Who is to blame for this awful US election?


Fox News? The four horsemen of the Republican apocalypse? The FBI? Whatever the outcome, historians will judge harshly those who did not stop Trump when they could

The US election might not aim tomorrow. Anyone who lived through the photo-finish of 2000, when it took until mid-December for a win to be declared and only then by a ruling of the supreme court will know that a presidential competition does not always make a chairwoman, at the least not right away. But one thing will certainly be over and that is the dizzying, sometimes nauseating, 18 -month-long saga that has been the 2016 campaign.

It is standard to describe a US presidential tournament as bitternes and divisive. In 2012, the Protector front-page tale branded the combat of Barack Obama v Mitt Romney one of the most closely opposed and polarised in recent history. Appearing back, that race looks like a veritable doctrine seminar, exemplary in its civility and decorum, compared with this one.

Americas search for Obamas successor has been a horror present of lies, bully and the bigotry. Photograph: Robyn Beck/ AFP/ Getty Images

In a crowded field, the 2016 campaign stands out as remarkably awful. Yes, it has been riveting, whether followed from a distance or covered up close. Those who say it has unfolded like a Netflix drama in real day are not exaggerating. Except no drama would have dared offer this cast of characters a real-estate tycoon with a crush on a Russian despot, an ex-congressman investigated for sexting an underage daughter, a former Miss Universe humbled as Miss Piggy or the last-minute reversals of luck. Campaign 2016 has built House of Cards seem tame.

But that cannot disguise the truth: the USs search for Obamas successor has been a horror indicate, uncovering and dredging up a stew of racism, misogyny and casual violence bubbling below the surface of American life. Eight in 10 US voters say the campaign has left them feeling disgusted, according to a CBS/ New York Times poll last week. Not dissatisfied. Disgusted . The platonic ideal of an election is a sober discussion of the questions that will confront the US over the next decade. The reality has been a marathon of insult, menace and lies.

The blame for this belongs to one human. Donald Trump has opposed a presidential campaign like no other. He has mocked opponents for their appears, belittled females, disparaged war heroes, damned ethnic and other minorities in crude, bigoted language, jeered at disabled people, beaten his chest with bellicose promises of state-sponsored violence that would trample on the US constitution and trigger a third world war, and told dozens and dozens of lies every day. While his foe has offered detailed and substantive policy prescriptions, those have scarcely got a mention: Trumps knack for hogging media attention, usually by saying or tweeting something jaw-droppingly outrageous, has left no room. In the four-and-a-half hours of formal presidential debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton, climate change was discussed for not one minute.

But Trump does not bear the blame alone. Also shamed by the 2016 campaign are those institutions and individuals who failed to stand up to him. Some understood the danger he represented, considering in him a would-be despot I alone can fix this! whose contempt for basic democratic norms, from the importance of a free press to the need to respect the outcome of a democratic election, indicated a lurch towards fascism. That small handful will be remembered with appreciation. But, whatever the outcome today, historians of the American republic will judge harshly those who did not stop Trump when they could. It will damn those who pandered, pampered and enabled him to reach this moment: where polls still depict him with a track, albeit narrow, to the White House.

Jeb Bush was among the Republican competitors who had no idea how to deal with Trump. Photograph: Spencer Platt/ Getty Images

First in this roll-call of disgrace is the Republican party. Among those hanging their heads should be the 16 competitor an applicant who allowed themselves to be steamrollered by a reality Tv host and serially bankrupted businessman. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and the others had no idea how to deal with Trump. They collectively made a strategic fault by failing to realise their primary task was to take him out. Instead, they opposed one another, each hoping to emerge as the sole, anti-Trump nominee around whom Republicans would unite. That proved a delusion.

As Trumps poll lead increased in late 2015 and early 2016, his contenders grew ever more frightened of taking a shot at him, anxious that they might alienate his supporters or, worse, that he might train his flame back on them. So while, say, Chris Christie mocked Rubio on a Tv debate stage in New Hampshire in February, Trump could literally step back and watch merely to emerge as the win in that states Republican primary a few days later.

Trump rival and New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Photograph: Mel Evans/ AP

Perhaps the Republican cannot be blamed for the weakness of the field that fought Trump for their partys nomination. Perhaps no traditional legislator no senator or governor could take on Trump when the Republican grassroots, so furious at the political establishment, were hungering for an foreigner.( Although, of course, this anti-establishment ardor, this disgust of all things Washington, was itself stoked for years by Republicans and their allies on Fox News and in the rest of the conservative political-media-entertainment complex. In losing their party to Trump, the Republican were burned by a fire they themselves had started .)

But what shames them is their conduct afterwards. Even as Trump made clear what kind of man he is calling Mexicans rapists, suggesting African-Americans are too lazy to run, that Jews watch everything through the lens of money, calling females puppies and animals, threatening violence against protesters, endorsing torment and the murder of the families of suspected terrorists, calling for a foreign power( Russia) to hack into emails belonging to his political competitor, arguing that women who have abortions should face some sort of punishment, and being uncovered as a proud perpetrator of sexual assault, a man whose approach to girls is to grab them by the pussy even after all this and so much more, most senior Republicans of note stood by him.

To be sure, they denounced him occasionally, when the extremity of their standard bearers behaviour left them no alternative. Paul Ryan, who serves as speaker of the House of Representatives, rightly called it the textbook definition of a racist commentary when Trump used to say Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not be impartial in handling the lawsuit against the so-called Trump University because Curiel was Mexican. In fact, the judge was a US citizen, born in Indiana. Ryan cold-shouldered Trump again, after the release of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump boasted of his attacks on girls. But he never refuted him fully. Ryan never said Trump was unfit to be president of the United States and that he would not vote for him.

Senator John McCain initially endorsed Trump. Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/ AP

The same was nearly true of Senator John McCain, tortured for five and a half years in a Hanoi cell and yet mocked as not a hero by Trump( who said he preferred those who were not captured ). McCain swallowed that, along with Trumps promise to ban Muslims and to deport 11 million undocumented migrants merely receding his endorsement last month, after the notorious tape.

Until then, McCain, like most of his fellow Republicans, clung to the fiction that Trump would transform himself into a new being: sober, presidential and, above all, capable of being tamed by the Republican establishment even though there was not a shred of evidence, bar a very occasional willingness on the candidates proportion to read prepared lines from a teleprompter, to subsistence that fantasy.

That puts them on a moral aircraft only slightly above that occupied by Trumps trio of enablers: Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich. Those three horsemen of the Republican apocalypse conspired in the lie that a snake-oil salesman was fit to be president and destroyed what remained of their reputations in the process. As Hillary Clinton pointed out, Giuliani used to prosecute tax-dodgers. In this campaign, he praised Trumps failure to pay income tax for at least two decades as proof of his genius.

And that is to omitted the fourth horseman: Mike Pence, the defender of family values who has served as the running mate of a thrice-married, serially adulterous, self-confessed grabber of women. When the 2005 grab them videotape emerged, Pence went into seclusion. Some thought he might emerge to announce he was discontinuing the Republican ticket. He did no such thing. Instead, he investigated his conscience, detected it pristine and continued to act as a character witness to a man who cheats his taxes, cheats on his spouses and lies every time he opens his mouth.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence campaign together In Wisconsin. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images

Its easy to attack the spineless leaders of the Republican party. Easy but incomplete. Its a rule of political combat that no one ever, ever, attacks the voters a rule Clinton unwisely violated when she deployed an odd metaphor to describe half of Trumps supporters as a basket of deplorables. But that regulation only applies to candidates for office. Any truthful assessment of a campaign has at least to include those doing the voting.

Some blame surely attaches to the Americans who let Trump keep up the bully and the bigotry and voted for him anyway. There is no escaping the fact that north of 40% of the US electorate have been prepared to vote for Trump despite everything that he has said and done. One poll received 22% of Trumps own advocates believed he would start a nuclear war. They thought that, but were prepared to vote for him anyway. None of them will be able to say: We didnt know.

Notable among that group are Christian evangelical voters, people who used to say that character mattered, that the personal conduct of a candidate was crucial. Five years ago, merely 30% of white evangelicals believed that a person guilty of immoral personal behaviour could behave ethically in a public role. Now that figure stands at 72%, a remarkably rapid change. It means people of supposedly deep moral convictions have been prepared to junk those faiths only to accommodate Trump.

The Christian referendum: a Republican presidential rally in Mobile Alabama. Photo: Julie Dermansky/ Corbis via Getty Images

Still, they will have had their reasons including, for many millions, an all-consuming loathing of Hillary Clinton, a hatred so deep it blocks out, or at least outweighs, Trumps copious flaws. Analysts have not been sure how to explain the other motives. Some have been compassionate and highlighted the role of economic disadvantage among Trump supporters, those left behind by globalisation. Others have suggested that Trumpism is a howling of often racist, misogynistic rage from angry white humen, furious that their once-privileged place in American life has been supplanted. The latter camp has taken to sharing scenes or reports of overt racism and sexism by Trump advocates with the sarcastic caption: economic nervousnes.

This debate has been exhaustively aired in parts of the American press, but, overall, the media and especially TV shares some responsibility for the dire nation of the 2016 campaign. Its true that the most respectable newspapers and reporters kept tabs on Trumps prodigious lie: one correspondent tweeted out a daily tally, often stretching into the dozens. Others maintained diligent fact-checking services.

But the big picture was indulgence on an epic scale. For months, Trump had unique and unprecedented access to the airwaves of cable TV. Rather than wait to be booked for a set-piece interview, he would simply call up Fox or MSNBC and set himself on the air. He knew he was ratings gold; he knew the networks would not be able to say no. He had a similarly instinctive, reptilian understanding of the medias addiction to outrage: his nocturnal tweeting habit spread offence and insult far and wide but it ensured he remained at the centre of public attention for over a year. According to the media analyst Jack Shafer, the only subject ever to have enjoyed a comparable full-spectrum predominance is 9/11.

Yet that quantitative imbalance was not the only distortion. The media clung to its notion that balance necessitated equivalence, so that if Trump wallowed in dishonesty, involving constant fact-checking, then Clinton had to be treated as equally dishonest. Witness the morning Tv anchor Matt Lauer, widely pilloried for a programme in which he let Trump say anything, much of it false, but played inquisitor-general with Clinton, especially over her emails.( Still, the enduring face of media indulgence of Trump lies in the fact that of late-night TV host Jimmy Fallon, playfully ruffling the hair of the real estate tycoon treating him as merely another lovable rogue .)

The moment when TV host Jimmy Fallon ruffled Trumps hair epitomised the medias indulgence of him.

Nowhere was this mindset more misleading than in the never-ending discussion of those emails, especially in the campaigns final stretch. Which brings us to the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and, in particular, its director, James Comey. His decision to announce 10 days before election day that he was, in effect, reopening the FBI probe into the email affair handed the last week of the campaign to Trump. It put Clinton on the defensive, halted her momentum and stopped the bleeding in Team Trump. Many analysts believe that, by bringing Republican voters back home to the party, it will also prevent Democrats retaking the senate.

FBI director James Comey takes his place in the hall of shame. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/ AP

And all that on what turned out to be an wholly false premise. On Sunday, Comey had to admit that the cache of supposedly new emails was, in fact , nothing of the kind and that there were no grounds to alter his July view that Clinton should face no farther action. But by then the damage had been done. Whether through partisan bias or sheer incompetence, we do not yet fully know.

So Comey takes his place in the vestibule of shame of the 2016 campaign, shuffling into the group photo alongside Julian Assange, who might as well have handed over his WikiLeaks operation to the Trump campaign. Assange kept up a drip feed of leaked emails from the Clinton team, many of them embarrassing , none devastating while conspicuously leaking nothing that might injury the Republican nominee. WikiLeaks never created Trumps tax returns or the outtakes from The Apprentice said to contain yet more evidence that Trump is a bigot and sex predator. It targeted Clinton alone.

Julian Assanges WikiLeaks operation kept up a drip feed of leaked emails from the Clinton team, while leaking nothing that might damage Trump. Photo: Ken McKay/ ITV/ Rex/ Shutterstock

And there should be room in that photo for Vladimir Putin, whose intelligence agencies are near-universally believed to be behind the wholesale hacking of the Democratic party, and whose goal appears to have been either the process of establishing Trump or, failing that, the sowing of disarray and chaos in the US electoral system.( Some believe Putin is saving his greatest assault till last, dreading he will hack the electronic voting system being implemented in several key US nations, thereby casting doubt on the validity of the result .)

And who would stand on the other side? Who should win a medal for their service in this bloody campaign? Michelle Obama will be remembered for devoting two of the best speeches of recent times, one at the Democratic convention, the other lambasting Trump for his misogyny. The old media behemoths of the New York Times and Washington Post deserve great praise for keeping the spotlight on Trump, the former by uncovering his non-payment of taxation, the latter for the work of David Fahrenthold, who got the scoop on the grab them videotape and who kept excavating at Trumps exaggerated claims of charitable giving. The comedians of Saturday Night Live deserve a mention, too, especially for Alec Baldwins performance, which captured the bullying, meandering emptiness of Trump. Daily Show alumni John Oliver and Samantha Bee also did their bit and did it well.

The Daily Shows Samantha Bee. Photo: YouTube

Those who can hold their heads highest, however, are the conservatives who set country before party. The Bush family could have gone farther by, say, officially backing Clinton but their refusal to endorse Trump does something to redeem the clans reputation. Newspapers such as the Arizona Republic or the Dallas Morning News broke with their pasts, and their readers, to endorse a Democrat rather than back someone they watched as unfit. The backlash was severe: staff at the Arizona paper received death threats. Individuals including senators Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse and former Bush speechwriter David Frum made a similar choice.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

No, Mr Trump, we’re not the same as the neo-Nazis | Emily Gorcenski

2 days ago

In Charlottesville I faced off with men bearing torches and swastikas hollering Jews will not replace us. Yet the president guess both sides are to blame

The president of the United States called a mob of people marching with torches and chanting Nazi mottoes very fine people. Fine people dont chant Nazi slogans. Fine people dont surround and attack college student. And fine people dont stand with those who do.

I was there that night in Charlottesville. I can say with certainty that the only fine people I ensure were the young students who stood outnumbered and ready to defend their campus and their beliefs against an onslaught of demagoguery.

I know some of those students. They were ready to die for what they believed in. I was prepared to die, too. A man wearing a swastika pin shouted transphobic and racist vitriol at me, inches from my face.

The only fine people that night were those sprayed with mace and doused with lighter fluid from the torches that they were beaten with, afraid of being burned alive. Fine people dont wear swastikas. Yet President Trump blamed both sides, despite the fact that merely one side was run down by a terrorist.

I was there when the attack happened. Despite the president deeming me a transgender girl unfit for military service, I operated toward the attacker with a weapon. I was ready to engage him if he tried to hurt more people.

I reached out to groups attending this event from the left, right and center to advise nonviolence. Meanwhile, the unite the right marchers told things like well fucking kill them if we have to on camera.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

What happens when the super-rich write the tax rules? They fail | David Cay Johnston

3 days ago

The Paradise Papers reveal how dark fund regulations the world. We cant let this conduct put our liberties, and our fortunes, in jeopardy

The Paradise Papers, the internal documents of a Bermuda law firm, reveal a problem far more pernicious than the unethical conduct by thousands and thousands of wealthy individuals around the world.

Humans will always have to be dealt with personal dishonesty. What the Paradise Papers show is how dishonesty is being promoted on a mass scale and how corruption is being institutionalized. The 13. 4m files show that what are supposed to be windows of revealing into the finances of high officials are easily covered with blinds made by piecing together business statutes from multiple jurisdictions.

As the super-rich increasingly hold the reins of governments in the US and other countries, the rules to make sure they act with integrity and in the public interest fail. That’s because the rules were written to guard against petty corruption among people of little to no wealth.

None other than Donald Trump told us this. In July 2015, a few weeks after launching his presidential campaign, Trump filed his first fiscal disclosure statement and then belittled the requirements.” This report was not designed for a man of Mr. Trump’s massive wealth ,” he wrote in a statement.

Conflict of interest, ethics and fiscal revealing regulations conceived in earlier hours to reveal bribes and favors are of little use when the elected or appointed officials are already rich- especially should they seek to escape disclosure of their holds, hide their unsavory associations and avoid taxes, whether through dubious business structures or outright fraud.

Wilbur Ross, Trump’s commerce secretary, is revealed in the Paradise Papers to do business with the family of Vladimir Putin.

This is astonishing given the insistence by Trump and his administration that merely” fake news” connects his administration, his campaign and him personally to the Kremlin, which clearly sought to influence the 2016 general elections on Trump’s behalf.

Ross defends his investment in the shipping company Navigator Keeps by noting he is not the majority shareholder. True, but misleading. Ross was in control before becoming commerce secretary, his private equity firm still owns almost a one-third of the company and his personal fiscal revealing indicates he owns a stake worth up to $10 m. That is a tiny share of the billionaire’s wealth, but it is not, as the tax lawyers like to say, de minimis.

In all, the Paradise Papers present, Ross is involved with 50 Cayman Islands companies and partnerships administered by Appleby, the law firm whose files were obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with partners including the Guardian. The ICIJ is the same organization that last year brought forth the Panama Papers, files from the law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Offshore business entities can have legitimate purposes, as the journalist group was careful to note. But the Appleby files, like those from Mossack Fonseca, make clear that plenty of dubious and probably illegal conduct was taking place, too.

The law firm Appleby, with its home in Bermuda and satellite offices in nine other taxation havens, says it has done nothing incorrect. Appleby says it that it is the victim of criminals hacking into its computers. It also says “its not” perfect, so if illegal conduct is discovered it was because of what it characterizes as mistakes that all humans make.

Appleby’s attitude toward integrity in foreign jurisdictions is hinted at in a PowerPoint presentation about anti-money laundering. One slide says:” Some of the crap we are adopting is astonishing, altogether amazing .”

That it does not violate the law in a country where Appleby has offices to facilitate taxation cheating by citizens of some other countries is a solid legal defense. It is not, however, an ethical defense.

The virtually 13.4 m Appleby files demonstrate systematic undermining of not only taxation regimes, but of ethical conduct by public officials. And that is where the real damage lies, in chipping away at one of the pillars of liberty and self-governance: integrity and the expectation that elected and appointed officials will act solely in the public interest, never against it.

Appleby clients get away with their misconduct because rules governing finance and money motions have not caught up with the realities of the modern financial systems.

We need a robust public debate about the need for rigorous rules on conflicts of interest, corruption and disclosure. Without it, dark fund will rule the world and set our autonomies, and our fortunes, in jeopardy. Tell your lawmakers to act in the public interest- or you’ll vote for someone who will.

David Cay Johnston is a Pulitzer prize-winning investigative reporter specializing in taxes

She could have been a top US soccer player. Problem was, she was undocumented

3 days ago

Allyson Duarte was good, worked hard, and dreamed of playing soccer at a top US college. But she soon learned talent means nothing when you dont have papers

She came to America to chase a soccer career only to learn that talent means nothing here when you are undocumented. Now 25 -year-old Allyson Duarte sits inside an airport named Reagan, gazing at a city called Washington, and wonders which politicians will ruin their own lives next.


Through a giant window at Reagan national airport she can see the US Capitol gleaming in the late-day sun. The day before she had been inside under its dome with 1,000 other Dreamer- undocumented high school graduates brought here as children like her- asking Congress to pass a Dream Act that protects high school and college graduates without criminal records.

But as she waits for a flight back to Texas, where she has lived since eighth grade, she worries that supportive words from representatives and senators might not be enough, a legislative solution won’t be reached for Dreamer and he will be shipped back to Mexico.


Who are Dreamers?

Dreamers are young immigrants who would qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival( Daca) program, legislated under Barack Obama in 2012. Most people in the program entered the US as children and have lived in the US for years “undocumented”. Daca dedicated them temporary protection from deportation and work permits. Daca was only available to people younger than 31 on 15 June 2012, who arrived in the US before turning 16 and lived there endlessly since June 2007. Most Dreamers are from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and the largest numbers live in California, Texas, Florida and New York. Donald Trump cancelled the program in September but has also said repeatedly he wants Congress to develop a program to “help” the population.

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What is the American Dream any more? Once she thought she knew. That was back when she was 13 in Veracruz, Mexico, wanted nothing more than to access the US soccer system, go to college and play professionally. She believed the American Dream all the way through high school in McAllen, Texas, where she had a 3.8 grade point average and an ability to play almost stanceon the field. She thought those things alone would get her into almost any top soccer school, until she realise those colleges sometimes flew to away matches and because she had no government ID she wouldn’t be able to get on the planes. If she couldn’t fly, she couldn’t play college soccer.

By the time Barack Obama generated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012 letting her to procure a work permit( that lets her fly) her chance to play college football had passed.

” I was this close ,” she says, leaning forward in her seat, pinching her thumb and index fingers virtually together.” That’s how I started questioning meritocracy and the American Dream. I had to grapple with their own problems of not having access to the American Dream .”

Then she slumps back in the chair, sighs heavily and gazes in silence at the city that has reduced people like her to a television talking point.

As a child, Duarte loved soccer, playing it every day on the street outside her mothers’ home in Veracruz. She didn’t care the other players were all boys. She could play rough. She could play fast. When she was 12 she joined a local women’s club. The players were all 18 and essentially adults. But playing with them stimulated her realize how good she could be. She was convinced she could play professionally.

Allyson Duarte on the field. Photograph: Allyson Duarte

Her problem was that Veracruz offered few soccer opportunities for a girl. If she actually hoped for a soccer career, she realized she’d have to come to the US, play on a big youth team them go to a top college where the professional coaches and scouts would see her. Her father was already in the US, having left when she was eight to find work in McAllen. She longed to join him. When she was 13, he arranged for her to come along with her mother and friend. Three days later she started seventh grade. She knew only three English words: hello, blue and baseball.

She excelled in her new country, quickly learning English. Within weeks, she had stimulated her middle school’s team and joined the top local club squad. She went on to McAllen high school, a local girl’s soccer power, where she played well, switching between midfield and assault. She excelled at cross-country. It was not an easy transition, however: many of the girls on the team were white, and she struggled to bond with them. When white team-mate bluntly asked on a bus trip-up:” Are you a citizen ?” She froze, then replied:” I’m a resident .”

” I didn’t want to be exposed ,” she says.

Duarte put up with everything for a purpose. She was sure she was doing all the right things to get to a top soccer school. Then, starting her sophomore year, the college coaches started going. She could tell they were interested by the way they watched her play. But when she talked to them her hopes dropped. They explained that their schools did not devote full scholarships to women’s soccer players. They fund they could offer would not cover her full tuition. She told them she was undocumented and they told her that because she’d have to fly sometimes it would be hard to offer a scholarship to a player who couldn’t make all the matches.

” They need you full-time if they are going to recruit you ,” Duarte says.

She was crushed. When her senior season ended, she quitted soccer and deleted her Facebook account cutting all contact from her high school life.

” Since I couldn’t play football I went into a deep depression ,” she says.” So I merely walked away .”

Duarte enrolled into the only school she could afford, their home communities college, South Texas College, that didn’t have a football squad. Two year later, she transferred to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where she was able to get an academic scholarship. She visited the football coach-and-four who seemed interested in having her on his team. Though he had already given out his scholarships, he invited her to practice with the hope she could play the next year.

At McAllen high school, Allyson also excelled at cross-country. Photo: Allyson Duarte

Her abilities had eroded, though. Those two years away had robbed her of speed and agility. The coach-and-four had brought in several players from Europe and she couldn’t help but see irony in the fact that someone who had never lived in the US before could have an opportunity that she- nearby residents for almost 10 years at the time- could not. After a few days she stopped coming to the practices.

Her love for soccer had disappeared.

‘It’s extremely heartbreaking when you hear narratives like this ,” Doug Andreassen, head of the US Soccer’s Diversity Task Force, when recently told abut Duarte’s plight.” It happens a lot and there’s nobody there to help them. There’s nobody at the colleges to help them .”

Andreassen says he talks to many young players like Duarte, undocumented teens with great ability who have come to the US from soccer-playing country level have visions of going to American colleges. He tries to be honest when he satisfies them, explaining that their immigration status might be an impediment though doing so can be difficult.

” I don’t want to crush their dreamings but I have to be realistic ,” he tells.” I don’t want to send them down the road leading to letdown later on .”

He desperately wants the system to change.

Duarte does too, though she has a new passion. Philosophers move her the style football once did. She loves the writes of John Rawls, Gloria Evangelina Anzaldua and Enrique Domingo Dussel- people who challenged the ideas of justice, classism and imperialism. She detected her dream had changed. She wants to go to graduate school where she can develop her notions. She has chosen the two schools to which she wants to apply most: Penn State and City University of New York Graduate Center.

But is again she is held back, this time because her work permit expires next autumn. If Donald Trump has his route and Daca is cancelled, she frets she will be sent back to Mexico and won’t be able to complete her graduate program. This reality has stimulated her an activist- a Dreamer determined to not lose two dreams before she turns 26.

” I should be on the Mexican national team now ,” she says.” But one of the things I’ve learned is you have to enjoy the moment. You can’t set it all on one thing. You have to keep moving .”

She gazes once more at the Capitol , now a blaze white in the fading afternoon. In the background, the airport PA announces gate changes and boarding hours. She doesn’t seem to hear. Instead she stares through the glass wondering if the people in Congress understand what already she has lost and what more she has to lose. A bigger question might be: do they even care about the American Dream?

Whatever it is.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Dallas grieves at first funerals after shooting: ‘Hate has constructed us stronger’

4 days ago

Services were held on Wednesday for Brent Thompson, who served in the citys transit system police department, Sgt Michael Smith and Sr Cpl Lorne Ahrens

The first funeral for the five police officers killed last Thursday in Dallas mourned the loss of Brent Thompson, who served in the citys transit system police department.

Services were also held on Wednesday for Dallas police Sgt Michael Smith and Dallas police Sr Cpl Lorne Ahrens. Dallas police officer Michael Krols funeral is set for Friday, and Dallas police officer Patrick Zamarripas funeral will be held on Saturday. All five were killed by a sniper during a march to protest recent fatal shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana by police.

Thompsons death marked the first killing of a Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer since its inception in 1989.

We grieve his loss, we honor his gallantry, the Dart chief, James Spiller, told a crowd of hundreds of officers from departments around the city and as far as Canada and England, at the Potters House church.

The Dart department has received much less attention than the far larger Dallas city police department, in the aftermath of the shooting. It is one of the largest police departments in the state, though, with a mandate to protect the citys rail and bus system.

Forty-three-year-old Thompsons life and death personified the capricious nature of violence and murder.

He was a US marine, and served in the most hazardous parts of Afghanistan and Iraq, where he survived a bombing that left him deaf in his right ear.

He returned to Dallas where he settled into a life of law enforcement, working his way up from a local jail to a school police department to the Dart force. Just two weeks before the shooting, he married a fellow Dart officer, Emily. She filed their matrimony certification at the district clerks office the morning Thompson died.

The funeral was simple. Thompsons casket lay at the front of the sanctuary, draped in an American flag and accompanied by a photo of the officer.

His wife approached the rostrum with her police partner at her side, just in case I cant make it through and need backup, she told.

Yes, this act of violence hurt law enforcement, she told the crowd. But to the coward who tried to break me and my brothers and sisters know that your abhor has constructed us stronger.

Gunman Micah Johnson was killed when authorities used a robot to explode an explosive as negotiations faltered. Nine officers and two civilians were injured in the attack.

In an emotional moment, Thompsons six children from a previous marriage, all young adults, took the stage. They spoke of how hard their parent worked, often at two jobs, to support them.

One of his four daughters, Sandy, recurred the line she had told him each day for years as he left home for work: Goodbye Daddy, we love you. Be safe.

After the service, officers from throughout Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, perimeter patrol and elsewhere stood and saluted as Thompsons casket left the church, and headed toward his burial site in Corsicana, Texas, an hour south of Dallas.

Also on Wednesday, a few hundred mourners gathered for a Catholic funeral service in the suburb of Farmers Branch for Smith, a former US army ranger known for his upbeat attitude and compassionate approach to others.

Smith joined the Dallas police force in 1989. He once received a Cops Cop award from the Dallas Police Association.

A public service was scheduled on Thursday for Smith at a Dallas church where he worked security.

In the Dallas suburb of Plano, mourners were told of Ahrens work with the Los Angeles county sheriffs department and day as semi-pro football player before moving to Texas and to intervene in the Dallas police force. Ahrens was known as a gentle giant and a voracious reader, whose intelligence was equal to his size.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Women’s rights are on the retreat yet again. Why? | Barbara Ellen

5 days ago

Donald Trumps ruling attaining it easier for companies to opt out of providing free family planning highlightings the need for vigilance

When modern females are ultimately fitted with their regulation compulsory chastity belts, dare one dream that they’ll come in a range of fairly colours, delightful the documentation and snazzy designs? Or would it simply be the old-school medieval iron trad models? Hey, little ladies, do you think we’d be allowed to choose?

I muse facetiously because, in the US, President Trump has issued a ruling that makes it far easier for companies and insurers to opt out of free birth control to employees on the grounds of religious and moral beliefs, rolling back a key feature of Obamacare. Now that it will become easier to opt out, many more will do so, with the health risks to affect 55 million females. The American Civil Liberties Union( ACLU) and the National Women’s Law Center have announced that they will sue the government over the decision.

Obamacare provisions also encompassed treatment for gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Now, many girls will be worried about being able to afford such therapies. However, these unfortunate girls probably just count as collateral injury. Apart from the huge amount of money that big business will save, the real target there are sexual autonomy, doubtless all sexual independence, but specifically the female kind that a certain mindset have all along wanted to control.

Contraception, though imperfect, was one of the chief liberators of women, taking much of the dread out of sex. Thus, this removal of free family planning could only be about putting the dread back into sexuality. At the least, putting an end to the corporate bankrolling of the more liberal, humanist, proactive and protective approaches to sex.

It should come as no surprise that among the reasons cited for the change were findings that access to contraception incited” risky sex behaviour “. Eh? One would have thought that reduced access to contraception was far riskier and that, for both sexualities, access to barrier contraception would be the least “risky” of all?

However, even believing like this is to participate in the delusion that this is about people enjoying themselves safely. Take away the figleaf of social responsibility and this becomes about stopping people being able to enjoy sexuality when they want, with whom they want, without anxiety of the results of unwanted pregnancy. And when I say ” people”, I mainly mean women.

Not that things are so peachy for reproductive rights back in Europe. Even as an Irish abortion reform referendum is under discussion for next year, a poll has revealed that only 24% of Irish people are in favour of legalising terminations in nearly all cases. Meanwhile, Prof Lesley Regan, the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has argued that parts of the 1967 Abortion Act are outdated and that females need faster, safer access to abortion, without the necessity of achieving the approval of two separate physicians- thus far to no avail. The lesson seems to be that it will never be over- there will always be laws that need to be updated and, where needed, protected. Where the Trump contraceptive ruling is concerned, it’s scary enough that it’s such a backward step- yet scarier that it has been so slyly done.

It’s an example of how a quite subtle shifting of legislative emphasis- simply making something easy( the opt-out) that had previously been difficult- could be enough to undermine, or even destroy, major sociopolitical progress, with far-reaching repercussions for women. The imminence of chastity belts or not, this appears to be an era when there’s a real need for women to stay alert- when hard-fought gains could be eroded in an instant with the quiet swish of a departmental pen.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Ted Cruz Twitter account ‘likes’ pornographic tweet

8 days ago

Married Texas senator, who once defended a ban on sex dolls, asked to explain how his account came to like the graphic post

Texas senator Ted Cruz has been asked to explain himself after his official account “liked” a pornographic tweet.

Although liking a Twitter post does not necessarily share it, the tweet became available to view on Cruz’s confirmed profile, leading to series of awkward screenshots.

A screenshot posted by Twitter user Ashley Feinberg of the pornographic tweet’ liked’ by Cruz’s account. Photograph: Ashley Feinberg/ Twitter

Catherine Frazier, Cruz’s senior communications adviser, said ” the offensive tweet positioned on @tedcruz account earlier has been removed by staff and reported to Twitter “.

But this added to confusion about what had happened, because the like was not a tweet and Frazier’s statement implied that it was made by someone who should not have had access to Cruz’s account.

Catherine Frazier (@ catblackfrazier)

The offensive tweet positioned on @tedcruz account earlier has been removed by staff and reported to Twitter

September 12, 2017

Cruz joked to reporters on Tuesday that” perhaps we should have done something like this during the Indiana primary “. Cruz finished second to Donald Trump in that state’s presidential primary, ultimately dooming his presidential campaign, which long suffered from the constant media attention are received by Trump.

The Texas senator went on to add” there are a number of people on the team that have access to the account and it appears that someone inadvertently reached the like button “. When would like to know whether Cruz himself had liked the tweet, he told said:” It was a staffing issue, and it was inadvertent, it was a mistake, it was not a deliberate action .”

The mishap was particularly awkward due to Cruz’s support of conservative household values and his involvement in a court case in Texas about banning the use of sexuality toys.

In 2007, when he was Texas’s solicitor general, two sex doll companies sued to overrule the state’s outlaw on the sale of so-called marital assists. The state defended the ban in submissions partly written by Cruz’s office, which argued 😛 TAGEND

There is no substantive due process right to induce one’s genitals for non-medical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship.

The US supreme court subsequently found that there was no legality to the country interfering in the sexuality lives of consenting adults.

The liking of the pornographic post helped resurface a 2016 tweet from the Tv producer Craig Mazin, in which he said he shared a room with Cruz and his notion about genital stimulation were rather different to those expressed in the country argument.

Craig Mazin (@ clmazin)

Ted Cruz supposes people don’t have a right to “stimulate their genitals.” I was his college roommate. This would be a new notion of his.

April 13, 2016

Twitter users stimulated gags about the incident based on clips of the pornographic video liked by Cruz’s account.

Justin (@ DTPJustin)

Me waiting for Ted Cruz’s inevitable statement that his Twitter was hacked pic.twitter.com/ QVkpizbS4 7

September 12, 2017

Philip DeFranco (@ PhillyD) When you find why Ted Cruz is trending …

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Kenneth Starr’s job in peril for handled in Baylor University sex assault occurrences

9 days ago

Starr, a key figure in the Whitewater dispute , now faces a possible ousting as president of the Texas school for mishandling reports of rape by football players

He was a leading casting member in that seemingly remote drama of Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Now Kenneth Starr, bete noire of liberals in America, is making a comeback, though not entirely of his choosing.

Starr, the president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, is facing mounting pressure over how the university has handled reports of rape and assault by football players. The university says its governing board is still studying the results of an internal investigation and has refused to confirm speculation that Starr will be ousted.

The scandal comes merely a week after the 69 -year-old caused a stir by heaping kudo on Clinton, his one-time nemesis as a special prosecutor. There are certain tragic dimensions which we all lament, he said during a panel discussion in Philadelphia, referring obliquely to the unpleasantness of that time and lauding Clinton as the most gifted politician of the baby boomer generation.

The remarks were timely as the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump seeks to revive sordid tales of the former chairpeople indiscretions, as weapons in his election campaign against Hillary Clinton. But they also came as no surprise to friends of Starr who say he has been incorrectly demonised and should not be hurriedly judged in the Baylor case.

Im a Clinton person and I hold Ken Starr in the highest regard, said his close friend Akhil Reed Amar, Sterling professor of statute and political science at Yale University, who had a three-hour lunch with him last Sunday. If he believed there was wrongdoing at Baylor, he would never want to cover it up; he would want to get to the bottom of it.

Starr, who was born in Vernon, Texas, and grew up in San Antonio, was a high-flying lawyer before he was Clintons widely despised tormentor. He taught at New York University School of Law, George Mason University School of Law in Fairfax, Virginia and Chapman Law School in Orange, California.

Starr faces reporters and photographers on 22 January 1998, before making a statement outside his Washington office. Photograph: Doug Mills/ Associated Press

He served as a US circuit court of appeals judge for the District of Columbia for six years, was the attorney general for four years and conducted five investigations as independent counsel.

Amar believes he could have been heading for a seat on the supreme court but, when asked to investigate the president in the 90 s, he did so out of a sense of duty even though, as he afterwards commented wryly, it was not a career-enhancer.

So in 1994 he took over the investigation of the Whitewater property venture and the suicide of Vince Foster, a deputy White House counsel. He also examined the firing of White House travel office workers and charges that White House officials misused FBI files.

Starr expanded the investigation to include Paula Jones, who sued Clinton for sexual harassment over an alleged 1991 incident in which she said he uncovered himself to her( it was determined out of tribunal) and the presidents affair with Lewinsky, then a White House intern, and efforts to cover it up.

Starr concluded that Clinton had committed perjury in sworn testimony denying having had sexual relations with Lewinsky. The House subsequently approved two articles of impeachment against Clinton, but the Senate fell short of the votes are required to convict him. Starr was condemned by Democrat for conducting a politically motivated witch-hunt.

These sordid sagas have been resurrected in recent days as Trump seeks to exploit them for political capital. Whether its Whitewater or whether its Vince or whether its Benghazi, its always a mess with Hillary, he told the Washington Post.

But Amar, a self-described liberal who voted for Bill Clinton twice and will support Hillary, believes his friend they have taught together and bided at one another homes has been harshly judged by history. He painted a portrait of a human who had traditional positions on sexuality and truth-telling and received himself in a position for which he lacked experience, strolling into a firestorm.

I never thought it was ever personal, he told of the Clinton investigation. I think he was not the best attorney because hed never been a prosecutor before. His squad was self-selected and they were all conservatives. That ill-served him but it wasnt his fault.

Starr was also cursed by the independent counsel ordinance, argues Amar, which obliged him to seek Clinton mercilessly. Amar once paraphrased Shakespeares Julius Caesar: The flaw, dear Bill, is not in Ken Starr/ But in the statute.

Hes never told nasty things about anyone behind their backs, said Amar, who has known Starr for 20 years. Hes generous to a fault. Hes the opposite of so many folks who are backstabbing and rancour bearing. He was the Democrat favourite Republican; he had not an foe in the world.

Kenneth Starr speaks outside the supreme court in Washington after arguing a suit on student free-speech rights on 19 March 2007. Photograph: Molly Riley/ Reuters

Starr has often tried to ten-strike an emollient tone in the years since the bitterly partisan drama. In 1999 he told CNN he found Clinton an immensely likable person, adding: I have been with him on several occasions. He has been gracious. He has been friendly. Thats just the kind of person that he is.

On another occasion he expressed regret that he had not focused on the Whitewater land deal and left the Lewinsky matter to someone else.

But Starr is no liberal. In 2009 the devout Christian represented the supporters of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex wedding, during a challenge before the California supreme court and won the case.

He headed the Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, then in 2010 became chairwoman of Baylor, the countrys biggest Baptist university. Starr and football coach-and-four Art Briles now face criticism over whether Baylor ignored allegations of assaults by players, two of whom were later convicted on sexual assault charges.

More than 200 Baylor students, faculty and graduates staged a candlelight vigil outside Starrs Waco residence in February. Baylor is also facing a federal legal action from a former student claiming that it was deliberately indifferent to rape allegations levied against a player, before he was ultimately convicted of assaulting her.

Starr has stayed mostly silent on the assault reports. Amar said: Hes not been able to tell his side of the narrative. When it does come out, it will put things in a different perspective and be quite favourable to him. He has always argued for total transparency; he wants to get the facts out. I have been critical of some things he has done but not this.

Even as Trump intensifies political polarisation in the country, hatred towards Starr has cooled following the adoption of period. One of his adversaries during the Clinton saga, lawyer Stan Brand, said: He did get demonised. He became the symbol of any excess or unfairness. Some of it was his flaw and some of it was institutional.

The fault I had with him was that he has no real prosecutorial experience and he surrounded himself, in my opinion, with prosecutors who were overzealous and he couldnt rein them in. Another part of the problem was the institution of the independent counseling which has outlived its usefulness.

As for Starrs attitude to Clinton today, Brand added: Peoples views are tempered over hour and I suppose thats a measure of his magnanimity.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

‘No Fascist USA! ‘: how hardcore punk gas the Antifa movement

13 days ago

The anti-fascist motion describe on punks political awareness and network for activism and right now may be its most crucial moment

” No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA !”

When Green Day chanted the repurposed lyrics from Texan punk trailblazers MDC’s 1981 sung Born to Die during the 2016 American Music Awards, it dedicated the burgeoning anti-Trump, anti-fascist motion the slogan it needed- and it would soon appear on placards, T-shirts and be chanted by protesters in their thousands in months to arrived.

It was a tiny piece of punk history writ big on American cultural life- but it only devoted the merest hint of US hardcore punk’s influence on the current political landscape.

As political commentators struggle to nail down the exact nature of Antifa‘s masked legions, they’ve overlooked one thing: Antifa has been critically influenced by hardcore punk for nearly four decades.

From on the collectivist principles of anarchist punk bands such as Crass and Conflict, the political outrage of groups such as the Dead Kennedys, MDC and Discharge, Antifa depicts on decades of protest, self-protection and informal networks under the auspices of a musical motion.

Mark Bray, author of The Antifa Handbook, says that” in many cases, the North American modern Antifa movement grew up as a route to defend the punk scene from the neo-Nazi skinhead movement, and the founding fathers of the original Anti-Racist Action network in North America were anti-racist skinheads. The fascist/ anti-fascist struggle was essentially a fight for control of the punk scene[ during the 1980 s ], and that was true across of much of north America and in parts of Europe in this epoch .”

” There’s a huge overlap between revolutionary left politics and the punk scene, and there’s a stereotype about dirty anarchists and punks, which is an oversimplification but grounded in a certain amount of truth .”

Drawing influence from anti-fascist groups in 1930 s Germany, the UK-based Anti-Fascist Action formed in the late 70 s in reaction the growing popularity of rightwing political parties such as the National Front and the British Movement. They would shut down extreme-right meetings at every opportunity, whether it be a procession or a gathering in a room above a pub. Inspired by this, anti-racist skinheads in Minneapolis formed Anti-Racist Action, which soon gained traction in punk scenes across the US. Meanwhile, in New York, a movement called Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice jumped up.

The term ” Antifa” was adopted by German antifascists in the 80 s, accompanied by the twin-flag logo, which then spread around Europe, and finally pitched up in the US after being adopted by an anarchist collective in Portland, Oregon.

Singer Thomas Barnett of Strike Anywhere during a 2009 concert in Berlin. Composite: Jakubaszek/ Getty Images

For Thomas Barnett, vocalist with popular hardcore punk band Strike Anywhere, his punk ethics and the direct-action doctrine of Antifa go hand in hand, and, with Trump’s presidency emboldening the extreme right, the stakes couldn’t be higher:” This isn’t just a raft of right-wing notions- this is actual loathe and violence, and the demolition of entire sections of humanity. Of course, I don’t believe in the false equivalence[ between Antifa and the alt-right ]. I guess anti-fascists’ pre-emptive street violence against Nazis is righteous and important .”

Many adopt direct-action tactics, whether it be the recent Antifa protests across the US, the black-block tactics employed during the WTO and G7 protests around the world, or even the decision make use of Brace Belden to leave California to join the YPG, the far-left Kurdish guerrilla group battling Isis.

” Punk itself wasn’t a direct influence on my joining a guerrilla group, of course, but punk did help to cement my revolutionary politics. Being in their home communities with a certain degree of consciousness and solidarity between people helped vastly in that regard ,” tells Belden.

Bands, record labels, zine writers and venues around the world have co-operated to create a network that exists altogether outside of the mainstream, an off-grid template for Antifa activists to draw from. In America, there is Appalachian Terror Unit, a young band with heavy Antifa leanings from the Trump heartland of West Virginia. In Oakland, Antifa-related punk/ oi! band Hard Left have taken part in benefit shows for protesters involved in the events at Charlottesville. In Texas, Antifa are organizing community relief efforts for victims of the Houston inundations.

” There’s definitely an overlap between the leaderless politics and the DIY ethos and the notion that’ if there’s a problem in our punk scene, we’re not going to be able to count on the mainstream to necessarily give a shit ,'” explains Bray.

Strike Anywhere vocalist Barnett says:” It’s also about community self-defence. The punk experience is like the flow of water. You can put up dams, you can run it underground- it will still get through. It also carries on the folk tradition that was speaking truth to power before there was even electric power .”

If there was ever a person unafraid to speak truth to power, it would be Jello Biafra, former singer of the Dead Kennedys and the man responsible for their 1981 call-to-arms Nazi Punks Fuck Off. So it might come as a surprise that he is withering in his criticism of Antifa’s actions in recent months.

” I’m not down with confronting[ the extreme right’s] provocations of violence with actual violence. I entail, self-defence is one thing, but going to a Trumpist rally with the express purpose of beating up fascists- what does that accomplish? Who’s the fascist now? It plays right into their hands ,” he says.

” More than ever, we have to keep our heads right now. And I am all about freedom of speech, but I believe protesting these people non-violently is the way to go, because it lets the targets of the fascist speakers know they’re not alone and lets the fascists who show up know that there’s an nasty plenty of people who are not down with them, and a chorus of raised middle fingers is better than presenting up with some kind of a weapon. Intensifying the violence is not the way to go .”

With his current band, the Guantanamo School of Medicine, he has updated his 1981 ballad and called it Nazi Trumps Fuck Off, but it comes with a caveat: Trump is the target , not his supporters.

” I usually talk about the anthem on stage for a while before we play it, pointing out that almost everybody in the audience, especially if we’re playing in Texas or Southern California, know people in their family, close friends, at school or run, whatever, who think that Trump is really cool. And I point out that the last thing we should do is to dismiss these people as rednecks or stupid or’ I’m not running being your friend anymore, fuck you’- that’s not going to persuade anybody of anything and it helps Trump divide the country. My phase is that you don’t do that, you sit down and talk to somebody , not blog in an echo chamber. It might be stomach-churning, but you might plant a seed, and if anyone wakes up three weeks, three months, three years later and thinks,’ Wow, that person that called me on my bigotry was right .’ All this racist, anti-immigrant fascism isn’t getting us anywhere. I don’t want any part of it anymore .”

Author and punk historian Jon Savage, a champ of the Dead Kennedys during his stint as a music journalist in the 70 s, isn’t so sure:” It’s very idealistic and very laudable, but it’s like arguing with Brexiters over here( in the UK ). You’re not going to get any change out of that. There is a proportion of people who can discuss things in a rational way, but here you’re talking about core beliefs and wishes and feelings, and these are irrational, and they are even less rational when they are tested against reality .”

For Savage, Antifa’s direct action tactics are as legitimate a tool as Biafra’s more measured approach:” If you don’t protest the way the situation is, then nothing is going to change. You’re reacting to fascism and entropy. You need a variety of approaches, and in politics I wouldn’t discount any approach. It’s probably useful to have sensible people because they can say,’ Well, look what happens when you don’t listen to me and consider what the nutters are going to do.’

Klaus Fluoride and Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys perform at The People’s Temple in 1978 in San Francisco, California. Composite: Richard McCaffrey/ Michael Ochs Archive/ Getty Images

For Barnett, even the present nomenclature is under debate.” Calling it’ Antifa’ is like calling it this weird exotic cult, instead of calling it’ everyday life ‘. Every aspect of media coverage of it is insidious, turning public opinion against us, inducing us a violent sight that’s both something terrible and un-American, when this is the fucking Boston Tea Party ,” he tells.” If people want to talk about how the heritage of American culture and our patriotic fate fits in[ to anti-fascism] – it’s basic math to me, and to many, many others .”

Biafra and Strike Anywhere’s Thomas Barnett at least find some accord on the rebranding of the right, however.” You know what they called the alt-right two years ago? Neo-fucking-Nazis !” says Biafra.” Now it’s alt-right, like alt-country or alternative pop music .”

Barnett concurs:” They don’t get to be alt-right. They just get to be digital-age Nazis, or white supremacists or terrorists. And that’s what[ the media] are doing to anti-fascist action .”

Regardless, Barnett says the antifascist motion isn’t taking anything for granted.” These rallies, whatever the next one is, whatever form it takes, are Trojan-horse events to invite and welcome white terrorist groups, and are just platforms for them to go into communities to hurt and intimidate people. And that’s what anti-fascist action has always known, and that’s what the punks have always known .”

Or, in the bald words of someone who set his teenage years in a punk band called Warkrime behind him to go and fighting in an actual war, former YPG militia member Belden tells:” When I was younger my friends and I used to beat the shit out Nazis that would roll out to punk demonstrates[ in California ]. And guess what? They’d leave and never come back. Violence runs .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

When Nigel Farage met Julian Assange

14 days ago

Why did Ukips ex-leader want to slip in unnoticed to satisfy the WikiLeaks chief at the Ecuadorian embassy?

On 9 March 2017, an ordinary Thursday morning, Ian Stubbings, a 35 -year-old Londoner, was walking down the street near its term of office in South Kensington when he spotted a familiar face. He turned and saw a human entering the redbrick terrace which houses the Ecuadorian embassy, where the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up since 2012. And the familiar face? It was Nigel Farage, the person who is spearheaded Britains exit from the European Union.

I thought hang in a moment, Stubbings says. That appears a little bit dodgy. I knew the building was the embassy because I often ensure camera crews outside. But there was no one else around. I was the only person whod seen him. And I didnt know what the significance was and I still dont actually but I thought: thats got to be worth telling and I was the only person whod witnessed it.

So, at 11.22 am, he tweeted it. His handle is @custardgannet and he wrote: Genuine scoop: merely saw Nigel Farage enter the Ecuadorian embassy. Moments later, a reporter from BuzzFeed, who happened to follow him on Twitter, picked it up and tweeted him back, and Stubbings told her: No press or cameras around.

No press or cameras around, that is, until BuzzFeed turned up just in time to catch Farage leaving, 40 minutes later. Nigel Farage Just Visited the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the headline said. Asked by BuzzFeed News if hed been visiting Julian Assange, the former Ukip leader said he could not remember what he had been doing in the building.

And that was how the world found out, by collision, that the founder of WikiLeaks, the organisation which published Hillary Clintons leaked emails a decisive advantage for Donald Trumps campaign and Farage, a friend of Donald Trump, were mutually acquainted.

In Britain, we routinely treat Farage as if he were Widow Twankey in “the member states national” pantomime that is Ukip politics. And Widow Twankey dropping by on the man who lives in the Ecuadorian embassy broom cupboard seemed just one more weird moment in the weird times in which we now live; six weeks on, it had faded into yet another episode in the surreality show that now passes for normality.

But in a week that find two major developments on either side of the Atlantic regarding the respective roles that Assange and Farage played in the US election and the EU referendum the same week in which a UK general election was announced it is an attitude that needs urgent re-examination.

For if you were to pick three the persons who have the most decisive impact on that most decisive of years, 2016, it would be hard to see beyond Trump, Assange and Farage. What was not known until Ian Stubbings decided to go for an early lunch is that there is a channel of communication between them.

Last week brought this more clearly into focus. Because in a shock developing last Thursday, the US justice department announced it had prepared charges with a view to arresting Assange. A day subsequently, the Electoral Commission announced it was investigating Leave.EU the Brexit campaign Farage headed.

Significantly, the commission said its investigation was focused on whether one or more gifts including of services accepted by Leave.EU was impermissible.

One of the grounds on which a gift can be deemed impermissible is that it comes from abroad. A fundamental principle of British democracy and our elections law is that foreign citizens and foreign companies cannot buy influence in British elections via campaign donations.

The Ecuadorian embassy in west London. Photo: Will Oliver/ EPA

Robert Mercer, the billionaire hedge fund proprietor, bankrolled the Trump campaign and his company, Cambridge Analytica, the Observer has disclosed , donated services to Leave.EU. If this issue forms part of the Electoral Commission investigation, this isnt simply a lawsuit of maybe breaking regulations by overspending a few pounds. It goes to the heart of the integrity of our democratic system. Did Leave.EU seek to obtain foreign support for a British election? And, if so, does this constitute foreign subversion?

What did or didnt happen on 9 March may perhaps expose clues to understanding this. To unravelling the links between WikiLeaks, the UK and the Trump administration an administration embroiled in ever deeper connections to the Russian state. Between Trump whose campaign was financed by Mercer and who came to power with the help of the same analytics firm now under investigation for its work with Leave.EU and Brexit.

And 9 March was the working day that all these worlds came together when the cyber-libertarian movement that Assange represents collided headfirst with the global rightwing libertarian movement that Farage represents. When Nigel Farage tripped down the steps of the Ecuadorian embassy a visit that he did not expect to be photographed or documented a beam of light was shone on a previously concealed world: a political alignment between WikiLeaks ideology, Ukips ideology and Trumps ideology that is not inevitably simply an affinity. It is also, potentially, a channel of communication.

David Golumbia, an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the US who has studied WikiLeaks, describes it as the moment when the lines abruptly become visible. He says: It was like the picture suddenly came into focus. There is this worldwide, rightwing, nationalistic movement that is counter to the EU, and this is present in the US and Europe and Russia, and we are just starting to understand how they do all seem to be in communication and co-ordination with each other.

In many styles, it wasnt a astonish. There are clear ideological similarities between Assange and Farage. They have both been regulars on RT, Russias state-sponsored news channel. They have both been paid indirectly by the Russian state to appear on it. Ben Nimmo, a defense analyst with the Atlantic Councils Digital Forensic Research Lab, points out that Farage has voted systematically in favour of Russian interests in the European parliament. There is very, very strong support for the Kremlin among the far right in Europe. And Farage is squarely in that bloc with the likes of the Front National in France and Jobbik in Hungary.

In February, when I started my investigation into Leave.EU and Cambridge Analytica, I fulfilled Andy Wigmore, its director of communications, for a coffee and he told him that Farage was in the US, where he was going to be making a big platform speech at CPAC, the US conservative conference. And its not going to be his normal Mr Brexit speech, he told. Hes going to be talking about the need for closer relations with Russia. Really? I told. That sounds odd.

Julian Assange making a speech from the balcony of the embassy last year. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/ Reuters

What? No route. Farage has been across the subject for years in the European parliament. It didnt make much sense at the time and, in fact, that wasnt the speech that Farage built. On 24 February, he told the crowd: Our real friends in the world speak English. The next evening he had dinner with Trump at the Washington Trump hotel and tweeted a photo of him with the Donald in the early hours of the morning.

Eleven days later, he headed off to the Ecuadorian embassy. BuzzFeeds story dropped at 1.31 pm. And, 57 minutes later, at 2.28 pm, WikiLeaks made an announcement: it would host a live press conference by Julian Assange about his latest leak, Vault 7.

The timing of this was lost in the isnt that bizarre? tone of the coverage. And, perhaps, also, its only with distance that it raises significant questions not least because the complex web of connections between the Trump administration is a challenge for even hardened US newshounds to follow.

Nearly every day of 2017 brought along forth some new nugget of fact about Trump-Russia but this was a tough week for Trump, even by his standards. The witch-hunt, as hes worded it, was collecting pace. On 2 March, his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the Trump-Russia investigation and, on 4 March, Trump retaliated in a tweetstorm which accused Obama of wiretapping him.

And then, on 7 March, he finally caught a transgres. Some other news came along to knock him off the front page. For more than a month, WikiLeaks had been periodically issuing cryptic tweets about Vault 7. A month passed before it eventually landed: a leak that, whether by accident or design, embarrassed the CIA.

WikiLeaks data trove had come from what it “ve called the” CIAs global hacking force, its Center for Cyber Intelligence. CIA scrambles to contain injury from WikiLeaks documents, said the headline in what Trump calls the failing New York Times . The documents apparently showed that the CIA had the capability to hack a huge number of devices , not only telephones but also TVs. In the midst of the most serious investigation of foreign cyber-interference in a current administration in US history, vivid revelations about the USs similar capability to interfere abroad had hit the headlines.

US us attorney general Jeff Sessions on WikiLeaks: Well seek to set people in jail

A highly placed linked with links to US intelligence told the Observer : When the heat is turned up and all electronic communication, you have to assume, is being intensely monitored, then those are the times when intelligence communication falls back on human couriers. Where you have individuals passing datum in ways and places that cannot be monitored.

When asked about the session in the embassy, Farage said: I never discuss where I go or who I see.

In October, Roger Stone, a Republican strategist whose links to Russia are currently under investigation by the FBI, told a local CBS reporter about a back-channel communications with Assange, because we have a good reciprocal friend that friend travels back and forth from the United States to London and we talk. Asked directly by the Observer if Nigel Farage was that friend, his spokesman said: Definitely not.

Arron Banks with Nigel Farage in 2014. Photograph: Matt Cardy/ Getty Images

And in some way, this may not be the phase. A channel exists. In the perfect blizzard of fake news, disinformation and social media in which we now live, WikiLeaks is, in many ways, the swirling vortex at the centre of everything. Farages relationship with the organisation is just one of a whole host of questions to which we currently have no answer.

Some of those questions dog Arron Banks, the Bristol businessman who bankrolled Leave.EU and who announced last week that he is standing during the elections in Clacton. When I interviewed him last month, he said: Not a single penny of Russian money has been put into Brexit though that wasnt a question I had asked him.

He is, however, openly pro-Putin and anti-democracy. Its not possible to run that entire country[ Russia] as a pure republic, he told. When asked about the investigation into Leave.EUs campaign finances, he told me: I dont dedicate a monkey about the Electoral Commission.

On Friday night, he released a letter saying that he would no longer co-operate with the commission a body mandated by parliament to uphold UK electoral law and said he would watch them in court.

As Britain lunges towards a general election to choose a government that they are able to take us out of the European union, this may be the moment be recognised that Nigel Farage is not Widow Twankey, and that this is not a pantomime. Farages politics and his relationships are more complicated than we, the British press, have previously realised. His relationship to Mercer and Cambridge Analytica, the same firm that helped Trump to power, is now under official investigation. Every day, more and more questions are being asked about that administration.

Yet, here in Britain, we plunge blindly on. Real, hard topics need to asked about what exactly these relationships are and what they mean. Dont they?

Read more: www.theguardian.com