Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Secret History BDS Hides From You


The Stain of Anti-Semitism at the White House Isn't Going Away

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/right-wing/anti-semitism-white-house-isnt-going-away

Trump hides behind his Jewish daughter and son-in-law, but he has been an asset to anti-Semitic movements and ideologies.

By Stosh Cotler, Simon Greer
April 23, 2017


What is it with President Trump and anti-Semitism? He kicked off his inauguration with a sermon by pastor Robert Jeffress, who has declared that Jews are going to hell. Just one week in, the administration marked Holocaust Remembrance Day without once mentioning Jews. He is harboring Sebastian Gorka – a frequent associate of Hungary’s anti-Semitic far right – on his national security staff. And who could forget Sean Spicer's claim – during Passover no less – that Hitler never used "gas on his own people" like Syrian President Assad had?

In response, Trump has pointed to his Jewish daughter and son-in-law to assure the nation that he's "the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen in your entire life," but that hardly put the issue to rest.

Let's put aside the president's trademark bluster and take him at his word – he loves his daughter, and he has a handful of individual Jews in his life that he cares about. But the issue isn’t what Trump believes in his heart of hearts. What really counts are his actions and the company he keeps – including once fringe figures like Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. In that sense, tragically, he has been a godsend to anti-Semitic movements and ideologies once relegated to the margins of society.
All the while, alt-right trolls, white nationalist activists and conspiracy theorists have cheered on President Trump from the virtual sidelines. They're cheering because this administration has carried the stain of anti-Semitism from the campaign into the White House and federal government. Sadly, the longstanding taboo in the GOP against overt anti-Semitism has begun to fall, and ties to anti-Semitic figures and thought – once considered to be automatically disqualifying by the Republican mainstream – are no longer an impediment to serving in the executive branch.

But across the GOP and among too many establishment Jewish organizations, no one wants to name the depth and breadth of this pattern. Top administration officials like Jeff Sessions, Sebastian Gorka, Steve Bannon, Michael Anton, Rick Perry and, until recently, Mike Flynn, have deep ties to fringe elements of the extreme Christian Right, the white nationalist alt-right, the European far right and the anti-immigration movement. (Don't miss the detailed chart at the bottom of this article detailing the ties of the Trump Administration to anti-Semites)These ties have played a key role in normalizing anti-Semitic bigotry and advancing political alliances with those who promote or are sympathetic to anti-Semitism. This is dangerous for the Jewish community but it is also perilous for immigrant communities, communities of color, and all religious minorities whose safety is jeopardized by white nationalism.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/right-wing/anti-semitism-white-house-isnt-going-away

Monday, April 24, 2017

Nuclear war has become thinkable again – we need a reminder of what it means

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/17/nuclear-war-has-become-thinkable-again-we-need-a-reminder-of-what-it-means

As Trump faces down North Korea, it’s alarming to think that most of the world’s nuclear warheads are now in the hands of men who are prepared to use them

Monday 17 April 2017

Last week, Donald Trump deployed his superweapon Moab, the “mother of all bombs” – 10 tonnes of high explosive detonated in mid-air in such a way as to kill, it is claimed, 94 Isis militants. The Russian media immediately reminded us that their own thermobaric bomb – the “father of all bombs” – was four times as powerful: “Kids, meet Daddy,” was how the Kremlin mouthpiece Russia Today put it. But these are child’s play compared with nuclear weapons. The generation waking up to today’s Daily Mail strapline – “World holds its breath” – may need reminding what a nuclear weapon does.

The one dropped on Hiroshima measured 15 kilotons; it destroyed everything within 200 yards and burned everybody within 2km. The warhead carried by a Trident missile delivers a reported 455 kilotons of explosive power. Drop one on Bristol and the fireball is 1km wide; third-degree burns affect everybody from Portishead to Keynsham, and everything in a line from the Bristol Channel to the Wash is contaminated with radiation. In this scenario, 169,000 people die immediately and 180,000 need emergency treatment. Given that there are only 101,000 beds in the entire English NHS, you can begin to imagine the apocalyptic scenes for those who survive. (You can model your own scenario here.)

But a Trident missile carries up to eight of these warheads, and military planners might drop them in a pattern around one target, creating a firestorm along the lines that conventional Allied bombing created in Hamburg and Tokyo during the second world war.

I don’t wish to alarm you, but right now the majority of the world’s nuclear warheads are in the hands of men for whom the idea of using them is becoming thinkable.

For Kim Jong-un, it’s thinkable; for Vladimir Putin, it’s so thinkable that every major Russian wargame ends with a “nuclear de-escalation” phase: that is, drop one and offer peace. On 22 December last year, Trump and Putin announced, almost simultaneously, that they were going to expand their nuclear arsenals and update the technology.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/17/nuclear-war-has-become-thinkable-again-we-need-a-reminder-of-what-it-means

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Here’s Why A Nonprofit Named For Anne Frank Keeps Attacking Trump

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/anne-frank-center-donald-trump_us_58f14c9ae4b0b9e9848c23a3

How the previously obscure Anne Frank Center became one of the most scathing critics of the new administration.

By Jessica Schulberg
04/16/2017


WASHINGTON ― Before this year, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect rarely made headlines. On the rare occasions the group, named for the young Jewish diarist who died in the Holocaust, appeared in the news, it was never tied to controversy. “Diary of Anne Frank brought to life through music,” one story that mentioned center reported last year.
But in the months since President Donald Trump took office, the New York-based nonprofit has catapulted to national prominence with a series of aggressive attacks on the new chief executive and his policies. Unlike other advocacy organizations, which take hours to craft carefully worded statements that usually land in reporters’ inboxes after their stories are already published, the Anne Frank Center’s executive director, Steven Goldstein, posts his unfiltered responses directly to Facebook.
Under Goldstein’s watch, the center has become one of the most outspoken critics of the Trump administration. His sharp-tongued approach has earned his group citations in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NBC, The Huffington Post and others.
The group, which was founded by Anne’s father, Otto Frank, has also been the subject of several stories in Breitbart, the far-right news outlet closely aligned with the Trump administration. Goldstein “has no qualms about exploiting the name and memory of Anne Frank for his purely partisan purposes,” Breitbart’s Joel Pollak wrote. “It is Holocaust desecration, if not outright denial.” 
Goldstein, who took over as the center’s executive director last year, dismisses this type of criticism. 
He knows his style is provocative, but he says that’s intentional ― and that, in some ways, it’s similar to how Trump reaches his own audience. The president’s way of communicating “clearly touches a chord with the people of this country,” said Goldstein, who disagrees with Trump on nearly every issue.
Goldstein’s goal “is to speak with equal directness, but add compassion and justice and morality to it,” he said.
The Anne Frank Center was founded in 1959 with the goal of creating a “world based on equal rights and mutual respect.” In the decades before Goldstein took over the organization, it existed primarily as an educational exhibition, teaching visitors about Frank’s life and the dangers of discrimination.
Goldstein had never even heard of the group when its board of directors asked him last year if he was interested in taking over as executive director. That wasn’t a good sign, he thought. “I’m a social justice activist, I’m a Jewish activist, I’m a native New Yorker, so for me to not to have heard of an Anne Frank organization means the organization must have had an extraordinarily low profile,” he said.
Keeping a low profile is not Goldstein’s style. When he was 6 years old, he skipped school to stuff envelopes at the local Democratic headquarters for then-presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey, according to a bio he provided. He has worked on Capitol Hill for Democratic lawmakers Frank Lautenberg and Chuck Schumer. In 2004, he founded Garden State Equality, the New Jersey-based marriage-equality group that went on to successfully sue for expanded rights for same-sex couples. His character was featured in a movie about a terminally ill police officer’s fight to secure death benefits for her same-sex partner.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/anne-frank-center-donald-trump_us_58f14c9ae4b0b9e9848c23a3

Happy 4-20. Here are some Reefer Song to Celebrate


























Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rabbi Sacks on The Mutation of Antisemitism


To Live with Honor and Die with Honor: The Story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Today marks the 74th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising when the Jews rose up against the Nazi scum.  April 19, 1943- May 16, 1943

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Robert Reich: The Resistance Report 4/17/2017


Stop swooning over Justin Trudeau. The man is a disaster for the planet

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/17/stop-swooning-justin-trudeau-man-disaster-planet

Donald Trump is a creep and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite when it comes to climate change

Monday 17 April 2017

Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it’s hard to look away – especially now that he’s discovered bombs. But precisely because everyone’s staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything. Don’t believe me? Look one country north, at Justin Trudeau.

Look all you want, in fact – he sure is cute, the planet’s only sovereign leader who appears to have recently quit a boy band. And he’s mastered so beautifully the politics of inclusion: compassionate to immigrants, insistent on including women at every level of government. Give him great credit where it’s deserved: in lots of ways he’s the anti-Trump, and it’s no wonder Canadians swooned when he took over.

But when it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he’s a brother to the old orange guy in Washington.

Not rhetorically: Trudeau says all the right things, over and over. He’s got no Scott Pruitts in his cabinet: everyone who works for him says the right things. Indeed, they specialize in getting others to say them too – it was Canadian diplomats, and the country’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, who pushed at the Paris climate talks for a tougher-than-expected goal: holding the planet’s rise in temperature to 1.5C (2.7F).

But those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing. He’s hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tar sands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.

Last month, speaking at a Houston petroleum industry gathering, he got a standing ovation from the oilmen for saying: “No country would find 173bn barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there.”

Yes, 173bn barrels is indeed the estimate for recoverable oil in the tar sands. So let’s do some math. If Canada digs up that oil and sells it to people to burn, it will produce, according to the math whizzes at Oil Change International, 30% of the carbon necessary to take us past the 1.5C target that Canada helped set in Paris.

That is to say, Canada, which represents one half of 1% of the planet’s population, is claiming the right to sell the oil that will use up a third of the earth’s remaining carbon budget. Trump is a creep and a danger and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite.

This having-your-cake-and-burning-it-too is central to Canada’s self-image/energy policy. McKenna, confronted by the veteran Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki, said tartly: “We have an incredible climate change plan that includes putting a price on carbon pollution, also investing in clean innovation. But we also know we need to get our natural resources to market and we’re doing both.” Right.

But doing the second negates the first – in fact, it completely overwhelms it. If Canada is busy shipping carbon all over the world, it wouldn’t matter all that much if every Tim Hortons stopped selling doughnuts and started peddling solar panels instead.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/17/stop-swooning-justin-trudeau-man-disaster-planet

Why the Left-wing Needs a Gun Culture

From Diversity of Tactics:  https://diversityoftactics.org/2017/01/21/why-the-left-wing-needs-a-gun-culture/
 
by Lorenzo Raymond January 21, 2017

We become depressed when we look around and see 1100 white supremacist militia groups, and some of our names at the top [of their kill lists]! You say ‘Oh my god, they got 1100 right-wing militia groups—how many left-wing ones we got?’  ‘Well, we’re working on our journal…’  I got nothing against journals, but it’s lopsided!’”  

Cornell West, Left Forum 2014 keynote address
 
“When you are attacked by a rabid dog you don’t run or throw away the walking stick you have in your hand.”
 
– Gloria Richardson, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organizer, Cambridge, Maryland, July, 1964 ¹

We live in a historical moment where everything seems upside down. A proto-fascist seemingly despised by the political establishment has ridden into the White House. That same establishment is now squirmingly trying to accommodate itself to that which it formerly despised. Social media—once thought of as the domain of lefty social justice warriors—turned out to be the far-right’s pathway to power. And while the reactionary candidate praised “the common man,” the liberal candidate gave secret speeches to Wall Street.

Now is the time to reconsider long-held preconceptions, as they embody precisely the thinking which led us to this point—this point where hate crimes against minorities are growing, and economic and ecological hopes are rapidly shrinking. At a juncture where liberals’ wholesale denunciation of “violence” and “gun culture” are revealed to have done nothing to reduce either one, the Left needs to disentangle the issue of oppressive force from that of necessary self-defense against oppressive force. 

Brutality against minorities is escalating in the aftermath of the election, and we can only imagine what level it will reach as the Trump administration entrenches itself. Reports of attacks are too numerous to recount here, but the recent murders of a famous Black athlete (Joe McKnight) a young Black musician (Will Sims) and a 15-year old Black boy (James Means) are the most notable manifestations of the racist terror which is growing across the country. As the federal exoneration of George Zimmerman demonstrates, a state crackdown on such murders has never been in the cards, and will be even more remote under the Trump regime.

Reports from the BBC and other major news outlets show that gun ownership in the Black community has begun to grow in recent years. A Pew survey shows at least 54 percent of African-Americans have a favorable view of firearms, up from just 29 percent in 2012. The last poll was taken in 2014—in the years since then, a Southern Christian Leadership Council official has publicly called for armed self-defense, and Black Twitter, in the face of the Charleston massacre, has trended the hashtag #WeWillShootBack—so today the figures are likely higher.

Is the growing black gun movement succumbing to blind emotion and sowing the seeds of destruction? A look at progressive African-American history would suggest not. Although many sectors of the Left prefer to ignore it, there is now a small bookcase of academic studies with names like This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible. The importance of these studies is far from academic, however. They redefine our understanding of the most important American social movement of the past fifty years.

One of the first arenas of that struggle was the campaign to expose lynching in Mississippi, specifically the 1954 murder of Emmett Till. The key organizer of that campaign, TRM Howard, not only carried guns for his own protection, but made sure that there were armed guards at all times around campaign spokespeople like Mamie Till. After the rise of Martin Luther King, nonviolence became the image of civil rights, but this nominally pacifist movement never renounced its right to bear arms. When the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) came to the Deep South to organize, they encountered a vigorous Black gun culture among those who were prepared to campaign for equality. Fannie Lou Hamer, legendary founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), told one interviewer that, “I keep a shotgun in every corner of my bedroom and the first cracker even look like he wants to throw some dynamite on my porch won’t write his mama again.” Prior to the MFDP’s work, voter suppression of African-Americans was the rule in Mississippi, but after its ascendance in the late 1960s, Blacks had full ballot access and the Klan was in retreat. The Mississippi movement represents the most effective organizing of the post-war Left; Their policy on armed self-defense can teach us a great deal, particularly as the whole country begins to feel more and more like the Jim Crow South.

But aren’t guns inherently oppressive, reactionary and patriarchal? This idea has found currency in the years since the end of the civil rights movement, but the years since the civil rights movement haven’t been especially good for the Left. From Jimmy Carter to Obama—not to mention from Reagan to Trump—the US has steadily slid to the Right in all but the most superficial ways. In place of working-class activists like Fannie Lou Hamer, we’re now led by pseudo-working-class celebrities like Michael Moore, who cemented the gun control consensus with his sensationalized documentary Bowling for Columbine. Just as Moore denounces the Democratic Party in three year cycles but always comes back to them at election time, his film admitted that there are more important factors contributing to violence than guns, but finally dumped the whole problem at the feet of the NRA. It is revealing that the very same Hollywood establishment that gave Moore an Oscar for Bowling for Columbine proceeded to boo him at the ceremony for opposing the Iraq War. For them, gun control has nothing to do with genuine peace, but everything to do with an orderly and centralized capitalist empire.

It’s inevitable that liberals’ perception of guns is formed hegemonically through the mainstream news media, despite the Left’s claim to be skeptical of it. While such outlets often tell us that guns kill 33,000 people per year in the US, we’re seldom reminded that alcohol kills over 80,000, and prescription drugs kill a devastating 120,000 each year. This may have something to do with the fact that pharmaceutical companies give corporate media over $5 billion per year in advertising, alcohol companies spend $2 billion on the same, and gun manufacturers comparatively nothing. The conventional liberal wisdom is that gun advocates make up for this in lobbying dollars, but shockingly, prescription opioid manufacturers alone spend eight times more courting politicians than the NRA does. Perhaps the gun lobby would like to spend more, but as The New York Times once acknowledged, “guns are a relatively small business in the United States.”

Some liberals sincerely believe that gun control will bring us closer to a humane society, of course, but there’s little in the history of gun regulation anywhere in the world to support that theory. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats often hold up Australia’s compulsory gun buyback as a model, but decades after the confiscations, Australian society is not any kinder: The country maintains a level of economic inequality comparable to the US, and has a growing prison population. As in the US, a disproportionate number of these prisoners are immigrants and ethnic minorities. Recently video leaked out of Australian guards torturing a 14 year-old Aboriginal boy. Contrary to prominent liberals’ implications, an anti-gun culture like Australia’s just doesn’t inspire much in the way of anti-racist, anti-nationalist, or anti-capitalist culture and policy. Likewise there is no evidence that gun culture precludes a progressive society—the pioneering open-carry state of Vermont has elected Bernie Sanders to the US congress for twenty years. The autonomist Kurds of Northern Syria, “the most revolutionary women’s rights movement in the world,” according to The Independent, are explicitly armed.

The Left’s gag reflex at the Second Amendment is a Pavlovian one, conditioned by mainstream liberals’ association of gun rights with conservatism. But the unilateral disarmament of the American Left is a recent development. Eugene Debs, reputed to be the hero of Bernie Sanders, responded to the 1914 Ludlow Massacre by urging labor activists to acquire “enough Gatling and machine guns to match the equipment of Rockefeller’s private army of assassins…The constitution of the United States guarantees to you the right to bear arms, as it does to every other citizen…” Howard Zinn wrote that “Thousands of dollars were sent for arms and ammunition,” to the Colorado miners from union halls across the country. The post-World War I era collapsed the labor movement across the board, but when it roared back in the early 1930s, it was ushered in by armed miners in campaigns like the Harlan County War (Urban unions hired mobsters to do armed defense against strikebreakers in this period, most likely because gun control laws prevented them from doing it themselves). It was this militant labor resistance that created the New Deal.

Continue reading at:  https://diversityoftactics.org/2017/01/21/why-the-left-wing-needs-a-gun-culture/

Pro-Trump rioters got away with beating anti-fascists in Berkeley — and likely won’t stop there

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2017/04/18/pro-trump-rioters-got-away-with-beating-anti-fascists-in-berkeley-and-they-likely-wont-stop-there/
 

The Berkeley street violence was a great marketing event for alt-right types eager to attack anti-Trump protesters


Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017

Most of the demonstrations held on April 15, which was set aside by progressives for marches to demand that Donald Trump reveal his tax returns, were peaceful. The notable exception was the city of Berkeley, California — often described as the most liberal community in the nation — where things rapidly descended into a street fight between radical right-wingers and more left-leaning counterprotesters.

A group of hard-right extremists came to Berkeley to hold a rally in support of Trump. While they are, of course, claiming that they only resorted to violence in self-defense, it’s clear from the social-media organizing done ahead of time that their intention was to start a riot.
David Neiwert of the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote in a blog post:
On social media, the organizers and supporters called it “the Next Battle of Berkeley,” a chance to gain revenge for an earlier event on the University of California campus that they believed had infringed on conservatives’ free speech rights: In February, a scheduled appearance by alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was shut down by rock-throwing “antifascist” protesters.
One Twitter user also documented the way that alt-right folks were instructing one another in how to smuggle weapons past the police.

hey wanted a fight and a fight they got. Eleven people were injured, and six were hospitalized. One white supremacist identified as Nathan Damigo was filmed sucker punching a young woman.

It’s tempting to write off this event as something unique to the Berkeley area. The area has a robust “antifa” presence, which is the name given to a small group of youthful anarchist-leftist sorts who tend to reject nonviolent approaches in favor of aggressive confrontation. The white nationalists and fascists knew full well that going to Berkeley meant they would be met with an aggressive response. If they had tried the same stunt in, say, New York, it probably wouldn’t have devolved into a violent melee like it did in Berkeley.

But while this particular situation might not have happened anywhere else, now that it has, there’s good reason to worry that the violence could spread. By staging this street fight in Berkeley, the alt-right sent a message to its sympathizers across the country, encouraging them to start organizing brownshirt efforts of their very own.

For one thing, while there were 21 arrests at this particular street fight, most of the right-wing fighters — including, apparently, Damigo — walked away scot-free and full of pride about this supposed victory, as Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer recorded on Twitter.

Complete article at:  http://www.salon.com/2017/04/18/pro-trump-rioters-got-away-with-beating-anti-fascists-in-berkeley-and-they-likely-wont-stop-there/

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Tribal Case for Israel

From The Forward:  http://forward.com/scribe/368369/the-tribal-case-for-israel/
 
By Micha Danzig & Yirmiyahu Danzig April 6, 2017

Supporting Israel means supporting indigenous rights. Despite the obviousness and the power of this statement, much of the rhetoric used by the pro-Israel community revolve around Israel’s technological innovation, treatment of women and the LGBTQIA+ community, democratic character, and morality.

While accurate, this paradigm is irrelevant to the average college student that supports BDS (the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement) or is inclined to support BDS. For the average college student who supports BDS (or is inclined to), the view of Israel as a “Western” outpost in the Arab Middle East trumps all other considerations. Right or wrong, on today’s college campuses and in the places where the BDS argument has the most traction, people care far more about indigenous rights and justice for the indigenous than they do about almost anything else.

When Zionists declared independence and the return of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, the founding fathers understood that they were making a proclamation of the justice of the Jewish people’s return to sovereignty in their indigenous homeland. That is why Israel’s Declaration of Establishment proclaims:
“Eretz-Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here, their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books. After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.”
This is the original language of Zionism. This is about the Jewish people’s indigenous rights in the land of Israel. This is also about justice; the justice of Zionism. Thus, every chance we get, we need to remind people that Zionism is the first successful indigenous movement of a dispossessed and colonized people regaining sovereignty in their indigenous homeland.

The facts are on our side. Even though it is an oft-repeated mantra of anti-Israel activists that Israel is a “colonial outpost” or a “colonial settler state,” there is indisputable evidence that the Jewish people are indigenous to the Land of Israel. Arabs, in contrast, originated in the Hejaz region of the Arabian Peninsula before they colonized much of the Middle East and Africa at the expense of many different indigenous populations (such as Copts, Yazidis, Assyrians, Amazighs and Jews).

Under the common-sense definition of Indigenous set forth in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the only living people who are uniquely indigenous to the land of Israel are Jews.

The evidence of Jewish indigeneity in the land of Israel is as obvious as the presence of ancient mikvot (ritual baths) and ancient Jewish coins that have been discovered all over Israel, and the Arch of Titus in Rome, which depicts the siege of Jewish Jerusalem.

Continue reading at: http://forward.com/scribe/368369/the-tribal-case-for-israel/

Easter Message from Sean Spicer


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Joe Biden Calls on Trump Admin to Condemn LGBTQ Crisis in Chechnya

From NBC News:  http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/joe-biden-calls-trump-admin-condemn-lgbtq-crisis-chechnya-n746696
 
by Mary Emily O'Hara Apr 14 2017

Joe Biden is "disgusted and appalled" by reports of authorities in Chechnya torturing and killing men who are believed to be gay or bisexual.

On Friday, the former Vice President responded to growing concerns among international governments and human rights groups who have been pressuring the U.S. to take action and address the Chechen crisis with Russia.

"When faced with such crimes of hate and inhumanity, it is the responsibility of every person of conscience to speak out — to oppose this campaign of violence before it continues further," Biden said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

The reports of a violent, state-sponsored campaign targeting local LGBTQ men in Chechnya first arose on April 1, when the Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta published a story revealing details of a prison-like facility near the Chechen town of Argun.

Novaya Gazeta spoke with Chechen men who reported being arrested and subsequently tortured with beatings and electric shocks, as well as being forced to supply authorities with the names and phone numbers of other LGBTQ people.

A St. Petersburg advocacy group, Russian LGBT Network, set up an emergency hotline to take calls from Chechnya — and now says it has received about 50 calls from people who were targeted or are trying to escape the region. As many as 100 men were believed to have been arrested for suspected homosexuality. Russian LGBT Network told NBC News it believes around 20 men have been killed by authorities as part of the roundups.

"People are very intimidated and not eager to talk. They are hesitant to even talk to us," Natalia Poplevskaia, the network's International Advocacy Officer and Monitoring Program Coordinator, told NBC News on Tuesday. "The people who have been targeted by the campaign need some time to get back to normal life."

Continue reading at:  http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/joe-biden-calls-trump-admin-condemn-lgbtq-crisis-chechnya-n746696

We ask why nobody stopped the Nazis, then stay silent as gay men are tortured in Chechnya

From International Business Times:  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/we-ask-why-nobody-stopped-nazis-then-stay-silent-gay-men-are-tortured-chechnya-1616686

Gay men are being detained and held in camps in the Chechen Republic.

By April 12, 2017

It is a largely-forgotten stain on human history and it is a largely-ignored evil in our present. Homophobia, the world over, struggles to be taken seriously.

Gay journalists, such as myself, may write about it. Gay people may speak about it. But where are the statues to the countless millions who have been brutalised by their own countries for centuries? And, as we hear of yet more repulsive and frightening attacks on gay people in Chechnya, where is the worldwide political outrage?

In truth, there is none. Like rubberneckers on the motorway, politicians and social commentators tut and grimace as they respond to reports of barbarism against innocent gay men - and then, they drive on.

It seems increasingly clear that the torture of gay people in Chechnya and neighbouring countries including Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Armenia is taking an ever-darker turn into the depths of human cruelty.

Reports from the Russian LGBT Network suggest that gay men are being rounded up, beaten and abducted; that they are tortured, their hands electrocuted and their bodies beaten. They have been forced to sit on bottles. At least three of the 100 Chechen men taken have – we are told – been murdered and activists are trying to evacuate gay men from danger.

Rightly, the Foreign Office has condemned the Chechen Republic's leadership not only for their reported barbarity, but also for the miserably-warped claim that they could not arrest gay men in their region because there are none.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov's spokesperson, Alvi Karimov, said with Orwellian indifference: "You cannot arrest or repress people who just don't exist in the republic."

And so, gay people across that region and in so many other countries, continue to be tortured, burned alive, imprisoned, beaten, thrown off buildings, ostracised, hanged and forgotten.

Can I, as a British subject, call on a political will to demand answers from Chechnya? Can we order our Foreign Secretary to gather his international counterparts and hold a summit? There is no such will to draw upon. A condemnation from the Foreign Office has gone largely unnoticed and it's unlikely to have made any difference to the men waiting to become corpses alongside the three who have apparently already been beaten to death in a camp near the Chechen capitol, Grozny.

Continue reading at:  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/we-ask-why-nobody-stopped-nazis-then-stay-silent-gay-men-are-tortured-chechnya-1616686

Naomi Klein -- How to Jam the Trump Brand


Canada is moving to legalize marijuana — and it may violate international drug law to do it

From Vox:  http://www.vox.com/2017/4/13/15219524/canada-marijuana-legalization-bill

Canada's move to legalize marijuana is big not just for Canada. It could impact global — and US — drug policy.

by German Lopez Apr 13, 2017

Canada wants to legalize marijuana — and it may be willing to break international law to do it.
On Thursday, the ruling Liberal Party in the Canadian Parliament introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. It would be the first developed country in the world to fully legalize pot since the international war on drugs began in the 1970s.

The bill will set the minimum age for purchasing marijuana at 18, although provinces could raise the age within their borders. The federal government will handle licensing producers, while provincial governments will manage distribution and retail sales. And Canadians will be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants per household and possess up to 30 grams per person. For the most part, the bill follows the recommendations made by a recent federal task force on marijuana legalization — although the bill could change as it works its way through Parliament.

None of this should seem too shocking in the US, where already eight states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 28 have allowed cannabis for medicinal purposes. What sets Canada apart, though, is it’s doing this as a country. Currently, Uruguay is the only nation in the world that legally allows marijuana for recreational purposes.

This is an important distinction from state-by-state legalization because Canada, like the US, is part of international drug treaties that explicitly ban legalizing marijuana. And although activists have been pushing to change these treaties for years, they have failed so far — and that means Canada will be, in effect, in violation of international law when it moves to legalize. (The US argues it’s still in accordance with the treaties because, even though the federal government allows marijuana legalization to continue at the state level by taking a hands-off approach, federal law still technically prohibits cannabis.)

Still, the move is, according to advocates of legalization, long overdue. When Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s party was elected in 2015, one of the main promises he ran on was to legalize marijuana. But the process of actually beginning to legalize stalled as the government waited on the task force report on legalization, and finally put a bill together based on the recommendations.

“We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana,” Trudeau’s Liberal Party declared on its campaign website. “Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”

 The bill, of course, is not law just yet. It will need Parliament’s approval — which may require wrangling some changes to get — to become law. But the bill’s chances seem good: Liberals control a majority of the House of Commons, and on legalization they’re backed by the even more liberal New Democratic Party. Conservatives ran in opposition to legal pot, but at this point they are a fairly small minority in the Canadian government. Still, the bill may face some hurdles in the independent Senate, a legislative body that traditionally is more ceremonial in function but is recently doing more to assert its authority.

Continue reading at:  http://www.vox.com/2017/4/13/15219524/canada-marijuana-legalization-bill

Gun advocates fear armed Trump supporters as they escalate threats of violence against progressives

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/gun-advocates-fear-armed-trump-supporters-as-they-escalate-threats-of-violence-against-progressives/
 
15 Apr 2017

A friend writes, “For basically the past six months or so I’ve been trying to tell my lefty friends in so many words, ‘Hey, there are a bunch of people on the Internet who are waiting for someone to tell them it’s okay to start shooting at you.’” He became concerned when a thread at the non-political firearms-enthusiasts website he regularly follows became filled with comments in all caps referring to liberals as enemies who must be shot. Developments both online and off following Donald Trump’s election have caused me to share his concern.

In December, an author at the biggest and most explicitly non-political gun site, the Firearms Blog (its tagline is “Firearms, not politics”), recounted his experience with an outfit that offers tactical training based on the methods of the Israel Defense Forces. The moderator soon had to begin deleting comments. One that remains protested, “as if through the millennia, hundreds of nations, principalities and city-states reached the same conclusions,” and urged the curious to check out Judaism.is/genocide.html where one can watch the film Jewish Ritual Murder Revisited: The Hidden Cult.

Four days after Donald Trump’s inauguration, a community member on a moderate firearms law site, PAGunBlog, a civil redoubt welcoming “active participation by both firearms enthusiasts and people who hate them,” described his shock from that morning’s web-surf when “a long-time commenter who I recognized as right-leaning but mostly moderate commented that ‘The Jews own and control everything in America…’ Not many months ago no one except a flaming neo-Nazi would have dreamed of expressing such an opinion, but today it seems to have become an acceptable element of our discourse. I noticed that no one replied to or castigated the comment.”

Then came February 1 in Berkeley and things really started getting scary.

The saga of what happened when Milo Yiannopoulos came to speak at the flagship campus of the University of California has since become foundational, not just with the alt-right but with quite nearly the entire right. Alt-right provocateur Yiannopoulos was turned back by violent protests, which culminated in the burning of a portable generator. Stuffed down the wingnut memory hole are the events that preceded the mêlée. The violence was, in fact, preceded by peaceful protests by approximately 1,500 Berkeley students, until they were waylaid by a tiny handful of off-campus “Black Bloc” and “antifa,” or anti-fascist, cadres who believe racist speech licenses violent resistance. It was also preceded, less than two weeks earlier, by the shooting of a Milo protester in Seattle, by a gunman who has yet to be charged with any crime.

The Battle of Berkeley accelerated the construction of a body of mythology: the left has escalated its resistance to Trump into literal war, so Trump supporters must be prepared to resort to violence to oppose it.

How afraid of this should you be? The most interesting answers to that question do not come from the left. They come from concerned voices on the right, who’ve been monitoring the chatter with mounting alarm, going public with pleas to liberals to still the antifa renegades before bodies begin piling up. The most convincing evidence that they have a point comes in the ensuing comment threads, where the need to prepare for armed force is taken as gospel.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/gun-advocates-fear-armed-trump-supporters-as-they-escalate-threats-of-violence-against-progressives/

NC lawmaker calls Abraham Lincoln a ‘tyrant’ like Hitler

From The Charlotte Observer:  http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article144233494.html
 
By Jim Morrill April 12, 2017

Republican Rep. Larry Pittman of Cabarrus County made the comparison in a Facebook post in response to a comment criticizing a bill he’d introduced that would nullify the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage in North Carolina.

In his post, Pittman said North Carolina should uphold traditional marriage “in spite of the opinion of a federal court.”

“And if Hitler had won, should the world just get over it?” he wrote. “Lincoln was the same sort if (sic) tyrant, and personally responsible for the deaths of over 800,000 Americans in a war that was unnecessary and unconstitutional.”

Pittman could not be reached Wednesday.

“Rep. Pittman and his ultra-conservative allies in the General Assembly have no sense of decency, no sense of shame and no sense of historical fact,” state Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said in a statement. “I call on North Carolina’s Republican leaders to immediately condemn these outrageous and offensive statements.”

Pittman’s post came a day after White House spokesman Sean Spicer had to apologize for comments about Hitler. Spicer said that unlike Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hitler had not used chemical weapons during World War II. Hitler sent millions to the gas chamber.

Complete article at: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article144233494.html

Migrants from west Africa being ‘sold in Libyan slave markets’

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/10/libya-public-slave-auctions-un-migration

UN migration agency says selling of people is rife in African nation that has slid into violent chaos since overthrow of Gaddafi

Monday 10 April 2017

West African migrants are being bought and sold openly in modern-day slave markets in Libya, survivors have told a UN agency helping them return home.

Trafficked people passing through Libya have previously reported violence, extortion and slave labour. But the new testimony from the International Organization for Migration suggests that the trade in human beings has become so normalised that people are being traded in public.

“The latest reports of ‘slave markets’ for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages [in Libya],” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s head of operation and emergencies. “The situation is dire. The more IOM engages inside Libya, the more we learn that it is a vale of tears for all too many migrants.”
The north African nation is a major exit point for refugees from Africa trying to take boats to Europe. But since the overthrow of autocratic leader Muammar Gaddafi, the vast, sparsely populated country has slid into violent chaos and migrants with little cash and usually no papers are particularly vulnerable.

One 34-year-old survivor from Senegal said he was taken to a dusty lot in the south Libyan city of Sabha after crossing the desert from Niger in a bus organised by people smugglers. The group had paid to be taken to the coast, where they planned to risk a boat trip to Europe, but their driver suddenly said middlemen had not passed on his fees and put his passengers up for sale.

“The men on the pick-up were brought to a square, or parking lot, where a kind of slave trade was happening. There were locals – he described them as Arabs – buying sub-Saharan migrants,” said Livia Manante, an IOM officer based in Niger who helps people wanting to return home.

She interviewed the survivor after he escaped from Libya earlier this month and said accounts of slave markets were confirmed by other migrants she spoke to in Niger and some who had been interviewed by colleagues in Europe.

“Several other migrants confirmed his story, independently describing kinds of slave markets as well as kinds of private prisons all over in Libya,” Manente said. “IOM Italy has confirmed that this story is similar to many stories reported by migrants and collected at landing points in southern Italy, including the slave market reports. This gives more evidence that the stories reported are true, as the stories of those who managed to cross-match those who are returning back to their countries.” 

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/10/libya-public-slave-auctions-un-migration