News for progressives

Did the CIA stop a bloodbath in Saint Petersburg?

(Here is the original report, for my evaluation, please see below – The Saker) RT reports: The Russian President Vladimir Putin has thanked his US counterpart Donald Trump for help
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Gift guide 2018

Rabble News - 8 hours 3 min ago
December 17, 2017The Activist Toolkit's fierce giving guide for 2018According to statistics, at this time of year many of us donate to charitable organizations. This list includes ideas to help build progressive change.
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Weekly Review And Open Thread 2017-46

Due to this week's network problems at my home you were offered too few posts. Most of the research I do is naturally online. So while I probably could have posted I lacked the material to write up decent pieces....
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Trump will spend $5 billion on anti-Russian psychotherapy (MUST SEE!!)

Please make sure to press “cc” to see the English subtitles.  Thanks to Eugenia for translating and subtitling this great video!
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Jerusalem – The Straw that Breaks the Empire’s Back?

by Peter Koenig for the Saker blog When President Trump on 6 December 2017 declared unilaterally Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to where the US Embassy shall relocate, he
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Jerusalem in My Heart

by Israel Shamir (cross-posted with the Unz Review by special agreement with the author) Jerusalem is first of all a symbol, and a potent one; the American recognition of Jewish
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Hassan Nasrallah: we are about to liberate Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and all of Palestine

Subtitled video censored by Youtube for alleged “violent or graphic content”. See it on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/247474611 Hassan Nasrallah: we are about to liberate Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and all of Palestine from 7asan
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The Kuranic foundations of the need for an alliance between Islam and Orthodoxy

Sheikh Imran Hosein has traveled to Belgrade, Serbia, and has addressed the students and faculty at the Law School on the topic “The Kuranic foundations of the need for an
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Alabama was a good reminder of what democratic politics looks like

Rabble News - Sat, 2017-12-16 15:22
ElectionsPolitical ActionUS Politics

What a relief that election in Alabama was. Not because Trump lost (which he did) or a quite decent guy won (ditto) but because it was a genuine political event -- an election -- rather than an ersatz one, like an FBI or congressional investigation into a sensational plot featuring Russian villains. Lest we forget, democratic politics is about the people making the decisions themselves.

I feel the same about impeachment, or forcing him to resign in disgrace, as a way to eject Trump. These are contrived, titillating dramas with elite casts, and ultimately resolve nothing. (Non-ultimately, I admit, they can be deeply satisfying.)

People aspire to the Watergate model, but it resolved nothing. Nixon left in shame, followed by four aimless years of Jimmy Carter, then eight of Ronald Reagan, who was even more damaging than Nixon, then George Bush I, who started the endless Iraq catastrophe, etc., culminating, inevitably I'd say, in Trump.

Beneath it all, was an inextinguishable legacy of rage and bitterness. Based on what? They couldn't beat "our guy" legitimately, i.e. electorally, so they went all legal.

In the U.S., almost everything ends up in litigation, the individual fighting alone, like the driver with Pennsylvania plates who doored me on Bloor St. and flew out of her car, shouting I was at fault, she'd see me in court, call my lawyer.

Why? Because too many Americans lack faith in social or political forces, such as elections, government, unions, parties, social movements, so it all ends with you standing alone in court fighting the good fight with Clarence Darrow, Atticus Finch or Bob Mueller as your lawyer (theoretically) and a Solomonic judge on the bench. Each time one of these fantasies plays out, even in reality, it further undermines confidence in democratic political processes.

The Russiagate investigations are quasi-judicial dramas, subbing for real politics, with Robert Mueller, G-man, as the "universally respected" hero. An Atticus for our times. He's the guy, though, who led the FBI for 11 years, post-9/11, ruthlessly smothering civil rights. Not so heroic.

If Trump was impeached or hounded from office under legal threat, like Nixon, instead of being electorally defeated, it would lead to the same hangover of resentment -- rightly, I'd say -- among his devotees. When Trump says Democrats are trying to take away an election he won fairly, he's only wrong about the fairly part, and few U.S. elections are fair. JFK won by cheating in Illinois and he's among the immortals. You still have to win it in an election, that's not optional.

Besides, the Russia claims look very thin. Sure, they tried to interfere with U.S. politics, everyone does that. The U.S. messes merrily with elections in Europe, Latin America, most recently in Ukraine. Trump's people might have "colluded" or tried to -- I don't see why the Russians would've let them -- but there seems nothing outright illegal in that.

The spiciest area may involve Trump owing money to Kremlin-linked Russian banks -- since no one else would loan to him --1 and they manoeuvred to make him president so they could pressure him. But none of that alters the democratic consideration. If the Republicans shut Mueller down, or get him fired, as they seemed determined to during congressional hearings this week — well, there would definitely be a democratic silver lining.

Trump beat Hillary in the face of the Hollywood audiotape, mocking the disabled, calling for violence, outright racism -- so what if the Russians weighed in? If you can't beat him in the light of all that, you don't deserve to be there instead.

What would taking Trump on politically, versus indirectly and legalistically, look like? You could still deal with the Russia stuff, but in public debate and electoral contexts. You could challenge the misogyny and racism, as Alabama's senator-elect Doug Jones did, but effectively, versus ineptly, à la Hillary Clinton.

It would largely be on economic and class issues -- versus Trump's preferred grounds of race -- like his plutocratic cabinet and ludicrous tax bill.

Steve Bannon (quoted by Frank Rich) may have captured it best. He said, "The only question before us" is whether it "is going to be a left-wing populism or a right-wing populism." That's a more auspicious political divide than good (or God) versus evil, or Us vs. Them. It makes you think Bannon might fear Bernie Sanders most -- the incarnation of left populism -- but he's smart enough not to say it.

Correction: Sorry about that. I misrepresented the Toronto school board’s process for selecting gifted students last week. In recent years they’ve wisely changed it so all students are preliminarily screened, not just those chosen by teachers.

This column was first published in the Toronto Star.

Image: Cam Miller/Flickr

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Donald TrumpElectionsalabamaDoug JonesdemocracyU.S. politicshillary clintonRussiaRick SalutinDecember 16, 2017Election of Doug Jones in Alabama 'a political earthquake'Social movements build power and make change. The Democrats would be wise to heed the lessons of Alabama, from resistance to slavery, to the civil-rights era, to the unexpected victory of Doug Jones.Building a mass anti-Trump movement to bring democracy back into politicsWhat kind of opposition or resistance makes sense for the Trump years ahead? The U.S. needs a a popular resistance movement coming from the ground up, mobilizing huge, diverse numbers in the streets.Russian meddling abroad underscores need for electoral reform in CanadaTransparency and representation are essential to countering the kind of foreign interference experienced in the U.S. and France.
Categories: News for progressives

Moveable Feast Cafe 2017/12/16 … Open Thread

2017/12/16 04:00:01Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of
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The Activist Toolkit's fierce giving guide for 2018

Rabble News - Sat, 2017-12-16 08:36
Maya Bhullar

According to statistics, at this time of year many of us donate to charitable organizations. Given the huge need around the world, and here in Canada, this guide is meant to help you inform your giving. This list is by no means exhaustive and so please send me suggestions at toolkit@rabble.ca and I will be happy to add them.

1. Syria: ISIS has been routed from Syria and the Assad government is reinstalled. The country is in ruins and the wars in the Middle East have created the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. However, there is high probability that the reconstruction money given to the government will not get to all Syrians and will be used to sure up President Assad's power.   

The Syrian government's plans for rebuilding the country’s wrecked cities and governorates are starting to take shape, but there are warning signs the process may not necessarily be geared towards recovery and renewal, according to Swiss-Syrian academic and author Joseph Daher. Daher argues that two ulterior motives underlie the Syrian government's approach to reconstruction: Consolidating political and economic power within a narrow circle of Syrian elites connected to the ruling Assad family and quelling dissent in former opposition areas.

Organizations are working on the ground, and here is a list of 27 which are helping refugees from Syria. Meanwhile many of the Syrian refugees who have been granted asylum in Canada are reaching the one-year mark. This means an end to their monthly living allowance and many of the government supports, despite the fact that some still need assistance. The Canadian Council for Refugees has put together this guide for people who want to help refugees. In April 2016, rabble.ca interviewed Maisie Lo, the Director of Immigation Services at WoodGreen Community Services in Toronto, who called for support to meet the long term needs of refugees. This support is sorely needed. 

2. The United States: I still shudder when I think of the morning of November, 9, 2016, the morning when I realized that Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States and that the Republicans controlled or would control all three branches of the United States government. 2017 has been a rollercoaster. There have been some wins, but far too many losses. However, there are amazing organizations which continue to organize and fight back. They need your support to keep on fighting. This is a partial list, please feel free to find others. The Activist Toolkit will also continue to highlight great initiatives across North America.   

Right now, the efforts to renegotiate NAFTA are chugging along in secrecy. Here is a great analysis of what NAFTA has meant for farmers and working people in Canada. There are important fights being waged to see if the renegotiation of NAFTA can be a better deal for people in Canada. Stay tuned in 2018 for more on this issue.

3. Clean drinking water in First Nations communities: Justin Trudeau and the Liberals made a commitment to end long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations communities by March 2021. As of October 31, 2017, there are 100 long-term drinking water advisories and 47 short-term drinking water advisories in public systems financially supported by INAC and other systems where the public has a reasonable expectation of access.  

Many of us are, understandably, getting involved and demanding that the government address this issue. However, water by any means is not an answer. Some First Nations communities are already relying on private water sources and these water sources are not maintained and are part of the problem. The Harper government wanted to privatize water for First Nations and the current Liberal government likely sees privatization as a quick fix. Let us not continue this complicity by rushing to action. Many communities are demanding increased voice and autonomy, and do not want the federal government farm out contracts to private companies as a quick fix. The Canadian government has a responsibility to ensure that all Canadians have access to clean drinking water and the government should not be allowed to step away from this responsibility. Right now, in Atlantic Canada, First Nations communities are demanding the establishment of a local First Nations Water authority. 

The Council of Canadians has been actively working on this issue and with local First Nations community to amplify their work to access water. Follow and work with their campaign.  

  4. Net Neutrality and Digital Rights: There has been a steady erosion of digital privacy, and a steady corporatization of the internet which culminated in the recent United States decision to end net neutrality, giving big United States based telecom giants a lot more power over what we can see and do online. The internet has no borders, and so this petty attack on President Obama's legacy will impact not only the United States but all of us. 

Meanwhile the Liberal government has introduced Bill C-59, to address national security issues. This bill is being proposed as an attempt to address the concerns of organizations that united to protect our privacy and fight against Bill C-51, the Harper governments attack on our privacy. However, Bill C-59 continues to undermine privacy and endanger land and environmental activists. Currently, OpenMedia is collecting letters to the government to reform Bill C-59. OpenMedia.ca has been leading a lot of important fights for digital rights, as have organizations like ACORN Canada, which has been fighting for internet access for low income Canadians. 

5. Racists and Islamophobia:  On January, 29, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette went to the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City and shot six men, Azzeddine Soufiane, Khaled Belkacemi, Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Abdelkrim Hassane, and Boubaker Thabti. Since 2014, hate crimes against Muslims in Canada have increased by 253 per cent. According to ommunity leaders, this increase can be linked to the anti-Muslim messages that were shared by Conservative candidates during the federal election and during the Conservative leadership race. The alt-right media, various politicians, and far-right organizations have continued to fuel Islamophobia across Canada.   

Bloggers and editors at rabble.ca have been working with partners around the country to highlight who the racists are and highlight efforts to fight back against them and some of their reporting is compiled in this list. However, the most important thing we can do is to work to organize against racism when we see it in our communities, within our families, and among our friends and acquaintances. As we head to holiday dinners, here are some guides we originally put together for September to help you organize against Islamophobia in your communities.  

One of the most important and difficult things to do is to organize within our own communities, to listen and build real change.  If you want to report an anti-Muslim incident or get a sense of how pervasive these incidents are, the National Council of Canadian Muslims has been mapping anti-Muslim incidents across Canada.

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Categories: News for progressives

Fascism? Surely Not.

by Vaughan Famularo for the Saker blog Recently, Australia held a plebiscite for the legalisation of Gay Marriage which passed in the affirmative by a reasonable majority of the population.  
Categories: News for progressives

Haley Fails To Make Case About Yemeni Missiles - Ignores Saudi War Crimes

Yesterday the U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley went to the Defense Intelligence Agency for a little show. She claimed to expose Iran as an illegal source of weapons used by Yemeni forces in their fight against Saudi aggressors....
Categories: News for progressives

Syrian-Iraqi War Report – December 15, 2017: Syrian Army Tightens Siege On Beit Jinn Pocket

https://southfront.org/syrian-iraqi-war-report-december-15-2017-syrian-army-tightens-siege-on-beit-jinn-pocket/ The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have deployed a notable force for an operation against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in
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why First Nations do not have safe water

Rabble News - Fri, 2017-12-15 15:48
December 15, 2017Anti-RacismOur history explains why First Nations do not have safe waterCanadian attitudes toward Indigenous peoples have only recently evolved. In the past, we believed, as one official told me, "the natives would not know how to flush toilets if they had them."First Nations water
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Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney chalks up another convincing win in Calgary-Lougheed by-election

Rabble News - Fri, 2017-12-15 14:22
David J. Climenhaga

Never mind Surrey and Alabama. Jason Kenney won his by-election victory last night, and he won it decisively -- by more than 70 per cent of the vote.

Granted, Kenney was running in Calgary-Lougheed, a determinedly conservative riding. And while the percentages were high, the turnout was not so spectacular -- a total of 10,852 people bothered to cast a ballot out of more than 30,000 eligible voters in the riding.

Still, numbers like Kenney's don’t lie, even if the leader of the United Conservative Party does from time to time.

In this by-election, the government was spared the embarrassment of coming third. The NDP candidate, physician Phillip van der Merwe, came second with 17 per cent of the vote despite the presence of Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan in the race. Khan captured about 9 per cent of the vote.

But to those New Democrats (and not a few old style Progressive Conservatives) who wished for Kenney to win the UCP leadership in October in the belief he would be easier for Premier Rachel Notley to defeat than the former Wildrose Party Leader, Brian Jean, I say be careful what you wish for!

Yes, Kenney has many flaws. But his political virtues considerably outweigh them. He is a campaigning machine who cares not a whit about anything but politics and his social conservative beliefs. And why not? He has no spouse or child to worry about.

He is willing to do whatever it takes to win, as we saw in his ruthless elimination of opponents in the previous race to lead the Progressive Conservative Party last spring.

What he lacks in likability, he more than makes up for in political savvy and a vast network of connections built up over 20 years in politics. He has mainstream media and Alberta's Conservative establishment in his corner, and he knows how to make effective use of them. Already, mainstream media is spinning this undeniably significant election result his way -- the word "landslide" was atop almost everyone's story last night.

Readers will notice that Kenney has laid out his plan quite clearly and publicly from buying the blue Dodge pickup truck to changing the draperies in the Premier's Office, and that at every step to date he has achieved his goals on schedule. You underestimate him at your peril.

When the CBC reported the percentage of his victory, I was reminded of Dr. Johnson's observation, as recorded by Mr. Boswell: "Depend on it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

Alberta's NDP Government will need to concentrate its mind on its strategy -- and perhaps reconsider some aspects of it -- if it is to survive Kenney's onslaught.

It is a frequent failing of first-term NDP governments in Canadian provinces to forget who their supporters are, and try to govern as if they were conservatives with a conscience. As an election approaches -- not in a fortnight, but soon enough -- members of the government should keep that in their minds.

They may also want to rethink their angle of attack on Kenney personally, since their focus on his social conservative beliefs, as opposed to his economic views, seems not to have had much impact, with Calgary-Lougheed voters at least.

Kenney's widely forecast election victory yesterday formally brings to an end what has been called here the double-reverse hostile takeover of the Progressive Conservatives by the Wildrose Party and the Wildrose Party of the Conservatives.

Alberta's PCs no longer exist. The political entity known as Alberta's Conservative Party is more akin, ideologically, to the Wildrose Party, but with the PCs' kinder, gentler branding still largely intact. In other words, this is a repeat of the Reform Party/Social Credit takeover of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, imagined and made reality by Preston Manning and implemented by Stephen Harper. Canada has not yet recovered, although the land is strong.

Using social media, Premier Notley publicly welcomed Kenney to the Legislature once yesterday's foregone conclusion was concluded. "Congratulations and welcome to the AB Legislature @JKenney -- I look forward to debating you in the House," she tweeted. Political observers of all stripes, I have no doubt, look forward to that spectacle.

Things to watch for once Kenney actually takes his place in the House:

  • Who will be up, and who will be down, in the UCP's fractious Legislative Caucus? Expect a shuffle of shadow cabinet portfolios soon, and count on Kenney to swiftly forge a more disciplined team.
  • To which insignificant post will Jason Nixon, who served poorly in Kenney's absence as House Leader, be consigned? Service Alberta?
  • How quickly will Derek Fildebrandt, who is clearly Kenney's ideological soulmate, be welcomed back into the UCP Caucus? As predicted in this space yesterday, tonight's convincing percentage is likely to persuade Kenney he can do what he pleases in this regard.
  • Who hires the former Calgary-Lougheed MLA, Dave Rodney, who made way for Kenney by resigning his seat, and to do what?

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca

Image: michael_swan​/Flickr

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Categories: News for progressives

The Olympic betrayal of Russia

The IOC’s decision to ban the Russian flag and anthem from the Winter Olympics is grossly discriminatory and makes no legal or moral sense by Alexander Mercouris (cross-posted with Russia
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Election of Doug Jones in Alabama 'a political earthquake'

Rabble News - Fri, 2017-12-15 08:42
ElectionsPolitical ActionUS Politics

The unexpected victory of Democrat Doug Jones in the special U.S. Senate election in Alabama has been described as a political earthquake. The seismic rumblings began decades ago, though, during the civil-rights struggle of the 1950s and '60s, with echoes that reach as far back as the U.S. Civil War and the long, violent era of slavery. Jones' road to the Senate might have started on the early evening of December 1, 1955, at a bus stop in Montgomery, Alabama, when an African-American woman named Rosa Parks sat down in one of the 10 front rows reserved for white passengers. The driver ordered her to the back of the bus. When she refused, the police were summoned, she was arrested, and the modern civil-rights era was launched.

When she died, one of the cable news networks called her "a tired seamstress, no troublemaker." In fact, Rosa Parks was a first-class troublemaker. She knew exactly what she was doing. She was secretary of the local NAACP. After her arrest, organizing in the African-American community began immediately, with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, launched on December 5, led by Martin Luther King Jr. They knew that overcoming segregation and institutional racism would require dedicated organizing. Their historic achievements laid the foundation for Doug Jones' victory. It was modern-day grass-roots mobilization and movement-building, especially among African-American women, that won him his Senate seat.

It's important to recognize just how profoundly flawed Roy Moore was as the Republican candidate. First were the shocking allegations from at least nine women who accused Moore of sexually harassing or assaulting them when they were teenagers, one as young as 14. Coming in the midst of the national, and increasingly global, #MeToo movement to end sexual harassment and abuse of women, the numerous accounts of predatory sexual stalking by Moore became a flashpoint, with numerous senators pledging that, if he were to win the election, they would expel him from the U.S. Senate. That is, until another self-described sexual assaulter, President Donald Trump, decided to give his unequivocal support for Moore, and began aggressively campaigning for him.

But even if serial child molestation is not enough to disqualify a Senate candidate, many of Moore's statements and actions as an Alabama judge should have. He was twice removed from the elected position of chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing federal court orders. In 2003, he refused to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse property. In 2016, he was again suspended, for refusing to implement the Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

When recently asked, by one of the only African-Americans at an event, at what point in the past he thought America was great, Roy Moore referred to slavery time, "when families were united -- even though we had slavery -- our families were strong, our country had a direction." He claims that Muslims, like Keith Ellison, should not be allowed to serve in Congress, likening the Quran to Mein Kampf. He supports the repeal of all U.S. constitutional amendments after the original 10, including those outlawing slavery and granting women and African-Americans the right to vote. When assuring the public at the last campaign rally before Tuesday's election that her husband is not anti-Semitic, Moore's wife emphatically stated, "One of our attorneys is a Jew."

The results of the Alabama special election should not only serve as a lesson for the Republican Party, but for the Democratic Party. Success lies in activating the public, motivating people to become engaged, and fighting against the increasing number of restrictions on voting -- not in tailoring a message in the vain attempt to woo "undecided" voters.

Jones won through voter registration, grass-roots mobilization and the enormous get-out-the-vote effort in the African-American community. According to CNN exit polls, Doug Jones received 98 per cent of the votes cast by African-American women, and 93 per cent of votes by African-American men. In contrast, 63 per cent of white women voted for the accused child molester Roy Moore, as did 72 per cent of white male voters. A larger percentage of the African-American electorate in Alabama turned out for Jones than for Barack Obama in either 2008 or 2012.

Doug Jones won by just 1.5 per cent of the vote, a large enough margin to avoid a recount, but still very slim. He would not have won without the hard work of Alabama-based grass-roots groups, working for years with scant support from the national Democratic Party, registering poor people and African-Americans to vote. Social movements build power and make change, and the Democrats would be wise to heed the lessons of Alabama, from resistance to slavery, to the civil-rights era, to the unexpected victory of Doug Jones.

This column was first published on Democracy Now!

Photo: Doug Jones for Senate Committee​

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Doug JonesalabamaRoy MooreDonald Trumpdemocratscivil rights movementrosa parksAmy GoodmanDenis MoynihanDecember 14, 2017Intolerance in Alabama: People push back with a force more powerfulInequality, racism, segregation. These injustices persist with remarkable tenacity in Alabama and throughout the U.S. But courageous people are rising up and shifting the course of history.Unspooling justice: 'Selma' tells story of civil-rights movementThe film "Selma" follows one of the key moments in the civil-rights movement, the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery, best remembered for "Bloody Sunday" on March 7.Forget the polls: Idle No More can take heart from history of the civil rights movementWe can expect general bewilderment and frustration from the public as Idle No More pushes through in 2013. If history is any guide, public support should catch up sometime in 2045.
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