With hours to spare before Christmas, Donald Trump has delivered pardons to Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Charlie Kushner, a passel of war criminals and a bent congressman or two. There is no reason to believe our “law and order” president’s pardon binge is over. Too many people in his immediate orbit remain exposed to future prosecution, including the president himself.
Friday, 25 December 2020
Saturday, 19 December 2020
The Tory minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has come under fire for accusing Unicef of a “political stunt” after the UN agency stepped in to help feed deprived children in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Commons leader hit out at Unicef, which is responsible for providing humanitarian aid to children worldwide, after it launched its first domestic emergency response in the UK in its more than 70-year history.
As part of its programme of support that is set to distribute more than £700,000 to help fund projects for children and their families, the agency has pledged £25,000 to supply nearly 25,000 breakfasts in a south London borough over the Christmas holidays and February half-term.
Rees-Mogg characterised Unicef’s support as “playing politics” and claimed it should be “ashamed of itself”.
After Unicef’s support in the UK was raised in the Commons on Thursday by the Labour MP Zarah Sultana, who also took aim at Rees-Mogg’s personal wealth, the minister replied: “I think it’s a real scandal that Unicef should be playing politics in this way when it is meant to be looking after people in the poorest, the most deprived countries in the world, where people are starving, where there are famines and there are civil wars.
“And they make cheap political points of this kind, giving, I think, £25,000 to one council. It is a political stunt of the lowest order.”
He defended the government’s response to child poverty, including expanding free school meals, adding: “Unicef should be ashamed of itself.”
However, the minister’s comments prompted a backlash, with Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, saying: “The only people who should be ashamed of themselves are Boris Johnson and the rest of his government for letting our children go hungry.”
She said: “In one of the richest countries in the world, our children should not be forced to rely on a charity that usually works in war zones and in response to humanitarian disasters. The only scandal here is this rotten Tory government leaving 4.2 million children living in poverty, a number that will only rise due to the coronavirus crisis.”
The Liberal Democrat leader, Ed Davey, said: “Rees-Mogg’s sneering comments are abhorrent – a modern-day version of ‘let them eat cake’.”
Said Eva Braun about her husband-to-be: 'leave Adolf alone, he's a GOOD man!'
Friday, 18 December 2020
Tape of Assange warning US government in 2011 is ‘overwhelming evidence’ of his innocence, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief tells RT
Mr Trump, tear down that extradition order!
Julian Assange reaching out to the State Department before someone else published unredacted cables in 2011 proves that US charges against him are baseless, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson told RT.
“I can confirm that this is authentic,” Hrafnsson told RT from Reykjavik on Thursday, referring to the recording of Assange’s conversation with State Department lawyer Cliff Johnson, released by the conservative outlet Project Veritas earlier this week.
“This should have tremendous weight” when it comes to Assange’s extradition, the Icelandic investigative journalist added, as it amounts to “absolutely overwhelming evidence against the US case in its entirety.”
While the world public has only now heard the full recording, Hrafnsson revealed that it had been made available to the British courts in September, and should figure into the decision on whether to extradite Assange to the US.
The tape clearly shows that Assange warned Hillary Clinton’s State Department that a former WikiLeaks employee was preparing to release the unredacted US diplomatic cables, and offered to help them mitigate the potential fallout, but “that offer was ignored,” Hrafnsson told RT. The State Department never followed through on the conversation.
Even though WikiLeaks published the cables only after they were leaked on the US-based site Cryptome and a Pirate Bay torrent, Washington has blamed Assange for their release.
Source: Russian 'propaganda'.
President Donald Trump urged to pardon Julian Assange to ‘keep him out of the hands of the Deep State’
Sunday, 13 December 2020
‘I feel utterly betrayed’: Milo Yiannopoulos vows to ‘DESTROY’ Republican Party, says ‘selfish clown’ Trump ruined his career
Conservative author Milo Yiannopoulos has made waves by expressing extreme disappointment and anger at Donald Trump and the Republican Party following the president’s reelection chances seemingly all but disappear. “Biden will be President, because American voters sat back and did nothing while third world tier election theft happened right under their noses,” Yiannopoulos wrote on Parler on Friday night in reaction to the Supreme Court shooting down a challenge by Texas and multiple other states seeking to prevent swing states’ electors from affecting the election.
“Don’t blame Trump. Don’t blame the Supreme Court. Blame yourselves, America. You did this. And now you’re getting the government you deserve,” the ‘Dangerous’ author added.
So weird that backing a narcissist didn’t end up benefiting Milo. Who could have predicted that he wouldn’t be thanked and taken care of? It’s just so WEIRD when grifters grift their fellow grifters. SO IRREGULAR. pic.twitter.com/ymdyoEcG3u— Erica Buist (@ericabuist) December 12, 2020
Ahhhh... yes!! We are of course, us in the reality based community, all in favour of ruining Milo's "career"!
Much more fun at RT.com
Thursday, 10 December 2020
Wednesday, 9 December 2020
Netflix’s Kalief Browder documentary: a harrowing, galvanising insight into the injustices of the US prison system
The Jay Z-produced series shines a light on the case of Browder, a young black boy from the Bronx, who was wrongly imprisoned and suffered extreme abuse behind bars
Philando Castile. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Freddie Gray. Trayvon Martin. It’s a familiar, grim roll call: black men (and boys; Trayvon was 17, Tamir 12) unjustly killed by US police officers – and then forsaken again when their killers went unpunished.
It’s impossible not to think about these names as you watch Time: the Kalief Browder Story, a six-part documentary series now on Netflix about one young man’s nightmarish experience of the US penal system – and not just because the documentary itself spells out the link, including footage of several of these killings.
The series – backed by Jay Z and co-created by Nick Sandow, who plays Joe Caputo in Orange is the New Black – shines a light on the many insidious ways its deeply sympathetic subject, Kalief Browder, was failed, and eviscerates the myth of justice for all.
Kalief was born in 1993, in the Bronx, New York. The youngest of seven siblings, he was adopted by Venida Browder, a foster carer. He grew up, we learn, to be a good friend, a good brother, talkative, fun, curious. But at 16, in May 2010, he was arrested for stealing a backpack and taken to Rikers Island jail. He was innocent, but it didn’t matter; it was three years before he was free again.
The documentary steadily unravels the string of errors that led to Kalief’s extended incarceration: police improperly recorded his arrest, and the victim’s statement; they failed to investigate possible CCTV of the incident; prosecutors failed to disclose that they lost contact with the victim, whose testimony was their only evidence; several judges allowed delays to continue even as it became clear the prosecution had no case.
The most striking aspect of Kalief’s story, though, is not a failure, but a moral triumph. Though he was repeatedly offered a plea deal – by pleading guilty he could have been out within months – he refused every time, insisting on his innocence, and that his case be heard. It was, says one contributor, “the perfect stance”.
And he stuck to it, even as he was repeatedly attacked by other inmates, even as prison officers deprived him of food, even as they, too, beat him. We know this because we see footage from the jail’s surveillance cameras – it is that flagrant. The UN considers more than 14 consecutive days in solitary confinement torture; Kalief endured more than two years of it, mostly while still a minor. Several times he attempted suicide. Finally, in May 2013, he was released, after prosecutors admitted that they couldn’t mount a case. Yes, an innocent man was free – but this cannot be called justice.
The documentary deliberately creates an uneven, fractured sense of Kalief’s life after Rikers; though the timeline is roughly chronological, clips from a post-prison TV interview are cut throughout the episodes, while more troubling material – photos of Kalief’s bloodied face, audio of 911 phone calls – appears briefly, as if to recreate Kalief’s own disordered mind. But these threatening flashes also constantly undermine the tantalising idea that he might be able to recover, to start again.
Back in the Bronx, we learn, Kalief struggled. Cruelly, he endured more violence, was shot and later stabbed; he became psychotic and intensely paranoid. Though the series shows he had many champions – his heroic mother Venida, his dogged lawyer Paul Prestia, the staff at Bronx Community College, talk show host Rosie O’Donnell – it wasn’t enough. Another arrest after being caught up in a fight, and the prospect of returning to court, was too much. On 6 June 2015, at the age of 22, Kalief killed himself.
Inevitably, Time: the Kalief Browder Story is not easy to watch – especially the last episode, after the revelation of his death, which follows his mother’s determination to get official recognition and compensation for what her son suffered, despite her own worsening health. It is an intimate, hugely moving look at a family grieving a loss that is beyond understanding, against all reason.
The final scenes are an unapologetic, confronting call to arms: one after the other, writers, academics, lawyers and activists tell us how flawed the system is, how skewed – but also that Kalief’s story has opened up an opportunity. Some have already taken it: last year, President Obama banned the solitary confinement of juveniles, citing Kalief’s case; New York mayor Bill de Blasio announced in June that he intends to close Rikers Island.
But if Time has any one message, it’s that the tragedy of Kalief Browder isn’t confined to one jail cell on Rikers; it is not just about what is happening to young black men from the Bronx – it’s much, much bigger than that. News clips of a spectral Donald Trump juxtaposed with crying Hillary Clinton supporters and Barack Obama waving goodbye from the door of Air Force One make a clear, tacit statement: your voice matters.
The last few minutes are the series’ most powerful, reminding us that though there is some consolation in the fact that Kalief’s suffering, ignored for so long, is being witnessed, there’s more to do. Now you have witnessed, it seems to say, it’s time for you to act, to speak up.
Take the contribution of Jeff Robinson, of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is startling, unflinching. “There are many people who say that the picture of Emmett Till [who was lynched] in 1955 is what sparked the civil rights movement,” he says, as we see two images of the 14-year-old: on the left, bright, smiling; on the right, dead, disfigured. Then Kalief’s face fills the screen, solemn, eyes big. “Well,” says Robinson, “take a good look at Kalief Browder.” And we do.
Monday, 7 December 2020
President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has tested positive for Covid-19 and is being treated in hospital.
The president wrote in a tweet: "Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!"
Mr Giuliani, who has led the Trump campaign's legal challenges to the election results, is the latest person close to the president to be infected.
The president and his team have been criticised for shunning safety guidance. Mr Trump was ill in October.
Mr Giuliani, 76, was admitted to the Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington DC on Sunday, according to US media reports.
In a tweet, the former New York mayor thanked well-wishers for their messages, and said he was "recovering quickly".
Thank you to all my friends and followers for all the prayers and kind wishes.— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) December 7, 2020
I’m getting great care and feeling good.
Recovering quickly and keeping up with everything.
We... erm... wish him well!
Friday, 4 December 2020
It has often been said that America had to imagine itself into existence; less often remarked is the corollary, that America is, in a very real sense, merely a story the nation tells itself. That makes the US singularly subject to the meanings of words, to the fetishised language of the founding documents. But now it is a country arguing that a constitutional amendment beginning with the words “well-regulated” prohibits regulation, one whose supreme court ruled that a corporation is the same as an individual. This is Humpty Dumpty through the looking glass, proclaiming that words mean whatever he says they mean. “The question,” as Humpty tells Alice, is “which is to be master – that’s all.”
When we lose track of whose version of a story to trust, paranoia ensues. It seems no coincidence that we find ourselves in an epistemological crisis several years into what is frequently described as a “crisis in the humanities”, the very subjects that devote themselves to epistemological systems: language, literature, history, philosophy. The destruction of epistemological foundations creates the crisis in knowledge.
For Arendt, imagination is where politics lives: the capacity to imagine ourselves as other than we are is the predicate both for lying and for political action. Democracy is the politics of the possible, rather than of the inevitable or coercive. Political and cultural rhetoric creates the conditions for its own realisation: thus we can only save ourselves if we tell the truth. Democracy relies on foundations of shared truths, because the social contract depends on mutual trust. “This is not who we are,” Joe Biden repeated throughout his campaign. To a certain extent we are what we do, not who we say we are (“action is character,” as F Scott Fitzgerald once observed). But performative language complicates that distinction. In insisting “This is not who we are”, Biden also creates the conditions to change who we are, to become who we say we wish to be.