money the children could spend on going out for ice cream or to play pinball.

He had always been intrigued by that world. He had even thought of becoming a policeman himself, but his father warned him away from it: “You’re very lazy, you don’t like getting up early, and you don’t like cold water.” Lazy may not have been the best description for Calderón, who had worked every summer since he was fourteen, packing glass and crystal cups for a local company, or stretching lengths of chain out on the city’s streets, to take measurements for the official transit agency. But it was true that he hated waking up early, and couldn’t stand cold water, and, sure enough, Calderón found out that if he joined the police, he would have to get up at 4 a.m. and take very short, cold showers. So he decided to go to college instead. He started out studying biology, but did very poorly. When a family friend offered to find him a spot at a new college that was opening on a beautiful campus in Bogotá, he jumped at the chance to transfer. The only catch was that the new school only offered two majors: engineering and journalism. Calderón was bad at numbers, so, to his father’s dismay — at the time, journalism was known as the career of choice of Colombian beauty queens, and his father viewed it as a frivolous profession — Calderón picked journalism. He was, he claimed later, a terrible student, though one of his classmates, Mónica, who would one day become his wife, disagreed, remembering that even in college the shy, quiet Calderón would throw himself into his journalism projects, usually working alone, with passion.

In 1994, during one of his final years in college, a classmate told him about an opening at the newsweekly Semana, covering sports. Unlike many Colombians, Calderón had little interest in sports — soccer, to him, was just a group of men running around with a ball — but he jumped at the job and got by, at first by writing about the only sport he knew a bit about: Formula One car racing. It was a great opportunity. The magazine had a very small writing staff, so Calderón got to see how it put together an entire issue, and to see how politics, crime, and public order issues, which he found fascinating, got covered.

The following year, a massive political scandal began to unfold over what became known as “Proceso 8,000,” a wide-ranging criminal investigation started by the attorney general’s office into alleged ties between the Cali cartel and various prominent public figures, including several members of Congress, as well as Santiago Medina, the treasurer for President Ernesto Samper’s 1994 presidential campaign. (The unofficial name, which meant “Process 8,000,” referred to the case number.) After his arrest, Medina began testifying against other former campaign officials who were now in the Samper administration. The president himself soon came under investigation in Congress. Meanwhile, the accountant for the Cali cartel, Guillermo Pallomari, turned himself in to the US Drug Enforcement Administration and started to hand over evidence against Colombian politicians. Although Samper was eventually acquitted, the case would continue to present new twists. It dominated the news for years.

Semana’s political journalists poured themselves into coverage of the rapidly changing scandal over the Proceso 8,000, but that meant nobody was available to cover the ongoing war. So Calderón volunteered to start going to the country’s “red zones,” where the conflict was hot, even while he continued to cover sports. Soon, he was traveling to far-flung parts of the country and filing reports about FARC killings and — increasingly — paramilitary massacres, alongside his still-required stories about the local soccer team.

Throughout the decade, the paramilitary groups had slowly been gaining in strength, but now they were engaged in a coordinated and terrifying campaign to seize control of key regions of the country. Moving beyond Antioquia and Córdoba, where Carlos Castaño’s ACCU had first started its expansion in the 1990s, they were now spreading out over most of the country’s northern states, and even venturing into the center and south of the country. The ACCU had also joined forces with other paramilitary groups, organized under a single umbrella as the AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, or United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia), which had multiple “blocks,” each under separate leadership.

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William Rivers Pitt | The Batman Villain Behind Cambridge Analytica

By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

Billionaire Robert Mercer speaks on the phone during the 12th International Conference on Climate Change hosted by The Heartland Institute on March 23, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Oliver Contreras / For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Billionaire Robert Mercer speaks on the phone during the 12th International Conference on Climate Change hosted by The Heartland Institute on March 23, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Oliver Contreras / For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Well lookee here, now. We got ourselves a no-shit Batman villain. He is a billionaire computer genius who sees the world as a clockwork of hyperdetailed algorithms, and is often described as “reclusive” and “secretive” by the press. He describes himself politically as “Libertarian,” but his actions suggest he is just another person who doesn’t know what the word “libertarian” actually means.

A list of his beliefs and activities include:

• He believes the Clintons ran drugs out of Mena Airport in Arkansas and had opponents murdered;

• He peddles undistilled hate for immigrants and Muslims on a variety of hard-right propaganda sites;

• He donates millions of dollars to fringe candidates like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, and is in fact a significant part of the reason Trump became president;

• He believes the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were ultimately a health benefit to the Japanese people;

• He denies the existence of racist white people while denouncing the 1964 Civil Rights Act;

• He actively disrupts the discussion of climate change with deliberate disinformation churned out by think tanks he finances;

…and, of course, he holds to the Randian notion that human worth can only be measured in terms of dollar value. This villain, like all effective villains, hides in plain sight, sending his many minions to do his bidding and spend his money with the ultimate goal of recoding the algorithms of politics and power to suit his own ends. What those ends are specifically, no one has said. Perhaps he himself does not know. That does not stop him.

At night, he dresses up as an ocelot and stalks the shadows of the night. Using stealth blimp technology, he becomes a hole in the sky as he travels from city to city dropping copies of Atlas Shrugged on playgrounds and truck stops. His comprehensive understanding of nanotechnology allows him to heal grievous wounds and forestall aging; some liken him to The Wolverine, ageless and unstoppable. He can also see through time.

OK, that last part is all made up, but the rest of it is black-letter fact. His name is Robert Mercer, he is a 71-year-old tech billionaire who made his bones with IBM as a coding whiz, and he is living testament to the incalculable damage done to the country by the Citizens United decision. Now that it is legal to buy elections using billions in dark money, Mercer doesn’t just have his thumb on the scale; he has parked his limousine on it.

While other GOP megadonors mostly stayed out of the 2016 presidential election, Mercer and his daughter Rebekah dove right in, unleashing Steve Bannon and the crew at Cambridge Analytica by arming them with the Mercer’s bottomless financial resources. Under Bannon’s direct supervision, Cambridge Analytica scraped the personal data of millions of Facebook users to create highly sophisticated voter profiles that would be targeted by political ads and other means of persuasion. Campaign themes were road tested, among them “deep state” and “drain the swamp.”

These were no simple voter profiles, mind you — your own grocery store profiles you, but not like this. A vast amount of specific personal information was mined by Cambridge Analytica from catastrophically under-regulated Facebook databases, all in service to the Trump campaign. This information was transformed into a weapon meant to actively exploit people’s deepest fears and personal biases via targeted messages. This is where Breitbart and the other elements of Mercer’s hard-right media empire came into play, as they were successfully able to use that data to fine-tune their campaign propaganda.

It gets deeper. Way, way deeper, as NPR reports:

On Monday, Channel 4 broadcast the hidden-camera exclusive that appeared to catch [Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander] Nix acknowledging that the firm works secretly in political campaigns around the world by using front companies and subcontractors. Nix attempts to sell the company’s potential services, such as the deployment of “honey traps” to target opponents — including secretly filming politicians taking bribes or in the company of prostitutes.

“We’ll offer a large amount of money to the candidate, to finance his campaign in exchange for land for instance,” Nix says on hidden camera. “We’ll have the whole thing recorded, we’ll blank out the face of our guy and we post it on the Internet.” He is heard saying that one strategy for compromising opponents is to “send some girls around to the candidate’s house,” adding that he prefers to use Ukrainian girls. They “are very beautiful, I find that works very well,” he says.

Two other individuals also appear in the hidden-camera footage: the company’s chief data officer — Tayler, who has been tapped as interim CEO — and Mark Turnbull, the managing director of CA Political Global. Nix advises the undercover reporter that “I’m just giving you examples of what can be done, what has been done.”

“Was there a Russia connection?” stands as the permanent question of the hour nowadays, but the answer regarding Cambridge Analytica remains unclear. “No definitive evidence has emerged that connects Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign to Russia’s efforts to influence our election,” reports Sean Illing of Vox. “But if the ongoing investigations conclude that the Trump campaign did help Russia target voters, expect to hear more about Cambridge Analytica. It’s entirely possible that such collusion could have occurred and the work of Cambridge Analytica had nothing to do with it; however, that would be strange, since targeting voters is precisely what the company was hired to do.”

What we have here is the illicit plundering of oceans of personal data that were then used to create highly specified voter databases specifically intended to disrupt the nation’s political discourse going into the 2016 election. Setting traps for political opponents using sex and bribes is bragged about on captured footage (which might explain the ongoing timidity of Congress). The Mercers and their hatchetman Bannon do not seek to use this data just to win. They literally want to burn the entire political system — the social safety net, civil rights protections, everything — down to the stumps. Trump won, and the stumps are beginning to show. For them, this is about changing the culture, about changing the very nature of the nation itself, by any means necessary.

As for a Russia connection, Occam’s Razor is informative. There is no evidence of Cambridge Analytica and Russia working together yet, but since they were both doing the same thing to assist the same candidate at the same time, the simplest explanation may indeed be the correct one.

Facebook is getting clobbered and losing billions over this growing scandal, Cambridge Analytica is on the run, and the reporting on this will be coming fast and furious for many days to come. The real story, however, is Robert Mercer, the right-wing recluse genius who dreams of an algorithm that will change the world.

When Citizens United shattered the barriers between campaign funding and brazen bribery, billionaires like Mercer discovered they could blast a hole in the fabric of political reality by writing checks with enough zeroes to the left of the decimal. Mercer is not alone, but he is the money behind Trump’s astonishing ascendancy, and his influence only promises to grow. When you’re a billionaire committed to devising expensive new gutterball tactics and the Supreme Court is on your side, the sky’s the limit.

Batman would have a word for such a villain and his plans.


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Resources Prevent Violence. Policing Doesn’t.


By Kelly Hayes, Truthout | Interview

Abolitionist organizer Benji Hart speaks outside the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in May of 2017 at a vigil for then-incarcerated abuse survivor Bresha Meadows. (Photo: Sarah-Ji)

Abolitionist organizer Benji Hart speaks outside the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in May 2017 at a vigil for then-incarcerated abuse survivor Bresha Meadows. (Photo: Sarah-Ji)

While the media’s fascination with the movement for Black lives may have largely faded, for the moment, communities around the country continue to mobilize in the face of racist policing. According to The Washington Post, 226 people have been killed by police so far, in 2018. In spite of the media’s wandering attention, organizers fighting for the lives and rights of Black people and other victims of state violence have remained active across the country, waging battles at the local and national level.

One of those battles, a grassroots effort which has nudged its way into national coverage, is the #NoCopAcademy campaign in Chicago. Spearheaded by Black youth, the effort to prevent the construction of a new $95 million police training facility, proposed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has won the attention of supporters around the country. It has led to multiple out-of-state protests, as students have disrupted Emanuel’s speeches at their universities, in solidarity with the campaign. One of the effort’s young organizers is Benji Hart, a queer Black author, artist and educator who has helped fuel the campaign’s confrontational style. As a writer, Hart’s essays on neoliberalismprison abolition, and policing offer a reflection of the grassroots politics that drive some of Chicago’s fiercest organizing against state violence. Hart recently spoke with Truthout about the #NoCopAcademy campaign, Rahm Emanuel and the importance of resisting harmful investments in the police state while communities are deprived of essential resources.

For those who don’t know, what can you tell us about the #NoCopAcademy campaign?

I think the fundamental question that the campaign is begging the city to ask is: Does police spending reduce harm, or cause greater harm?

#NoCopAcademy is a broad coalition of community organizations working together to fight the construction of a $95 million police academy in the West Side neighborhood of Garfield Park, and demanding that those funds that the mayor and the city government want to put toward the construction of that building go toward the resources that have already been cut — like public schools and free mental health clinics — as well as other resources that actually prevent violence, which we know the police do not.

Chicago’s violence is highly sensationalized in the media, which probably has some people asking, “Why isn’t this a good investment?” What would you say to people who think investing in police will make Chicago’s streets safer?

I think one of the questions that this campaign is raising is about causation. Is the level of violence in our city actually tied to how much we spend on policing and how much we don’t spend on social services? We have one of the most well-funded per capita police departments already. The city spends 40 percent of its annual budget on the police department, which is $1.5 billion a year; $4 million a day. The city spends these exorbitant amounts of money on law enforcement already. Studies have shown, quite conclusively, that providing resources prevents violence — not policing.

I think the fundamental question that the campaign is begging the city to ask is: Does police spending reduce harm, or cause greater harm? Are we willing to address violence by investing in things like mental health, education, jobs, housing … things that can actually cut back on the trauma, poverty and pain that often leads to violence in our communities?

I know community inquiry, about how Chicagoans would like to see $95 million spent, has been part of the campaign. What sort of things are you hearing as you move through the community, asking these questions?

Schools are the big one, especially for folks in the Garfield Park neighborhood, where six schools were closed in that 2013 sweep. In the larger ward, I believe it’s as many as 12 schools that were closed in that area of the West Side, but Garfield Park specifically lost six. So, residents of Garfield Park are really upset about the idea of a police academy being built there when people in the neighborhood already have a really bad relationship with the police department. People are resentful and afraid of police violence, and don’t want to see that increase. But they are also upset because there’s been a clear disinvestment in the young people in that neighborhood. So schools, I would say, is the number one answer we hear from people when we are out in the community talking, but community gardens, after school programs, job training programs for teens, childcare, and certainly mental health and health care are also really big … and are things that we all believe would drastically, dramatically curb violence in our communities, which we believe the police would do the opposite of.

Something that strikes me about what you’ve said is the piece about how this does not actually make the city safer, that we’re not actually curbing violence in any way by spending more and more money on police. Can you say more about that?

The language of “public safety” is a political ruse. We already are very clear in our city on where resources do and don’t go, and where violence is and is not being experienced. So, when city government says, well, this is about curbing violence, I believe they actually know better. This is about … pushing out and allowing violence to continue against populations the city doesn’t value.

Some people may find it shocking that we’ve come, in such a short period of time, from the murder of Laquan McDonald, and “16 shots and a cover up,” to a $95 million investment in the same police force. And yet here we are, poised to make an astronomical investment in Chicago police. How does that fit into your analysis?

It’s really just the steady plot of anti-Black violence carried forward by the city. Chicago has never been accountable. And one of the most frustrating points of this campaign is the city government hiding behind the Department of Justice (DOJ) report [the final report of a federal investigation which found “that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) engages in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force”], which cites a need for new facilities. But the idea that a massive new facility will stop more violence in Chicago, and police violence more specifically, is a heinous suggestion. I don’t think anyone actually believes the city will train away CPD’s racism.

How should the city respond to the Department of Justice report?

Think about being disruptive. Think about being obnoxious. Think about being a threat to these projects being built.

The DOJ report is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it outlines in detail that racist practices are an ingrained part of the department, from top to bottom, and have been for decades, which is important to acknowledge. At the same time, the Department of Justice is very much a part of the exact same system. And when we’re talking about police violence and about state-sanctioned violence and about the cover-ups of violence against Black and Brown communities, not just in the US but across the globe, the DOJ is really a part of that structure. And so, on the one hand, it’s a big deal for another racist organization to acknowledge the deep-seated racism of the Chicago Police Department. At the same time, the goal of that report is not abolition, which is what the goal of this campaign is — to actually divest from the criminal justice system at large, back into community resources. So, I think relying on the DOJ report is something that has to be done strategically. Because there’s important documentation there that supports a lot of the arguments that activists are making … at the same time that report was not actually made for, and is not an actual tool, for supporting Black communities or oppressed communities in general. So, relying on it as though it is, I think, will lead us to some false conclusions … as it already has with the city government using this report … to build this cop academy.

At the national level, we’re seeing a lot of backlash and have seen a lot of backlash against the Black Lives Matter movement. Donald Trump has positioned himself in direct opposition to what little ground Obama was willing to yield — saying that maybe we should demilitarize the police a little. Trump has taken the position that police should be more brutal and should not be punished for it. And the DOJ under Trump is, of course, making it clear that police will not be held federally accountable for the abuse. Rahm Emanuel has positioned himself as sort of an anti-Trump, like a nemesis, and is perhaps using that to rebuild his image a little bit, after it being horribly tarnished by a failed cover-up. As we know, Rahm has also been under fire locally for that being something of a ruse. He likes to tout the city’s sanctuary status, when grassroots organizers in the city, such as BYP100 and Organized Communities Against Deportation have repeatedly called on the city to enact policies that would actually protect undocumented people rather than a name-only policy. Here we see another area where Rahm actually seems to be practicing Trump’s values while pretending to be his enemy.

What has surprised you so far, in your organizing for this campaign?

I think what’s been fascinating about this campaign is that it’s actually been very widely supported. People seem to inherently understand that this is a mismanagement of city funds … why would you spend all this money on a police academy when you have just cut all these funds from schools, from health care, and said that the city is broke, and said the city doesn’t have those resources? Folks have just been getting it, just generally intuiting that that’s wrong. And I think that shows a big shift in a positive direction. I think a very short amount of time ago, it would have been hard for people to say we don’t want money going to police or that we want money taken from law enforcement and put into social services. A short while ago that may have sounded extreme to people, or even dangerous to people, whereas in my experience, the message of this campaign has been very widely embraced on a grassroots and community level. So, I think that shows a shift in consciousness in our communities. We are not just challenging conservative values. We are challenging liberal, Democratic Party values as well. And I think this campaign has a very simple message that leads us to ask a lot of bigger and more difficult questions about our values and about the fights that we’re fighting on a national and even global level. And who has our back in those fights and who doesn’t.

This false dichotomy of Democrat and Republican … is really blown apart in moments like this when you see liberals and Democrats, wealthy, middle-class white people in the city of Chicago who are totally willing to rip resources away from Black communities.

My sister lives in New York and I’ve been talking to her a lot about this campaign, and about the mayor’s role. And when I told her that the mayor was a Democrat, she freaked out. She was like, “Wait, this is a Democrat who’s been doing all these things?” I think that this false dichotomy of Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, is really blown apart in moments like this when you see liberals and Democrats, wealthy, middle-class white people in the city of Chicago who are totally willing to rip resources away from Black communities and put them into structures that are well-documented to be violent and racist toward Black communities. And it begs the question, if we want to divest from militarization, if we want to divest from policing, and if we want to build up social services, then what structures and what organizations are in place that actually help us do that? And the Democratic Party fundamentally is not one of those organizations. And I think it forces us out of that narrative which is really dominant right now, given some of the really blatantly racist, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant things that are coming from the Republican Party. It tears that narrative away from Democrats who want to position themselves as opposed to that.

When we ask, well, what are Democrats doing to fight deportation? What are Democrats doing to fight militarization? What are Democrats doing to build up social services and support systems in poor communities, Black and Brown communities and on and on? When we ask those questions, the Democrats like Emanuel are no different from the Republicans. So, I think this campaign is touching a nerve in terms of what are the actual questions we need to be asking. What are the actual demands we need to be making? And what are the power structures? Once we have clarified those things, we need to be resisting and putting pressure on.

Some great examples of folks beginning to ask these questions on their own are the numerous interruptions that mayor Emanuel has faced at colleges and universities around the country, as he attempts this strange gentrification tour — encouraging young (mostly white) college graduates to make Chicago their new home. Youth from Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy just won the Louder Than a Bomb poetry slam last week with a piece protesting the academy and tracing the police system’s roots back to slavery. Folks across the city and country are finding creative ways to support the campaign, and anyone interested in joining them can always follow the hashtag or visit

Do you think that a campaign like this one can interrupt the narrative of Rahm Emanuel being held up as a liberal savior or a Trumpian nemesis?

Stop supporting governments that we know do us harm.

I absolutely do. And I am bewildered that that narrative holds up. I don’t think people should believe that for a second. So, yes. My short answer is, yes. Fundamentally. The school closings in 2013 are something I always return to, because I was a student teacher at the time and I worked in a school that was closed. It was a racially traumatic moment. I was like, this city really doesn’t care about Black people. The city really does not care about Black youth, Black young people. And it’s so important to look at policies like that that are so fundamentally racist and who is perpetrating them, and who is pushing them forward. And then, of course, who is supporting them.

Lastly, I just wanted to ask, since you were talking about how we should be envisioning these things. Do you have any words of support or advice for other young grassroots organizers, in this political environment, where we have looming threats from the Trump administration, and also enemies who are being lionized because they claim to oppose Trump? What would you say to other folks in your position right now, nationally?

On the concrete level, make noise. Disrupt. Get in the way of these projects and do everything you can. Use every skill and resource you have to get in their way and stop them from happening. Think about being disruptive. Think about being obnoxious. Think about being a threat to these projects being built and not just someone who stands on the side and begs that the construction stop or begs that the funds be reallocated. They don’t care about what we say and they don’t care about our lives. We make the mistake of believing that they do when we ask for their help, and we make the mistake of believing that they do when we believe that making a sound argument will change the direction that we are quickly moving in. So, don’t ask, demand. Don’t stand on the sidelines with slogans and signs, but get in the way and interrupt and speak out and take risks. And think about what it actually takes to stop something from happening, whether it’s using your body or organizing your community. Think about what it takes to disrupt and not to just call out.

On a more political or more theoretical level: Stop supporting governments that we know do us harm. Stop believing you can work with police or work with ICE or with law enforcement of any kind to protect our communities. We need to talk about how we are actively pulling away from and disinvesting from those structures both monetarily and structurally, and how we’re actually, in our individual relationships and on a structural level, reinvesting in us and reinvesting in our communities. Don’t trust people who have already showed you that they don’t care about you.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Reformer or War Criminal? Saudi Zio-Wahhabi Welcomed in US as Trump Touts Weapons Deals


Image result for Mohammed bin Salman CARTOON

Reformer or War Criminal? Saudi Crown Prince Welcomed in US as Trump Touts Weapons Deals

By Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh

On Tuesday, President Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House, where the two leaders finalized a $12.5 billion weapons deal. This comes less than a year after Trump announced a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis. During the meeting, Trump held up posters of recent Saudi weapon purchases from the United States and said, “We make the best equipment in the world.” Human rights groups warn the massive arms deal may make the United States complicit in war crimes committed in the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen. We speak with Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan and Medea Benjamin of CodePink.


NERMEEN SHAIKH: On Tuesday, President Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House, where the two leaders finalized a $12.5 billion weapons deal. This comes less than a year after Trump announced a $110 billion arms deal for the Saudis. During the meeting, Trump held up posters of recent Saudi weapons purchases from the United States and said, quote, “We make the best equipment in the world.”

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Some of the things that we are now working on — thanks — and that have been ordered and will shortly be started in construction and delivered: THAAD system, $13 billion; the C-130 heli — airplanes, the Hercules, great plane, $3.8 billion; the Bradley vehicles, that’s the tanks, $1.2 billion; and the P-8 Poseidons, $1.4 billion.

AMY GOODMAN: Human rights groups warn the massive arms deal may make the United States complicit in war crimes committed in the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen. Outside the White House, peace activists with CodePink denounced bin Salman as a violent and dangerous war criminal.

The arms deal comes as the Senate rejected a bipartisan resolution to end US military involvement in Yemen within 30 days, unless Congress formally authorizes the military action. The vote was 44 to 55, with 10 Democrats joining the Republican majority to block the legislation and Arizona Senator John McCain not casting a vote.

The US-backed, Saudi-led airstrikes and naval blockade have devastated Yemen’s health, water and sanitation systems, sparking a massive cholera outbreak and pushing millions of Yemenis to the brink of starvation. More than 15,000 people have died since the Saudi invasion in 2015. During an interview on CBS 60 Minutes, Prince Mohammed bin Salman blamed the humanitarian crisis in Yemen on the Houthis. This is host Norah O’Donnell questioning bin Salman.

NORAH O’DONNELL: Do you acknowledge that it has been a humanitarian catastrophe, 5,000 civilians killed and children starving there?

PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN: [translated] It is truly very painful, and I hope that this militia ceases using the humanitarian situation to their advantage in order to draw sympathy from the international community. They block humanitarian aid in order to create famine and a humanitarian crisis.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Prince bin Salman’s trip has also raised new questions about his relationship with President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is tasked with brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. The Intercept reports that bin Salman has boasted he has Kushner, quote, “in his pocket.” In October, when Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, the two reportedly discussed the names of Saudis who were disloyal to the crown prince amid a power struggle. A week later, the Saudi government arrested and imprisoned dozens of members of the Saudi royal family, reportedly torturing at least one.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we go to Washington, DC, where we’re joined by two guests. Medea Benjamin is with us, co-founder of CodePink, author of the book Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection. Her latest article for Common Dreams, “Don’t Believe the Media Hype About Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman.” Her forthcoming book, Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Also joining us in DC is Mehdi Hasan, award-winning British journalist and broadcaster at Al Jazeera English. He’s host of the Al Jazeera interview program UpFront and a columnist for The Intercept. Mehdi Hasan’s most recent piece is headlined, “The CBS Interview with Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman Was a Crime Against Journalism.” His new podcast for The Intercept will go live tomorrow; it’s called Deconstructed.

Medea Benjamin and Mehdi Hasan, welcome to Democracy Now! Mehdi, if you can start off by talking about the significance of the crown prince’s trip to Washington, DC, President Trump’s announcement of the latest weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, and how the media is covering it all?

MEHDI HASAN: Thanks, Amy. Yes, it’s a big deal. MBS is on his tour. He’s been to the UK He’s coming to the US for a two-week tour. He’s not just going to be in DC with Trump and the administration. He’s also visiting the Facebooks and the tech guys in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, too, because he’s a reformer, or he’s a revolutionary, or that’s what some in the US media want us to believe. 60 Minutes, you just played some clips there. Norah O’Donnell on 60 Minutes wrote — did this awful interview. Yes, I wrote a piece saying it was a crime against journalism, because here is a guy who is the representative of an absolute monarchy, is going to be the next absolute monarch, is de facto ruler of that absolute monarchy, with one of the worst human rights records in the world, in the midst of an awful war in Yemen, as you just mentioned, and yet he comes to the US and is treated as a reformer, a revolutionary, gets softball questions, gets a meeting with Trump in the White House, where they talk about arms sales, so more war in Yemen with more American arms. The whole thing is a travesty. And if it was an Iranian government official or a North Korean official or a Syrian official, we would all be up in arms. And yet, because it’s a US ally, 80 years a US ally, we kind of accept it and shrug our shoulders.

AMY GOODMAN: Medea Benjamin, you’ve written extensively about Saudi Arabia. CodePink had a protest outside the meeting yesterday. I want to continue with this issue of US media coverage of the crown prince. It wasn’t just the CBS interview that lavished praise on Mohammed bin Salman. Last month, Washington Postcolumnist David Ignatius interviewed Salman in Riyadh and wrote a piece headlined “The crown prince of Saudi Arabia is giving his country shock therapy,” in which he praised Salman’s reforms on women’s rights, saying there is, quote, “cultural ferment” in the kingdom. Ignatius went on to write, quote, “Women tell visitors what kind of cars they plan to buy when they’re allowed to drive in June; new gyms for women are opening; women entrepreneurs are operating food trucks; and women sports fans are attending public soccer games.” Ignatius also mentions that MBS, Mohammed bin Salman, gave the interview entirely in English.

In the same paper, Dennis Ross wrote an op-ed ahead of Salman’s visit, headlined “America should get behind Saudi Arabia’s revolutionary crown prince,” saying his efforts to change Saudi society, quote, “amount to a revolution from above.” He alludes to the war in Yemen towards the end of the article, only to say, quote, “[O]n Yemen, Qatar and Lebanon, had the Saudis discussed their options with the United States first, we might have created a more effective division of labor to achieve our shared aims.”

Medea Benjamin, your response to all of this?

MEDEA BENJAMIN: It’s just disgusting the way the Western press is eating up the propaganda of the Saudi regime. Let’s look at the basics of the Saudi regime. It is a regime where there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of press, no freedom of religion, where you could get the death penalty if you’re an atheist or a homosexual. It’s the most gender-segregated society in the world. Women live under a guardianship system where a man has the right to determine the most important things in the women’s life, where there are no national elections whatsoever, where there is no freedom of independent trade unions, any kind of civic organizations. This is one of the most repressive countries in the world, and it should be treated by the Western press as one of the most repressive countries in the world. And they should be able to look behind the minder tours that they get when they go to Saudi Arabia, and they are constantly taken around by government people.

Saudi citizens are afraid to talk. In fact, I was at a Saudi event last night, with a camera, trying to talk to people. They are absolutely afraid, even if they’re supporters of the government. They don’t want to be seen on the camera, because they live in fear. And the media is also putting out that the crown prince is greatly beloved, especially by the young people in Saudi Arabia. Well, if people are afraid that they would be thrown in jail, like Raif Badawi, who’s been put in prison for 10 years for a blog, of course they’re not going to talk to Western reporters and give a critique of the Saudi prince, much less the kingdom itself.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to break and then come back to our discussion, this highly significant visit of the crown prince of Saudi in the midst of the US-backed Saudi bombardment of Yemen, where over 15,000 Yemenis have died. Cholera cases are now at over 1 million. Our guests are Mehdi Hasan of Al Jazeera English and The Intercept and Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink. Stay with us.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Posted in Middle East, USA, Saudi ArabiaComments Off on Reformer or War Criminal? Saudi Zio-Wahhabi Welcomed in US as Trump Touts Weapons Deals

The UN: Instrumental or Normative?


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The UN: Instrumental or Normative?

[Prefatory Note: A greatly modified version of this post was published in Middle East Eye on March 12, 2018, under the title, “The UN: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.”]

 A Renewed Crisis of Confidence

During the Cold War, the UN frequently disappointed even its most ardent followers because it seemed paralyzed by the rivalry between East and West whenever a political crisis threatened world peace. Giving the veto power to the five permanent members of the Security Council almost assured that when ideological and geopolitical views clashed, which was virtually all the time, during the first 40 years after 1945, the UN would watch unfolding war-threatening events and violent encounters between ideological adversaries from the sidelines.

Then in 1989-1991 the Cold War abruptly ended, and the UN seemed to function for a short while as a Western-led alliance, dramatized by the Security Council support for the First Iraq War that restored Kuwaiti sovereignty in 1992 after Iraq’s aggression the prior year with a show of high technology American military power. Such a use of the UN was hailed at the time by the U.S. Government as signaling the birth of ‘a new world order’ based on the implementation of the UN Charter, and making use of the Security Council as the bastion of world order, which was at last made possible by the Soviet collapse and its acceptance of a Westernized spin on global policy issues. Yet this image of the convergence of the geopolitical agenda and the UN Charter was soon criticized as ‘hegemonic’ and began to be questioned by Russia and China. Even an independent minded UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, let it be known that the unconditional mandate given to allied powers in the Gulf War was not in keeping with the role envisioned for the UN as keeping a watchful eye on any use of force that the Security Council had authorized. The Secretary General at the time, Perez de Cuellar went further, suggesting the Iraq was ready to withdraw from Kuwait prior to being attacked if only given an assurance that it would not in any event , which was never given, suggesting that even this supposed triumph of UN peace diplomacy was a sham, disguising a geopolitical war of choice.

The misleading plea at the Security Council in 2011 for a strictly limited humanitarian intervention in Libya under the auspices of NATO to protect the people of Benghazi from an onslaught was used as a blatant pretext to achieve regime change in Libya by an all out military attack. It succeeded in ridding the country of Qaddafi, replacing his brutal dictatorship with an undeliverable promise to instill a democratic political order. Instead of order what NATO brought to Libya, with Obama’s White House ‘leading from behind,’ was prolonged chaos and strife, and a set of actions that far the initial, quite ambivalent (five absentions, including Russia, China, and Germany) Security Council mandate, the West eventually paid a heavy price, and the UN an even heavier one. The Libyan deception undermined the trust of Russia and China, and others, in the good faith of the West, incapacitating the UN in future crisis situations where it might have played a constructive humanitarian role, most notably Syria, and also Yemen.

Arguably, the tragic ordeal of Syria epitomizes the inability of the UN to uphold even the most minimal interests of humanity, saving civilians from deliberate slaughter and atrocity. Even when ceasefires were belatedly agreed upon, they were almost immediately ignored, making a sad mockery of UN authority, and leaving for the world public to witness a gory spectacle of the most inhumane warfare that went on and on without the will or capacity of the UN to do anything about it. For this reason it is not surprising that the UN is currently belittled and widely seen as irrelevant to the deeper challenges facing the world, whether in combat zones, climate change, human rights, or even threats of nuclear conflagration.

Such a dismissive view of the UN is understandable, in view of these recent developments, but it is clearly mistaken, and even dangerously wrong. The world needs, more even than in 1945 when governments established the UN as a global problem-solving mechanism with the overriding objective of avoiding future major wars, an objective given urgent poignancy by the atomic bombings of Japanese cities. The UN despite failing badly in the context of war/peace has reinvented itself, providing a variety of vital services to the world community, especially valuable for the less developed, smaller, and poorer countries. The UN retains the potential to do more, really much more, but in the end the UN role and contributions are dependent upon the political will of its five permanent members, the so-called p-5, which amount to requiring a geopolitical consensus, which in the current world setting seems almost as elusive as during the Cold War, although for somewhat different reasons.  

Four Ways of Looking at the UN

Since its origins there have been four main attitudes toward the UN. When considered together these four overlapping viewpoints help explain why the UN remains controversial in achievement even after more than 70 years of existence. The fact that the Organization is still there, and it is notable that every sovereign state, without exception, values the benefits of membership even if the target of censure or sanctions. This should tell us something about the degree to which governments value participation in the UN and the services that it provides. These four attitudes are not distinct, and do overlap to varying degrees, yet each captures an aspect of the overall debate that has swirled about appraisals of the UN ever since its founding.

First, there are the idealists who want to believe the stirring pledge of the Preamble to the UN Charter “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” Such persons believe that a new era of law-based global security was launched when the UN was established in 1945, thinking that the Organization would be ready and able to prevent the recurrence of major war as even leading governments had become scared of future warfare, and it was shown during the anti-Fascist war that ideological and geopolitical adversaries could cooperate when their interests converged. These idealists, although disappointed over the years, continue to hope that at some point the leaders of the big states will strengthen the capabilities of the UN so that it can fulfill this original lofty aspiration of securing a peaceful and just world order and stand ready to meet whatever global challenges arise in the future. In some helpful sense we can think of these UN idealists as ‘incurable optimists,’ given the accumulated experience since 1945.

Then there are the realists who dominate governments and think tanks, and were worried in the immediate aftermath of World War II that the idealists would lead the world astray by raising expectations of great power restraint and cooperation beyond reason and the lessons of history. The realists believe that international history was, and always will be a narrative of military power and powerlessness, with war, war making, and coercive diplomacy a permanent part of the global setting regardless of drastc changes in technology and global power balances. For realists the UN can be of occaisonal use to its dominant members in shaping global policy, provided its limitations are properly understood. The UN offers world leaders a talk shop in a complex world and discussion can sometimes be helpful in swaying international public opinion in the direction being advocated by a government or even in uncovering common ground. Realists adopt an essentially instrumental and marginalizing view of the UN, in effect believing that major political action on security and economic matters will always be shaped in venues under the discretionary control of sovereign states represented by governments that make security policy with blinders that ignore, or at lest minimize, non-military approaches to conflict resolutions. In essence, realists embrace a tragic sense of life, and can be regarded as ‘incurable pessimists,’ who however catastrophic the costs, continue to rely on war and threats to keep the peace.

A third set of attitudes is that of cynics who regard the UN as a hypocritical and dangerous distraction from serious global problem-solving. The UN has neither power nor authority to take action to keep the peace except in the rare instances when major players agree on what to do. In effect, the UN was always irrelevant and worthless from the perspective of shaping a peaceful and just world, and to believe otherwise is to be naïve about the workings of world politics in a state-centric system. From this cynical perspective the UN is a wasteful and misleading public relations stunt that diverts energy and clear thought from prudent present behavior, and even more so, from the kind of radical political action that would be needed to make the world secure and just. The UN cynics are essentially the gadflies who remind the public that it is foolish, or worse, to invest hope in the UN on the big challenges facing humanity.

Finally, there are the opponents, who oppose the whole idea of the UN as a world organization, and fear that it poses a threat to the primacy of national sovereignty and the pursuit of national interests and grand strategy. Opponents are hostile to the UN, often susceptible to conspiracy theories warning that there are social forces plotting to turn the UN into a world government, which they consider a prelude to global tyranny. The paranoia of the opponents is the furthest removed from reality among these four viewpoints, but remains influential as shaping populist attitudes toward the UN and internationalism generally in the present era where democratic forms of governance are giving way to a variety of autocracies that have in common a refusal to meet global challenges by reliance on the UN or other cooperative mechanisms, including even in the domain of trade, investment, and environmental protection. Trump’s ‘America First’ chant is emblematic of this outlook, which exerts political pressures, using funding as leverage, on the UN to serve the national interests of its leading members. It is illustrative of this atmosphere that the UN is being attacked as an Israel-bashing organization rather than being criticized for its failure to respond to well-grounded Palestinian grievances. These opponents are not reality-based, but rather are faith-based, and can be considered as ‘rejectionists’ when it comes to respect for the authority of the UN, or for that matter, of international law in general.

If we ask who has gotten the better of the implicit argument between these four ways of perceiving the UN, it is hard to avoid giving the prize to the realists. In a way this is not surprising. As realists dominate all public and private institutions, their dominant tendency is to treat the UN as a site of struggle that can be most useful in all out efforts to mobilize support for a controversial policy—for instance, sanctions against North Korea or Iran. Yet the most effective realists do not wish to appear as cynics or rejectionists, and so often hide their instrumental moves behind idealistic rhetoric. The realists are able to impose their view of the UN role on the operations of the Organization, but at the same time, realists are at a loss as to the nature of ‘the real,’ and thus seem oblivious to the need for a stronger UN to address global challenges, including climate change, nuclear crises, humanitarian catastrophes, and natural disasters.

In contrast, the cynics want to pierce illusions, not only of the idealists, but also of the realists, especially when their voices seek to cloak power moves in the sweeter language of human rights, democracy, and peace. Idealists also struggle to gain relevance by claiming that their views are more realistic than those of the realists, pointing to the looming urgencies of nuclear war and climate change. And, of course, opponents see these differences about the UN role as a dangerous smokescreen hiding the never ending plot to hijack the UN to establish a world government or to serve the nefarious interests of global adversaries.

What the UN Contributes

These perspectives, while illuminating general attitudes, are too crude to tell the whole story of what the UN can and cannot accomplish First of all, there is the question of organizational complexity. The UN is composed of many institutions with very different agendas and budgets, many of which are either technical or removed from the everyday scrutiny of diplomats and experts. Most people when they think of the UN are mainly concerned with what the Security Council does with respect to the main war/peace issues of the day, maybe a bit attentive to action taken by the General Assembly, especially if it collides with geopolitical priorities, and sometimes responsive to what the UN Secretary General says or does.

There is only interest, for instance, in the Human Rights Council in Geneva when it reinforces or thwarts some kind of foreign policy consensus of big powers or issues a report critical of Israel. In the early 1970s countries from the Global South wanted to reform trade and investment patterns, mounting a campaign in the General Assembly, which led them to be slapped down by the West that wanted above all to insulate the operations of the world economy from any reforms that would diminish their advantageous positions in global trading and investment contexts.

The UN is exceedingly valuable, especially for poorer countries, as a source of information and guidance on crucial matters of health, food policy, environment, human rights, protection of children and refugees, and preservation of cultural heritage. Its specialized agencies provide reliable policy guidance and offer governments help in promoting economic development, and set humane policy targets for the world in the form of Sustainable Development Goals. In effect, the UN quietly performs a wide array of service functions that enable governments to pursue their national policies in a more effective and humane manner, and operates within a normative setting that is best characterized as ‘global humanism.’

Perhaps even more significantly, the UN has greater authority than any political actor in determining whether certain claims by states or peoples are legitimate or not. UN responses to the legitimacy of a national struggle is an important expression of soft power that often contributes to shaping the political outcome of conflicts. In effect, the UN is influential in the waging of Legitimacy Wars that are fought on the symbolic battlefields of such principal UN organs as the Security Council and General Assembly. Contrary to what realists profess, most international conflicts since 1945 have been resolved in favor of the side that prevails in a Legitimacy War rather than the winner of hard power struggles on the battlefield. The UN played a crucial role in supporting the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggles, as well as setting forth normative standards supportive of the Right to Development and Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources, and also in promoting public order of the oceans and Antarctica. Despite its shortcomings in directly upholding peace and promoting justice, the UN remains, on balance, a vital presence in international life even with respect to conflict and peacekeeping, its potential to do much more remains as great as the day it was established.


The UN has been disappointing in implementing its Charter in relation to the P-5, and has not overcome the double standards that apply to upholding international law. The weak are held potentially accountable, while the strong enjoy impunity almost without exception. Nevertheless, the UN is indispensable as a soft power actor that helps the weaker side prevail in Legitimacy Wars. The UN seems helpless to stop the carnage in Syria or Yemen yet it can identify wrongdoing and frequently mobilize public opinion on behalf of the victims of abusive behavior. We can hope for more, but we should not overlook, or fail to appreciate, the significant positive accomplishments of the UN over the years.


If we seek a stronger more effective UN, the path is clear. Make the Organization more detached from geopolitics, abolish the veto, establish independent funding by a global tax, and elect a Secretary General without P-5 vetting. There was a golden opportunity to do this in the decade of the 1990s was never acted upon. American global leadership failed, being focused on a triumphalist reading of the end of the Cold War, and directed its attention to maximizing neoliberal globalization and liberal forms of democratic governance around the world, believing that states so organized do not wage war against one another. This refusal to adopt a normative approach based on shared values, goals, and challenges has marginalized the UN that continues to be dominated by the instrumental tactics of its main members.

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Celebrating The 100th Anniversary Of The Russian Revolution

Celebrating The 100th Anniversary Of The Russian Revolution, The 1st Anniversary Of The Revolution Of The Candle … Jeff Bohert <To Create The Power Apparatus Of The People>

The Uri Party’s 100th Anniversary of the Revolution of the Korean Revolution held the first annual anniversary of the Revolution of the Candlelight Revolution in the happiness cafe next to the main gate of Cheongju University in Chungbuk Province at 7:00 pm on the 13th.

Jeff Bosch, organizer of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, said that workers should make their own power organization, and that this is one of the greatest lessons the Russian revolution has given us.

Jeff Vaughn said that Lenin saw the revolution in three ways: loss of the bourgeois national power, labor and the people living in unfavorable conditions, and parties with leadership in the people.

“The first thing that Lenin made when he was preparing for the revolution 100 years ago was to establish his ideology and the second to organize a revolutionary political party. > Jeff Bochts said.

Below is a video of the conversation and can be found on the Philly Live Facebook page (

Posted by 민중민주당-환수복지당 필리버스터 라이브 on Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Posted by 민중민주당-환수복지당 필리버스터 라이브 on Wednesday, December 13, 2017







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(Spokesperson’s Press 179) Thoroughly Reclaim All The Irregularities Of Lee Myung-Bak And Redeem Them All!

Live video

[대변인실 보도 179]이명박의 모든 비리재산을 철저히 환수하고 그 악폐 패거리을 빠짐없이 구속하라2018년 3월 22일 서울 논현동 이명박 집 앞민중민주당(환수복지당)

Posted by 민중민주당-환수복지당 필리버스터 라이브 on Thursday, March 22, 2018

(Press room report 179)

Thoroughly reclaim all the irregularities of Lee Myung Bak and redeem all those grieving gangs!

The arrest warrant for Lee Myung – bak was issued on the 22nd.

1. The court has a vocation for many parts of the crime, the seriousness of the crime, the seriousness of the crime and the seriousness of the crime. “He said. The prosecution filed a preliminary arrest warrant for bribery, tax portal, state treasury loss, embezzlement, abuse of authority, and violation of presidential records law. The prosecution plans to investigate illegal inspections and concealment of civilians during the Lee Myung-bak regime, the illegal intervention of the 18th and 19th general elections, and political interventions of institutions. The new impetus for the liquidation of the evil has been laid by the redemption of limited expressive demolition Lee Myung Bak.

2. You must thoroughly reclaim all irregular property of Lee. The prosecutors’ investigation revealed that the slush funds of 35 billion won and the bribe of 11 billion won are the minimum minimum funds that have been revealed. At least 23 trillion won has been spent in the media to reveal the four-room corruption, and there is no end to the use of public funds, bribery, embezzlement or bribery. Investigations are underway on the signing of an illegal secret military agreement with the United Arab Emirates. Civil society organizations are urging thorough investigation into the four rivers and resource diplomacy. Recently, MBC reported that the police used the 70,000 conservative groups to make comments. You must not forget Lee Myung Bak’s greatest crime, which has created a demolition regime and ruined your country.

3. All of Lee Myung-bak’s guilty gang must be redeemed. Lee ‘s relatives, friends and relatives took enormous profits by carrying Lee Myung Bak to his back and committing all kinds of crime. Samsung paid $ 6.7 million for dozens of lawsuits, and Hyundai has raised more than 450 percent of its claims. It has already been revealed that the anti-Korean conglomerates have been granted all kinds of preferences with Lee Myung-bak. The free Korean government has confessed to Lee Myung – bak and Han Kyeong – suh that it is a modern version of the Chosun – era Oksa that destroyed the three tribes. Freedom korea, which gave birth to Lee, Myung – bak and Park, Geun – hye, who are limited evils, is a limited expressive political party to be dismissed immediately.

Lee ‘s redemption is only a signal of redemption of corruption, redemption of gangs, and clearing of evil.

March 22, 2018
People’s Democratic Party (Repatriation Welfare Party) Rep.


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Will Jeff Flake Challenge Trump for the Presidency in 2020?


Image result for Presidency in 2020 CARTOON

By Robin MartyCare2 | Report

It’s still a full two years before we truly begin the 2020 presidential season, but things are already looking rough for Republican President Donald Trump’s reelection hopes.

The president has been badgered by non-stop scandal, and his approval ratings are the most dismal in history. Could a primary challenger be in the works — and, if so, could it be Arizona Senator Jeff Flake?

According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal polling data, President Trump has seen a minor improvement in his popularity. But while that silver lining may keep him from ranting on Twitter about “fake media” polls, the underlying takeaway is that he continues to be the least popular president ever.

Newsweek reports:

President Donald Trump may have seen his approval rating get a slight bump this month, but he is lagging well behind his predecessors at this point of his presidency, a new poll shows. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday shows Trump’s approval rating stands at 43 percent, an increase of 4 percent from the same poll taken in January. Unfortunately for President Trump, the poll shows the majority (53 percent) continue to disapprove of his performance.

The polling shows clear indication that the sitting president is in trouble come 2020, and his prospects could be even worse should the GOP get the drubbing that many expect come the 2018 midterm elections. With the number of special election losses that have already struck the beleaguered Republican party, a true blue wave in November could push the right into doing the unthinkable: challenging their own sitting commander-in-chief.

The odds of this occurring may seem astronomical — but then again, no one thought that Donald Trump would win the general election, either, and here we are in year two of his term. And with the president already on the verge of impeachment or a possible jail sentence, it makes sense that some Republicans are preparing for any “what if” scenario that might arise.

Enter Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.

Just a few years ago, the Republican senator was considered a far-right fringe politician. But now that the GOP has moved so far right that the Tea Party is viewed as mainstream, Flake sits in prime position to make a move for an even higher office.

After deciding not to run for reelection in 2018, Flake has spent his last year in office presenting himself as the “anti-Trump” — especially when it comes to immigration. Now, he appears to want to move that “anti-Trump” persona into a future 2020 primary.

“The next presidential primaries here are nearly two years away, but the unusual flurry of activity is stoking speculation about whether a sitting president could face a serious challenge from within his own party for the first time in a quarter-century,” reports the Washington Post. “In 1992 — the last time that happened — Pat Buchanan’s strong GOP primary showing here helped weaken incumbent George H.W. Bush, who went on to lose reelection against Democrat Bill Clinton.”

Then there is Flake himself, adding a little flame to the fire and begging for a GOP challenger to the president. “I hope that somebody does challenge the President,” Flake said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “What I’m seeing is that there is a crying need out there for some Republicans to stand up and say, ‘This is not normal, this is not right.'”

Is Flake really going to be the new GOP’s great hope? Probably not, and odds are he’s not really going to follow through with a primary challenge.

Like Ohio Governor John Kasich, Flake is less likely to launch an actual attempt to take down the president and put his own political neck at risk in the process. Instead, these two Republicans are simply jumping on he bandwagon early to distance themselves from President Trump, who will likely squander his majorities.

Republican politicians like Jeff Flake and John Kasich have spent far too long crafting their own careers to jeopardize them in order to “save” the party, or even the US itself. The same need for self-preservation that kept most of the GOP leaders quiet — even when they knew about Russian involvement in the 2016 election –  will keep candidates like Kasich and Flake attacking Trump while it is politically expedient.

No, President Trump is not going to see a real GOP primary challenger. After all, they’re far too busy planning their 2024 presidential campaigns.

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The US Under Donald Trump: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American


By Nate TeraniTomDispatch 

Activists rally during a protest to the mark the one year anniversary of the Trump administration's executive order banning travel into the United States from several Muslim majority countries, in Washington Square Park, January 26, 2018, in New York City. (Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Activists rally during a protest to mark the one-year anniversary of the Trump administration’s executive order banning travel into the United States from several Muslim majority countries, in Washington Square Park, January 26, 2018, in New York City. (Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Understand this: I’m an American veteran. I’m also a Muslim-American in a country in which, in these years, that hasn’t exactly been the happiest category to fall into. Now, let me tell you a little story.

Recently, I had an ominous dream. It was noon on a grey, cold January 20th, 2020, and Donald Trump was being sworn in for his second term as president. Massive inaugural crowds cheered him exuberantly as a gentle snow fell upon a sea of MAGA red-hats and TRUMP banners waving in front of the Capitol.

In my dream, however, the Capitol wasn’t quite the same as I remembered it from my days stationed there as a young Navy sailor. It seemed almost war-torn as clouds of dark smoke billowed up on the horizon and the sound of gunfire could be heard somewhere in the distance. In my dream — don’t ask me how — I could also hear the terror-filled voices of people screaming or crying out for help as ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents, clad in black uniforms, stormed local Washington homes and businesses, arresting people and loading them onto large unmarked cargo trucks.

Meanwhile, those inaugural crowds — I have no idea if they were the largest in the history of dreams — were flanked by military Humvees as heavily armed soldiers in unfamiliar camouflage uniforms stood behind the president while he delivered his second inaugural address. I could even hear his words eerily reverberating through the Capitol. “The enemy,” he exclaimed, “has infiltrated our great nation because of weak immigration laws allowed by treasonous politicians!”

At that very moment, he told the exuberant crowd, he was already singlehandedly purging “those terrorists and their enablers from our ranks.” The MAGA banners waved ever more frantically and the crowd roared as he declared, “Law and order are now being restored to our great nation once again!”

I awoke in a cold sweat. Unlike the sort of nightmare I’d normally shake off as a fantasy of slumber, the result perhaps of that late night dose of Ben and Jerry’s I had meant to resist, this one stuck with me and, I’m sorry to say, recurred.

American Fear-scapes

Worse yet, these days I no longer have to drop into some deep, unnerving dream state to experience it. Though few of us are likely to admit it, some version of that dream of mine is, in fact, the secret daily nightmare of millions of my fellow Muslim-Americans. In a moment, when immigrants in this country live in a fear-scape all their own, believe me, so do we. In our living nightmare, an administration that can seem not just ineffective but hapless beyond imagining, plagued by scandal, and stocked with staff members heading for the exits (or being escorted off White House grounds) might nonetheless transform itself into something even more deeply threatening to Americans like us. It might sooner or later consolidate power and, eager to distract the public from its actual plutocratic and other grim policies, turn on us “bigly.” Without dropping into another dream state, I can easily enough imagine how, with the tacit endorsement of Trump’s base, that administration might prepare itself to use a future devastating terror attack, the next Orlando or San Bernardino, to skewer American Muslims or the immigrant community and so pave the way for a true living nightmare.

Such a crisis could take many forms, but imagine, for instance, a “dirty bomb” attack (the use of conventional explosives to spread radioactive nuclear waste materials across a wide area of some urban neighborhood). Just such an attack has certainly been a focus of concern in the U.S. intelligence community for years now. In fact, in 1999, while on active duty as a new member of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the first interagency briefing I attended at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, focused on that very issue.

Should that happen or anything like it, it’s easy enough to imagine how the Trump administration might use it to enhance its own power at our expense. With the public cowering in fear, martial law might be declared. Meanwhile, a Congress that, in the face of the imperial presidency, has already abdicated its constitutional duty to declare war, might grant Donald Trump far greater authority than he already possesses, thanks to the unprecedented post-9/11 powers any president now wields — and the American people (or enough of them, at least) would “rally ’round the chief.”

And then, or so I imagine (and, at least among American Muslims I know, I’m not alone in this), so much worse would begin to unfold and my recurring nightmare would become a nightmarish reality. In the aftermath of such an attack, so much in our world, from the Women’s March to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, would become distant and forgotten memories. Dissent would be denounced as unpatriotic, perhaps ultimately illegal, and basic human rights might be suspended.

By now, I’m sure you see where I’m going. In my nightmare at least — and I’m talking about the waking one now, the one I live with every day — countless immigrants and American Muslims are in camps awaiting who knows what. It’s not as if there is no precedent for anything like that in America, given the experience of Japanese-Americans rounded up and kept in just such camps during World War II.

In this moment of growing Islamophobia, at a time when a president has a desire to simply ban foreign Muslims and cast American ones as the worst of the worst, it’s just one more step into my fears of the future for me to imagine myself, an American veteran, as well as my family and other members of the Muslim community, sitting inside darkened train cars on our way to internment camps, while we desperately try to convince ourselves that surelythe Supreme Court will overturn such an injustice.

And given our world, given the history of racism in this country, it’s not that hard to imagine scores of broken men, women, and children already at our destination as we hurtle down the tracks to join them. Nor is it that hard to imagine the Trump administration dismissing those who protest such treatment as disloyal co-conspirators, and then using militarized police raiders to hunt some of them down, too. I can even imagine mosques being set ablaze and synagogues and churches that attempted to protect citizens fleeing all of this being raided at the government’s orders.

Heading for a Dark Destination

In some dark corner of my mind, given what we know about what we human beings are capable of, I can almost imagine some kind of Muslim-American version of the Holocaust, the ultimate nightmare that immigrants and Muslim-Americans have dreaded since Donald Trump’s election victory in November 2016, but dare not whisper. There’s nothing sadder to say than that such fears do not completely lack historical precedent: the world has, of course, been here before.

If the fate of the millions who perished during World War II, thanks to Adolf Hitler and his minions, doesn’t seem real enough to you, just pay a visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. There, you can witness the haunting images of our human brethren who, by virtue of their faith or background, were destroyed, some by their own countrymen.

Now, I know perfectly well that those of you who aren’t Muslim-Americans are likely to find such fantasies at best extreme; at worst, beyond conception. The reason isn’t hard to imagine, because of course Donald Trump isn’t Adolf Hitler; White House adviser Stephen Miller isn’t Joseph Goebbels; White House Chief of Staff John Kelly isn’t Hermann Göring; and former CIA Director and next Secretary of State Mike Pompeo isn’t Heinrich Himmler.  Yes — but Pompeo, a major Islamophobe in an administration filled with them, has insisted that all Muslims are potentially complicit in terrorism and that “people who deeply believe that Islam is the way” are a “threat to America.”  He has also received the “National Security Eagle Award” from a noted anti-Muslim hate group, ACT for America, and has been interviewed more than 20 times by Frank Gaffney, “the country’s most influential Islamophobe,” on his radio show.  And when it comes to Islamophobia (and Iranophobia as well), in this administration Pompeo is hardly alone.

Still, not even bans, insults, and a visible loathing for those of us who don’t look like and pray like the president and his men, not even torchlight parades by Trump-supporting American neo-Nazis, get you easily to anything like an American Holocaust.  But know, when you read this, that there are those of us out here who, in the dark of night, are indeed haunted by such thoughts anyway and by thoughts as well of those in the 1930s who dismissed the fears of the worst to come as so much hyperbole.

Speaking just for myself, I can’t help but believe that, in our 241-year history that includes a bitter civil war, two world wars, and the Great Depression, this could turn out to be the most crucial moment of all. I can’t help but wonder, at least in my bleaker moments, whether there will be any coming back from the dark destination, whatever it turns out to be, that we, as a nation, now seem headed for. And if not, just remember that no one will be able to say that we didn’t know what we were doing, that there were no warnings as people like me were demonized in our own country.

Whatever hell might still come, for this veteran at least, Donald Trump’s America is already hell enough.

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South Korea: Stop The Killing Of The Kirisholb Eagle


(Speaker’s Room Report 178) Moon Jae-In Will Forever Stop The Killing Of The Kirisholb Eagle And Advance Toward The Peace And Reunification Of Our Nation.

(Press Room Press 178)

The Moon Jae-in will forever stop the killing of the Kirisholb eagle and advance toward the peace and reunification of our nation.

Finally, the military exercises of the Kirisholb eagle will be unveiled from the 1st.

1. The Ministry of National Defense and the ROK-US Combined Forces Command said the exercise will begin on April 1 and will be on a scale similar to the previous year. According to reports, the eagle will be practiced for one month from the 1st, and the kiri-solv will be practiced for two weeks from the 23rd. The exercises will be held from 1 to 8 on the large scale, and the LHD-1 and the soup basket will be practiced in the US landing class equipped with the F-35B stealth fighter. According to US military media star Stravins, 11,500 US troops and 290,000 Korean troops will participate in the eagle practice. It is an objectively massive bobble war practice to anyone.

2. US Deputy Spokesman Logan said, “There is no reason for North Korea to be provocative because of its defense-focused training.” And soup hammers are the first key forces to be hit in North Korea, and the F-35 is also capable of striking North Korean ships. Strategic assets such as nuclear submarines do not participate, but the power that is equal to strategic weapons is deployed. The practice of Ssangyong is also scheduled to take place with more than 5,000 people this year, as the number of US troops has increased significantly compared to last year when 2,000 people participated. During the military exercises, the unmanned gray eagle is scheduled to be permanently placed in the Gunsan Pyeonghae Gunji for the purpose of removing the North Korean leader. In fact, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is becoming tense due to a very provocative and invasive warning of war exercises aimed at hitting the North Korean nuclear issue and eliminating the North Korean command.

3. Joint military exercises should be discontinued permanently. Every time military exercises were carried out, the situation on the Korean peninsula became extremely violent due to the crisis of the war, and the inter-Korean relations were in an extreme confrontation with no exceptions. This year, there is a completely different phase of the current situation, which is ahead of the summit talks between North and South Korea and the North American summit. It should not be forgotten that North Korea promised not to use nuclear weapons or conventional weapons against the South. If the Moon Jae-in government is not merely a matter of words, but truly for the lasting peace of the peninsula and for the new and bold advancement of inter-Korean relations, we must boldly abandon this Kiryol Solev eagle joint military exercise,

The Moon Jae – in government must stop the practice of war – fighting with the United States forever and move toward a new era of peace and reunification among Koreans.

March 20, 2018 Seoul Gwanghwamun Sambonroku
People’s Democratic Party (Repatriation Welfare Party) Rep.


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