Zambia: Govt, DR Congo Sign Trade Deal   

Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have signed a bilateral trade agreement to begin operations on the one-stop border post at Kasumbalesa in Chilabombwe District on the Copperbelt Province. The agreement was signed by Zambia's Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe and DRC's External Trade Minister Jean Lucien Bussaa Tongba at the Mukuba Hotel in Ndola yesterday.

          Chris Christie Announces New Jersey Government Shutdown, Orders State Of Emergency   

Illinois, Maine, Connecticut: the end of the old fiscal year and the failure of numerous states to enter the new one with a budget, means that some of America's most populous states have seen their local governments grind to a halt overnight until some spending agreement is reached. Now we can also add New Jersey to this list.

On Saturday morning, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency in the state, and announced a partial state government shutdown as New Jersey become the latest state to enter the new fiscal year without an approved budget after the Republican governor and the Democrat-led Legislature failed to reach an agreement by the deadline at midnight Friday, CBS New York reports.

In a news conference Saturday morning, Christie blamed Democratic State Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto for causing the shutdown. And, just like Illinois and Connecticut, Christie and the Democrat-led Legislature are returning to work in hopes of resolving the state's first government shutdown since 2006 and the first under Christie, before NJ is downgraded further by the rating agencies.

"If there's not a resolution to this today, everyone will be back tomorrow," Christie said, calling the shutdown "embarrassing and pointless." He also repeatedly referred to the government closure as "the speaker's shutdown."  Christie later announced that he would address the full legislature later at the statehouse on Saturday.

Prieto remained steadfast in his opposition, reiterating that he won't consider the plan as part of the budget process but would consider it once a budget is signed.  Referring to the shutdown as "Gov. Christie's Hostage Crisis Day One," Prieto said he has made compromises that led to the budget now before the Legislature.


"I am also ready to consider reasonable alternatives that protect ratepayers, but others must come to the table ready to be equally reasonable," Prieto said. "Gov. Christie and the legislators who won't vote 'yes' on the budget are responsible for this unacceptable shutdown. I compromised. I put up a budget bill for a vote. Others now must now do their part and fulfill their responsibilities."

Politics aside, the diplomaitc failure has immediate consequences for Jersey residents: Christie ordered nonessential services to close beginning Saturday. New Jerseyans were feeling the impact as the shutdown took effect, shuttering state parks and disrupting ferry service to Liberty and Ellis islands. Among those affected were a group of Cub Scouts forced to leave a state park campsite and people trying to obtain or renew documents from the state motor vehicle commission, among the agencies closed by the shutdown.

As funds run out elsewhere, it will only get worse.  Police were turning away vehicles and bicyclists at Island Beach state park in Ocean County.

A sign posted at the park entrance featured a photo of Prieto and the phone number of his district office in Secaucus, along with the caption: "This facility is CLOSED because of this man."

When asked about the sign, Christie spokesman Jeremy Rosen said the governor wanted to make sure people knew why the site was shuttered.  "Speaker Prieto singlehandedly closed state government," Rosen said, adding that the governor wanted to make sure families "knew that the facilities were closed and who is responsible."

Not all things will be affected: remaining open under the shutdown will be New Jersey Transit, state prisons, the state police, state hospitals and treatment centers as well as casinos, race tracks and the lottery. 

A major point of disagreement is the ongoing stalemate between Christie and lawmakers over whether to include legislation affecting the state's largest health insurer into the state budget.

Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney agree on legislation to make over Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, including allowing the state insurance commissioner to determine a range for the company's surplus that if exceeded must be put to use benefiting the public and policyholders.  But Prieto opposes the plan, saying that the legislation could lead to rate hikes on the insurer's 3.8 million subscribers and that the legislation is separate from the budget.  Prieto has said he will leave open a vote on the $34.7 billion budget that remains deadlocked 26-25, with 24 abstentions, until those 24 abstentions change their mind.

Democratic Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, of Northfield, was among those abstaining. He reasoned that if the governor did not get the Horizon bill, then nearly $150 million in school funding -- $9.6 million of which would go to his district -- would be line-item vetoed out of the budget.   And indeed, Christie said Friday during a news conference that he would slash the Democratic spending priorities if he did not get the Horizon bill as part of a package deal on the budget.  "You want me to wave a magic wand to get a budget?" Christie said. "I can't get a budget to my desk. Only the Senate and Assembly can get the budget to my desk."

But where things may get nasty quick, is that Christie said public workers should not expect any back pay. "Yeah, don't count on it." Christie said of furlough pay. "That was Jon 'I'll Fight For a Good Contract For You' Corzine. I ain't him."

Meanwhile, the fingerpointing has begun, including Democrats pointing at other Democrats.

"It seems like he's just being stubborn," Mazzeo said of Prieto. "With all due respect to the speaker, then there should be some type of negotiations." But Prieto said it's lawmakers - fellow Democrats - like Mazzeo who are to blame for the shutdown. He said he is willing to discuss the Horizon legislation but after the budget is resolved.

Christie has balked at the proposal because he says lawmakers plan to leave town to campaign for re-election and he will be a lame duck.  According to CBS, all 120 lawmakers face voters this year.

Finally, putting the sheer chaos of it all in context, Christie who is term-limited and is expected to be out of office by January, has his family staying for the holiday weekend in a state-owned house at Island Beach State Park. The park is closed because of the shutdown.

          Are Democrats Thinking Their Way Out of Victory?   

Would you mind if Democrats learned to be mindless?

Nevada Democrats do seem to have their acts together. They kept their heads in 2016 when everyone around them was losing theirs, and accomplished a good deal of what they wanted at the 2017 legislature. And 2018 seems to be coming into focus.…

Representative Jacky Rosen will run for the Senate after only a few months in Congress, and the Democrat could face a serious primary challenge. Whoever wins faces a vulnerable Republican, Dean Heller, the only GOP Senator up for reelection in a state Hillary Clinton carried. Heller has managed to defend the Republican lack of transparency on health care legislation after falsely claiming Democrats did much the same thing on Obamacare. He also said both yes and no on how he’s going to vote on the un-Christian and anti-life bill his white male colleagues generated without a woman or person of color being involved before finally saying he wouldn’t vote for the bill in its current form with Governor Brian Sandoval standing next to him—because Heller is not only bipartisan, but brave.

County Commissioner Steve Sisolak has declared his candidacy for governor. He may face a Democratic primary—his commission colleague Chris Giunchigliani is making noises (this could make the commission meetings must-see-TV). The winner of that contest will face Adam Laxalt, grandson of a major Nevada political figure. He’s also the hirer of outside lawyers who charge the state hundreds of thousands of dollars to do legal work that Laxalt’s people would be able to do if they were members of the Nevada bar, and he is a defender of Sheldon Adelson’s interests to the point that a Gaming Control Board chairman who’s never had the whiff of a taint of a sniff of a scandal attached to him decided he’d better record a conversation with Laxalt.

Democrats think when they should act, and Republicans act when they should think.

These campaigns will unfold with Trump registering the lowest approval ratings of any president at this point in an administration since polling was done with an abacus. But Republicans have won each special election so far, so why not think it can continue?

Well, let’s be fair. In each election, the Democratic candidate did far better than she or he normally would. In Georgia and South Carolina, in blood-red districts, the Democratic House candidate came within three points of the Republican.

But Republicans still won, and the reason is simple. To quote Charlie Pierce, America’s best political blogger (well, my favorite, anyway): “Through decades of constant and unrelenting pressure, and through finagling with the franchise in a hundred ways in a thousand places, the Republicans have compressed the votes they need into an unmovable, diamond-hard core that will vote in robotic lockstep for whoever it is that wins a Republican primary. In American politics today, mindlessness is one of the strongest weapons you can have. Republicans vote for Republicans in Republican districts.”

That Democrats lack mindlessness can be proved even without referring to certain lefties in 2016. Consider the response to recent Democratic defeats from D. Taylor, the Unite Here leader who was the driving force behind the Culinary in Las Vegas for so many years. Besides properly attacking the president, the speaker, the Senate majority leader and the GOP congressional caucus, he declared, “Hope is not a strategy and ‘resisting’ is not a plan. The Democratic Party is out of excuses on its electoral performances.… In red states or blue states, Democrats should be able to compete—and win.”

As Pierce shows, some of that point is debatable, but then we recall his union didn’t do all it could in 2014, out of displeasure with some provisions of Obamacare and the lack of movement on immigration reform. The Culinary Union was being mindful when it needed to be mindless.

Heller is in the Senate because in 2012, Shelley Berkley ran 85,000 votes behind Barack Obama while Heller ran 26,000 ahead of Mitt Romney. She won Clark County by 60,000 while Obama took it by 100,000. Obama carried Washoe County by 7,000, Heller by 20,000. Both large counties bear some credit or blame, depending on your political views.

Berkley faced attacks over ethics, but also Washoe choosing the northerner over the southerner, regardless of party. Did Democrats ask themselves who would most strongly support Obama, or was more “acceptable”? A minimal number of Republicans ask those questions. If more did, we might have a more mindful president.

Laxalt’s grandfather ran smart campaigns. But he won his first statewide race, for lieutenant governor, when Democrats refused to unite behind his opponent because of previous political battles. They were mindful when they should have been mindless, and have paid for it ever since.

And thereby hangs the tale. Democrats think when they should act, and Republicans act when they should think. If Democrats don’t want Senator Heller and Governor Laxalt, they need to grasp that distinction.

Michael Green is an associate professor of history at UNLV

The post Are Democrats Thinking Their Way Out of Victory? appeared first on Vegas Seven.

          Reading the Office of Legal Counsel on Emoluments: Do Super-Rich Presidents Get a Pass?    


I wrote last November that the Foreign Emoluments Clause “is on its face a national security provision designed to the protect the country from officers too enmeshed with foreign interests.” If the Justice Department’s recent court filing is to be believed, that protection is exceedingly limited. This new position marks a decisive break from the more conscientious approach long espoused by both the Comptroller General and the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).

At the heart of the emoluments controversy is President Trump’s refusal to liquidate his business holdings. He has instead maintained ownership of the Trump Organization, a multibillion-dollar umbrella company with thousands of domestic and international investments, and placed the assets in a revocable trust managed by his sons Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump. Trump now faces three lawsuits alleging that he is profiting from his business empire in violation of the Constitution. Three days after his inauguration, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government accountability watchdog group, filed the first suit in the Southern District of New York. This month, two more complaints were filed by the attorneys general of Washington D.C. and Maryland and 196 congressional Democrats, in federal district courts in Maryland and the District of Columbia, respectively.

All three suits center on the meaning and scope of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, which provides that “no person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept any present, Emolument, Office or Title of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign state” (U.S. Const. art. I, § 9, cl. 8). Citing Trump's business dealings with state governments and federal agencies, such as its lease on the Old Post Office Building that now houses the Trump International Hotel, two of the suits also allege violations of the Domestic Emoluments Clause. This provision applies specifically to the president and provides that he shall receive “for his Services” a fixed compensation during his tenure and not “any other Emolument from the United States, or any of [the states]” (U.S. Const. art. II, § 1, cl. 7).

Serious procedural challenges like standing notwithstanding, given the House and Senate’s failure to address head-on the risks posed by Trump’s financial conflicts pose, the lawsuits could prove important in forcing a much-needed conversation: Is Trump taking in profits in violation of the Constitution? And just as critically, are future presidents entitled to pull a Trump—or does the Constitution dictate that they, like Jimmy Carter, must sell their family peanut farms as a condition of taking office?

No Article III court has ever rendered an opinion on how either Emoluments Clause should be interpreted, though the Supreme Court has offered interpretations of the term “emoluments” as it appears in Foreign Emoluments Clause-related statutes periodically enacted by Congress since 1881. Because of the limited judicial precedent, the internal memoranda from the Comptroller General and the Office of Legal Counsel that have been made public over the years are among the most important sources of guidance we have on emoluments issues. And though these memoranda do not directly address the question posed by the Trump business empire, making some amount of inference and legwork necessary, in critical respects they quite clearly contradict the sweeping defense that the Justice Department put forward this month in its 70-page motion to dismiss the CREW case against Trump.

The key issue in these suits—once you get behind a set of justiciability questions that may prove dispositive—is what constitutes an emolument (though with respect to the Foreign Emoluments Clause there’s also some disagreement about what kind of entity constitutes a “foreign state”). In plain English, we are looking at an exotic presidential twist on the biggest and oldest challenge to enforcing any anticorruption law: What counts? Do the forbidden “emoluments” cover only goodie boxes, blatant quid pro quo arrangements, and employment-related compensation? Or are the profits that Trump enjoys by way of his business transactions also prohibited when they come from foreign states and domestic government entities? And if the latter, more expansive definition is the appropriate one, are the profits prohibited only when the take is in excess of  “fair-market-value”—and if so, does that definition serve as a meaningful limitation when at issue are luxury goods whose value or sales may be inflated by the fact that Trump is president and the products are prominently branded with his name?

Predictably, the dispute has taken the form of a battle for the original meaning of “emoluments.” An array of historical materials support both a limited and broad definition. The two possible interpretations are well summed up by the Oxford English Dictionary, which provides two definitions dating back to the Founding: “1. Profit or gain arising from station, office, or employment . . . . 2. Advantage, benefit, comfort.”

The Justice Department, like Trump’s lawyers at Morgan Lewis, latches onto the first definition  to argue that “the Emoluments Clauses apply only to the receipt of compensation for personal services and to the receipt of honors and gifts based on official position.” That is, President Trump is precluded only from receiving benefits in exchange for services provided to a foreign state in his official capacity as president, or—and this is crucial, given the subject matter of the OLC opinions—services provided “in a capacity akin to an employee of a foreign state.”

The plaintiffs in the three suits, on the other hand, argue for the much more expansive definition. Marshaling its own set of historical evidence, CREW asserts that emoluments are "anything of value, including money, permits, approvals, tax benefits, any other benefits, and anything else monetary or nonmonetary, regardless of whether it is given in exchange for goods or services, and regardless of whether it is part of a transaction at, above, or below market rates."

A close examination of the relevant Comptroller and OLC opinions reveals that the current Justice Department is reading the Emoluments Clauses too narrowly, while CREW and the other plaintiffs are reading them too broadly. None of the opinions approves the receipt of benefits that can even arguably be attributed to the prestige or influence conferred by an office, and together they do not support the Justice Department’s claim that presidents may, as a categorical matter, collect profits from business transactions with foreign entities and domestic government entities as long as fair value is extracted on both sides. But notwithstanding the plaintiffs’ hard pull in the other direction, the opinions also suggest that presidents may in limited cases accept certain fixed benefits—as I will explain, these might be pensions from the U.S. state that used to employ them or money damages from a foreign country against which, in a past life, they successfully won a judgment. The key is that those benefits cannot be subject to foreign or domestic government manipulation or adjustment in connection with the presidential office.

This happens to be a sensible position that accords with what the opinions repeatedly underscore as the purpose of the Emoluments Clauses and the ultimate touchstone for interpreting their meaning: “to prevent corruption and foreign influence” and to bar “payments which have a potential of influencing or corrupting the integrity of the recipient.”


Why Language About Emoluments Is Easily Misused

A threshold issue before turning to the OLC literature is the confusion created by cherry-picking historical materials without consideration of their factual context. For example, in its motion to dismiss, the Justice Department followed the lead of some scholars in pulling some Supreme Court language that suggests the term “emoluments” applies only to salary and other duty-related benefits. Most notably, in Hoyt v. United States, 51 U.S. 109 (1850), the Court defines emoluments as “every species of compensation or pecuniary profit derived for a discharge of the duties of office” (emphasis added).

But in Hoyt, the Supreme Court was specifically asked to decide what constitutes an “emolument of office” per a statute governing Treasury Department collectors in their official capacity; the case did not require the Court to consider or rule on the existence of emoluments of other kinds. This is a key point for purposes of properly construing any Comptroller or OLC opinion that cites Hoyt and regurgitates its definition of “emoluments.” These opinions, like Hoyt, have to be read with an eye to their facts: they do not assert that “emoluments” must derive directly from discharge of duty; rather, the kind of emoluments at issue in those opinions was the kind derived for discharge of duty. As a consequence, the reliance on Hoyt in these opinions does not serve as evidence of a limiting principle for emoluments in general.

In short, as pointed out by the plaintiffs and by assorted scholars, the proper question for purposes of discerning the historical scope of “emoluments” is not whether the term could be interpreted in a restricted way, to refer only to benefits derived from discharging the duties of an office, but whether it was necessarily so interpreted at the time the Emoluments Clauses were drafted. As John Mikhail has painstakingly documented, the answer is no—and we don’t have to look at secondary sources, however authoritative (e.g., Black’s Dictionary) to draw that conclusion. Consider, for example, some of the constitutions ratified during the first of two major waves of state constitution-making in the Founding decade. Several included “common benefits clauses” that used the word “emoluments” in a way that simply defies narrow interpretation. The Pennsylvania Constitution (1776) provides: “That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people, nation or community; and not for the particular emolument of advantage of any single man, family or sett [sic] of men, who are a part only of that community[.]” Very similar language appears in the Virginia (1776), Vermont (1777), and New Hampshire (1784) constitutions. Far more elaborate historical arguments demonstrating the broad uses of the term have been presented elsewhere: see here, here and here. The bottom line is that there is an abundance of primary Founding-era material making use of the broad definition of emoluments, so it is wrong to use language from fact-bound case law to assert that the term is an inherently limited one.


The Plaintiffs Define “Emoluments” Too Broadly

Does that mean, as plaintiffs assert, that all types of benefits conferred on the president by foreign countries and U.S. states are prohibited emoluments? According to the Comptroller and OLC opinions, clearly not.

A number of opinions explain that officers do not need to forego fixed benefits to which they are entitled for reasons manifestly unrelated to and uninfluenced by their office. This is a common-sense interpretation of the Clauses that avoids rigidity for rigidity’s sake, where denial of benefits would do nothing to serve the Clauses’ anti-corruption, anti-influence purpose.

For instance, the Comptroller and the OLC each independently concluded that President Ronald Reagan could collect ordinary retirement benefits from California, where he had served as the state governor, without violating the Domestic Emoluments Clause’s prohibition against the receipt of “emoluments” from a State. In its 1983 opinion, the Comptroller determined that President Reagan’s pension from California “cannot be construed as being in any manner received in consequence of his possession of the Presidency.” Coming to the same conclusion in its earlier 1981 opinion, the OLC also noted that “those [retirement] benefits are not emoluments in the constitutional sense” and their receipt does not “violate the spirit of the Constitution.” To support its reasoning, the OLC in turn relied on a 1964 opinion (not published) where it similarly decided the estate of President Kennedy was entitled to the naval retirement pay that had accrued during his presidency. Interpreting the Foreign Emoluments Clause “in the light of its basic purposes and principles,” it concluded he could receive payments to which he was entitled as a matter of law “prior to his taking office.”

The same principles support allowing officers to collect on certain kinds of money judgments, even from foreign powers. In a 1955 opinion, the Comptroller decided that an attorney in the Justice Department could receive a lump sum payment and lifetime annuity from the German government for his wrongful removal from the judgeship he held before he emigrated to the United States, as provided by German indemnification legislation. The Comptroller reasoned that those payments did not constitute emoluments from his former office, but rather “represent damages payable as a direct result of a moral and legal wrong.” Turning to its “spirit of the Constitution” analysis, the Comptroller had no trouble determining the payments were not problematic: they were “obviously . . . not intended to influence him as an officer of the United States,” were made under laws not specific to him, and were not payments voluntarily made by the German government but rather mandatory indemnification required by the Allied powers. In a 1954 opinion on the same matter, the OLC came to a slightly different place—the payments were not permitted to the extent they amounted to German retiree benefits—but like the Comptroller, it found that damages intended to redress injury were not prohibited emoluments.

Note what these opinions have in common: they generally allow the officer in question to collect payments or benefits that, patently, have nothing to do with and cannot possibly have been affected by his U.S. office. That 1983 Comptroller opinion put it best, and contains a line worth repeating: President Reagan was entitled to his pension because it “c[ouldn’t] be construed as being in any manner received in consequence of his possession of the Presidency.”

Applying this general rule, it makes sense that presidents are permitted to invest in U.S. Treasury bonds; and the rule also explains why wealth management solutions like blind trusts have long been accepted as workable resolutions to problems of conflict of interest. But it certainly doesn’t provide clearance for all profits derived from discretionary, “fair-market-value” transactions where the president is obviously and individually on one end of the sale.


The Justice Department Defines “Emoluments” Too Narrowly

A key move in the Justice Department’s brief is to rely heavily on a point of dubious significance: it asserts that “in every published OLC or Comptroller General opinion in which proposed conduct was determined to involve prohibited emoluments, the determination involved an employment relationship (or a relationship akin to an employment relationship) with the foreign government.”

If you think about it, there’s at least one common-sense explanation for the limited precedent: In general, the government employees on whose behalf these opinions were sought probably didn’t own hotel chains, lucrative licensing agreements, or hundreds of trademarks from which they derived significant foreign-based or domestic government-based income. Their thing of value, as civil servants, was their skill set, and thus the relevant question was whether they were constitutionally permitted to lend out that skill set to foreign governments or organizations with foreign state ties for payment.

A 1986 OLC opinion written by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General Samuel Alito cuts against the assertion that whether the profit in question is derived from employment or personal services should be, by itself, dispositive. There, Alito determined that a NASA employee could indeed accept a fee for reviewing a PhD candidate's thesis for an Australian university. To get to this conclusion, Alito made two significant moves. First, uncertain as to whether a public university should be regarded a "foreign state," Alito instead decided to turn to the features of the proposed consultancy and consider whether they "raise[d] the kind of concern . . . that motivated" the prohibition’s enactment. This marks a functional, purpose-driven approach to the question of permissible benefits. Second, he suggested the following facts weigh against finding the fee a prohibited emolument: (1) the NASA scientist was not selected because of his position with the U.S. government, (2) the fee was an ordinary amount given the service to be rendered, (3) there was no reason for the officer to have "direct contact" with the university officials, and (4) the consultancy was "limited both in time and in substantive scope," and no "continuing relationship" was anticipated.

Note that the fact the scientist would be acting in an employment or personal services capacity did not automatically render the payment an emolument. This is the key takeaway from this opinion, and it is at odds with the Justice Department’s claim that employment is the make-or-break issue when it comes to determining whether a benefit or payment is an emolument. Second, consider the implications of the first and fourth points Alito highlighted. The scientist’s selection for the job and associated payment had nothing to do with his U.S. office, which is not a conclusion that can be readily drawn about the services purchased by foreign and state government employees newly flocking to Trump International Hotel. It may suggest the permissibility of accepting profits from truly routine transactions by truly routine hotel customers, including some government diplomats—but this possibility is undercut by Alito’s reference to the extremely limited nature of the permitted relationship and transaction in question.

The Justice Department is understandably leaning hard on the idea that an emolument must be received specifically as a function of office or employment. After all, without this very specific qualification, its argument for the permissibility of accepting profits from ordinary transactions falls apart. Two OLC opinions make this clear.

A 1982 OLC opinion determined that the Foreign Emoluments Clause barred an employee of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from working on his leave time for an American firm contracted by a Mexican government agency to review the design of a government-owned nuclear power plant. And a 1993 OLC opinion concluded that law firm partners serving as non-government advisors on the Administrative Conference of the United States could not accept partnership earnings “where some portion of that share is derived from the partnership’s representation of a foreign government” without triggering the constitutional prohibition. In the 1993 opinion, the OLC actually dismissed the argument that the conference member was not subject to the foreign government's “control” as “not decisive.” Instead, the OLC concluded that the portion of partnership profits the conference member would receive "would be a function of the amount paid to the firm by the foreign government," such that "the partnership would in effect be a conduit for that government." Acceptance of that portion of income was therefore a prohibited emolument (OLC reconsidered this opinion in 2010, but only with respect to whether the members held an “Office of . . . Trust” for purposes of the Foreign Emoluments Clause).

In these opinions, the OLC simply did not care that there was nothing out of the ordinary about the payments in these cases from a transactional or fair-market perspective. This runs contrary to the crux of the Justice Department’s argument for the innocuousness of Trump’s business-related foreign and domestic government income.

The textual kicker in all this is that even accepting the Justice Department’s insistence that “emolument” is best read to mean “profit arising from an office or employ” (Barclay’s A Complete and Universal English Dictionary on a New Plan (1774)), it doesn’t follow that all ordinary business transactions are okay: What if those transactions are, in number or value, enhanced by the prestige of the president’s office? Couldn’t the profit thereby derived then constitute “profit arising from an office or employ”? [Update, 5:17 pm: This is a line of argument that Marty Lederman compellingly and more thoroughly details here.]

It is to prevent this reading that the Justice Department argues that prohibited benefits must arise not just from the office but from the provision of services pursuant to that office. But this argument relies on a stunted conception of the power that an "Office of Profit or Trust" confers. To lift an example wholesale from Ben Wittes: If Trump owned a nondescript hotdog truck outside the White House that charged the same price for hotdogs as any other foodtruck and sold them to some incidental foreign customers, that would not be problematic under this definition of emoluments. If the truck were Trump-branded and either charged inflated prices or enjoyed inflated sales because Trump is president, and Saudi potentates lined up to put cash in his register, that would seem to constitute impermissible “profit arising from an office,” as a textual matter and in view of the historic Comptroller and OLC perspective.

At base, this is what plaintiffs are claiming—that the profits Trump is enjoying “aris[es] from” his office—so “aris[e] from” may be a definitional phrase the Justice Department is interpreting too narrowly. Trump’s status as the most powerful man in the world affects his business transactions, which are self-branded to boot. Not only is he enjoying booming business at his exclusive properties, in part thanks to foreign guests reportedly seeking to get in the president’s good graces, but he has also won Chinese trademark protection that, according to plaintiffs, he would not have received had he not become president.

Finally, on a practical note, notice the perverse upshot of the Justice Department’s fixation on employment and personal services as the place where the river divides. This assertion that payment for goods and business-related services is permissible but payment for employment and “personal services” is not means that a president can’t profit off his brain or body when it comes to cash from foreign sources or U.S. government entities, but can, without limitation, profit off the brains and bodies of those he can afford to employ in his private capacity. It’s what you might call a constitutional free pass for super-rich presidents.

The Comptroller and OLC opinions do not support such a result. They repudiate it.


Ultimately, the Justice Department’s view of emoluments marks a departure from the public Comptroller and OLC opinions in at least two critical respects. First, the new position is a clear abrogation of the practical “spirit of the Constitution” analysis on which the Comptroller and OLC have consistently relied to ensure a stringent rather than forgiving interpretation of what constitutes an impermissible benefit or undue influence (see, e.g., 1955 Comptroller Opinion, 1981 OLC Opinion, 1983 Comptroller Opinion; see also OLC 1962, noting “the sweeping nature of the constitutional prohibition”; OLC 1980, citing 1902 Attorney General Opinion stating the Foreign Emoluments Clause is “directed against every kind of influence by foreign governments upon officers of the United States” and the “prohibition should be given the broadest possible scope and application”). Second, the Justice Department’s quite specific argument that the president can profit from employing people to do business with foreign countries and government entities in the United States amounts to a strange carve-out, one that allows extremely wealthy officers with people in their employ to cash out as they wish on the advantages that the prestige of their office confers, without any consideration whatsoever of the sources of that cash. This interpretation is flatly at odds with executive branch tradition: I have yet to see a single opinion that has permitted an officer to collect profits even arguably enhanced by the power of his office, much less categorically benefit from discretionary, price-indeterminant transactions that foreign governments and U.S. government entities may enter into at will.

Note the issues I did not address here. What is not (yet) a point of debate in these particular lawsuits is whether these constitutional provisions apply to the president at all. The Domestic Emoluments Clause applies to the president by its express terms, and in its recent motion, the Justice Department doesn’t dispute CREW's claim, or the OLC’s preexisting determination, that the more obliquely phrased Foreign Emoluments Clause applies to the president as well (and notwithstanding the occasional argument to the contrary).

In addition, as the suits proceed in federal court, we can expect much of the legal discussion to focus on jurisdictional hurdles. There’s a strong argument that the courts don’t have a role to play, and that presidential corruption rising to the level of an emoluments violation is a political question whose resolution properly lies with Congress. Though the congressional suit spearheaded by Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representative John Conyers, Jr. alleges that Trump has failed to come to Congress for requisite permission in accepting foreign emoluments, Congress’s best recourse be impeachment proceedings. (Or if it so chose, Congress could avail itself of a lot of options short of impeachment, but in the words of Charles Black, Jr., circa 1974, “what an enormous if.” Recall that the House of Representatives has the power to demand Trump’s tax returns but has not exercised it.)

But as for the substantive question of whether the Comptroller and OLC of yore would have signed off on the Justice Department’s blessing of all monies flowing in by way of business transactions, the answer is “no.”

          The Perils of Democracy   

By Kyle Becker

In America, it is nearly a ubiquitous truism that ours is a democratic nation. In popular imagination, all virtues spring forth from the fountainhead of democracy, and all vices consist of its aristocratic or reactionary opposition. Yet we were blessed with the founders’ vision to anticipate the instability and capriciousness of mob-majority rule, and our Constitution was imbued with individual rights, sanctioned by no less than the Almighty itself. The terms democracy, freedom, and liberty are retained in our popular vernacular without meaningful engagement of the historical circumstances that gave rise to them in the culture. The intellectual doctrines of ...

The article The Perils of Democracy is original content from Conservative Daily News.

          What Time Of Day Is Best To Take L-carnetine   
"They make magic with the money ..."

I found the following comment, signed Corto , in an article Francis Velen (Blog from the rostrum of Geneva), about the volatile situation in Libya:

What Europeans do not see is that what happens in the 'nations' Arab is one thousandth of what the West will will take on the donut!

The Arab world and the West are just two sides of the same coin, you do not see that one side, some produce and other cars, they have oil!

You do not see that at the time the two would finally agree with a U.S. president pro-Arab, or rather pro-Iranian, is busting his nose while on the asphalt still warm in history.

You are all blind and you will see that this is just the beginning and it is not always the one who put the first goal wins the match. Frankly blindness among Arab and Western cowardice is white-hat-white hat and that he will happen if the Arabs come in a huge and incomprehensible civil war, millions of refugees in a Europe brink of bankruptcy. Here is the menu of this new century, a huge confusion in which, not only policies have no solution but did not see it coming so they anchored in corruption. Reread the comments Corto 2 years and you'll see that everything is there!

Personally when I see the UN, the European military powers did not intervene in Libya, so that everything passes was more than likely, I is not nothing wrong with Arab, on the contrary, they had the courage to confront their kleptomaniac monsters, bloodthirsty soulless and supported by the Swiss banks, but I see the sky of the Mediterranean does not planes Italian, French (Land of Human Rights) Domestic ( for once they have been used), or any civilized nation known as the Libyan civilians are being slaughtered, I even shame not to be an Arab!

Is Israel going to do the job? Ban ki Moon has 10,000 soldiers in an attempt to declare a civil war in Côte d'Ivoire, can not, this dog, sending its planes to Libya to calm things down?

We are in Geneva, a city where all the money from Qaddafi sleeps badly bloodied and where the UN welcomes daily catering trucks from Richmond, and nobody has exploded this puppet theater on a budget of tens of billion per year!

This world is screwed up, they screwed up is because you're not even fucking show your frustration on the net! it is fucked because tonight there is not much fats 10'000 Geneva outside the gates of the UN that trap these pests from reality!

A Federal Councillor who wore the headscarf of shame and not even his friend Gaddafi condemned the massacres of civilians, while she wept for not seeing the funds placed Gaddafi in Geneva migrate other paradise!

He would do what the Libyans are in Geneva and all the dictatorships in the world are buried! All the dirty money that junk sleep in Geneva!

Another little surprise, a film sponsored by Polanski on Switzerland, 23 minutes of normal madness! Here, the cultural genius is not subsidized.

A month ago wikileaks should publish documents involving Swiss banks in the dirty business, no one knows why nothing came officially break the web, but copies exist! Revenge is a dish best eaten warm.

Friends Libyan, Egyptian and Tunisian peoples all future free from the grip of dirty money and looted, remember the pressure on the Swiss political, they make magic with the money, they transform the billions millions when it comes to make the people!

Example; marcos would leave 70 million in Swiss banks, the reality was quite different, marcos left several billion! but they are gone as soon as they were to return to the Filipino people!



          How Much Does It Cost To Buy A Great White Shark   
In the Arab world, Islam and Western democracy means dictatorship

by Abdenur Prado - posted Friday, February 11, 2011
Source: UMMA . COM

The West finances dictators in the Middle East and the Arab world for over a century.
pro-democracy demonstrations against dictatorships supported by the West in the Arab world, shows once again the immense hypocrisy of our leaders. Which side Western governments are, with the demonstrators or the dictators? The answer is simple: the side of those who generate millions for the benefit of Western multinational corporations.

But that does not surprise anyone. It is well known that the West has funded more than a century of dictatorships in the Middle East and the Arab world because it is through the autocracies that [the West] were able to control the resources of this region. Even if this leads to the exploitation and misery of people facing decommissioning, orchestrated by the International Monetary Fund, their social services in order to repay foreign debt generated by the millions in arms purchases in the West ... As the aspirations of civil society, increasing poverty, torture and repression, lack of civil liberties and human rights ... No Western leader does not care at all. And all have shown, continuously, without exception, for over a century. Remarks made recently by Henry Kissinger are revealing in this regard: "We've had five presidents who have considered Hosni Mubarak as the best ally of the U.S. objectives in the region. "

Just out of the archives all the statements of Western leaders who praise the Arab tyrants: their economic policies, their continued political stability, their contributions to international security, that they safeguard secularism and prevent the advance of Islamist movements ... In short, for submission to the dictates of Western financial markets and the International Monetary Fund.

This overview does only one variable: whether or not the connivance with the State of Israel. This underscores the critical role of Israel vis-à-vis the maintenance of dictatorships in the Arab world, a fact corroborated by the comments made by Netanyahu in support of Ben Ali and Mubarak as well as decades of collusion with the family Royal Saudi monarchy and other issues of colonialism. No surprise then to learn that Israeli diplomacy has done everything possible to save Mubarak. It is true that Israel has cause for concern, not only for the danger posed by the rise of political Islam, but also because the democratic governments that might arise would maintain not only their country's complicity in the genocide of the Palestinian people. The open border between Gaza and Sinai is crucial for the survival of the Palestinian people. This is a convincing argument in favor of democracy in Egypt and the Middle East! And
"Islamism" in all this? It serves as a bogeyman to justify the support of dictatorships "secularists." However, it obscures the fact that the majority of parties "Islamists" in the Arab world accepted the idea of parliamentary democracy.
An example of this paradigm is that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In 1944 the founder, Hassan al-Banna, supported the participation in parliamentary elections, saying that the Egyptian constitution was "Islamic" because it recognized that the authority resides in the people, ensured the decision-making through consultation (Shura) and respect for individual freedoms. In some of his writings, he defends parliamentary democracy: "The bases of political organization based on the system of parliamentary representation does not contradict the fundamental principles that Islam has set in organization of power. "Since its founding, the Muslim Brotherhood have repeatedly stated that their intention is not to take power, but to educate society and to influence the system for Islamic ideals in justice being implemented. Despite this, they are portrayed as villains by the media manipulation and by Western governments. (I'm not a fan of the Muslim Brotherhood, but I am against their demonization. For their positions, see their website in English).

There is talk now of returning to Tunisia Rachid al-Ghannouchi, founder and historic leader of the party-Nahda in Tunisia, after 22 years of exile. According Ghannouchi, Islam provides a more fertile than that of the West to carry out democracy. There is a book of Azam Tamimi, where he studied his thought in detail, Rachid Ghannouchi: A Democrat within Islam, published by Oxford University Press. Among his ideals: "an Islamic system based on the will of the majority, free elections, free press, minority protection, equality between laity and religious parties, and achieving complete women's rights in all areas, participation in elections to the freedom to dress as they wish, the right to divorce, and even the right to be head of state. The role of Islam is to provide an ethical system. "

An ethical system that necessarily involves the abolition of usury Financial, which provides a minimum of social services for the entire population and the establishment mechanisms that prevent the accumulation of capital in the hands of a few individuals. An equally valid for Spain than for Egypt.

In Brief: Islamist movements are champions of democracy against tyranny corrupt funded by the West. It is curious to see how the terms were reversed at the point of passing the opposition, which demands democracy, for ... absolutists, and dictators that suppress civil liberties as saviors. The world upside down? The world seen through a mass media manipulation. That is to say, from a perspective of the interests of major Western financial corporations.

Translation: Amy Fetchman

          Avery Table Tents 5305   
Mohamed Hassan: "the causes of the revolution far beyond Tunisia Ben Ali and his party. "

Tunisians brought down the dictator Ben Ali. Today, they continue to fight against his men to head the transitional government. In this new chapter of our series "Understanding the Muslim world," Mohamed Hassan * ((photo-cons) explains the implications of the revolution of Tunisia and its root causes: how nationalism Liberal advocated by Tunisia under Bourguiba interests Western, plunging people into poverty, how a repressive state has put in place to maintain this system, why dictatorships in the Arab world are caused to fall, and how Islam became the condom imperialism

(Gregory Lalieu Michel Collon)

In December 2010, riots broke out in Tunisia. A month later, President Ben Ali fled the country after twenty-three year reign. What are the causes of this revolution? And why is it popular movement succeeded in bringing down the dictator where other attempts have failed?

For there to be a revolution, it is necessary that people refuse to live as before and that the ruling class is no longer able to govern as before. On December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a young seller of fruits and vegetables, has sacrificed out of desperation after police had confiscated his goods himself, and that local authorities have to stop working. The conditions were ripe for a revolution broke out in Tunisia Bouazizi and suicide was the trigger.

Indeed, the Tunisians did not want to live as before: they were not accepting corruption, police repression, lack of freedom, unemployment, etc.. Moreover, the ruling class could no longer govern as before. Corruption under Ben Ali had taken a phenomenal amount while the majority of the population had to face insecurity. To maintain this status, police repression would be higher but it had reached its limits. The ruling elite was completely disconnected from the people for whom there was no interlocutor. Therefore, when popular revolts broke out, the ruling class had no choice but to quell the violence. But with the determination of the people, the repression reached its limit. This is one of the keys to the success of the popular revolution of Tunisia: it managed to reach all segments of society, including members of the army and police who sympathized with the demonstrators. The repressive apparatus could no longer function as before either. If a revolt occurs but is not able to combine different segments society, it can not lead a revolution.

Even after the departure of Ben Ali, the protests continue. The situation that Tunisians refuse is not the result of one man? For

signs "Ben Ali emerges" signs were followed by "CDR releases. Tunisians are attacking the president's political party because they fear that one of his men to take power. But in reality, the root causes that led to revolt Tunisians far outweigh Ben Ali and the RCD. It is not enough to turn the president for the people earns his freedom and improves living conditions.

corruption, unemployment, social inequality ... What are the effects of imperialist domination of the West over Tunisia. For Tunisia, after independence, became a project of the United States.

What do you mean by imperialism?

Imperialism is the process by which capitalist powers politically and economically dominated by foreign countries. Western multinationals plunder the resources of Africa, Latin America and Asia. They find opportunities for capital they will accumulate and exploit cheap labor market. I say that multinationals are not buying as they plunder the resources at their fair value and the local people not benefiting from these riches. And this looting would not be possible if these countries operated, there were no leaders to defend the interests of multinationals. These leaders are getting richer in the process. They constitute the so-called comprador bourgeoisie. They have no political vision for their own country does not produce wealth and do not develop a real economy. But personally enriched by trading resources their countries with multinationals. Obviously, the people are the biggest victim in all this!

When you're a nationalist anti-imperialist cons, you are looking to develop for yourself. You nationalize key sectors of your economy, rather than leaving the management to foreign companies. This will create a national economy in the country and you allow it to grow on the basis of independence. That's what I call a national democratic revolution: national independent because of the imperialist powers, democratic as against feudalism and the elements reactionaries in the country.

However, Bourguiba, Tunisia's first president, was considered a socialist. And during his reign, the state played a very important role in the economy.

Bourguiba's political party was socialist in name only. If the state played an important role, it was only for the benefit of an elite only. This is called state capitalism. In addition, Bourguiba has systematically eliminated all the progressive elements and anti-imperialist in his party. So that this party became the party of one man, completely subject to U.S. imperialism.

Habib Bourguiba , great actor in the struggle for independence, was president of Tunisia from 1957 to 1987

What Was Tunisia important for the United States?

To understand the importance of that country to the U.S. strategy, we must analyze the political context of the Arab world in years 50 and 60. In 1952, officers overthrew the monarchy of King Farouk of Egypt and proclaim a republic. With Nasser at the helm Egypt becomes the basis of Arab nationalism inspired with revolutionary ideas of socialism. As evidenced by the nationalization of the Suez Canal, Nasser's arrival in power is a blow to the West because the Egyptian president's policy is totally at odds with the hegemonic Western powers in the Near and Middle East. Worse still: the anti-imperialist ideas of Nasser are emulated in the region. In Yemen for example, where in 1962 a revolution divided the country, the South becoming a bastion of Arab revolutionary movement. The same year, the independence of Algeria sends a strong signal to Africa and the Third World, the imperialist powers put on alert. Libya also note the Qaddafi coup in 1969. The colonel took power and nationalized major sectors of the economy, to the chagrin of the West. The same year, the Islamic revolution in Iran toppled the Shah, one of the most important pillars of U.S. strategy in the Middle East.

short, at that time, an anti-imperialist movement defies strong strategic interests of the United States in the Arab world. Fortunately for Washington, all countries in the region do not follow the path of Nasser. It the case of Tunisia. In 1957, a year after the independence of Tunisia, Bourguiba was one of the first Arab leaders to send U.S. in the prestigious journal, Foreign Affairs. The title of the article? Nationalism best antidote to communism. For the United States who want to counter the influence of Nasser is a godsend! Bourguiba wrote in his article: "With the regard, Tunisia has chosen to make unequivocal its way into the free world from the West." We are in the Cold War. The Soviets argued that Nasser's influence grows in the region. And the U.S. needs pro-imperialist agents Bourguiba as not to lose strategic control of the Arab world.

Nasser announced the nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956

Can we be both nationalist and pro-imperialist?

Bourguiba was a liberal nationalist with anti-communist ideas which led him to join the imperialist camp in the West. In fact, I feel like George Padmore Bourguiba Arabic. Padmore was a leading Pan-Caribbean origin. In 1956 he wrote a book called Pan-Africanism or Communism: The battle ahead in Africa. Like Bourguiba, he fed anti-communist ideas and even if he declared himself a nationalist, his political vision was largely subservient to the interests of imperialist powers. Nationalism served as a cover, their policy is far from being independent. Padmore had a great influence on the first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, one of the instigators of the African Union. Its pro-imperialist ideas were able to spread across the continent with the result that we see today is celebrated around the golden jubilee of independence in Africa, but many Africans know they have never become independent. President Nkrumah himself later regretted having taken the advice of Padmore.

In Tunisia too, the submission to imperialist interests has quickly been felt and it turned out that nationalism advocated by Bourguiba was a facade. In the 70s, for example, the President has passed a series of measures intended to attract foreign investors: tax exemption on company profits for ten years, exemption from all duties and taxes for twenty years, exemption from Tax Income property values, etc.. Tunisia has become a vast workshop of Western multinationals in recent repatriation of profits.

Tunisia did she not still been some good progress under Bourguiba?

Yes, there have been positive developments: education, status of women, etc.. First, because Tunisia were the progressives in his elite players, but they were quickly dismissed. Then, because Tunisia was to be dressed in his finest dress. Indeed, this country played a major role in the strategy of the United States to counter the influence of communism in the Arab world. But what had you on the other side? Progressive revolutionary movements that had toppled backward and monarchies who enjoyed popular support. You could not counteract this movement by advocating a feudal system. Saudi Arabia has done so because it could use its oil money for that. But Tunisia, unable to rely on such resources, should provide some progressive image. In the fight against communism, it was supposed to represent a successful Third World countries have chosen the path of liberal nationalism.

But behind the scenes was less flattering. As I said, Bourguiba has systematically eliminated the progressive elements that do not follow his steps. The anti-imperialists who wanted an independent Tunisia both economically and politically, those who wanted to assert their own position in the Third World and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, all were opposed. Tunisia has in fact been used as a laboratory of the imperialist powers. And what was supposed to represent the success of liberal nationalism has become a dictatorship.

When Ben Ali Bourguiba succeeded in 1987, he continues on the same track?

Absolutely. One can even say that the submission to Western interests has grown. Ben Ali was a pure agent of U.S. imperialism. In 1980, as ambassador to Poland, he even served as a liaison between the CIA and Lech Walesa, the union leader who fought against the Soviet Union.

In 1987, when Ben Ali assumed the presidency of Tunisia, the country was deeply in debt by the capitalist crisis of 1973. Moreover, at that time, the ideas of Milton Friedman and his Chicago Boys were very popular. These ultra-liberal economists believed that the market is an entity capable of regulating themselves and that the state should certainly not interfere in the economy. The technical elite Tunisian largely from U.S. schools were highly influenced by theories of Friedman. Ben Ali then left the state capitalism in effect at the beginning of the era Bourguiba. Under the supervision of the IMF and World Bank, he began a privatization program much more massive than what his predecessor had already begun in the 70s.

What were the effects of this new economic policy?

First, privatization of the Tunisian economy has allowed Ben Ali and his wife's family, Trabelsi, personal enrichment. Corruption has reached a very high level, Tunisia has become a country totally subservient to imperialism, headed by a comprador bourgeoisie. Obviously, Ben Ali and his clan did not have many raw materials to selling out to Western multinationals. But they took advantage of the education system established under Bourguiba to develop a service economy. Indeed, the Tunisian workforce is highly educated and inexpensive at a time. It therefore attracts foreign investors.

Tourism has also developed strong as to become the mainstay of the Tunisian economy. Here we see the lack of political vision of the elite. Indeed, no country can develop its economy based on tourism if not first developed a national economic base. The tourism industry consumes a lot but reported very little to the Tunisian people. Imagine: while Western tourists consume hectoliters of water to bask in pools, Jacuzzis or golf course, the poor peasants in the south face of the drying soil.

But it's not just the farmers who have suffered from this policy. Overall, the social conditions of the Tunisian people deteriorated while the president's entourage has amassed a huge fortune. Everyone knew the regime was corrupt. So to maintain this system, the system should prevent any disputes. The repression became even more brutal penny Ben Ali simple criticism or even the desire for modernity and openness were not allowed. Such a situation could lead to popular revolt. Moreover, trying to monopolize his clan the wealth of the country, Ben Ali has also drew the ire of some of the traditional bourgeois Tunisia.

You say that political repression was very strong. Is there anyway today, opposition forces can guide the people's revolution now that Ben Ali has fallen?

Genuine opposition parties were banned under Ben Ali. However, some continued to exist underground. For example, the first Tunisian Communist Party could not live openly and organize like any political party in a democracy. But he continued to operate secretly through associations of civil society (teachers, farmers, doctors, prisoners ...). The PGWPP was able to form a social base and fired a solid experience of this period. It is exceptional in the Arab world.

I think two major challenges now await the opposition parties. First, they must come forward and make themselves known to the general public in Tunisia. Then they must organize a united front of resistance to imperialism. In fact, the imperialist powers seek to maintain the system without Ben Ali Ben Ali. We see now with the Union government National rejected the Tunisians, which is very positive. But the imperialist powers will not stop there. They will certainly seek to impose an International Electoral Commission to support candidates who defend to their best interests. It is therefore necessary to resist interference by creating a united front to build a true democracy.

Opposition parties are they able to overcome their differences to create such a front?

I know that some political parties were reluctant to associate Islamo-nationalist movement Ennahda. This movement emerged in the 80s. He advocated an anti-imperialist line and in fact, has suffered political repression. Why not combine Ennahda in front of resistance to the interference of foreign powers? Tunisia is a Muslim country. It is normal that a political force emerges with an Islamo-nationalist trend. You can not prevent that.

But each of these movements must be studied separately, with its own specificities. This was done by the communist PGWPP. They studied scientifically objective conditions that apply Tunisia. Their conclusion is that the Communists and Islamo-nationalists have been victims of political repression and that even though their programs differ, they share common ground: they want an end to dictatorship and the independence of Tunisia. The Communists have proposed an alliance with the Islamo-nationalists long ago. Of course, the PGWPP does not make Tunisia a Islamic state. Its political agenda is different from that of al-Nahda. But it is the Tunisian people who will judge these differences democratically. Elections should be a contest open to everyone. That is true democracy.

Precisely opposition parties gathered in front of 14 January to fight against the interim government of Mohamed Ghannouchi, a henchman of former President Ben Ali. A hopeful sign?

Absolutely, Tunisia is on the right track: all opposition parties banned so far have created a united front to prevent the system is maintained without Ben Ali Ben Ali. Also underline the role played by the base of the union UGTT. The head of the union authorized under Ben Ali was corrupt and working with the state police. But since the basis of the union put pressure on its leaders and members who UGTT were part of the transitional government have resigned. Although much remains to be done, democracy wins Tunisian institutions under pressure from the people.

Western powers opposed to that. They want to impose democracy in Tunisia where only low-intensity "good" candidates would be allowed to stand for election. If you look at the type of democracy that the United States enjoy, you come across Ethiopia. The U.S. government has provided $ 983 million to countries in the Horn of Africa for the year 2010. That same year, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, in office since 16 years, was reelected with 99.5 percent of the vote! It's even better than Ben Ali! The reality is this: behind their rhetoric in support of the Tunisian people, the Western powers continue to actively support many other Ben Ali in the world.

The United States could not they support other candidates pro-imperialist, but in the eyes of Tunisians, were not associated with the Ben Ali era?

It would be difficult. There is a part of the comprador bourgeoisie which was lésinée by the corrupt system of Ben Ali. But this elite is not strong enough control the popular movement and not enough grounding in the Establishment to win.

The United States had also thought of another strategy: a few months ago, while Ben Ali was still in power, the U.S. ambassador has visited a Communist leader in prison. Officially, a simple observation visit in the framework of respect for human rights. Unofficially, the U.S. anticipated the departure of Ben Ali and wanted to test the waters. Their goal was to get the Communists against the Islamo-nationalists, divide the resistance to imperialism to weaken more. But the Communists Tunisia does not fall into the trap. They are very familiar with the strategy developed by Henry Kissinger in the 80s in the Middle East. They published a very good study on the subject and know they should not take orders from outside or adhere to ideologies manufactured by foreign powers.

Why the U.S. have they abandoned Ben Ali? Had he gone too far in personal enrichment? According to a cable Wikileaks, the U.S. ambassador was very critical of the system of quasi-mafioso Tunisian president, organized corruption are obstacles to investments by foreign companies.

This is not the problem. The United States does not care about corruption. Instead, it is a key element of the system of domination on the U.S. South. In fact, Washington was aware of the internal situation in Tunisia and knew that Ben Ali would not be able to govern. The West must now ensure that the replacement of Ben Ali will continue to defend their interests. The stakes are high. The capitalist crisis is causing serious problems in the West. Besides this, China is getting stronger and now provides more loans than the World Bank and other imperialist powers combined. She even wants to buy a significant portion of the debt of the euro area partly because it has economic interests with European countries, on the other imperialist powers to divide, the EU is historically associated with states USA.

In such a context, the Tunisian people's movement, under the auspices of a revolutionary leadership, could establish an independent government and take advantage of this situation of a multipolar world. The imperialist powers fear that countries that were traditionally under his rule become economically independent, turning also to China. Tunisia could build relationships with the Asian giant to develop its commercial ports. And it would seriously question the concept of the Mediterranean Dialogue, this expansion of NATO to the countries of the Mediterranean that is not a dialogue but a mere instrument of Western domination.

Another country that seems to fear democracy in Tunisia and in the region, Israel. Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said shortly after the fall of Ben Ali that the development of democracy in Arab countries threaten Israel's security. This country often called only democracy in the Middle East, would he be afraid of competition?

Under a democratic facade, Israel is a fascist, apartheid state. In the region, it can not ally with repressive dictatorial states, led by comprador bourgeoisie that weaken the body of the Arab nation. Currently, these Arab states are rich countries inhabited by poor people. But if a democratic government in the full sense of the term emerges, it will increase economically the Arab nation as a whole. And this economic development will lead to an alliance of Arab countries against the state racist oppressing the Palestinians. Israel fears this course.

Moreover, there is a very big gap between the official positions of Arab dictatorships and the popular sentiment about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since Egyptian President Sadat visited Israel in 1977, Egypt's position is "we want peace." But it is a position imposed by force to the population. And the current Egyptian government is not content to maintain peaceful relations with Tel Aviv. It participates actively in the strangulation of Gaza, while the majority of Egyptians in solidarity with Palestinians.

It's the same alignment of Arab dictatorships on Washington politics. Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are allies of the United States while the populations of these countries are anti-imperialists. I was in Egypt when Muntadhar al-Zaidi, a journalist in Iraq, threw his shoes on George W. Bush. The Egyptian population was celebrated as a hero. I heard of fathers wanting to marry their daughter with the reporter. Still, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is one of the most faithful allies of Washington.

Do you think the revolution Tunisia a domino effect could cause the downfall of other dictatorships in the Arab world?

70% of the population in Arab countries is less than thirty years and knows that unemployment, police repression and corruption. But all these young people want to live. And to live, they need change. This is the reality of each country. It is therefore not even need a domino effect, the objective conditions are ripe for further revolutions erupt.

People no longer want to live as before. But for their part, the ruling classes are they unable to govern as before?

course. And we see in Egypt today. There are police everywhere in this country. But it is impossible to control everything. A state police has its limitations and the Arab world have reached.

Furthermore, information plays a very important role today. Tunisians, Egyptians and peoples of the Third World are better informed through Al-Jazeera as part of an Internet and social networks on the other. The evolution of information technology has increased the level of education and consciousness of people. The people no longer a mass of illiterate peasants. You have a lot of very smart young people, with a certain practical sense, able to circumvent censorship and of mobilizing the Internet.

there in these countries the opposition forces can guide the popular revolutions?

Why Punishment is so important if these dictators were not in danger? Why the comprador bourgeoisie, so greedy, she would spend so much money in the repressive apparatus if she was not afraid to be reversed? If there was no opposition, all this would not be necessary.

the side of Western observers, many fear that the collapse of these regimes Arab favors the rise of Islamism. As summarized so finely Christophe Barbier, editor of L'Express, "Ben Ali is better than the bearded." These fears proved on of Islamism are they based?

Islamism became the condom of imperialism. Western powers justify their strategy of domination in the Arab-Muslim world under the guise of fighting against Islam. There are Islamists everywhere today. Soon, we shall find even traces of Al-Qaeda on Mars if it is useful to the imperialists!

In reality, the West has always needed to invent an enemy to justify its hegemonic designs and incredible military spending (financed by taxpayers). After the fall of the Soviet Union and the demise of the communist enemy is Islam and Al Qaeda who have played the roles of villains villains.

But the West has no problem with Islamism. It adapts very well to this trend in countries like Saudi Arabia. Moreover, he himself fostered the rise of Islamist movements to counter the Arab nationalism at a time. The real problem for the West is anti-imperialism. That's why he tries to discredit any popular movement in the Arab world who is opposed to its interests by affixing the label "Islamist."

Finally, it should not be very smart to think that the Arab dictatorships are bulwarks against the rise of religious fanaticism. Instead, these repressive regimes have led some of the population to be radicalized. Who could afford to say that such and such people have no right to democracy? In a truly democratic country, different political forces may emerge. But the bourgeoisie comprador ruling in the Arab dictatorships can not convince people. She can not even face to face. To defend the imperialist interests, you must prevent other political forces to emerge because they are likely to convince the people against a corrupt elite. The West has always sought to maintain dictatorships that served its interests by waving the specter of Islamism. But the Arab peoples need democracy. They claim it today and nobody can not go against these claims.

          How To Repair A Torn Couch   
Lures & Revolutions

What happens in the Maghreb, Egypt is probably a prelude, predators waiting for their time: these insurgencies are for them, as once were the struggles of American countries South, a field of experimentation. Become cumbersome, the Ben Ali Mubarak and other (member of the International Socialist! As DSK, as Ségolène!) Will be replaced by Democrats on their own blessed by the IMF and technocrats dismal. As we will rely on the current economic system will not change anything in depth because it is the source of deadly disturbances of humanity as a whole.

All cases we defend not they come here? Address the profound evil does he not return to drastically change my lifestyle? Give yourself the luxury of denying that the neighbors poor, hitherto ignored, can live decently. Solidarity that is shared, like bread, like a handshake, like a poem, like ideas and wealth too. Let's start by sweeping our doorstep. Globalization? I felt like an illusion, an ideology of standardization and formatting of the masses. An insurgency is not a revolution: the first is the result of a situation had become intolerable while the second, in essence, is the long term, by mobilizing more than the civic conscience which should be central to any process and any political action. The game of global governance that is taking place is to discredit political thought (which has nothing to do with an ideological construct). Let us not forget that capitalism is the result of an ideology (with its strategies, policy makers and police), and in this respect is comparable to Stalinism which was only a state capitalism totalitarian. And this is capitalism, we do not too worried, is not it, when rampant in the Arab and African held an iron fist by dictators orders of multinational corporations, guided by foreign secret services. Dream holiday in Hammamet Marrakech or for a nominal price, which in the wings, has a price in human lives.

unbridled consumption, a synonym for huge profits, which suck the vast majority of people, today revealed its limitations and the risks it is incurring imminent future generations. Market forces, as we bombard the singers of the single thought, were only dressing a hateful ideology has continued to crush the living beauty of the values common to all cultures.

" That the Earth is pretty " said the poet Armand Robin, "No need also flowers!"

G. Hadey
          Zumba Before And After Picutures   
Democratic Transition in Tunisia

"Tunisia is between radical and authoritarian democracy"
EROS BY SANA (January 31, 2011)

Source: http://www.bastamag .net/article1401.html

How to build the democratic transition in Tunisia? Vincent Geisser, a researcher at the Institute for Research and Studies on the Arab and Muslim world, analyzes the role played by different actors in Tunisia - political opponents, former regime of Ben Ali, "Islamist" party, army, police - and foreign powers. It describes possible scenarios of democratic consolidation in the coming weeks. Maintenance.

Basta! : Where is the revolution in Tunisia? What are the strategies of the opposing forces to build the "transition Democratic?

Vincent Geisser [1]: The "democrats" Tunisians who supported and accompanied the revolution are deeply divided over the future of the protest movement. There are those who feel the need to strengthen the nascent democracy by putting a definitive end to the protest process. They are supporters of a certain security standards, based on a historic compromise between the "doves" of the former regime, opponents and independent representatives UGTT single union (the General Union of Tunisian Workers). They want to consolidate the democratic transition, including by dealing with the army and the party more "healthy" of the security apparatus, as well as some former bosses of the regime known for their "openness." This is the position advocated by Najib Chebbi (Democratic Progressive Party), former opponent in Ben Ali, currently Minister of the transitional government.

Others want to eradicate all traces of the old regime and the party-state, and reject any compromise. This is where supporters of Marzouki (Congress for the Republic) and members of the Communist Party of Tunisian Workers (POCT). And of course leaders movement of "unemployed graduates" of the interior. They wish to push through the "democratic revolution" to give birth to a new political, economic and social development. Both camps have no real difference in political culture, they are animated by democratic ideals. What separates them fundamentally, the strategy of rupture and especially the "democracy agenda".

What remains of the old regime?

There is some disappointment today protesting actors, quite understandable - I think particularly young people "unemployed graduates". But there is no objective risk of returning to the old regime or system restore mafia. A break has occurred. The dictator is gone. This is a crucial element when it is known that while Tunisia was around him, with extreme personalization of power. mafia clans and profiteers - families Ben Ali, Trabelsi and others - have fled. Darkest segments of the security apparatus were largely dismantled.

If we can legitimately understand the disappointment of " radical democrats, "as Marzouki, Hammami, Nasraoui, and unemployed graduates who feel that their revolution was stolen, the former regime is ousted. We are in a transition phase. But this transition can lead to a regime that bastard would an independent candidate access to presidential power, with new elements but also with elements of the old regime. This will lead to reinforce a kind of "authoritarian democracy" or "democratic authoritarianism".

What role did the Tunisian army played in the revolution and what role can it play in the future?

The army has been in recent weeks a fundamental role, not supporting the plan of repression of Ben Ali. She clearly rejected the extreme policies of the supreme leader, and instead played a protective role players protesters. The reason? The army is not connected with the mafia and clan interests of power. Unlike Egypt, Syria or even Algeria, Tunisia army has no direct interest in industry or in the management of oil revenues. It is an army of about 35,000 men, composed of employees, officials, technicians and engineers.

should not be provided to paint a romantic portrait. The Tunisian army played a repressive role in 1978 to channel the social movements, and in 1981 and 1984 to quell the "bread riots". This time, she refused the role because the sources of legitimacy of the regime were exhausted. Ben Ali was discredited, corruption was widespread. Faced with this stalemate, the military has understood that the only solution was to replace the dictator.

This reaction - some would say "Republican" - is primarily dictated by pragmatic: generals and senior officers are convinced that a crackdown could lead to chaos and their own demise. As the "political fluidity" present, the Tunisian army can play a more important role in the constitutional process and the "pacification" social, oscillating between registry and registry security mediation with the forces of the country.

"security apparatus" Tunisia is it still present and operational?

France has 60 million inhabitants, Tunisia 9 million. Yet both countries have almost the same number of police officers: 135.000. is huge! Tunisia is one of the countries with the most police per capita. The security apparatus, through the Ministry of Interior is fully engaged in repression. Part of the police fired into the crowd with live ammunition. It is the security apparatus of Ben Ali who is responsible for nearly 70 deaths officially deplored and thousands injured. But the whole apparatus police is not corrupt: the "rotten" mafia of the security apparatus was largely dismantled.

There is more to fear from areas of the Department of the Interior directly to the clans and Ben Ali Trabelsi. They are currently in hiding. I do not believe in a return of "old demons" even if the future Tunisian democracy can deal with safety trends similar to those we see now in France with Nicolas Sarkozy. In this sense there is a danger of creating in Tunisia in the coming months an "authoritarian democracy".

What role can the "Islamists" in the democratic process?

The "Islamists" Tunisians have long been integrated into "democratic forums." They are "fundamentalists embedded" in the democratic debate in exile. They participated in Paris, London, Marseille numerous opposition rallies, alongside the left, communist, socialist, even anti-Islamic. Many leaders of the left Tunisian 'secular' leaders have frequently met with "Islamists". In many ways the 'fundamentalists' are already integrated into the political game of Tunisia.

For the party Ennahdha (Renaissance) Rached Ghannouchi, the model is not radical Islam or Islamism Salafi Saudi-style, but the AKP, which currently leads Turkey. This means accepting the parliamentary game and advocating economic liberalism tinged social, and especially a certain pragmatism with other Democrats. There is a huge myth about "Islamists" of Tunisia. The party Ennahdha is more of a liberal conservative party, which is not at all in a process of creating an Islamic state or Islamic theocracy. The Islamists classic "Tunisians are now looking to Ankara, they did nothing" green fascists. " How

react today Western countries and Arab neighbors?

The United States has played a leading role in the departure of Ben Ali.
support President Barack Obama to the social movement, even if he was shy, was much sharper than that of France. Beyond this symbolic support, it would seem that the Obama administration has given its support to the Tunisian army and "doves" of the regime (Mohamed Ghannouchi, Prime Minister and Kamel Morjane, the Minister of Foreign Affairs) to sacrifice Ben Ali. It is clear that the United States supported the transition scenario.

Regarding the Arab countries, we can really worry that some plans make every effort to derail the democratic process in Tunisia. Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria has no interest in a democracy can arise in the Arab world. A "loose coalition" of Arab dictators could be to sabotage or disrupt the democratic process in Tunisia.

Support from U.S., EU and France to Tunisian Democrats is essential. Either you play the card of democracy in the Arab world or, rather, play an ambiguous role and promotes the perverse game of Saudi Wahhabis, the megalomaniac dictatorship of the regime of Gaddafi and Algerian generals. In this case, we should not complain about the progress of the Salafist jihadist ideology!

How Does France have made such errors of analysis on the situation of Tunisia?

The official position of France was not based on an error analysis, but on a political logic of total and blind support for Ben Ali regime. Interpret the statements of Michele Alliot-Marie as a political mistake is wrong. This is not a political mistake, this is a failing policy. France has always supported authoritarian regimes . She believes that one does diplomacy in relations between States and civil societies are not important.

The United States have both supported Ben Ali and developed concrete relations with unions and all the dissidents of the regime. In contrast, France has always prohibited its diplomacy to have any contact with everything that could affect the quality of its relations with Ben Ali. This blindness is the logic of French policy towards the Arab world: "We support dictators against the risks of destabilization! It seems that France has included a number of mistakes. Hopefully it reorients its policy towards Tunisia openly supporting the democratic process.

What are the possible scenarios in the weeks and months ahead?

Tunisia has a choice between two options. Either authoritarian democratic consolidation that would lead the country until elections, with a broad coalition around an opponent as independent Nejib Chebbi (PDP), with some elements of former regime elements and the trade union left. In this case, the elections will certainly be "democratic" (at least in appearance), but the scenario is first "programmed" the government candidate will have particular ways superior to those of its opponents. This scenario of "managed democracy" is intended to protect Western interests and pursue the integration of Tunisia in the "world economy" in the footsteps of the Bank World Bank and the IMF. A scenario where the candidate would be a sort of "Tunisian Ouattara.

Another assumption: the pressure of the street continues or increases and pushes the government to resign or to go much further, with the dissolution of the party of Ben Ali (RCD), the establishment of a genuine process with the constitutional election of a constituent assembly. Total semi-democracy or democracy? Radical break with the old regime or consolidation autoritaro-democratic? This is how I would put the political future of Tunisia. A future which, in all cases, will be without Ben Ali.

Interview by Eros Sana

Notes [1] Vincent Geisser is a sociologist and researcher at the CNRS and the Institute for Research and Studies on the Arab and Muslim world (IREMAM). He is author, with Marzouki, dictators on borrowed time. A democratic path in the Arab world, editions of L'Atelier, 2009.

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Em saudação aos 60 anos do MPLA, aos 52 anos da passagem do Che por África e aos 43 anos do 25 de Abril… e assinalando os 50 anos do início do “Exercício ALCORA” e os 50 anos do início da Guerra do Biafra.

15- O fascismo e colonialismo do Estado Novo, em função dos problemas que criou, tornou-se praticamente indigente no que ao armamento e equipamento militar dizia respeito: e vassalo nas obrigações internacionais no quadro da NATO e do Exercício ALCORA, uma vassalagem que não parou com o 25 de Abril de 1974.

Em Goa, Damão e Dio, ficou evidente que a capacidade militar do colonialismo português praticamente não existia e no campo da NATO, muito poucos tinham interesse em ajudar essa indigência avassalada, inclusive o aliado Grã-Bretanha.

Logo em 1961 relativamente a Angola, era essa a impressão do cônsul-geral da África do Sul em Luanda e por isso os portugueses recorreram desde logo ao “apartheid” para criar comunicações que levassem a futuros entendimentos com a África do Sul.

Se a vassalagem era impotente em relação à NATO, iriam buscá-la noutras paragens.

Em Setembro de 1963, a África do Sul ofereceu assistência militar e um ano depois, os portugueses manifestaram ao “apartheid” que estavam interessados num acordo permanente para o fornecimento de peças e outros serviços de apoio para os helicópteros Alouette III.

Em 1967 os dois países deram mais um passo no sentido do fornecimento por parte da África do Sul de material militar, algo que agradava ao “apartheid”, que além do mais se ia apercebendo que Portugal iria ficar em dependência em relação ao seu poderio e interesses.

Em 1968 os enlaces derivaram no sentido de se criar as bases do acordo do âmbito do Exercício ALCORA, sendo definida a entrada das SADF e Polícia sul-africana no sudeste de Angola, a pretexto do “apartheid” se juntar aos portugueses e dar caça simultaneamente às guerrilhas da SWAPO e do MPLA.

Em ambos os casos o “apartheid” aproveitou para estreitar laços com a PIDE/DGS, uma vez que o conceito e a doutrina dos Flechas às ordens de Óscar Cardoso lhes interessava, tanto como a Operação Madeira.

De entre os equipamentos que a África do Sul se comprometeu a fornecer nesse ano, estavam 5 helicópteros Alouette III, 33 autometralhadoras Panhard AML e 283 rádios TR 28C.

Algum desse armamento foi parar aos “Dragões” instalados no Bié, o que é um indicativo da percepção que o colonialismo português tinha sobre a importância geoestratégica da Região Central das Grandes Nascentes em Angola.

Para efeito desse fornecimento, os sul-africanos solicitaram ao Estado Novo que pedisse autorização aos franceses, uma vez que eram eles os produtores desses meios e o “apartheid”, que sob licença os produzia no seu território, respeitava os compromissos existentes com a França…

Portugal acedeu e os fornecimentos a partir de então passaram a ter plena garantia.

A França passou a ser um fornecedor de material de guerra que supria as necessidades do“apartheid”, no âmbito da internacional fascista que renitentemente se erguia em armas na África Austral e por tabela do colonialismo português, em especial nos teatros operacionais de Angola, Moçambique e Guiné Bissau.

É evidente que isso não teria sido possível sem que houvesse fortes laços entre os interessados da internacional fascista, ao abrigo do “Le Cercle”, um dos mentores mais reaccionários das políticas de então, unindo as tendências fascistas e colonialistas na Europa, na América Latina e em África, com respaldo das sucessivas administrações estado-unidenses.

O “Le Cercle” haveria de ter muitos êxitos nos seus “bons ofícios” na “defesa da civilização judaico-cristã ocidental” e entre eles os resultantes dos papados no Vaticano dum polaco (João Paulo II – 22 de Outubro de 1978 a 2 de Abril de 2005) e dum alemão (Bento XVI – 24 de Abril de 2005 a 28 de Fevereiro de 2013)…

As mais “conservadoras” doutrinas da Igreja Católica Apostólica Romana, impactaram em Angola nos anos da “glasnost”, nos anos de chumbo, precisa e sincronizadamente na mesma altura dos impactos do capitalismo neoliberal após o desaparecimento do socialismo real da Europa e essa, sob o ponto de vista ideológico, é uma das explicações das aproximações que em função de Bicesse se fizeram a Angola, por via de partidos como o CDS, PSD e PS, até aos nossos dias… coisas de agenciados social-democratas do âmbito da “civilização judaico-cristã ocidental” e dos negócios que ela tão bem propicia, já se vê…

Antes era nesse mesmo esteio que se movia a “Aginter Press”, no quadro das “redes stay behind” da NATO e do “Le Cercle”, acima das capacidades operacionais dos serviços de inteligência de Portugal, Rodésia e África do Sul, ainda que tivesse ficado sem efeito a Concordata do Estado Novo com o Vaticano…

O apoio da França foi garantido e a África do Sul teve luz verde para continuar o fornecimento de material militar ao Estado Novo, o que reforçou o seu relativo domínio na definição, formulação e organização das tarefas e missões implícitas no acordo do Exercício ALCORA.

O Estado Novo foi ficando cada vez mais avassalado ao “apartheid”, à medida que progredia a instalação do Exercício ALCORA.

As políticas de Richard Nixon para África por seu turno, deram outra cobertura às iniciativas em prol do Exercício ALCORA e no leste de Angola, a África do Sul desencadeou a Operação Bombaim, contra as guerrilhas do MPLA e da SWAPO, dando início a uma prolongada “border war” que só iria terminar em finais da década de 80 do século XX, quando a Linha da Frente passou irreversivelmente do paralelo de Brazzaville – Dar es Salam, para o paralelo da fronteira sul de Angola, Zâmbia e Moçambique, dando posteriormente origem à criação da “Southern African Development Community”, SADC.

O Exercício ALCORA teve início formal entre 4 e 7 de Dezembro de 1971, permitindo um aumento dos fornecimentos de material de guerra por parte da França e da África do Sul ao Estado Novo.

Em 1973 e 1974 o estudo dos riscos e ameaças, em função das informações colhidas em Kinshasa no âmbito do Exercício ALCORA (que envolveu também a “antena diplomática” que dava pelo nome de António Monteiro), apontava para a eminência dum ataque a Cabinda e norte de Angola, sob orientação do apêndice da CIA, Mobutu, Presidente do Zaíre, reforçado por outros países africanos.

O Zaíre havia adquirido armamento e os programas de acção contra o colonialismo português em suporte das FLEC e da FNLA, começaram a ganhar corpo.

A escalada de fornecimento de material de guerra em 1974, por parte do “apartheid” ao colonialismo português, subiu uma vez mais a fasquia: os sul-africanos iriam fazer reconhecimentos aéreos em Cabinda e norte de Angola, “a fim de detectar indícios de preparativos de concentração de forças inimigas”, estimularam o fornecimento de mísseis Crotale e prepararam um acordo financeiro, com uma ampla política de crédito disponível.

O 25 de Abril de 1974 inviabilizou alguns dos fornecimentos militares e o reconhecimento aéreo acordado, não terá inviabilizado o financiamento (que lhe terá sido anterior também por causa do Plano do Cunene e Cabora Bassa), mas o aproveitamento das iniciativas de Mobutu na direcção de Cabinda e do norte de Angola, estimuladas pela CIA no encontro “secreto” entre o general Spínola e Mobutu na ilha do Sal, ficaram proteladas para o quadro das disputas relativas à independência de Angola a 11 de Novembro de 1975.

Foi assim que o aproveitamento das iniciativas de Mobutu, passaram a integrar a Operação IAFEATURE, da “CIA contra Angola”, conforme a denúncia de John Stockwell.

De entre esses aproveitamentos esteve o Exército de Libertação de Portugal, ELP, um resultado dos compromissos do general Spínola, que depois de ultrapassar a hesitação de alinhamento directo com o “apartheid”, acabou por alinhar na operação da “CIA contra Angola”, tendo à frente o Coronel Santos e Castro, um profundo conhecedor das áreas a norte de Luanda (Caxito e Dembos).

O ELP aglutinou alguns sectores ligados à Frente Unida de Angola, FUA e à Frente Revolucionária de Angola, FRA (criado por Jaime Nogueira Pinto), entre outros, cujos programas levavam à independência de Angola de acordo com as ideias de Ian Smith na Rodésia e de forma a “repescar”em tempo oportuno o Exercício ALCORA.

Em “Jogos africanos”, Jaime Nogueira Pinto (membro assumido do “Le Cercle”), revela:

“… Com a partida de Silvério Marques e a chegada de Rosa Coutinho a situação agravou-se muito em todos os sectores.

O Almirante Vermelho, que logo se fizera rodear de uma segurança nunca vista, mostrava-se frio e eficaz no prosseguimento dos seus objectivos.

Achei que era tempo de passar a formas superiores de luta.


Tive então a ideia de criar a FRA – Frente Revolucionária de Angola.

O conceito era simples.

Se fôssemos fazer uma coisa de raiz, nós, os miúdos, os militares metropolitanos, não teríamos qualquer hipótese de ser levados a sério pelos civis locais.

Por isso achámos melhor recorrer à acção psicológica e à agitprop, criando um mito, uma lenda.

Engendramos então uma organização secreta – a FRA.

Redigíamos os panfletos originais da dita organização e fazíamos como se nos tivessem vindo parar às mãos.

Depois fotocopiávamos os panfletos e distribuíamo-los por círculos de activistas, onde estavam o Engenheiro Pompílio da Cruz, o capitão Seara e outros.

O Mariz Fernandes era a única pessoa, para além de mim e do Nunes, que sabia da coisa.

A ideia que passávamos era a de que existia uma forte organização secreta de resistência ao MFA e que quem aderia a essa sofisticadíssima rede clandestina passava a fazer parte duma poderosa máquina subversiva.

Assim a FRA funcionou, teve adesões, recrutou militantes e fez até algumas operações.

Era o que importava: não estar quieto, tentar coisas contra o apocalipse que se aproximava”…

…Por aquela altura já estava eu incorporado no Movimento Democrático de Angola (MDA) que, antes da chegada do MPLA a Luanda, sob orientação da Drª Maria do Carmo Medina e de Antero de Abreu, se contrapunha às influências da FUA e do FRA.

O ELP tinha influências também no sul de Angola, (Huíla, Namibe e em Benguela), com resíduos que foram permanecendo até hoje, com influência nos sectores económicos e sócio-políticos daquelas províncias, e intimamente associados a outros intervenientes dentro e fora de Angola, nomeadamente em Portugal e na África do Sul.

Era nesse cadinho que a BOSS/NIS recrutava agentes, como os que foram mais tarde detectados e neutralizados pela segurança angolana; Amílcar Fernandes Freire, Francisco Alberto Abarran Barata e Dongala Kamati, (meados da década de 80)… eu fui um dos oficiais instrutores do processo que lhes foi correspondente em defesa dasegurança e soberania de Angola… mal sabendo eu que em breve seria acusado, julgado e condenado por “golpe de estado sem efusão de sangue”(Processo 76/86)…

Foi assim também que o “apartheid”, tacitamente, desencadearia a Operação Savana, em apoio a Savimbi, em simultâneo à Operação da “CIA contra Angola” e na perspectiva de Holden e Savimbi alcançarem o poder em Luanda, a 11 de Novembro de 1975…”border war” já se vê…

… E foi assim que Portugal (onde já se vivia o após 25 de Novembro de 1975), retardou o reconhecimento da República Popular de Angola, (só o fez a 22 de Fevereiro de 1976 e foi o 83º país a fazê-lo) na espectativa de sua inviabilização!

É evidente que à medida que a aristocracia financeira mundial assumia o domínio, todas as peças da “civilização judaico-cristã ocidental” se iam encaixando na sua estrutura em pirâmide, cada vez mais avassaladora, preparando a hegemonia unipolar.

16- A passagem da linha da frente progressista e informal, para a Linha da Frente contra o“apartheid” a sul de Angola, acompanhou a trajectória da evolução do Exercício ALCORA até ao seu colapso.

Em Brazzaville, sucederam-se vários governos progressistas, fora da órbitra das redes de Jacques Foccard e para tal muito contribuiu a ajuda internacionalista da 2ª coluna do Che, que teve em Jorge Risquet um dos seus principais dirigentes.

Instalada a partir de 1965, a 2ª coluna do Che, que continuou mesmo depois da passagem do Che pelo Congo na espectativa dos sucessos da guerrilha de Mulele, vocacionou-se também e desde logo no apoio ao Movimento de Libertação em África, nomeadamente no apoio ao MPLA.

No livro “El  Segundo Frente del Che en el Congo – Historia del Batallón Patricio Lumumba”, Jorge Risquet Valdés dá conta do papel da iniciativa solidária e internacionalista para com África, nos termos da linha da frente progressista informal que se instalou entre Dar es Salam e Brazzaville, narrando com detalhe as acções e citando uma nota do Comandante Fidel de Castro de 30 de Dezembro de 1966:

“Informa a nuestros compañeros en esa,

A nuestros instructores militares, que han permanecido meses alejados de nuestra pátria, cumpliendo misión histórica de solidariedade com pueblos hermanos de África y que han puesto mu yen alto el prestígio de la Revolución cubana envio un caluroso y bien merecido Saludo en estes dias de fiestas navideñas.

La actitud firme y decidida de ustedes, combatientes revolucionários, de permanecer voluntariamente junto a pueblos hermanos, amenazados y agredidos por el imperialismo, demuenstra el alto espiritu de internacionalismo proletário y de solidariedade revolucionaria que há alcanzado nuestro Pueblo. En esse gesto está presente el ideal revolucionaria de Camilo y la decisión inquebrantable de lucha del Che.

Nuestro partido, las fuerzas armadas revolucionaias y nuestro Pueblo, que se apresentan a festejar el octavo aniversario de nuestra Revolución, se sienten orgullosos de ustedes, abnegados jóvenes por la disposición de ofrendar sus vidas si fuere necessário por la causa justa de los pueblos oprimidos, conscientes de que com ello sirven a la pátria y a la humanidade”.

Muita capacidade operativa do MPLA e do PAIGC foi forjada nessa conjuntura, inclusive as três colunas que partiriam em socorro da Iª Região Política Militar do MPLA, cercada e vulnerável
a incursões militares e de inteligência por parte do colonialismo português.

Para o MPLA foi também muito importante para reverter as situações vividas com a sua expulsão do Zaíre.

As colunas do MPLA, Camilo Cienfuegos, Cami e Ferraz Bomboco foram apenas um dos resultados dessas iniciativas progressistas a partir de Brazzaville, além da continuidade da guerrilha de Pierre Mulele e da própria consolidação do poder progressista no Congo (Brazzaville).

Os guerrilheiros angolanos forjados nessas lutas inquebrantáveis, foram utilizados depois para a abertura da Frente Leste do MPLA já no início da década de 70 do século XX, fazendo progredir em direcção a sul a Libertação em África, tendo como rectaguarda o território zambiano e ponto de apoio logístico principal Dar es Salam; muitos dos chefes estiveram na proclamação das FAPLA.

A abertura da Frente Leste foi determinante para o “apartheid” se decidir a envolver no Exercício ALCORA, dando início à “border war” em 1968 e presença de suas forças no sudeste angolano, facto que por si comprova quanto era negativamente avaliado o poder militar do Estado Novo em Angola.

A abertura da Frente Leste obrigou por outro lado a internacional fascista (com Mobutu incluído) a reforçar as linhas etno-nacionaistas da FLEC, da FNLA e da UNITA…

Com o 25 de Abril de 1974, o Exercício ALCORA desmorona-se dos termos previstos pela internacional fascista que incluía Portugal, a Rodésia, a África do Sul e alguns aliados africanos infiltrados pelo seu sistema e pela CIA.

O plano de Mobutu para assaltar Cabinda e o norte de Angola, foi então “reconvertido”, o que só por si era um obstáculo à progressão em direcção sul das linhas progressistas a partir de Dar es Salam e Brazzaville.

Com a data de independência de Angola à vista, Mobutu “fazia-se ao bife”, sob os auspícios da CIA e tacitamente alinhado com o “apartheid”, enquanto os portugueses, perdidos nas lutas internas do MFA entre o 25 de abril de 1974 e o 25 de Novembro de 1975, iam respondendo conforme cada tendência política.

O Governador de Cabinda de então, Themudo Barata, veladamente alinhou com Mobutu e a FLEC, por efeito das políticas do general Spínola, conferindo à FLEC uma representatividade que não era internacionalmente reconhecida, numa polémica que é sustentada até nossos dias, com muitas entidades portuguesas a seguirem a trilha spinolista desde o 25 de Novembro de 1975.

As FLECs contam com apoios desse tipo em Portugal desde então.

Na aproximação do 11 de Novembro, Mobutu apoia a FLEC e a FNLA, de forma a intervir em Angola ao abrigo da CIA, pelo que angolanos e cubanos tiveram de travar as batalhas decisivas de Cabinda, Quifangondo e Ebo, a fim de ser proclamada a República Popular de Angola.

Em Cuba o Comandante Fidel apercebeu-se da importância de defender a capital angolana e simultaneamente Cabinda, pois sem isso seria impossível a progressão da linha da frente infrmal entre Dar es Salam e Brazzaville, para a Linha da Frente que mis tarde daria origem à SADC.

Pouco relevo se tem dado à batalha de Cabinda, mas o general de corpo de exército das Forças Armadas Revolucionárias de Cuba, Ramón Espinosa Martin, elaborou um relato completo dos acontecimentos no seu livro “La Batalla de Cabinda”.

Desse livro destaco uma das lições geoestratégicas do Comandante Fidel em África.

“Mensage de Salida nº. 58

Destino: Luanda.

Al: 1er. Comdt. Arguelles- Gondin.

El comandante en Jefenos há pedido les trasmitamos el seguiente texto:

Para Angola se envio todo lo solicitado e incluso más.

Se decidió reforzar Cabinda com recursos absolutamente adicionales.

Se envio também personal que estuviera en disposición de combatir.

Cabinda es el punto más débil y peor defendido.

Si se pierde Cabinda no lo podran recuperar más.

Angola sin Cabinda no podrá consolidar su independenciaporque alli están los recursos económicos fundamentales.

Mobutu quiere apoderar-se de Cabinda y tarde o temprano la va a agredir, sobre todo si sabe que está indefensa.

Es necessário que ustedes entiendan esto y se lo hagan compreender al MPLA.

Se acordo además enviar a Angola el personal necessário para la técnica soviética.

Por esto no lo creemos que se deba continuar debilitando Cabinda.

Si ya bajaron los morteros 120 en Bengela, úsenlos entonces en Angola pero no reduzcan más los medios destinados a Cabinda.

Debemos atenernos a los planos acordados.

Ahora se lucha en Angola pero no sabemos lo que puede ocurrir en Cabinda y no debemos dejar nuestro personal alli debilitado, ya que en caso de ataque por fuerzas d Zaire tendrán que luchar muy duramente y prácticamente solos.

En Angola tienen ya bastantes médios.

Estan recebuiendo además el material de otros países y se puede continuar reforzando desde aqui com personal cubano.

Si Hay peligro real en Luanda es mejor reforzar esa dirección com médios de las otras escuelas antes que descuidar Cabinda.

Ustedes tienen ahi varias opciones posibles cuando lo consideren realmente necesario.

Los ruego analicen com serenidade estos hechos.

Si se gana la guerra en Angola Y se pierde en Cabinda, se habra perdido mucho.

Hay que tratr de obtener los objectivos completos en ambos puntos.

Saludos, Fidel.

Firmado: Colomé.


A Operação Carlota estava lançada e a RPA levaria a linha da frente para a sua própria fronteira sul, o que obrigaria o “apartheid” a reinventar e reconverter a “border war”, nunca desperdiçando o que quer que fosse dos “bons ofícios” à portuguesa no quadro dos sucessivos governos de após 25 de Novembro de 1975, tendo em conta a absorção de muitos conceitos e práticas do colonialismo português e dos nexos de inteligência que todos eles propiciavam.

Isso perdurou não só enquanto esteve em vigência o “apartheid”, mas também quando as políticas hegemónicas unipolares incentivadas pela “civilização judaico-cristã ocidental” se fortaleceram e impactaram da maneira mais terrível (choque neoliberal entre 1992 e 2002), quanto da maneira mais “persuasiva” (quando se foi evidenciando a terapia neoliberal em Angola, de 2002 aos nossos dias)… para esse efeito a inteligência económica dos sucessivos governos de Portugal, vassala dos poderosos, tal como do Bilderberg, esperaram a sua hora!

Em relação a Angola, por alturas do passamento físico do Comandante Fidel, foi justo o que escrevi na Embaixada de Cuba enquanto “soldado do MPLA” e antigo combatente angolano, face à fotografia do Comandante, insigne lutador pelas mais justas causas libertárias de África:

“… De Argel ao Cabo…

Cavalgando com Fidel!

… Levando o ardor progressista desde contra o baluarte do colonialismo francês no Norte de África…

… Até contra o bastião mais retrógrado e fascista que existia à face da Terra após a IIª Guerra Mundial, em seu perverso domínio em toda a África Austral…

… Precisamente no sentido inverso ao projetado pelo império anglo-saxónico sob inspiração de Cecil John Rhodes… do Cabo ao Cairo…

… Em 55 anos foi de facto um vulcão libertário que sacudiu África e se distendeu, um vulcão libertário cuja energia tem aqui e agora, no berço da humanidade, oportunidade para muito melhor se refletir, se equacionar e inteligentemente aproveitar!...

… Quanto os africanos não têm saudavelmente absorvido do legítimo contributo e histórica responsabilidade revolucionária cubana, por via das armas enquanto houvera que ser, por via da educação e da saúde enquanto nesses 55 anos o foi, o é… e o será no porvir!?

Vencido o colonialismo pelas armas… vencido o apartheid pelas armas… vencidas algumas de suas sequelas pelas armas… quando face às bombas nucleares nenhum combatente progressista recuou… a paz, a harmonia e a luta contra o subdesenvolvimento tornou-se mais possível que nunca!...”

A consultar de Martinho Júnior:
Eleições na letargia duma colónia periférica – 
Programa soft power da CIA contra Angola, passa por Portugal – 
Neocolonialismo em brandos costumes e dois episódios – 
Portugal à sombra de ambiguidades ainda não ultrapassadas – I – 
Portugal à sombra de ambiguidades ainda não ultrapassadas – II – 
Portugal à sombra de ambiguidades ainda não ultrapassadas – III – 
Portugal à sombra de ambiguidades ainda não ultrapassadas – IV – 
Portugal à sombra de ambiguidades ainda não ultrapassadas – V – 
Portugal à sombra de ambiguidades ainda não ultrapassadas – VI –


Milhares nas ruas pedem democracia e libertação de Liu Xiaobo

01 de Julho de 2017, 23:48

Hong Kong, China, 01 jul (Lusa) -- Milhares de pessoas saíram hoje à rua em Hong Kong, para pedir mais liberdades políticas e a libertação do ativista chinês Liu Xiaobo, no dia do vigésimo aniversário da transição da antiga colónia britânica para a China.

A Civil Human Rigthts Front [Frente Civil dos Direitos Humanos], que todos os anos organiza o protesto de 01 de julho, estimou o número de participantes em mais de 60.000, enquanto a polícia referiu 14.500, segundo a imprensa local.

Os números foram inferiores aos do ano passado, com a organização a estimar cerca de 110.000 participantes e a polícia 19.300.

A marcha saiu do Parque Vitória em direção ao Conselho Legislativo (LegCo, o parlamento) pelas 15:00 (08:00 em Lisboa), já depois de o Presidente chinês, Xi Jinping, ter deixado a cidade, no final de uma visita de três dias, marcada por detenções de ativistas em protestos e pela advertência de que não será tolerada qualquer ameaça contra o poder de Pequim.

"Penso que todos os que vieram à manifestação vieram porque pensam que este ano é muito especial: são os 20 anos desde a transição", disse à agência Lusa Au Nok-hin, da Frente Civil dos Direitos Humanos, a entidade que organiza a manifestação.

"Há muitos problemas por resolver por parte do Governo de Hong Kong", acrescentou o também membro do Partido Democrata.

Nesse sentido, Au Nok-hin criticou as declarações do porta-voz do Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros chinês, que na sexta-feira disse que a Declaração Conjunta sino-britânica -- assinada em 1984 e na qual assenta o princípio "Um país, dois sistemas" e ao abrigo do qual foi realizada a transição de Hong Kong para a China em 1997 --, "é um documento histórico e não tem qualquer significado prático".

O mesmo responsável disse que esperava que o Governo central reconsiderasse as declarações daquele ministério.

"Muitos de nós estão preocupados com o futuro de Hong Kong, sobretudo com as recentes limitações à liberdade de reunião", acrescentou, em alusão às restrições impostas pela polícia para os protestos dos ativistas durante a visita de Xi Jinping à cidade.

No protesto marcaram também presença os ativistas que esta manhã foram detidos pela polícia, incluindo o rosto dos protestos pró-democracia de 2014, o jovem Joshua Wong e o deputado conhecido como 'Cabelo Comprido'.

Este ano, os manifestantes viram reduzido o espaço que anualmente lhes é atribuído no Parque Vitória, de onde parte a tradicional marcha pró-democracia, uma vez que grande parte da área estava reservada a uma exposição promovida por uma coligação de grupos de cerca de 40 grupos pró-Pequim (Hong Kong Celebrations Association).

Antes de iniciarem a marcha pelas ruas, no palco montado sobre o relvado do parque, vários ativistas usaram da palavra, incluindo Lam Wing-kee, um dos cinco livreiros que em 2015 desapareceram em condições misteriosas para reaparecerem, mais tarde, detidos na China e a confessarem crimes através da televisão estatal chinesa.

Lam Wing-kee pediu a libertação de Liu Xiaobo e apelou aos manifestantes para não desistirem de lutar pela democracia.

Liu Xiaobo, de 61 anos, que em 2010 foi distinguido com o prémio Nobel da Paz por promover a reforma política da China, viu esta semana ser-lhe concedida liberdade condicional depois de lhe ter sido diagnosticado um cancro no fígado em fase terminal.

O ativista foi condenado em 2009 a 11 anos de reclusão por subversão.

O protesto decorreu de forma pacífica, sob calor intenso e alguns períodos debaixo de chuva intensa, com os manifestantes a percorrerem cerca de três quilómetros entre o Parque Vitória do LegCo, durante mais de três horas.

Os manifestantes reclamaram também uma ação legal contra o ex-chefe do executivo CY Leung, por pagamentos recebidos da empresa de engenharia australiana UGL enquanto líder da cidade, o desenvolvimento sustentável da cidade, a defesa dos direitos dos homossexuais e da diversidade étnica.

O protesto, dominado por guarda-chuvas amarelos e outros símbolos pró-democracia, contou com defensores pró-independência da cidade, que apareceram em alguns cruzamentos por onde a marcha passava com bandeiras a remeter para os tempos da colónia britânica.

A chuva acabou por levar a organização a cancelar uma concentração prevista no Tamar Park, onde estão situados o LegCo e a sede do Governo do território.

As manifestações pró-democracia são realizadas anualmente desde 01 de julho de 1997 e atingiram uma dimensão significativa desde 2003, quando meio milhão de pessoas saiu em protesto contra o plano do governo de regulamentar o artigo 23.º da Lei Básica, que prevê punir crimes de traição à pátria, secessão e subversão.

FV // VM

Pequim vai garantir aplicação firme de "um país, dois sistemas" em Hong Kong

01 de Julho de 2017, 12:58

Hong Kong, China, 01 jul (Lusa) - O Presidente chinês sublinhou hoje que Pequim vai garantir a aplicação "com firmeza" do princípio "um país, dois sistemas" em Hong Kong.

O Governo de Hong Kong "deve manter-se fiel a esta direção e respeitar integralmente" aquele princípio, afirmou Xi Jinping, perante mais de dois mil convidados que assistiram, momentos antes, à cerimónia de posse da chefe do Executivo, Carrie Lam, primeira mulher a desempenhar o cargo.

Este conceito foi criado para defender a unidade do país e qualquer desafio à soberania ou apoio à oposição representa uma rutura do princípio "um país, dois sistemas", acrescentou.

"Qualquer tentativa que ponha em perigo a soberania e segurança da China, desafie o poder do Governo central e a autoridade da Lei Básica de Hong Kong (...) é absolutamente inadmissível", declarou.

O respeito e aplicação do princípio "um país, dois sistemas" responde às necessidades da população de Hong Kong, de manter a prosperidade e estabilidade de Hong Kong, serve os interesses fundamentais da nação e as aspirações partilhadas de todos os chineses, disse, de acordo com a agência noticiosa chinesa Xinhua.

Mas o Governo de Hong Kong deve fazer mais para responder aos desafios colocados pela economia, habitação, segurança e aumentar a educação patriótica, considerou.

Xi Jinping ofereceu a ajuda e força económica da China como "uma oportunidade" para revitalizar Hong Kong, numa altura em que o preço das habitações é incomportável para os residentes e a competitividade internacional do território diminuiu.

"Criar deliberadamente divergências políticas e provocar a confrontação não vai resolver os problemas. Pelo contrário, só vai impedir gravemente o desenvolvimento económico e social de Hong Kong", advertiu.

Antes, Carrie Lam, de 60 anos, e os seus secretários juraram servir a China e Hong Kong e respeitar a Lei Básica, a miniconstituição do território.

O Presidente chinês chegou na quinta-feira a Hong Kong para as cerimónias do 20.º aniversário da transferência de soberania do Reino Unido para a China - 01 de julho de 1997 - e para investir a nova chefe do Executivo da Região Administrativa especial chinesa.

A cerca de um quilómetro de distância, um pequeno grupo de ativistas pró-democracia confrontou-se com a polícia e manifestantes pró-China. Pelo menos nove militantes pró-democracia foram detidos, indicou a agência noticiosa espanhola Efe.

EJ // DM

Ativistas condenam "abuso de poder" da polícia após libertação

01 de Julho de 2017, 15:21

Hong Kong, China, 01 jul (Lusa) -- Ativistas pró-democracia, detidos hoje em Honk Kong e libertados pouco tempo depois, condenaram a atuação da polícia, que acusaram de os ter deixado à mercê de ataque de grupos pró-China e tríades.

Pelo menos nove ativistas pró-democracia de Hong Kong foram detidos cerca das 08:00 (01:00 em Lisboa) após confrontos com manifestantes pró-China, no centro da cidade, onde decorrem as cerimónias do 20.º aniversário da transferência de soberania, tendo saído em liberdade ainda durante a manhã.

Joshua Wong, que já tinha sido detido na quarta-feira, juntamente com 25 ativistas, durante uma concentração realizada na praça Bauhinia, no centro da cidade, e libertado, foi um dos detidos de hoje.

De novo em liberdade, o líder dos protestos pró-democracia de 2014 disse em conferência de imprensa, que apesar de o protesto ter sido autorizado pelas autoridades, os manifestantes foram alvo de "ataques violentos" por grupos pró-China durante a manifestação em Wan Chai.

Os ativistas seguiam em direção ao centro de convenções, onde decorria a cerimónia de tomada de posse da nova chefe do Executivo, Carrie Lam.

"O que nós encontrámos foi gangues pró-China e tríades (...) que nos cercaram e bloquearam a nossa manifestação a pedir a democracia e a libertação [do ativista chinês] Liu Xiaobo", disse Joshua Wong, num dos vídeos de uma conferência de imprensa divulgada através da rede de mensagens instantâneas Twitter.

"Durante os ataques violentos constatámos que a polícia não fez nada e permitiu que aqueles gangues empunhassem a bandeira nacional e nos perturbassem até às 08:00 [01:00 em Lisboa, quando começaram as cerimónias oficiais]", acrescentou.

Joshua Wong classificou a situação de "absolutamente inaceitável" e "sem base legal", descrevendo que ele próprio foi algemado e que outros ativistas foram alvo de agressões de agentes no carro da polícia a caminho da esquadra.

"Condenamos veementemente a atuação da polícia por não proteger os manifestantes pacíficos e por permitir -- se não arranjou, pelo menos deixou -- estes 'gangues' atacar-nos", afirmou.

O também secretário-geral do partido Demosisto disse ainda que espera que "na manifestação de 01 de julho, na tarde de hoje, em vez de permitirem que os grupos leais pró-China continuem a perturbar o nosso protesto".

Na conferência de imprensa, Avery Ng, da Liga dos Sociais Democratas, descreveu aos jornalistas que os ativistas receberam informações contraditórias de diferentes agentes sobre se estavam ou não detidos.

"Assim que o veículo entrou em andamento, eu perguntei repetidamente aos agentes se estavámos detidos. Inicialmente, responderam que não sabiam, mas alguns minutos depois disseram que sim", contou Avery Ng. "Perguntei sob que acusações mas não responderam", afirmou.

"Assim que o veículo chegou à esquadra da polícia, outro grupo de polícias disse-nos: 'Vocês não estão presos, vocês estão livres, podem ir embora'. Este é o facto", acrescentou.

O ativista sublinhou que "a polícia está claramente a abusar do seu poder".

"Esta manhã, o objetivo era muito simples. Na verdade os objetivos tanto da polícia como das tríades são muito parecidos. O seu dever era impedir-nos de ir à cerimónia da manhã para protestar contra [o presidente da China] Xi Jinping", sublinhou.

Avery Ng acrescentou que "nas passadas 72 horas, a Liga dos Sociais Democratas foi alvo de detenções múltiplas e ataques violentos por elementos das tríades".

"O número supera a centena. Ao mesmo tempo, mais de 100 polícias foram destacados para seguir alguns dos nossos principais membros nos últimos três dias. Isto é o tipo de recursos que eles usam para reprimir um só partido político", adiantou.

Na conferência de imprensa, Joshua Wong e Avery Ng surgiram acompanhados por outros ativistas que também tinham sido levados pela polícia, como o deputado Leung Kwok-hung (conhecido por "Long hair" ou "Cabelo comprido") e pelo deputado Eddie Chu, entre outros.

O Presidente chinês chegou na quinta-feira a Hong Kong para as cerimónias do 20.º aniversário da transferência de soberania do Reino Unido para a China - 01 de julho de 1997 - e para investir a nova chefe do Executivo da Região Administrativa especial chinesa.

FV (EJ) // EJ

"Fazer barulho" nas ruas é a opção para quem não tem direito a voto

02 de Julho de 2017, 02:40

Hong Kong, China, 02 jul (Lusa) -- Aos 12 anos, Lum Lum é uma entre milhares de pessoas que, hoje, saíram à rua em Hong Kong para reclamar a eleição direta do líder da região.

Cerca de 60.000 pessoas, segundo a organização, ou 14.500, para a polícia, participaram na manifestação. Qualquer dos números está bastante aquém das manifestações realizadas há alguns anos, com muitos residentes frustrados com a falta de resultados dos protestos de rua.

Apesar de longe do 'fôlego' do "Occupy", que em 2014 paralisou durante 79 dias várias zonas da antiga colónia britânica para pedir a eleição do chefe do Executivo por sufrágio universal, os protestos continuam a fazer parte da cultura de Hong Kong, que assinalou os 20 anos da transição para a China.

Da família de Lum Lum só a irmã mais velha faltou à manifestação, "porque tinha muito para estudar", contou à agência Lusa, sob o olhar atento dos pais e de uma tia, enquanto caminhava desde o Parque Vitória em direção ao Conselho Legislativo (o parlamento da cidade).

"Estamos aqui porque queremos eleger o nosso chefe do Executivo e também porque não queremos mais corrupção no governo", disse Lum Lum à Lusa.

A pequena "ativista" começou a participar nos protestos pacíficos "desde os 3 ou 4 anos", por iniciativa do pai. Atenta ao que se passa na Região Especial Chinesa, a menina disse que a visita do Presidente chinês, Xi Jinping, não lhe despertou nenhum sentimento.

"Também não tenho qualquer mensagem para ele, porque se tivesse ele não me ia ouvir", acrescentou.

Já em relação aos ativistas que ao longo da semana foram sendo detidos e libertados, a menina mostrou determinação nas palavras. "Sinto tristeza e raiva. Eles não fizeram nada e tiveram problemas apenas porque queriam dizer ao Governo o que está mal em Hong Kong", afirmou.

Ao contrário de Lum Lum, a professora de Economia Anson Suen, de 31 anos, não é uma presença assídua nos protestos de rua. Juntou-se à grande manifestação em 2003, quando meio milhão saiu à rua, e no 20.º aniversário da região sob a soberania chinesa também achou que fazia "todo o sentido".

"Se o Governo central quer que nós amemos o país, então devia permitir mais liberdade de expressão, respeitar as nossas instituições e dar-nos a verdadeira democracia", disse.

Anson Suen seguia com um grupo de amigas, incluindo a também professora Dodo Lo, de 35 anos, que explicou o que a move nos protestos de rua.

"Talvez não faça a diferença, mas pelo menos fazemos barulho para demonstrar o nosso descontentamento. Queremos que eles saibam que não estamos felizes, mas eles ignoram-nos", disse.

Hong Kong foi integrada na República Popular da China em 1997, ao abrigo da fórmula idealizada por Deng Xiaoping para a reunificação do país, a qual permite a continuação por mais 50 anos do "modo de vida" do território, nomeadamente as liberdades de expressão, imprensa e de associação, desconhecidas no resto do continente.

Mas nos últimos anos, muitos residentes têm manifestado preocupações crescentes, denunciando interferências de Pequim nos assuntos da cidade e a erosão das liberdades.

É essa preocupação com o futuro de Hong Kong que continua a levar Choi, uma mulher de 39 anos, todos os anos à manifestação realizada a 01 de julho.

"Os padrões de vida e das liberdades têm vindo a diminuir, sobretudo nos últimos anos", afirmou, acrescentando que "a questão da democracia está pior do que há alguns anos".

Pequim prometera deixar os residentes de Hong Kong escolherem em 2017 o líder por voto direto, o que poria fim ao atual sistema de eleição através de um colégio eleitoral, mas com a condição de que os candidatos fossem aprovados por um comité de nomeação, algo que os pró-democratas contestaram, alegando que só os candidatos pró-Pequim teriam "luz verde".

Depois do "Occupy", essa reforma política foi chumbada pelo Conselho Legislativo de Hong Kong em junho de 2015, com o campo pró-democrata a votar em bloco contra a proposta.

Carrie Lam, a nova líder de Hong Kong eleita em março passado, foi escolhida por um colégio eleitoral composto por 1.200 membros. Primeira mulher a exercer o cargo, Lam obteve 777 votos.

Quando foi eleita, Carrie Lam prometeu "unir a sociedade", mas sem se comprometer com um calendário para iniciar um eventual novo processo de reforma política.

No sábado de manhã, Xi Jinping empossou Lam no cargo, no último dos três dias de uma visita oficial a Hong Kong, para assinalar a data.

FV (DM) // JLG

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Marquette, MI – (Great Lakes Radio News) – Republican State Senator Tom Casperson called in to the SUNNY Morning Show with Walt & Mike today to talk about why he was part of a handful of Republican Senators who voted with Democrats last week in Lansing against changes to teacher retirement packages. The plan, steering […]
          Commenti su Agenzia delle Entrate – Riscossione: la verità sul nuovo soggetto di michele   
Senza dubbio un bell'articolo, ma rivolto a chi? solo al povero cittadino che è e resterà sempre il TARTASSATO. Bell'articolo. l'ho letto con passione e speranza che qualcosa, almeno, sarebbe cambiato in meglio, invece, non solo il direttore diventa due volte direttore, e gli addetti, senza titolo continuano ad esserlo, secondo la costituzione, ma quale costituzione, cosè questa parola con la quale molti si riempiono la bocca e poi non la rispettano neanche quando vengono emanate le sentenze....Ricordate il Sig. Renzi quando ha deciso di non restituire agli aventi diritto ciò che la consulta ha invece ha sentenziato l'incostituzionalità del provvedimento FORNERO, che ha restituito solo una minima percentuale? lasciando tutto incostituzionale, beffandosene dei giudici e della corte stessa. Ma tutto ciò è normale quando in un paese come l'Italia governa un governo incostituzionale, antidemocratico e menzognero. W. l'Italia, se cambia, altrimenti continueremo ad andare indietro, ad impoverirci per fare arricchire solo poche persone vicino all'attuale governo che ormai "regna" da molti anni. SVEGLIAMOCI, QUSTI CI STANNO SPOLPONDO
          Christie and top Democrat at impasse as gov't shutdown looms in NJ   
New Jersey lawmakers will try again to pass a nearly $35 billion budget on Friday, hours before a midnight deadline to avert a state government shutdown.
          Democrats, moderate Republicans continue to mislead on Medicaid ‘cuts.’ Here are the facts   
As Senate Republicans continue to push their plan to replace the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, a new hurdle has emerged as one of the primary…
          In blocking a bad single-payer healthcare bill, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon was not 'cowardly' – quite the ... - Los Angeles Times   

Los Angeles Times

In blocking a bad single-payer healthcare bill, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon was not 'cowardly' – quite the ...
Los Angeles Times
Many Democrats would have lost politically regardless of how they sided on this pipe dream — angering taxpayers satisfied with their current insurance if they voted for the bill, or riling the potent California Nurses Assn. if they opposed it. Rendon ...
California Single-Payer Organizers Are Deceiving Their Supporters. It's Time to Stop.The Intercept
Death threats directed at Assembly leader over universal health care billSacramento Bee
What Killed Single-Payer In California?New Republic
Science 2.0 -ThinkProgress -PJ Media -The Mercury News
all 103 news articles »

          Democrats look to California for single-payer healthcare - Washington Examiner   

Washington Examiner

Democrats look to California for single-payer healthcare
Washington Examiner
The California Senate recently approved a bill that would create a single-payer healthcare program in which the state is the only payer for healthcare. California essentially would eliminate private insurance, with residents signing up for a state ...

and more »

          After Defying Trump On Climate Change & Immigration, California Clears Way For Universal Healthcare - Forbes   


          California Democrats, Funded by Big Pharma and Insurers, Are Blocking Their Own Healthcare Bill - Paste Magazine   

Paste Magazine

California Democrats, Funded by Big Pharma and Insurers, Are Blocking Their Own Healthcare Bill
Paste Magazine
Last week, California Democratic state Assembly Speaker, Anthony Rendon, rallied several Democratic corporate donors to block a Democrat-sponsored bill intended to create a single payer, universal health care program. This in a perpetually blue state ...

          Assembly Democrats denounce threats made after single-payer healthcare bill was sidelined - Los Angeles Times   

Los Angeles Times

Assembly Democrats denounce threats made after single-payer healthcare bill was sidelined
Los Angeles Times
It's theoretically possible for a Republican to get elected governor in California next year but it's not very likely. ... There's no guarantee the landscape for Republicans will be better in 2022 than it will be next year, but it certainly couldn't be ...

and more »

          Dap Should Focus On Fixing Their Democratic Deficit Rather Than Peddling Fake News   

Prime Minister Najib Razak s Press Secretary s statement 1 Liew Chin Tong should stop pushing what is obviously fake news smears and outright lies about the Government He should be more concerned about the serious predicament of his party D...
          Modern democratic states and religion   
Nasir Khan “If I were a dictator, religion and state would be separate. I swear by my religion. I will die for it. But it is my personal affair. The state has nothing to do with it. The state would look after your secular welfare, health, communications, foreign relations, currency and so on, but not […]
          Religious minorities under constant threat in Pakistan   
 Nasir Khan, April 23, 2017 The Pakistani state, its educational and judicial institutions that are deeply influenced by a flimsy religiosity and phoney piety present some ghoulish contradictions for any modern democratic state. How can we combine theocracy with democracy and call it the Islamic Republic of Pakistan? This spectacle continues to defy any clear […]
          Comment on Rapid City Hosts Impeachment March, Noem Town Hall, Democratic Friendraiser by Cory Allen Heidelberger   
The Democratic Friendraiser on July 10 will also be held at a facility with no metal detectors... but you will have to present ID to get beer.
          Comment on Rapid City Hosts Impeachment March, Noem Town Hall, Democratic Friendraiser by Cory Allen Heidelberger   
OldSarg is determined to distract, so let me take some heat. The Aberdeen public library, Aberdeen city hall, Brown County Courthouse, Northern State University library, and Aberdeen school district buildings have no metal detectors. One can attend Aberdeen city council meetings, Brown County commission meetings, and Aberdeen Central school board meetings without passing through a metal detector. In making the above statement, I have done nothing stupid or evil. I have not encouraged or endorsed violent activity at any of those venues. I bear no responsibility for any violent activity that other evildoers might commit at those venues. OldSarg, the "constitutionalist", apparently wants us to maintain a strict police state with universal surveillance. How's that for a distraction? But hey, feel free to attend Noem's town hall—which, as Susan helpfully notes, has been bumped back to 9:30—and ask her if she supports the installation of metal detectors in every public building and if so how she would fund such installations as Governor.
          01/07/2017: FRONT PAGE: Leaders back gay marriage in Northern Ireland   
DAVID YOUNG Labour’s Kezia Dugdale, Patrick Harvie from the Green Party and Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie all voiced support. Their intervention comes ahead of a major demonstration by gay rights activists in Belfast today. The region is the only...
          01/07/2017: FRONT PAGE: Sinn Fein urges PM and Taoiseach to join crisis talks   
THE Democratic Unionists have ridiculed a Sinn Fein call for the Prime Minister and Taoiseach to intervene in Stormont’s crisis talks, insisting the Republicans “don’t need anyone to hold their hands”. DUP negotiator Edwin Poots was responding to the...
          01/07/2017: FRONT PAGE: Northern Ireland case for funds is no more pressing than ours   
DISCUSSING the ConservativeDemocratic Unionist Party agreement, Ian Lakin (Letters, June 30) says that the extra funding for Northern Ireland is “much needed”. Why exactly is extra funding much needed for Northern Ireland but not for Scotland or Wales?...
          Democrats Need To Recognize That Obama Screwed Over The Working Class   
Liberals see Obama as an economic savior who stopped a financial crisis, created scores of (crappy or part time) jobs, and did his best to fight for the little guy. That’s what the Left says. Stoller added that the evidence presents a different picture and one that offers a reason why Trump beat Hillary Clinton last November. For starters, Obama allowed the banks for foreclose on nearly 10 million homes, favored creditors over borrowers when both probably should have been shouldering the burden of the housing crisis together, and didn’t prosecute anyone who was involved in almost setting the world...
          Are We Witnessing the Democratic Party transforming into the Whig Party?   
Have the Democrats turned working class middle America against them just like the Whig Party? I know many Trump supporters who are quietly going about their day-to-day business, working 40 - 50 hours a week, paying bills and trying to keep afloat and move their lives forward. However, they are keenly aware of what is happening on the left. The violent (paid) protest, the stupid pussy hats, the suppression of free speech, and the all around anarchy that has happened in places like Berkeley, CA has not gone unnoticed. These Trump voters would like nothing better than to send the...
          CBS News: Millionaire Clinton spotlights middle-class roots (LOL Alert)   
Hillary Clinton is a former First Lady, a former senator, and a former secretary of state. She is the Democratic nominee for president. But on Thursday, Clinton also gave herself another title: "a mom who works." "I loved what I did," Clinton wrote about her job as a lawyer in an op-ed. "And it was important to me to contribute to my family's finances, especially now that we were having a baby." Clinton recounted learning that the law firm where she worked before her daughter Chelsea was born didn't have a maternity leave policy. Clinton "decided to take matters into...
          Kudlow: Donald Trump Is the middle-class growth candidate   
Trump is the pro-growth candidate in this race. Hillary Clinton is the anti-growth candidate. Trump wants to expand national income and the economic pie. Clinton wants to redistribute income and shrink the pie. In past columns, I have equated Trump's tax-reduction plan to the JFK and Ronald Reagan tax cuts, which generated economic booms of roughly 5 percent growth per year. President Barack Obama, by comparison, has raised taxes, spending, and regulations, producing the worst recovery since World War II. And Clinton intends to follow in Obama's footsteps with a Bernie Sanders-like, left-wing policy mix. She is the Democrats' anti-JFK....
          We are going to raise taxes on the middle class!   
Crowd Cheers Clinton's Call To 'Raise Taxes On The Middle Class' Hillary Clinton called for raising taxes on the “middle class” while campaigning on Monday in Omaha, NE. Joined by left-wing Democrat billionaire Warren Buffett, she received applause from those in attendance. “Because while Warren is standing up for a fairer tax code, Trump wants to cut taxes for the super-rich,” said Clinton. “Well, we’re not going there, my friends. I’m telling you, right now - we’re going to write fairer rules for the middle class and we are going to raise taxes on the middle class!” Presumably a slip...
          Crowd Cheers Clinton's Call To 'Raise Taxes On The Middle Class'   
Hillary Clinton called for raising taxes on the “middle class” while campaigning on Monday in Omaha, NE. Joined by left-wing Democrat billionaire Warren Buffett, she received applause from those in attendance. “Because while Warren is standing up for a fairer tax code, Trump wants to cut taxes for the super-rich,” said Clinton. “Well, we’re not going there, my friends. I’m telling you, right now - we’re going to write fairer rules for the middle class and we are going to raise taxes on the middle class!”
          WATCH: Crowd Cheers Clinton's Call To 'Raise Taxes On The Middle Class'   
Hillary Clinton called for raising taxes on the “middle class” while campaigning on Monday in Omaha, NE. Joined by left-wing Democrat billionaire Warren Buffett, she received applause from those in attendance. “Because while Warren is standing up for a fairer tax code, Trump wants to cut taxes for the super-rich,” said Clinton. “Well, we’re not going there, my friends. I’m telling you, right now - we’re going to write fairer rules for the middle class and we are going to raise taxes on the middle class!”
          Too Close For Comfort: Insiders Worry About DOJ Lawyers Speaking At White House   
John Huber is a career prosecutor in Utah who's served in both Democratic and Republican administrations. This month, the Trump White House nominated him to serve as a U.S. attorney in that state. But it came as something of a surprise to current and former Justice Department veterans Wednesday when Huber appeared for a news conference in Washington: not in the halls of Justice, but at the White House podium. Huber and the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement used the platform to advocate for the passage of House bills that increase penalties for undocumented immigrants who break the law and jurisdictions that refuse to share information with federal immigration authorities. "Kate's Law enhances our ability to stem the tide of criminals who seem to almost always return to victimize us," Huber told the reporters assembled in the briefing room. He added: "Forty percent of my felony caseload in Utah are criminal alien prosecutions. If it's a problem in Utah, it's a problem for
          'It's Falling Out Of The Trees,' Former Prosecutor Says Of Obstruction Evidence   
Hours after a news report that President Trump had asked the FBI director to back away from an investigation, Democrats seized on the information to accuse the White House of a serious crime. "We are witnessing an obstruction of justice case unfolding in real time," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a former state attorney general. "On its face, this is a textbook prima facie case of an attempt to obstruct justice," concluded Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a former U.S. attorney. He added: "Whether there are mitigating circumstances remains to be seen." It's far too soon to make a definitive judgment about whether any laws have been broken in connection with the president's contacts with James Comey, the FBI director he fired a week ago. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has demanded memos, recordings and other materials that Comey may have prepared, with a deadline of next week. Lawmakers from both political parties said they want to hear Comey testify in
          DAYS OF LOT: German Parliament approves same-sex marriage   
DAYS OF LOT: German Parliament approves same-sex marriage
We are truly living in the last days.  Do you recall the fire and brimstone which came down from heaven killing off the sodomites?  Guess what Planet X will be "kicking in"?  70 pound fiery space rocks will eventually fall from the sky like hail.  God is not amused...

Apocalypse 8: 8:11  And the second angel sounded the trumpet: and as it were a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea, and the third part of the sea became blood: And the third part of those creatures died, which had life in the sea, and the third part of the ships was destroyed. And the third angel sounded the trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, burning as it were a torch, and it fell on the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters: And the name of the star is called Wormwood. And the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she voted against same-sex marriage because she believes the country’s law sees it as between a man and a woman, but that the opposite view must be respected.
Parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage in a snap vote Friday. Lawmakers voted 393 for legalizing “marriage for everybody” and 226 against with 4 abstentions. Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter civil partnerships since 2001, but same-sex marriages remained illegal.
Bringing the measure to a vote in Friday’s session, the last before September elections, was fast-tracked after Merkel said Monday lawmakers could take up the issue as a “question of conscience,” freeing members of her conservative coalition, which has been against same-sex marriage, to individually vote for the measure.
She says “for me marriage as defined by the law is the marriage of a man and a woman” but she continues to see the interpretation as a “decision of conscience.”

All of Merkel’s potential coalition partners after the September 4 election, including the center-left Social Democrats of her challenger, Martin Schulz, have been calling for same-sex marriage to be legalized.
The measure, which is expected to see legal challenges, also opens the door for gay couples to adopt - which Merkel says she supports.
Archbishop of Berlin, Heiner Koch, said he “regretted” the parliament “gave up the essential content of marriage” in passing the new law. The archbishop heads the family life committee for the German bishops’ conference.
In a statement, he lamented the abandonment of “a differentiated perception of different forms of partnership,” adding that “differentiation is not discrimination.”
Koch also said “marriage did not deserve” to be caught “in the wheels of political tactics,” referring to the snap vote on the issue.
He concluded his statement by saying the bishops will now intensify their efforts to promote “the vitality of the Catholic understanding of marriage,” which he affirmed would be unaffected by the decision in parliament.

LGBT Mega-Donor Reveals Next Goal: ‘Punish the Wicked’ Gay Marriage Opponents

A prominent LGBT activist who has donated more than anyone else to LGBT causes has said that “wicked” people who advocate for laws protecting the religious freedom of conservative Christians to act in accordance with their views on marriage and sexuality need to be “punished.” The Rolling Stone recently published a lengthy profile piece examining the
contributions of Tim Gill, a software entrepreneur who has quietly been at the forefront of the push for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights in the United States over the past several decades. The article explained how Gill, who is gay, has spent over $422 million to advance the LGBT cause and explained the impact that his associated organizations such as the Gill Foundation, Gill Action, and OutGiving have made on LGBT advocacy in America. READ MORE

DAYS OF LOT: Canadians Choose a Gay, Transgender or Atheist Leader Over an Evangelical

Canadians are more likely to vote for an atheist, gay or transgender person than an evangelical Christian to lead their country, according to a Canadian research institute. The Angus Reid Institute survey, conducted in May with a sample size of 1,533 Canadian adults and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, found that 85 percent said they would vote for a party that is led by a gay man; 84 percent would back a lesbian; 80 percent, an atheist; and 69 percent, a
transgender. Meanwhile, 65 percent said they would support an evangelical Christian. Evangelicals fared better in the United States, with 72 percent of Americans saying they would vote for an evangelical presidential candidate. Americans are less likely to vote for a gay man or lesbian, at 63 and 62 percent, respectively. And atheists and transgender individuals are near the bottom of the U.S. list, at 52 and 50 percent, respectively. READ MORE

DAYS OF LOT: YouTube channel seeks to teach kids about dressing in “Drag and Transgenderism”

“Queer Kid Stuff,” a YouTube channel geared toward teaching children about sexual preferences, homosexuality, transgenderism, and more, celebrated “Pride Month” by releasing a video talking to kids about people dressing in drag. The producer and host of “Queer Kid Stuff,” Lindsay Amer, created the channel in June 2016 to help children ages 3-7 better understand the LGBT community, according to the show’s website.
“Young queer people need to see themselves represented in their media and that is exactly what I aim to do,” Amer wrote. In the videos, she and her co-host Teddy, a stuffed bear, invite guests on to explain various parts of the LGBT community, including the definitions of “gay,” “gender,” and “intersex.” They also discuss the subject of consent and include a sing-along video to go with it. Additionally, the channel discusses the Disney movie, “Frozen,” and how Elsa is allegedly homosexual.  READ MORE


If Doomsday Asteroids were to Hit Earth(full documentary)

Apocalypse: Wormwood, Poleshift & Prophecy

          Spiritual Wickedness in High Places: Malachi Martin on The End of Religion (As We Know It)   
Spiritual Wickedness in High Places: Malachi Martin on The End of Religion (As We Know It)
(Note: The following was one of the last interviews by Malachi Martin before his death in 1999.)

      Ever since Nimrod and the Tower of Babel, the Power Elite have never given up on their feverish dream of a One World Government.

      Former Jesuit Malachi Martin's novel, Windswept House (Doubleday/ Main Street Books), offers a lurid behind the scenes look at a cabal of Vatican insiders who want to use the Roman Catholic Church as a foundation for a politico-religious New World Order.

      The plot of the novel involves a group of Church officials who scheme with a group of like-minded corporate executives to manipulate the Church into a ready-made infrastructure for a One World Religion -- a universal umbrella for everybody from Episcopalians to voodoo practitioners.

      The new ecumenicalism is clothed in Globalist garb. The agenda includes promoting issues like population control, environmentalism and secular humanism, which the plotters hope will eventually lead to the complete secularization of religion. 

      The most outrageous and controversial premise of the novel -- described in great detail in the prologue -- is that a ceremony was performed in the Vatican in 1963 -- an occult ritual which enthroned the fallen archangel Lucifer as the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

      Does Dr. Martin believe that this enthronement actually took place in his novel, which could liberally be described as a roman a clef?

      "Yes, it did," he says emphatically. "Beyond a shadow of a doubt in my mind. But now the place, time, hour etc., are all obfuscated to protect the guilty and save the innocent."

      Was it common knowledge in the Vatican at the time? "Not common knowledge," explains Martin. "But I found out about it by being a member of the Vatican circles that learned these things. It's like everything else. I'm sure there are people floating around Washington, and they know an awful lot about what's going on. Someone says, 'how do you know that'? Well, it's just... we know it."

      The story ofWindswept House continues in present day Europe as an international group of conspirators spanning Church and State plots a one world government on behalf of Lucifer. So are readers to infer that no matter what happens, the Pope and the Church hierarchy are bound to serve the fallen angel?

      "No," explains Dr. Martin. "What it means is that for the moment, Lucifer the biggest archangel, the leader of the revolt against God, has a big in with certain Vatican officials. Enthronement doesn't mean that he rules. It means that they did their best to put him there. The ideal would be to have their man as Pope. In that case then Satan would be enthroned."

      The book goes on to describe how two brothers, one a priest and the other an investment banker, grapple with these awesome consequences as pawns in the game. Meanwhile the cabal of Globalist-oriented Vatican officials and European-based internationalists try to corner the Pope into voluntary resignation so that they can get their man in the Chair of Peter.

      This theme coincidentally is also the basis, albeit in non-fiction form, of Martin's book The Keys of This Blood: Pope John Paul II Versus Russia and the West for Control of the New World Order.

      The upshot? A One World Government is a fait accompli, he infers. What Dr. Martin calls the "millennium endgame" is a competition for a new global hegemony by the key Globalist players. What's interesting is that the novel appears to be a seamless transition from his previous non-fiction work. The reader then is put in the position of concluding that the New World Order is a done deal, that a One World Government is here and now and, as the expression goes, it's all over but the crying.

      But you wouldn't expect Globalist agit-prop from a former Jesuit. Or would you?

The Enthronement of Lucifer in the Vatican


And Who Is Malachi Martin?

      Author of 15 books on religious and geo-political topics, Malachi Martin is highly regarded and respected as a world renowned scholar.

      Trained in theology at Louvain, he received his doctorates in Semitic Languages, Archaeology and Oriental History. He subsequently studied at Oxford and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. From 1958 to 1964, he served in Rome, where he was a close associate of the Jesuit cardinal Augustin Bea and Pope John XXIII, as well as a professor at the Vatican's Pontifical Biblical Institute.

      Malachi Martin is the author of many best-selling books including Vatican, Hostage to the Devil, The Jesuits, The Final Conclave, and The Keys of This Blood. Also he was a Roman Catholic priest of the Society of Jesus until 1964 when he left the Jesuits. Why?

      "It was a grave decision," he says. "I could see the way the Church was going, the way churchmen were going in their decisions and all the anchors I had for morality and zeal were being undone. Then when the Vatican Council started in 1962, I could see the way the flow of opinion was going in the Vatican by a group of cardinals from Belgium, Germany and France. They were maneuvering the Church into totally new ecclesiology. I couldn't accept this."

      As an advisor to three Popes, Dr. Martin has had his fair share of romanita, that uniquely Roman methodology of connivance and power politicking. "I started off as an advisor on Judaism," he continues. "I was trained in Semitic languages and I spent a year and a half studying the Talmud... Then my superiors in Rome also found that I understood Judaism very well. They wanted someone to explain it, since they were studying the whole question of Jewish-Christian relations. So I was drafted into helping with that."

      And the outcome? "They produced a document in which they sort of absolved the Jewish people of the death of Christ."

      Based on his research? "No, not on my research," argues Martin. "I was only a cog in the wheel. I didn't agree with the final document either. It went too far. And then there were conclusions about the need for Catholics to study Judaism and get to know them better."

So this was the ecumenicalization of the Church that was going on?

      "That's it in one word," concurs Martin. "And I couldn't agree with the total effect of all that because I thought they went too far."

      Dr. Martin was also involved with Vatican intelligence. What did he do? "Just assessing things in Israel, whatever anti-Christianity there was amongst the Israelis. There was and still is. And what was the position of the Arabs. I used to live in Jordan and Lebanon and Egypt. I knew those places very well and could assess the position of the Church and the various Christian communities."

      The many-talented Dr. Martin is also known as a practicing exorcist and has even written a book about the subject called Hostage to the Devil.

      He says he came up against evil as a force in the world in an uncontrovertible undeniable way in his first exorcism.

      "I was in Cairo and it was evil," Dr. Martin recalls.

      "You know you only have to enter its presence, or for it to enter your presence to know that you are in the presence of something which is summarily evil."

      "It's invisible. You can't see it. But you know it wants you dead. Dead. Dead. And in a horrible way," he repeats in a hypnotic voice. "It's touching your very bones by its presence."

      So how does he explain the phenomenon of demonic possession? "Free will", says Dr. Martin. "For the first time in the work we have been doing for thirty-one years in this corner of the globe, during the last ten years or so, we have found young men and women thirty-somethings or twenty-somethings coming forward and saying, 'Listen I made a pact with the devil. I wanted this woman. I wanted this man. I wanted this job. I wanted this money. I wanted this, this, this, and I made a pact and he gave it to me and now I can't get free of him. He dominates my will. Please liberate me. And then people get to it by means of things like a ouija board or by spiritual seances or channeling."

      Malachi Martin is also known as a serious scholar of apocryphal writings, having authored a book called The Scribal Character of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

      (As an impressive mark of his erudition, Malachi Martin even knew about the alternative Abraham and Isaac story in one of the so-called Pseudepigrapha, the Book of Jubilees. In this unsanctioned version of Genesis, Abraham is commanded to kill his son, but not by God. Instead it is Mastema, a fallen angel known as "the accusing angel" as well as the Tempter and Executioner, who tells the Hebrew patriarch to do the dirty deed. To his credit, of course, Abraham doesn't slaughter his firstborn. When asked why the Genesis version omits details of the fallen angel Mastema as the instigator of Abraham's test, however, even Malachi Martin admits ignorance.)

Bernard Janzen "Fr. Malachi Martin: Camouflaged Apostasy"

The Globalist Imperative

      Like the prissy intellectuals of the 1930s enamored by National Socialism (as well as Fabian Socialism), the current fin de siecle version of internationalists are likewise paving their own road to a Globalist hell with good intentions.

      Using the Hegelian model of history, first there was Capitalism (thesis), then Communism (antithesis), and now there's the New World Order (synthesis), risen from the ashes of the Cold War and the formerly 'competing' ideologies.

      International socialism or corporate fascism (aka Globalism) is, in fact, the trendy philosophy for the end of the millennium. In his book Megatrends 2000, Olympian futurist John Naisbitt calls it "free market socialism," a hybrid economic system that combines welfare state policies with multinational corporate business on a global level.

      Globalism, however, as a secular religion, has a dogma all its own. Its primary belief system is based on the notion that the usefulness of the nation-state is over. In other words, national sovereignty is a thing of the past and a One World Government is inevitable. But... this effort, at least for now, must be couched in cryptic language for the unwashed masses. Otherwise they'd get too upset.

      Globalist spokesman Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Columbia University professor, President Carter's former National Security advisor, and founder of the Trilateral Commission spoke at the Gorbachev Foundation's State of the World Forum in 1995, "We cannot leap into world government in one quick step," he said. "(It) requires a process of gradually expanding the range of democratic cooperation." In plain language, that means people must be further indoctrinated.

      Eurocrat Jean-Marie Guehenno hints at this global hegemony or one world totalitarianism calling it an "empire without an emperor." Guehenno wrote The End of the Nation-State (1995) which was called La fin de la democratie (The End of Democracy) in the original French version. Since nation states are obsolete, he claims, "'wise men' capable of thinking through the finite world that has become our common lot" must be entrusted to guide us into what he calls an 'Imperial Age'." Presumably Guehenno counts himself as one of the ranks of "The Wise Men."

      Most striking though is a chapter in Guehenno's book called "Religions without God", which evokes the image of the humanist shaking his fist at an empty sky. The ultimate reduction of this conundrum for the internationalists is to hint at a "global politburo" to run the world as posited by Paul Mazur in Unfinished Business (1979).

      According to Dr. Martin's nomenclature, Guehenno is one of the Transnationalists -- bureaucrats who believe that Globalism is based on "the development of new and ever wider interrelationships between the governments of the world".

      On the other hand, the Internationalists are "individuals who operate from a power base of finance, industry and technology". Together these groups are the Globalists, the social engineers conniving for the convergence of East and West in the so-called New World Order.

Luciferian Geo-Politics

      For a Churchman, Malachi Martin shows a remarkable familiarity and understanding of Luciferianism, a belief system which hold human wisdom, secular humanism if you will, as its paragon and the fallen archangel Lucifer as the Prince who will rule the world.

      Readers ofWindswept Houseare given the impression that the old traditional Catholic Church is good because the protagonists, Christian Gladstone and his mother are defending it, while we know that the Church has been dedicated to Lucifer. Faced with these two alternatives, the conclusion is that the Roman Catholic Church run by Lucifer is good -- a classic (and incredibly sophisticated) double bind, which is constantly reinforced in the reader's mind throughout the 646 pages of the novel.

      "Well, the Church itself has not been given to Lucifer," argues Dr. Martin. "He was enthroned in the Vatican by Vatican officials. That doesn't mean he possesses the Church yet. The Church anyway is an ambiguous term because it either means the actual physical bloc of churches, convents, libraries, academies, parish houses and cathedrals, the physical plant. Or it means the group of faithful in the state of grace whether they are alive in Purgatory or in Heaven. That is the body of Christ."

      "There has always been, since the fourth century, this organization set up by the Emperor Constantine. But that is not essential for the Church. The Church can exist without it. So that mystical body of Christ has not fallen into Lucifer's hands. The organization to some degree has. That's the difficulty."

      What about the book putting his readers in a double bind? You're presented with two choices. Either A. The Luciferian-controlled Roman Catholic Church. Or B. The Luciferian-controlled New World Order. So where does Malachi Martin find himself?

      "The New World Order is definitely won by Luciferian believers," says Dr. Martin. "There's no doubt about that."

      And then he starts to rationalize their modus operandi.

      "But these are men who came to be and are in their actions at least, humanitarian and philanthropic. They want to wipe out hunger and disease. They want to limit the population of the world. They believe the world is headed for mass starvation. They also want to enter into education. They would like to have an alliance with the Roman Catholic Church and with another pope. This one -- they know would stand in their way in regards to population control because he is deadstart against abortion, contraceptives, genetic engineering."

      And what about "The Process" he refers to in his book?

      Dr. Martin replies that it's the "Luciferian Process" of secularizing every religious mind so that the common mind today would be one which regarded the earth as a planned paradise to be built up. There is no God above the skies, no heaven, and there is no hell beneath the earth. It's complete secularization."

      (John Lennon's classic rock anthem "Imagine" comes to mind. "Imagine there's no country," he sang. "It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion too.")

      But do the Luciferians have a timetable?

      "We are now according to the official doctrine of the Luciferians in what they call "the Availing Time". They have a tradition that in these years they can avail of the time to install the Prince, who is Lucifer, as the greatest power on earth in charge of human civilization and adored by men."

      And to what end?

      "To exalt the power of Lucifer. That is the end in itself. It's the Luciferian purpose. If they don't do it in these years, then it is put off sine die, without resolution. They are very keen on getting it done."

      And what are the next steps in this "Process"?

      "The purpose is to secularize education completely," continues Dr. Martin. "And to eliminate from considerations of life and death -- medicine, sociality, finance, birth, development etc., to free that of any religious presumption whatever. To free it from the superstition of religion so that man is dealt with scientifically and humanly. And that is 'the Process'. 'The Process' is to make the human mind accept that... 'The Process' is whereby all education, primary secondary and higher, college university and all public activity is completely rid of all religious presumptions."

      "There is a layer of satanism, of satanist ritual which prepares people for perfect Luciferian adoption. They have covens and sacrifices and rites. The Luciferians have no rites, you know."

      So dabbling with satanism in these rituals leads to a different form of "commitment" which is Luciferianism?

      "It is a preparation for Luciferianism and there are reversals sometimes," claims Dr. Martin. "You will find a crowd of Luciferians having a satanic ritual as a reminder of things. But they have all passed through in a sense and that involves three things: the infliction of pain without flinching, the infliction of death without flinching, and the use of fire."

Windswept House — Message and Subtext

      In Windswept House, Christians and Luciferians clash over the remains of the Roman Catholic Church. It's a controversial and provocative story, a political thriller with metaphysical implications. It delves into the depths of treachery, intrigue and Machiavellian politics at the highest levels of the Church. As a fact-based novel with frequent lengthy asides on real historical geopolitical events like the fall of the Soviet Empire and the Helsinki Accords,Windswept House is a vehicle for one simple message -- the New World Order is here and now.

      While a group of cardinals scheme to force the Pope to resign his office so they'll be able to install a man who will do the Luciferians' bidding, a priest, Christian Gladstone is called to Rome. Cardinal Maestroianni, a power player and one of the leaders of the cabal, enlists the priest to poll bishops regarding closer ties with the European Economic Community. In fact, however, the Cardinal is assessing the timing for a conclave in which the Slavic Pope would be forced to resign because he has become a stumbling block in the Luciferians' plans.

      From the business side, Paul Gladstone, Christian's brother and an expert in international relations working at a Globalist law firm, is also unknowingly recruited to bring the Luciferian plan to fruition. When the brothers find out they are both being unwittingly used in the schemes of the Luciferians, they join forces. Christian then must reach the Pope to tell him that he is being manipulated to abdicate the Chair of Peter.

      Will the Pope resign? And will he exorcise the Church in time?

      The subtext? It doesn't really make a hell of a lot of a difference. 

Father Malachi Martin: End of Christian Civilization

The Future of the Church Militant

      In his novelWindswept House Malachi Martin expostulates his readers regarding the reasons why the "Slavic Pope" (Pope John Paul II) is so ineffectual. But what is the Pope's agenda as he sees it?

      "I think that from the very start John Paul II for whatever reasons, has sought after one thing and one thing only," says Dr. Martin. The formation of what now appears to be in his mind, a universal assemblage of Catholics at the core; grouped with them the Protestant denominations, sects and churches; grouped around them believing Jews, believing Muslims, believing Hindus, believing Buddhists. And that would be a universal religious assembly that could have a powerful dynamic kick in civilization and in solving the problems of men and women today. That is the only thing you can really say this man has sought heart and soul and body with all his travelling. When he went to churches all over the world, member churches of the Catholic Church in all the countries, he was bolstering the reputation of the papacy and he was speaking Catholic dogma, Catholic belief, Catholic morals. But in reality he was reaching out to everybody. He wanted to make friends with everybody."

      And what about the widespread homosexuality, pedophilia and satanic rituals in the Church, common knowledge he avers known to all Vatican insiders? Since as he wrote Christ is no longer honored in the tabernacle, what does he think will happen?

      "Once the tabernacle is emptied of Christ's real presence, then the Church ceases to be holy and therefore it's going to be entered by the opposite power, Lucifer," says Martin. "And this is taking place now. Not widespread, but it is taking place. There's no doubt about that."

      So will the Church fall on its own? "It's disintegrating slowly," says Martin. "As an organization, it's being marginalized sociopolitically and culturally. And religiously, it's weakening and decaying, obsolescing..."

      "If you look at any country today there are three identifiable components of that State. One, the government. Two, there is industry. Third, there are what we call NGOs, the non-governmental organizations. That's everything from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers to the Catholic Church. And they're just simply lumped together, voluntary associations with as much power as they can grasp but of no special importance. Now fifty or seventy years ago, when an ethical or moral question arose, people and governments looked to the churches. Now they don't any longer."

      And yet another sensitive question. Something doesn't add up. Malachi Martin's a priest. He's supposed to fight evil. Yet his bookWindswept Houseis clear evidence that he's thrown in the towel.

      "Well I don't see evidence of having thrown in the towel," protests Dr. Martin. "Because there's a lot I'm being made to pay for, in the sense that the writer obviously likes and reveres this Pope even though he disagrees with him. The writer also believes in the blessed sacrament. He believes in the Pope's infallibility. He believes in salvation. He believes in hell. He believes in the evil of the devil."

      So why doesn'tWindswept Houseend with Christ victorious in the book?

      Does Dr. Martin believe that the Luciferian forces have won already?

      "No. No. No," insists Dr. Martin. "This is an interim book. It ends in a big doubt -- everybody waiting." This must be what they call the European ending -- as opposed to the American ending where all the loose ends are tied up.

      Then the story shifts into "The Devil, Er, I Mean the Editor Made Me Do It". "The publisher said, 'listen the story isn't finished yet,'" says Dr. Martin. "I had a lovely glorious ending. I had a vision. I had a marvellous thing over the Alps. He cut it out."

      This is an actual editorial decision? "Yes," says Dr. Martin.

      But with all due respect, it almost sounds like Luciferian tampering. Not that anyone wants a saccharine ending. So are readers to conclude that the Luciferians won because of the passivity of the Pope in defending the Church?

      "Well, they haven't won yet," says Dr. Martin on a slightly upbeat note. "We're waiting for this man to do something. He's the Vicar of Christ. I know I'm defending him but..."

      "Readers who call me or write me say, what do we do now? I say, read my next book," he continues.

      With Martin's death on July 28, 1999, his suggestion seems to be a moot point.

      "So perhaps editorially," he concludes, "it was the right decision, but religiously it was the wrong decision. I don't know."

      It's been said that "by their fruits, ye shall know them." Malachi Martin's assent to the so-called "process" is the tangible "fruit" of Windswept House.

      Is the novel a prophecy? Or is it just a warning?

      In any case, the New (Luciferian) World Order that Martin describes puts a religious spin to the whole "process" of history.

It's also clear -- the book is a Luciferian masterpiece.  

TradCatKnight in the media: THE SATANIC VATICAN DECEPTION 

          Protests in India Against 'Cow-Protecting' Vigilantes Succeed in Breaking Prime Minister's Silence   
Do some Indian lives matter more than others? The Modi government seems to think so.

On June 29, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi gave a long-awaited (though mild) admonishment of violent “cow protection” vigilantes who have been let loose in the streets of India, on its trains, buses and village and city public spaces, lynching Indians (almost always Muslims or Dalits, members of the lowest caste). Modi, who is normally outspoken, has previously been mum on the spate of killings, conveying an overall climate of immunity to murderous mobs. What appears to have broken this studied silence are the spontaneous protests that finally erupted all over India and coalesced on July 28 when citizens, including celebrities, in 12 cities took over public squares and promenades after a spontaneous call by Delhi-based filmmaker Saba Dewan in a Facebook post.

Though they took some time in coming, the protests appear to have had their desired effect, temporarily at least. Not only has Modi spoken, but the normally distanced Indian commercial television channels have given space to this democratic expression of outrage.

The immediate provocation was the lynching of a Muslim teenager named Junaid Khan on a train, shortly after it departed from Delhi. The men who stabbed Junaid also left his brothers seriously injured. The incident occurred on June 23, the last Friday of the holy month of Ramzan (Ramadan), when the auspicious Alvida Namaaz(prayers) are read and which has a special significance for the devout.

At SabrangIndia, we reported the train incident following an unusually prompt press release from the Communist Party of India, whose politbureau members had visited the site of the incident. We commented in our report that India would soon need its very own “Lynch Calendar.” What we could not report until three days later was that on the same Friday, some 1,088 kilometers away in Chatra Jharkhand, 24-year-old Mohammad Salman was shot and killed in cold blood by men in uniform who simply entered his home, shoved him outside and ordered their subordinates to commit the crime.

In the same eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, there have been a spate of horrific killings, including lynchings, that still haunt public memory—particularly the March 2016 hangings of dairy farmers Mazloom Ansari and 12-year-old Imteyaz Khan in a deserted public village. What has faded away from the current outrage and even the media commentary is the fact that the National Commission for Minorities (a statutory body set up specifically to protect the rights of minorities) had been compelled to send a team to investigate.

The report of the Commission severely indicted the Jharkhand police and the political class for failing to “rein in the cow protection groups who are taking law into their own hands.” The NCM also recorded in its report that “Deep and widespread communalisation of sections of the Jharkhand police force, and slogans like ‘go to Pakistan’ were frequently used by the local police against the Muslims, pointing toward a larger communalisation of the state police.” That report was from May 2016. Today the NCM stands discredited with political appointments by the Modi government who have put into position representatives who have no background in terms of autonomy and rights and are simply toeing a majoritarian government’s line.

Noted activist Shabnam Hashmi returned her 2008 NCM Award on Tuesday, making a strong public statement. She said in her open letter:

“I am returning it [the award] in the memory of the innumerable innocent victims lynched by marauding mobs. Mob Lynching of Muslims and Islamophobia have taken over India. Even before the community can mourn its dead, the next incident takes place. There is an atmosphere of fear and terror. Under the present Government, the marginalization of minority groups has become the norm.

“The design of turning India into a Hindu Rashtra [nation], which began decades ago with calling Muslims dirty, having too many children and being illiterate moved on to excluding them from residential spaces, targeting them as terrorists, has now reached its pinnacle where all public spaces and all means of livelihood are becoming unsafe for the Muslim community.

“Similar to Hitler’s Germany, Muslims are being projected as the biggest enemy of the state and the people of the country. There is legitimization of the communal ideology by the State and the media, [which] has led to acceptance of prejudices and stereotyping without questioning them in popular consciousness, deep infiltration of hate in the minds and hearts of ordinary people and apathy on the part of a large section of the society especially ‘educated’ middle classes.”

The list of assaults is gruesome: The Muslim Maulvi (cleric) who was beaten in April 2017, on a day supposedly important for devout Hindus (Ram Navmi, the birthdate of Lord Ram), in Jharkhand; the beating death of cattle farmer Pehlu Khan from Mewat while he was on agrarian business in Alwar Rajasthan in April 2017; or the lynch mob murder of political activist Zafar Hussain of the Communist Party of India, also in Rajasthan. Each of these murders is happening in the name of faith by the mob proponents of the Hindu nation, who believe the cow to be more precious than human life. The militarized march to a Hindu nation is laden with such dutiful tasks as cleansing the nation of the “dirty,” be it Dalits, Christians, Muslims or Communists.

Countries around the world need to better understand this: If the protests on June 28 drew Indians out of a numb fear that appeared to have gripped even opponents to this ideal, they need to continue and intensify. At the first instance of such an episode in September 2015, a similar dam of protest had broken. Writers led by the eminent Nayantara Sahgal returned their national awards in a powerful protest that embarassed the Modi government and put it on the defensive. Dozens of writers in over a dozen Indian languages, all winners of awards and powerful cultural commentators in their own right, followed by filmmakers, joined in this powerful symbolic protest. But life went on, and the killings continued. It would be tedious to list all the dead, and the circumstances in which they were lynched—most for rumors or frenzied hysteria about transporting cows or bullocks or eating beef, some for marrying a Hindu.

What is crucial to emphasize is the chain of command of culpability in this climate of impunity and lynchings. They began after the Modi government came to power and were aided and abetted by those in power within the government who spewed venom against Indian Muslims and Christians even while holding senior constitutional posts. They were further emboldened when governments run by the same party Modi represents, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed unconstitutional “beef laws” to curtail the slaughter, consumption and transportation of beef. They got greater pats on the back when their parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), spoke of the Holy Cow and its protection. The nail in the coffin was the recently introduced ban on the sale of cattle passed by the Modi government.

Indian newspapers have extensively reported recently, as they also did a year ago, that despite Modi’s apparent regrets about the lynchings, in his previous position as Gujarat chief minister, he was a firm proponent not just of cow protection, but against beef exports. The Indian Express recalls Modi statements of 2013, 2012 and 2014, when he attacked the previous Congress-led government for allowing the export of beef. That politicians indulge in the proverbial doublespeak, before and after a campaign, is only part of the problem. The other is more substantive.

As I have argued:

“For years now, since distributions of trishulsthrough trishul dikshaprogrammes, since violent arms trainings by the RSS and Bajrang Dal, since the terror unleashed by the Mobs on the Street—ever available at the blow of the metamorphical whistle—be it the Mob that lynched Christians (there were over 75 attacks between 1999 and 2002 documented by the All India Christian Union and published by Communalism Combat)or the Mob that attacked Naroda Patiya or Gulberg Society or Odh or Sardarpura villages (Gujarat 2002) or the Mob terror unleashed in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpat and Meerut (September 2013)—we have been arguing, with and to the political class and law enforcement agencies: treat Mob terror and Bomb Terror on Par. Do not look at these equally debilitating and vicious kinds of violence that impact innocent lives, differently.”

When there is the terror of the mob attacking a neighborhood, or lynching people, there is a section of the populace, including law enforcement, that participates through its silence, simply looking on. It is this majority participation, through the silence of complicity, that ensures selective outrage and token utterances from the powerful. No wonder then that the Modis, and the Venkaiah Naidus and even law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad only speak selectively and occasionally. Do some Indian lives matter more than others?

Unfortunately it seems that they do. The killers of Mohammad Ayub in Gujarat, lynched on the eve of Modi’s visit to his home state, were given bail by the higher courts; the killers of Mazloom Ansari and Imiteyaz in Latehar also got out on bail six months ago. On the other hand, those accused, even falsely, of acts of bomb terror do not get bail, often until the final acquittal. They remain incarcerated. This imbalance, even prejudice or bias—privileging mob terror over bomb terror—must stop. The Indian establishment must look at them as two sides of the same coin, or else we are perpetrating an injustice of our own.

That the numbness has finally broken is a good beginning, even if it comes somewhat late. It needs to go further, however, to assert, again and again, in public discourse, that mob terror is as vicious as bomb terror, and to ensure that every police station, every district collector, every railway policeman functions as the Indian Constitution requires him to, with equality before the law and non-discrimination as his credo.

To end with hope, it’s worth reproducing this Facebook post from a mother, which went viral on Thursday. With the picture of an Indian woman holding the holy book of India, its Constitution, she writes:


Junaid was lynched by a mob of cruel human beings. I don’t care what religion those lynchers belonged to. Nor do I care what religion Junaid belonged to. I only care about one thing. A group of mean, cruel human beings killed a teenager and assaulted three other young men brutally!
Junaid was 16.
My elder son will turn 16 next year.
My heart breaks for Junaid’s mother.
Not only did a group of cruel human beings kill Junaid, another group of cruel human beings egged them on. Junaid was also killed by those cruel people who witnessed the insanity & chose to remain silent.
There are some cruel people who justify this lynching.
Yes! Hate allows for all sorts of justification.
There has been a long list of these lynchings. It has become so common that no one talks about it. Nobody asks questions about what happened to the perpetrators. Whether they were caught & given the strictest punishment or whether they were released to unleash more violence!
I cannot fathom how anyone can kill unarmed, innocent human beings!
I cannot fathom how people can justify this horrific violence!
Instead of taking law into their own hands why are police complaints not made?
Is it because the lynch mob knows that there is no reason behind what they have done?
All they want to do is to kill in the name of hate.
Whichever religion, ideology, language, ethnicity you belong to, lynching done in any name cannot be condoned!
We’ve suffered so many riots, terrorist attacks, pogroms, lynchings but we haven’t learnt anything.
The bottom line is that innocent human beings become the target of that hate. They are usually poor. They are usually those who are incapable of fighting back. It is really too, too disheartening.
Innocence dies when hate rules!
I cannot be a part of those who encourage hate.
I was with the Ekta Manch marching from Parel to Azad Maidan singing “Hum hongey kaamyaab….” to promote brotherhood between fellow citizens of all faiths in 1993 after the horrendous riots followed by the heinous bomb blasts in Mumbai.
I marched to the Gateway of India to protest the utter failure & crass mishandling of 26/11 by the then Congress Govt in the State and the Centre in 2008.
I supported the Anna Hazare anti corruption movement when he waged the civil battle against the UPA 2 Govt at the Centre.
I was vocal about women’s safety after the horrendous rape & murder of Jyoti Singh as well as Pallavi Purkayastha as well as the sickening hacking of Swathi.
Today I stand firmly against the lynch mentality that has an active political patronage in our country.
I do not belong to any political party. I am a citizen of one of the finest democracies in the World. That is why it is so important for all of us to respect & protect the tenets of our Constitution.
I, as a proud citizen of India, do not conform to the views of anyone who actively or passively supports this lynching.
My allegiance lies with the Constitution of India.
If the Govt or any other body does anything to undermine the basic tenets of democracy in our country, I will vocally oppose it.
I so wanted to be a part of the peaceful civil protest at Carter Road today but I can’t. But I will not be a part of this hate!
I do not want my children to inherit this hate.
I will not have the blood of innocents on my hands.





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1: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:02:56.25 0 ID:


It's all about how good the melody of their songs are, right?
There are those who are saying that they're just ripping off Elvis Costello's style, but those people are just jealous.

4: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:05:18.47 P ID:
It can be compared to the Liberal Democratic Party's long-term government
6: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:05:49.83 i ID:
Yeah, these guys are even popular with the teens now who weren't even born when these guys made their debut.
8: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:06:23.53 0 ID:
I get the feeling that Sakurai alone is enough...
10: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:07:58.15 0 ID:
What's their biggest hit?
23: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:18:28.96 0 ID:
11: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:09:32.73 0 ID:
They have so many hits, you can't decide on which one to make as their banner song.
13: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:10:37.85 0 ID:
Recently though, I feel that their nice melodies are wasted since they seem to be overdoing their lyrics.
17: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:12:40.80 0 ID:
I don't know if you can call their music enka or folk, but I think the Japanese are used to this kind of stuff. I honestly think they're boring, though.
19: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:13:07.14 O ID:
Their banner song is this one titled REM. I felt like "Mr. Children's finished" after hearing this one.

34: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:27:44.45 i ID:
REM is good. It's been a while since they had songs like that so I'm happy with it.

26: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:20:54.12 0 ID:
They were on the decline at one point, but Sakurai's cerebellum blockage felt like it led to their comeback.
28: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:21:38.08 0 ID:
I read somewhere that Sakurai's voice tickles one's maternal instinct
31: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:24:35.99 0 ID:
I feel that all they sing are ballads, and nothing is really attractive
32: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:24:37.23 0 ID:
Their arrangements are a bit overboard these days. It's like they're trying to cover up his deteriorated songwriting and voice with a ton of makeup.
35: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:28:04.49 0 ID:
Kimo-otas (kimoi= disgusting; ota=otakus) who feel like critics will always make noise on threads like these without fail LOL
40: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:30:50.49 0 ID:
It's amazing that people don't get sick of them. They must be doing well by changing their sound.
44: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:32:19.71 0 ID:
And even if you tell other people that you like some unknown band, they'd just look at you with a strange face. We just have this tendency to answer safely when asked who our favorite celebrities and singers are.
46: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:33:18.75 0 ID:
Prior to their major label debut, they were introduced as the Jun Sky Walker(s)' 'little brothers'. I think they were in the same agency back then.
47: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:33:46.43 0 ID:
I get the feeling that all their songs that came after HANABI have been duds.
48: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:35:59.75 0 ID:
No act from Japan that will surpass Mr. Children in terms of sales has emerged yet. I think though that there are a lot of bands who are trying to imitate them.
49: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:36:49.31 0 ID:
The drum parts feel good
51: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:37:24.56 0 ID:
It was a good memory of mine when I worked part-time as a security at Tokyo Dome and got to see their concert in full.
55: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:41:44.43 0 ID:
There are no other stadium bands like this in Japan. They're on the same level as Oasis.
62: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:54:15.50 0 ID:
They probably have a lot of money and get all the girls when they're selling so much like this. I bet the poor and the unpopular ones are all jealous of them.
63: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:56:53.68 0 ID:
Saying they sing like Costello, I think that was before 1996. I think their other phases are different.

65: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 19:58:48.52 0 ID:
俺の中では「tomorrow never knows」で終わってる
For me they stopped being good after "Tomorrow never knows". It feels like they have just been riding on that momentum ever since.
66: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:00:14.25 0 ID:

I like "Dakishimetai" the best. It was a song before their huge break, though. Hirosue also likes that song the best.

68: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:02:02.69 0 ID:
バンプ ラッド セカオワ あたりがミスチルの後継者だと思う
I think Bump of Chicken, Radwimps, and Sekai no owari are Mr. Children's successors.
71: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:07:00.26 0 ID:
Hey you... no way... I'd understand Kobukuro and Sukimaswitch though. And don't even think of mentioing that trash band flumpool.
70: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:04:10.64 0 ID:
tomorrow never knowsは萩原聖人主演の「若者のすべて」の主題歌
tommorow never knows was used as the main theme song for Masato Hagiwara's Wakamono no subete. This was also the drama that led to the nationwide KimuTako ultra boom. He still wasn't playing lead roles in serial dramas up to this point.
72: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:08:41.31 0 ID:
tomorrow never knowsがもう19年も前の曲か

So tomorrow never knows is already 19 years old. 
74: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:11:40.22 0 ID:
I'm still in my 20s and I honestly think that they were beasts for writing amazing songs like this at the same age as me.
78: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:17:34.72 P ID:
I honestly don't understand Sakurai-kun's lyrical sense, but I think his talent as a melody maker is an inborn talent. There's something about him that's similar to Disney and Nintendo.
79: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:18:19.65 0 ID:
It was pretty huge for Mr. Children to catch their break in the 90's during the CD bubble era, but Bump of Chicken is this great band that appeared in the era where CDs weren't flying off shelves like they used to. They didn't get too much exposure and have been around for 10 years as people have recognized them for their music.
82: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:21:11.46 0 ID:
You Bump fans are so disgusting. I really don't understand what's so good with them. Rad is better than them.
84: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:21:48.16 0 ID:
No one cares about what you like. Whatever you say has no value whatsoever. It's a fact that Sakurai-san accepts them.
89: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:25:31.42 0 ID:
I like both Bump and MisChil but they're different. I don't understand why their name was brought up on this thread.
93: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:27:32.52 0 ID:

It just means that Bump is the only band that can stand a chance against MisChil
96: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:29:07.55 0 ID:
They're not really going against, but they would be taking over Mr. Children's position in the next generation. The age difference is about 10 years apart anyway.
100: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:29:59.03 0 ID:
I thought Remioromen would go up to Bump's level, but they didn't meet the expectations.
104: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:31:24.43 0 ID:

A MisChil song I recently thought was good: "Imitation no Ki"

107: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:31:55.83 0 ID:
1994年 innocent world、Tomorrow never knows
1995年 シーソーゲーム See saw game
1996年 名もなき詩 Na mo naki uta
1998年 終わりなき旅 Owarinaki tabi
2000年 口笛 Kuchibue
2002年 youthful days
2003年 HERO
2004年 Sign
2006年 しるし Shirushi
2008年 HANABI
2010年 365日 365 nichi
117: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:35:18.17 0 ID:
MisChil always say that they don't stand a chance against Spitz's Kusano
118: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:36:09.80 0 ID:
Tamio says that he doesn't stand a chance against Sakurai-kun and Kusano-kun
121: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:36:50.90 0 ID:
MisChil has already reached the Southern All Star's level. They can already afford to take a few years off but they haven't.
124: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:38:04.95 0 ID:
The problem with MisChil is that all the members other then Sakurai are pretty low-level.
131: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:39:46.87 P ID:
Wait a sec, MisChil's drummer is doing a good job. Even the bassist ain't bad.
137: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:43:32.69 0 ID:

Yep, the bass and drums are actually pretty good, but Sakurai is just too overwhelming so people think they're bad. The guitar is bad though.
139: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:43:37.87 i ID:
I wonder why they only have pressed CDs and don't sell their music digitally
143: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:45:03.29 0 ID:
I remember them saying a few years back that "We want to succeed with CDs based on our music".
149: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:46:59.14 0 ID:
Well, the band members are living the life and earning so much because of Sakurai-san. One should definitely cherish his friends.
153: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:50:11.76 0 ID:
But Sakurai himself said many times that the other 3 members are also important. On the outside, they just say that Sakurai writes and composes but it's actually a collective effort from all of them
154: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:51:16.20 0 ID:
If that's true then all of their names should be credited. I feel it's only Sakurai who gets all the credit and earns so much more than the other members.
160: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:53:35.01 0 ID:
The song I like from them recently is HANABI. That's 5 years ago already, huh.
166: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 20:59:17.31 0 ID:
Sakurai is actually pretty handsome. I guess people who like someone like hyde won't get his appeal.
170: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 21:05:41.68 0 ID:
I can't sing the fast part well in "Na mo naki uta".
The part that goes "Nariyuki makase no..."
180: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 21:26:50.62 T ID:
But MisChil let their fans sing the songs for them while they only sing a little during concerts, right?
183: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 21:39:38.55 P ID:
定番はInnocent Worldでたまに口笛とか
They basically let the fans sing 1 song per concert. It's usually "Innocent World", then sometimes "Kuchibue".
184: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 21:51:05.46 0 ID:
I like all of those songs but they don't sing it for me
185: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 21:55:09.21 P ID:
まぁiinocent worldを最初から最後まで桜井のみなんてのは逆にレアになってるな
I don't think they let the fans sing the entire song, it's usually just the first verse or the second one, or the chorus. Well, it is pretty rare though that Sakurai sings "Innocent World" from start to finish.
188: 2013/05/31(金) 22:11:58.09 0 ID:
People in their early 30s are said to be the ones who are in the MisChil generation (it can also be called Hirosue generation), but "Anmari oboetenaiya" is my favorite song. It almost always brings me to tears whenever I listen to it.

213: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 23:13:44.68 0 ID:

I think Kobayashi's sense and Sakurai's charismatic appeal matched well. They'd just be some no-good youth pop band if it weren't for Kobayashi.
224: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 23:55:07.05 0 ID:
I think the song that cemented Mr. Children's status in the industry is "Na mo naki uta"
226: 名無し募集中。。。 2013/05/31(金) 23:56:33.65 0 ID:
I think it was those consecutive singles from "Crossroad" to "Innocent World"
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017

These morning tweets follow other tweets touting ones supporting policy actions by his administration and the GOP. Does he think anyone will pay attention to any of that when he's tweeting comments on a morning show's appearance and the show's ratings? It's as if he's taken a master a class on self-sabotage.

Isn't he supposed to be in the middle of trying to help a GOP repeal of Obamacare?

Remember when conservatives ridiculed Obama interview talking to GloZell, the woman who is mainly known for eating cereal while sitting in a bathub of milk or going on Between Two Ferns? Well, was any of that less respectful of the office of the presidency than such tweets? I have come to regard Trump's tweets as a verbal expression of his id. That is the level he operates at and we get a glimpse at what impulses control him through Twitter. All his advisers urging him to focus on policy and presenting an image of gravitas are the ego trying to mediate between those impulses and reality. They might win out for hours, even days sometimes, but the id is there ready to take over.

There used to be a time when Republicans claimed that character mattered in the presidency. Today...not so much.

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Canada thinks it can control the Internet.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Google on Wednesday in a closely-watched intellectual property case over whether judges can apply their own country's laws to all of the Internet.

In a 7-2 decision, the court agreed a British Columbia judge had the power to issue an injunction forcing Google to scrub search results about pirated products not just in Canada, but everywhere else in the world too.

Those siding with Google, including civil liberties groups, had warned that allowing the injunction would harm free speech, setting a precedent to let any judge anywhere order a global ban on what appears on search engines. The Canadian Supreme Court, however, downplayed this objection and called Google's fears "theoretical."
Charles C. W. Cooke comments,
That amusing episode of The I.T. Crowd notwithstanding, “the Internet” is not a single black box somewhere in London, but a massively decentralized network of networks that, while conforming to a few agreed-upon technical specifications, gives new meaning to the word “diffuse.” Or, put another way, “the Internet” is a patchwork quilt of cables, satellites, switches, service providers, cell phones, desktops, laptops, web-servers, and protocols that, taken together, forms the sprawling web to which we are all so accustomed. The beauty of this arrangement is that anybody can participate. Want to be the next Facebook? To start with, at least, all you’ll need is a domain name, an internet connection, and a computer, and . . . that’s it. Though there are certain breakpoints (IP allocation, root DNS, etc.), there is no central permission structure that newcomers have to navigate. It’s open. It’s wild. It’s wonderful.

Now, this is not to say that censorship is impossible. It’s not. If a government wishes to block access to a particular site within the physical borders over which it has jurisdiction, it can do so. Likewise, websites and services that contradict local law can be legally removed, and, if it so wishes, a government can demand that any organization operating on a network within its borders must conform to its rules. What it can’t do, however, is export those judgments abroad.

Suppose that I, a permanent resident of the United States, were to host a website that contained speech that was banned in, say, Germany. Certainly, the German authorities could prevent Germans from seeing my site. And, if anyone chose to mirror my site on server inside Germany, they could shut that person down quite quickly. But they couldn’t have me shut down in America, and they couldn’t prevent people in other countries from accessing my site over the web. My server would be in America, connected to a network in America, subject to the law in America, and guaranteed the protections to which Americans are entitled. The German government, annoyed as it might be, would have to accept that....

And that, ultimately, is why the Canadian Court’s decision is so hilarious. I understand why people are worried about the idea — if taken seriously, it would give any less-free-than-America country an effective veto over the First Amendment. But they shouldn’t fret too much: The judges can say what they like, but their edict is simply unenforceable. If it wishes to do so, the government of Canada can prevail upon Google to abide by its rules within Canada. In addition, it can regulate the web in Canada to prevent access to sites it dislike. But it can’t force Google in America or France or Australia or Singapore to do a single goddamned thing. And thank goodness for that, eh?
I hope that he is correct, but we've seen the EU slapping a $2.7 billion fine on Google because the EU thinks it violates antitrust for Google to promote Google Shopping sites over other shopping sites. I'm not sure what there is about a FREE service like Google that the Europeans don't understand. Are European citizens actually hurt by Google giving them a free shopping search engine and then putting their items at the top? Would they prefer to pay for their search engines? Please, just keep your hands off Google. As more countries try and figure out ways to make money off of fining Google, they should consider the unintended consequences.
“The EU has effectively decided that some companies have become too big to innovate,” Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said in a statement following the Google Shopping decision. “The EU’s actions have created a cloud of uncertainty that will make large tech companies overly cautious about making changes to the user experience and service offerings that would benefit consumers.”

Jonathan Tobin applies Occam's Razor
to explain why Obama didn't do more about Russia's attempts to interfere in our election last year.
But the real problem here is not so much Barack Obama’s failure to act as the most plausible reason for his inaction: Vladimir Putin’s capers didn’t impact the election results.
Despite the efforts by Democrats to blame Russia for Hillary Clinton's loss and their frustration that Obama didn't do more about it, there really is no evidence that the WikiLeaks revelations from John Podesta's emails had any effect on the course of the election.
But there’s a simpler, even more plausible explanation for Obama’s inaction: The president saw that the hacking was having almost no impact on the course of the campaign and thus wasn’t going to mess with the results. Far from the crime of the century, it was, at worst, a minor annoyance to Clinton that Obama obviously felt didn’t warrant a major dustup with Putin.

It’s true that Russia’s actions were outrageous and deserved a strong US response, both then and now. It can also be argued that the public had a right to know about it. But it was only after Clinton lost and she and her supporters began searching for excuses that Russia’s actions were considered an important factor in the outcome.

While Putin was way out of line, the impact of the WikiLeaks document dumps on Clinton’s candidacy was marginal at best.

The contents of the Democratic National Committee e-mails were embarrassing to Podesta and then-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who wound up losing her job after proof of DNC collusion with Clinton against Bernie Sanders was produced. But there was almost nothing in those documents that related directly to Clinton, let alone being enough to influence voters.

Every WikiLeaks story was also almost immediately overshadowed by other, more damaging gaffes or revelations about Trump, such as his attack on a Gold Star family or the release of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape. Nothing the Russians did matched the damage done by either of those Trump disasters.
Instead of looking for some external events or action, just admit that Hillary was a lousy candidate. That should actually be comforting to the Democrats. With such a compromised candidate whom so many Americans just never liked, they still won the popular vote and came really close to winning the states that put Trump over the top. If they can pick a better candidate in 2020, and can make an appeal for the voters they lost in the Rust Belt, chances are pretty strong that they'll win that year. They should be more concerned about forging a message that doesn't repel independents and those voters they lost in 2016. That's their real challenge and focusing all the time on Russia, Russia, Russia won't help them achieve that goal.

Good to know.
Tell your friendly environmentalist activist. But they're not really interested.
The benefits of fracking far outweigh its costs not only economically, but environmentally, a Stanford University geophysicist said Friday.

After teaching geophysics at Stanford for 30 years Mark Zoback took the helm of Stanford's new Natural Gas Initiative three years ago, he said, because of gas's environmental benefits.

"We did it because there were so many important and obvious environmental benefits to the utilization of natural gas," Zoback said. "So it’s somewhat ironic to be asked to argue for the notion that these benefits outweigh the environmental costs, when it’s the environmental benefits that got me into this business in the first place."

Zoback's remarks opened the annual debate at Stanford's Silicon Valley Energy Summit, and were swiftly challenged by representatives of the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Counci
Zoback argued that natural gas can replace coal and "dirty diesel" at significant scale throughout the world, supporting economic growth while slashing carbon emissions. (When burned, natural gas emits about half the CO2 that coal does).

The Senate has some really dumb rules. And the minority party can use them to slow everything down to a standstill. Chuck Schumer is taking advantage of every tool that the rules provide.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer used an upper chamber procedure Wednesday to block a national security briefing hosted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, irritating Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley.

The rule that Schumer had invoked, which he has been exercising the use of over the past two weeks, blocks Senate committee business from happening two hours after the Senate convenes session for the day. Schumer has consistently used the procedure as a way to delay business in Senate to make demands on Republicans on the health care bill.

The rarely-used tactic has cut short a committee hearing on free speech, stopped a hearing on Russian meddling in the U.S. elections and blocked a mark-up to advance bipartisan anti-human trafficking legislation....

Grassley had sent a joint letter with subcommittee judiciary chairman Lindsey Graham to the FBI Tuesday requesting all documents related to the FBI FISA surveillance requests on the Russia investigation.

“Today, the Judiciary Committee was set to hear from senior intelligence officials about highly sensitive intelligence gathering authorities that will soon require action from Congress. It’s disturbing and reckless for the Minority Leader to block the briefing. We’ve seen too many recent reminders of how unsafe the world is today. This is no time to play politics with our national security,” he said.
If they could use the nuclear option to get rid of a much more prominent rule concerning filibusters of Supreme Court nominees, why not use it to get rid of this stupid rule. If it's a "rarely-used tactic," no one except the angry members of the minority party will miss it.

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I had so much fun last night. I'm visiting my daughters in D.C. and we went to the Nats-Cubs game. I haven't seen a live baseball game in about 50 years since I was a kid and we'd go to the Cubs games. So I scheduled my trip to catch the game. After falling behind in the seventh inning, I thought it was pretty hopeless for the Cubs based on the way they've been playing this year. But they rallied in the ninth inning to go ahead on a triple by Jon Jay. It was so exciting and I could celebrate with all the other Cubs fans in the stadium including a cute little girl, about 10 years old, sitting with her family of Cubs fans in front of me who told her parents that John Jay had written five of the Federalist Papers. Exactly right and the Cubs' Jon Jay was a hero tonight. Go Federalists!

What a blast! And then as walked out of the stadium and came back on the Metro and hear all the Nationals fans complaining about the Nationals' bullpen. Eh, they're still doing well. I'm just hoping that the Cubs are recovering their mojo. At least their closer, Wade Davis, another historically relevant name on the Cubs roster

          McConnell on Trump Healthcare Meeting: 'We Made Good Progress'   
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that senators 'made good progress' with President Donald Trump at a meeting on the chamber's healthcare bill – acknowledging the plan will receive no support from Democrats.
          Tom Perez: Treat Trump Like Mitch McConnell Treated Obama   
WASHINGTON ― Labor Secretary Tom Perez suggested that Democrats should confront President-elect Donald Trump with the obstruction strategy Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) employed against President Barack Obama. “We can hit him between the eyes with a 2-by-4 and ...
          Continent risks fading from digital knowledge economy   
The rapid growth of internet use on the African continent has sparked hopes for the democratisation of knowledge production, but recent research suggests that connectivity is not enough to boost A ...
          Talks Between UK Conservatives And Northern Ireland's DUP Restart   
Talks between Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party and Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives on supporting the British leader's minority government have restarted on Wednesday. May and DUP leader Arlene Foster held more than an hour of talks on Tuesday. Foster said an agreement ...
          Holders Mamelodi Sundowns into CAF Champions League quarterfinals   
Khama Billiat of Mamelodi Sundowns is helped up by teammate Anthony Laffor of Mamelodi Sundowns during the CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and St George on 13 May 2017 at Lucas Moripe Stadium, Pretoria South Africa. A late goal from talisman Anthony Laffor away in Ethiopia on Saturday ensured progress for holders Mamelodi Sundowns through to the CAF Champions League quarterfinals, where they are joined by Tunisian pair of Esperance and Etoile Sahel. Sundowns beat Saint George in Addis Ababa with the Liberia international netting five minutes from time. Combined with Esperance's 2-2 draw against AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sundowns are now ensured of progress as they moved three points...
          States Miss Budget Deadline, Go Into Full Or Partial Shutdown Mode   
Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET New Jersey, Maine and Illinois are all facing at least partial government shutdowns after their legislatures failed to pass budgets. Washington and Alaska managed eleventh-hour deals to avoid a similar fate. Connecticut failed to pass a budget, but the state's governor stepped in with an emergency spending order. The new fiscal year for these and 40 other states begins today. New Jersey The state is under the second shutdown in its history after the Legislature, controlled by Democrats, failed to reach an agreement by a midnight Friday deadline. The showdown was prompted partly by a rift between Gov. Chris Christie and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. The Associated Press writes: "Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney agree on legislation to make over Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, including allowing the state insurance commissioner to determine a range for the company's surplus that if exceeded must be put to use benefiting the public and policyholders.
          Broad Swath of S. Africans Meets on Nation's Future    

THE broadest spectrum of parties ever to come together for political talks in South Africa gathers here today to plan a resumption of negotiations on the country's transition to democracy.

Ten months after multiparty talks broke down, the groups are returning to the table with a new sense of urgency. Three months of bilateral talks between the ruling National Party and the African National Congress (ANC) have cleared the way for a resumption of full negotiations.

"They're back at the table at last and this time there are more of them and the chemistry is looking good," says a Western diplomat monitoring the negotiation process.

Today's meeting, which will set a date for the resumption of full-blown multiparty talks, for the first time will include white right-wing parties and radical black rivals to the left of the ANC.

Participants are expected to include 23 delegations from 21 political groups - four more than the 19 delegations that attended the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, which deadlocked last May after five months of deliberations. Wide spectrum of parties

Among the attendees will be the militant Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), which failed to reach agreement with the government in talks this week about the suspension of the armed struggle being waged by its radical military wing, the Azanian Peoples Liberation Army.

The right-wing Afrikaner Volks Unie, which broke away from the more hard-line Conservative Party last year, will take part in a six-party committee chairing the meeting. This marks the first direct involvement of a right-wing party in steering multiparty talks.

There is also cautious optimism that Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), is preparing to put his full weight behind multiparty talks.

Today's meeting will be attended by chief negotiators rather than political leaders. A delegation from the semi-autonomous KwaZulu homeland could provide the mechanism for the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, to attend the next round of talks.

There is still disagreement over the boundaries, powers, and functions of South Africa's regions and whether they should be bound in a federation or a looser arrangement. But consensus is growing among the parties that the new constitution will need to provide for a high degree of autonomy for regional governments to prevent secessions that could fragment the country.

In the past three months, the ANC has made major concessions in the direction of a federal-type system and ANC leader Nelson Mandela has gone out of his way to recognize the principle of self-determination in talks with white right-wing leaders.

Multiparty talks, which could be held this month, must reach agreement on the powers and functions of a Transitional Executive Committee (TEC), an independent Electoral Commission, and an independent Media Commission that will have the task of leveling the political playing field.

The TEC, a multiracial super-advisory body, will function with sub-councils that will establish multiparty management of the security forces during the run-up to the elections. The three commissions should be established by June, by which time the multiparty forum is expected to have agreed on an election date.

"I think by the time we get to July it will be all systems go for the election," says ANC Electoral Commission head Popo Molefe.

The talks take place in the wake of the March 2 massacre of six school pupils in the violence-racked hills around Pietermaritzburg, which has served as a grim reminder of the bitter war still raging between supporters of the ANC and the IFP in that province.

The killing of the pupils has evoked national outrage across the political spectrum and Law and Order Minister Hernus Kriel has offered an $80,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited the bereaved community with other church leaders yesterday in a bid to calm political passions and prevent revenge killings.

Figures published Wednesday by the Human Rights Commission, a civil rights group that monitors political violence, indicate that deaths this year from political violence have dropped to levels well below the 300-a-month average for 1992. Coalition government

Today's talks will take place against the backdrop of an understanding reached last month between the government and the ANC that the drafting of a democratic constitution after the first democratic ballot will be followed by a period of coalition rule lasting up to five years.

The coalition government will include all parties that win at least 5 percent of the vote. According to recent polls this is sure to include the ANC and the National Party and is likely to include the PAC, the IFP, and possibly the right-wing Conservative Party.

"One could say that the real challenge of the ballot will be about whether South Africa can hold a peaceful election rather than who will win the election," says Larry Garber, an official of the National Democratic Institute in Washington, which helps run a South African voter education program.

The major challenge prior to the election will be to educate an estimated electorate of 21 million - about 16 million of whom are blacks who have never voted before - in the basics of democracy and electoral procedures.

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          Vigilante violence backed by supposed enforcers of law: Sonia   

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday hit out at the government, saying it was seeking to create an India completely at odds with the one that saw the light of Independence and added that "a culture of vigilante violence is actively being supported by those who are supposed to enforce the law".

She also said the idea of India had been thrown fundamentally into question by rising intolerance and malevolent forces who tell people "what they cannot eat, who they cannot love, what they cannot say".

Gandhi also said that "domestic misrule was as great a challenge for our country".

Launching the commemorative publication of National Herald, she further attacked the government, saying: "Though their language is modern, they seek to take India backward, to further their narrow sectarian vision."

"It is one of the ironies of our present times that the soaring reach of their (freedom fighters) work is now sought to be either obliterated or in some cases appropriated by individuals and groups who are in direct opposition to their beliefs and principles," she said.

"Those who stood aside when history was painfully made by sacrifice and struggle, those who had little faith in the Constitution adopted by our country, are now seeking to create an India completely at odds with the one that saw the light of Independence. Let us not forget that they made no sacrifices to shape India's destiny," she added.

Gandhi also said: "Their modern jargon conceals pre-modern beliefs, concepts that are at odds with progressive and inclusive thought, with contemporary knowledge and with a vision for the future. It is our duty to pull away the hypocrisy and reveal the reality lurking beneath."

"This is being encouraged by a culture of vigilante violence actively supported by those who are supposed to enforce the law. Such examples assault our consciousness almost daily," she added.

Gandhi also said: "India has reached a crossroads marked by increasing threats of authoritarianism and bigotry. Where we choose to stand today is where our country will head tomorrow.

"We are in a war of ideas. We wage this war to preserve our ideals, which have built India up as a model of democracy, diversity and co-existence. When these ideals are threatened, India itself is in danger. And if we do not raise our voices, if we do not speak up, our silence will be taken as consent," she said.

Gandhi said: "We have daunting enough battles to fight - against injustice, against poverty, against prejudice, against patriarchy, against malnutrition, against illiteracy, against communalism - but we must also prevail in this greater war for the soul of our nation."

"Ours is a mission to preserve the credibility and sanctity of our institutions in their democratic design. The domestic misrule is as great a challenge for our country.

"At a time when the inclusive conception of our nation is under attack, and the press is pressured or in some willing cases to obey and applaud rather than to question, speaking truth to power is the imperative of our age," Gandhi said.

"Let us work together to safeguard an India in which each person's voice can be raised and heard, most of all the voices of those who question and disagree," she added.



          Kovind, Meira in presidential contest after last day of nomination withdrawal   

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) NDA's presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind and the opposition-backed Meira Kumar will face each other in the July 17 election, with the two being left in the fray after the last day of withdrawal of candidature on Saturday.

Only Kovind and Kumar's papers were found valid after scrutiny on June 29 of all the nominations filed by over 90 candidates.

Both Kovind and Kumar have started touring states to seek support from members of the electoral college.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is seen to have a clear edge in the election. Kumar is backed by the Congress and other 16 opposition parties.

Elected members of Parliament and state assemblies, including those of Delhi and Puducherry, are members of the electoral college.

The counting of votes will take place on July 20.



          No apprehension about lynchings after Modi's rebuke: Amit Shah   

Panaji, July 1 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Saturday said after Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly criticised mob violence, there was no apprehension about lynchings in the country.

Shah also said criticism of the central government led by PM Modi was unfair vis-a-vis the issue of lynchings and also questioned why journalists were being caught in the flow.

"There is no (apprehension anywhere in the country," Shah said, when asked if apprehension about public lynchings had been quelled by Modi's recent public statement criticising such incidents.

Shah suggested that there was an orchestrated effort to wrongly blame the Modi-led government on the lynching issue.

"I do not want to undermine lynching incidents, by presenting a comparison. In 2011, 2012, 2013, there were more lynchings in each year than in these three years (of National Democratic Alliance rule). But the question was not asked then. How are questions being asked now?" he said.

"Mohammad Akhlaq died in Uttar Pradesh, when the Samajwadi Party was in power. It was their responsibility and yet there is a protest against Modi government," Shah added.

"What is this fashion? I can understand about the citizens but why are journalists getting caught in such a flow," the BJP President said.



          Presidential election: Meira Kumar campaigns in Bengaluru   

Bengaluru, July 1 (IANS) Opposition candidate in presidential election Meira Kumar on Saturday appealed to Karnataka legislators to vote for her in the July 17 President's poll.

"As I am contesting for ideology and not power or prestige, it is important that you vote by your conscience for values and principles that are sacred to our people," Kumar told the legislators of the ruling Congress here.

She visited Karnataka as part of the presidential poll campaign.

As the opposition candidate backed by 17 parties, the former Lok Sabha Speaker is contesting against the formidable ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA)'s nominee Ram Nath Kovind.

The members of Parliament and legislatures of states across the country will vote to elect the country's 15th President.

Denying that she was made scapegoat to enter the poll fray after the NDA fielded Kovind, Kumar told reporters later that the contest should not be seen through caste or creed but on principles and ideology.

"I carry forward those values and principles which are sacred to our people across the country. I am contesting to uphold them," said Kumar, who launched her campaign at Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on Friday.

Daughter of Dalit leader and veteran Congressman Babu Jagjivan Ram, Kumar also called on former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and sought the support of his regional party -- Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) -- in the election to the country's highest office.

She regretted that the presidential election was seen by some people through the prism of caste as the main contenders were coincidentally Dalits.

"It is shameful that election to the President's post is being seen in that manner. We should come out of such mentality. When candidates from higher castes contested in the previous presidential polls, it (caste) was never an issue. Why now?" Kumar retorted.



          North Dakota: Legendary Among States    
By Gallup

"Oil boom" is probably the first phrase that comes to mind when one thinks about North Dakota. Yet North Dakotans see their state as much more than oil. They are highly satisfied with their schools, their air quality, their ability to find a quality job, and their overall standard of living. In Gallup's comprehensive survey of all 50 states, North Dakota ranks No. 1 on a variety of indicators spanning economics, public affairs, education, the environment, and well-being. In 2014, North Dakota is a complex, thriving state that is adapting rapidly to the economic and social factors that are transforming this population of roughly 725,000 people.
Economics: The State of North Dakota
These findings are based on a special 50-state Gallup poll conducted June-December 2013, including interviews with approximately 600 residents in every state.

North Dakotans are more likely than residents of any other state to say that their state's economic conditions are excellent or good, that the state's economy is getting better, and that they have not lacked money for adequate housing in the last 12 months. In addition, more residents than anywhere else say it is a good time to find a quality job and that their state is a good place for people starting a new business.

To an outsider, the answer seems clear: the North Dakota oil boom has expanded wealth and opportunity to the point that there is a chicken in every pot. To leading officials in North Dakota, the story has its roots in prudent long-term planning statewide that Democrats and Republicans began in the early 1990s. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple says well before oil was discovered in the Parshall Oil Field in 2006, the state was on its way to economic prosperity. Dalrymple, who served as former Gov. John Hoeven's lieutenant governor, credits his boss with taking these efforts to the next level.

"We needed to get our state economy going," Dalrymple says. "We basically set about creating a state for more opportunities … energy, agriculture, technology, advanced manufacturing, tourism."

In 2000, North Dakota was 38th in personal per capita income, at $25,872. By 2008, that figure had risen to $40,880, or 19th in the nation. According to Andy Peterson, president and CEO of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, the growth in advance manufacturing, value-added food processing, and tourism, in addition to traditional bases such as agriculture, accounted for North Dakota's vaulting ahead of other states. It was only in 2009 that oil became a factor in the state's finances, but the groundwork for a boom had already been laid.

"Oil is a very thick frosting on a very nicely baked cake," Peterson says.

Oil had been found in North Dakota before, but Dalrymple, Peterson, and Al Anderson, North Dakota state commerce commissioner, agree that the volume and velocity of the boom was unexpected. Dalrymple says there were 200,000 barrels a day in 2009, compared with 1 million barrels a day now.

"The rapid evolution of the oil industry was not foreseen," says Anderson.

"We had seen oil booms come and go but now the technology has changed," Peterson says. "We didn't realize how much oil was in the ground. We found ways to extract oil that we could never expect."
In addition to oil, success in agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism are contributing factors to North Dakota's having the lowest unemployment in the U.S. for the past four years. The state has added 116,000 jobs since 2000, a job-growth increase of 35.6%. Net migration in the state is up 12.7% since 2000. This onrush of new jobs and workers has strained the housing market. North Dakota residents are fully aware of this, as 61% say they are satisfied with the availability of affordable housing in their state, one of the lowest in the nation.

Anderson says North Dakota has been building 2,000 to 3,000 new housing units per year and that hotel occupancy has dropped from 95% to 65%, as more houses are being built. Dalrymple says his state is building apartment buildings with controlled rents to meet demand.

"I consider that one of the solvable challenges," Dalrymple says. "We're mostly spending money for infrastructure needs."

North Dakotans Give Their Schools an "A"
North Dakotans are not just satisfied with their economy, however. Across the 50 states, North Dakotans are the most likely to rate their K-12 education as excellent or good, to agree that their schools prepare students to get a good job, and to be satisfied with the education system or schools overall.
Public Affairs: The State of North Dakota
According to the North Dakota officials, there are various reasons for this high satisfaction with education in the state.

"Sheer volume of school districts helps because there are many local school districts," says Peterson. "Schools are more accessible to students and teachers."

Anderson added that "education has always been extremely important to North Dakota," though he would like to see a continued focus on education for STEM jobs, to keep pace with the growth in the state.

In contrast to their mostly positive -- in many cases, nation-leading -- views about the economy and education, North Dakotans exhibit mixed views on the social climate in their state. While residents were first in the nation in saying they were "treated with respect all day yesterday," and "experienced enjoyment a lot of the day yesterday," they reported low levels of their state being a "good place for racial and ethnic minorities" and a "good place for gay or lesbian people," Gallup reported last year that North Dakota has the lowest percentage of residents in the nation who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
Social Climate: The State of North Dakota
In offering his view on why his state residents might make these assertions, Dalrymple spoke in general terms about how North Dakota is in a process of evolution.

"There's a tendency for people not being immediately comfortable with new people until they have had a chance to meet them and evaluate them," Dalrymple says. "We're evolving every year and becoming more accustomed to different people and lifestyles."

"We've had a pretty homogenous society in the past," Anderson says. "Ninety percent is probably the white Caucasian split, but minorities are increasing." Anderson added, "I truly believe our rankings will go up. We will adjust and improve. I think it is embraced by the vast majority of people in North Dakota."

Peterson says where North Dakota is located plays a major factor in evaluating newcomers and different lifestyles.

"The rest of the country, especially the coasts, change the pace of life quicker than we do," he says. "Doesn't surprise me that we are slower to change. But I think the state is changing. We reflect the Midwest and I think we're going to change last. But there isn't hostility to these groups. Once you interact with these groups, you realize that people are people."

The North Dakota Experience
North Dakotans are, by and large, satisfied with their state and the direction in which it is going. Certainly the oil boom, after years of strategic economic planning, may be one of the chief contributors to this statewide contentment. North Dakota may now be on the map as an economic power, but it is still a rural state with a large land mass and relatively few residents, with room to grow. Anderson estimated that oil output could rise to 1.7 million barrels per day in the near future. He says North Dakota is now second behind Texas in oil production and that "a few years ago, we saw a 20-year run with oil (but) this can be a 60-year-play."

When asked to sum up the North Dakota experience, each official offered this reflection of the state:
  • Peterson: "The North Dakota experience is one of quiet fortitude and self-reliance, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, equal opportunity for all -- at least in our minds, even if it isn't the case. It is about individual responsibility and self-reliance."
  • Dalrymple: "North Dakota has been discovered. When I travel around the country, people are no longer clueless about what's going on here -- people coming here and investing here -- it's prospering and there are opportunities here."
  • Anderson: "[People] can truly make a difference in North Dakota and they can't necessarily do it everywhere. I've lived in eight states and outside the country. You see a lot of people giving back [in North Dakota]. Our legislators are truly part-time legislators. Everybody matters here and I don't think people get that in a larger community all the time."
North Dakota is evolving -- and its residents are now more positive about their state than any other state in the nation is on economics, well-being, and public affairs.

North Dakota: Legendary Among States -

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          On the road to socialism, Truthout reviews Rethinking Revolution   

Anti-capitalism needs a viable political party. Whether it’s a big one, like the Democratic Party—which Bernie Sanders’ supporters are hoping to influence and dreaming, perhaps, of taking over—or a robust third party that’s openly socialist, it’s clear that without a party that operates in conjunction with left movements, it will be difficult to achieve goals like Medicare for All, free higher education, student loan forgiveness, environmental and climate protection, and substantially shrinking the military and the vast prison system…. ¶ That is precisely what several essays in Rethinking Revolution advocate.… | more…

          Comment on We Still Celebrate Independence Day at Church (by Dean Stewart) by Jim Perry   
Hey Dave Miller Todd Benkert Brent Hobbs, this started as a comment on the post about patriotic services, but grew so long in the telling that it seemed less appropriate as such. Would it pass muster as a regular piece on the blog as the other side of the argument? ####### I was a worship leader on staff at a church the last two years. I have seen two 4th's of July come and go, and I never did even one patriotic song. Pastor mentioned it and maybe preached on how to live as Christians in this country, but we didn't do patriotic stuff, and in fact, I never heard a complaint for not doing it. And we're in the middle of Indiana, which is hardly any less patriotic than anyone else. I have said in the past, perhaps glibly, "I'm here to worship God, not America." That's how I see it, personally. But there is so much to deal with on this issue, and it really is a matter of the conscience, certainly not a salvation issue, or perhaps not even a right or wrong issue, though I suppose we only come to positions we believe are right and correct. I don't hate anyone who thinks differently, and I don't get angry over it. But here, perhaps, is a suitable explanation of my perspective. The first principle is that it is incumbent upon those of us in leadership to aim for the higher ideal, closer to the heart of God, and lead our people there. With regard to the "meat sacrificed to idols" topic, much is made of the "brother with the weaker conscience," but wherein is the strengthening of that conscience? If it is permissible to eat that meat, but we abstain from doing it in front of the weaker brother, are we not to educate said brother and strengthen him so that he agrees with the Lord, "Why call unclean what I have made unclean?" I don't believe the Apostle was advocating for leaving said brother in his "weaker" state. We absolutely have to analyze why we think the way we think, in all areas. To find the roots of our sentiments and judge them valid or invalid. First is an appreciation for the undertaking that won us our liberty from Great Britain. I love the Revolutionary War period of history. I will gobble that stuff up. Every 4th of July I make my kids sit down and watch The Patriot, with John Williams' beautiful score (my son's named after the guy), and that overwhelming sense of national pride. This and the founding documents are essential to understanding how and why we became who we are as Americans, and Who through His divine Providence made us free. Second is our contemporary sentiments regarding this country, which are largely generational. We are nearing the time when the veterans of World War II will no longer be among us. It was the last war that I believe we fought on entirely just grounds (save for the first Gulf War, which really was no war, but a brief armed incursion to remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait). Many thousands of people died to liberate the European continent and the Pacific theater from near global tyranny. The industry of war finally brought us out of the Depression (which FDR had unnecessarily perpetuated with his disastrous economic policies). It brought us together as a nation for a common purpose. It made us proud to be Americans. We were the good guys for real. We did something really GOOD, and that was something to celebrate. The World War II generation may be nearly lost to us, but their children remain. They were raised in a country steeped in this good patriotism. My Grandfather was of the World War II generation, and several of you are Boomers, so we are not so far removed from that time we did something truly good. We know and believe what we are taught, and we naturally gravitate toward the familiar. So it is with no great burden that we dutifully recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we stand for the National Anthem with our hands on our hearts, we vote because we believe we should, and we say our troops our "defending our freedom." However, I am reminded of a couple things from Eisenhower's farewell address. Who better to draw from than a man who embraced, and served with distinction in, all spheres of his life? The first is this: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together." We have been so very fortunate that those at the head of the "military-industrial complex" have not sought misplaced power. Our military brass have respected the chain of command, and I agree that all who have served deserve our honor and respect. The problem is that there has been a "disastrous rise of misplaced power" in our politicians, and all our Presidents since Eisenhower have been looking, in one form or another, for that next great military victory that all Americans can again be unified in celebrating. Trust me when I say that I am not being glib in asking this question, and it is not a reflection on our troops or their commanders, but rather the bureaucrats who command them. Are they really sent to defend our freedom? Were they defending *our* freedom when they were sent to Vietnam, Grenada, Kosovo, Iraq or Somalia? Our military has been sent into action after questionable action, without Constitutionally appropriate declarations of war from Congress, and then when they are sent in, the execution of the action so often becomes subject to political calculation and partisan whim. We all know too well the sins of Vietnam. I now fear my children desiring to serve in the military, and would counsel them against it. I didn't always feel this way. The second Eisenhower quote is this: "As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow." Sadly, the World War II generation gave us a great tragedy along with a great victory. That tragedy was the vast behemoth of FDR's government, which threw out the window every great thing that President Coolidge achieved (or left alone) when he vastly reduced the size, scope and budget of the Federal Government. That World War II generation, and now the Boomers, are beginning to rely on a government program that has itself become insolvent, and may in fact become a "phantom" tomorrow. With the national debt now having increased 800% (!!!!!) since 1980, vastly out-gaining inflation of just over 212%, our government has truly mortgaged the material assets of our grandchildren. By allowing Marxist Socialism into our government and allowing the Federal Government to exceed its Constitutional bounds, we have lost our political heritage. And who would be culpable in a nation that has lost its spiritual heritage? Perhaps the American Church which has largely worshiped our "Christian" Nation? Examine your own hearts in this regard. How many times to we misappropriate 2 Chronicles 7:14 for America? This is not a promise from the Lord to heal our land, but Israel. And under the New Covenant we are spiritually grafted into Israel, which is a *spiritual* Israel. Psalm 81:13 says, "If only my people would listen to me and Israel would follow my ways." God is not going to heal America, no matter how much we ask him. He is interested in the hearts of men and women, and he judged harshly the nations whose god was themselves. So when you raise up America in the focal place where God is worshiped, how can he be pleased? This is what bothers me about Awana or RA’s/GA’s (if anyone does that still). We teach kids not only to do the Pledge of Allegiance–which, secularly speaking, is good insofar as we do not seek to undermine the country whose benefits we enjoy–but then a made-up pledge to the Bible, which the Lord doesn’t command we do, and a made-up pledge for a made-up “Christian” flag, which to me, raising a flag for Jesus that Jesus didn’t institute is an abomination. It's an offensive trivialization of the Faith. We lift up the Savior, not a flag. Yes, we ought to be grateful that God gave us this country to live in, where our ancestors settled to be free to worship as they saw fit. Yes we have been blessed by God, but we have taken that blessing and grown fat and lazy. We have "done evil in the sight of the Lord," and not just "those sinners" who practice abortion and homosexuality, but also "us Christians" who gossip, covet, hate and worship idols. None of this should be taken as hatred for America, but rather we all ought to cultivate a healthy sense of ambivalence to it. And I mean 'healthy.' We have liberties and we should *use* them, even as many of them are slowly eroded away. We must participate in the electoral process, but always demanding the best of our politicians. We should lobby our government for "redress of grievances" as is appropriate. We should not speak evil of her but speak truthfully about the evils within her, and most especially in our own house. We should recognize the erosion of civility with the increase in partisanship and become less partisan ourselves because Jesus is our King, and His is our Kingdom. With the celebration of our founding comes lament in that we have allowed this country to fall so far from it. In conclusion, I do not feel patriotic observances are wrong. It is not sinful to honor the people who have served in our military. Have the picnics. Have the fireworks. Sing the songs, honor those who died in service to another, and celebrate the founding of "the last best hope of man on earth." But consider carefully whether it ought to take the place of our singing to the Lord, and singing of him only, and preaching of his Word rather than overlaying it with a flag. To present this as a function of our worship service is wrong, in my view. It is not hope on earth we are trying to secure, but hope in the life to come.
          News | RI State House Erupts Into Chaos on Friday Night   
On Friday night at 6:00 PM, House Speaker Nick Mattiello and the rest of the House leadership — both Democrats and Republicans — joined together to blast the Senate leadership, claiming that they had broken their word to pass the highly negotiated budget.
          Politics | GOP’s Bell Refuses to Provide Info on Spicer Event, Questions Arise About Host and Funding   
RI GOP Chair Brandon Bell, who often berates Democrats for lack of transparency, looks more and more to be taking pages out of the Trump White House game plan this week, refusing basic questions about about upcoming event featuring White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
          Zimbabwe: Mugabe Powerless to Stop Roadblocks - Opposition   

The opposition People's Democratic Party has called for an inquiry into why the government has failed to reduce the number of roadblocks in the country as indicated by Home Affairs Minister, Ignatius Chombo and his deputy, Obedingwa Mguni. In a statement, PDP spokesperson, Jacob Mafume, said there was need to inquire whether the two ZANU PF ministers deliberately misled Parliament or the police were disregarding policy interventions from the executive.

          Common Cause, Democrats urge Maryland not to comply with Trump election data request   

A government watchdog group and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland urged state election officials on Friday to refuse to comply with a data request made by the Trump administration as part of an investigation into the integrity of elections.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election...

          United to Protect Democracy   

HEFFNER: I’m Alexander Heffner your host on The Open Mind. A newly born no-profit organization, United to Protect Democracy, has an urgent goal, to hold the president and thee executive branch accountable to the laws and longstanding traditions that have protected our democracy through both Democratic and Republican administrations. Its founding executive director joins me […]

The post United to Protect Democracy appeared first on The Open Mind, Hosted by Alexander Heffner.

          Questions Arise Over Garcetti’s Political Ambitions at Start of His Second Term   
When Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti flew to Wisconsin for a Democratic Party gathering in the presidential swing state last month, he went well-rehearsed for questions about his career plans. A Milwaukee news anchor asked him, predictably, whether a big-city mayor might capture the White House. “No mayor’s been president since Grover Cleveland,” Garcetti responded, casting doubt on his insistence back home that he spends no time thinking about such things. As Garcetti prepares to be sworn in Saturday for […]
          Comment on The Common Thread in the Castile and Cosby Cases by Triumvirate   
You can delete the comment as many times as you like, but this piece will still be dangerous, undemocratic gibberish.
          PD San Cataldo: interrogazioni su incuria del verde pubblico e lavori di consolidamento di Pizzo Carano   
Riceviamo: “I Consiglieri Comunali del Partito Democratico di San Cataldo, Marianna Guttilla e Marco Andaloro, hanno presentato due interrogazioni consiliari in merito al verde pubblico e ai lavori di consolidamento di Pizzo Carano e C.da Giganna. Per quanto riguarda la prima, l’interrogazione nasce dalla segnalazione di diversi cittadini sull’incuria del verde pubblico in diverse parti […]
          “The Inconvenient Truth About the Democrat Party” by Carol Swain professor of political science at Vanderbilt University   
Inconvenient Truth About the Democrat Party” by Carol Swain professor of political science at Vanderbilt University The first grand wizard of the KKK was honored at the 1868 Democratic National Convention. No Democrats voted...
          Trump Attacks Morning Joe Again; CNN Pushes Trump Scarborough Blackmail Story   
President Trump is always two steps ahead of the MSM, Democrats even Republicans. He throws a bone and they got in a frenzy dissecting the nonsense so he can work in the real issues...
          Holders Mamelodi Sundowns into CAF Champions League quarterfinals   
Khama Billiat of Mamelodi Sundowns is helped up by teammate Anthony Laffor of Mamelodi Sundowns during the CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and St George on 13 May 2017 at Lucas Moripe Stadium, Pretoria South Africa. A late goal from talisman Anthony Laffor away in Ethiopia on Saturday ensured progress for holders Mamelodi Sundowns through to the CAF Champions League quarterfinals, where they are joined by Tunisian pair of Esperance and Etoile Sahel. Sundowns beat Saint George in Addis Ababa with the Liberia international netting five minutes from time. Combined with Esperance's 2-2 draw against AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sundowns are now ensured of progress as they moved three points...
          Dozens of Dems Support Bill to Create Panel That Could Remove Trump From Office   
BY: Conor Beck June 30, 2017 3:09 pm Source: Dozens of Dems Support Bill to Create Panel That Could Remove Trump From Office Fascism/communism  in the purest form ,the USA gulag in the making ? Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.) has introduced a bill that would create a congressional oversight commission that could declare the […]
          Santorum or Paul ?   

I (and dozens of other folks) received a political endorsement from a very nice, well-meaning woman from my traditional Mass group this week. She was excited that Rick Santorum was talking publicly about the problem of birth control, and she asked us all to support someone who “shared our values.” Her Santorum plea intrigued me—I haven’t seen a faithful Catholic run for highest office, except for Buchannan, who was in a way “before my time”—but I’m still not in Santorum’s camp, to say the least. The Ron Paul sticker is still on my car.

Anyways, I spent a couple of hours crafting a response to her endorsement. I haven’t “stretched my polemical legs” in quite a while, so I’m grateful she gave me the opportunity and the inspiration. Since I was moderately satisfied with how my response turned out, I’m converting it to a blog post. Here goes:

Santorum's personal rejection of contraception is admirable, of course, and it's somewhat in contradiction to...say...Ron Paul, who--as an obstetrician in the 70s and 80s--presumably prescribed contraceptives and performed sterilizations. I'm making that assumption because he's a Protestant, and if he hadn't wrote scrips for the pill, NARAL and Planned Parenthood would surely have found out and painted him as an extremist by now.

But I don't think Santorum's personal position on contraception...even in contrast to someone like Paul who must have personally promoted it (whether he knew better or not) enough to compel my vote. Why not? Obviously, someone like Ron Paul isn’t consistently pro-life. But at the most basic level, Santorum isn't consistently "pro-life" either. Santorum’s "pro-life" personal views didn't get in the way of his politics when it would have mattered most: his support of Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Senate primary a few years ago. When Santorum could have backed another pro-lifer, Pat Toomey, and tipped the scales, he didn't. Instead, he supported Specter, who was NOT ONLY a pro-abort who controlled the Senate Judiciary Committee (where the best pro-life judicial nominees need not apply, even in the GOP's best days), but was also a turncoat who switched to the Democratic party a couple years later. Every observer I've read agrees that if Santorum had stuck to principle and stumped for Toomey, Toomey would have won (instead of lost by 1.7%), we'd have had a better Judiciary Committee, hence better federal judges, and the Dems wouldn't have had a filibuster-proof majority in the next go-round. (BTW, Toomey did beat Specter the next time and go to the senate after Santorum lost his own seat to a Democrat!)

And really, the issue of outlawing contraception in national doesn't simply matter, and Santorum won’t pursue it. I'm not saying that it shouldn't matter. It should, but it doesn't. Maybe some day it will at least matter at the state level. It's like nationally outlawing all pornography or buggery or usury or no-fault divorce. They are all admirable goals but candidly, they are not achievable on a national level at our present time and place. Although the link between abortion and all that bad stuff I mentioned above is obvious to us traditional Catholics, most non-Catholics (and heck, perhaps most novus ordo Catholics) aren't intellectually or spiritually equipped to deal with the link right now. We laymen should work one-on-one to convert people away from contraception, and our Bishops and priests should preach against it. However, too much public talk of outlawing contraception by a national political candidate at the present moment will be counterproductive. It will be exploited by his pro-abort enemies and slow down all our efforts to stop the greatest and "most fixable" of these evils...abortion. On this issue, we will only succeed if we tackle only one thing at a time.

The lady said Santorum “shares our values.” Well, leaving the pro-life issue and moving on to look at Santorum's other values? I honestly can't say they're the same as mine:

FIRST Santorum's an interventionist, looking to keep a huge United States military presence throughout the world--running up more debt, getting more American boys killed, and making more foreign enemies. For Santorum, patriotism is about geopolitical power. For me? Nope, patriotism is about loving ones’ land for what it is, not loving one’s government for the power it can project over other governments. Patriotism for me doesn't include going from one undeclared war to another….especially when the next one will be against a huge, prosperous country with a large, well-organized and educated populace that can really fight back—i.e., Iran. Nor does it involve the same bankrupting globalist busybody strategy as that other recently-collapsed empire: Great Britain.

SECOND, Santorum loves Israel--a state and a society which is absolutely hostile to the Church, and which is the very cause of that the "Islamo-Fascism" that Sean Hannity and Billy O’Reilly and the other neoconservative blowhards denounce. I, on the other hand, recognize that Israel is not a reliable ally, and that Moslems don't hate us for our freedom--they hate us because guys like Santorum vote to send Israel the guns and tanks and planes (and bombs marked "Made in the USA") that are used to kill their co-religionists, or if they’re lucky, merely expel them from their ancestral homes and leave them fenced in and starving.

THIRD, Santorum also believes in centralization of government, for example, federalizing education and doubling the number of education bureaucrats (99% of whom probably hate homeschooling). I adhere to the Catholic principle of subsidiarity--that is, the exercise of power by the lowest level capable of doing so (the family, the local church, the community, the state, and only where absolutely necessary, by the feds).

FOURTH, Santorum loves the police state, having voted for all sorts of restrictions on our ability to travel and communicate, and all sorts of new mechanisms for monitoring the daily activities of people in the United States. I value freedom of movement and (in my 30 or 40 flights a year) recognize that the TSA goons, the humiliating porn scanners, and the other monitoring of our activities don't keep us "secure"--they are simply part of a subtle retraining US residents to be sheepish and compliant subjects of the totalitarian state.

Neoconservatives like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich love the general growth in government as much as "moderates" like Mitt Romney and liberals like Hillary Clinton and Barry Obama. While their rhetoric is couched slightly differently, all of them want more government, more federal intrusion on our daily life, more perks for their friends (be they Obama's Chicago Daly Machine wonks or Mitt's Goldman Sachs pals or Santorum's military contractor donors or Newt's insurance company lobbying clients). Santorum won't make it easier for the Church to pursue its mission. He won't make it easier for faithful Catholics to raise holy families. He won't make it easier for our boys to find good jobs. He won't create the conditions necessary to rebuild Christian culture in the United States. And of course, he won't outlaw contraception. He has so many "backs to scratch" that he probably won't even get around to nominating judges that will unwind the nonsensical web of Constitutional "privacy" jurisprudence that prevents states from regulating contraception, prohibiting abortion, and discouraging buggery.

A friend of mine who’s since moved out of state—a very well-formed guy--once recommended Frank Sheed's book, Society and Sanity. Sheed is on solid Catholic ground, and he's an eloquent apologist. One of the central points of the book is a consideration of Christ's answer to the Pharisees, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's...." He approaches modern politics (circa 1960, I think) in the form of two questions about government which should be distinct in everyone's mind, but which are often muddled...they are paraphrased by me as "Who gets to be Caesar?" and "What things are Caesar's?" which I'll further rephrase as "How far does Caesar's authority extend?" My friend also pointed me to where St. Thomas Aquinas addresses the same issues, but I found Sheed to be much more accessible.

So here we are in 2012: this is an election which should be more about the second question than it is the first. All but one of the candidates is focused entirely on the first question. They all want me to believe that if they're Caesar, I can trust them because they share my values, and they can do more for me, and they can do it better. The organs of the federal government will be more efficient and stronger, but they’ll serve my interests. Only one of the candidates has anything substantive to say about that second question, and only one wants you to think about the limits of Caesar's reach. And unfortunately, it ain't Catholic Rick Santorum. It's Protestant Ron Paul.

In a field of imperfect candidates (all either statists or liberals), Ron Paul not only opposes abortion, but he is the one who is the most likely to REALLY give new momentum to the life movement (perhaps more momentum than he himself intends). He'll install judges who read the Constitution as it is (imperfect though it may be) and throw out the reasoning in cases like Roe and Doe and even Carpenter (the case that invented the "right to privacy" that prevented states from regulating contraceptives) and Lawrence (the case that prevents states from outlawing buggery). He’s not touting a huge program of federal prohibitions in their place like some pro-life lobbyists want, but really, such a prohibition is a pipe dream. Returning the life issues to the states (where the battle can be fought and won at least in most places over time) is really the best we can hope for—and the best we should hope for. The several states, after all, are where the plenary power to punish offenses against life and property properly rest.

Also, even though Paul's economic positions aren't perfect, there isn't a Rerum Novarum candidate to compare him to. His Austrian economic theory (BTW, at least he can speak intelligently about economics--the other candidates can't) is a much more sound basis for economic policy than Obama's soft socialism or Romney's Goldman Sachs TARP capitalism or Santorum's military industrial cronyism. In the absence of a candidate with a workable Distributivist program (if there is such a thing), quoting or at least plagiarizing Hillaire Belloc, Pope Leo XIII, and GK Chesterton, Paul's the one candidate who will at least redirect the country in a general direction that could ultimately be refined to a Catholic economic order.

As for militarism and interventionism—Paul’s obviously not a jingo. And as for subsidiarity--that big question about the scope of Caesar's authority--it's clear that a Ron Paul administration will have a smaller federal government--leaving more room in our society for families, the Church, communities, and states to operate and seek the Good on their own. I don't think anyone would argue that point.

The restoration (or rather reformation) of American culture on sound Catholic principles won't be easy. Barring a huge cataclysm, it won't happen in my lifetime. But whenever and however it happens (if it happens at all), it can only come back if we clear away the choking roots of our out-of-control, anti-Catholic, antagonistic federal government, and leave some open ground for the shoots of a civil society where Catholic principles to grow and flourish. A Catholic Humanae Vitae candidate (or…for the pre-Vatican II crowd…a Casti Conubii candidate) who otherwise promises more central government control of society, more war, and more spending, isn't going to do that. But a Protestant obstetrician will do it, even if he may not really appreciated what he was doing with his prescription pad a few decades ago. Ultimately Ron Paul is not the best possible candidate, but this is a multiple-choice test, not fill-in-the-blank.

As I said before, the question is "Who understands what things are really Caesar's?" In each case, Ron Paul is the answer that comes closest to the correct one.

          The Twitter Coup?   
As the Russian investigation fails to produce a real scandal, some Democrats are getting desperate:
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) earlier this year introduced a bill that proposes to create a congressional “oversight” panel to investigate whether or not Trump is “incapacitated.” If the panel declares Trump mentally unable to carry out the duties of his office, then they can remove him from office.

Except there’s only one caveat: they would need Vice President Mike Pence’s approval.

The 25th Amendment was ratified in 1967 in response to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and several other medical crises with prior presidents. The amendment establishes the presidential line-of-succession, procedures for filling a vice presidential vacancy and what to do when the president becomes “incapacitated.”

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment allows a majority of the president’s Cabinet, along with the vice president, to determine the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties,” then provide that determination in writing to Congress resulting in the president being dismissed from office. This is the only section of the 25th Amendment that has never been used.

But Raskin’s bill highlights some largely overlooked language in Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. In addition to a majority of the president’s Cabinet, the amendment also allows a majority of Congress to reach the same conclusion to remove the president — along with the vice president’s approval, still.

In either of these cases, once the president is determined to be “incapacitated,” the vice president immediately becomes acting president.
Be careful what you wish for...
          Democratic National Committee visits Phoenix   
Friction between the Obama administration and Arizona Republican lawmakers won't influence whether Phoenix gets picked as the site of the party's 2016 national convention, a top Democratic National Committee official said.
          Democrats gather in Scottsdale for 2-day meeting   
Members of the Democratic National Committee will be spending the next two days holed up in a Scottsdale resort for their annual summer meeting.
          Phoenix as political convention host city? It could come down to state’s politics   
As a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, Mayor Greg Stanton can imagine Phoenix playing host to a 2016 convention. And he doesn’t particularly care which one.
          Gabby Giffords to give pledge on final night of Democratic convention   
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will deliver the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic National Convention.
          Arizona mother to speak at Democratic National Convention   
An Arizona woman is scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina about the impact of health care reform on her family.
          Arizonans aboard Undocu-bus fault Obama on illegal immigration   
Fernando Lopez, an illegal immigrant from Phoenix, rode more than 2,000 miles through 11 states on a 40-year-old bus that broke down twice to deliver a message to the Democratic National Convention: President Barack Obama hasn’t done enough to help the millions of people in the United States illegally, people he said could benefit the ...
          Obama knocks Trump: 'Temporary absence' of US climate leadership   
Former President Barack Obama took a shot at his successor while traveling in Indonesia, saying President Trump had caused a "temporary absence of American leadership" on climate policy. "In Paris, we came together around the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change," Obama said Saturday, per Bloomberg. "[A]n agreement that even with the temporary absence of American leadership will still give our children a fighting chance." Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement, months after Obama's team raced to finalize an international climate accord before he left office. That decision angered Democratic leaders, although Trump...
          Fraudulent Obamaphone Program   
The controversial “Obamaphone” program, which pays for cellphones for the poor, is rife with fraud, according to a new government report released Thursday that found more than a third of enrollees may not even be qualified. Known officially as the Lifeline Program, the phone giveaway became a symbol of government waste in the previous administration. Now a new report from the Government Accountability Office bears out those concerns. The report, requested by Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, also says the program has stashed some $9 billion in assets in private bank accounts rather than with the federal treasury, further increasing...
          Northern Irish power-sharing agreement faces delays, warn Sinn Féin   

DUP show ‘no urgency’ to reach agreement, Gerry Adams tells Belfast crowd as parties disagree on Culture Act provisions

Gerry Adams has warned that an agreement designed to bring back power-sharing, cross-community government in Northern Ireland is unlikely to happen by Monday.

The Sinn Féin president said the Democratic Unionists were showing “no urgency” about dealing with the issues that led to the collapse of the last devolved regional government in Belfast at the start of this year.

Continue reading...
          CMS Releases 2016 ACA Marketplace Reinsurance And Risk Adjustment Data   

On June 30, 2017, CMS released the results for the third year (2016) of the reinsurance and risk adjustment programs, two of the Affordable Care Act’s “three R” premium stabilization programs. The 2016 results from the risk corridor program, the “third R” will be announced later this year.

ACA’s “Three R” Progams Are Modeled After Medicare Part D, But Are Weaker And More Controversial Than Their Part D Counterparts

The ACA’s three R programs were modeled after similar premium stabilization programs that have operated for about a decade for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. The Part D program also has a risk adjustment program (which adjusts premiums prospectively rather than insurer income retrospectively), a reinsurance program (which is much more generous than the ACA program and permanent rather than temporary), and a risk corridor program (also permanent, and initially more generous than the ACA program.). The part D premium stabilization programs played an important role in attracting insurers to the prescription drug program initially and have helped to keep premiums stable and premium increases low since the program was launched in 2006. They have undoubtedly been an important factor in maintaining the popularity and bipartisan support for Part D.

The ACA premium stabilization programs have proven far more controversial than the Medicare Part D programs. The risk corridor program has been criticized as an Insurer “bail-out” and was seriously undermined by appropriations riders enacted by Congress limiting program payouts to the amount collected from insurers. For 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services was only able to pay out 12.6 percent of the amounts owed insurers under the statutory formula because of this constraint, while it has been unable to make any payments for 2015 as it had to set off 2015 collections against 2014 obligations.  This no doubt contributed to the insolvency of a number of insurers and has resulted in a number of lawsuits in the Federal Court of Claims, as insurers attempt to collect the full amount they claim they are due under the statute.

The reinsurance program was supposed to collect $25 billion over its three- year life and pay $5 billion of that amount to the Treasury, apparently to reimburse it for funds spent on the Early Retiree Reinsurance program from 2010 to 2013.  Collections fell short in the first two years, and the Obama administration took the position that this reimbursement to the Treasury would only be paid after all reinsurance obligations were first met.  It paid nothing to the Treasury in 2015 and less than a half a billion dollars for 2016.  This position has been condemned by ACA critics and legislation was introduced in 2016 to force HHS to make the repayment.  The Trump administration has apparently not bowed to this pressure and is paying the full $4 billion due to insurers under the program for 2016.

The formula used by the risk adjustment program has also come in for criticism. CMS made a number of changes in its risk adjustment methodology for 2017, including factoring in preventive services and better accounting for drug cost increases.  It will incorporate even greater changes for 2018, including adjustment for partial-year enrollees and prescription drug use and setting up a separate risk adjustment pool for very high costs cases.

A Widespread Recognition Of The Importance Of Reinsurance

Despite criticism, the reinsurance program has in fact made a substantial contribution to constraining marketplace premiums. During 2014, the reinsurance program reduced net claim costs an estimated 10 to 14 percent, during 2015, 6 to 11 percent, and during 2016, 4 to 6 percent.  The end of the reinsurance program after 2016 has been a major driver of premium increases for 2017 and 2018.  Recognizing this, there is a consensus in Congress that further reinsurance funding is needed.  The House’s American Health Care Act, the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act, and health reform legislation introduced by Democrats all include reinsurance funds for the individual market.

The federal risk adjustment program for 2016 covered non-grandfathered insurers in the individual and small group markets in every state except Massachusetts, which operated its own risk adjustment program. Transfers happened within each state.  The reinsurance program covered non-grandfathered insurers in the individual market in every state.

Participating insurers were required to set up EDGE servers through which they could transfer to CMS the data necessary to calculate reinsurance programs and risk adjustment information while retaining control of sensitive enrollee information. Nationally, 496 insurers were eligible for reinsurance payments.  Of these 445 will receive reinsurance payments.  CMS estimates that 52.9 percent of claims between $90 and $250,000 will be payable for the year, with 83 percent of that money currently available through the $3.3 billion already collected for the reinsurance program.

A total of 751 insurers participated in the risk adjustment program, which covered the individual and small group markets. Default risk adjustment charges were assessed against 42 insurers, 41 that did not submit EDGE server data and one that did but did not provide HHS with access to the required data. Of the 709 insurers that participated in transfers, 469 issued individual market non-catastrophic plans, 247 issued individual market catastrophic plans, 552 issued small group market plans, and two issued merged market plans.

The CMS report states that reinsurance and risk adjustment transfers correlate strongly with paid claims, showing that the programs are working as intended.  Insurers in the lowest quartile of claims costs were assessed on average a risk adjustment charge of 18 percent of total collected premiums, while insurers in the highest quartile of claims received risk adjust payments of 27 percent of total premiums.  Risk adjustment transfers averaged 11 percent of premiums in the individual market, up from 10 percent in 2015, while small group transfers remained steady at 6 percent of premiums.  CMS reports that there was a significant improvement in the quantity and quality of data provided by insurers for 2016, and thus a higher correlation between interim risk scores released in the spring and the final scores released on June 30.

Surprisingly, CMS reports that risk scores remained stable in the individual market and decreased in the small group market.  It was expected that as individuals had been enrolled longer in the program and insurers became more experienced in reporting the diagnoses on which the risk scores were based, the risk scores would go up, but they did not.  The data also would seem to refute the commonly held belief that the marketplace population is becoming sicker.  Risk adjustment transfers (calculated using the absolute value of net transfers for each issuer in the risk pool) amounted to 11 percent of enrollment-weighted monthly premiums in the individual market, 6 percent in the small group market, and 18 percent in the catastrophic market, for a national average of 8 percent.

Big Winners And Losers

The size of some of the transfers is remarkable.  Blue Cross of California will receive an estimated $210 million in reinsurance payments, $49 million in risk adjustment in the individual market, and $217 million in risk adjustment in the small group market.  Blue Shield of California is slated to receive $201 million in reinsurance, $265 million in risk adjustment in the individual market, and $106 million in risk adjustment in the small group market. The California Kaiser Foundation Health Plan will receive $99 million in reinsurance, but must pay in $183 million in risk adjustment in the individual market and $255 million in risk adjustment in the small group market.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida is slated to receive $127 million in reinsurance and  $464 million in risk adjustment payments in the individual market, while Molina Healthcare of Florida must pay in $253 million, Celtic Insurance Company of Florida $161 million, and Coventry Health Care of Florida $112 million.  Molina Healthcare of Texas must pay in $126 million in individual market risk adjustment.  Other insurers receiving nine-figure risk adjustment or reinsurance payments include Humana Employers Health Plan of Georgia, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.

          150 Things to Know on Canada’s 150th Birthday   
On the occasion of Canada’s 150th birthday here are 150 things to know...

1. Today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is one of the world’s most popular political leaders.
2. Justin Trudeau emerged out of the shadows and into the political spotlight when delivering the eulogy at his father’s funeral, the late Pierre Elliot Trudeau in September 2000.
3. The four pallbearers at the funeral were Justin Trudeau, the Aga Khan, former President Jimmy Carter and…the late Cuban autocrat Fidel Castro.
4. Justin Trudeau’s brother, Alexandre Trudeau, is a fearless filmmaker, who was Embedded in Baghdad before, during and after the U.S. invasion in 2003.
5. While Justin is a social media star, his father was the true showman, who once famously pirouetted behind Queen Elizabeth’s back.
6. In fact, this was just one of many colorful moments. To this day in Canada to give the ‘Pierre Trudeau salute’ means something, very interesting…
7. And who can forget the moment featuring the Rolling Stones, the paparazzi and the Prime Minister.
8. However, the elder Trudeau also did some amazing things for Canada. For starters, until 1982 when he brought it back to Canada, the constitution was effectively governed by the Queen of England.
9. That same year he pushed through the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
10. This protection of Canadian rights and diversity did not emerge overnight. Back in 1971, the elder Trudeau declared the new Canadian multiculturalism policy.
11. Four years earlier, in 1967, Pierre Trudeau uttered these famous words: “There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” when he decriminalized homosexuality in sweeping changes to the criminal code.
12. It took Canada until 2005 to legalize same-sex marriage, being the first nation outside of Europe and fourth in the world to do so.
13. However, while things were eventful under Pierre Trudeau they were also turbulent. He suspended civil liberties during the ‘October Crisis’ in 1970, when he invoked the ‘War Measures Act’ after a provincial cabinet minister was kidnapped by separatist militants.
14. He also enacted the National Energy Program in the 1980s which effectively federalized revenues from energy resources in Alberta, creating long-term hostility towards the federal Liberal Party in the years to come in Western Canada.
15. Trudeau was also an antagonist to separatist ambitions in Quebec, delivering two fiery speeches, one in 1980, and another in 1995 to thwart referendums for independence.
16. All in all, the elder Trudeau served for 15 years but he wasn’t the longest serving Prime Minister. That would be William Lyon Mackenzie King, who served for 21 years.
17. In second place was the founding Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, who served for 18 years – and who also had a bit of a drinking problem.
18. When Canada was founded in 1867, there were only four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
19. In fact it was not until 1949 that the last province, Newfoundland joined Canada, and that was only after a barely won referendum.
20. Canada also has three Territories: the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavat, the latter being formed in 1999.
21. The country is extremely ‘big’, the second largest in the world with over 2 million lakes, among other things.
22. But, 75% of Canadians actually live within 100 miles of the U.S.-Canada border.
23. This may be one of the reasons why the U.S.-Canada economic relationship is the largest in the world, estimated to total US$630 billion in 2016 alone.
24. Close to 30,000 trucks cross the border every single day between the two countries.
25. While things are rosy today, it wasn’t always so. During the War of 1812, the Canadas, as the British colonies were known then, went to battle with the U.S., ultimately burning down the White House on August 24, 1814.
26. War was quite frequent back then due to competing French, British, and American ambitions. After fierce fighting, the 1763 Treaty of Paris essentially gave the British control over much of French Canadian land.
27. In addition, one cannot forget that much of Canadian land belonged to the First Nations, who have been marginalized, ostracizied, occupied and colonized throughout much of Canadian history.
28. During Canada’s first years, a group of people called the Metis who were ethnically mixed between First nations and European descent, rose up in rebellion, ultimately establishing a short-lived provisional government in 1870.
29. The leader of that rebellion Louis Riel was ultimately ranked as the 11th Greatest Canadian.
30. That battle was only one of many for the acknowledgement of the rights of First Nations. One of the worst stains on Canadian history was the residential school system that at one point put a third of all First Nations children under the care of the state.
31. Thousands of students died, and many more were subject to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
32. While today, people acknowledge some of these aspects of history, the fight is not over. One of the scandals that was a campaign issue for Justin Trudeau, was the plight of up to 4,000 missing or murdered aboriginal women.
33. Canada’s history has not always been one of inclusivity. The Chinese Exclusion or Immigration Act of 1923 effectively banned immigrants of Chinese origin.
34. This was a culmination of violence and protests against immigrants from East and South Asia, including riots in 1907 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
35. Today, whites are expected to become a minority in Vancouver by 2031 (although I suspect this has already happened).
36. 20.6% of Canadians are foreign-born today and 19.1% identify themselves as visible minorities. 3% of the population identifies as Muslim.
37. There are more Sikhs in the Canadian Cabinet than there are in India’s government (4 versus 2).
38. It was not until the 1940s, however, that Sikhs truly received voting rights.
39. Canadian women achieved the right to vote around the same time as women in the U.S. in the late 1910s.
40. Canada also became home to a number of Black Canadians due to the Underground Railroad, although racism has reared its ugly head in Canada as well.
41. While ethnic and racial struggles have been real, so have class struggles. A lot of this culminated in gained labor rights and ultimately universal healthcare.
42. The ‘grandfather’ of universal healthcare was actually New Democratic Party leader Tommy Douglas, who was named the Greatest Canadian in that (in-)famous poll.
43. Tommy Douglas is also the grandfather of prominent Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland.
44. Kiefer Sutherland’s father is Donald Sutherland, who married Tommy Douglas daughter, prominent public figure, Shirley Douglas.
45. While living in the U.S. Donald Sutherland retained only Canadian citizenship but lost the right to vote due to the Conservative Party’s new laws in 2015.
46. This also led to a rallying cry by then candidate Justin Trudeau, that “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”
47. There are almost 3 million Canadians living abroad but many retain a vibrant Canadian identity.
48. For example, the Terry Fox Run, a hallmark of Canada, has been held in over 60 countries by countless millions over the years.
49. Through these runs over $650 million has been raised for cancer research.
50. And it is all inspired by Terry Fox, who ran the Marathon of Hope in 1980 after losing one leg to cancer.
51. He ended his run after reaching 5,373 kilometres over 143 days.
52. Inspired by Terry’s courage, a fellow West Coaster, Rick Hansen embarked on a Man in Motion World Tour for two years in 1985.
53. He criss-crossed 34 countries raising $26 million along the way.
54. It also inspired the song St. Elmo’s Fire, which reached #1 on the Billboard Charts.
55. The best-selling Canadian artist of all time remains Celine Dion, who has sold over 200 million albums worldwide.
56. It appears though that fellow Canadian Justin Bieber may soon beat her on the charts.
57. There are a lot of Canadian singers, that are quite prominent, but they often live abroad, like Bryan Adams.
58. In fact, Bryan Adams and Beverley Hills 90210 star Jason Priestly went to the same high school, Argyle Secondary School in Vancouver.
59. And while Bryan Adams is known for his singing, he once mixed up the lyrics of the Canadian national anthem.
60. The Canadian national anthem, ‘O Canada’, was itself composed in 1880.
61. However, the lyrics of the anthem were originally French and were then translated into English.
62. The final English version emerged two decades later, which remains with us today.

More than 20 states have declined the requests, saying they are unnecessary and violated privacy, according to statements from election officials and media reports.

"This commission was formed to try to find basis for the lie that President Trump put forward that has no foundation," Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes told Reuters previously in an interview.

Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity sent a letter to all 50 states on Wednesday asking them to turn over voter information including names, the last four digits of social security numbers, addresses, birth dates, political affiliation, felony convictions and voting histories.

Republican Trump has made unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally for his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. He established the panel by executive order in May despite evidence that voter fraud was not widespread.

The request from commission Vice Chairman Kris Kobach caused a backlash in states including Virginia, Kentucky, California, New York and Massachusetts, where election officials said they would not provide all the data.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann had said in a statement that he did not see the letter but would rebuff the commission.

"They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from," he said.

(Reporting by Joel Schectman and Chris Kenning; Editing by Bernard Orr)

          Trump blasts states for refusing to give voter data: Twitter    

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump lashed out on Saturday at the growing number of states refusing to give voters' names, addresses and sensitive personal information to a commission he created to investigate alleged voter fraud.

"Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?" Trump said on Twitter.

More than 20 states have declined the requests, saying they are unnecessary and violated privacy, according to statements from election officials and media reports.

"This commission was formed to try to find basis for the lie that President Trump put forward that has no foundation," Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes told Reuters previously in an interview.

Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity sent a letter to all 50 states on Wednesday asking them to turn over voter information including names, the last four digits of social security numbers, addresses, birth dates, political affiliation, felony convictions and voting histories.

Republican Trump has made unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally for his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. He established the panel by executive order in May despite evidence that voter fraud was not widespread.

The request from commission Vice Chairman Kris Kobach caused a backlash in states including Virginia, Kentucky, California, New York and Massachusetts, where election officials said they would not provide all the data.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann had said in a statement that he did not see the letter but would rebuff the commission.

"They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from," he said.

(Reporting by Joel Schectman and Chris Kenning; Editing by Bernard Orr)

          Trump blasts states for refusing to give voter data: Twitter    

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump lashed out on Saturday at the growing number of states refusing to give voters' names, addresses and sensitive personal information to a commission he created to investigate alleged voter fraud.

"Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?" Trump said on Twitter.

More than 20 states have declined the requests, saying they are unnecessary and violated privacy, according to statements from election officials and media reports.

"This commission was formed to try to find basis for the lie that President Trump put forward that has no foundation," Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes told Reuters previously in an interview.

Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity sent a letter to all 50 states on Wednesday asking them to turn over voter information including names, the last four digits of social security numbers, addresses, birth dates, political affiliation, felony convictions and voting histories.

Republican Trump has made unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally for his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. He established the panel by executive order in May despite evidence that voter fraud was not widespread.

The request from commission Vice Chairman Kris Kobach caused a backlash in states including Virginia, Kentucky, California, New York and Massachusetts, where election officials said they would not provide all the data.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann had said in a statement that he did not see the letter but would rebuff the commission.

"They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from," he said.

(Reporting by Joel Schectman and Chris Kenning; Editing by Bernard Orr)

          Anti-Bullying and Rural Broadband Bills on Rocky Ground   

There are a number of signs that things are wrapping up much earlier this year at the Iowa statehouse. Republican and Democratic Leaders in the House and Senate say they are well ahead of schedule and there’s a few issues shaking out that will likely be fodder in 2014 campaigns.

          Bullying Bill Moving Forward, Funding and Cyber-bullying are Sticking Points   

Republican Governor Terry Branstad identified legislation to combat bullying as one of his top priorities for this legislative session.  However, a bill has stalled in the Iowa House, bogged down by 17 amendments.  Concerns have arisen in the Republican-controlled chamber over whether schools should be responsible for bullying that occurs online or off school grounds.  In his weekly news conference Monday, Governor Branstad said he plans to talk with Iowa House members about moving the legislation forward.  In the meantime, a bill is advancing in the Democratically-contr

          Kosovo must be independen by Former Foreign Ministers   
Friday, June 15, 2007

Kosovo is back in the headlines. President George W. Bush says that it should become independent soon. President Vladimir Putin of Russia opposes independence and prefers time for more talks. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has suggested that we move forward, with a six-month delay.

This has a familiar ring to it. Eight years ago, many of us - then foreign ministers - put in place an international process to decide who should govern Kosovo. We believe that the only viable option is for Kosovo to become independent under strict supervision. That is the proposal that is currently before the UN Security Council and is part of the process that the Council, including Russia, agreed upon and has implemented since 1999.

Kosovo is the last substantial territorial issue remaining from the violent collapse of Yugoslavia. In 2005, as called for by decisions of the Security Council, the UN secretary general appointed a special envoy - former President Martti Ahtisaari of Finland - to achieve a political settlement.

After 14 months of negotiations with the leaderships of Serbia and Kosovo, Ahtisaari announced that the irreconcilable positions of the two parties had made consensus unattainable and that no amount of additional talks would overcome the impasse. In lieu of a negotiated agreement by all sides, Ahtisaari proposed that Kosovo receive independence supervised by the international community (primarily the European Union and NATO) and provide strong guarantees for the Serbs who live in Kosovo.

Now is the time to act. Tensions are likely to rise, and they certainly will not cool. Moreover, without a resolution on Kosovo's final status, the future of Serbia and Kosovo will remain uncertain.

Some may say that Russia would prefer this limbo to a situation where Serbia and Kosovo join the European Union and NATO. Serbs and Kosovars should prefer otherwise. They deserve to be in the European Union. And Kosovo cannot develop as things stand. It has been unable to gain access to international financial institutions, fully integrate into the regional economy, or attract the political capital it needs to address its widespread unemployment and poverty.

Russia has complained of not being included in talks. It should participate, but constructively and not just to block it. What may be needed is a formulation that allows Russia to acquiesce without having to break openly with Serbia. Russia can reassure Serbs and emphasize that Kosovo is a unique situation, without precedent for other regions.

The Ahtisaari plan has several advantages. It gives rights to Kosovo's 100,000 Serbs to manage their own affairs within a democratic Kosovo, which will be protected and monitored by the international community. It also requires protection for Orthodox and Serbian cultural and religious sites. Finally, it provides for an international presence that will oversee Kosovo's institutions and monitor the settlement's implementation. It also places Kosovo on the road toward EU integration.

The European Union has agreed to supervise Kosovo during the transition period and deploy a police mission alongside the current NATO peacekeeping force. An indefinite delay caused by continued confusion over Kosovo's status could jeopardize a smooth transition to European oversight.

Kosovo is a unique situation that has required a creative solution. It should not create a precedent for other unresolved conflicts. When the Security Council adopted Resolution 1244 in response to Milosevic's actions in Kosovo, it laid the groundwork for a political process that would ultimately determine Kosovo's future.

We know that all decisions on Kosovo are difficult. Some of us kicked the issue down the road eight years ago. Today, the international community faces the hardest issue of all. But the decision is necessary, and it is the result of eight years of international collaboration.

Serbia must recognize, however, that greater stability in the Balkans promoted by the Ahtisaari plan will allow it to use its location, resources and talent to become a major regional player and a constructive force in European politics. The Serb people deserve a legitimate place in Europe and Serbia could also begin to move towards possible EU membership.

Our goal remains a Europe whole and free, with all the people of the western Balkans participating fully as EU members. The benefits of a concerted EU effort in Kosovo, backed by the UN and NATO, are enormous. As such, Russia and the other UN Security Council members should follow through on the promise that the Council made in 1999 and agree to complete the process of self-governance in Kosovo. This is the best option at this stage of a very difficult history of the whole region. Viable alternatives do not exist.

Madeleine Albright, United States

Lloyd Axworthy, Canada

Jan Eliasson, Sweden

Gareth Evans, Australia

Joschka Fischer, Germany

Bronislaw Geremek, Poland

Niels Helveg Petersen, Denmark

Lydie Polfer, Luxembourg

Jozias van Artsen, Netherlands

Hubert Vedrine, France
          Opponents of new Kosovo must be stopped - Joseph Biden   
By Joseph Biden
Published: January 2 2007 19:12 | Last updated: January 2 2007 19:12
Years of hand-wringing and chest-thumping over the future status of Kosovo may finally be drawing to a close. In the next few months, adroit diplomacy to secure Kosovo’s independence could yield a victory for Muslim democracy, a better future for south-east Europe and validation for the judicious use of American power.

But along with the potential for triumph in Kosovo, there is a growing risk that Serbia and Russia will conspire to seize defeat from the jaws of victory. Extremists in Belgrade and Moscow are – for very different reasons – hoping to use Russia’s United Nations Security Council veto to quash Kosovo’s bid for independence. If they succeed, the Balkans will emerge as another source of bad news in a world already crowded with crises.

During the seven years since Nato ended Slobodan Milosevic’s reign of terror in Kosovo, a UN-backed administration has largely succeeded in bringing stability to the province. However, Kosovo’s people are justifiably tired of a status quo marked by uncertainty and economic privation. These two intertwined problems will continue so long as the debate over the province’s future remains unresolved. Its ambiguous status is also leading to stagnation in Serbia.

Nationalist politicians in Belgrade have embraced the fight against Kosovo’s independence to divert public attention from their own failures and Serbia’s stalled bid for European Union membership. The actions of Vojislav Kostunica, Serbia’s prime minister, have been particularly disappointing. In addition to refusing international requests to call for the arrest of war crimes fugitives Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, Mr Kostunica has rejected every attempt at compromise on Kosovo. Serbia’s moral authority on the issue hit a new low in October when the 1.5m ethnic Albanian residents of the province were denied the right to vote in a deeply flawed constitutional referendum that declared Kosovo an integral part of Serbia.

To their great credit, the people of Serbia have proved more realistic about Kosovo than their elected leaders. Opinion polls show that many Serbs foresee that the province will gain independence. Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, meanwhile, overwhelmingly expect to sever ties with Serbia. With citizens on both sides of the issue ready to finish the debate and move on to more constructive challenges, leaders who block a solution will do so at their peril.

Historically, trouble in the Balkans is almost always the result of false expectations. On the whole, the citizens of south-east Europe are mentally prepared for an independent Kosovo.

If Belgrade postpones a settlement it will reopen the issue for many Serbs previously resigned to Kosovo’s independence and further inflame frustrations among the region’s ethnic Albanians. The result could be a return of the mob violence that shook Kosovo in March 2004.

A Russian effort to delay a deal on Kosovo would be in keeping with the Kremlin’s habit of fostering weak, subservient governments in formerly communist states. Moscow has apparently reached the conclusion that impoverished, unstable regimes are easier targets for manipulation than prosperous, independent countries. It has made extensive, public use of oil and gas diplomacy to undermine the budding democracies of eastern Europe. Less attention has focused on the Kremlin’s quiet efforts to exacerbate territorial conflicts in Georgia, Moldova and Azerbaijan. Serbia could become the latest victim of this strategy.

Kosovo is not ready for full sovereignty. Even after independence, Nato and the international community will need to provide security guarantees for Kosovo’s minorities and strengthen its economy and institutions. But it is time to grant the province independence. The longer the status debate continues, the further Kosovo and Serbia will fall behind other rapidly progressing former Yugoslav republics such as Croatia and Slovenia.

Success in Kosovo, if realised, will have implications far beyond the Balkans. A responsible Russian approach to the issue could demonstrate the Kremlin’s commitment to global order at a time when its credibility is in tatters. The people of Kosovo – already the most pro-American in the Islamic world – will provide a much-needed example of a successful US-Muslim partnership. Stability in south-east Europe would be a welcome bit of good news and offer hope in a season of tremendous foreign policy challenges.

The writer is the incoming Democratic chairman of the US Senate foreign relations committee

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2000
          Jailed war crimes suspect to top his party's ballot list in Serbia's election   
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) - Vojislav Seselj, a war crimes suspect charged with being part of a plot to murder, torture and expel non-Serbs during the 1990s Balkans wars, will top his party's ballot list in Serbia's upcoming general elections, his aide said Monday.

Seselj is currently in jail in the Netherlands awaiting the start of his trial by the Hague-based U.N. war crimes tribunal. He is first on the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party's list of candidates in the Jan. 21 parliamentary vote, the party's campaign chief Dragan Todorovic told the state Tanjug news agency.

Seselj's placement at the top of the ticket practically guarantees him a seat in Serbia's next parliament after the elections. His party's ballot list will be called "the Serbian Radical Party -Vojislav Seselj," Todorovic said.

Seselj ruled Serbia with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic during the Balkan wars. His extremist party holds 80 seats in Serbia's 250-seat assembly and will be the chief challenger to several pro-democratic groups.

Seselj's party, which he heads from jail in the Netherlands, said he started a hunger strike last week demanding the tribunal grant him free choice of legal advisers, unrestricted spousal visits and an unconditional right to conduct his own defense.

He has lost 11 kilograms (24 pounds) since starting the hunger strike, the Radical Party said in a statement Monday, adding that Seselj "was aware of the (health) risks ... but will not give up" his demands and will continue refusing to be examined by physicians at the detention facility.

Seselj has pleaded innocent to nine charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for allegedly being part of a criminal plot to murder, torture and illegally imprison non-Serbs in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo in the wars during the breakup of Yugoslavia.

His trial is scheduled to start Nov. 27. He voluntarily turned himself in to The Hague tribunal in 2003.
          No More Delays for Kosovo - The New York Times   
For the past seven years, the tiny Balkan region of Kosovo has been in limbo. Administered by the United Nations, it is not an independent state. But it is no longer a province of Serbia. That ended after Serbia’s rulers tried to kill or drive out Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians — and NATO went to war to save them.

Limbos are not stable. And the U.N. mediator in talks on the region, Martti Ahtisaari, was expected to announce by the end of this year that it was time to start Kosovo on the path to closely monitored independence. Instead, he put off the decision until after Serbia’s parliamentary elections — scheduled for January — for fear of bolstering Serbian ultranationalists. This postponement, only the most recent of many, should be the last.

After the 1999 war there has never been a realistic possibility of rejoining Kosovo and Serbia. Kosovo was supposed to earn independence by proving its willingness to govern responsibly and to protect its ethnic Serb minority. A lot more needs to be done on both those fronts.

But the United Nations has limited patience to keep administering Kosovo, and without the stability of statehood there will be no foreign investment and the beleaguered economy will not improve. Lack of economic prospects is feeding Albanian nationalism, and until Kosovo’s status is settled, anger will remain close to the surface.

Even as it moves Kosovo toward statehood, the U.N. should keep a substantial military and advisory presence there, both to ensure the rights of the Serb minority and to encourage democratic development.

Belgrade will always object to Kosovo’s independence. The best chance of moderating its reaction is the promise of eventual membership in the European Union and a clear warning that Europe will be watching how it treats its new neighbor. The Kosovars should be clear that donors and everyone else will be watching just as closely to see how they treat their own Kosovar Serbs.
          Albania says postponing resolution of Kosovo's status threatens regional stability   
Postponing a resolution of Kosovo's future status could threaten regional stability, the Albanian prime minister said Tuesday, while urging Kosovo Albanians to support their negotiating team.The U.N.'s special enjoy for Kosovo said Friday he would delay issuing a report on the province's future until after Serbia held elections in January.Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha said that could cause trouble. "Further postponement of Kosovo's final status at this delicate moment complicates the situation, stability in Kosovo and the region," he said. Negotiators initially had hoped to resolve the issue by the end of this year.Albania has been the strongest supporter of independence for Kosovo, demanded by the province's ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 percent of its population.Serbia wants to keep at least some control over the province, and last month approved adopting a new constitution declaring Kosovo an integral part of its territory.Albania has said Serbia's new constitutional claim over Kosovo was unacceptable, and Berisha dismissed the Serbian referendum again Tuesday, telling reporters that "independent, free and democratic Kosovo is the condition for peace and stability" in both the province and the region.Berisha also appealed to the six-nation Contact Group participating in status talks, as well as the European Union, to rule out any change to Kosovo's borders, which he said "would encourage adventurers and demons of all Balkan nationalisms to ... turn the Balkans back to its darkest times."Kosovo Albanians should support their political leadership, which he said had "decisively protected Kosovo citizens' European national interests."Since the end of the war between Serb military forces and separatists in the southern province in 1999, the predominantly ethnic Albanian territory has been run by a U.N. administration and patrolled by NATO peacekeepers.
          Montenegro's PM Rejects Serb Criticism Of Kosovo Meeting   
PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP)--Montenegro's government leader Tuesday rejected Serbia's criticism about his recent meeting with the separatist leader of Kosovo, the breakaway province whose future status is being discussed in U.N.- mediated talks.

Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said he saw no problem in meeting last week with Agim Ceku, the ethnic Albanian leader of Kosovo, which has been an international protectorate since the 1998-99 war there between Serb troops and the separatist rebels.

"I absolutely reject any objections from Serbia concerning Ceku's visit...we did not discuss Kosovo's future status," said Djukanovic, following accusations by Serbian officials that receiving Ceku was a "stab in the back" to Serbia's efforts to prevent Kosovo's secession.

Serbia's leadership has said that accepting Ceku as a visiting statesman meant Montenegro's readiness to recognize Kosovo as a state.

Talks over Kosovo's future are under way under the auspices of the U.N., Western powers and Russia. The province has been run by the U.N. and NATO since 1999 when the alliance's bombing forced Serbs to halt their crackdown on the separatists and pull out.

The crackdown was led by former Serb leader, Slobodan Milosevic, who was toppled in 2000 by pro-democracy politicians. The new leadership contends that, despite Milosevic's devastating brutality in Kosovo, Serbs cannot give up completely on the southern province, considered Serbia's historic heartland.

"It's an inertia of old, failed policies," Djukanovic said about the comments from Belgrade. "Whatever Kosovo becomes in the future, it borders Montenegro" and needs good relations with neighbors.

Montenegro itself declared independence from Serbia earlier this year. Belgrade did not contest that move because Montenegro was a partner republic from the old Yugoslav federation, but insists that Kosovo is not entitled to the same.

Ceku declared after his Friday meeting with Djukanovic that Kosovo would follow in Montenegro's steps.

Djukanovic himself is expected to step down as Montenegro's prime minister Wednesday.

His Democratic Party of Socialists triumphed in recent elections, but Djukanovic -for years the most powerful figure in Montenegro -said he would not seek a third term and has hand-picked a trusted aide, Justice Minister Zeljko Sturanovic, as his successor.
          The Rock can't wait to meet Elizabeth Warren, who is apparently a huge 'Ballers' fan   

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson can smell what Elizabeth Warren is cooking ... and he likes it. 

On Friday afternoon, the movie star tweeted this after it was revealed that the Democratic senator from Massachusetts was a big fan of the HBO show Ballers, which is basically Entourage but with sports agents:

Can't wait to meet Senator Warren one day. She's got a big Rock sized hug coming for all the @BallersHBO luv. She's a baller 👊🏾

— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) July 1, 2017

In a segment for Full Frontal, Warren sat down with host Samantha Bee, where it was revealed the senator had a huge crush on The Rock—which, I mean, who doesn't. Read more...

More about Hbo, Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Dwayne Johnson, Elizabeth Warren, and Ballers
          Guerra Civil at 80, thru Jul 1, 2017   
Marking the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the exhibition Guerra Civil @ 80 features selections from The Bancroft Library's Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Bay Area Post records and photographic collections, along with posters, books, pamphlets, and other ephemera. A visual and textual display of the struggle to defend the Second Spanish Republic, the exhibition documents the role of both the Republicans, who were defending the democratically elected government, and the Nationalists, the right-wing rebel forces led by General Francisco Franco. The exhibition also addresses how the war, which unfolded from 1936 to 1939, affected the lives of the people of Spain and American volunteers fighting on the front lines or assisting in the war effort, as well as how the conflict precipitated an intense creative response from within and outside Spain.

A companion exhibit, INCITE THE SPIRIT: POSTER ART OF THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR will be on exhibit from September 6 - December 8, 2016 at the Townsend Center for the Humanities, 220 Stephens Hall. Townsend Center for the Humanities

Please visit to learn more about the UC Berkeley events commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Spanish Civil War.
          New Jerseyans feeling impact of state government shutdown   
Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Chris Christie and the Democrat-led Legislature planned to return to work Saturday to try to resolve the shutdown, the state's first since 2006 and the first under Christie. It came about after leaders failed to reach an agreement on a new budget by Friday night's deadline.
          The Failure of Public Transportation   
By Douglas V. Gibbs
AuthorSpeakerInstructorRadio Host

Public transportation has its place.  For some people it is a necessary mode of travel.  Not everyone has the ability to afford a vehicle, or the fortune of having a job that is only a bike ride away.  Therefore, the extreme idea of eliminating any public transportation is not being entertained here.  But, as much as we should not totally eliminate public transportation, we also should not push for increasing public transportation with the goal of removing people from their vehicles, or to the point of building super-trains with money we don't have for a population that will likely not ride it.

In California the liberal left Democrats want us out of our cars, and they look to New York's mass transit system as an example.  The reality is, New York City's public transportation is a mess, as is anything, eventually, when the government controls it.

NYC BREAKDOWN: Subways held together with zip ties...

First raccoon, now giant snake hitches ride...

Cuomo Declares State Of Emergency...

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary
          Trump’s Voter Fraud Endgame   

Donald Trump’s attempt at voter suppression through his “election integrity” commission is a voting rights nightmare that is being enacted so clumsily it just might backfire.

Both before and after the election, Trump made wild and unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud and the system being “rigged.” Before the election, many of the claims were about voters voting five, 10, or 15 times by impersonating other voters. The ridiculous and unproven charges of voter suppression had a racial tinge, with suggestions the fraud would happen in majority minority communities. According to the New York Times, he told an audience in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a few weeks before Election Day: “I just hear such reports about Philadelphia. … I hear these horror shows, and we have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us.” He added for emphasis: “Everybody knows what I’m talking about.”

After the election, he shifted his unsubstantiated fraud talk from rumormongering about voter impersonation to claims of massive noncitizen voting. Trump said repeatedly that 3 to 5 million illegal voters had cast ballots, a claim so outlandish it is hard to know where to start to refute it. (We could start with a Brennan Center report which, so far, has found a total of 30 cases nationwide of possible noncitizen voting. That’s 30, not 300, 3,000, 30,000, 300,000, or 3 million.) He claimed that “none” of the supposed fraudulent votes went to him.

In hindsight, the focus on noncitizen voting makes sense, and the endgame is about passing federal legislation to make it harder for people to register and vote. The noncitizen focus fits in with Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric as well as the rhetoric of Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who has been advising Trump on voter fraud issues. Kobach has repeatedly lost in lawsuits against the American Civil Liberties Union on account of his actions to make it harder for people to register and vote. Just last week, a federal magistrate judge fined him $1,000 for misleading the court by attempting to shield a document regarding his advice to Trump on how to make voter registration harder.

Trump has put Kobach in charge of a commission that is supposed to examine problems with voter fraud and report back to the president. (Vice President Mike Pence is the formal head, but it is clear Kobach is the one calling the shots.) Back in January, when Trump announced he would launch an investigation into voter fraud, I laid down some markers here at Slate for what a fair commission would look like. It would have bipartisan elder statesmen heads (like earlier voting commissions); it would have professional staff and rely on people with experience in running and analyzing elections; it would look for areas of bipartisan consensus.

Trump’s commission is none of these things. There is no professional staff, a B-list of token Democrats to give the commission a bipartisan veneer, and the work is being done out of the Executive Office of the President. (Given that Trump is an announced candidate for the next presidential election, he’s hardly a person who can be counted on for a fair and impartial review.)

Most importantly, the commission includes a rogue’s gallery of the country’s worst voter suppressors. Not just Kobach, but former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who was notorious for rejecting Ohio voter registration forms because they were not printed on heavy enough paper. And on Thursday, Trump added Hans von Spakovsky, one of the original leaders of what I termed the Fraudulent Fraud Squad.

Von Spakovsky has a history of making false and unsupported claims of voter fraud, and using them to argue for voting laws that make it harder to register and vote. In one notorious incident, chronicled in an excellent 2012 New Yorker profile by Jane Mayer, von Spakovsky claimed impersonation fraud was a major problem, pointing to a 1982 New York grand jury report. At the time von Spakovsky made the claims, I had been researching the topic of impersonation fraud for my book, The Voting Wars. I couldn’t find a single election anywhere in the United States since the 1980s where impersonation fraud was used to swing an election. (That’s because it is an exceptionally dumb way to try to steal an election: Pay people to go to the polls claiming to be someone else, not know how they voted, hope they don’t get caught by poll workers who may know the people being impersonated, and do it in large enough numbers to swing your candidate from defeat to victory.)

Despite my repeated requests, von Spakovsky would not turn over the grand jury report. When Mayer asked von Spakovsky why he’d refused to give me the document, he told her he was not my “research assistant.” We were finally able to track it down, and it unsurprisingly did not support his case in the slightest.

Kobach, Blackwell, von Spakovsky—this is a list meant to send a message to those who care about voting reform on both sides of the aisle that this is not a serious effort to propose bipartisan solutions. (Indeed, if you want bipartisan solutions, just turn to the 2014 report of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, which was headed by Mitt Romney’s lawyer Ben Ginsberg and Obama’s lawyer Bob Bauer. But don’t look at the government website which used to host the report—Trump took it down.)

Here’s the likely endgame. Kobach has requested that every state send detailed voter information to the commission. Never mind the privacy concerns or the fact that this intrudes on what the right always refers to as states’ rights to run elections as they see fit. If a left-wing Obama appointee requested this information, it would prompt a federal investigation and be at the top of every Fox News segment for months.

Kobach’s likely going to use this information to try to “match” voters and show there is bloat on the voter rolls, such as dead voters and people who have moved but have not been removed from the rolls. He’ll also likely find a small number of noncitizens who are registered to vote. Doing this kind of matching well is tough business: It is easy to claim that two people with the same name are the same person, or that someone is a felon because he has the same name as a felon. But Kobach will not be relying on election administration professionals to do that work; he’s going to use the president’s staff.

The report will likely conclude that even if there is no evidence of actual voter fraud, the potential for voter fraud and noncitizen voting is there because of inaccurate rolls. Accordingly, they will argue it is necessary to roll back the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (or “motor voter” law)—a law which folks like Kobach hate because among other things it requires states to offer voter registration at public service agencies. They’ll want federal law to do what federal courts have so far forbidden Kobach to do: Require people to produce documentary proof of citizenship before registering to vote. In other words, show us your papers or you can’t register.

Repealing the enfranchising parts of the motor voter law would be a terrible thing, but the good news is that the “electoral integrity” commission’s efforts are already so outlandish and lacking in credibility that it will do nothing to help get the law repealed. Serious Democrats and Republicans know this effort is a sham. This is a faux commission that is not following sound social science or bipartisan principles.

That’s not to say there won’t be an attempt to kill the motor voter law. Indeed, the move toward voter suppression is proceeding apace. Just this week, a House committee voted to defund the United States Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency which is charged with certifying the security of voting machines and coming up with best practices for election administration. And the U.S. Department of Justice is looking to make states enforce the voter purge provisions of the 1993 motor voter law.

But the Trump commission process has been so poorly handled that whatever it concludes will be likely ignored by serious people, even while the president latches onto it to make it harder for people to register and vote. He’s overplayed his hand, and we should be thankful for that.

          Specific learning difficulties lives matter in with Mainstream schools and society   

In the England and uk the special educational schools are not any type of answer to the breach humanity and compassion for other in out society and access to national curriculum educational alternative and they are ghettos and Social isolation, Care home from society for people with autism spectrum , aspergers syndrome , adhd at the expensive to the tax pay which is more expensive instead up to really liberal values and EU Human rights act and United nations Disabled, international convention holding for rights of child with special educational needs to choose complete integration for there specific learning difficulties whether in may be primary school and secondary the teachers and head masters and tory , labour , Liberal democrats , Media education reporters attitudes about pupils with special education cannot access mainstream school curriculum, disprute others in class of children not being abled spare the time or Volunatry classroom assitant, Parent  and do Options GCSES at 16 years old and 18 years A levels and university and useless statementing gold ticket which is seen as advantage for people which all money is given to university students who have moral self advantage who get special educational services funding with Student Disability allowance, NHS Disability allowance through NHS for students to Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, Dysgraphia , Aspergers syndrome, ADHD many who are in special needs schools or college cant get tests for separate types of learning disabilities which is moral self hypocrisy by government and arrogance, decades of oppression against of these people in by Uk government not listening to views of people special needs education rather than parents with phonie buzzword parental choice the child has mental capcity to think or choose there own life with the counts or lawyers with legal case or special education LEA choosing diveristy and equality box and pupil  number with usless advice lack in any conception what is like not getting support you need and given gargage excurses its budgets  .Being able to have good well payed job not walked over by society and end in mental health system, ghettosied sheltered housing run by middle age people women, being your person with life ambitions and self indepdent and have no social  anxiety disorder and epilespy. .

          Popcorn, Pinballs, and Piranhas   

The Capitol Hill unit of the country’s fake news operation—50 or so crisply attired journalists with their faces deep in their phones—is loitering outside the ballroom where Republican senators are eating lunch. The spacious anteroom is packed; my colleague who reports frequently from the Senate and House says he’s never seen it so crowded. Behind the enormous doors, GOP leaders debate what is to be done about the Better Care Reconciliation Act, a potentially disastrous piece of legislation that could tear health insurance away from more than 20 million Americans. In the hallway, those of us who’ve been sent to the U.S. Capitol to find the news keep looking at our phones, hoping the news will come to us.

Hark—the news! Our screens reveal that the health care bill with the 17 percent approval rating has been kicked down the road until after Independence Day. We mill beneath a tremendous mural that’s tightly draped in plastic, like a Dexter victim, and make eyes at the century-old sculpture of Benjamin Franklin. Security types scurry about, herding us away from the staircase. “Make a path, guys,” says a broad-shouldered suit. Several of us drift reluctantly to the right, but only a few inches. “Guys. Guys. I know this is tough,” the man insists. We guys shift one or two more inches, then return to where we were. We watch the crack under the big doors as if a magic light might spill out at any moment and write our pieces for us.

Like the answer to a prompt on a flashcard, a familiar face materializes a few feet away. It is Elizabeth Warren, who strolls past our press amoeba with an intense expression that calls to mind such phrases as “due process” and “friends, Romans, countrymen.” When nobody detaches to follow her, my colleague explains with a sigh: “She never talks to us.”

A little after 2 p.m., the GOP brass finally finishes eating. (They’ve been at it since 12:30.) The senators now face a logistical challenge: All paths of egress swarm with piranhas who, convention dictates, can attack their prey far more ruthlessly than the more genial schools of notebook-wavers swimming around the White House and the Supreme Court. The anteroom branches into two exit routes: a stairway and a narrow corridor leading to an elevator lobby. We line the walls like villi coating the sides of a digestive tract. Sean Spicer walks by. Nobody moves. “Sean doesn’t know anything,” a colleague snarks.

The whispers start around 2:15. Murkowski, it’s Murkowski. Sen. Lisa Murkowski shoots out of the ballroom like a pinball. “Senator, senator!” the correspondents entreat in low voices. “Is the delay good or bad for the bill?” “Did the CBO score—?”

Murkowski doesn’t break stride. She proceeds to the elevator enclosed in a glom of pump-heeled, jacketed humanity, the whole inquisitive organism gliding with her and swishing its extravagant tail of stragglers. Then: Perdue. Perdue! Some of the clump breaks off and doubles back. The journalists on the sidelines pepper their returning colleagues with questions: What’d she say? Did you hear? There’s no time to debrief; Tim Scott, John McCain, and Bob Corker are streaking toward the staircase. It’s like the moment when, after a few trial pops, the microwaved popcorn starts cooking in earnest. The lunchers are dispersing everywhere; Democratic senators are arriving with prepared statements. The piranhas fan out, desperate for some morsel of flesh.

Power crisscrosses the anteroom in an invisible grid, or like the wire you pull on a bus to get it to stop. There is jocular power, exchanged in handshakes and good-to-see-yas, and the soaring power embedded in the architecture, and the breathless, sidelong power of being in the know. Two aides confer in the corner, their voices hushed and heavy with import. “That depends,” one murmurs, “on the defectors.” He kneads the word like a sore muscle.

In configuring itself around loci of legislative authority, the fourth estate follows certain rules. Taller, more aggressive journalists seem to gravitate toward higher-profile senators, such as Florida’s Marco Rubio. Smaller and shyer correspondents flit about the room’s edges, picking off lower-wattage congresspeople as they try to escape. There’s my colleague, latched onto John Thune like a sea lamprey.

The carnage of fact-finding roars around us, but this is ritualized, stylized mayhem. The politicians have their lines, their lockstep. The reporters know they won’t get anything other than a sound bite, if they even get that. Mitch McConnell may be trying to persuade his party to replace Obamacare with the legislative equivalent of a high school chemistry accident, but when he returns the gaze of 50 iPhone cameras, his eyes are not the window to his turbulent soul.

The evasive, boilerplate answers. The dispiriting contrast between the sense of things happening and the garbage you discover written down in your notebook afterward. In the Trump era, our best, most useful work seems to emerge from shadowy sessions with teed-off anonymice, not elaborate Kabuki performances in which John Cornyn’s indigestion might be mistaken for a brewing GOP revolt.

Standing in the hallway, waiting for someone important to say nothing as he or she breezes past, one can’t help but wonder if this entire ceremony deserves to go the way of Obamacare (RIP). Yet what if Murkowski forgets herself and reveals a top-secret plan to sabotage the BCRA? What if another civilian gets body-slammed by a public servant? The Capitol corps will be there, ready and waiting to let the American people know. That’s a comforting thought. Let’s hope their phones stay charged.

          Confusion And Incivility In Our World   

Volume XXXVI Issue VII July 2017
Last Trumpet Ministries, PO Box 806, Beaver Dam, WI 53916
Phone: 920-887-2626 Internet:

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."

Jeremiah 17:9-10

"O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things."

Matthew 12:34-35

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment."

Matthew 22:37-38

"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints."
I Corinthians 14:33

In this issue of the Last Trumpet Newsletter, we will examine a world run amok with confusion, chaos, and incivility. At this present time, there are throngs of people walking about in a state of confusion, seemingly uncertain of many things, including something as simple and basic as one's gender. In Genesis 1:27 we read, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." Yet, today we live in a world where some women want to be men, some men want to be women, and some people do not want to be either man or woman. Those who refuse to be called either male or female are now referred to as "non-binary" human beings. (1)

In June 2017 it was announced that Oregon will become the first state in the United States to allow individuals to choose a third gender for their state issued identification or driver's license. On these identification cards, male will be marked with the traditional M, female will be marked with an F, and the third "non-binary" gender will be marked with an X. (2) The new policy came about largely on the efforts of a man named Jamie Shupe who became the first person in the United States to be legally pronounced neither male nor female in 2016. Shupe had previously tried to transition to the female gender but eventually decided he did not want to be female either. "I only became a female because I had no other choice. All of the systems channeled me in that direction, both medical and government, until I took a stand against that. It wasn't until I got to Portland [Oregon] and got exposure to the queer community that I then understood how wrong all what had been done to me was," Shupe stated. Despite Shupe's claim to be neither male nor female, he seems to acknowledge that he was born with a male body. "Turning a male body, especially an older male body into female, I think it really sets the stage for people committing suicide. I mean you had to maintain a hyper-feminine appearance 24-7 or you were back to getting called sir," Shupe lamented. (3) It is my personal belief that this individual is being tormented by evil spirits. Shupe even uses the pronouns "they," "them," and "their" as personal identifiers which suggests that there is more than one evil spirit involved. Needless to say, Shupe does not think highly of Christians. "All the Bible-thumpers believe that there's only males and females according to the Bible. I'm the person who destroyed that in the United States," Shupe boasted. (4) The new policy will take effect in Oregon on July 1, 2017. (5)

Following Oregon's lead the American capital city of Washington, D.C., also announced that they will begin issuing identification cards and driver's licenses with a non-binary gender option on June 26, 2017. (6) A similar change in policy might soon be implemented in the state of New York where New York Assistant Speaker of the House Felix Ortiz has introduced legislation that if passed would allow a non-binary gender designation on driver's licenses and identification cards. "Our governmental agencies should reflect the society we live in. While this change may seem small, it is a step forward to change the rigid mindset often faced by many today," Ortiz stated. (7)

Why are a growing number of men finding it so painful to be part of the male gender? In recent decades, we have seen an effort from the liberal left to villainize manhood. We are often told that men are responsible for all of the world's woes and that being a masculine man is a bad thing. Leftists frequently refer to this so-called problem as "toxic masculinity." (8) Consider the words of the famous singer and actress known as Bette Midler who posted a message online in response to a recent terrorist attack in London. In this message, Midler wrote: "More sorrow and grief at the hands of madmen. Men and religion are worthless." (9) Instructors at college campuses will often preach against masculinity too. For example, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill published a website in 2016 which asked, "How has the concept of masculinity contributed to the perpetration of violence in our society?" (10) It was also reported that students at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, were subjected to a mandatory orientation video which declares that the three most damaging words a boy can hear are "be a man." (11) Is it any wonder that some men are so desperate to not be members of the male gender?

Oddly enough, despite the fact that the male gender is so often disparaged, some women in these modern times have decided that they want to be men. This includes a woman living in Portland, Oregon, who claims to be a transgendered male. She has undergone testosterone treatments to deepen her voice and enable her to grow facial hair while presenting herself as a very masculine person. Yet, she is pregnant and will soon have a biological child with her homosexual husband. The couple has two adopted children, one of which claims to be very excited about her "dad's" pregnancy. "What I was thinking about a baby that my dad's having, it's really, really fun, it's really, really exciting," the child said. (12)

We now live in a bewildering world where we are told that transgender men can give birth to babies, and a growing number of people are so tormented that they do not want to be the gender they were given by God, nor any gender at all. This is a spirit of confusion at work, and we know that God is not the author of confusion. People are accustomed to being told that they can be whatever they want, and they are often advised to follow their hearts. Yet, the Scriptures tell us in Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" In like manner, Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:35, "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." It is for this reason that we must surrender our lives to God and give Him our hearts. For as we read in Matthew 22:37, "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." If you have not yet repented of your sins and given your heart to God, I urge you to do so now. In so doing, you feel find that God enables His people to overcome all the confusion of this world.

USA: A Hotbed Of Incivility

On June 19, 2017, CBS News published an article with a headline that declares, "Americans say U.S. political debate is increasingly uncivil." (13) Of course, if you have interacted with people in the United States at all lately, you do not need a poll published by a news outlet to declare this blatantly obvious fact. The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States last year divided the nation, and bitterness has been festering in this country ever since that time. Despite the fact that it has been nearly one half of a year since Trump was inaugurated as President, the ugliness has not subsided.

In recent weeks we have seen numerous celebrities and public figures insinuate or otherwise suggest that the current President of the United States should be assassinated. For example, in March 2017 the rapper known as Snoop Dogg released a music video which portrayed him firing a toy gun at a clown named Ronald Klump who strongly resembled the President. Speaking of his video, Snoop Dogg was quoted as saying, "I don't ever expect or look for a reaction. I just put it out because like it's something that's missing. Anytime I drop something, I'm trying to fill in a void. I feel like it's a lot of people making cool records, having fun, partying, but nobody's dealing with the real issue with this… clown as president." (14)

Perhaps the vilest of all celebrities in Hollywood is the so-called comedienne Kathy Griffin. In 2007 Griffin made headlines after she mocked Jesus during her acceptance speech at the Emmy Awards. During this speech Griffin said, "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus." She then made a remark aimed at Jesus that is so blasphemous that I cannot even publish it in this newsletter. Finally, she told the audience, "This award is my god now." (15) Griffin, who once made a television special entitled "Straight to Hell," (16) stirred controversy again in late May 2017 when she published a photo of herself holding a fake and bloodied decapitated head, which very strongly resembled the head of Donald Trump. The grotesque image was so offensive that even liberal public figures such as Chelsea Clinton condemned it. After calling the photo "vile and wrong," Clinton said, "It is never funny to joke about killing a president." (17) First Lady Melania Trump was also deeply offended. "As a mother and a wife, and a human being, that photo is very disturbing. When you consider some of the atrocities happening in the world today, a photo opportunity like this is simply wrong and makes you wonder about the mental health of the person who did it." (18) After being fired by CNN and losing at least one endorsement deal, Griffin apologized. "I sincerely apologize… I'm a comic. I cross the line. I move the line, then I cross it. I went too far. The image is too disturbing; I understand how it offends people. It wasn't funny. I get it. … I beg for your forgiveness," Griffin claimed. (19) Days later, Griffin blamed Trump for her downfall rather than admitting that she was at fault for her actions. "I don't think I'm going to have a career after this. I'm going to be honest, he broke me. A sitting president of the United States and his grown children, and the First Lady, personally, I feel, are trying to ruin my life forever," she lamented. (20) I suspect that the same evil spirits who once inspired a woman named Herodias, who was the wife of Herod, to demand the head of John the Baptist are now working in Kathy Griffin.

Actor Johnny Depp has also hinted that perhaps President Trump should be put to death. Speaking at a film festival in Glastonbury, England, on June 22, 2017, Depp told the audience regarding Trump, "It is just a question - I'm not insinuating anything. By the way, this is going to be in the press. It will be horrible. I like that you are all a part of it. When was the last time an actor assassinated a president? I want to clarify, I am not an actor. I lie for a living. However, it has been a while and maybe it is time." (21) Depp apologized the next day saying, "I apologize for the bad joke I attempted last night in poor taste about President Trump. It did not come out as intended, and I intended no malice. I was only trying to amuse, not to harm anyone." (22)

Sadly, the bitterness that is so prevalent in our country today does sometimes result in violent acts. Such was the case on June 14, 2017, when a gunman targeted Republican lawmakers during a baseball practice session in Alexandria, Virginia. Four individuals were wounded in this assault, including Steve Scalise, who is the majority whip for the United States House of Representatives. (23) The shooter, who was identified as James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, was a fervent supporter of former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. He was shot and killed by police officers on the scene. According to media reports, Hodgkinson often posted messages on the Internet regarding his hatred for President Trump and the Republicans, even writing at one point, "It's time to destroy Trump and Co." (24)

Donald Trump is a polarizing figure to be sure, and as he is human, he is certainly prone to make mistakes. Whether you like or dislike the President, the bitterness, strife, and incivility on display in our land is appalling and shameful. I believe there are forces at work who hope to see the United States ripped to shreds because a nation in a weakened state is much easier to manipulate and control. Meanwhile, the folks who publish the Global Peace Index have lowered the ranking of the United States by eleven spaces since last year. According to their reckoning, the United States is now the 114th most peaceful nation in the world. "The U.S. deterioration is primarily driven by the growing intensity of internal conflict within the country, which was partly seen in the divisive 2016 Presidential election, as well as increases in the perceptions of criminality across American society," the latest edition of the index report said. (25)

The Leading Edge Of A Technology Tsunami

As I study the news and read of the advancements of technology, it can be a struggle to keep up with all that is happening. I cannot help but marvel at how quickly technology is developing and how rapidly our world is changing. With the advent of the Internet, more and more people today are connected to a global system that is certainly advantageous in some ways, while frightening and invasive in others. According to a report issued by Pew Research Center in September 2016, only 13 percent of Americans today do not use the Internet. The majority of those who still live in an offline world are senior citizens aged 65 years or older. Conversely, only 1 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 do not use the Internet. (26) Amongst this group of young people, Pew reports that 36 percent report being online "almost constantly," while 50 percent of them go online multiple times each day. (27) Even as more Americans connect to the Internet on a daily basis, traditional forms of media are dying out. In June 2017, it was reported that the circulation of daily newspapers in the United States has fallen to its lowest rate in 77 years. (28)

The Internet has also dramatically changed the shopping habits of Americans. Whereas most purchases were once made in brick and mortar retail locations, more shoppers today are opting to conduct their purchases online. As a result, a multitude of retailers today are facing extinction. In April 2017 Business Insider reported that more than 3,200 stores are closing throughout the United States. This figure includes 552 RadioShack electronics stores, 400 Payless shoe stores, 240 Family Christian bookstores, 138 J.C. Penney department stores, 108 Kmart mass merchandiser stores, 70 Staples office supply stores, and 70 CVS drugstores. (29)

Even as retail stores continue to shutter and shopping malls become abandoned, the online store known as is thriving. In fact, this online entity that started as a book store in 1995 has grown to such an extent that 52 percent of all books in the United States, whether in paper or electronic form, are sold by Amazon, and a full 43 percent of all e-commerce transactions are facilitated through the company. (30) The online behemoth has continued to grow over the years, and in recent days the company has sought expansion beyond the confines of the online world. In June 2017 it was announced that Amazon had purchased the grocery store chain known as Whole Foods for 13.7 billion dollars. This development has raised fears that Amazon will eliminate many employment positions at Whole Foods, opting instead to use robots and automation to cut operational costs. "Amazon's brutal vision for retail is one where automation replaces good jobs. Sadly, the hard-working men and women who work at Whole Foods now face an uncertain future," said Marc Perrone, who is president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. (31) While Amazon has not announced any plans to cut jobs at Whole Foods, it is interesting to note that the company announced plans in 2016 to open a futuristic grocery store known as Amazon Go. This store, which recently opened in Seattle, Washington, is entirely cashless. To shop, customers must use a smartphone equipped with a special program. As you enter this store, you scan your phone, and as you shop, the store automatically tracks what you put in your shopping cart or if you put something back. When your shopping is completed, you simply walk out the door, with no need to check out with a cashier. The purchases are automatically billed to your Amazon account. (32) It is not far-fetched to think that Amazon may have similar plans for their Whole Foods stores.

While Amazon makes plans to launch their automated grocery stores, Sam's Club locations in the United States already allow customers to use a similar automated process. The retailer now offers a downloadable program for smartphones called "Scan and Go." As customers browse the store, they can simply scan the barcodes on products with their smartphone, and when they are ready to check out they use the phone to pay for the purchases as well. (33)

Additionally, the iconic fast food chain known as McDonald's has announced plans to replace cashiers at 2,500 locations with automated ordering kiosks. Since the announcement, McDonald's has attempted to assuage fears that the rollout of automated kiosks will result in a loss of employment for the company's current workers. "Our CEO, Steve Easterbrook, has said on many occasions that self-order kiosks in McDonald's restaurants are not a labor replacement. They provide an opportunity to transition back-of-the-house positions to more customer service rules such as concierges and table service where they truly engage with guests and enhance the dining experience," said a spokeswoman for McDonald's. (34) I cannot help but be skeptical of McDonald's claim that these kiosks will not result in a loss of jobs. Do they really believe that McDonald's customers want table service? It is far more likely that McDonald's is making this change to counter the rise in minimum wage in various areas around the country. For example, the minimum wage in San Francisco, California, has been increased to fifteen dollars an hour. Following this increase, sixty restaurants have closed in San Francisco since September 2016. (35)

It is logical that automation will result in a massive loss of jobs. "If it is doing the same thing over and over again, and it doesn't require analysis, it's going to be automated. We're on the leading edge of a technology tsunami," stated Professor Ed Hess of the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia. He further went on to say, "The question is, is this automation going to produce enough new jobs that technology itself can't do?" (36)

Another casualty of mankind's technological advancements could soon be paper money. I have noticed on numerous occasions that cashiers at grocery stores in this area are often startled when I pay with cash. On one occasion a cashier at our Piggly Wiggly store assumed I would be paying with a credit or debit card and curtly informed me that my payment "didn't go through." It was at this point that I handed her the cash that I had been holding in my hand to which she reacted with a noticeable surprise. Reactions like these are an indicator that the United States may soon go the way of nations such as Sweden where cash is seldom used. Here let it be noted that about 2,000 people in Sweden have already received a microchip implant in their hands. According to a report by The Independent, the state-owned Swedish rail company known as SJ is now allowing passengers to pay their fares with these embedded microchips. Speaking of this development, a spokesperson for SJ was quoted as saying, "As north Europe's largest train operator and one of the top 10 digital companies in Sweden, we are at the forefront of digital developments. This is an interesting project that gives us ideas of how to enhance the digital customer experience even further." In another remark, the spokesperson said regarding the microchip, "It's just a matter of days before everyone has it." (37)

The Battle For Life Is Raging

Abortion is the most heinous of all sins committed in the United States, and it happens every day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every 1,000 live births in the year 2013, 200 babies were slaughtered using this barbaric practice. (38) Although abortion rates have been falling in some areas, there are still many determined Democrats and liberals who vow to continue fighting for their "right" to murder babies. In June 2017 the governor of the state of Delaware, John Carney, signed a bill that allows women in his state to abort babies in the womb at up to nine months of gestation, removing all restrictions. (39) This is truly disheartening, but thankfully there are efforts being made elsewhere to stem the tide of innocent blood.

On June 22, 2017, the liberal news outlet known as the Huffington Post published a panicked headline which declares, "Republicans Might Actually Defund Planned Parenthood This Time." (40) The article is referring to the new Senate healthcare bill, which if passed, would prevent Medicaid patients from accessing Planned Parenthood's services for one year. (41) While this is a step in the right direction, the defunding of Planned Parenthood should be permanent. Nevertheless, when news broke of this possibility, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards threw a fit. "It's as bad as we thought. The text of the Senate bill was just released, and now there's no denying the truth: This bill would devastate Planned Parenthood patients and leave millions of Americans without access to care." (42) Of course, what Richards really means by "access to care" is access to abortion, because that is the so-called service that they primarily perform. Planned Parenthood murdered 328,348 babies in 2015. (43)

Remarkably, the United States opposed a recent United Nations resolution that called for greater access to "safe abortions" under the guise of preventing violence against women. After hearing the resolution presented by Canada, United States First Secretary to the United Nations Jason Mack told the Council, which was assembled in Geneva, Switzerland, "We do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance." (44) It is my hope and prayer that efforts to stop abortion in the United States will be successful.

In closing, I urge every reader of this newsletter to continue to watch and pray as we see the condition of this world deteriorate. The mess is not pretty. However, we have the promise of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who tells us in Matthew 28:20, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Jesus also promises us in John 14:18, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." No matter what happens, God is always with His people!

Thank you all for your kind support of this newsletter. We could not do what we do without your help. Please keep us in prayer as we endeavor to continue this ministry during these challenging days. As always, our team of intercessors is ready and willing to pray for you or any prayer requests you may have. Please do not hesitate to send them our way. Each request is always given individual attention. Grace and peace be unto you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Samuel David Meyer


01. USA Today, June 21, 2017, By William Cummings,
02. Ibid.
03. Ibid.
04. Ibid.
05. Ibid.
06. The Washington Post, June 21, 2017, By Rachel Siegel,
07. NBC News, June 20, 2017, By Mary Emily O'Hara,
08. National Review, June 7, 2017, By Ben Shapiro,
09. Ibid.
10. The College Fix, November 2, 2017, By William Nardi,
11. Ibid.
12. Life Site News, June 20, 2017, By Claire Chretien,
13. CBS News, June 19, 2017, By CBS News,
14. The Washington Post, March 15, 2017, By Elahe Izadi,
15. Reuters News Service, September 11, 2007, By Reuters News Service,
16. Bravo TV,
17. National Public Radio, May 31, 2017, By Miles Parks,
18. Ibid.
19. Ibid.
20. Time Magazine, June 2, 2017, By Melissa Chan,
21. The Guardian, June 23, 2017, By Press Association,
22. Fox News, June 23, 2017, By Fox News,
23. The New York Times, June 14, 2017, By Michael D. Shear, Adam Goldman, and Emily Cochrane,
24. Ibid.
25. The Washington Times, June 1, 2017, By Jennifer Harper,
26. Pew Research Center, September 7, 2016, By Monica Anderson,
27. Pew Research Center, December 8, 2015, By Andrew Perrin,
28. Newsmax, June 1, 2017, By Cathy Burke,
29. Business Insider, April 17, 2017, By Hayley Peterson,
30. USA Today, June 26, 2017, By Elizabeth Weise,
31. The Washington Post, June 16, 2017, By Danielle Paquette,
32. Business Insider, June 16, 2017, By Kif Leswing,
33. Chicago Tribune, December 12, 2016, By Lauren Zumbach,
34. CNBC, June 22, 2017, By Tae Kim,
35. The Fresno Bee, June 13, 2017, By Jeremy Bagott,
36. New York Post, April 30, 2017, By Ed Zwirn,
37. The Independent, June 16, 2017, By Helen Coffey,
38. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention,
39. The Christian Post, June 20, 2017, By Jay Gotera,
40. The Huffington Post, June 22, 2017, By Laura Bassett,
41. Ibid.
42. Life Site News, June 22, 2017, By Steven Ertelt,
43. Ibid.
44. Reuters News Service, June 22, 2017, By Stephanie Nebehay, Geneva, Switzerland,

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Stamp Summer Leadership Series

Mount Vernon Leadership Institute
Date: July 15, 2017
Location: Meet at Stamp Student Union, Held at Mount Vernon
Time: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Cost: Free to UMD Students

Mount Vernon Leadership Institute is led by trained facilitators and historians to immerse participants in the actual problems that Washington faced, and insight into the decisions that started a nation. What did it mean to be a democratic or revolutionary leader during his time? What does it mean now?

In addition to engaging in interactive curriculum and activities at Mt. Vernon, participants will also have the opportunity to explore the grounds and historic site.

This program is FREE to registered students and includes transportation, lunch, programming, materials and admission to Mount Vernon.
Register here!
          Is This Some Kind Of Joke?: "Democratic Senate Staffers Are Mostly White And Women"   
          Donald Trump trolled by former White House photographer with image of Barack Obama and four women   

Donald Trump trolled by former White House photographer with image of Barack Obama and four womenAs a chorus of Democratic and Republican lawmakers slammed President Trump for “sexist” tweets about MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, a former White House chief photographer took to social media to troll the president, again. Pete Souza, who chronicled the Obama presidency, shared a photo of an Oval Office meeting four women had with Barack Obama while he was president.

          El mayor problema que tiene hoy Catalunya del cual no se habla: la crisis social

El mayor problema que tiene hoy Catalunya del cual no se habla: la crisis social Kaos en la red

Este artículo toca un tema central, la enorme crisis social de Catalunya, que queda ocultada detrás del debate territorial y nacional.
Por Vicenç Navarro
Este artículo toca un tema central, la enorme crisis social de Catalunya, que queda ocultada detrás del debate territorial y nacional. El artículo muestra datos más que convincentes que señalan que la crisis mayor que existe hoy en Catalunya es la crisis social, que queda ocultada, cuando no silenciada, por las tensiones entre los dos nacionalismos, el españolista por un lado, y el catalanista por el otro, que utilizan el tema nacional para ocultar el tema social. El artículo señala la necesidad de centrarse en la resolución del tema social, invitando a que todas las fuerzas progresistas exijan su resolucion dentro de un nuevo marco territorial que defienda la plurinacionalidad del Estado español. El artículo termina indicando que las derechas nacionalistas a los dos lados del Ebro están siendo los mayores obstáculos para resolver el problema social y el nacional.
El mayor problema que existe hoy en Catalunya es la enorme crisis social que afecta muy negativamente la calidad de vida y bienestar de sus clases populares. Tal crisis social raramente aparece en los mayores medios de comunicación en Catalunya, tanto en los públicos –instrumentalizados en su mayoría por el gobierno de la Generalitat de Catalunya- como en los privados, claramente influenciados por poderes económicos y financieros que definen los parámetros de lo que es aceptable en el panorama mediático catalán.
Ahora bien, esta enorme crisis social no abarca a todos los sectores de la población por igual. Está centrada primordialmente en las clases populares catalanas, las cuales derivan sus rentas fundamentalmente del mundo del Trabajo. Pero lo que es menos conocido y apenas tiene visibilidad mediática es que al sector minoritario de la población que deriva sus rentas primordialmente de la propiedad y/o de la gestión del capital (propiedad que genera renta) le ha ido muy bien. Los datos hablan por sí mismos. Entre 2008 y 2016 (el periodo de la Gran Recesión), las rentas del Trabajo como porcentaje de todas las rentas en Catalunya bajaron del 50% al 46%, mientras que las rentas del capital subieron durante el mismo periodo del 42% al 45%. En otras palabras, mientras que las clases populares vieron como sus rentas disminuían, los super-ricos, los ricos y las personas pudientes con elevados recursos las vieron aumentar.
Como consecuencia de ello, las desigualdades de renta en Catalunya se dispararon de manera que el 20% de la población con más ingresos (super-ricos, ricos y clases medias profesionales de renta alta), que tenía al principio de la crisis un nivel de ingresos promedio cinco veces superior al del 20% de renta inferior, vio como dicha diferencia se ampliaba hasta ser seis veces superior en 2016, convirtiendo a Catalunya en uno de los países más desiguales de la UE-15 (el grupo de quince países de la UE de semejante nivel de desarrollo económico al de España). En realidad, 20 super-ricos en Catalunya tienen en total una riqueza de 22.400 millones de euros, cantidad casi equivalente al 11% del PIB catalán. El patrimonio del catalán más rico es equivalente a la renta anual de 150.0000 familias medias catalanas. Estos son datos que, junto con otros, muestran que durante la mayor crisis social que Catalunya ha vivido durante la época democrática, los catalanes más pudientes no solo no han visto disminuir sus rentas y su propiedad, sino que, al contrario, las han visto subir considerablemente.
Las causas del crecimiento de las desigualdades en Catalunya
Un elemento importante para entender este crecimiento de las desigualdades ha sido el gran deterioro del mercado de trabajo catalán. En 2016 el 53% de las personas desocupadas llevaban buscando trabajo durante un año o más, siendo Catalunya uno de los países de la UE-15 que tiene el porcentaje mayor de este tipo de desocupados. Tal porcentaje era solo del 16% en 2008, habiéndose añadido a este grupo de desocupados, durante el periodo 2008-2016, 259.700 personas que están desesperadas por encontrar trabajo. Y para hacer más agudo el dolor, el 71% de las personas en paro no reciben ninguna prestación o subsidio en concepto de paro. La gran mayoría de ellos son trabajadores que habían ocupado puestos de trabajo de salarios bajos.
Esta situación es particularmente aguda entre las personas jóvenes, siendo Catalunya el país con mayor desempleo juvenil de la UE-15 junto con el resto de España, Grecia e Italia. Este elevado desempleo se ha producido junto con otros indicadores de deterioro del mercado de trabajo, como es el elevado nivel de precariedad, de nuevo, uno de los más altos de la UE-15. Y de particular importancia ha sido el descenso salarial, que ha sido muy marcado entre los trabajadores con salarios bajos. Si en 2008 el 10% de la fuerza laboral percibía salarios por debajo de los 9.221 euros brutos anuales, en 2016 este 10% percibía salarios por debajo de los 7.841 euros brutos anuales (un descenso del 15% de su salario).
Los recortes del gasto público social en Catalunya
Este enorme deterioro del mercado laboral afectó muy negativamente la calidad de vida de la clase trabajadora, que junto con amplios sectores de las clases medias constituyen la gran mayoría de las clases populares catalanas. Sus dificultades fueron incluso más acentuadas debido a los recortes de las transferencias y servicios públicos del Estado del Bienestar catalán realizados por el gobierno de la Generalitat de Catalunya bajo el mandato de una coalición de un partido liberal (CDC, hoy conocido como PDeCAT) y otro cristianodemócrata (UDC), y más tarde (tras la desaparición de los cristianodemócratas) con un partido independentista de centroizquierda, ERC.
Estos recortes del gasto público social (en las transferencias y servicios públicos de la Generalitat, que han estado subfinanciados durante la mayor parte del periodo democrático, y bajo el gobierno de la coalición CDC-UDC) fueron muy sustanciales durante el periodo 2010-2015, en el que Catalunya continuó siendo gobernada por dicha coalición. Durante tal periodo ocurrieron varios hechos: 1) el gasto público social de la Generalitat se redujo en 3.456 millones de euros, lo que significó una reducción de un 17%, pasando de gastarse 19.881 millones en 2010 a 16.424 en 2015; 2) el gasto público educativo se redujo un 17%, pasando de 6.310 millones a 5.234 millones en 2015; 3) el gasto sanitario público del gobierno de la Generalitat se redujo un 14%, pasando de 9.903 millones de euros a 8.464 millones de euros. Además de estos recortes, hubo una privatización masiva de la gestión de los servicios públicos así como una externalización de tales servicios al sector privado; 4) el gasto público en vivienda y otras actuaciones urbanas de la Generalitat se redujo un 60% pasando de ser 723 millones a 289 millones; 5) el gasto de protección social del gobierno de la Generalitat se redujo un 14%, pasando de 2.110 millones a 1.823 millones; 6) el gasto en promoción social del gobierno de la Generalitat se redujo un 39%, pasando de 100 millones a 61 millones; 7) el gasto de fomento de la ocupación se redujo un 25%, pasando de 732 millones a 551 millones.
Todos estos datos, sacados de los presupuestos de la Generalitat de Catalunya, muestran, como ya hemos indicado antes, un descenso en la financiación de los servicios fundamentales del Estado del Bienestar del 17%. Tales recortes han sido de los más acentuados en España y en la UE-15. Estas medidas se justificaron, según la ideología liberal dominante en tal coalición de gobierno, argumentando que todas ellas eran necesarias para “recuperar la economía”, subrayando –como indicó el entonces presidente Mas- que “la austeridad nos hará fuertes”.
El aumento de la pobreza y de la exclusión social en Catalunya
La reducción salarial, el aumento de la precariedad, el aumento del desempleo y la reducción de las transferencias y servicios públicos del Estado del Bienestar tuvieron un impacto devastador en el bienestar de las clases populares. Y uno de ellos es el elevadísimo nivel de pobreza y exclusión social. Los datos hablan por sí mismos: 1) la renta media neta de los hogares catalanes descendió un 5,2% entre 2009 y 2016 (pasando de 33.064 euros a 31.339 euros); 2) en 2016 el 40% de los hogares de un adulto con uno o más hijos estaban en riesgo de pobreza. Durante este periodo de la Gran Recesión, dicho porcentaje ha subido un 22%; 3) la población total en hogares sin ningún tipo de ingreso subió un 52%, pasando de 112.100 a 176.200 personas (2008-2017); 4) el porcentaje de personas en riesgo de pobreza o exclusión social en el periodo 2008-2015 pasó de un 15% de la población total a un 20%, un incremento del 27%; y 5) la población en situación de privación material severa (un 5,5% de la población) aumentó un 250%. Estos datos muestran la enorme crisis social que existe en Catalunya, la mayor durante el periodo democrático.
El tema nacional en Catalunya (y en España) oculta el tema social en Catalunya (y en España)
A pesar de su gran importancia, la crisis social en Catalunya no ocupa la centralidad mediática. En Catalunya, como en el resto de España (cuya crisis social tiene muchos elementos comunes con lo que ocurre en Catalunya, como he documentado en el artículo reciente “El nuevo régimen social de España”, Público, 21.06.17), la centralidad mediática no la tiene el tema social, sino el tema nacional, que acapara la mayor atención de los principales medios de información a los dos lados del Ebro. Tales medios enfatizan constantemente el supuesto “choque de trenes” entre el nacionalismo españolista, liderado por el gobierno del Partido Popular (un partido de sensibilidad conservadora liberal) presidido por el Sr. Rajoy, y el nacionalismo catalanista secesionista, liderado por el PDeCAT (también un partido de sensibilidad conservadora liberal) y su presidente, el Sr. Puigdemont (que gobierna en coalición con ERC). Estos dos últimos partidos son independentistas que centran su atención en el tema nacional. En su argumentario, la enorme crisis social aparece solo indirectamente, al atribuirla a la pertenencia de Catalunya al Estado español. Constantemente se indica que la secesión de Catalunya de España y su independencia permitirán eliminar dicha crisis social. El argumento que responsabiliza al Estado español de la crisis social de Catalunya tiene parte de razón, pues la enorme crisis social de Catalunya es muy parecida (aun cuando en bastantes indicadores es incluso peor) a la existente en el resto de España. De ahí que se asuma, por parte de estos partidos y por la mayoría del movimiento independentista, que tal crisis social en Catalunya ha sido impuesta a la población catalana por las políticas públicas aprobadas por el Estado español. Esta externalización de responsabilidades, atribuyendo la crisis social única y exclusivamente al Estado español, es, sin embargo, insuficiente.
La responsabilidad de la crisis social hay que buscarla también en Catalunya, pues el primer argumento oculta que la gran mayoría de leyes de sensibilidad liberal (en realidad neoliberal, como las reformas laborales del gobierno Zapatero y del gobierno Rajoy, las reformas fiscales regresivas y los recortes del gasto público social, entre otros acuerdos sociales y laborales) que han tenido un impacto muy negativo generando la crisis y dañando enormemente el bienestar de las clases populares catalanas, han sido aprobadas en las Cortes Españolas (o en el Parlament catalán) por partidos catalanes, y muy especialmente por Convergència (hoy PDeCAT), que ha liderado el gobierno de la Generalitat durante la gran mayoría del periodo democrático en una coalición con otro partido conservador, el partido democratacristiano UDC. Tales partidos comparten gran responsabilidad, tanto en la subfinanciación del Estado del Bienestar catalán como en la imposición de políticas neoliberales que causaron la crisis social. Tales partidos han apoyado sistemáticamente (tanto en las Cortes Españolas como en el Parlament catalán) políticas públicas que causaron la subfinanciación y la crisis del Estado del Bienestar catalán. La evidencia de ello es abrumadora, aunque el lector raramente lo leerá, verá u oirá en los grandes medios de comunicación catalanes.
Las limitaciones y exageraciones del argumento de que la independencia determinaría la eliminación de la crisis social
La futura Catalunya, en caso de alcanzarse la independencia, dependería mucho de las fuerzas políticas que lideraran el proceso de transición de la Catalunya actual a la futura. La transición española de una dictadura a una democracia mostró claramente que las fuerzas que controlaban la transición (las derechas, que a su vez controlaban el aparato del Estado) tuvieron una influencia determinante en la configuración del sistema democrático (conocido por sus enormes limitaciones) y de su Estado del Bienestar (escasamente financiado). Y un tanto igual ocurriría en la transición a la futura Catalunya. Esta es precisamente una de las causas del escepticismo o incredulidad que grandes sectores de las clases populares (y muy en particular las que viven en zonas urbanas) tienen hacia el argumento de que la independencia resolvería la gran crisis social. La clase trabajadora catalana no es independentista y este es el mayor punto flaco del independentismo. Es precisamente en barrios obreros (en los que la crisis social es más acentuada) donde el apoyo al independentismo es menor. El liderazgo del movimiento independentista por parte del mismo gobierno que ha sido responsable de las políticas neoliberales causantes de las crisis genera esta duda y escepticismo hacia la bondad del independentismo, dirigido, institucionalmente, por un gobierno de coalición liderado por tal partido conservador y liberal. Ello no quiere decir que el movimiento independentista en sí no sea un movimiento auténticamente popular que canaliza, en parte, la protesta por la situación social. Pero la escasa pluralidad en su dirección debilita su representatividad y, sobre todo, la movilización entre grandes sectores de las clases populares.
La necesaria transformación de Catalunya (y de España)
La única alternativa para conseguir el apoyo de la mayoría de las clases populares al desarrollo del derecho a decidir (el soberanismo) es que haya una alianza de fuerzas políticas con un claro compromiso hacia la resolución de la crisis social tanto en Catalunya como en España. El soberanismo no es el independentismo. La secesión es una alternativa ofrecida a la población en su derecho a decidir. Hoy, según las encuestas, la gran mayoría de la población desea ejercer este derecho a decidir, pero la mayoría no es secesionista.
El proyecto soberanista en Catalunya necesita establecer una alianza con fuerzas progresistas en España que luchan para conseguir resolver el problema social y el problema nacional de España (consecuencia, este último, de su negativa a reconocer su plurinacionalidad). El obstáculo mayor hoy para resolver el tema social en España (y en Catalunya) es la alianza de las fuerzas conservadoras y neoliberales nacionalistas españolistas (que gobiernan España), y de los conservadores y liberales (ahora convertidos al independentismo) que lideran el gobierno catalán, en su defensa del modelo neoliberal y de las políticas neoliberales. Su dominio y hegemonía en los aparatos del Estado, tanto en España como en Catalunya, representa el principal reto a superar. La abstención de PDeCAT en la moción de censura en contra del gobierno Rajoy ejemplifica esta alianza, mostrada múltiples veces en las Cortes Españolas. De ahí que se requiera una alianza entre los que desean un cambio profundo (social y nacional) en ambos lados del Ebro. Quedó bien expresado en el discurso de presentación de ERC (a cargo del Sr. Joan Tardà) en la misma sesión, cuando expresó su hermandad con las fuerzas políticas, Unidos Podemos y sus aliados, En Comú Podem y En Marea, en su lucha para transformar España, terminando su discurso con el saludo ¡Viva la República Española!, a lo cual las nuevas izquierdas procedentes de distintas partes de España respondieron con un fuerte aplauso. Ahí estaban las bases de una nueva Catalunya y de una nueva España.
Pero esta visión del Sr. Tardà no es la hegemónica en grandes sectores del independentismo catalán, que considera que España es el problema y ve a Unidos Podemos y sus aliados como uno de sus mayores adversarios, pues representan la cara amable de España, que no desean reconocer, pues les interesa más la cara antipática que puede movilizar a sus bases. Ahí está otro de los problemas.
¿Qué debería hacerse para resolver el mayor problema que tienen las clases populares en Catalunya?
La respuesta es fácil de ver. Poner el tema social en el centro del debate, denunciando la incoherencia del PDeCAT al presentarse como el gran defensor de Catalunya, a la vez que apoya medidas económicas y sociales que dañan a las clases populares en Catalunya. Este tema debería ir acompañado con la defensa del derecho a decidir (que estuvo siempre en el ADN de las izquierdas catalanas), denunciando la instrumentalización del famoso proceso constituyente por parte del PDeCAT y Junts Pel Sí, que con su comportamiento antidemocrático están evitando que se alcance la plena realización de tal derecho. Ni que decir tiene que el Estado central, con su comportamiento represivo, está, además de incrementando el independentismo, facilitando tal instrumentalización. Con ello se está ayudando a que las mismas fuerzas que han gobernado siempre Catalunya (y que son responsables de su gran subdesarrollo social), continúen configurando el futuro, empeorando incluso más la situación social. La resolución del problema social y nacional en Catalunya será de difícil realización sin un cambio en España y sin un liderazgo en el movimiento constituyente catalán que ponga la resolución del tema social en el centro de su estrategia, movilizando con ello a las clases populares catalanas, ejerciendo su derecho a decidir en condiciones auténticamente democráticas.

          News In Brief    

President Francesco Cossiga asked Prime Minister Bettino Craxi to form a new government yesterday, four days after he resigned as prime minister. Politicians expect him to resurrect the same coalition that fell apart over the Achille Lauro hijacking. Hopes for a solution to the latest of many government crises in postwar Italy apparently boosted prices on the Milan Stock Exchange. Shares regained two-thirds of the 6 percent they lost after Mr. Craxi's resignation.

The success of Craxi's effort appeared to depend largely on his talks with Defense Minister Giovanni Spadolini's Republican Party, which precipitated the collapse by withdrawing its three ministers from the Cabinet.

All previous partners but the Republicans have said they would join a new Craxi government. The Republicans set conditions that include closer consultation during times of crisis and clear definition of foreign policy, particularly on the US and the Mideast.

The Republicans quit over the decision to release PLO official Muhammad Abbas, whom the US accuses of masterminding the hijacking.

Mr. Cossiga's decision followed three days of consultations with leaders of the five political parties in the former coalition.

Craxi's aides said they expect the makeup of a new government to emerge by Thursday, when Craxi is to go to New York for a meeting of Western leaders called by President Reagan to discuss his November summit with the Soviet leader, Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

Politicians saw the Republican Party's move as a face-saving gesture in response to widespread criticism by the other coalition partners of its decision to quit. Public opinion polls showed general approval of how the government handled the hijacking.

Antigovernment protesters fired on in downtown Manila

Police yesterday fired on antigovernment demonstrators in downtown Manila who resisted police efforts to disperse them. Hospitals said a 17-year-old demonstrator was killed, and the official news agency said 27 people were wounded. The clash came after 3,000 protesters, mostly from farm groups, demonstrated peacefully in front of the US Embassy and were moving toward a downtown plaza.

The march was organized to protest government economic policies and US support for President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Mr. Marcos ordered an immediate investigation of the violence, a palace news release said. The National Assembly will also investigating.

16 foes of apartheid plead not guilty in treason case

Sixteen leading opponents of South Africa's apartheid race laws pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of high treason, which can carry the death penalty. The accused, including senior leaders of the main internal anti-apartheid group, the United Democratic Front, also pleaded not guilty to alternative charges of furthering the aims of unlawful organizations, and terrorism.

Much of the evidence against them is based on speeches they made and songs they asked crowds to sing at meetings.

The trial formally opened in May, but defense lawyers have been battling for months to get more details from the government on how the accused were alleged to have acted treasonably.

Nicaraguan chief accuses US of `state terrorism'

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega accused the United States yesterday of ``state terrorism'' and said the state of emergency in his country will be suspended when the US stops its ``policy of aggression.'' Nicaragua last week imposed new restrictions on freedom of speech, travel, and assembly, the right to strike, and protection of privacy in the home and the mails.

Supreme Court to adjudge airline policy on handicapped

The Supreme Court set the stage yesterday for an important ruling on rights of handicapped people. The justices said they will review a ruling, challenged by the Reagan administration, that the government must guarantee the rights of handicapped air travelers. A decision is expected by July.

In other cases, the court:

Set the stage for a potentially sweeping ruling over whether property owners are entitled to be compensated when local governments prevent land development.

Agreed to decide what evidence is needed to support search warrants authorizing seizure of allegedly obscene movies.

Agreed to resolve a dispute the government says could force it to guarantee billions of additional dollars in bank-provided credit.

US withholding nuclear data about China, Cranston claims

Sen. Alan Cranston (D) of California, objecting to President Reagan's proposed nuclear cooperation agreement with China, charged yesterday that the administration has ``withheld, suppressed, and covered up information'' about Peking's role in spreading nuclear material. In a Senate floor speech, Senator Cranston said China has had either negotiations or nuclear trade with five ``nuclear outlaw'' nations that are developing atomic weapons programs.

Major tax hike needed to cut federal deficit, Stockman says

A major tax increase is necessary to reduce the federal deficit, preferably a value-added tax, former Budget Director David Stockman said Monday. In the five years of the Reagan presidency, great strides have been made in reducing the growth of federal spending, but the deficit remains a major threat to the nation, Mr. Stockman told the annual convention of the Food Marketing Institute.

US and USSR break off talks on resuming direct air links

The United States and the Soviet Union have broken off negotiations to resume direct air travel between the two countries in a dispute over giving Pan Am, the American carrier, a ``fair share'' of the market, State Department officials said yesterday. No date was set for a resumption, making it virtually impossible that an agreement could be reached in time for President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to sign at their summit meeting in November.

Sanctions on South Africa satisfy Commonwealth chiefs

Commonwealth leaders who wanted Britain and its former colonies to impose strong sanctions against South Africa said Monday they were satisfied by agreement over a less-stringent compromise package. The 49-nation group, whose meeting ends today, emerged late Sunday from five days of closed-door negotiating with a package of limited economic sanctions.

The accord provides for a nine-point package of immediate sanctions. Most of the measures, such as bans on arms and oil sales, nuclear cooperation, and discouraging cultural and scientific contact, have been enforced by many nations for years.

String of fires quenched in southern California

A week after brush fires cut a swath across more than 100,000 acres of southern California canyons under the lash of Santa Ana winds, the last of more than 20 blazes has been controlled. One man was killed, 21 homes burned, and at least six firefighters injured in the fires that began last Monday, many of them believed ignited by arsonists.

A photograph that appeared on Page 7 of the Monitor's Oct. 9 issue was incorrectly identified as one of Panamanian General Noriega. The original UPI photo was miscaptioned, and the man pictured is Gen. Rub'en Dario Par'edes.

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          PSD-ALDE tensions due to the new governing programme. Tariceanu – ready to put an end to the coalition, sources say   

The end of the political crisis and the investing of the Mihai Tudose government seem not to be enough for the ruling coalition. The changes made by the Social-Democratic Party (PSD) in the governing programme have stirred huge discontent in the ALDE. Sources quoted by Antena3 TV say ALDE’s leader Calin Popescu Tariceanu is discontent ...

The post PSD-ALDE tensions due to the new governing programme. Tariceanu – ready to put an end to the coalition, sources say appeared first on The Romania Journal.

          Time For President Trump To Fire The Commission On Civil Rights   
The radical racists who dominate the U.S. Commission On Civil Rights (USCCR) have inserted themselves in the immigration law enforcement issue, something outside of their jurisdiction, and in a manner unrelated to any concerns about misconduct or abuse by law enforcement agents, but because the commissioners object to immigration laws.  To whit, they have decided to violate Federal statute by aiding and abetting illegal aliens to remain in the United States and assist others engaged in that crime of aiding illegal aliens, including violating the Constitution and Federal law with regards to rebellion and insurrection.  The USCCR, which claims it is bipartisan, has joined the criminal Resistance to the Trump Administration.  It is time for all but one of the commissioners to be fired and criminally prosecuted for their treason and sedition.

The Commission is concerned that some of the most vulnerable individuals’ access to justice is hindered by the recent actions of the federal government. The Commission urges Attorney General Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kelly to consider the fair administration of justice when determining how and where they send Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
In the last few months, troubling reports have emerged of federal immigration agents following, confronting, and in some instances, arresting undocumented immigrants in state and local courthouses when some of those immigrants were seeking help from authorities and the local justice system. 
[U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Expresses Concern with Immigrants’ Access to Justice,  Official Statement, April 24, 2017]

Dishonestly and partisanly, the USCCR has adopted the radical language of the Democrat Party in violation of the legislative mandate to be bipartisan in its investigations.  The commissioners referred to illegal aliens as immigrants.  That is neither legally valid, in Federal statute, illegal aliens are just that, not immigrants.  The commissioners also dishonestly confuse the public by suggesting that immigration law enforcement officers are harassing or illegally arresting legal immigrants to the United States.

Furthermore, the commissioners illegally claim that there are legal sanctuaries for illegal aliens where they are free from arrest.  That claim has no basis in law.  In fact, the commissioners are acting illegally when they suggest such sanctuaries exist and that Federal authority to make arrests is limited.  Statute is quite clear, there are no time or place limitations on Federal law enforcement officers making arrests, nor are there on making immigration arrests.  To suggest so is again dishonest and a lie.  Furthermore, to suggest so, and to make a demand that arrests of illegal aliens at courthouses stop is flagrantly illegal and not within the authority of the USCCR.  Moreover, the commissioners are acting to assist illegal aliens to remain in the United States in violation of law, Title 8 United States Code (USC) Section 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii):

(iii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation

The commissioners are legally liable because they are illegally and without authority seeking to interfere with the lawful execution of Federal statutes.  Furthermore, the commissioners further cite local officials who are seeking to usurp the authority of the Constitution and Federal law by interfering with the enforcement of Federal law, including threats of force and violence.  Such activity is in violation of Title 18 USC Section 2383, Rebellion or Insurrection.

Arresting illegal aliens, including mentally ill trannies, is not a violation of any "civil right" and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the Commission.  The commissioners have no authority to comment on such activity, and is therefore illegal use of Federal monies, and constitutes a theft of Federal funds, in violation of Title 18 USC 641 Theft of Public Money.

The clearly partisan attacks on immigration law enforce are also a violation of the legislative mandate of the commission to be non-partisan, as supporting illegal aliens is a Democrat Party official policy.

Established as an independent, bipartisan, fact-finding federal agency, our mission is to inform the development of national civil rights policy and enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws. We pursue this mission by studying alleged deprivations of voting rights and alleged discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, or in the administration of justice. We play a vital role in advancing civil rights through objective and comprehensive investigation, research, and analysis on issues of fundamental concern to the federal government and the public.

It is also a violation of the Hatch Act, that prohibits partisan activity by Federal employees, such as Michael Yaki, who runs a political consulting firm contracting with companies and local governments, when he is not acting as a commissioner. Shockingly, Yaki was renominated to the commission by Paul Ryan.

Time for President Trump to fire all the commissioners except Peter Kirsanow, the sole Republican on a Commission that has four Democrats and three Democrats in all but name.  It should have more Republicans, but Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell could not bring themselves to appoint Republicans.

          By: Joe Wheatley   
We are a Christian church but America has never been a Christian nation and we should accept that. The founders were Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists and Congregationalists - denominations that we don't accept as Christian. We should also not expect one political party to represent all Christians. Barton Stone and David Lipscomb thought Christians should not take part in elections since our citizenship is in heaven. We should not try to be American Christians or Republican Christians or Democratic Christians, just Godly Christians. If we do that the world will notice and some will join us.
          Congo declares Ebola outbreak over after four deaths   
KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo declared its two-month Ebola outbreak officially over on Saturday after 42 days without recording a new case of the disease.

          Multi-Association Letter to Senate Leadership Urging Confirmation of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Nominees   

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Democratic Leader Schumer: The undersigned associations urge you to act quickly to restore a quorum at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC has lacked a quorum for more than four months, placing energy infrastructure permitting and approvals on an indefinite...

The post Multi-Association Letter to Senate Leadership Urging Confirmation of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Nominees appeared first on Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA).

          Sen. Cory Booker On Health Care And The Democrats' Future   
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: With Republican senators delaying a vote on their bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, many lawmakers on the left now see an opportunity, among them New Jersey's Cory Booker. Just outside the Capitol the other evening, Senator Booker and Congressman John Lewis were chatting about health care. And before long, a crowd gathered around with concerns of their own. CORY BOOKER: And it was just a beautiful night. There was something magical about it in the sense that it was spontaneous, but so authentic in the sense that I think you could stand on any street corner in America and you're going to have people walking by who have been touched by Medicaid and aspects of this bill that would threaten the gains that they've made or one of their family members have made. INSKEEP: Rachel Martin talked with Senator Booker about whether the Senate Democrats and Republicans can work together. RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: Where do you see common
          With The Senate's Health Care Vote Delayed, What's Next For Democrats?   
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: To health care now - both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are complaining that they aren't working together. Here's Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking on the Senate floor yesterday. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MITCH MCCONNELL: It's unfortunate that our Democratic colleagues refuse to work with us in a serious way to comprehensively address Obamacare's failures in the seven years since they passed it. MARTIN: Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had this response. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) CHUCK SCHUMER: We Democrats are genuinely interested in finding a place where our two parties can come together on health care. MARTIN: So what is the next move for the Democrats? Tom Perez is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He's with us in the studio. Thanks for coming in this morning. TOM PEREZ: Always a pleasure. MARTIN: Do congressional Democrats really want to work with Republicans to try to
          Iron worker Democrat Randy Bryce is Trump and Ryan’s worst nightmare   

Union ironworker Randy Bryce is Paul Ryan’s and Donald Trump’s worst nightmare. Democrat Bryce, of Caledonia, is running for Congress in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, currently represented by House Speaker Ryan. He will face at least one primary opponent. Bryce lit up the Internet when he launched his campaign June 19 with a poignant video […]
          Comment on Senate adjourns until Monday by Honest Abe   
Funny that anyone would blame Rauner or any Republican for the mess Illinois is in... Didn't democrats sell our tollbooths? Aren't democrats in control of Chicago? The money from the tolls alone would keep the state afloat.
          What is the True Cost of Healthcare? – The Lowdown on Liberty   

With the Senate’s postponement of the American Health Care Act vote, Democrats and Republicans seem more polarized than ever regarding healthcare. Yet, over what, I’m not sure. When it comes to the details, they appear to agree on more now than ever before. This is because both sides have decided on further intervention as the fix, choosing to keep the […]

The post What is the True Cost of Healthcare? – The Lowdown on Liberty appeared first on Being Libertarian.

          Comment on What Trump Can Expect from Putin by Jessica K   
I only wish we could believe that Trump would actually read Ray's sensible analysis, but alas, I have given up all hope that Trump might come around. It appears he's more interested in tweeting about Mika Brzezinski's appearance and deciding he'll indulge his ego on trade wars, particularly with China. I wish I could believe otherwise. And he's proven unable and unstable to grasp any nuance of foreign policy, it seems, nor do his advisors have any coherence even in their maintaining of traditional US belligerence. It is Putin who is sane and intelligent, as well as his advisors. Now 25 Democrat senators are working on Articles of Impeachment, bringing to bear the 25th Amendment violation by Trump of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, so he will be increasingly wrapped up in that, if the senators succeed. Trump's ego will definitely get wrapped up in that until it succeeds or fails. To top it off, four states now are showing serious signs of failing: Illinois, Connecticut, Maine, and now New Jersey. I wonder how many will follow? Money isn't there, it all goes for war. People are going to be dying for lack of medical care because of Medicaid shortfalls. It is not all Trump's fault, of course, the Republicans and Democrats have wrought a miserable mess of what was already a failing system, and I do believe that worldwide major events, some political and some natural disasters, are looming. That's my inner Cassandra speaking. Politicians and governments are just not up to the difficulties that we are encountering in the 21st century, these generally are people with shortsightedness and lack of wisdom, tunnel vision training. And the USA bears enormous blame for the state of the world because of its warmongering. From my readings about Vladimir Putin, including his speeches, I have to say that he is one of the few world leaders who do have wisdom. I only hope that some messages from nature are going to influence a change in thinking, because I have no faith in wisdom of western man. The native peoples were correct, the white man is crazy. Perhaps that supervolcano in Yellowstone is getting reading to explode.
          Katinka Hosszu and fellow Olympians Demand Changes in Swimming Federation Leadership   

Last week, Olympic swimming star Katinka Hosszu blasted the Hungarian Swimming Federation (MÚSZ) in an open letter, attacking the organization for being undemocratic and corrupt, and called on Federation President Tamás Gyárfás to resign (read our article on Katinka’s dispute with MÚSZ here). In response to Hosszu’s letter, the Federation promised to establish a four-member committee made up of independent […]

The post Katinka Hosszu and fellow Olympians Demand Changes in Swimming Federation Leadership appeared first on Hungary Today.

          Is Healthcare on Life Support?   
Congress has an abysmal approval rating of about 20%.  There are dozens of reasons for this rating.  Right now, my disapproval with Congress stems from the chaos in Washington over healthcare. Obamacare is imploding.  It’s up to the Republicans to repeal and replace it.  I know the Democrats will say... CONTINUE
          Former Football Superstar-Turned Politician, George Weah Wins Liberian Senate Seat In Landslide Victory   
Against the backdrop of a nine-month long Ebola epidemic and twice-delayed senate elections, popular former football star and opposition politician, George Weah won a landslide victory in the mosthigh-profile race for the Montserrado County senate seat inLiberia. Running as a candidate for the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), one of [...]
          Comment on Moveable Feast Cafe 2017/04/30 … Open Thread by Anonymous   
We have seen that the Mainstream Media Admitted that they have No evidence that Candidate Donald Trump colluded with a foreign Country during the Election, and while the Lie that Candidate Trump colluded with Russia with was Needed to justify the Improper Surveillance on a Republican Presidential Candidate, to try to gain Electoral Advantage, and to have what is a ‘plausible’ Excuse if ever this matter was investigated or Leaked to the Media, it was Not anticipated by the Clintonites that some Democrats Would Leak to WikiLeaks, and so other Lies to Wrongly blame another Country would Need to be Invented by the Clintonites to try to manage that, as is explained in this updated comment. It was Obvious to Many People that there No collusion between Candidate Donald Trump and Russia, for the Obvious reasons, because there are Only a few ways that such a thing could happen, and None of them occurred during the Election. Those reasons would be that a foreign Country would rig the Votes, or that they would give Money to a Political Campaign, or that they would be the Political campaign strategist and speechwriter for a Candidate. There has been too much time elapsed, and too many statements have been made on this, for the American Shadow Regime to make up new Lies to suggest any type of collusion to those who have been paying attention to this matter. All Countries Know that the American Shadow Regime Selects their Puppet for President a long in Advance, and that it is futile to try to influence that, regardless of what the Majority of Americans may think otherwise, and Many Presidential Elections in America have been Staged events. It was Obvious to All foreign Countries that Hillary Clinton was Selected by the Shadow Regime to be President, but Candidate Donald Trump was Elected. The Reason for that was that the Less Establishment Candidate Always had the Advantage in that Election, and Hillary Clinton Usurped the Democratic Party nomination from Senator Sanders, and Hillary Clinton was the Most Establishment Candidate ever in American History, and also the Most Corrupt Candidate for President ever in American History, but this was Not known by any Country or even by Most Americans until after the Election and we now Know that it was Entirely because the Establishment Selected the Corrupt and Untrustworthy Hillary Clinton to be their Puppet. We Know that foreigners did Not rig the Voting, and this was mentioned several times. It appears that the Only Alleged complaint is that a foreign Country was Allegedly responsible for gaining information. That information was the Clinton and DNC Emails, but the DNC Servers have Never been examined by anyone Unbiased, and furthermore there is No way to prove who hacks a Computer these days, and those who wanted to help Senator Sanders become the Democratic Party nominee might think to Leak to WikiLeaks so that it would help Senator Sanders become President, and WikiLeaks said that Russia did Not give them those Emails, and Kim Dotcom wants to testify under Oath that Seth Rich was involved in the DNC Leaks, and Robert Mueller has had Plenty of time to Reply to the Lawyer of Kim Dotcom in Writing Only so that it does Not cause confusion, ambiguity, or a lack of accountability regarding arrangements for him to Testify under Oath regarding his Knowledge of Email Leaks to WikiLeaks, and a former British Ambassador Craig Murray said that it was an Intermediary for Democratic Party whistle blowers who gave him the Emails in Washington DC where it appears that this occurred in September of 2016, where he was a Master of Ceremonies for a Conference, and so unless it is better researched, then it does Not appear that this Person was Seth Rich or Shawn Lucas, and then that material was then given to WikiLeaks, and this is why the DNC Servers were Not examined by the FBI or by any other Intelligence or Law Enforcement Agencies, because it was a Leak, and the Clintonites and their Puppet Obama Administration did Not want Americans to Know that, and so they Invented this Lie of Russia Allegedly hacked the DNC, and meddled in the Election. We heard that President Barack Obama was Allegedly informed in August of 2016, that Russia was Allegedly meddling in the Election and Allegedly trying to rig the Votes, and that was after WikiLeaks Published in July of 2016, more of the Clinton and DNC Emails. This would mean that the NSA and the FBI and the Others Would have Investigated these things concerning these Allegations of meddling by a foreign Country in America’s Election, and they Would have told these things to President Barack Obama, and someone would have Leaked to the Media Why the think that a foreign Country meddled in the Election, but there were after Election Lies Specifically Invented to try to justify Spying on an opposition Political Party. It is interesting what Candidate Barack Obama said in the 2008 Presidential Election Campaign, that both major Political Parties Rig Elections, and the Video is Titled: Obama Admits To Rigged Elections Back In 2008 at , and Obama said that he was a Lawyer working on Voting Rights Law, and Obama is an Example of a Presidential Candidate who discredited the Elections and the Election process before Voting had taken place, and so it was Not unprecedented for Candidate Donald Trump to mention possible Election Rigging in 2016, and Obama did Nothing to Reform the Electoral System, and Many Americans want Electoral Reform, and if there is No Substantial Electoral Reform proposed by (S)Elected Representatives, then we Know that the Corrupt System likes its Lies and Corruption. Months later, Obama continued to Deny any Election rigging or meddling on October 18 of 2016, where he said that the Election would be Free and Fair, and that was 3 weeks before the Election and the Video is Titled: Obama To Trump: Stop Whining About A Rigged Election at , and President Obama said that it would be a Free and Fair Election, because he Knew that Russia did Not meddle in the Election, and Obviously Obama Lied regarding the matter that the Clintons and the Democrats would not try to commit Election Fraud, because the Democrats are the Specialists for Election Fraud with their Electronic Voting Machines, but Russia did Not meddle in the Election, and Further tailor made Lies had to be Manufactured to try to justify the Spying on an Opposition Political Party by the Clinton Campaign, by means of their Partisan Puppet Obama Administration, and President Barack Obama said that Candidate Donald Trump and his Vice Presidential running mate along with Candidate Hillary Clinton and her Vice Presidential running mate Received Daily Top Secret Information during the Election Campaign, and we Know that Hillary Clinton Could Lie if she was asked if President Barack Obama told her that Russia was trying to rig the Election for Candidate Donald Trump. I think that if President Barack Obama had Proven to Candidate Donald Trump that the Russians were rigging the Election for him, then I think that Candidate Donald Trump would have tried to lose that Election, by promising Tax Increases, and some other Democratic Party Policies. This is because President Donald Trump is a Patriot, and I do Not think that Hillary Clinton is a Patriot, and she would have Accepted help from anyone to become the President, even if it was in a Treasonous and Undemocratic way, and we saw that with how she Usurped the Democratic Party nomination and with the Actions of the Democratic National Committee, and the Bias in much of the Mainstream Media. The Republican National Committee spent 600 million Dollars on their Presidential Campaign, and Hillary Clinton spent over one Billion Dollars on her Campaign, and if a Country wanted Candidate Donald Trump to win the Election, then they would have Secretly suggested to him, that he Should spent one Billion Dollars or more of his own Money on top of what the Republican National Committee provides, and that he would be Reimbursed after the Election, regardless of the result, and if a President Hillary Clinton had to be Bribed to look the other way for the Reimbursement, then there is also Money for that, and we Know that this did Not happen, and the other way to collude is to be a Political campaign strategist and speechwriter, and the Republican Party have Many of their own, who Understand Political matters in America Much Better than a foreigner, and it was Alleged that Russia was the speechwriter for Marine Le Pen of France, and she received approximately a third of the Votes, and we Know that the Experienced British Politician Nigel Farage wanted Candidate Donald Trump to become President, and People can hear his speech in Mississippi at a Trump Rally, and he gave his Advice on how Candidate Donald Trump could win the Election. I do Not think that Obama had any evidence that Russia was rigging the Election, because Russia was Not doing that, and any such Lying ‘evidence’ was Manufactured by Clintonites after the DNC Leaks and after the Election, and this is Why I think that President Barack Obama did Not mention that to the Public, or to Candidate Donald Trump or to the Congress or the Senate before the Election, because it was thought that the Election would be Rigged for Hillary Clinton, and so there was No demand for such Lies at the time, until after the Leaks and after the Election, and if some Government Documents say this or that, then we Need to remember how it was with the Iraq Lies, and it is because it was Known that they were Spying on Candidate Donald Trump, and so they had to write down some Lies to give themselves Excuses if someone ever Investigated the matter, and Documents can be backdated to Deceive some People. It has been suggested that President Barack Obama did Nothing to prevent a foreign Country from meddling in America’s Election, and I am Skeptical on that, because I do Not think that there was any foreign meddling in that Election, but if that is true, then there has to be a reason for that, and it Could be that Secretly and Subtlety that President Barack Obama did Not want Hillary Clinton to become President. It has been suggested that President Barack Obama did not mention that, because it Allegedly or Supposedly would be evidence to Candidate Donald Trump that the Election was being rigged, but that it would Really be Lies and Slander that could have been debunked during the Election Campaign, and it would have help Candidate Donald Trump, and it was President Barack Obama’s Responsibility to Ensure that Government Departments and Agencies made the Elections Free and Fair, Especially because Obama Knew that Elections are Rigged at times, and he Knew that before he became President, and the Shadow Regime likes to be able to Rig Elections for their Puppets, and unless there are Paper Ballots and Voter Identification, then the Democrats and Lying Bribed and Corrupt Puppet Mainstream Media will always claim Election Fraud if their Candidate does not win, and it Could be that another reason for these Lies was for the Shadow Regime by means of their Puppet Barack Obama to remain as President and call for Fresh Elections, where both Presidential Candidates will be Establishment Puppets, because we Know that there were Demonstrations in America because there had been an Election, and it looks like the Shadow Regime wants a Soft Coup by means of special counsel Robert Mueller to make up something for an Impeachment, and if it is managed properly, then the Money that Mueller spends could be Free Electioneering Finance for either major Political Party, and if Senator Sanders had became President, then the Shadow Regime would have tried to Impeach him on False charges, and that is Why Most of the Senator Sanders Supporters Know that President Donald Trump has to Unrig the Rigged System for them, and while they may not Vote for the Republicans until that Task has been Accomplished, they may Vote for other Political Parties other than the Democrats, and there are Americans who think that if they want a Political Revolution, then they will Need their own Political Party, because we see what the Democrats are Responsible for with the Biased and Corrupt and Illegal Mueller appointment, to try to install a Puppet of the Establishment, with trying to undermine a Non Establishment President who wants to keep the Promises he made during the Election Campaign, and we can see that if Senator Sanders had become President, then he would have been Impeached on False charges in the current Corrupt American Political System. There are People who think that the Proper thing for Robert Mueller to do is to recuse himself from this Conflict of Interest, or for him to Voluntarily ask for a restricted scope of Relevant investigation as a Proper course of action, given that Mueller is a Good and Close Friend of James Comey, and as such it is Illegal, because it Violates the Law, which Specifically and Unambiguously states that a special counsel is Disqualified because of Personal or Political Relationship, and also on the Clause of Conduct and Accountability, and this Sham and Illegal investigation is there to try to impeach President Donald Trump, and it has been suggested that a Special Prosecutor Should Investigate Mueller and his team while they are conducting their Illegal Sham investigation, and to Recommend Criminal Charges if Appropriate. We Know what was found on the laptop Computer that Anthony Weiner was using, and that was connected to Hillary Clinton’s Unauthorized Clandestine Secret Email Server that contain Classified Information, and this Adversely Affected the Clinton Campaign, and was Available for hacking, because People Knew that it was Anthony Weiner, and he has been Convicted of Criminal Activity, and we Know that James Comey had to Investigate these Classified Emails only days before the Election, and there are People who think that Mueller should investigate this. We Know that President Barack Obama said that Libya was his greatest mistake, but Hillary Clinton thought it was very good, and this is Why I think that President Barack Obama was Hillary Clinton’s Puppet for Libya, and Perhaps Barack Obama Secretly and Subtly did Not want Hillary Clinton to become President, because he was the Clintons’ Puppet. A News Article dated 13 December 2016, and which was over a month after the Election, and where James Clapper said that Russia did Not influence the Election, and there is a News Article dated 14 December 2016, where James Comey said that Russia did Not influence the Election, and Comey Assured the President Elect that there was No credible evidence that Russia influenced the outcome of the recent Presidential Election by (Allegedly) hacking the Democratic National Committee and (Allegedly) hacking the emails of John Podesta, and Comey told President Elect Donald Trump that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, Agreed with that FBI Assessment at . The same James Clapper would have been associated with one of those Alleged 17 Intelligence Agencies, and only 4 of those 17 Intelligence Agencies think that there was collusion with a foreign Country in the Election Campaign, and that means that any such ‘evidence’ is Not evident, and it was these who then Allegedly informed President Barack Obama, and James Clapper said weeks after the Election on December 13 of 2016, and he said that Russia did Not influence the Election, and then a few weeks after that, James Clapper said the Lies on January 5 of 2017, which are: “The Russians have a long history of interfering in elections, but I do not think we have ever encountered a more aggressive and direct campaign to interfere with our election process than we have seen in this case”, and in May of 2017, the same James Clapper said that he has not seen any evidence of any kind of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian foreign nationals, and Unbiased Investigators said that there is No evidence that Russia hacked those Servers, and Umbrage Vault 7 hacking tools which other Countries now have, prevents detection of who hacked a Computer, and Furthermore, there was No hacking of those DNC Computers, but it was a Leak by one or more Democrats to WikiLeaks, and a former CIA Intelligence Officer has provided Irrefutable Proof that Russia did Not interfere with or influence or meddle in the Election at . If Russia Allegedly had this Alleged long history of Allegedly interfering in American Elections, then Why was no commentary of this occurring during the Election Campaign, similar to Weather announcers saying that there is a long history of it snowing in Winter, and then daily commenting on the amount of snowfall during Winter on their Weather News, but we Know that the Allegations of Russian meddling are Lies to try to distract from the Fact that it was Democrats Leaked to WikiLeaks, and to try to justify Spying on an Opposition Political Party by the Corrupt Clinton Campaign, which Did Corrupt collude during the Democratic Primaries, to Usurp the Democratic Party nomination, and Many Americans want Electoral Reforms that Restore Integrity back to the Voting, and Electoral, and Democratic System in America.
          Comment on Qatar crisis from the Iranian view: Waiting for a feudal revolution, still… by Dr N.G. Maroudas   
A novel viewpoint (to this Brit at least) and makes a lot of sense. I have no views on one form of government vis another, for instance mediaevalism vs democratic socialism, it depends on the quality of the leaders and the quality of their flock. The leader of Qatar seems to be relatively progressive (al Jazeera) and pragmatic (rapprochement with Iran over gas pipeline and with Dr. Assad of Syria over flying rights); more progressive and pragmatic than any Western leader that I wot of. If the Qatari people are likewise progressive and pragmatic, or even more so than their leader, it bodes well; but meanwhile it is right for the Iranian leadership to be prudent till they see what Qataris are really made of. Russian president Putin waited till 2015, to see how solidly the Syrian people were behind Dr.Assad, before committing Russia fully to the aid of Syria.
          Quick notes: Tax-cut experiment, Car ownership...   
  • Tea party: Kansas’ experiment with tax cutting failed spectacularly — on its own terms. Fodder for Democrats.

  • End of car ownership: Startups such as Faraday Future envision selling subscriptions to a vehicle—for instance, allowing people to use it for a certain number of hours a day, on a regular schedule for a fixed price. Other companies are experimenting with the idea of allowing drivers to access more than just one kind of vehicle through a subscription—so, a driver might choose a compact model one day but a minivan another day if she needed more passenger space. Lexus is testing payment plans that let people subsidize the purchase of pricey cars by renting them through a service called Getaround.

    Because autonomous cars will likely be designed to be on the road longer with easily upgradable or replaceable parts, the results could be devastating to auto makers. “It may become more like the airline business where we see jets that have been in service for 50 years.”

  • Gujarat power plant losses: After steel and telecom, lenders brace for NPAs in power sector. Coal-fired power plants under extreme pressure due to fall in solar tariffs. Tata, Adani, Essar stare at huge writedowns.

  • Solar Wall: Trump confirms he wants a solar border wall.

  • Dutch PM gifts bicycle to Modi :

  • Tow an SUV With This Incredible Electric Bike:

  • Solar on cars: Panasonic joins push to put photovoltaics on more car roofs

  • 30 miles per hour on water: China is building the world's fastest amphibious fighting vehicle

          Senate President Questions Why Kentucky Settled OxyContin Case   
Robert Stivers, the president of the Kentucky State Senate, said he’ll ask to intervene in a legal challenge against OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma in order to release documents that deal with a settlement the company made with the state in late 2015. Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, suggested the case was improperly settled by former Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway, saying the $24 million windfall amounted to “pennies on the dollar” of what the state could have gotten.
          Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law Gets Its Day In Court   
Pennsylvania's voter ID law will be back in state court Monday after more than a year of legal limbo. A state judge will decide whether the 2012 law — which hasn't been enforced — violates the state's constitution. The measure requires voters to show a particular state-issued photo ID before casting ballots. Last week, civil rights advocates like the NAACP's John Jordan railed against the requirement. "It's a ploy to take votes away from people who deserve them — veterans, seniors, students, people with disabilities, people of color and hard-working folk," Jordan said. It's the same disagreement that has caused conservative lawmakers and voting rights activists to lock picket signs at state capitols across the country. Supporters say photo ID is a common-sense requirement that keeps people from impersonating someone else and casting a fraudulent ballot. Opponents say it's an attempt to disenfranchise minorities and Democratic-leaning groups, who are less likely to have photo
          OUCH. You know it hurts your ballsack when your Democratic 2018 hopefuls get kicked in the nads from a left-leaning think tank [Interesting]   
Interesting [link] [128 comments]

          On Health Care, a Promise, Not a Threat   
McConnell warns GOP senators they may end up having to work with the Democrats. They should.
          All those "Democrats and white middle class" articles explained in four lines.   

I’m going to translate the subtexts and signals of What’s Wrong With the Democrats? - The Atlantic into plain language:

  1. Democrats should have disowned Black Livers Matter.
  2. Democrats shouldn’t run a woman for the presidency.
  3. Democrats should have lied more.
  4. Democrats should have paid more attention to the economic collapse of the non-college (peak human, mass disability)

I agree with the fourth. I was worried about that before Trump took over. I don’t agree with #3, I think lying works a lot better on the GOP base than the Dem base.

Number one and two remind me of the Al Gore’s choice to embrace gun management measures. It was a progressive and brave act, but Americans showed they didn’t want it. Dems have not pushed it since.

I don’t think we’ll see a woman running for the presidency of the United States in the next ten years. Maybe 20 years. I was shocked that almost half of white college educated women voted for Trump. HRC was less excellent than Obama, but she was pretty good. Since white men are  hopeless the lack of support from white women was a killer.

I also think Dems will shy away from BLM like movements - at least for another decade. We won’t say that loudly, but watch what happens. American racism is stronger than many thought.

The are sad predictions. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t have a lot of faith in post-Trump America. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, can journalists top writing these articles?

          Comment on Reading Questions by Robert LaMoy   
On 20 September 2001, President George W. Bush gave an address to Congress that sought to explain why Islamic fundamentalists hate America. Bush said, "They hate what they see right here in this chamber, a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other…these terrorists kill not merely to end lives but to disrupt and end a way of life." Rhetorically, this reasoning was very effective—it pitted America in the middle of an epic battle of competing ideologies. However powerful the rhetoric, it was oversimplified. Our readings this week suggest that terrorism can serve either minimalist or maximalist goals. According to David Lake, Osama bin Laden (assuming he is still alive) wants to "stop the West from polluting Islamic culture, force the United States to withdraw from the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, and destroy Israel." (Lake, "Rational Extremism," 19). Conspicuously absent from these goals are “destroy the Western way of life” or “overthrow Western democracies.” These sort of misperceptions, put forth largely by the Bush Administration, were a leading cause of our foreign policy blunders over the last decade. As we discussed in lecture, the term "War on Terrorism" is a misnomer if we consider terrorism to be a tactic that advances political goals. It is possible to wage war on a specific terrorist cell, but hard to wage war on terrorism as a whole. Terrorists have varying political motivations; as a result, their goals will not necessarily be maximalist in nature. To be sure, terrorism is a desperate tactic, and the demands of terrorists should rarely be granted. However, the moderate success of terrorism in the Palestine-Israel conflict suggests that terrorism is not a hopeless tactic. Whenever retaliation plays into the hands of terrorists, compromise with non-state actors might actually be a better path for states to pursue.
          Nem capitalismo, nem socialismo, nem morte   

Marcelo Spalding

Quando Hugo Chávez jurou, em alto e bom som, no dia 10 de janeiro de 2007, “Pátria, socialismo ou morte”, o mercado tremeu. Alguns governos riram. O mundo refletiu.
Chávez é hoje o genuíno representante da corrente de pensamento que mais abalou o capitalismo moderno, herdeiro próximo de Fidel Castro, seguidor de Marx e dos russos da Revolução de Outubro. Isolado num pequeno país, respaldado pelas urnas e financiado pelo petróleo que jorra das terras venezuelanas, já anunciou para esse terceiro mandato a nacionalização de empresas como a CANTV – maior telefônica do país –, sua filial de telefonia celular e a Companhia Elétrica de Caracas, todas controladas por empresas estrangeiras, além de ameaçar a maior cadeia de televisão do país, a RCTV, de não renovar sua concessão. Contrárias às leis e convenções de mercado em voga há mais de século, as medidas de Chávez não são inéditas mas parecem anacrônicas depois da queda do Muro de Berlim e do chamado “fim do socialismo”.
Ocorre que Hugo Chávez é propositivo. Como comandante de um Estado, ele não apenas critica nos discursos e tenta amenizar nas políticas o efeito do capitalismo dominante – como fazem muitos sociais democratas latino-americanos –, Chavéz parece realmente acreditar na receita marxista e leninista para seu país, e por isso soa tão anacrônico. Com mandato até 2013, é possível que consiga aplicar muito dessa receita e é com atenção que acompanharemos suas tentativas. Mas não se pode ver a experiência da Venezuela como uma atitude isolada, e sim como sinal da permanência do pensamento marxista, que não sucumbiu sob os escombros do Muro de Berlim e ecoa hoje nas academias, nos parlamentos e na cultura.
É no âmbito cultural, aliás, mais do que no político, que a resistência de aderir completamente ao capitalismo financeiro contemporâneo é maior, e vozes destoantes do pensamento único seguem fazendo música, literatura, artes, intervenções e mesmo cinema, sem a fúria, o medo e a paixão dos tempos negros da Guerra Fria, mas com as mesmas inquietações. No lirismo de um Hatoum em Cinzas do Norte ou na denúncia social de um Freire em Contos Negreiros, na contundência de um Pepetela ou nas alegorias de um Saramago perpassa a preocupação social e a denúncia das desigualdades abissais que nosso sistema não apenas permite como promove há anos e anos. Mas mesmo as obras literárias de hoje são mais reflexivas do que propositivas – não há hoje espaço para um Jorge Amado pregando a revolução socialista, por exemplo –, primeiro porque as decepções são muitas e as verdades, raras, depois porque a cultura está submetida a um mercado e ele tem, sim, sua lógica e suas regras.
Uma das exceções no mercado cultural é a Editora Expressão Popular. Voz destoante em meio a grandes editoras comerciais, desde 1999 publica o que eles chamam de “livros bons, de boa qualidade e a preços acessíveis, com o compromisso de construir um novo mundo e a certeza de que essa possibilidade será tanto maior quanto maior for o acesso dos homens e mulheres, sujeitos e protagonistas dessa construção, aos saberes desenvolvidos nesse rumo”.
Demonstrando vitalidade, a editora já tem mais de 100 títulos que vão de literatura a ensaios biográficos divididos em coleções chamadas de “Imperialismo”, “Assim lutam os povos”, “Trabalho e Emancipação” e “Revoltas Militares”, por exemplo. No começo de 2007, lançou diversas obras, como Da guerrilha ao socialismo – a Revolução Cubana, de Florestan Fernandes, O Estado e a revolução, de Vladmir Lenin, O trabalho no espaço da fábrica – um estudo da General Motors em São José dos Campos (SP) , de Gilberto Cunha Franca, e Privatização da CSN – da luta de classes à parceria, de Edílson Graciolli.
Em Da guerrilha ao socialismo, obra do final dos anos 70, Florestan Fernandes elabora um minucioso – e entusiasmado – quadro teórico da experiência cubana, desde suas origens históricas até as experiências de implantação do poder popular. No prefácio, Antônio Cândido afirma que a leitura é tensa mas compensadora, pois o leitor sai dela com um conhecimento privilegiado da Revolução Cubana. Agora imagine o quanto seria enriquecedor para nós, leitores pós-89 que estamos assistindo aos últimos anos de Fidel Castro e à transformação da China comunista em potência capitalista.
É também de Florestan Fernandes a apresentação de O Estado e a revolução, de Lenin, obra publicada em agosto de 1917, pouco antes da Revolução de Outubro que marcaria a história mundial no século XX. O livro procura demonstrar, a partir de denso estudo das obras de Marx e Engels, como o Estado é um instrumento de exploração da classe oprimida, incitando os trabalhadores a tomar o poder do Estado para, numa fase posterior, destruí-lo, ainda que para tanto seja necessária repressão: “a substituição do Estado burguês pelo Estado proletário não é possível sem uma revolução violenta”, escreve Lenin.
Lenin, mais do que um documento de inestimável valor histórico pela proximidade da revolução que lideraria, faz uma interpretação valiosa da obra de Marx, uma interpretação mais belicosa do que os marxistas europeus do século XX costumavam fazer que em certos trechos chega a assustar um leitor do século XXI, leitor que mesmo consciente da desigualdade social do mundo contemporâneo já cansou de guerras, revoluções e mortes.
“Quem só reconhece a luta de classes não é ainda marxista e pode muito bem não sair dos quadros do pensamento burguês e da política burguesa. Limitar o marxismo à luta de classes é truncá-lo, reduzi-lo ao que é aceitável para a burguesia. Só é marxista aquele que estende o reconhecimento da luta de classes ao reconhecimento da ditadura do proletariado. A diferença mais profunda entre o marxista e o pequeno (ou grande) burguês ordinário está aí.”
Adiante, vai além ao justificar a necessidade da revolução:
“Uma revolução é, certamente, a coisa mais autoritária que há, um ato pelo qual uma parte da população impõe a sua vontade à outra, com auxílio dos fuzis, das baionetas e dos canhões, meios por excelência autoritários; e o partido que triunfou tem de manter a sua autoridade pelo temor que as suas armas inspiram aos reacionários. Se a Comuna de Paris não se tivesse utilizado, contra a burguesia, da autoridade do povo em armas, teria ela podido viver mais de um dia?”
À época a Rússia estava arrasada pelos efeitos não apenas da economia como da Primeira Grande Guerra e as promessas do comunismo eram uma saída, talvez a única, talvez a última. De fato, para aquela geração, parecia ser socialismo ou morte. Mas hoje, quase cem anos depois das palavras contundentes e emocionadas de Lenin, depois de assistirmos aos abusos ditatoriais do governo bolchevique e da impossibilidade de atingir o passo supremo do socialismo – o comunismo – é no mínimo perigoso não dar outra alternativa a uma pátria se não “socialismo ou morte”, como fez Hugo Chávez. Mas tão perigoso quanto é renegar as mazelas que a sociedade capitalista aprofunda e produz sob pena de sucumbirmos diante da criminalidade, da crise ambiental, da falta de expectativas. Ao invés de pegarmos em armas ou participarmos de forma hedonista do oba-oba capitalista, parece que chegou a hora de procurarmos alternativas, palavras que produzam melhor frase do que a pronunciada por Chávez. Nem capitalismo, nem socialismo, nem morte.

          Karl Marx   


Traços biográficos:

    Economista, filósofo e socialista alemão, Karl Marx nasceu em Trier em 5 de Maio de 1818 e morreu em Londres a 14 de Março de 1883. Estudou na universidade de Berlim, principalmente a filosofia hegeliana, e formou-se em Iena, em 1841, com a tese Sobre as diferenças da filosofia da natureza de Demócrito e de Epicuro. Em 1842 assumiu a chefia da redação do Jornal Renano em Colônia, onde seus artigos radical-democratas irritaram as autoridades. Em 1843, mudou-se para Paris, editando em 1844 o primeiro volume dos Anais Germânico-Franceses, órgão principal dos hegelianos da esquerda. Entretanto, rompeu logo com os líderes deste movimento, Bruno Bauer e Ruge.

    Em 1844, conheceu em Paris Friedrich Engels, começo de uma amizade íntima durante a vida toda. Foi, no ano seguinte, expulso da França, radicando-se em Bruxelas e participando de organizações clandestinas de operários e exilados. Ao mesmo tempo em que na França estourou a revolução, em 24 de fevereiro de 1848, Marx e Engels publicaram o folheto O Manifesto Comunista,primeiro esboço da teoria revolucionária que, mais tarde, seria chamada marxista. Voltou para Paris, mas assumiu logo a chefia do Novo Jornal Renano em colônia, primeiro jornal diário francamente socialista.

    Depois da derrota de todos os movimentos revolucionários na Europa e o fechamento do jornal, cujos redatores foram denunciados e processados, Marx foi para Paris e daí expulso, para Londres, onde fixou residência. Em Londres, dedicou-se a vastos estudos econômicos e históricos, sendo freqüentador assíduo da sala de leituras do British Museum. Escrevia artigos para jornais norte-americanos, sobre política exterior, mas sua situação material esteve sempre muito precária. Foi generosamente ajudado por Engels, que vivia em Manchester em boas condições financeiras.

    Em 1864, Marx foi co-fundador da Associação Internacional dos Operários, depois chamada I Internacional, desempenhando dominante papel de direção. Em 1867 publicou o primeiro volume da sua obra principal, O Capital. Dentro da I Internacional encontrou Marx a oposição tenaz dos anarquistas, liderados por Bakunin, e em 1872, no Congresso de Haia, a associação foi praticamente dissolvida. Em compensação, Marx podia patrocinar a fundação, em 1875, do Partido Social-Democrático alemão, que foi, porém, logo depois, proibido. Não viveu bastante para assistir às vitórias eleitorais deste partido e de outros agrupamentos socialistas da Europa.


Primeiros trabalhos:

    Entre os primeiros trabalhos de Marx, foi antigamente considerado como o mais importante o artigo Sobre a crítica da Filosofia do direito de Hegel, em 1844, primeiro esboço da interpretação materialista da dialética hegeliana. Só em 1932 foram descobertos e editados em Moscou osManuscritos Econômico-Filosóficos, redigidos em 1844 e deixa-os inacabados. É o esboço de um socialismo humanista, que se preocupa principalmente com a alienação do homem; sobre a compatibilidade ou não deste humanismo com o marxismo posterior, a discussão não está encerrada. Em 1888 publicou Engels as Teses sobre Feuerbach, redigidas por Marx em 1845, rejeitando o materialismo teórico e reivindicando uma filosofia que, em vez de só interpretar o mundo, também o modificaria.


    Marx e Engels escreveram juntos em 1845 A Sagrada Família, contra o hegeliano Bruno Bauer e seus irmãos. Também foi obra comum A Ideologia alemã (1845-46), que por motivo de censura não pôde ser publicada (edição completa só em 1932); é a exposição da filosofia marxista. Marx sozinho escreveu A Miséria da Filosofia (1847), a polêmica veemente contra o anarquista francês Proudhon. A última obra comum de Marx e Engels foi em 1847 O Manifesto Comunista, breve resumo do materialismo histórico e apelo à revolução.

    O 18 Brumário de Luís Bonaparte foi publicado em 1852 em jornais e em 1869 como livro. É a primeira interpretação de um acontecimento histórico no caso o golpe de Estado de Napoleão III, pela teoria do materialismo histórico. Entre os escritos seguintes de Marx Sobre a crítica da economia política em 1859 é, embora breve, também uma crítica da civilização moderna, escrito de transição entre o manuscrito de 1844 e as obras posteriores. A significação dessa posição só foi esclarecida pela publicação (em Moscou, 1939-41, e em Berlim, 1953) de mais uma obra inédita:Esboço de crítica da economia política, escritos em Londres entre 1851 e 1858 e depois deixados sem acabamento final.

    Em 1867 publicou Marx o primeiro volume de sua obra mais importante: O Capital. É um livro principalmente econômico, resultado dos estudos no British Museum, tratando da teoria do valor, damais-valia, da acumulação do capital etc. Marx reuniu documentação imensa para continuar esse volume, mas não chegou a publicá-lo. Os volumes II e III de O Capital foram editados por Engels, em 1885 e em 1894. Outros textos foram publicados por Karl Kautsky como volume IV (1904-10).






    Baseado em Demócrito e Epicuro sobre o materialismo e em Heráclito sobre a dialética (do grego, dois logos, duas opiniões divergentes), Marx defende o materialismo dialético, tentando superar o pensamento de Hegel e Feuerbach.

    A dialética hegeliana era a dialética do idealismo (doutrina filosófica que nega a realidade individual das coisas distintas do "eu" e só lhes admite a idéia), e a dialética do materialismo é posição filosófica que considera a matéria como a única realidade e que nega a existência da alma, de outra vida e de Deus. Ambas sustentam que realidade e pensamento são a mesma coisa: as leis do pensamento são as leis da realidade. A realidade é contraditória, mas a contradição supera-se na síntese que é a "verdade" dos momentos superados. Hegel considerava ontologicamente (do grego onto + logos; parte da metafísica, que estuda o ser em geral e suas propriedades transcendentais ) a contradição (antítese) e a superação (síntese); Marx considerava historicamente como contradição de classes vinculada a certo tipo de organização social. Hegel apresentava uma filosofia que procurava demonstrar a perfeição do que existia (divinização da estrutura vigente); Marx apresentava uma filosofia revolucionária que procurava demonstrar as contradições internas da sociedade de classes e as exigências de superação.

    Ludwig Feuerbach procurou introduzir a dialética materialista, combatendo a doutrina hegeliana, que, a par de seu método revolucionário concluía por uma doutrina eminentemente conservadora. Da crítica à dialética idealista, partiu Feuerbach à crítica da Religião e da essência do cristianismo.

    Feuerbach pretendia trazer a religião do céu para a Terra. Ao invés de haver Deus criado o homem à sua imagem e semelhança, foi o homem quem criou Deus à sua imagem. Seu objetivo era conservar intactos os valores morais em uma religião da humanidade, na qual o homem seria Deus para o homem.

      Adotando a dialética hegeliana, Marx, rejeita, como Feuerbach, o idealismo, mas, ao contrário, não procura preservar os valores do cristianismo. Se Hegel tinha identificado, no dizer de Radbruch, o ser e o dever-ser (o Sen e o Solene) encarando a realidade como um desenvolvimento da razão e vendo no dever-ser o aspecto determinante e no ser o aspecto determinado dessa unidade.

    A dialética marxista postula que as leis do pensamento correspondem às leis da realidade. A dialética não é só pensamento: é pensamento e realidade a um só tempo. Mas, a matéria e seu conteúdo histórico ditam a dialética do marxismo: a realidade é contraditória com o pensamento dialético. A contradição dialética não é apenas contradição externa, mas unidade das contradições,identidade: "a dialética é ciência que mostra como as contradições podem ser concretamente (isto é, vir-a-ser) idênticas, como passam uma na outra, mostrando também porque a razão não deve tomar essas contradições como coisas mortas, petrificadas, mas como coisas vivas, móveis, lutando uma contra a outra em e através de sua luta." (Henri Lefebvre, Lógica formal/ Lógica dialética, trad. Carlos N. Coutinho, 1979, p. 192). Os momentos contraditórios são situados na história com sua parcela de verdade, mas também de erro; não se misturam, mas o conteúdo, considerado como unilateral é recaptado e elevado a nível superior.

    Marx acusou Feuerbach, afirmando que seu humanismo e sua dialética eram estáticas: o homem de Feuerbach não tem dimensões, está fora da sociedade e da história, é pura abstração. É indispensável segundo Marx, compreender a realidade histórica em suas contradições, para tentar superá-las dialeticamente. A dialética apregoa os seguintes princípios: tudo relaciona-se (Lei da ação recíproca e da conexão universal); tudo se transforma (lei da transformação universal e do desenvolvimento incessante); as mudanças qualitativas são conseqüências de revoluções quantitativas; a contradição é interna, mas os contrários se unem num momento posterior: a luta dos contrários é o motor do pensamento e da realidade; a materialidade do mundo; a anterioridade da matéria em relação à consciência; a vida espiritual da sociedade como reflexo da vida material.

    O materialismo dialético é uma constante no pensamento do marxismo-leninismo (surgido como superação do capitalismo, socialismo, ultrapassando os ensinamentos pioneiros de Feuerbach).





    Na teoria marxista, o materialismo histórico pretende a explicação da história das sociedades humanas, em todas as épocas, através dos fatos materiais, essencialmente econômicos e técnicos. A sociedade é comparada a um edifício no qual as fundações, a infra-estrutura, seriam representadas pelas forças econômicas, enquanto o edifício em si, a superestrutura, representaria as idéias, costumes, instituições (políticas, religiosas, jurídicas, etc). A propósito, Marx escreveu, na obra A Miséria da filosofia (1847) na qual estabelece polêmica com Proudhon:

    As relações sociais são inteiramente interligadas às forças produtivas. Adquirindo novas forças produtivas, os homens modificam o seu modo de produção, a maneira de ganhar a vida, modificam todas as relações sociais. O moinho a braço vos dará a sociedade com o suserano; o moinho a vapor, a sociedade com o capitalismo industrial.

    Tal afirmação, defendendo rigoroso determinismo econômico em todas as sociedades humanas, foi estabelecida por Marx e Engels dentro do permanente clima de polêmica que mantiveram com seus opositores, e atenuada com a afirmativa de que existe constante interação e interdependência entre os dois níveis que compõe a estrutura social: da mesma maneira pela qual a infra-estrutura atua sobre a superestrutura, sobre os reflexos desta, embora, em última instância, sejam os fatores econômicos as condições finalmente determinantes.





"O que Marx mais critica é a questão de como compreender o que é o homem. Não é o ter consciência (ser racional), nem tampouco ser um animal político, que confere ao homem sua singularidade, mas ser capaz de produzir suas condições de existência, tanto material quanto ideal, que diferencia o homem."

    Numa leitura existencialista do marxismo, segundo Jean-Paul Sartre, a essência do homem é não ter essência, a essência do homem é algo que ele próprio constrói, ou seja, a História. "A existência precede a essência"; nenhum ser humano nasce pronto, mas o homem é, em sua essência, produto do meio em que vive, que é construído a partir de suas relações sociais em que cada pessoa se encontra. Assim como o homem produz o seu próprio ambiente, por outro lado, esta produção da condição de existência não é livremente escolhida, mas sim, previamente determinada. O homem pode fazer a sua História mas não pode fazer nas condições por ele escolhidas. O homem é historicamente determinado pelas condições, logo é responsável por todos os seus atos, pois ele é livre para escolher. Logo todas as teorias de Marx estão fundamentadas naquilo que é o homem, ou seja, o que é a sua existência. O Homem é condenado a ser livre.

    As relações sociais do homem são tidas pelas relações que o homem mantém com a natureza, onde desenvolve suas práticas, ou seja, o homem se constitui a partir de seu próprio trabalho, e sua sociedade se constitui a partir de suas condições materiais de produção, que dependem de fatores naturais (clima, biologia, geografia...) ou seja, relação homem-Natureza, assim como da divisão social do trabalho, sua cultura. Logo, também há a relação homem-Natureza-Cultura.




    Se analisarmos o contexto histórico do homem, nos primórdios, perceberemos que havia um espírito de coletivismo: todos compartilhavam da mesma terra, não havia propriedade privada; até a caça era compartilhada por todos. As pessoas que estavam inseridas nesta comunidade sempre se preocupavam umas com as outras, em prover as necessidades uns dos outros. Mas com o passar do tempo, o homem, com suas descobertas territoriais, acabou tornando inevitável as colonizações e, portanto, o escravismo, por causa de sua ambição. O escravo servia exclusivamente ao seu senhor, produzia para ele e o seu viver era em função dele.

    O coletivismo dos índios acabou; e o escravismo se transformou numa nova relação: agora o escravo trabalhava menos para seu senhor, e por seu trabalho conquistava um pedaço de terra para sua subsistência, ou seja, o servo trabalhava alguns dias da semana para seu senhor e outros para si. O feudalismo, então, começava a ser implantado e difundido em todo o território europeu. Esta relação servo-senhor feudal funcionou durante um certo período na história da humanidade, mas, por causa de uma série de fatores e acontecimentos, entre eles o aumento populacional, as condições de comércio (surgia a chance do servo obter capital através de sua produção excessiva), o capitalismo mercantilista, o feudalismo decaiu; e assim, deu espaço a um novo sistema econômico: o capitalismo industrial (que teve seu desenvolvimento por culminar durante a revolução industrial, com o surgimento da classe proletária). Assim, deve-se citar a economia inglesa como ponto de partida para as teorias marxistas.

    Como todo sistema tem seu período de crise, ocasionando uma necessidade de mudança, Adam Smith (o primeiro a incorporar ao trabalho a idéia de riqueza) desenvolve o liberalismo econômico.

    Do latim liberalis, que significa benfeitor, generoso, tem seu sentido político em oposição ao absolutismo monárquico. Os seus principais ideais eram: o Estado devia obedecer ao princípio da separação de poderes (executivo, legislativo e judiciário); o regime seria representativo e parlamentar; o Estado se submeteria ao direito, que garantiria ao indivíduo direitos e liberdades inalienáveis, especialmente o direito de propriedades. E foi isto que fez com que cada sistema fosse modificado.

    Sobretudo também deve-se mencionar David Ricardo, que, mais interessado no estudo da distribuição do que produção das riquezas, estabeleceu, com base em Malthus, a lei da renda fundiária(agrária), segundo a qual os produtos das terras férteis são produzidos a custo menor mas vendidos ao mesmo preço dos demais, propiciando a seus proprietários uma renda fundiária igual à diferença dos custos de produção. A partir da teoria da renda fundiária, Ricardo elaborou a lei do preço natural dos salários, sempre regulada pelo preço da alimentação, vestuário e outros itens indispensáveis à manutenção do operário e seus dependentes.

    Pois, como foi dito anteriormente, com a Revolução Industrial surgiu a classe do proletariado.





    Pretendendo caracterizar não apenas uma visão econômica da história, mas também uma visão histórica da economia, a teoria marxista também procura explicar a evolução das relações econômicas nas sociedades humanas ao longo do processo histórico. Haveria, segundo a concepção marxista, uma permanente dialética das forças entre poderosos e fracos, opressores e oprimidos, a história da humanidade seria constituída por uma permanente luta de classes, como deixa bem claro a primeira frase do primeiro capítulo d’O Manifesto Comunista:

    A história de toda sociedade passado é a história da luta de classes.

    Classes essas que, para Engels são "os produtos das relações econômicas de sua época". Assim apesar das diversidades aparentes, escravidão, servidão e capitalismo seriam essencialmente etapas sucessivas de um processo único. A base da sociedade é a produção econômica. Sobre esta base econômica se ergue uma superestrutura, um estado e as idéias econômicas, sociais, políticas, morais, filosóficas e artísticas. Marx queria a inversão da pirâmide social, ou seja, pondo no poder a maioria, os proletários, que seria a única força capaz de destruir a sociedade capitalista e construir uma nova sociedade, socialista.

    Para Marx os trabalhadores estariam dominados pela ideologia da classe dominante, ou seja, as idéias que eles têm do mundo e da sociedade seriam as mesmas idéias que a burguesia espalha. O capitalismo seria atingido por crises econômicas porque ele se tornou o impedimento para o desenvolvimento das forças produtivas. Seria um absurdo que a humanidade inteira se dedica-se a trabalhar e a produzir subordinada a um punhado de grandes empresários. A economia do futuro que associaria todos os homens e povos do planeta, só poderia ser uma produção controlada por todos os homens e povos. Para Marx, quanto mais o mundo se unifica economicamente mais ele necessita de socialismo.

    Não basta existir uma crise econômica para que haja uma revolução. O que é decisivo são as ações das classes sociais que, para Marx e Engels, em todas as sociedades em que a propriedade é privada existem lutas de classes (senhores x escravos, nobres feudais x servos, burgueses x proletariados). A luta do proletariado do capitalismo não deveria se limitar à luta dos sindicatos por melhores salários e condições de vida. Ela deveria também ser a luta ideológica para que o socialismo fosse conhecido pelos trabalhadores e assumido como luta política pela tomada do poder. Neste campo, o proletariado deveria contar com uma arma fundamental, o partido político, o partido político revolucionário que tivesse uma estrutura democrática e que buscasse educar os trabalhadores e levá-los a se organizar para tomar o poder por meio de uma revolução socialista.

    Marx tentou demonstrar que no capitalismo sempre haveria injustiça social, e que o único jeito de uma pessoa ficar rica e ampliar sua fortuna seria explorando os trabalhadores, ou seja, o capitalismo, de acordo com Marx é selvagem, pois o operário produz mais para o seu patrão do que o seu próprio custo para a sociedade, e o capitalismo se apresenta necessariamente como um regime econômico de exploração, sendo a mais-valia a lei fundamental do sistema.

    A força vendida pelo operário ao patrão vai ser utilizada não durante 6 horas, mas durante 8, 10, 12 ou mais horas. A mais-valia é constituída pela diferença entre o preço pelo qual o empresário compra a força de trabalho (6 horas) e o preço pelo qual ele vende o resultado (10 horas por exemplo). Desse modo, quanto menor o preço pago ao operário e quanto maior a duração da jornada de trabalho, tanto maior o lucro empresarial. No capitalismo moderno, com a redução progressiva da jornada de trabalho, o lucro empresarial seria sustentado através do que se denomina mais-valia relativa (em oposição à primeira forma, chamada mais-valia absoluta), que consiste em aumentar a produtividade do trabalho, através da racionalização e aperfeiçoamento tecnológico, mas ainda assim não deixa de ser o sistema semi-escravista, pois "o operário cada vez se empobrece mais quando produz mais riquezas", o que faz com que ele "se torne uma mercadoria mais vil do que as mercadorias por ele criadas". Assim, quanto mais o mundo das coisas aumenta de valor, mais o mundo dos homens se desvaloriza. Ocorre então a alienação, já que todo trabalho é alienado, na medida em que se manifesta como produção de um objeto que é alheio ao sujeito criador. O raciocínio de Marx é muito simples: ao criar algo fora de si, o operário se nega no objeto criado. É o processo de objetificação. Por isso, o trabalho que é alienado (porque cria algo alheio ao sujeito criador) permanece alienado até que o valor nele incorporado pela força de trabalho seja apropriado integralmente pelo trabalhador. Em outras palavras, a produção representa umanegação, já que o objeto se opõe ao sujeito e o nega na medida em que o pressupõe e até o define. A apropriação do valor incorporado ao objeto graças à força de trabalho do sujeito-produtor, promove a negação da negação. Ora, se a negação é alienação, a negação da negação é a desalienação. Ou seja, a partir do momento que o sujeito-produtor dá valor ao que produziu, ele já não está mais alienado.


Pausa para um desabafo pessoal

       A esta altura da leitura você, esmagado muito mais pela propaganda do que pela verdade científica ou histórica, deve estar se perguntando: "Mas peraí, o comunismo não acabou? O comunismo não deu certo?" Caso seja o caso, remeto ao magnífico trabalho do comunista peruano (que teve a vida tristemente ceifada cedo demais) O Homem e o Mito, particularmente no trecho em que ele explica porque motivos a Fé num Futuro Humanista para a Sociedade do Homo Sapiens jamais se abala: “A cada experiência frustrada, recomeçam. Não encontraram a solução: a encontrarão. Jamais os assalta a idéia de que a solução não exista. Eis aí sua força”. Por outro lado e na mesma linha - talvez mal comparando, poder-se-ia dizer que o Cristianismo  fracassou rotundamente. Imagine que o personagem histórico Jesus de Nazaré - se é que ele existiu mesmo, há quem duvide, como Brian Fleming... - tivesse oportunidade de verificar de perto as inúmeras e bárbaras atrocidades perpetradas em seu nome pelos anos afora e fosse hoje procurar uma Igreja em que sentisse seu pensamento e seus ensinamentos sendo respeitados e praticados. As atrocidades perpetradas diuturnamente pelos cristãos constitui prova cabal de que as idéias de Jesus   estavam erradas? Pois é...

      A mim causa enorme espanto que os seguidores de um homem capaz de vergastar de azorrague, sem compaixão, os banqueiros de sua época (ainda hoje os críticos do Capital e com muito mais motivo chamamos os mercadores do Capital - parasitas que lucram enormes quantidades de dinheiro com o fruto do trabalho alheio, como banqueiros e jogadores das bolsas de valores de "vendilhões do templo", por sinal). Mas, com o passar dos séculos os que se dizem seguidores de Jesus modificaram tanto as teses e ensinamentos iniciais que há até teorias mirabolantes sobre o quanto o sujeito deve ser rico e estar de bem com o Capital para se sentir e ser tratado como um "vaso de bênção". É evidente que estes criminosos que lucram fábulas vendendo suas religiões em templos luxuosos são ainda mais ateus do que aqueles que ousamos assim nos pronunciar. Se acreditassem, minimamente, am alguma forma de "Juízo Final" se aliariam tão entusiasticamente aos vendilhões do templo humilhando todos os "profetas"? Pronto, fim da pausa para o desabafo, voltemos à seriedade do texto.







    O CAPITALISMO tem seu início na Europa. Suas características aparecem desde a baixa idade média (do século XI ao XV) com a transferência do centro da vida econômica social e política dos feudos para a cidade. O feudalismo passava por uma grave crise decorrente da catástrofe demográfica causada pela Peste Negra que dizimou 40% da população européia e pela fome que assolava o povo. Já com o comércio reativado pelas Cruzadas(do século XI ao XII), a Europa passou por um intenso desenvolvimento urbano e comercial e, conseqüentemente, as relações de produção capitalistas se multiplicaram, minando as bases do feudalismo. Na Idade Moderna, os reis expandem seu poderio econômico e político através do mercantilismo e do absolutismo. Dentre os defensores deste temos os filósofos Jean Bodin("os reis tinham o direito de impor leis aos súditos sem o consentimento deles"), Jacques Bossuet ("o rei está no trono por vontade de Deus") e Niccòlo Machiavelli("a unidade política é fundamental para a grandeza de uma nação").

    Com o absolutismo e com o mercantilismo o Estado passava a controlar a economia e a buscar colônias para adquirir metais(metalismo) através da exploração. Isso para garantir o enriquecimento da metrópole. Esse enriquecimento favorece a burguesia - classe que detém os meios de produção - que passa a contestar o poder do rei, resultando na crise do sistema absolutista. E com as revoluções burguesas, como a Revolução Francesa e a Revolução Inglesa, estava garantido o triunfo do capitalismo.

    A partir da segunda metade do século XVIII, com a Revolução Industrial, inicia-se um processo ininterrupto de produção coletiva em massa, geração de lucro e acúmulo de capital. Na Europa Ocidental, a burguesia assume o controle econômico e político. As sociedades vão superando os tradicionais critérios da aristocracia (principalmente a do privilégio de nascimento) e a força do capital se impõe. Surgem as primeiras teorias econômicas: a fisiocracia e o liberalismo. Na Inglaterra, o escocês Adam Smith (1723-1790), percursor do liberalismo econômico, publica Uma Investigação sobre Naturezas e Causas da Riqueza das Nações, em que defende a livre-iniciativa e a não-interferência do Estado na economia.

    Deste ponto, para a atual realidade econômica, pequenas mudanças estruturais ocorreram em nosso fúnebre sistema capitalista.



SOCIALISMO - A História das Idéias Socialistas possui alguns cortes de importância. O primeiro deles é entre os socialistas Utópicos e os socialistas Científicos, marcado pela introdução das idéias de Marx e Engels no universo das propostas de construção da nova sociedade. O avanço das idéias marxistas consegue dar maior homogeneidade ao movimento socialista internacional.

    Pela primeira vez, trabalhadores de países diferentes, quando pensavam em socialismo, estavam pensando numa mesma sociedade - aquela preconizada por Marx - e numa mesma maneira de chegar ao poder.



COMUNISMO - As idéias básicas de Karl Marx estão expressas principalmente no livro O Capital en'O Manifesto Comunista, obra que escreveu com Friedrich Engels, economista alemão. Marx acreditava que a única forma de alcançar uma sociedade feliz e harmoniosa seria com os trabalhadores no poder. Em parte, suas idéias eram uma reação às duras condições de vida dos trabalhadores no século XIX, na França, na Inglaterra e na Alemanha. Os trabalhadores das fábricas e das minas eram mal pagos e tinham de trabalhar muitas horas sob condições desumanas.

    Marx estava convencido que a vitória do comunismo era inevitável. Afirmava que a história segue certas leis imutáveis, à medida que avança de um estágio a outro. Cada estágio caracteriza-se por lutas que conduzem a um estágio superior de desenvolvimento. O comunismo, segundo Marx, é o último e mais alto estágio de desenvolvimento.

    Para Marx, a chave para a compreensão dos estágios do desenvolvimento é a relação entre as diferentes classes de indivíduos na produção de bens. Afirmava que o dono da riqueza é a classe dirigente porque usa o poder econômico e político para impor sua vontade ao povo. Para ele, a luta de classes é o meio pelo qual a história progride. Marx achava que a classe dirigente jamais iria abrir mão do poder por livre e espontânea vontade e que, assim, a luta e a violência eram inevitáveis.


O ANARQUISMO foi a proposta revolucionária internacional mais importante do mundo durante a segunda metade do século XIX e início do século XX, quando foi substituído pelo marxismo (comunismo). Em suma, o anarquismo prega o fim do Estado e de toda e qualquer forma de governo, que seriam as causas da existência dos males sociais, que devem ser substituídos por uma sociedade em que os homens são livres, sem leis, polícia, tribunais ou forças armadas. A sociedade anarquista seria organizada de acordo com a necessidade das comunidades, cujas relações seriam voltadas ao auto-abastecimento sem fins lucrativos e à base de trocas. A doutrina, que teve em Bakunin seu grande expoente teórico, organizou-se primeiramente na Rússia, expandindo-se depois para o resto da Europa e também para os Estados Unidos. O auge de sua propagação deu-se no final do século XIX, quando agregou-se ao movimento sindical, dando origem ao anarco-sindicalismo, que pregava que os sindicatos eram os verdadeiros agentes das transformações sociais. Com o surgimento do marxismo, entretanto, uma proposta revolucionária mais adequada ao quadro social vigente no século XX, o anarquismo entrou em decadência. Sem, contudo, deixar de ter tido sua importância histórica, como no episódio em que os anarquistas italianos Nicola Sacco e Bartolomeo Vanzetti foram executados por assassinato em 1921, nos EUA, mesmo com as inúmeras evidências e testemunhos que provavam sua inocência.




    Depois da morte de Marx e Engels, a rápida industrialização da Alemanha e o fortalecimento do partido social-democrata e dos sindicatos melhoraram muito as condições de vida dos trabalhadores alemães, ao mesmo tempo em que ser tornou cada vez mais improvável a esperada crise fatal do regime capitalista. Eduard Bernstein em seu livro Os pressupostos do socialismo e as tarefas da social-democracia, recomendou abandonar utópicas esperanças revolucionárias e contentar-se, realisticamente com o fortalecimento do poder político e econômico das organizações do proletariado, considerando-se que as previsões marxistas de depauperamento progressivo(esgotar as forças de forma a tornar-se muito pobre) das massas não se tinham verificado.

    Esse "revisionismo" de Bernstein foi combatido pela ortodoxia marxista, representada por Karl Kautsky. Mas praticamente o revisionismo venceu de tal maneira, que a social-democracia alemã abandonou, enfim, o marxismo.

    Ficou isolada a marxista Rosa Luxemburg, que em uma de suas obras adaptou a teoria de Marx às novas condições do imperialismo econômico e político do séc. XX.




NEOMARXISTAS: Fora da Rússia, houve e há várias tentativas de dar ao marxismo outra base filosófica que o materialismo científico do séc. XIX, que já não se afigura bastante sólido a muitos marxistas modernos. Georges Sorel apoiando-se na filosofia do élan vital de Henri Bergson, postulou um movimento antiparlamentar, de violência revolucionária, inspirado pelo "mito" de uma irresistível greve geral.




    O Manifesto Comunista fez a humanidade caminhar. Não em direção ao paraíso, mas na busca (raramente bem sucedida, até agora) da solução de problemas como a miséria e a exploração do trabalho. Rumo à concretização do princípio, teoricamente aceito há 200 anos, diz que "todos os homens são iguais". E sublinhando a novidade que afirmava que os pobres, os pequenos, os explorados também podem ser sujeitos de suas vidas.

    Por isso é um documento histórico, testemunho da rebeldia do seres humanos. Seu texto, racional, aqui e ali bombástico e, em diversas passagens irônico, mal esconde essa origem comum com homens e mulheres de outros tempos: o fogo que acendeu a paixão da Liga dos Comunistas, reunida em Londres no ano de 1847, não foi diferente do que incendiou corações e mentes na luta contra a escravidão clássica, contra a servidão medieval, contra o obscurantismo religioso e contra todas as formas de opressão.

    A Liga dos Comunistas encomendou a Marx e a Engels a elaboração de um texto que tornasse claros os objetivos dela e sua maneira de ver o mundo. E isto foi feito pelos dois jovens, um de 30 e o outro de 28 anos. Portanto, o Manifesto Comunista é um conjunto afirmativo de idéias, de "verdades" em que os revolucionários da época acreditavam, por conterem, segundo eles, elementos científicos – um tanto economicistas – para a compreensão das transformações sociais. Nesse sentido, o Manifesto é mais um monumento do que um documento... Pétreo, determinante, forte: letras, palavras, e frases que queriam Ter o poder de uma arma para mudar o mundo, colocando no lugar "da velha sociedade burguesa uma associação na qual o livre desenvolvimento de cada membro é a condição para o desenvolvimento de todos."

    O Manifesto tem uma estrutura simples: uma breve introdução, três capítulos e uma rápida conclusão.

    A introdução fala com um certo orgulho, do medo que o comunismo causa nos conservadores. O "fantasma" do comunismo assusta os poderosos e une, em uma "santa aliança", todas as potências da época. É a velha "satanização" do adversário, que está "fora da ordem", do "desobediente". Mas o texto mostra o lado positivo disso: o reconhecimento da força do comunismo. Se assusta tanto, é porque tem alguma presença. Daí a necessidade de expor o modo comunista de ver o mundo e explicar suas finalidades, tão deturpadas por aqueles que o "demonizam".

    A parte I, denominada "Burgueses e Proletários", faz um resumo da história da humanidade até os dias de então, quando duas classes sociais antagônicas (as que titulam o capítulo) dominam o cenário.

    A grande contribuição deste capítulo talvez seja a descrição das enormes transformações que a burguesia industrial provocava no mundo, representando "na história um papel essencialmente revolucionário".

    Com a argúcia de quem manejava com destreza instrumentos de análise socioeconômica muito originais na época, Marx e Engels relatam (com sincera admiração !) o fenômeno da globalização que a burguesia implementava, mundializando o comércio, a navegação, os meios de comunicação.

    O Manifesto fala de ontem mas parece dizer de hoje. O desenvolvimento capitalista libera forças produtivas nunca vistas, "mais colossais e variadas que todas as gerações passadas em seu conjunto". O poderio do capital que submete o trabalho é anunciado e nos faz pensar no agora do revigoramento neoliberal: nos últimos 40 anos deste século XX, foram produzidos mais objetos do que em toda a produção econômica anterior, desde os primórdios da humanidade.

    A revolução tecnológica e científica a que assistimos, cujos ícones são os computadores e satélites e cujo poder hegemônico é a burguesia, não passa de continuação daquela descrita noManifesto , que "criou maravilhas maiores que as pirâmides do Egito, que os aquedutos romanos e as catedrais góticas; conduziu expedições maiores que as antigas migrações de povos e cruzadas". Um elogio ao dinamismo da burguesia ?

    Impiedoso com os setores médios da sociedade – já minoritários nas formações sociais mais conhecidas da Europa - , o Manifesto chega a ser cruel com os desempregados, os mendigos, os marginalizados, "essa escória das camadas mais baixas da sociedade", que pode ser arrastada por uma revolução proletária mas, por suas condições de vida, está predisposta a "vender-se à reação". Dá a entender que só os operários fabris serão capazes de fazer a revolução.

    A relativização do papel dos comunistas junto ao proletariado é o aspecto mais interessante da parte II, intitulada "Proletários e Comunistas".

    Depois de quase um século de dogmatismos, partidos únicos e "de vanguarda" portadores de verdade inteira, é saudável ler que "os comunistas não formam um partido à parte, oposto a outros partidos operários, e não têm interesses que os separem do proletariado em geral".

    Embora, sem qualquer humildade, o Manifesto atribua aos comunistas mais decisão, avanço, lucidez e liderança do que às outras frações que buscam representar o proletariado, seus objetivos são tidos como comuns: a organização dos proletários para a conquista do poder político e a destruição de supremacia burguesa.

    O "fantasma" do comunismo assombrava a Europa e o livro procura contestar, nessa parte, todos os estigmas que as classes poderosas e influentes jogavam sobre ele. Vejamos alguns desses estigmas, bastante atuais, e a resposta do Manifesto:

    Os comunistas querem acabar com toda a propriedade, inclusive a pessoal !

    Você já deve ter ouvido isso... Em 1989, no Brasil, quando Lula quase chegou lá, seus adversários espalharam o boato de que as famílias de classe média teriam que dividir suas casas com os sem-teto... A bobagem é velha, de 150 anos. Marx e Engels responderam que queriam abolir a propriedade burguesa, capitalista. Para os socialistas, a apropriação pessoal dos frutos do trabalho e aqueles bens indispensáveis à vida humana eram intocáveis. Ao que se sabe, roupas, calçados, moradia não são geradores de lucros para quem os possui... O Manifesto a esse respeito, foi definitivo, apesar de a propaganda anticomunista e burra não ter lhe dado ouvidos: "O comunismo não retira a ninguém o poder de apropriar-se de sua parte dos produtos sociais, tira apenas o poder de escravizar o trabalho de outrem por meio dessa apropriação."


    Os comunistas querem acabar com a família e com a educação !

    Sempre há alguém pronto para falar do comunista "comedor de criancinha". Ao ouvir isso, não deixe de indagar se uma família pode viver com o salário mínimo, o pai e mão desempregados e uma moradia sem fornecimento de água e sem luz. E se uma criança pode ser educada para a vida numa escola pública abandonada pelo governo, que finge que paga aos professores e funcionários. Na sociedade capitalista a educação é, ela própria, um comércio, uma atividade lucrativa...

    Os comunistas querem socializar as mulheres !

    Essa fazia parte do catecismo de "satanização" das idéias socialistas. "Para o burguês, sua mulher nada mais é que um instrumento de produção. Ouvindo dizer que os instrumento de produção serão postos em comum, ele conclui naturalmente que haverá comunidade de mulheres. O burguês não desconfia que se trata precisamente de dar à mulher outro papel que o de simples instrumento de produção." É bom lembrar que alguns socialistas, até hoje, não conseguiram aceitar essa nova compreensão da mulher. O machismo nega o marxismo...

    A parte III, denominada "Literatura Socialista e Comunista" faz fortes críticas às diferentes correntes socialistas da época.

    O Manifesto corta com a afiada faca da ironia três tipos de socialismo da época: o "socialismo reacionário" (subdividido em socialismo feudal, socialismo pequeno-burguês e socialismo alemão, o "socialismo conservador e burguês" e o "socialismo e comunismo crítico-utópico".

    Nesse capítulo a obra mostra seu caráter temporal, quase local. Revela sua profunda imersão na efervescência das idéias e combates daquela época, quando a aristocracia, para salvar os dedos já sem seus ricos anéis, condena a burguesia e, numa súbita generosidade, tece loas a um vago socialismo.

    A conclusão, "Posição dos Comunistas Diante dos Diferentes Partidos de Oposição" é um relato das táticas adotadas naquele momento pelos comunistas, na França, na Suíça, na Polônia e na Alemanha. Estados Unidos e Rússia, que viviam momentos de alta tensão social e política, não são mencionados, como reconheceu Engels em maio de 1890, ao destacar com sinceridade "o quanto era estreito o terreno de ação do movimento proletário no momento da primeira publicação do Manifesto em fevereiro de 1848".

    O Manifesto Comunista como não poderia deixar de ser, termina triunfalista e animando. Não quer espiritualizar e sim emocionar para a luta. Curiosamente, retoma a idéia do "fantasma", ao desejar que "as classes dominantes tremam diante da idéia de uma revolução comunista". Os proletários, que têm um mundo a ganhar com a revolução, também são, afinal, conclamados, na célebre frase, que tantos sonhos, projetos de vida e revoluções sociais já inspirou:


          A Questão Social no Brasil   

- os direitos econômicos e sociais como direitos fundamentais -

Maria Victoria Benevides
(socióloga, professora da Faculdade de Educa
ção da USP e diretora da Escola de Governo)

A Constituição brasileira vigente, dita “Cidadã” e promulgada após intensa participação popular, estabelece como objetivos da República: “construir uma sociedade livre, justa e solidária; garantir o desenvolvimento nacional; erradicar a pobreza e a marginalização e reduzir as desigualdades sociais e regionais; promover o bem de todos, sem preconceitos de origem, raça, sexo, cor, idade e quaisquer outras formas de discriminação” (art.3º). Como fundamentos do Estado democrático de Direito o texto constitucional afirma a soberania, a cidadania, a dignidade da pessoa humana, os valores sociais do trabalho e da livre iniciativa e o pluralismo político. Os direitos sociais incluem educação, saúde, moradia, trabalho, lazer, segurança, previdência social, proteção à maternidade e à infância e assistência aos desamparados (art.6º).

Os direitos dos trabalhadores especificam conquistas sociais que em nada ficam a dever às democracias populares socialistas e as democracias progressistas do chamado primeiro mundo (art.7º). [1]

Nossa Carta Magna reflete, assim, uma feliz combinação de direitos humanos e de direitos do cidadão, de tal sorte que lutar pela cidadania democrática e enfrentar a questão social no Brasil praticamente se confunde com a luta pelos direitos humanos – ambos entendidos como resultado de uma longa história de lutas sociais e de reconhecimento, ético e político, da dignidade intrínseca de todo ser humano, independentemente de quaisquer distinções.

Temos uma bela Constituição social o que, sem dúvida, representa um avanço considerável em relação à história de um país regado com sangue de escravos. No entanto, ainda hoje, a realidade brasileira explode em violenta contradição com aqueles ideais proclamados. Sabemos todos que vivemos num país marcado por profunda desigualdade social, fruto de persistente política oligárquica e da mais escandalosa concentração de renda. E, hoje, ainda sofremos um processo de negação dos direitos sociais arduamente conquistados, na medida em que prospera a defesa de um “Estado mínimo”, que abandona o povo à sua sorte e que reduz a cidadania às liberdades civis e políticas, mantendo, em contrapartida, os privilégios dos “de cima” e a brutal carência de direitos dos “de baixo”. O mais recente relatório de indicadores sociais do PNUD coloca o Brasil em 79º lugar. O próprio Banco Mundial, insuspeito de simpatias “esquerdistas”, vem afirmando que a pobreza tem crescido muito devido à globalização econômica - e não o contrário, como apregoam nossos deslumbrados arautos do neoliberalismo.

Pretendo abordar o tema da questão social no Brasil vista do ângulo de sua vinculação com a democracia e os direitos dela decorrentes, com ênfase nos direitos econômicos e sociais, entendidos como direitos humanos fundamentais. Nesse sentido, estarei falando de democracia como, prioritariamente, o regime que propicia a consolidação e a expansão da cidadania social, com a garantia das liberdades e da efetiva e autônoma participação popular.

Democracia é, assim, entendida como o regime político fundado na soberania popular e no respeito integral aos direitos humanos. Esta breve definição tem a vantagem de agregar democracia política e democracia social. Em outros termos, reúne os pilares da “democracia dos antigos”, ou democracia política - tão bem explicitada por Benjamin Constant e Hannah Arendt , quando a definem como a liberdade para a participação na vida pública - e a democracia moderna, embasada no ideal republicano, nos valores do liberalismo político e da democracia social. Ou seja, reúne as exigências da cidadania plena, a única que engloba as liberdades civis e a participação política, ao mesmo tempo que reivindica a igualdade e a prática da solidariedade.

A questão social insere-se no contexto do empobrecimento da classe trabalhadora com a consolidação e expansão do capitalismo desde o início do século 19, bem como o quadro da luta e do reconhecimento dos direitos sociais e das políticas públicas correspondentes, além do espaço das organizações e movimentos por cidadania social. A primeira e inarredável constatação histórica se impõe: até o século 19 os trabalhadores ligados à terra não podiam ser expulsos; tinham, apesar da pobreza, um mínimo de segurança. O capitalismo (“tudo que é sólido desmancha no ar”) destruiu essa proteção social e provocou as hordas de excluídos de toda sorte. Se o Estado do Bem Estar Social - graças às lutas dos trabalhadores e aos ideais socialistas – conseguiu uma certa estabilidade social, com o reconhecimento dos direitos econômicos e sociais, o neoliberalismo veio provocar o segundo ato dessa tragédia: agora aqueles excluídos da terra, que conseguiram se afirmar como trabalhadores pela garantia das prestações sociais do Estado, tudo perdem, já não têm propriedade e são despojados dos direitos econômicos e sociais. São os novos proletários de terço final do século 20.

Historicamente, os direitos econômicos e sociais foram (e, de certa forma, continuam sendo) aqueles dificilmente vieram a ser reconhecidos – isto é, não apenas proclamados mas também acompanhados das devidas e eficazes garantias. São aqueles direitos das classes ou grupos despossuídos, sem poder econômico, sem autonomia cultural, sem poder político.

O primeiro grupo de direitos humanos – os direitos civís e políticos- foram declarados e garantidos contra o sistema de desigualdade de condição jurídica próprio do feudalismo: a divisão estamental.

Correspondem a afirmações da igualdade de direitos individuais, de autonomia do indivíduo contra os grupos sociais que tradicionalmente o abafavam, como a família, a corporação de ofícios, a Igreja, os estamentos. Dissolvida a sociedade estamental e afirmada a autonomia jurídica dos indivíduos, verifica-se, em pouco tempo (a partir do séc.19) que uma nova divisão social se afirmava, agora paradoxalmente sob o manto protetor da igualdade de direitos individuais : a divisão da sociedade em classes proprietárias e classes trabalhadoras, em ricos e pobres. Em 1847, afirmava Alexis de Tocqueville: “a Revolução Francesa, que aboliu todos os privilégios e destruiu os direitos exclusivos, deixou no entanto subsistir um, o da propriedade (...) Dentro em pouco, é entre os que têm posses e os que não têm, que se estabelecerá a luta política; o grande campo de batalha será a propriedade, e as principais questões da política passarão pelas modificações mais ou menos profundas a trazer ao direito de propriedade “(Souvenirs).

Foi contra a ascensão do capitalismo, como modo de vida – isto é, como um novo tipo de civilização na qual tudo se compra e tudo se vende – que se afirmaram os direitos econômicos e sociais, assim como os direitos individuais foram reconhecidos e garantidos contra o feudalismo. Portanto, a idéia central a ser enfatizada é a seguinte: sem a superação do capitalismo, os direitos econômicos e sociais não chegarão a se afirmar e se consolidar, principalmente nas sociedades ditas “periféricas”.

As liberdades individuais – locomoção, habeas-corpus, igualdade de voto, livre associação, segurança – foram o patamar sobre o qual se apoiou o movimento socialista do século 19 para reivindicar os grandes direitos econômicos e sociais. Efetivamente, sem as liberdades civis e políticas, o movimento sindical teria tido enorme dificuldade para se desenvolver. Os burgueses queriam a liberdade de associação para eles, mas não para os trabalhadores - e sabiam que estavam exteriorizando uma contradição injusta, do ponto de vista ético e jurídico.

É bastante conhecida a distinção histórica em gerações, ou dimensões dos direitos humanos, a partir do século 18, com os direitos individuais, os sociais e os coletivos da humanidade. No entanto, se para os países do primeiro mundo faz sentido essa sucessão histórica de direitos, para nós a questão se coloca de outra forma. Nunca tivemos uma “revolução burguesa”, no sentido de que as classes proprietárias não lutaram em defesa de liberdades civis e políticas que lhes tivessem sendo negadas (ver, a respeito, a análise de Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda quando afirma que, no Brasil, “a democracia sempre foi um lamentável mal-entendido”). Em nosso país, a consciência da dignidade humana na liberdade, na igualdade, na solidariedade nasceu ao mesmo tempo, de um só golpe, no século 20. É fato inegável, ademais, que sempre tivemos a supremacia dos direitos políticos sobre os direitos sociais. Criamos o sufrágio universal - o que é, evidentemente, uma conquista - mas, com ele, criou-se também a ilusão do respeito pelo cidadão. A realização periódica de eleições convive com o esmagamento da dignidade da pessoa humana, em todas as suas dimensões. Portanto, é possível afirmarmos que, ao contrário dos países europeus e da América do Norte, aqui ao sul do Equador os direitos econômicos e sociais são a condição essencial para a realização  das liberdades.. Ou seja, os direitos econômicos e sociais são, para nós, a condição da democracia, e não o contrário.

O grande problema dos direitos humanos é a sua não-efetividade, pois sua defesa dependerá sempre da institucionalização de um sistema de poder, de uma posição de poder na sociedade. Objeto dos direitos econômicos e sociais são políticas públicas ou programas de ação governamental, que visam a suprimir carências sociais. Os titulares desses direitos são os grupos carentes ou despossuídos – como sujeito coletivo, ou individualmente, para todas as pessoas que os compõem. É o que ocorre, por exemplo, com os direitos trabalhistas – de fruição coletiva e individual – e dos direitos em matéria de acesso ao ensino fundamental (ver Constituição Federal, art.208). O sujeito passivo de tais direitos sociais é o Estado, ou os particulares que detêm poder econômico – também no caso dos direitos trabalhistas e do direitos de acesso à propriedade.

É importante assinalar que os direitos fundamentais, justamente por serem direitos já reconhecidos e proclamados oficialmente – em nossa Constituição e em todas as convenções e pactos internacionais dos quais o Brasil é signatário – não podem ser revogados por emendas constitucionais, leis ou tratados internacionais posteriores. Os projetos de emenda constitucional da Presidência da República, no sentido do desmanche dos direitos trabalhistas é, portanto, inconstitucional. Isso significa que, além de naturais, universais e históricos, os direitos humanos são, também, indivisíveis e irreversíveis. São irreversíveis porque à medida que são proclamados, tornando-se direitos positivos fundamentais, não podem mais ser revogados. São indivisíveis porque, numa democracia efetiva, não se pode separar o respeito às liberdades individuais da garantia dos direitos sociais; não se pode considerar natural o fato de que o povo seja livre para votar mas continue preso às teias da pobreza absoluta.[2]

Dado o caráter inorgânico dos grupos sociais carentes no Brasil, um problema central diz respeito à necessidade de organização e de representação ; daí avulta o papel dos sindicatos, em relação à categoria dos trabalhadores, mesmo os não sindicalizados. Dentre as garantias judiciais , organizadas oficialmente, destacam-se o dissídio coletivo trabalhista,a ação civil pública, proposta pelo Ministério Público ou, excepcionalmente, por ONG (cuja legitimidade deve ser alargada, aliás) e a desapropriação para reforma agrária. Outra garantia judicial, não organizada oficialmente, é a ação direta de inconstitucionalidade em relação a políticas públicas determinadas. Dentre as garantias não-judiciais, temos aquelas reconhecidas oficialmente, como a greve, a Previdência Social, o sistema público de educação e o sistema único de saúde. Dentre as não-reconhecidas oficialmente (o que não significa que sejam ilegalidades ), está a ocupação de terras para produção agrícola ou de imóveis para habitação.

A cidadania democrática pressupõe a igualdade diante da lei, a igualdade da participação política e a igualdade de condições sócio-econômicas básicas, para garantir a dignidade humana. Essa terceira igualdade é crucial, pois exige uma meta a ser alcançada, não só por meios de leis, mas pela correta implementação de políticas públicas, de programas de ação do Estado. É aqui que se afirma, como necessidade imperiosa, a organização popular para a legítima pressão sobre os poderes públicos. A cidadania ativa pode ser exercida de diversas maneiras, nas associações de base e movimentos sociais, em processos decisórios na esfera pública, como os conselhos, o orçamento participativo, iniciativa legislativa, consultas populares.

É importante deixar claro que a participação cidadã em entidades da sociedade civil não significa aceitar a diminuição do papel do Estado – este continua sendo o grande responsável pelo desenvolvimento nacional com a garantia efetiva dos direitos dos cidadãos. O êxito eventual de algumas parcerias, de obras do chamado “terceiro setor”, não pode obscurecer essa realidade. É dos poderes públicos que devem ser cobradas, por exemplo, as novas propostas de cidadania social, como os programas de renda mínima, de bolsa-escola, de banco do povo, de polícia comunitária, de saúde pública, de política agrária etc.

É conhecida a relação muitas vezes vista como dilemática entre igualdade e liberdade. Ora, os direitos civis e políticos exigem que todos gozem da mesma liberdade, mas são os direitos sociais que garantirão a redução das desigualdades de origem, para que a falta de igualdade não acabe gerando, justamente, a falta de liberdade. Por sua vez, não é menos verdade que a liberdade propicia as condições para a reivindicação de direitos sociais. Um exemplo histórico do direito social à educação parece-me eloqüente. Já em abril de 1792, Condorcet alertava, no Relatório sobre a Instrução Pública apresentado à Assembléia Legislativa : “os direitos humanos permanecerão formais se não se firmarem na base da igualdade efetiva dos indivíduos em relação à Educação e à Instrução”. É nesse sentido, aliás, que se posicionam todos os críticos das “mistificações igualitárias”, presentes nas teses das “oportunidades iguais” na escola, apesar do abismo das diferenças sociais.

Para se discutir a consciência de cidadania social numa determinada sociedade é necessário partir do reconhecimento da distância que separa, por um lado, leis e princípios fundantes de liberdades e direitos e, por outro lado, a própria consciência de tais direitos, além da existência (ou não) dos mecanismos institucionais e dos recursos para garantir a sua prática, ou a sua fruição. O reconhecimento dessa distância provoca, num primeiro momento, as seguintes indagações: em que espaços é exercida a reivindicação de direitos? A partir de quais relações sociais? Frente a quais instituições? Em relação a que demandas? (E. Jelin, 1994). Torna-se evidente, portanto, que a idéia de cidadania, assim como a de direitos, estão sempre em processo de construção e de mudança. Isso significa que não podemos congelar, num determinado período ou numa determinada sociedade, uma lista fechada de direitos específicos. Tal lista será sempre passível de transformação, sempre historicamente determinada. Como assinalou Hannah Arendt, o que permanece inarredável, como pressuposto básico, é o direito a ter direitos.

Percebe-se, assim, como a relação entre cidadania social e democracia explicita-se também no fato de que ambas são processos. Os cidadãos numa democracia não são apenas titulares de direitos já estabelecidos - mas existe, em aberto, a possibilidade de expansão, de criação de novos direitos, de novos espaços, de novos mecanismos. O processo, portanto, não se dá no vácuo. Lembra Marilena Chauí que a cidadania exige instituições, mediações e comportamentos próprios, constituindo-se na criação de espaços sociais de lutas (movimentos sociais, sindicais e populares) e na definição de instituições permanentes para a expressão política, como partidos, legislação, órgãos dos poderes públicos e mecanismos de participação popular (como conselhos, orçamento participativo, consultas populares como referendos e plebiscitos e a prática da iniciativa popular legislativa). Distingue-se, portanto, a cidadania passiva - aquela que é outorgada pelo Estado, com a idéia moral da tutela e do favor - da cidadania ativa, aquela que institui o cidadão como portador de direitos e deveres, mas essencialmente participante da esfera pública e criador de novos direitos para abrir espaços de participação.

A expansão da cidadania social implica, além de uma ação efetiva dos poderes públicos e da pressão popular, num tipo de mudança cultural, no sentido de mexer com o que está mais enraizado nas mentalidades marcadas por preconceitos, por discriminação, pela não aceitação dos direitos de todos, pela não aceitação da diferença. Trata-se, portanto, de uma mudança cultural especialmente importante no Brasil, pois implica a derrocada de valores e costumes arraigados entre nós, decorrentes de vários fatores historicamente definidos: nosso longo período de escravidão, que significou exatamente a violação de todos os princípios de respeito à dignidade da pessoa humana, a começar pelo direito à vida; nossa política oligárquica e patrimonial; nosso sistema de ensino autoritário, elitista, e com uma preocupação muito mais voltada para a moral privada do que para a ética pública; nossa complacência com a corrupção, dos governantes e das elites, assim como em relação aos privilégios concedidos aos cidadãos ditos de primeira classe ou acima de qualquer suspeita; nosso descaso com a violência, quando ela é exercida exclusivamente contra os pobres e os socialmente discriminados; nossas práticas religiosas essencialmente ligadas ao valor da caridade em detrimento do valor da justiça; nosso sistema familiar patriarcal e machista; nossa sociedade racista e preconceituosa contra todos os considerados diferentes; nosso desinteresse pela participação cidadã e pelo associativismo solidário; nosso individualismo consumista, decorrente de uma falsa idéia de “modernidade”.

É bem provável que os mais jovens aqui presentes jamais tenham ouvido algo sobre uma certa “democracia da gravata lavada”. No entanto, essa expressão já sintetizou, em dado período de nossa história, o sonho de construção de uma “sociedade ordeira e feliz”. Há quase um século e meio, o liberal mineiro Teófilo Otoni, por exemplo, proclamava a causa da “democracia da gravata lavada, a democracia pacífica da classe média, letrada e asseada, a única merecedora do gozo dos direitos políticos da cidadania” (Campanha do lenço branco, 1860).

Podemos sorrir dessa lembrança antiga, embora ela não reflita apenas uma curiosidade histórica: ainda hoje convivemos com a discriminação contra todos aqueles que não se encaixam no padrão excludente de “letrados e asseados” e, portanto, não são considerados cidadãos com plenos direitos. Há poucos anos  ouvimos de autoridade paulistana que “a prefeitura só pode atender aqueles que pagam impostos”, e, assim, se justificaria o abandono de importante parcela do povo vítima de enchentes e desabamentos. São também freqüentes as ocasiões em que se propõe a mutilação da cidadania por vários motivos - desde a cor da pele até o grau de instrução (ainda há, por exemplo, quem condene o voto do analfabeto!), passando pelo não-direito dos jovens aos cursos supletivos, pois a “educação de adultos” deixou de ser responsabilidade governamental (vide a emenda 14 à Constituição).

A mudança cultural necessária deve levar ao enfrentamento de herança histórica tão pesada e ainda ser instrumento de reação a duas grandes deturpações que fermentam em nosso meio social – como parte de uma certa “cultura política”- em relação ao entendimento do que sejam os direitos fundamentais do ser humano. A primeira delas, muito comentada atualmente e bastante difundida na sociedade, inclusive entre as classes populares, refere-se à identificação entre direitos humanos e “direitos dos bandidos”. Essa deturpação decorre certamente da ignorância e da desin- formação mas também de uma perversa e eficiente manipulação, sobretudo nos meios de comunicação de massa, como ocorre com certos programas de rádio e televisão, voltados para a exploração sensacionalista da violência e da miséria humana.

A segunda deturpação, evidente nos meios de maior nível de instrução (meio acadêmico, mas também de políticos e empresários), refere-se à crença de que direitos humanos se reduzem essencialmente às liberdades individuais do liberalismo clássico e, portanto, não se consideram como direitos fundamentais os direitos sociais, os direitos de solidariedade universal. Nesse sentido, os liberais adeptos dessa crença aceitam a defesa dos direitos humanos como direitos civís e políticos, direitos individuais à segurança e à propriedade; mas não aceitam a legitimidade da reivindicação, em nome dos direitos humanos, dos direitos econômicos e sociais, a serem usufruídos individual ou coletivamente, ou seja, aqueles vinculados ao mundo do trabalho, à educação, à saúde, à moradia, à previdência e seguridade social etc.

É contra tal quadro histórico e com tais deturpações - muitas vezes conscientes e deliberadas, de grupos ou pessoas interessadas em desmoralizar a luta pelos direitos humanos, porque querem manter seus privilégios ou porque querem controlar e usar a violência, sobretudo a institucional, apenas contra os pobres, contra aqueles considerados “classes perigosas”- que se dirige a luta pela nova e ampliada cidadania social.

Finalmente, gostaria de concluir levantando uma questão de ordem prática, relativa às possibilidades de transformação e de militância política. Partindo do pressuposto de que o socialismo não morreu – seus ideais continuam vivos e atuantes – pergunto qual deveria ser a opção das esquerdas no Brasil hoje.

Penso que as esquerdas poderiam se unir a partir de uma plataforma comum com dois eixos : 1) a crítica incisiva do capitalismo em sua fase mais selvagem de “globalização”, visando à sua superação; 2) a conquista da democracia efetiva e, em específico, da participação popular. Os dois eixos convergem no compromisso com a promoção dos direitos humanos e ideais humanistas, com ênfase nos direitos econômicos e sociais, aqueles historicamente consagrados nas lutas socialistas, o que já garante um mínimo de consenso entre as esquerdas de origem vária.

Quanto ao primeiro ponto, trata-se de denunciar, com o máximo rigor, a incompatibilidade entre democracia e capitalismo. Estou convencida de que, ao invés da tradicional aliança com a democracia liberal, o capitalismo hodierno mantém um casamento perfeito com o poder oligárquico - foram feitos um para o outro. Seu rebento mais notável é esse “neoliberalismo”, que de maneira absolutamente insana vem transformando os pobres em miseráveis e descartáveis. Nenhuma forma de democracia pode conviver com tal nível de exclusão social. No Brasil, esse verdadeiro “horror econômico” aparece no desmanche das mínimas garantias de seguridade social, como nas indecentes propostas de reforma da Previdência ou na defesa das vantagens do trabalho informal e “temporário”. Cabe às esquerdas insistir na solidariedade social como valor e como exigência inarredável da democracia. Não se trata mais de “humanizar o capitalismo”, pois no estágio atual isso já é impossível. Trata-se de propor sua superação por um sistema que combine a democracia participativa com eficientes instrumentos de proteção social (há várias formas em discussão, desde a renda mínima à reforma agrária , passando pelo banco popular para minicrédito e por novas políticas publicas de saúde e educação, aqui destacando-se o projeto da bolsa escola, o qual tem sido citado até pelo Presidente da República).

Quanto ao segundo eixo, sabemos que, mesmo entre nós, identificados com a herança generosa da revolução por “liberdade, igualdade, fraternidade”, a adesão concreta às práticas e instituições democráticas tem sido francamente insuficiente. Mas cabe às esquerdas, vítimas preferenciais da repressão no regime militar, lutar contra a doença mais grave de nosso sistema político, o abuso do poder. Contra esse mal só existe um remédio: voltar às raízes da democracia como soberania popular e cidadania ativa. Isto é, devolver ao povo o poder decisório que, em tese, é seu. Nesse sentido, o orçamento participativo do Partido dos Trabalhadores, o PT, é parte indis- pensável de programa comum das esquerdas. É evidente que outras práticas de demo- cracia participativa devem ser ampliadas, como os conselhos, as iniciativas legis- lativas e os plebiscitos, além do apoio explícito aos movimentos sociais e populares.

O abuso do poder é mais evidente na instância executiva. Uma das características de nossa história republicana é a tendência a se perverter o sistema presidencial de governo em dominação caudilhesca do Presidente da República - aquele “presidencialismo imperial” tão denunciado pelos atuais governantes quando, na oposição, defendiam o parlamentarismo. Lutar contra isso, hoje, é um dever funda-mental das esquerdas, se quiserem, ao vencer, exercer o poder democraticamente.

A principal questão permanece: para que unir as esquerdas em torno de um projeto eleitoral? Se for para continuar o mesmo jogo da política oligárquica, não vale a pena. Precisamos dizer, claramente, que queremos ganhar para mudar, tanto no enfrentamento do capitalismo “realmente existente” (o verdadeiro capitalismo selvagem) quanto na superação da contrafação democrática que vem sendo imposta pelo neoliberalismo triunfante.

A solidariedade é, hoje, mais urgente do que nunca. Significa que todos somos responsáveis pelo bem comum. Considero, portanto, como extremamente perigoso (por mais que entenda suas causas) o descrédito do povo nas instituições políticas, pois isso ultrapassa a figura das pessoas, dos governantes e parlamentares, para atingir o próprio cerne da ação política, acaba se transformando num descrédito na ação política e na sua capacidade transformadora. Não é possível ser cidadão consciente com rejeição à atividade política. O resultado da apatia pode ser uma atitude na vida social que é o oposto de qualquer idéia de cidadania democrática, que é o das estratégias individuais, do “salve-se quem puder”, da “justiça pelas próprias mãos”, excluindo qualquer possibilidade de ação coletiva, de solidariedade. Mas, como digo aos meus alunos, sou professora, logo... sou otimista. O pensador italiano Antonio Gramsci afirmava que “devemos ser pessimistas no diagnóstico, mas otimistas na ação”. Acompanho a criação de associações de luta em torno de interesses públicos e a atuação de movimentos sociais de grande importância – como o MST, Movimento dos Trabalhadores sem Terra - assim como percebo o crescimento constante da consciência política do povo (haja vista as recentes eleições em São Paulo e no país, com a vitória da oposição e do PT) e um novo entusiasmo na juventude para a participação cidadã.

Participo de novos projetos de educação em direitos humanos e para a cidadania e, há dez anos, faço parte da direção da Escola de Governo – escola de formação política, baseada nos princípios da democracia participativa, da ética na política, do compromisso com o desenvolvimento nacional e do respeito aos direitos humanos. “Para conjurarmos o risco da consolidação da barbárie”, escreve Fábio Konder Comparato – “precisamos construir urgentemente um mundo novo, uma civilização que assegure a todos os seres humanos, sem embargo das múltiplas diferenças biológicas e culturais que os distinguem entre si, o direito elementar à busca da felicidade”. Será pedir muito para o povo brasileiro?

No Brasil, a esperança é uma virtude revolucionária. Esta, como uma exigência contra a destruição feita pelo capitalismo predador neste mundo “globalizado” pelo mais perverso neoliberalismo econômico, é o grande desafio para o século 21.

Referências bibliográficas

ARENDT, Hannah - Da Revolução, São Paulo: Ática, 1988.

BENEVIDES, Maria Victoria de Mesquita - A Cidadania Ativa. São Paulo: Ática, 1991.

----- - Cidadania e Democracia, in Lua Nova, nº33,1994.

----- - Cidadania e Direitos Humanos, in Cadernos de Pesquisa, Fund. Carlos Chagas, nº 104, julho 1998.

CHAUÍ, Marilena - Cultura e Democracia. São Paulo: Moderna, 1984.

COMPARATO, Fábio Konder - "A Nova Cidadania", in Lua Nova, 28/29, 1993, pp. 85-106.

----------- - A Afirmação Histórica dos Direitos Humanos, São Paulo: Saraiva, 1999.

----------- - A Humanidade no século a grande opção, Univ. de Coimbra, fev.2000. Publ. na revista Praga.

JELIN, Elizabeth - "A Cidadania desde baixo", in Lua Nova, 32, 1994

TOCQUEVILLE, Alexis de - Souvenirs


[1] O direito à moradia é conquista recente, tendo sido incluído pela emenda constitucional nº26, de 14/02/2000.

[2] Ver resolução nº32/130 da ONU, de 1977 que estabelece : “é impossível a realização dos direitos civis políticos sem o usufruto dos direitos econômicos , sociais e culturais”.

          Friedrich Engels   
Serviço Social Marcas:

Friedrich Engels faleceu em Londres a 5 de Agosto (24 de Julho) de 1895. A seguir ao seu amigo Karl Marx (que morreu em 1883), Engels foi o mais notável sábio e mestre do proletariado contemporâneo em todo o mundo civilizado. Desde o dia em que o destino juntou Karl Marx e Friedrich Engels, a obra a que os dois amigos consagraram toda a sua vida converteu-se numa obra comum.
Assim, para compreender o que Friedrich Engels fez pelo proletariado, é necessário ter-se uma ideia precisa do papel desempenhado pela doutrina e actividade de Marx no desenvolvimento do movimento operário contemporâneo. Marx e Engels foram os primeiros a demonstrar que a classe operária e as suas reivindicações são um produto necessário do regime económico actual que, juntamente com a burguesia, cria e organiza inevitavelmente o proletariado; demonstraram que não são as tentativas bem intencionadas dos homens de coração generoso que libertarão a humanidade dos males que hoje a esmagam, mas a luta de classe do proletariado organizado.
Marx e Engels foram os primeiros a explicar, nas suas obras científicas, que o socialismo não é uma invenção de sonhadores, mas o objectivo final e o resultado necessário do desenvolvimento das forças produtivas da sociedade actual. Toda a história escrita até aos nossos dias é a história da luta de classes, a sucessão no domínio e nas vitórias de umas classes sociais sobre outras. E este estado de coisas continuará enquanto não tiverem desaparecido as bases da luta de classes e do domínio de classe: a propriedade privada e a produção social anárquica. Os interesses do proletariado exigem a destruição destas bases, contra as quais deve, pois, ser orientada a luta de classe consciente dos operários organizados. E toda a luta de classe é uma luta política.
Todo o proletariado que luta pela sua emancipação tornou hoje suas estas concepções de Marx e Engels; mas nos anos 40, quando os dois amigos começaram a colaborar em publicações socialistas e a participar nos movimentos sociais da sua época, eram inteiramente novas. Então, eram numerosos os homens de talento e outros sem talento, honestos ou desonestos, que, no ardor da luta pela liberdade política, contra a arbitrariedade dos reis, da polícia e do clero, não viam a oposição dos interesses da burguesia e do proletariado. Não admitiam sequer a ideia de os operários poderem agir como força social independente. Por outro lado, um bom número de sonhadores, algumas vezes geniais, pensavam que seria suficiente convencer os governantes e as classes dominantes da iniquidade da ordem social existente para que se tornasse fácil fazer reinar sobre a terra a paz e a prosperidade universais. Sonhavam com um socialismo sem luta.
Finalmente, a maior parte dos socialistas de então e, de um modo geral, os amigos da classe operária, não viam no proletariado senão uma chaga a cujo crescimento assistiam com horror à medida que a indústria se desenvolvia. Por isso todos procuravam o modo de parar o desenvolvimento da indústria e do proletariado, parar a «roda da história». Contrariamente ao temor geral ante o desenvolvimento do proletariado, Marx e Engels punham todas as suas esperanças no contínuo crescimento numérico deste. Quanto mais proletários houvesse, e maior fosse a sua força como classe revolucionária, mais próximo e possível estaria o socialismo. Pode exprimir-se em poucas palavras os serviços prestados por Marx e Engels à classe operária dizendo que eles a ensinaram a conhecer-se e a tomar consciência de si mesma, e que substituíram os sonhos pela ciência.
É por isso que o nome e a vida de Engels devem ser conhecidos por todos os operários; é por isso que, na nossa compilação, cujo fim, como o de todas as nossas publicações, é acordar a consciência de classe dos operários russos, devemos dar um apanhado da vida e da actividade de Friedrich Engels, um dos dois grandes mestres do proletariado contemporâneo.
Engels nasceu em 1820 em Barmen, na província renana do reino da Prússia. O pai era um fabricante. Em 1838, Engels teve de abandonar por motivos familiares os estudos no liceu e de entrar como empregado numa casa de comércio de Bremen. Este trabalho não o impediu de completar a sua instrução científica e política. Foi desde o liceu que ele ganhou ódio ao absolutismo e à arbitrariedade da burocracia. Os seus estudos de filosofia levaram-no ainda mais longe. Predominava então na filosofia alemã a doutrina de Hegel, e Engels tornou-se seu discípulo. Embora Hegel fosse, por seu lado, um admirador do Estado prussiano absolutista, ao serviço do qual se encontrava na qualidade de professor na Universidade de Berlim, a sua doutrina era revolucionária. A fé de Hegel na razão humana e nos seus direitos e o princípio fundamental da filosofia hegeliana segundo o qual o mundo é teatro de um processo permanente de mudança e desenvolvimento conduziram os discípulos do filósofo berlinense, que não queriam acomodar-se à realidade, à ideia de que a luta contra a realidade, a luta contra a iniquidade existente e o mal reinante, também procede da lei universal do desenvolvimento perpétuo.
Se tudo se desenvolve, se certas instituições são substituídas por outras, porque é que o absolutismo do rei da Prússia ou do tsar da Rússia, o enriquecimento de uma ínfima minoria à custa da imensa maioria, o domínio da burguesia sobre o povo, hão-de perdurar eternamente? A filosofia de Hegel tratava do desenvolvimento do espírito e das ideias; era idealista. Do desenvolvimento do espírito a filosofia de Hegel deduzia o desenvolvimento da natureza, do homem e das relações entre os homens no seio da sociedade. Retomando a ideia hegeliana de um processo perpétuo de desenvolvimento(1), Marx e Engels rejeitaram a sua preconcebida concepção idealista; analisando a vida real, viram que não é o desenvolvimento do espírito que explica o da natureza, mas que, pelo contrário, é necessário explicar o espírito a partir da natureza, da matéria...
Contrariamente a Hegel e outros hegelianos, Marx e Engels eram materialistas. Partindo de uma concepção materialista do mundo e da humanidade, verificaram que, tal como todos os fenómenos da natureza têm causas materiais, igualmente o desenvolvimento da sociedade humana é condicionado pelo desenvolvimento de forças materiais, as forças produtivas. Do desenvolvimento das forças produtivas dependem as relações que se estabelecem entre os homens no processo de produção dos objectos necessários à satisfação das necessidades humanas.
E são estas relações que explicam todos os fenómenos da vida social, as aspirações do homem, as suas ideias e as suas leis. O desenvolvimento das forças produtivas cria relações sociais que se baseiam na propriedade privada; mas vemos hoje esse mesmo desenvolvimento das forças produtivas privar a maioria dos homens de toda a propriedade e concentrar esta nas mãos de uma ínfima minoria; ele destrói a propriedade, base da ordem social contemporânea, e tende ele próprio para o objectivo que se fixaram os socialistas. Estes últimos devem apenas compreender qual é a força social que, pela sua situação na sociedade actual, está interessada na realização do socialismo, e incutir nesta força a consciência dos seus interesses e da sua missão histórica. Esta força é o proletariado. Engels conheceu-o na Inglaterra, em Manchester, centro da indústria inglesa, onde se fixou em 1842 como empregado de uma firma comercial de que seu pai era um dos accionistas. Aí Engels não se limitou a permanecer no escritório da fábrica: percorreu os bairros sórdidos em que viviam os operários e viu com os seus próprios olhos a miséria e os males que os afligiam.
Não se limitando à sua observação pessoal, Engels leu tudo o que antes dele se tinha escrito sobre a situação da classe operária inglesa e estudou minuciosamente todos os documentos oficiais que pôde consultar. O resultado dos seus estudos e observações foi um livro que saiu em 1845: A Situação da Classe Operária em Inglaterra. Já atrás assinalámos o principal mérito de Engels como autor dessa obra. É certo que antes dele muitos tinham descrito os sofrimentos do proletariado e indicado a necessidade de lhe prestar ajuda. Engels foi o primeiro a declarar que o proletariado não é só uma classe que sofre, mas que a miserável situação económica em que se encontra empurra-o irresistivelmente para a frente e obriga-o a lutar pela sua emancipação definitiva.
E o proletariado em luta ajudar-se-á a si mesmo.
O movimento político da classe operária levará, inevitavelmente, os operários à consciência de que não há para eles outra saída senão o socialismo. Por seu lado, o socialismo só será uma força quando se tornar o objectivo da luta política da classe operária. Tais são as ideias fundamentais do livro de Engels sobre a situação da classe operária em Inglaterra, ideias hoje aceites por todo o proletariado que pensa e luta, mas que eram então absolutamente novas. Estas ideias foram expostas numa obra escrita num estilo cativante onde abundam os quadros mais verídicos e impressionantes da miséria do proletariado inglês. Este livro era uma terrível acusação contra o capitalismo e a burguesia. Produziu uma impressão muito grande. Em breve, por toda a parte começaram a referir-se a ele como o quadro mais fiel da situação do proletariado contemporâneo. E, com efeito, nem antes nem depois de 1845 apareceu uma descrição tão brilhante e tão verdadeira dos males sofridos pela classe operária.
Engels só se tornou socialista em Inglaterra. Em Manchester pôs-se em contacto com os militantes do movimento operário inglês de então e começou a escrever para as publicações socialistas inglesas. Em 1844, ao passar por Paris de regresso à Alemanha conheceu Marx, com quem se correspondia já há algum tempo, e que se tinha igualmente tornado socialista durante a sua estada em Paris, sob a influência dos socialistas franceses e da vida em França. Foi aí que os dois amigos escreveram em conjunto A Sagrada Família ou Crítica da Crítica Crítica.
Este livro, escrito na sua maior parte por Marx, e saído um ano antes de A Situação da Classe Operária em Inglaterra, contém as bases do socialismo materialista revolucionário de que atrás expusemos as ideias essenciais. A Sagrada Família é uma denominação jocosa dada a dois filósofos, os irmãos Bauer, e aos seus discípulos. Estes senhores pregavam uma crítica que se colocava acima de toda a realidade, acima dos partidos e da política, repudiava toda a actividade prática e limitava-se a contemplar «criticamente» o mundo circundante e os acontecimentos que nele se produziam. Os senhores Bauer qualificavam desdenhosamente o proletariado de massa desprovida de espírito crítico. Marx e Engels opuseram-se categoricamente a esta tendência absurda e nefasta.
Em nome da verdadeira personalidade humana, do operário espezinhado pelas classes dominantes e pelo Estado, Marx e Engels exigiam não uma atitude contemplativa, mas a luta por uma melhor ordem social. Era, evidentemente, no proletariado que eles viam a força capaz de travar esta luta e directamente interessada em fazê-la triunfar. Já antes do aparecimento de A Sagrada Família, Engels tinha publicado na revista Anais Franco-Alemães editada por Marx e Ruge o seu Estudo Crítico sobre a Economia Política[N58] em que analisava, de um ponto de vista socialista, os fenómenos essenciais do regime económico contemporâneo como consequências inevitáveis da dominação da propriedade privada. As suas relações com Engels contribuíram incontestavelmente para que Marx se decidisse a ocupar-se do estudo da economia política, ciência em que os seus trabalhos iriam operar uma verdadeira revolução.
De 1845 a 1847 Engels viveu em Bruxelas e em Paris, aliando os estudos científicos com uma actividade prática entre os operários alemães destas duas cidades. Foi aí que Marx e Engels entraram em contacto com uma associação secreta alemã, «Liga dos Comunistas», que os encarregou de expor os princípios fundamentais do socialismo elaborado por eles. Assim nasceu o célebre Manifesto do Partido Comunista de Marx c Engels, publicado em 1848. Este pequeno livrinho vale por tomos inteiros: ele inspira e anima até hoje todo o proletariado organizado e combatente do mundo civilizado.
A revolução de 1848, que rebentou primeiro em França e se propagou em seguida aos outros países da Europa ocidental, permitiu a Marx e Engels regressarem à sua pátria. Aí, na Prússia renana, tomaram a direcção da Nova Gazeta Renana, jornal democrático que se publicava em Colónia. Os dois amigos eram a alma de todas as tendências democráticas revolucionárias da Prússia renana. Defenderam até ao fim os interesses do povo e da liberdade contra as forças da reacção. Estas últimas, como é sabido, acabaram por triunfar. A Nova Gazeta Renana foi proibida. Marx, que enquanto se encontrava na emigração tinha sido privado da nacionalidade prussiana, foi expulso. Quanto a Engels, tomou parte na insurreição armada do povo e combateu em três batalhas pela liberdade, e, após a derrota dos insurrectos, fugiu para Londres através da Suíça.
Foi igualmente em Londres que Marx veio fixar-se. Engels em breve voltou a ser empregado, e mais tarde sócio, da mesma casa comercial de Manchester onde tinha trabalhado nos anos 40. Até 1870 Engels viveu em Manchester e Marx em Londres, o que não os impediu de estar em estreito contacto espiritual; escreviam-se quase todos os dias. Nessa correspondência, os dois amigos trocavam as suas ideias e os seus conhecimentos, e continuaram a elaborar em conjunto a doutrina do socialismo científico. Em 1870, Engels veio fixar-se em Londres, e a sua vida intelectual conjunta, cheia de uma actividade intensa, prosseguiu até 1883, data da morte de Marx. Esta colaboração foi extremamente fecunda: Marx escreveu O Capital, a mais grandiosa obra de economia política do nosso século, e Engels toda uma série de trabalhos, grandes e pequenos. Marx dedicou-se à análise dos fenómenos complexos da economia capitalista.
Engels escreveu, num estilo simples, obras muitas vezes polémicas em que esclarecia os problemas científicos mais gerais e os diversos fenómenos do passado e do presente, inspirando-se na concepção materialista da história e na teoria económica de Marx. Dentre esses trabalhos de Engels citaremos: a sua obra polémica contra Dühring (onde analisa as questões capitais da filosofia, assim como das ciências naturais e sociais)(2), A Origem da Família, da Propriedade Privada e do Estado (tradução russa saída em São Petersburgo, 3.a edição, 1895), Ludwig Feuerbach (tradução russa anotada por G. Plekhánov, Genebra, 1892), um artigo sobre a política externa do governo russo (traduzido em russo no Sotsial-Demokrat de Genebra, n.° 1 e 2)[N61], notáveis artigos sobre o problema da habitação[N62], e, finalmente, dois artigos, curtos mas de grande interesse, sobre o desenvolvimento económico da Rússia (Friedrich Engels sobre a Rússia[N63], tradução russa de Vera Zassúlitch, Genebra, 1894). Marx morreu sem ter conseguido completar a sua obra monumental sobre o capital. Contudo esta obra estava já terminada em rascunho e Engels, após a morte do amigo, assumiu a pesada tarefa de redigir e publicar os tomos II e III de O Capital. Editou o tomo II em 1885 e o tomo III em 1894 (não teve tempo de redigir o tomo IV) [N64]. Estes dois tomos exigiram um trabalho enorme da sua parte. O social-democrata austríaco Adler observou muito justamente que, editando os tomos II e III de O Capital, Engels ergueu ao seu genial amigo um grandioso monumento no qual, involuntariamente, tinha gravado também o seu próprio nome em letras indeléveis.
Estes dois tomos de O Capital são, com efeito, obra de ambos, de Marx e Engels. As lendas da Antiguidade contam exemplos comoventes de amizade. O proletariado da Europa pode dizer que a sua ciência foi criada por dois sábios, dois lutadores, cuja amizade ultrapassa tudo o que de mais comovente oferecem as lendas dos antigos. Engels, em geral com toda a razão, sempre se apagou diante de Marx. «Ao lado de Marx, escreveu ele a um velho amigo, fui sempre o segundo violino.»[N65] O seu carinho por Marx enquanto este viveu e a sua veneração à memória do amigo morto foram ilimitados. Este militante austero e pensador rigoroso tinha uma alma profundamente afectuosa.
Durante o seu exílio, depois do movimento de 1848-1849, Marx e Engels não se dedicaram unicamente ao trabalho científico. Marx fundou em 1864 a "Associação Internacional dos Trabalhadores», de que assegurou a direcção durante dez anos. Engels desempenhou nela, igualmente, um papel considerável. A actividade da «Associação Internacional», que unia, de acordo com os ideais de Marx, os proletários de todos os países, teve uma enorme importância no desenvolvimento do movimento operário. Mesmo após a sua dissolução, nos anos 70, continuou o papel de Marx e Engels como unificadores da classe operária. Melhor: pode dizer-se que a sua importância como dirigentes espirituais do movimento operário não cessou de crescer, pois o próprio movimento se desenvolvia sem parar. Após a morte de Marx, Engels, sozinho, continuou a ser o conselheiro e o dirigente dos socialistas da Europa. A ele vinham pedir conselhos e indicações tanto os socialistas alemães, cuja força crescia contínua e rapidamente apesar das perseguições governamentais, como os representantes dos países atrasados, por exemplo, os espanhóis, romenos, russos, que meditavam e mediam então os seus primeiros passos. Todos eles corriam ao riquíssimo tesouro dos conhecimentos e experiência do velho Engels.
Marx e Engels, que conheciam o russo e liam obras publicadas nessa língua, interessaram-se vivamente pela Rússia, seguiam com simpatia o movimento revolucionário do nosso país e mantinham relações com os revolucionários russos. Ambos eram já democratas antes de se tornarem socialistas e tinham profundamente arraigado o sentimento democrático de ódio à arbitrariedade política. Este sentimento político nato, aliado a uma profunda compreensão teórica da relação existente entre a arbitrariedade política e a opressão económica, assim como a sua riquíssima experiência da vida, tinham tornado Marx e Engels extraordinariamente sensíveis precisamente no sentido político.
Por isso a luta heróica de um pequeno punhado de revolucionários russos contra o poderoso governo tsarista encontrou a mais viva simpatia no coração dos dois experimentados revolucionários. Inversamente, toda a veleidade de voltar as costas, em nome de pretensas vantagens económicas, à tarefa mais importante e mais imediata dos socialistas russos — a conquista da liberdade política — parecia-lhes naturalmente suspeita, vendo mesmo nisso uma traição à grande causa da revolução social. «A emancipação do proletariado deve ser obra do próprio proletariado», eis o que ensinavam constantemente Marx e Engels[N66]. E para lutar pela sua emancipação económica, o proletariado deve conquistar certos direitos políticos. Além disso, Marx e Engels viram com toda a clareza que uma revolução política na Rússia teria também uma enorme importância para o movimento operário na Europa ocidental. A Rússia autocrática foi sempre o baluarte de toda a reacção europeia.
A situação internacional excepcionalmente favorável em que a Rússia se encontrou depois da guerra de 1870, que semeou durante muito tempo a discórdia entre a França e a Alemanha, não podia evidentemente deixar de fazer aumentar a importância da Rússia autocrática como força reaccionária. Só uma Rússia livre, que não tivesse necessidade de oprimir os Polacos, os Finlandeses, os Alemães, os Arménios e outros pequenos povos, nem de lançar, incessantemente, a França e a Alemanha uma contra a outra, permitiria à Europa contemporânea respirar aliviada do peso das guerras, enfraqueceria todos os elementos reaccionários da Europa e aumentaria as forças da classe operária europeia. Por isso mesmo Engels advogou calorosamente a instauração da liberdade política na Rússia no próprio interesse do movimento operário do Ocidente. Os revolucionários russos perderam nele o seu melhor amigo.
Friedrich Engels
Barmen, 1820 - Londres, 1895
Filósofo alemão. Oriundo de uma família da burguesia industrial, observa e conhece desde jovem as penosas condições de vida dos trabalhadores, tanto na Alemanha como em Inglaterra. Independentemente de Marx, e inclusive antes dele, chega a posições teóricas e políticas revolucionárias. Prova disso é a sua obra de 1845, A Situação da Classe Trabalhadora em Inglaterra, fruto de dois anos de estada em Manchester. Este livro é a sua primeira análise de uma situação histórica determinada, cujas formas de existência e de luta social são explicáveis em virtude das condições económicas dominantes. A partir deste delineamento, Engels postula a necessidade de uma transformação radical de tipo comunista. A atitude intelectual de Engels diferencia-se da de Marx: enquanto o primeiro se centra no carácter concreto dos fenómenos que estudava, o segundo fá-lo com um alto nível de abstracção. Em termos gerais esta característica mantém-se ao longo de toda a sua colaboração. Fruto dela, assim como da sua dedicação à luta política, são o Manifesto do Partido Comunista, de 1848, e a constituição, dois anos mais tarde, de uma Associação Internacional de Trabalhadores.
Em 1848 instala-se em Manchester, de onde colabora activamente na tentativa revolucionária que tem lugar nesse ano, entre outros locais, na Alemanha. Engels, sem perder de vista os estudos e análises económicas de Marx, dedica-se a pôr-se em dia quanto aos grandes progressos registados naqueles anos nos diversos ramos do saber. Graças a esta incansável actividade intelectual pode preparar e completar a edição de boa parte de O Capital, de Karl Marx, e elaborar uma série de escritos polémicos destinados a esclarecer as fases do materialismo: A Revolução Científica do Senhor Dühring (obra conhecida como Anti-Dühring), A Origem da Família da Propriedade Privada e do Estado e A Dialéctica da Natureza (publicada postumamente).
Friedrich Engels
ENGELS, Friedrich (1820-1895).
Dirigente e mestre do proletariado; fundou, em colaboração com Karl Marx, a teoria marxista, a teoria do comunismo científico, a filosofia do materia­lismo dialéctico e histórico.
Nasceu na cidade de Barmen (Alemanha).
Desde os ‘seus anos de juventude, Engels sentiu-se atraído para a luta pela transformação das relações sociais dominantes.
No Outono de 1841, ingressou no serviço militar, que cumpriu em ‘Berlim; aproveitava o tempo livre para assistir a aulas da Universidade.
Aderiu à ala esquerda dos jovens hegelianos.
Publicou, então, uma brilhante e profunda crítica às ideias místico-religiosas de Schelling (Schelling e a revelação», 1842, e outros trabalhos).
Simultaneamente, critica também Hegel pelas suas conclusões conservadoras e pelas contradi­ções da sua dialéctica idealista.
Nas ideias de ‘Engels, produz-se uma autêntica mudança radical quando se encontra em Inglaterra, país a que se deslocara, por insistência de seu pai, para se dedicar aos estudos comerciais.
Ao tomar contacto com a vida da classe operária do país do capitalismo então mais desenvolvido, Engels reflectiu profundamente sobre as causas da insuportável situação económica do proletariado e da sua carência de direitos políticos, estudou as insuficiências ideológicas que se notavam no movimento cartista, com as sua ideias utópicas sobre a renúncia voluntária dos capitalistas ao poder.
Em resultado dos seus estudos, apareceram os trabalhos «Apontamentos para uma crítica da economia política» (1844), qualificado por Marx como esboço genial da crítica às categorias económicas, e «A situação da classe operária na Inglaterra» (publicado em 1845).
Nesses trabalhos, Engels deu uma explicação científica da missão histórica do proletariado, pela primeira vez que o proletariado não é apenas uma classe que sofre, como, ainda, uma classe que luta pela sua libertação.
Em Inglaterra, Engels torna-se socialista.
Em breve abandona este pais e em 1844 encontra-se com Marx em Paris.
Aquele encontro foi o ponto de partida da profunda e comovedora amizade dos dois grandes homens, amizade que se cimentava numa comunidade de ideias e de luta prática.
As obras «A Sagrada Família Alemã» e «A Ideologia Alemã», por eles escritas em 1844-1846, são consagradas ao exame crítico das concepções filosóficas - então dominantes - de Hegel, Feuerbach e seus discípulos, assim como à elaboração dos fundamentos do materialismo dialéctico e histórico.
Simultaneamente, Marx e Engels levam a cabo um imenso trabalho prático para organizar a «Liga dos Comunistas», depois convertida no partido revolucionário do proletariado.
Em 1847, Engels escreve o projecto de programa da «Liga», «Princípios do comunismo», que depois foi como base para a elaboração do «Manifesto do Partido comunista» (1848), que proclamava o nascimento de uma doutrina marxista íntegra, da ideologia científica da classe operária.
A actividade jornalística de Engels foi de grande importância para a propaganda da teoria da luta proletária e para dar coesão às forças democráticas.
Engels recebe o baptismo de fogo nos acontecimentos que tiveram lugar na Alemanha em 1848-1849, combatendo nas fileiras das tropas revolucionárias.
Vencida a revolução, abandona a sua terra com os últimos destacamentos de patriotas.
Nos anos seguintes, vivendo na emigração, Engels generaliza a experiência da revolução alemã nos seus trabalhos «A guerra camponesa na Alemanha» e «Revolução e contra-revolução na Alemanha», revelando o papel dos camponeses como aliados do proletariado e desmascarando a traição da burguesia.
Depois de ter fixado a sua residência na Inglaterra, para onde também se muda Marx, Engels participa activamente •no movi­mento operário, na fundação da ‘1 Internacional e na luta contra as concepções oportunistas pequeno-burguesas e anarquistas.
Desde então, Engels, no decurso de quatro decénios, ajuda por todos os meios Marx no trabalho que este leva a cabo sobre «O Capital», cujos segundo e terceiro tomas são •editados pelo próprio Engels, já depois da morte do seu grande amigo, desen­volvendo um enorme labor de investigação.
Enquanto Marx dedicava a sua principal atenção à preparação de «O Capital», Engels continuava trabalhando para fundamentar e desenvolver em todos os sentidos a filosofia do materialismo dialéctica ~ histórico.
A sua contribuição para dotar de sólidos conhecimentos a filosofia do marxismo, é imensa.
Obras como «Ludwig Feuerbach e o fim da filosofia clássica alemã», o «Anti-Dühring», «A origem da família, da propriedade privada e do Estado», e outras, con­tinuam constituindo a explicação clássica da essência e do valor da filosofia marxista.
É singularmente elevado o mérito de Engels no que se refere à aplicação das ideias do materialismo dialéctica à ciência natural.
As teses enunciadas por Engels nos livros «:Ludwig Feuerbach.
», «Anti-Duhring» e, sobretudo, «Dia­léctica da Natureza» são ideias cuja profundidade só começou a ser entendida depois de muitos decénios.
Muitas das desco­bertas fundamentais da ciência do século XX foram, na essência, previstas por Engels (por exemplo, a concepção da indissolubilidade entre a matéria e o movimento, assim como a teoria, relacionada com esta ideia, da unidade de espaço e tempo; a representação acerca do carácter inesgotável das formas da matéria e da complexa estrutura do átomo; a crítica da teoria sobre a «morte térmica» do universo; a concepção da vida como forma do movimento da matéria e como surgida num determinado estádio do desenvolvimento da natureza inorgânica, etc.).
Os seus grandes conhecimentos sobre diversos ramos do saber, permitiram a Engels elaborar um sistema bem estruturado de classificação das ciências, situando, na base do que têm de especifico cada uma das disciplinas, as formas objectivas do movimento da matéria.
Engels nega-se decididamente a atribuir à filosofia o papel que lhe não corresponde de ciência das ciências e insiste no valor metodológico da filosofia.
Proporcionou à filosofia uma bússola que lhe permite orientar-se nos inumeráveis sistemas e escolas do passado ao formular o problema básico da filosofia e ao pôr a claro o carácter de classe que esta possui.
São de extraordinária importância a contribuição de Engels para o desenvolvimento da teoria do conhecimento e a sua crítica do agnosticismo.
Possuem um valor duradouro e a sua proposição e elaboração de vários problemas da lógica dialéctica.
Engels desenvolve as teses fundamentais do materialismo histórico e dedica muita atenção à crítica das representações vulgares sobre a concepção materialista da história demonstra que o papel determinante das condições económica na vida dos homens não reduz no que quer que seja a transcendência das ideias, nem tão-pouco o significado da personalidade na história, luta contra as interpretações mecanicistas do nexo e da correlação entre a base e a superestrutura ideológica, etc.
Obra de Engels, publicada pela primeira vez na URSS (1925).
Compõe-se de uma série de escritos (1873-1886) sobre os mais importantes problemas da dialéctica da natureza.
Engels considerava que a filosofia do materialismo dialéctico, devia basear-se no conhecimento das ciências naturais em todos os seus aspectos, e que estas ciências, por sua vez, só se podem desenvolver fecundante na base do materialismo dialéctico.
Na «Dialéctica da natureza» faz-se uma profunda investigação filosófica da história e dos problemas capitais da ciência natural, uma crítica do materialismo mecanicista, do método metafísico, assim como das con­cepções idealistas na ciência natural.
Muito versado na ciência da sua época, Engels mostrou como a concepção metafísica da natureza se quebra internamente devido ao próprio avanço da ciência e deve ceder o seu lugar ao método dialéctico; sublinhou, igualmente, que os naturalistas se vêem crescentemente obrigados a passar do pensamento metafísico ao dialéc­tico, o que se reflecte muito fecundamente na própria ciência natural.
Engels expôs, dando-lhe um amplo e sólido fundamento, a teoria materialista dialéctica sobre as formas do movimento da matéria; aplicando esta teoria, investigou os princípios relativos à classificação das ciências naturais, estabeleceu a sua classificação concreta que utilizou na estruturação do seu trabalho.
Engels submeteu a uma circunstanciada investigação filosófica as leis fundamentais da ciência natural e mostrou o carácter dialéctico destas leis.
Assim, revelou o sentido autêntico da lei da conservação e transformação da energia, a que denominou lei absoluta da natureza.
Examinou também o chamado segundo principio da termodinâmica e mostrou a falsidade da conclusão segundo a qual o universo se encaminha para a sua morte térmica («Morte térmica» do universo).
Depois, Engels analisou com grande profundidade a teoria de Darwin sobre a origem das espécies e demonstrou que o seu conteúdo principal - a teoria do desenvolvimento concorda completamente com a dialéctica materialista.
Simultaneamente, descobriu na darwiniana certas lacunas e insuficiências.
Dedicou muita atenção ao estudo do papel do trabalho na formação e desenvolvimento do homem.
Demonstrou, também, que as operações e conceitos matemáticos são um reflexo das relações que se verificam entre coisas e processos na própria natureza, em que aqueles têm os seus protótipos reais; sublinhou que a introdução da grandeza variável na matemática superior significa que a dia­léctica penetra nela.
Engels investigou a relação entre casualidade e necessidade.
Com admirável mestria dialéctica salientou o erro tanto da posição idealista como da posição mecanicista na focalização deste complexo problema e deu-lhe uma solução marxista; pôs a claro, tomando como exemplo a teoria darwiniana, que a própria ciência natural confirma e concretiza as teses da dialéctica.
Claro está que algumas questões particulares que se relacionam com problemas especiais da ciência natural e que foram tratados por Engels na sua «Dialéctica da natureza» envelheceram, e não podiam deixar de envelhecer, dado o enorme progresso da ciência; mas a maneira materialista dialéctica de proceder à análise das questões científicas e de filosóficos e as generalizar, conserva inteiramente a sua actualidade nos nossos dias.
Muitas das teses da obra anteciparam-se em dezenas de anos ao desenvolvimento da ciência natural.
O livro constitui um modelo de como se deve focar de modo dialéctico, os complicados problemas desta ciência.
Engels não tinha preparado para a impressão a sua «Dialéctica da natureza», que consta de artigos soltos, notas e fragmentos, facto que se deve ter em conta ao proceder ao estudo da obra.

          Karl Heinrich Marx   

Karl Heinrich Marx

(1818 - 1883)

  Filósofo, economista e militante revolucionário alemão de origem judaica nascido em Trier, na Renânia, então província da Prússia,cujo pensamento de coletivizar as riquezas e distribuir justiça social, mudou radicalmente a história política da humanidade, gerando as revoluções socialistas. De uma família de vida nos padrões de classe média, sua juventude foi dedicada aos estudos e a uma vida tranqüila dentro da cultura burguesa européia. Filho de um advogado judeu, Hirschel Marx, depois de estudar em sua cidade natal, ingressou na Universidade de Bonn (1835), onde estudou direito, história, filosofia, arte e literatura e participou da luta política estudantil. Transferindo-se para a Universidade de Berlim (1836), começou a estudar a filosofia de Hegel, juntou-se ao grupo dos jovens hegelianos e tornou-se membro de uma sociedade formada em torno do professor de teologia Bruno Bauer, que considerava os Evangelhos narrativas fantásticas suscitadas por necessidades psicológicas. Apresentou sua tese de doutorado, em que analisava, na perspectiva hegeliana, as diferenças entre os sistemas filosóficos de Demócrito e de Epicuro (1841). Mesmo critico das teses de Hegel, o admirava muito e, por isso, sentiu-se prejudicado pelo governo alemão, poisFrederico IV começava a perseguir todos os simpatizantes de Hegel. Como professor foi proibido de pôr os pés na universidade (1842) e, desempregado, para sobreviver tornou-se jornalista em Colônia, colaborando com o jornal Rheinische Zeitung (1842), no qual, devido à sua competência, chegou a assumir sua direção ainda naquele ano. Como diretor do jornal patrocinou um estudo sobre a vida de camponeses que roubavam madeira pertencente ao Estado. Esse estudo provou que os camponeses recebiam um salário tão baixo, que passavam fome, e por conseqüência roubavam a madeira para vendê-la. Para resolver esse problema de criminalidade, propôs que se aumentassem os salários dos camponeses em vez de prendê-los. O governo alemão não gostou da sugestão e, por isso, fechou o jornal e ele foi levado a se exilar em Paris (1843). Em Paris, organizou uma revista que denuncia a repressão do governo alemão contra a cultura e contra os trabalhadores. Em virtude disto o governo alemão pressionou o francês, que resolveu expulsá-lo da França. E assim, novamente por motivos políticos, mudou-se para Bruxelas (1845). A essa altura da vida já se encontrava extremamente interessado pelo movimento dos trabalhadores e, diante de tanta exploração e miséria, percebeu que a única saída era a união dos mesmos para lutar pelos seus direitos. Passa,então, a se dedicar integralmente a escrever artigos e livros contra a sociedade capitalista e a sua substituição por uma sociedade socialista. Ali conheceu Friedrich Engels, com quem manteria estreita colaboração até o fim da vida. Escreveram a a quatro mãos Die heilige Familie (1845) e Die deutsche Ideologie (1845-1846, publicada em 1926) e juntos reorganizaram a Liga Comunista (1847). O movimento operário internacional preparou um congresso em Londres (1848) e o convidou para expor suas idéias sobre como deve ser uma sociedade sem exploração. Foi nessa oportunidade que ele apresentou ao público seu artigo Manifesto Comunista a famosa publicação Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei, em que com Engels afirmava, num estudo em dois volumes, que a solidariedade internacional dos trabalhadores em busca de sua emancipação superaria o poder dos Estados nacionais. Junto com Engels pregou uma revolução internacional que derrubasse a burguesia e implantasse o comunismo, nova sociedade sem classes. Era o início de revoluções na França e na Alemanha e, em por causa desta publicação, foi expulso pelo governo da Bélgica, tendo de permanecer em Londres. Depois de participar do movimento revolucionário (1848) na Alemanha, regressou definitivamente a Londres, onde durante o resto da vida contou com a generosa ajuda econômica de Engels para manter a família. Morreu no dia 14 de março (1883) e foi enterrado no Highgate Cemetery, norte de Londres. Nesse exílio escreveu e publicou Der 18 Brumaire des Louis Bonaparte (1852), Zur Kritik der politischen Ökonomie (1859) e o primeiro volume de o primeiro volume de sua obra mais importante, Das Kapital (1867). Os volumes seguintes dessa obra, para a qual reuniu vasta documentação, seriam publicados somente depois de sua morte (1884 /1894). Voltou à atividade política quando participou da fundação da Associação Internacional de Trabalhadores (1864). Como líder e principal inspirador dessa Primeira Internacional, sua presença se reafirmou por ocasião da segunda Comuna de Paris (1871), movimento revolucionário de que a associação participou ativamente e em que pereceram mais de vinte mil revoltosos. Suas divergências iniciadas (1872) com o anarquista Mikhail Bakunin, provocaram a derrocada da Internacional. Ainda participou da fundação do Partido Social Democrata Alemão (1875) e em seguida retirou-se da atividade política para concluir Das Kapital. Para ele, o capitalismo era a última forma de organização social baseada na exploração do homem pelo homem. Incansável escritor de suas idéias, muitos de seus escritos só foram publicados postumamente em virtude de seu estado de pobreza, a repressão policial ao movimento dos trabalhadores e até por ser pouco conhecido em sua época, a não ser pelos trabalhadores. Durante a vida, não pôde ver as conseqüências do que tinha escrito, no entanto, com o passar dos anos, seus livros tornaram-se mundialmente famosos, inspirando os mais diversos movimentos de libertação de povos oprimidos. Além das obras já citadas, em inglês ainda são consideradas obras importantes The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature (1841, publicada em 1902), Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1843), Introduction to a Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right(1844), Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (1844), Comments on James Mill's Elements of Political Economy (1844, publcada em 1932), The Holy Family or a Critique of Critical Critique (1844), Theses on Feuerbach (1845, publcada em 1886),The Poverty of Philosophy (1847), Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Germany (1851,  publcada em  1896), Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations (1857, publcada em 1939), Outlines for a Critique of Political Economy (1859), Theories of Surplus Value, em três volumes (1861-1863), The Process of Production of Capital , em três volumes (1867/1885/1894), The Civil War in France (1871) e Critique of the Gotha Program (1875), entre outros. Com F. Engels também destacaram-se A Critique of the German Ideology (1846), Heroes of the Exile (1852, publcada em 1930) e Fictitious Splits in the (First) International (1872). Com Jules Guesde escreveu The Programme of the Parti Ouvrier (1880).


A  N  E  X  O

A difícil vida "militante" de Marx

(Trecho transcrito do site ECONOMIABR.NET

( . . .). Na cidade natal, quando ainda era  jovem, Marx ficou amigo de um barão, o qual lhe falara sobre o Socialismo Utópico. É a primeira vez que Marx ouve falar na possibilidade de uma futura sociedade sem classes e sem exploração. Conhece a filha desse barão, Jenny; namoram por mais de sete anos. Casando-se com Jenny, Marx terá vários filhos. Começou seus estudos universitários em Bonn. ( . . . ) Uma carta que Marx escreveu a seu amigo Engels, em 8 de setembro de 1852, dá uma idéia da pobreza em que se encontrava: "(...) minha mulher está doente. Minha filha, Jenny, está doente. Heleninha está com uma espécie de febre nervosa. Não pude e nem posso chamar o médico por falta de dinheiro para os remédios. Há oito dias que alimento minha família unicamente com pão e batatas. E não sei se ainda vou poder comprar pão e batatas para hoje" (in Leonardo Konder, Marx — vida e obra, p. 96). Karl Marx veio a falecer no dia 14 de março de 1883, devido a uma infecção na garganta e muito abalado com a morte de sua mulher e de sua filha mais velha. (. . .)


Serviço Social Marcas:

          The White House literally has zero employees working in its science division   
White House Has Zero Employees Working In Its Science Division Democrat members of the House Science Committee called on President Donald Trump in May to appoint a director for the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). This week, the last three remaining employees of th...
          Fuori dai radar   
CHEAP PEACEKEEPING Dietro insistenza degli Stati Uniti, il bilancio delle Nazioni Unite per le missioni di peacekeeping dal 1° luglio 2017 al 30 giugno 2018 è stato ridotto di oltre 570 milioni di dollari rispetto all’anno scorso. Le missioni più colpite saranno quelle in Darfur e Repubblica Democratica del Congo, mentre quelle ad Haiti e […]
          States Miss Budget Deadline, Go Into Full Or Partial Shutdown Mode   
Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET New Jersey, Maine and Illinois are all facing at least partial government shutdowns after their legislatures failed to pass budgets. Washington and Alaska managed eleventh-hour deals to avoid a similar fate. Connecticut failed to pass a budget, but the state's governor stepped in with an emergency spending order. The new fiscal year for these and 40 other states begins today. New Jersey The state is under the second shutdown in its history after the Legislature, controlled by Democrats, failed to reach an agreement by a midnight Friday deadline. The showdown was prompted partly by a rift between Gov. Chris Christie and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. The Associated Press writes: "Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney agree on legislation to make over Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, including allowing the state insurance commissioner to determine a range for the company's surplus that if exceeded must be put to use benefiting the public and policyholders.
          DR Congo declares end of Ebola outbreak   

MSF volunteers work during the Ebola outbreak in August AFP/Getty Images The Congolese health minister on Saturday declared the end of an Ebola outbreak in a remote northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo which caused four deaths in the area. On May 12, officials declared an outbreak of the highly contagious disease, the ...

The post DR Congo declares end of Ebola outbreak appeared first on News and Gist Portal.

          Product Designer - Udacity, Inc. - New Delhi, Delhi   
Udacity's mission is to democratize education. We're an online learning platform offering groundbreaking education in fields such as artificial intelligence,
From Udacity, Inc. - Thu, 29 Jun 2017 16:39:11 GMT - View all New Delhi, Delhi jobs
          Front End developer - Udacity, Inc. - New Delhi, Delhi   
Udacity's mission is to democratize education. We're an online learning platform offering groundbreaking education in fields such as artificial intelligence,
From Udacity, Inc. - Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:31:42 GMT - View all New Delhi, Delhi jobs
          Comment on In need of an identity by Michael BG   
@ Brian Robinson I had noted you hadn’t responded early, so thank you for your response. There is a difference between Labourism and Social Liberalism as Social Liberalism has at its heart the individual and the freedom to make choices and not the collectivism of Labour. Still it might not be seen as very distinctive, nevertheless in the past we were seen as distinct from Labour and so it should be possible to be seen as distinct again when we are a social liberal party again. If there is a majority to be again a social liberal party that is enough in a democratic party. The only way we as a party will survive will be as a social liberal party. I think we have proved that as an economic liberal party lies our extinction.
          Comment on Party members question Vince Cable on Brexit, freedom of movement and single market by Ed McMillan-Scott   
Vince Cable's statement this morning and his i/v with the Yorkshire Post today didn't have a word about remaining in the Customs Union and describing negotiations as “even at this late stage” when they haven’t actually begun suggests a less than ambitious attitude. Nothing in our position was “premature”. The LibDem position on Brexit on which I stood in the GE was unequivocal: “Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to give the final say to the British people in a referendum on whether to accept the deal or remain in the EU; keep the UK in the single market and customs union – trade must continue without damaging customs controls at the border; protect the rights of EU and UK citizens living abroad – ending the uncertainty for millions of people.” (Source LibDem website)
          Comment on Well that didn’t take long! Vince answers the Brexit, freedom of movement and single market questions by Ed McMillan-Scott   
Not a word about remaining in the Customs Union and describing negotiations as "even at this late stage" when they haven't actually begun suggests a less than ambitious attitude. Nothing in our position was "premature". The LibDem position on Brexit on which I stood in the GE was unequivocal: "Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to give the final say to the British people in a referendum on whether to accept the deal or remain in the EU; keep the UK in the single market and customs union - trade must continue without damaging customs controls at the border; protect the rights of EU and UK citizens living abroad - ending the uncertainty for millions of people." (Source LibDem website)
          County Primaries To Have One Office, One School Board Seat   
Primary election day in Summit County isn't going to be busy for the County Clerk's office. Clerk Kent Jones confirms that there will be only one county-wide contests, for Democrats, and three School Board races. Rick Brough has more.
          Two Candidates Move Forward To Seek County Auditor Position   
Summit County's Democratic delegates gathered Saturday afternoon and voted on the local contest within their party. They decided that two candidates for County Auditor, Alex Butwinski and Michael Howard, will go on to a primary in late June. Rick Brough has more.
          UPDATE 1-Maine governor orders partial shutdown with budget in limbo   
July 1- A budget impasse between Maine Governor Paul LePage and Democratic lawmakers triggered a shutdown of nonessential state services on Saturday, after the conservative Republican threatened to veto a bipartisan compromise reached by lawmakers. "This is about the future of Maine. The Maine people are taxed enough.
          UPDATE 1-Deutsche Bank rejects U.S. Democrats' call for Trump finance details   
FRANKFURT, June 29- Deutsche Bank's external counsel in Washington, D.C. rejected on Thursday demands by U.S. House Democrats to provide details of President Donald Trump's finances, citing privacy laws. Deutsche Bank has loaned the Trump organization millions of dollars for real-estate ventures, and five Democrats on the House of Representatives Financial...
          Democratic Party Lies In Rubble   

“The Democratic Party’s in disarray.” That is what Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) told Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart. Dingell’s observation about the Democratic Party is reflected in the following headlines. In What’s Wrong With the Democrats?, Franklin Foer describes the strategy that the Democratic Party has been using. Then he says this: “Anyone who examined [...]

The post Democratic Party Lies In Rubble appeared first on The Moderate Voice.

          Republic Day: NPP salutes Ghana   

The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has commended leaders of the country over the years, lauding significant strides made by the country “especially in the areas of peace-building and democratic governance”. On 1st July, 1960, then Prime Minister Dr Kwame Nkrumah proclaimed Ghana a republic and became its first president. This year marks the 57th […]

The post Republic Day: NPP salutes Ghana appeared first on GhanaPoliticsOnline.

          DISBAND VIGILANTE GROUPS —Spio Urges Nana Addo   

Former minister of Trade and Industries under the erstwhile John Dramani Mahama administration, Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah has urged president Nana Addo to put in measures to disband vigilante groups and their activities. In a statement copied to, the one time flagbearer aspirant of the National Democratic Congress recounted the numerous acts of violence and […]

The post DISBAND VIGILANTE GROUPS —Spio Urges Nana Addo appeared first on GhanaPoliticsOnline.

          Party of the Poor?   
In the past, I have not been pleased with either party, but have voted Republican only for their pro-life stance, which has not always been as strong as it might have been. Sadly, we have watched the Democratic party go from being the party of the working class to the party of abortion and sodomy. From Crisis:
For decades liberals have claimed that Democrats care for the poor and Republicans don’t. And they really believe it. A meme that circulated widely over left-leaning blogs a few years back had a depiction of Jesus with a child on his lap, reading,

It’s ironic because the biggest enemy of the Republicans isn’t Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, it’s THIS MAN… He said heal the sick, feed the hungry care for the weakest among us, and always pray in private.

The real irony for the Party of Pro-choice and its apologists is the child in Jesus’ arms. More recently, religious progressive Jack Jenkins wrote a piece, bluntly titled, “The Strange Origins of the GOP Ideology that Rejects Caring for the Poor” in reaction to comments made by GOP Congressman Roger Marshall on health care. In an attempt to explain why government-run programs don’t work, the Kansas Representative remarked, “Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us. There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.” Although Marshall clarified that he was speaking “in the context of supporting the obligation we have to always take care of people (emphasis added),” progressives, imagining themselves tapped into the divine mind-set, took to the media with their own hermeneutics.

There was MSNBC host Joe Scarborough who disparaged the lawmaker’s comments as a “complete twisting of everything that the Gospel is about. Everything! Read the Gospel. Read the Sermon on the Mount. … I mean, Jesus was pretty clear.” Yes, he was, and Scarborough would do well to read those texts himself—or, perhaps, a little more closely.

There was also Matthew Loftus in America: The Jesuit Review who traced Marshall’s biblical quote to Deuteronomy 15:11 where the Israelites were commended “[to] always be generous and open-handed with their neighbors.” Jack Jenkins included a link to the same verse in his critique. Such biblical expositors should note that unless we are living under a theocratic government, as was ancient Israel, the state has no biblical duty to the poor. As James Madison put it, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of government.” Our nation’s Founders understood that, biblically, the role of the state is limited to protecting the citizenry, preserving civil order, and executing justice, and that care of the needy is the responsibility of those closest to their need—neighbors and de-centralized civic and faith-based organizations.

Contrary to the “clobber” verses marshaled to argue otherwise (e.g., Matthew 5 and Matthew 25), when Jesus taught about duty to the poor, he was not speaking to government officials or their political bodies, he was speaking to his disciples—sometimes privately—indicating that the care of the needy is their responsibility as Christians.

For nineteen hundred years, their followers did just that, individually, and through the collective of the Church, caring for each other and their neighbors by establishing hospitals, orphanages, food distribution systems, and houses for the poor and aged. Although exceptions can be found on both sides of the political aisle, Republicans do not care any less about the poor than Democrats. They just differ on how and by whom it should be given. In short, they believe that care is best handled at the local level by individuals and “mediating” institutions like churches, faith-based charities, civic groups, and other volunteer associations. They reject programs that encourage a culture of idleness and dependence, in favor of those that help the able-bodied poor become employable and self-reliant so that they can have the dignity of earning a living and providing for their families. (Read more.)

          Germany's Atonement?   
A fascinating article on Merkel, with a reference to my cousin John Laughland. From American Thinker:
In the mainstream media, the policies of the German prime minister, Angela Merkel, are often portrayed as a form of atonement for Germany’s past sins of imperialism and genocide. Letting in a million refugees is supposedly the absolute negation of the Holocaust, and pressing for further European cooperation is seen as the opposite of Germany’s old attempts to violently bring the rest of Europe under its control. And for these very reasons, progressive politicians and intellectuals around the world are now looking up to Merkel as the defender of pluralistic Western values.

At first sight, this praise for Merkel doesn’t seem so far-fetched, even for conservatives who fundamentally oppose her policies. After all, she is acting out of genuine goodwill and charity towards the downtrodden of the Middle East, isn’t she? And we may disagree about the feasibility and consequences of further European integration, but given Europe’s bloody past it seems perfectly understandable that Germany’s prime minister is calling for more harmony among European nations.

Nonetheless, it is important to point out that the popular image both of Angela Merkel and of modern Germany is deeply flawed. Because far from representing a negation -- or a misguided attempt at negation -- of past German policies and attitudes, the modern German mentality is in many ways a mutation or an update of the same mentality that has guided Germany since the eighteenth century, and especially since the unification of the country in 1870.
Let us begin with the more obvious parallel: German support for further European integration. Despite all the German talk about subordinating narrow national interests to the European project, careful observers must have noticed the coincidence that the Germans always see themselves as the leaders of this disinterested project, and that the measures deemed to be necessary for further European cooperation always seem to be German-made.

Are the Germans really such idealistic supporters of the European project? It is more probable that in reality they see the European Union as an ideal instrument to control the rest of Europe. Indeed, in 1997 the British author John Laughland wrote a book about this subject, The Tainted Source: the Undemocratic Origins of the European Idea, which is still worth reading for anyone who wants understand what kind of organization the EU actually is. According to Laughland, the Germans are such big supporters of the European ideal because they know that all important decisions in a confederation of states can ultimately only be taken by or with the approval of the most important state -- in this case, Germany. (Read more.)

          UN demands electoral timetable for troubled DR Congo   

UN demands electoral timetable for troubled DR CongoThe United Nations on Saturday called on the Democratic Republic of Congo to publish a timetable for elections which are due by the end of the year. Under a deal brokered last New Year's Eve, President Joseph Kabila agreed to a transitional arrangement enabling him to stay in power pending presidential and legislative elections by the end of 2017. In a statement, the UN's special representative for DR Congo, Maman Sidikou, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) "to publish an official, consensus-based timetable, without further delay" for staging the elections.

          Presentato in Senato un DDL che prevede l'introduzione nel codice penale del reato di omicidio sul lavoro   

Giovedì 9 febbraio 2017, presso la Sala Caduti di Nassirya di Palazzo Madama, si è tenuta la presentazione da parte dei senatori Giovanni Barozzino (Sinistra Italiana) e Felice Casson (Partito democratico) del DDL: “INTRODUZIONEDEL REATO DI OMICIDIO SUL LAVORO E DEL REATO DI LESIONI PERSONALI SUL LAVOROGRAVI O GRAVISSIME”.

Il disegno di legge di modifica del codice penale prevede pene fino a 18 anni. Punire più severamente chi provoca la morte nei luoghi di lavoro è questo il fine del disegno di legge presentato da Barozzino  e Casson. Sulla falsariga del dibattito sviluppatosi all’epoca dell’introduzione nel codice penale del reato di omicidio stradale, i proponenti vogliono fare luce sul dramma, spesso dimenticato, di tante famiglie che salutano al mattino il proprio caro che esce per andare al lavoro e lo ritrovano, morto, la sera.

In media, queste tragedie si ripetono più di due volte ogni giorno. Secondo l’Inail, nel 2015 (ultimo dato ufficiale comunicato dall’Istituto), i morti sul lavoro sono stati 694, mentre le denunce totali di infortunio mortale sono state 1.236. Per l’Osservatorio indipendente di Bologna sugli infortuni, nel 2016 i morti sono stati 641, se si contano soltanto gli incidenti avvenuti nei luoghi di lavoro, che salgono però oltre i 1.400 conteggiando pure i lavoratori morti in itinere, cioè durante il tragitto casa-lavoro. Una vera e propria strage.

«Il disegno di legge – spiega il senatore Barozzino, primo firmatario del ddl – si inserisce nel solco del Testo unico 81 del 2008 sulla sicurezza dei lavoratori, confermandone il dettato ma inasprendo le pene in caso di colpa cosciente. In sostanza, chi, consapevolmente, provoca la morte di un lavoratore, deve assumersene in pieno la responsabilità, anche sotto il profilo penale».

L’articolo 1 del disegno di legge, che va a modificare l’articolo 589 del codice penale, prevede la reclusione da due a sette anni per «chiunque cagioni per colpa la morte di una persona con violazione delle norme sugli infortuni sul lavoro e delle malattie professionali». Aggravi di pena sono previsti nel caso in cui il datore di lavoro non adempia all’obbligo di redigere il documento di valutazione dei rischi o non nomini il responsabile della sicurezza aziendale oppure, ancora, non comunichi all’Inail la natura delle lavorazioni svolte con i conseguenti rischi.

La pena è aumentata da 8 a 12 anni, qualora la morte sia stata causata da agenti fisici, sostanze pericolose o agenti biologici, come, per esempio l’amianto. Il carcere da 5 a 10 anni è invece previsto dal ddl se la morte del lavoratore è provocata da «strumenti non conformi», come, per esempio, i trattori senza arco di protezione (roll bar). Se a morire sono più persone, la pena può inoltre essere aumentata fino a un massimo di 18 anni.

Infine, il ddl introduce due nuove fattispecie di reato: l’omicidio sul lavoro in concorso con lo sfruttamento del lavoratore e l’assenza, da parte del datore di lavoro, dell’assicurazione sugli infortuni sul lavoro. «Un caso purtroppo frequente che colpisce due volte le vittime e le loro famiglie, che non possono nemmeno contare sul risarcimento del danno».

Fonte: Amblav

          Comment on Customer Quackbacks! by buy tadacip online   
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          Did the Democrats ever *want* single payer healthcare?   

"Gephardt, who serves as a Democratic “superdelegate” responsible for choosing the party’s presidential nominee, was asked about the possibility of single payer at the Centene Corporation annual investor day conference at The Pierre, a ritzy five-star hotel in New York City."

"“There is no way you could pass single payer in any intermediate future,” Gephardt declared. America, he added, has the “greatest health care system in the world, bar none.” And while single payer would provide universal coverage, there would be less quality and innovation without the “involvement of the private sector.”

Haley Barbour, the former Republican National Committee chair, another speaker at the event, chimed in to agree. “Hear, hear. Put me down as agreeing with Leader Gephardt as usual,” Barbour chuckled."
          Migranti ad Ameglia, Pd: "Comportamento di De Ranieri non è serio"   
"Il problema dei migranti è complesso e merita di essere affrontato con equilibrio e serietà. Ad Ameglia invece sembra che si sia scelta per l'ennesima volta la strada della demagogia e dello scarica barile". Lo dichiara in una nota il Partito democratico di Ameglia. "È certo più facile e remunerativo a livello di consenso (almeno nell'immediato) usare toni accorati…
          Comment on The Real Gap Between The Rich and The Poor Is Not The Money by Jeroen Hellingman   
Let me respond, not just to the surface message of this post, but to a deeper level that I think is misleading, not by what it says, but by what it doesn't say. Indeed, one half of the story is changing the mind-set of the people to take their fortunes into their own hands, but that only goes that far. The other half should really come from societal change, which nobody can do alone. Too often I hear people ignore the plight of the poor with the simple argument, well, it is their own fault. They should just work harder or smarter -- and basically deny them even a chance to get out. Although I am Dutch and live a confortable live in a rich country, I've also lived in India and been in the Philippines many times, so third world society and conditions are not strange to me. The difference between middle class and rich is that the rich are net possessors of capital (in the economic sense of income generating assets, as opposed to consumption goods). Control of these assets is what makes a different mind-set possible. It is wishful thinking that you can turn that upside down, especially in a world where the rules are bent significantly to the benefit of asset-holders instead of providers of labor. This article is fairly ambivalent in its idea. It jumps from one interpretation of 'rich' to another, but having the mindset will NOT automatically get you the finances. That is a harmful neo-liberal idea that needs to be rejected. Much is established by heritage and luck. I would therefor like to suggest not to mingle the two concepts. Poverty means having not enough resources to achieve your potential in life. You cannot pay for (your children's) schooling, you cannot pay for essential goods, such as healthcare or healthy food, and therefor suffer and actually undermine your earning capability. This is also harmful for society at large, and hence we need to collectively take action to prevent it. Curiously, having too much money also prevents you from achieving your potential. Never having to work for your luxurious escapades is NOT a blessing, and leads to wasteful, destructive behavior. As a society, we should also prevent excessive wealth, as that also undermines our democratic society. For that reason I am very much in favor of progressive income taxes to pay for services that benefit the general good (such as schooling, necessary infrastructure, etc.), and ultimately inheritance taxes that prevent that generations of 'upper class' people can live on the income of assets alone, without ever doing any meaningful work. I think a healthy society should have a ratio between the lowest and highest income earners of about 5, and should actively prevent that ratio to go above 20. Also, an inheritance should never be so large as to enable somebody to do nothing all his life, and still have money left at the end of that life. This would limit inheritances (in European context) to about 2 million euros. Taxing away the excesses of the rich will provide the means of providing for the poor, and also taking care of those who can never care for themselves (handicapped, sick, and old people). Now please don't tell me that progressively taxing high incomes will take away the incentive to work hard. That is another neo-liberal thought that doesn't withstand scrutiny. First, most very high incomes are not labor based, but asset based (incomes from rent). Second: social studies have shown that increases in incomes above about 60.000 euros (again, European standards) are not matched by an increase in well-being. You do not gain more happiness from having more. It is a waste. The incentive for people to work hard who already have a sufficient income will always come from other reasons (yes, one of it is status, expressed by ostensibly displaying wealth -- we simply have to laugh that away as foolish and crude.) -- reasons such as self-expression, building a better society, or just enjoying what you do. In my opinion, everybody needs to think and plan ahead financially. Set aside at least 10 percent of your monthly income to provide for buffers, educate your children and set aside assets to care for you in your old age. People need to realize that borrowing is costly (even at today's low interest rates). Just to end with an example. Donald Trump is a very good example of being a rich man who displays poor behavior, and shows how bad our legal and economic systems are skewed to the benefit of living on assets instead of labor, and how permissive our legal system is of abuse. He lives by creating debts and then defaulting on them; his behavior is destructive, his esthetic tastes abysmal, wasteful and bombastic, his attitude towards other human beings horrendous, he just doesn't care about natural beauty, and his performance as a 'business man' is far below par (if he had just invested his entire inheritance in a fund with a low risk profile, he would have been much richer than he is today).
          Democratic Party Lies In Rubble   
“The Democratic Party’s in disarray.” That is what Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) told Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart. Dingell’s observation about the Democratic Party is reflected in the following headlines. In What’s Wrong With the Democrats?, Franklin Foer describes the strategy that the Democratic Party has been using. Then he says this: “Anyone who examined the strategy that the Democratic Party has embraced ever more tightly in recent years could see its essential precariousness. And anyone could see that investing such grave hopes in the person of Hillary Clinton—who had lost the party’s nomination to a little-known senator in 2008;

          Waar voor je geld   
Waar voor je geld
We zitten alweer in het laatste jaar voor de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen. Voor de zomer stelt de gemeenteraad de voorjaarsnota vast, een meerjarig doorkijkje naar de inkomsten en uitgaven van de gemeente Barendrecht. En die toekomst ziet er financieel rooskleurig uit. We hebben een meerjarig begrotingsoverschot, hoofdzakelijk veroorzaakt doordat gemeenten vanuit het rijk recentelijk een flink extraatje krijgen per jaar. De komende tijd zal menig politieke partij in Barendrecht plannen presenteren, om Barendrecht beter te maken. Over de grote thema’s in Barendrecht gaat ú straks in maart 2018 beslissen, wanneer u naar de stembus gaat. Zo werkt de democratie en dat is een goede zaak. De plannen zullen ongetwijfeld flink variëren. Plannen voor de ‘harde kant’ van gemeentelijk beleid, zoals accommodaties, de buitenruimte, infrastructuur en recreatie. En plannen voor de ‘zachte kant’ van de samenleving: zorg, welzijn, minimabeleid, cultuur, enzovoort. Het is verstandig in de planvorming wel énige terughoudendheid te betrachten. We geven immers gemeenschapsgeldgeld uit en dat hoeft niet per se op. Althans dat houd ik regelmatig voor. Een beetje vet op de botten voor mindere tijden kan ook geen kwaad en de hypotheekschuld die in Barendrecht de afgelopen tien jaar flink was opgelopen, zijn we nou juist weer een beetje [...]
          Roy Cooper Uses Same Obstructionist Playbook As Washington Democrats, But Taxpayers Win With Veto Override   

          With The Senate's Health Care Vote Delayed, What's Next For Democrats?   
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: To health care now - both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are complaining that they aren't working together. Here's Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking on the Senate floor yesterday. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MITCH MCCONNELL: It's unfortunate that our Democratic colleagues refuse to work with us in a serious way to comprehensively address Obamacare's failures in the seven years since they passed it. MARTIN: Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had this response. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) CHUCK SCHUMER: We Democrats are genuinely interested in finding a place where our two parties can come together on health care. MARTIN: So what is the next move for the Democrats? Tom Perez is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He's with us in the studio. Thanks for coming in this morning. TOM PEREZ: Always a pleasure. MARTIN: Do congressional Democrats really want to work with Republicans to try to
          Two Democrats call for scrutiny of possible conflicts of interest in Trump team's OneWest Bank inquiries   

Two House Democrats want Congress to look into possible conflicts of interest in the Trump administration’s handling of investigations into Pasadena’s OneWest Bank — a bank formerly headed by now-Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and Al Green (D-Texas) said...

          Penn State Press Blog   

In reply to B&N Cancels Order for Chelsea Green’s Obama Book

Has a blog entry: Buy Local, Unless There's Money in It for Me

Chelsea Green, a pretty crunchy eco-publisher, has raised the hackles of both B&N and the US indie bookstore community by deciding to initially release its new book titled Obama’s Challenge exclusively through According to this Times article the decision was made to engage the folks attending the upcoming Democratic National Convention. Katherine Walton (not listed on Chelsea Green's staff page for some reason) told the Times that they felt the book was too important to wait for all sales channels to receive the book. Putting it in Amazon's POD program would allow folks immediate access to the book. This decision has apparently cost them a 10,000 copy order from B&N, not to mention quite a few orders from independents.

Full blog entry here.

They make this comment in their blog entry:

If they really felt that what was important here was getting this book's message out, perhaps again they could have learned a little something from university presses. Offer it open access. If they were really prepared to "bonfire" the book in January, they could have survived the decrease in sales online access might have caused. I'll bet it would have been less than the 10,000 copy order B&N canceled.

          Open Letter from the Publisher   

In reply to B&N Cancels Order for Chelsea Green’s Obama Book

An Open Letter to Booksellers Regarding Obama’s Challenge

Open letter to the bookselling community:

First I want to thank all of you for the big positions you have taken on Robert Kuttner’s important new book, Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency. As Hendrick Hertzberg just wrote on his New Yorker blog, “Obama's Challenge is the fruit of Bob Kuttner’s lifetime of engagé reporting, analysis, and advocacy…. it is riveting, brilliant, and persuasive. Kuttner, in concise chapters written with great vigor and clarity, shows what the change could look like if Obama is bold enough to go for it and the gods continue to smile on him.”

Secondly, I want to respond to the initial reaction to our decision to launch this book by offering a special discount coupon at the Democratic National Convention, redeemable exclusively on via print-on-demand technology until the regular print run is available for national distribution.

Letter continued here.

          Obama book falls victim to booksellers' rivalry   

In reply to B&N Cancels Order for Chelsea Green’s Obama Book

Associated Press: Obama book falls victim to booksellers' rivalry

A new book about Sen. Barack Obama has intensified a rivalry between two powerful competitors: Barnes & Noble, Inc. and

Chelsea Green Publishing, a small, liberal publisher based in Vermont, is releasing Robert Kuttner's "Obama's Challenge," a call for Obama to enact a bold, progressive economic agenda. It plans to distribute copies at next week's Democratic National Convention, where Obama is expected to get the party's presidential nomination.

Angering both Barnes & Noble and independent sellers, the publisher also will distribute coupons that can be redeemed exclusively through's BookSurge, a "print-on-demand" service that through digital technology enables books to be printed in small quantities.

          Another article in Publisher's Weekly   

In reply to B&N Cancels Order for Chelsea Green’s Obama Book

Independent Booksellers 'Disheartened' with Chelsea Green

Many independent booksellers are outraged with Chelsea Green’s decision to sell Robert Kuttner’s new book, Obama’s Challenge, by offering a discount coupon at the Democratic National Convention redeemable exclusively on via POD until the regular print run is available for national distribution. Since the announcement last Friday, Chelsea Green’s sales team has received e-mails calling the move “a money-grubbing sellout,” a “slap in the face,” and “another blow to independent bookstores.”

          Police Believe Boyfriend Stabbed Woman to Death in Greece - Spectrum News   

Spectrum News

Police Believe Boyfriend Stabbed Woman to Death in Greece
Spectrum News
GREECE, N.Y. -- What began as a domestic dispute Friday morning on Maiden Lane in Greece turned into a fatal stabbing. A 25-year-old woman was killed and ...
Greece stabbing death: Boyfriend charged with murderRochester Democrat and Chronicle
Police: Woman stabbed and killed by boyfriend in Greece | WHEC.comNews 10NBC

alle 3 nieuwsartikelen »

          Number's up for license plate thief caught on video for not following letter of law ... - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle   

Number's up for license plate thief caught on video for not following letter of law ...
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Petit larceny: On June 26, someone stole two dealer license plates from a car parked at the Mall at Greece Ridge as the victim was at the DMV. Camera footage showed two men getting into a green Pontiac sedan and leaving eastbound on West Ridge Road.

          With health bill looming, senators aren't rushing into the July Fourth spotlight - Washington Post   

Washington Post

With health bill looming, senators aren't rushing into the July Fourth spotlight
Washington Post
Sen. Susan Collins will celebrate the Fourth of July within view of the Canadian border, at a remote northeastern Maine town's annual parade. Sen. Lisa Murkowski will appear on the other end of the continent in an old timber town on an isolated Alaskan ...
On ObamaCare, Republicans still chant repeal, replace; but question is when, howFox News
Senate asks for CBO score on Cruz's healthcare proposalThe Hill
Cruz and Lee play inside game in health fightPolitico
Washington Examiner -Salon -HuffPost -Hot Air
all 113 news articles »

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          How Congress is taking back power from Trump on national security   

In ways big and small, Congress is taking back power from President Donald Trump on national security matters.

From Russia to the Pentagon budget, Republicans in Congress are proposing new checks to curb the White House's power and, in some cases, simply ignoring the Trump administration's desires on national security and foreign policy.

Wary of favorable comments Trump has previously made about Russia, the Senate has passed a significant Russia sanctions package that gives Congress the ability to review any administration effort to roll back sanctions against the Kremlin. Congressional committees approved three defense bills this week boosting Pentagon spending by about $30 billion more than the Trump administration proposed after Republicans complained that Trump's budget failed to rebuild the military as he promised.

And in a surprise vote this week, a House panel approved an amendment to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which provides legal authority for the U.S. wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I think it's sinking in, especially with Republican members of Congress, that they are not getting the kind of adult leadership out of the White House that would allow you to give deference to the White House," said Mieke Eoyang, a national security analyst at Third Way and former congressional aide. "So you see Congress stepping up to take a much more aggressive role on national security for the first time in a very long time."

Legislative vs. Executive

For years, a small chorus in Congress has bemoaned the legislative branch giving back its national security powers to the executive, from war-making to the budget caps imposed by the sequestration law.

Congress certainly hasn't taken back those authorities in full, and some experts argue most of the steps taken thus far are mostly symbolic. There are still major hurdles to passing a new ISIS war authorization, the new Russia sanctions have stalled with the House, and sequestration spending caps are still looming over the spending process.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that Congress is looking to assert some structure on a chaotic national security process ... but at the moment these don't yet strike me as significant checks -- yet," said Loren DeJonge Schulman, a defense analyst at the Center for a New American Security. "I'll be willing to say Congress is offering a real check to this administration when it refuses to fund one of its initiatives, or halts war funding until a clear strategy is provided."

There were also similar efforts to curb President Barack Obama's national security powers, including blocking the closure of the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay and rolling back surveillance authorities.

At the start of the Trump administration, Republican congressional leaders on national security were hopeful that the national security team -- Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats -- would steer Trump in what they consider the right direction.

Trump was praised for his decision to strike Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack. But in many cases, Trump has ignored or overruled his national security team, and the President's actions and statements -- or lack of action -- has sparked a more robust response on Capitol Hill than during the Obama years.

"I think we are seeing a growing dose of skepticism by members of Congress -- notably in the President's own party -- about Trump's ability and willingness to grasp the complexities of key national security problems and his unique responsibilities as commander in chief," said John Kirby, a CNN diplomatic and military analyst and former Pentagon and State Department spokesman under Obama.

Rebukes of Trump

The Senate's Russia sanctions bill may be the most significant fight thus far over the balance of national security power. The bill, which passed 98-2, would give Congress the ability to block Trump from rolling back sanctions on Moscow and comes amid concerns from lawmakers following a Washington Post report in May that said Trump was considering returning two Russian compounds that the U.S. seized in December sanctions on Russia.

Senators are now pressing the House to pass the bill without weakening it.

While the House Appropriations Committee's vote to repeal the 2001 war authorization is unlikely to be signed into law, it is another implicit rebuke to Trump and a sign of growing congressional discontent with an unchecked war on terror.

The proposed amendment received support from both Democrats and Republicans during debate, but the vote caught House leaders in both parties off guard.

In other cases, Congress has taken symbolic gestures to rebuke the President.

The Senate, for instance, passed an amendment reaffirming support for NATO's Article 5 principle that an attack on one member is an attack on all -- a vote that came after Trump did not reaffirm the principle during his speech at NATO headquarters. The House passed a similar resolution on the floor this week to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to NATO.

Key Republican senators are also injecting themselves directly into foreign policy decisions.

After Trump took Saudi Arabia's side in the blockade of Qatar by four Gulf countries -- putting him at odds with statements from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson -- Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker got involved.

The Tennessee Republican said he would use his authority as chairman to block any new foreign arms sales to all of the countries involved until a path to a resolution was found.

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain has slammed the administration for failing to articulate a strategy for Afghanistan, and he threatened to provide one himself at a June confirmation hearing for Patrick Shanahan, Trump's nominee for deputy defense secretary.

"The President has two choices: Either give us a strategy or we will put a strategy that we develop into the defense authorization bill," McCain said.

Ignoring Trump's budget

McCain did not include his own Afghanistan strategy in his defense bill that passed this week, given that Mattis has promised one in July. But the Arizona Republican did blow by the Trump administration's Pentagon budget request, authorizing $640 billion in base spending compared to the Trump budget's $603 billion request.

"He called it a 10 percent (budget increase)," McCain told CNN. "It wasn't. It was 3 percent, and it was a joke. I think it's very clear that the majority of Congress, because of events in the world, view more seriously the cuts that have been made in defense spending."

While Republicans will still have to fight with Democrats over final spending levels, McCain and other defense hawks have placed the blame for Trump's defense spending levels at the feet of his budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, a fiscal hawk who often targeted defense spending while in Congress.

"Congress is in the lead here, but we're not making this up, we're going to the experts," said Ohio Republican Rep. Mike Turner. "We're listening to DOD, and we're merely giving them what they've already said that they needed. The problem is that OMB didn't listen and we are."

The Trump administration's proposed 32 percent cut to the State Department budget has gotten even less consideration in Congress, as lawmakers in both parties say they're going to ignore the proposal.

"After about five minutes, I said, 'This is a total waste of time,'" Corker told Tillerson at a June budget hearing. "The budget that's being presented is not going to be the budget we deal with. It's just not."

          Defiant Trump resumes attacks on 'Morning Joe' hosts, despite bipartisan criticism   

A defiant President Donald Trump resumed his attacks on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on Saturday morning, calling Scarborough "crazy" and Brzezinski "dumb as a rock," despite days of bipartisan criticism over his initial attacks on the pair earlier this week.

"Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!" Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers rebuked Trump's attacks on the hosts Thursday after he slammed Brzezinski's intellect, questioned her sanity and mocked her appearance.

"I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came... to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!" Trump wrote in a series of tweets.

On Friday, Scarborough and Brzezinski responded to Trump's attacks with an opinion piece in The Washington Post titled "Donald Trump is not well."

"America's leaders and allies are asking themselves yet again whether this man is fit to be president," they wrote. "We have our doubts, but we are both certain that the man is not mentally equipped to continue watching our show, 'Morning Joe.'"

During their Friday "Morning Joe" broadcast, Scarborough and Brzezinski also accused Trump and his White House of using the possibility of a hit piece in the National Enquirer to threaten them and change their news coverage, to which Trump responded on Twitter by calling that accusation "FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show."

But Scarborough said he has proof of White House threats earlier this year; he replied to Trump by tweeting, "Yet another lie. I have texts from your top aides and phone records."

A White House official suggested to CNN that nothing untoward occurred, saying Scarborough called Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, about the Enquirer story before it was published. The official said Kushner told Scarborough to call the President. The official denied there was ever any offer from Kushner of a quid pro quo -- in other words, softer coverage in exchange for spiking the Enquirer story.

The White House did not return a request for comment on Trump's latest tweet on Saturday.

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump's initial attack at Thursday's White House press briefing, saying, "Look, the American people elected a fighter. They didn't elect somebody to sit back and do nothing." She added that Trump "fights fire with fire."

Sanders also said on Fox News that Trump was responding to liberal bullying when he tweeted about the MSNBC host.

"I don't think that the President's ever been someone who gets attacked and doesn't push back," she told the network Thursday. "There have been an outrageous number of personal attacks not just to him but people around him."

First lady Melania Trump also stood by her husband's remarks about the hosts.

"As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder," the first lady's communications director, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement to CNN on Thursday.

When asked about Trump's initial tweets during a House Republican news conference Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan responded, "Obviously I don't see that as an appropriate comment."

He added: "What we're trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate. And this obviously doesn't help do that."

Other Republican lawmakers reacted by making public pleas to the President to stop the personal attacks.

"Please just stop. This isn't normal and it's beneath the dignity of your office," GOP Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska tweeted shortly after Trump launched into a tweetstorm about the show.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham also tweeted Thursday: "Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America."

Meanwhile, Democrats have capitalized on the feud, intensifying their attacks on the President and questioning his ability to lead. Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, for example, urged his colleagues to get behind a bill that could potentially oust the President if he was mentally or physically unfit.

          Croatian Serb official condemns SDP leader's rhetoric   

The vice-president of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), Milorad Pupovac, on Thursday commented on his Facebook account on an audio recording of a meeting between Social Democratic Party leader Zoran Milanovic and a group of war veterans by saying "It was way out of line, even for Zoran."


          Now’s the Time for Medicare for All   
Now’s the Time for Medicare for Allby Robert Reich As Republicans in Congress move to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Democrats are moving in the opposite direction, toward Medicare for All – a single-payer plan that builds on Medicare and would... Read More
I've long known of and admired Tony Benn's five questions, and in recent discussions on Twitter I've realised that they underpin the basic reason why I want Britain to leave the EU.  In case you need reminding, the quote is:
“The House will forgive me for quoting five democratic questions that I have developed during my life. If one meets a powerful person--Rupert Murdoch, perhaps, or Joe Stalin or Hitler--one can ask five questions: what power do you have; where did you get it; in whose interests do you exercise it; to whom are you accountable; and, how can we get rid of you? Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system.”
I can't answer the last two in relation to the EU.  I'm unsure of the third, although I have my suspicions as to whose interests they serve (hint: not the voting public).  But it is the last question that is the killer.  Much as I disliked Blair and Brown and feel disappointed in Cameron, I know what I have to do in order to eject them and (in the cases of Blair and Brown) did precisely that.  So while I may have disliked the fact that Blair was elected into a position of power over me, I accepted the process.  Jean-Claude Juncker is a different matter entirely; I had no say in his appointment and I have no way of expressing my dissatisfaction with his work.

So there, in a nutshell, is my reason for wanting to leave.  I want to live in a democracy. 

That overrules everything else.  Talk for as long as you want about trivia like whether migrants should wait 6 months or 4 years for in-work benefits, I'm not bothered.  I want to have a vote as to who exercises power over me. 

I can understand that leaving will be very disruptive, and potentially quite expensive.  Well, principles are expensive, but you have to get the basics right.  Issues like "are we a democracy" are part of the foundations of our political system; everything else is built on them and it is essential that we get them right.  In time, the benefits of secure foundations will show. 

(Footnote: you may wish to relish this post, in which I praise the utterings of a hard-left politician.  It doesn't happen often.  I disagree with much that Benn said and did, but on the subjects of democracy and parliamentary privilege he was spot on)
          I've missed the boat again   
I had a brilliant idea for sorting out the EU this morning.  What we need to do is to find an ardent Eurosceptic (I would be an ideal candidate) who can then join the EU bureaucracy and work from the inside to make the EU into a completely ridiculous organisation, one that fails to make any headway on anything of importance, legislates away merrily on matters of no importance whatsoever, and wastes shedloads of money in the process.

A few years of that, and democratic support for the EU will soon evaporate.  And I'll spend those years with a nice expenses account among the restaurants of Brussels.  What's not to like?

And then it struck me. 

I'm too late.  Someone is obviously already at it. 

Whoever you are, I salute you!
          Historian and public intellectual Tony Judt, 1948 - 2010   
Considered by many to be a giant in the intellectual world, Tony Judt died last month following a two-year fight with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Judt was in "the great tradition of the spectateur engagé, the politically engaged but independent and critical intellectual" (Timothy Garton Ash - ) "A historian of the very first order,a public intellectual of an old-fashioned kind and — in more ways than one — a very brave man" (Michael Elliott - TIME Magazine). We quote Tony Judt from two recent interviews:

Tony Judt on courage among today’s politicians:

Courage is always missing in politicians. It is like saying basketball players aren’t normally short. It isn’t a useful attribute. To be morally courageous is to say something different, which reduces your chances of winning an election. Courage is in a funny way more common in an old-fashioned sort of enlightened dictatorship than it is in a democracy. However, there is another factor. My generation has been catastrophic. I was born in 1948 so I am more or less the same age as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Gerhard Schröder, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – a pretty crappy generation, when you come to think of it, and many names could be added. It is a generation that grew up in the 1960s in Western Europe or in America, in a world of no hard choices, neither economic nor political. There were no wars they had to fight. They did not have to fight in the Vietnam War. They grew up believing that no matter what choice they made, there would be no disastrous consequences. The result is that whatever the differences of appearance, style and personality, these are people for whom making an unpopular choice is very hard.

Someone once said: ‘But Blair’s choice to go to war in Iraq was unpopular with the majority of the population.’ I agree. But what Blair was doing was going for a different kind of popularity – he wanted to show his strength. To do this he had to do something unpopular, yet something that cost him nothing. Doing something unpopular that may cost you your job is much harder. The last generation in America with such courage was probably the generation of Lyndon Johnson. In a funny kind of way Thatcher, whom I certainly do not like, had courage. However, she fits the description of naive and idealistic; I don’t like her ideals, her naivety was a disaster, but it’s still a fair description. Today it is a criticism to describe a politician as idealistic. This is in a way a new phenomenon and it too is born from the fact that Europe has not been involved in wars that would demand the mobilisation of the whole population for over 60 years now. The last time there was such a sustained period of peace was probably the early Middle Ages. Traditionally leaders rose to power through wars or conquest. We have had six, seven generations of leaders who came to power exclusively by political manoeuvring, which is historically very unusual. It’s like inbreeding: there are no external inputs, no new kinds of people, only the political class breeding itself. This isn’t an argument in favour of war, just a historical fact.

Tony Judt on what Europe can do to exert pressure on Israel:

Israel wants two things more than anything else in the world. The first is American aid. This it has. As long as it continues to get American aid without conditions it can do stupid things for a very long time, damaging Palestinians and damaging Israel without running any risk. However, the second thing Israel wants is an economic relationship with Europe as a way to escape from the Middle East. The joke is that Jews spent a hundred years desperately trying to have a state in the Middle East. Now they spend all their time trying to get out of the Middle East. They don’t want to be there economically, culturally or politically – they don’t feel part of it and don’t want to be part of it. They want to be part of Europe and therefore it is here that the EU has enormous leverage. If the EU said: ‘So long as you break international laws, you can’t have the privileges of partial economic membership, you can’t have internal trading rights, you can’t be part of the EU market,’ this would be a huge issue in Israel, second only to losing American military aid. We don’t even have to talk about Gaza, just the Occupied Territories. Why do Europeans not do it? Here, the problem of blackmail is significant. And it is not even active blackmail but self-blackmail. When I talk about these things in Holland or in Germany, people say to me: ‘We couldn’t do that. Don’t forget, we are in Europe. Think of what we did to the Jews. We can’t use economic leverage against Israel. We can’t be a critic of Israel, we can’t use our strength as a huge economic actor to pressure the Jewish state. Why? Because of Auschwitz.’ I understand this argument very well. Many of my family were killed in Auschwitz. However, this is ridiculous. Europe can’t live indefinitely on the credit of someone else’s crimes to justify a state that creates and commits its own crimes. If Zionism is to succeed as a representation of the original ideas of the Zionist founders, Israel has to become a normal state. That was the idea. Israel should not be special because it is Jewish. Jews are to have a state just like everyone else has a state. It should have no more rights than Slovenia and no fewer. Therefore, it also has to behave like a state. It has to declare its frontiers, recognise international law, sign international treaties and agreements. Furthermore, other countries have to behave towards it the way they would towards any other state that broke those laws. Otherwise it is treated as special and Zionism as a project has failed. People will say: ‘Why are we picking on Israel? What about Libya? Yemen? Burma? China? All of which are much worse.’ Fine. But we are missing two things: first, Israel describes itself as a democracy and so it should be compared with democracies not with dictatorships; second, if Burma came to the EU and said, ‘It would be a huge advantage for us if we could have privileged trading rights with you,’ Europe would say: ‘First you have to release political prisoners, hold elections, open up your borders.’ We have to say the same things to Israel. Otherwise we are acknowledging that a Jewish state is an unusual thing – a weird, different thing that is not to be treated like every other state. It is the European bad conscience that is part of the problem. - two excerpts from The Way Things Are and How They Might Be, an interview with Kristina Božic from March 2010 published in the London Review of Books.

Tony Judt on Democracy Democracy has always been a problem. The truly attractive features of the Western tradition that we accidentally—and it really is accidentally—get the benefit of are the rule of law, liberalism and tolerance, all of which are virtues inherited from predemocratic societies, whether they were based in eighteenth-century Anglo-American aristocratic individualism or nineteenth-century European forms of a type of developed postfeudal legal state. Democracy comes last. Democracy is simply a system of selection of people to rule over you. And it's not accidental that everyone is now a democrat. The Chinese are for democracy. George Bush was for democracy. The Burmese believe in it; they just call it something slightly different. South African whites believed in democracy; they just thought it should be arranged differently for blacks. Democracy is a dangerously empty term, and to the extent that it has substance, and the substance consists of allowing people to select freely how they live, the chance that they will choose to live badly is very high. The question is, What do we do now, in a world where, in the absence of liberal aristocracies, in the absence of social democratic elites whose authority people accept, you have people who genuinely believe, in the majority, that their interest consists of maximizing self-interest at someone else's expense? The answer is, Either you re-educate them in some form of public conversation or we will move toward what the ancient Greeks understood very well, which is that the closest system to democracy is popular authoritarianism. And that's the risk we run. Not a risk of a sort of ultra-individualism in a disaggregated society but of a kind of de facto authoritarianism. - from Talking With Tony Judt, an interview with Christine Smallwood from May 2010 published in The Nation.
          Former U.S. Senator James Abourezk on Leaders in Hiding   
Those of us who have read some history also know what happened to the Irish when they first came to America. We also remember how Jews were assaulted, both in the press and in person, until the remainder of the country put a stop to it by making it unpopular to isolate a community so they could be demonized.

Now, it's the turn of the Arabs and the Muslims to receive the same treatment that blacks, the Irish, and the Jews did before that treatment became unpopular.

How similar is the assault on the Muslims and Arabs when compared to what happened to other ethnic groups in our shady past. Where the similarity ends is how the media is treating the entire "mosque" at ground zero. The proposed building is neither a mosque, nor is it at ground zero. It is a community center that, among other activities, includes a prayer room. I know of no one who would build an eleven-story mosque, and I know of no mosque that would allow a swimming pool and recreation center to be built in it, or even above it.

So what we have here is a political football that leaves it open for the gaggle of demagogues and hustlers -- I'm thinking specifically of Newt Gingrich, Rick Lazio and Sarah Palin -- to try to reap some kind of political popularity from denouncing the project.

It used to be that both political leaders and the media would denounce this kind racism, and that such denunciations would soon bring such demagoguery to an end. But not this time. Most of the media, MSNBC being the major exception, has ducked its head, being content to just report on the onslaught against the Islamic Center, but not denouncing the demagoguery.

So far, this has resulted in someone setting fire to the construction of a real mosque in Tennessee. This usually follows acts of violence against Arabs and Muslims in different parts of the country. We've seen it before.

All this won't stop unless and until all the political leaders--now silent--come down hard on what is happening, when the haters begin themselves to feel isolated. Cheers to President Obama and to Mayor Bloomberg, who have tried to lead the way, but who lost Howard Dean and Harry Reid in the process. The rest of the political leadership--both Republican and Democratic--predictably are in hiding. - an excerpt from Give Me That Old Time Racism by former U.S. Senator James Abourezk.
          How the hell did it happen? - Daniel Okrent on how Prohibition democratized drinking and made the income tax possible   
In 1920 could anyone have believed that the Eighteenth Amendment, ostensibly addressing the single subject of intoxicating beverages, would set off an avalanche of change in areas as diverse as international trade, speedboat design, tourism practices, soft-drink marketing, and the English language itself? Or that it would provoke the establishment of the first nationwide criminal syndicate, the idea of home dinner parties, the deep engagement of women in political issues other than suffrage, and the creation of Las Vegas? As interpreted by the Supreme Court and as understood by Congress, Prohibition would also lead indirectly to the eventual guarantee of the American woman's right to abortion and simultaneously dash that same woman's hope for an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. Prohibition changed the way we live, and it fundamentally redefined the role of the federal government. How the hell did it happen?

- from Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent

On how Prohibition democratized drinking

The saloon was a male-only place. That was always the case...Prohibition changes everything. The saloons become speakeasies, and because it is an outlaw operation, it begins to behave in outlaw ways. Women start to come because it's an exciting thing to do. They're accommodated. That means they have to put in tables, because you can't just have the women standing at the bar, so table service begins. Music shows up for the first time. If you have men and women drinking together, you have to have music. Jazz, the outlaw music, is rising at that very same time. There were no bars in the pre-Prohibition era that had live music. It just didn't happen.

On how Prohibition made the income tax posible:

Going back as far as the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s and then the beer tax that was brought in during the Civil War to finance the Civil War, the federal government had been dependent upon the excise tax on alcohol to operate. In some years, domestic revenue, as much as 50 percent of it came from excise taxes. So the Prohibitionists realized that they couldn't get rid of liquor so long as the federal government was dependent upon liquor to get its revenue and to operate. So they supported the income tax movement, and in exchange, many of the populists who were behind the income tax movement supported Prohibition. In 1913, the 16th Amendment is passed. The income tax comes in. The federal government has another means of supporting itself. And at that point, the Prohibitionists who had been operating state by state by state decided we can now have an amendment to the federal Constitution because the government is no longer dependent. There's another source of revenue.

- two excerpts from Prohibition Life: Politics, Loopholes And Bathtub Gin, a Terry Gross, Fresh Air interview with Daniel Okrent.
          Illinois Congressman Ain't Gettin Paid   
To the Smartest. Most Active and most loving Audience in the world - welcome.

Where you get more news in 15 minutes here that you do form all the Fake News Outlets in 24 hours.

This video is brought to you by Trade Genius.

In hard times like these we all need to look for earning extra income.

Jane and I are now beginning to take their courses on how to make extra money for our non-profit through this company.


That is Correct.

In our lead story a Court Ruling left the State of Illinois Congressman speechless.

As the State fails to pay over $15 Billion I Bills the courts have ruled that the Illinois Congressman will share in the burden.

No pay for other state employees means no pay for their Congress.

State Congressman have no immunity to budget cuts.

So who do you think will have budget cuts: Those on welfare or the Democratically Controlled State Legislative Branch????

It appears that ALL Blue States are about to face this - Democratically controlled Washington, Oregon, California, Connecticut, etc.

Further - when the Federal Congress cuts all Federal Funds to Sanctuary States, Counties and Cities - the Mayors, County Executives, and state Congressman will not get paid and what company will bribe their states Congresses to do anything if their state budget is in turmoil????

Justice Has Been Served

In a world with $217,000,000,000,000 in debt - it is time those in congress pay for what they have done.


In other news:

1) President Trump will now be asking Congress to add Tariffs to those products coming into the United States that are sent here using Foreign Government Funds to destroy the American Industrial Base.

So - for example - if a Toaster is made in China using 80% funds from the Government - Trump will authorize Congress to charge an 80% Tariff for that toaster.

The President will now level the Playing Field.

2) Both Mexico and Venezuela are now running out of oil

President Trump will now run an Oil Pipeline to Mexico to help support their failing companies and has worked out a deal where the Oil Companies will charge a Discounted Rate to help their economy.

Just as Russia provides a discounted rate to the Ukraine for Natural Gas to help their brothers in need, the US will provide Cheap Fuel to Mexico.

3) The EU and Russia and now sanctioning each other.

What this means, for example, is that if a toaster is made in Russia it is Wholesaled through a country like Iceland and then shipped to Europe.

Sanctions never work, not in the day and age of computers

4) The New York Times has finally admitted the Russian Story about stealing an election was totally fake a complete lie, Fake, Felonious and False - thank you X-22 Report

5) CNN Managing Editor called American Voters: "Dumber Than Shit."

Jimmmy Carr, a Hate Filled Associate Producer at CNN, absolutely hates President Trump and openly said: He's Just F..Ing Crazy."

So you are Dumb Shi....s and the President is Crazy.

Guess tat tells us what CNN thinks about We The People.

CNN has Fallen down, Fallen Down, Fallen down
CNN has Fallen down
The Fake News Network

6) Wheat Prices are soaring around the world as South Dakota Wheat Harvests are severely reduced due to bad weather - the Food Prices are now about to jump very high.

7) Finally - Moscow has been under attack by the Elites in terms of weather.

Please pray that all that the Elites do to others is now heaped upon their heads.

President Putin, PM Medvedev - time to attack back. Pinpoint the Elite Head Quarters and deal with these folks ever so harshly of Russia will fall within one year, so sayus the I Am That I Am, who was, and is and is to come.

Again - this video is brought to you by Trade Genius - where Jane and I are now studying so we can bring on more money for our Non-Profit

Finally - your prayers are working as President Trump moves forward to help stabilize the World’s Economy. Expect 3 months of limited food and limited power - lots of black outs.
The News You Need

The Wall of Truth

Dr William B. Mount

"From Horrific To Catastrophic": Court Ruling Sends Illinois Into Financial Abyss | Zero Hedge
The World Is Now $217,000,000,000,000 In Debt And The Global Elite Like It That Way | Zero Hedge

Donald Trump promises new petroleum pipeline to Mexico: 'It'll go right under the wall' - Washington Times

EU and Russia extend sanctions against each other

CNN Producer: American Voters "Are Stupid As Shit" | Zero Hedge

Dakota Drought Sparks Biggest Spring Wheat Price Spike In 7 Years | Zero Hedge

New York Times Forced To Retract Longstanding '17 Intel Agencies' Lie About Russian Hacking

          Comment on NO B.S. FRIDAY: End of the Secret Fascists by Traveller   
So WWIII is just around the corner! It's great what you can 'prove' with statistics. In Quora '