Showing posts with label fascism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fascism. Show all posts

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The United States of America under Trump - the ugly picture. Part Two


The Time

The 203rd to 206th day of the Trump Regime

The Place

Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

The Events

White supremacists rallies with unarmed counter protesters on the sidelines

The Images




Charlottesville, Virginia (CNN) One person was killed and 19 were hurt when a speeding car slammed into a throng of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, where a "Unite the Right" rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups had been scheduled take place, the city tweeted on its verified account.

Note: All images found on Twitter

Friday, 7 July 2017

The fight continues in US Court of Appeal against Trump's 'Muslim Travel Ban'


Business Insider, 29 June 2017:

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The state of Hawaii asked a federal judge in Honolulu on Thursday to clarify a US Supreme Court ruling that reinstated parts of President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, arguing that the Trump administration had interpreted the court's decision too narrowly.

In a court filing, Hawaii said the US government intended to violate the Supreme Court's instructions by improperly excluding from the United States people who actually have a close family relationship to US persons.

The 90-day ban took effect at 8 p.m. ET along with a 120-day ban on all refugees.

On Monday, the Supreme Court revived parts of a travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries, narrowing the scope of lower court rulings that had blocked parts of a March 6 executive order and allowing his temporary ban to go into effect for people with no strong ties to the United States.

The court agreed to hear arguments during its next term starting in October to decide finally whether the ban is lawful.

The Supreme Court exempted from the ban travelers and refugees with a "bona fide relationship" with a person or entity in the United States. As an example, the court said those with a "close familial relationship" with someone in the United States would be covered.

The Trump administration decided on the basis of its interpretation of the court's language that grandparents, grandchildren and fiancés traveling from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen would be barred from obtaining visas while the ban was in place.

In its court filing, Hawaii echoed criticism from immigrant and refugee groups that the Trump administration had defined too narrowly who should be exempted.

Hawaii called the refusal to recognize grandparents, fiancés, and other relatives as an acceptable family relationship " a plain violation of the Supreme Court's command."

The State of Hawaii’s  latest motion is Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-00050- DKW-KSC EMERGENCY MOTION TO CLARIFY SCOPE OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION



Around the same time this motion was filed, the Trump administration announced on the US State Department website that it was removing “fiancé” from the list of relationships not considered bona fide:

Upon further review, fiances are now included as close family members.

UPDATE

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is reported in The Guardian to have ruled on 7 July 2017 that it did not have jurisdiction to weigh in on this particular aspect of the matter:

In a statement, Hawaii Attorney General Douglas S. Chin said the ruling “makes clear that Judge Watson does possess the ability to interpret and enforce the Supreme Court’s order, as well as the authority to enjoin against a party’s violation of the Supreme Court’s order placing effective limitations on the scope of the district court’s preliminary injunction.”

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Trump's America reaches dangerous toxicity levels


The United States of America is becoming a nation to fear.

If the checks and balances within its political structure continue to fracture and the propaganda narrative that those who oppose the Trump Regime are 'evil' grows in volume and intensity, then a destabilised, disintegrating America gone rogue lurching across the international stage is likely to injure us all.

US President Donald J. Trump at a Washington faith rally on Saturday, 1 July 2017

National Rifle Association of America call to arms against citizens who oppose Trump

Somehow this scenario doesn’t seem so farfetched anymore:


Business Insider, 3 May 2017:

TIMOTHY SNYDER: So, it’s really important, I think, to accept the logic of our constitutional structure. The logic of our constitutional structure is not that Americans are great. The logic of our constitutional structure is that Americans are people and people have weaknesses.

When the framers of the Constitution were setting up our system, they weren’t thinking about how wonderful we were gonna turn out to be, which is a good thing because we’re not always so wonderful. They were thinking about the structures that would be needed to preserve a Democratic Republic overtime. So the right mood is always scepticism. The framers of the Constitution were worried that someone might come along at some point who could be elected president. This was precisely their worry, who didn’t have concern about the rule of law or about democracy. We are now in that situation.

Up until now, there is nothing in Mr. Trump’s words or in his actions which would convince us or which would even suggest that he cares even a little bit about democracy or about the rule of law. On the contrary, there are plenty of things he said like referring to judges as “so-called” judges, referring to journalists as enemies of the people, talking about “America First” and indulging other kinds of nostalgia for the 1930’s, which suggests he doesn’t like democracy at all. His admiration tends to be limited to foreign tyrants.

So we need to be sceptical about ourselves and we need more than sceptical about him. What I would say is that our institutions were set up for a moment just like this one but they will only protect us if we enliven them and if we support them.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Trump's bully boys went after Twitter, then turned tail and ran


US President Donald Trump's bully boys issued a summons on 14 March 2017:



This is an action to prevent the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"), U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP"), and the individual Defendants from unlawfully abusing a limited-purpose investigatory tool to try to unmask the real identity of one or more persons who have been using Twitter's social media platform, and specifically a Twitter account named @ALT_USCIS, to express public criticism of the Department and the current Administration. The rights of free speech afforded Twitter's users and Twitter itself under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution include a right to disseminate such anonymous or pseudonymous political speech. In these circumstances, Defendants may not compel Twitter to disclose information regarding the real identities of these users without first demonstrating that some criminal or civil offense has been committed, that unmasking the users' identity is the least restrictive means for investigating that offense, that the demand for this information is not motivated by a desire to suppress free speech, and that the interests of pursuing that investigation outweigh the important First Amendment rights of Twitter and its users. But Defendants have not come close to making any of those showings. And even if Defendants could otherwise demonstrate an appropriate basis for impairing the First Amendment interests of Twitter and its users, they certainly may not do so using the particular investigatory tool employed here—which Congress authorized solely to ensure compliance with federal laws concerning imported merchandise—because it is apparent that whatever investigation Defendants are conducting here does not pertain to imported merchandise.

@ALT_uscis weighs in:

The American Civil Liberties Union joins the fray:
On 8 April it was announced that the Trump Adminstration had withdrawn the summons.

Reuters, 8 April 2017:


The abrupt end to the dispute may indicate that Justice Department lawyers did not like their chances of succeeding in a fight about speech rights, said Jamie Lee Williams, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for digital rights.

"It seemed like a blatant attempt to censor or chill the people behind this account, or to retaliate against people who are speaking out against this administration," Williams said.

"This could have been a huge loss for the administration in court," she added.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Trump Regime crosses dangerous lines



CNN Politics, 23 February 2017:

Washington (CNN)The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN.

White House officials had sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts, the officials said. The reports of the contacts were first published by The New York Times and CNN on February 14.

The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.

The discussions between the White House and the bureau began with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on the sidelines of a separate White House meeting the day after the stories were published, according to a U.S. law enforcement official.

The White House initially disputed that account, saying that McCabe called Priebus early that morning and said The New York Times story vastly overstates what the FBI knows about the contacts.
But a White House official later corrected their version of events to confirm what the law enforcement official described.

The same White House official said that Priebus later reached out again to McCabe and to FBI Director James Comey asking for the FBI to at least talk to reporters on background to dispute the stories. A law enforcement official says McCabe didn't discuss aspects of the case but wouldn't say exactly what McCabe told Priebus.

Comey rejected the request for the FBI to comment on the stories, according to sources, because the alleged communications between Trump associates and Russians known to US intelligence are the subject of an ongoing investigation. [my highlighting]

The Washington Post, 24 February 2016:

The Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia, a politically charged issue that has been under investigation by the FBI as well as lawmakers now defending the White House.

Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, U.S. officials said.

The calls were orchestrated by the White House after unsuccessful attempts by the administration to get senior FBI officials to speak with news organizations and dispute the accuracy of stories on the alleged contacts with Russia.

The White House on Friday acknowledged those interactions with the FBI but did not disclose that it then turned to other officials who agreed to do what the FBI would not — participate in White House-arranged calls with news organizations, including The Washington Post.

Two of those officials spoke on the condition of anonymity — a practice President Trump has condemned.

The officials broadly dismissed Trump associates’ contacts with Russia as infrequent and inconsequential. But the officials would not answer substantive questions about the issue, and their comments were not published by The Post and do not appear to have been reported elsewhere.

Read the full article here.

Vox, 24 February 2017:

President Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, kept major media outlets, including the New York Times and CNN, out of the daily press briefing Friday, canceling it in favor of an off-camera media gaggle for handpicked media outlets and escalating the Trump administration’s fight with the press.

The White House picked which journalists could participate in the press briefing Friday. Reporters for CNN, the New York Times, Politico, BuzzFeed, and the majority of the foreign press were not among them.

The press pool, including NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox News, were allowed in, as well as several smaller conservative media outlets, including the Washington Times, the One America News Network, and Breitbart, which was formerly run by White House senior strategist Steve Bannon. Time and the Associated Press boycotted the gaggle, according to reporting from CNN.

The White House Correspondents’ Association board responded to the incident, noting that they were “strongly against” how the White House conducted the media gaggle and that they would discuss the matter further with the president’s press team.

While Trump’s presidential campaign was known for banning media outlets from rallies and campaign events, this is one of the first times the media has been explicitly barred from a White House press event during Trump’s presidency.

Friday, 3 March 2017

70 year-old Australian children's picture books author treated like dirt by Trump Regime


Mem Fox is a retired Associate Professor of Literacy Studies (Flinders University, South Australia) and a well-known picture book author.

On 25 February 2017 ABC News reported on her experience of the Trump Regime:

Australian author Mem Fox has received a written apology from the United States after what she said was a traumatic detention by immigration officials at Los Angeles Airport.

Fox, who was questioned by Customs and Border Protection officers for two hours earlier this month as she was on her way to Milwaukee to address a conference, said she collapsed and sobbed at her hotel after she was released.

She said the border agents appeared to have been given "turbocharged power" by an executive order signed by President Donald Trump to "humiliate and insult" a room full of people they detained to check visas.

That executive order was eventually halted by Federal Courts and it was expected a new order would be signed this week, designed to avoid the confusion caused by the original.

"I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness," Fox said.

"The entire interview took place with me standing, with my back to a room full of people in total public hearing and view — it was disgraceful.

"I felt like I had been physically assaulted which is why, when I got to my hotel room, I completely collapsed and sobbed like a baby, and I'm 70 years old."

Fox, whose books include classics such as Possum Magic and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, said she was questioned about her visa status, even though she had travelled to the United States 116 times previously without incident.

"My heart was pounding so hard as I was waiting to be interviewed, because I was observing what was happening to everybody else in the room," she said.

"They accused me of coming in on the wrong visa and they were totally wrong about that.

"The person who interviewed me was heavy with weaponry, was totally dressed in black with the word 'police' in hand-sized letters across his chest."

The author lodged a complaint with the Australian embassy in Washington, and later one with the United States embassy in Canberra to which she received an emailed letter of apology.

"I said any decent American would have been shocked to the core by what had happened, it was so dreadful," Fox said.

"And I had an absolutely charming letter from them within hours of my email hitting their desk."

The author said she was unlikely to visit the United States again despite the friendliness of ordinary Americans.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

February 2017: can you hear the warning sirens?

Image via @SeanKing

De Spiegel
, 5 February 2017:

There are times in life that really do count. Times when a person's character is revealed, when the important is separated from the unimportant. Soon decisions are taken that will determine the further path a person takes. With some, this can be tragic, and the moment comes too soon in their youth at a time when they aren't mature enough yet to foresee all the potential consequences. They make the decisions cheerfully and they lead to either luck or bad luck. But countries and governments are seldom as innocent when it comes to their decisions.
That's the kind of situation now approaching. The people who will soon have to decide are already grown up. They now have to start preparing, even if it will be painful.
Germany must stand up in opposition to the 45th president of the United States and his government. That's difficult enough already for two reasons: Because it is from the Americans that we obtained our liberal democracy in the first place; and because it is unclear how the brute and choleric man on the other side will react to diplomatic pressure. The fact that opposition to the American government can only succeed when mounted together with Asian and African partners -- and no doubt with our partners in Europe, with the EU -- doesn't make the situation any easier.
So far, Germany has viewed its leadership role -- at least the leadership understanding of Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble -- as one that is by all means in opposition to the interests of other European countries. Whether Schäuble's austerity policies or Merkel's migration policies, it all happened without much co-coordination and with considerable force. It is thus somewhat ironical that it is Germany, the country that is politically and economically dominant in Europe, that will now have to fill in many of the gaps created by America's withdrawal from the old world order, the one referred to by former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer as "Pax Americana." At the same time, Germany must build an alliance against Donald Trump, because it otherwise won't take shape. It is, however, absolutely necessary.
It is literally painful to write this sentence, but the president of the United States is a pathological liar. The president of the U.S. is a racist (it also hurts to write this). He is attempting a coup from the top; he wants to establish an illiberal democracy, or worse; he wants to undermine the balance of power. He fired an acting attorney general who held a differing opinion from his own and accused her of "betrayal." This is the vocabulary used by Nero, the emperor and destroyer of Rome. It is the way tyrants think.
A Serious Threat
Donald Trump and his fire-starter Stephen Bannon discriminate against certain people by decree, but not against those from countries in which Trump does business. The contempt the president of the United States and his most important adviser have for science and education is so blatant that it's almost difficult to write. But their disdain for climate and environmental policies has to be stated, because four or eight years of it could become a serious threat.
Among the things that counted as true progress during the 20th century were multilateralism and free trade. The world has become so complex that no single country can solve the major problems on its own -- that was our recognition. Organizations like the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NATO and the EU were all created for this reason. None of these organizations is perfect, but they are what we launched -- and we do need them. Bannon now wants to wipe them away, and either Trump is executing Bannon's intentions or he shares them......
Klaus Brinkbäumer is the editor-in-chief of DER SPIEGEL.
Read the full article here.
The Australian, 8 February 2017:
In the weeks since Donald Trump’s inauguration as US President, it has become clear that he intends to roll back to the starting block the progressive egalitarian agenda that is commonly associated with political correctness — not just in the US, but globally.
Stephen Bannon, Trump’s White House Svengali and former CEO of the extreme-right Breitbart News, has long pursued this ideological project, and we now know that what he or Trump says must be taken both seriously and literally.
Trump’s transition was initially reassuring, because he nominated many undeniably serious (if also seriously well-heeled) people to his cabinet. But after the inauguration all hell broke loose as Trump and Bannon began to implement their project in earnest.
First, Trump appointed Bannon to the National Security Council’s highest body, the principals committee. Then he nominated Ted Malloch, an obscure business studies professor at the University of Reading, in England, as US ambassador to the EU. Malloch recently expressed a desire to “short the euro”, and predicted that the currency would not survive another 18 months. Trump has also increased the likelihood of a trade war with Mexico, and he has been willing to confront major US corporations over his executive order banning travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The ideological project that Trump and Bannon will seek to carry out could have far-reaching geopolitical and economic implications that should worry not only progressives, but also dyed-in-the-wool conservatives like me. To understand how far they are willing to go, one must understand their ultimate aims.
Most disturbingly, Trump and Bannon’s agenda seems likely to entail policies to weaken, destabilise, or even ultimately dismantle the EU. No motive other than ideology can explain Trump’s open hostility to the bloc, his bizarre ambassadorial appointment, or his question to EU president Donald Tusk: “What country is next to leave?”
In conventional geostrategic terms, the EU is almost a costless extension of US political and military power. Owing to NATO’s significant military superiority, and the EU’s role as a barrier to Russian expansion, the US can avoid becoming entangled in a “hot war” with Russia. Meanwhile, the EU — together with Japan — is a dependable economic and military ally, whose friendship allows the US to speak for the “international community”.
There are no circumstances in which dismantling the Western international order is in America’s national interest — even when perceived through a nationalist lens. A truly “America first” administration would rightly expect its allies to pull their weight in NATO, and to defer to US foreign policies on non-European issues. But it would never gratuitously dismantle an essentially free multiplier of US power, as Trump’s foreign policy threatens to do.
If I am right about Trump and Bannon’s ideological agenda, we can expect them to find a way to support far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election this year, and to encourage a “hard Brexit” for Britain (only to leave it in the lurch afterwards). Trump is likely to lift the sanctions the US imposed on Russia after its 2014 annexation of Crimea. After all, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bannon are ideological twins.
We should not put much stock in any security assurances Secretary of Defence James Mattis may have offered to South Korea and Japan last week. Such promises are worth as little as Trump’s pledge to Polish President Andrzej Duda that “Poland can count on America”.
Americans should be prepared to watch the administration dismiss officials who do not defend its agenda, and disregard court orders that inhibit its actions. We have already seen signs of this when complaints emerged that immigration agents in New York were ignoring a federal judge’s emergency stay on Trump’s travel ban.
The prospects for business are just as sobering. Sooner or later, Trump’s destabilising foreign policy will lead to global economic turbulence, uncertainty, and reduced investment — even barring trade wars. And domestically, his weakening of the rule of law will negate any economic benefits from tax cuts and deregulation.
Implementing this project is undoubtedly a dangerous strategy for Trump. By polarising the US public to such an extent, he and the Republicans could suffer defeat in the 2018 midterm elections or in the 2020 presidential election; and he could even expose himself to the risk of impeachment.
There are two possible explanations for why Trump would take these risks. The first is that divisiveness has worked for him. Politicians tend to stick with what works — until it fails.
The second explanation is that Bannon is calling the political shots, and is more interested in building a permanent populist “movement” than he is in getting Trump re-elected. If Bannon wants to transform the US political landscape, an impeached or defeated Trump could become an ideal martyr for his movement.
That may not bode well for Trump himself, but, in this scenario, Trump’s fate will not weigh heavily on Bannon, who has set his sights on achieving goals that will leave the US and the world very different from how he and his putative boss found them.
Jack Rostowski was Poland’s finance minister and deputy prime minister from 2007 to 2013.

Is the world watching the Fourth Reich being born?


Remembering the lessons of Germany.......

Remember when German bureaucrats and defence personnel decided to agree that their oath of allegiance was to Chancellor of Germany and Führer Adolf Hitler and not to their country or the Bundestag?

Is something similar happening in the U.S.A. today?

It wasn't until the sixth restraining order was imposed by a federal judge that the Trump Administration fully complied, as is evidenced by these reports.


Release Date: January 29, 2017
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON - Upon issuance of the court orders yesterday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immediately began taking steps to comply with the orders. Concurrently, the Department of Homeland Security continues to work with our partners in the Departments of Justice and State to implement President Trump's executive order on protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.

We are committed to ensuring that all individuals affected by the executive orders, including those affected by the court orders, are being provided all rights afforded under the law.  We are also working closely with airline partners to prevent travelers who would not be granted entry under the executive orders from boarding international flights to the U.S. Therefore, we do not anticipate that further individuals traveling by air to the United States will be affected.

As Secretary Kelly previously stated, in applying the provisions of the president's executive order, the entry of lawful permanent residents is in the national interest. Accordingly, absent significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.
We are and will remain in compliance with judicial orders. We are and will continue to enforce President Trump's executive order humanely and with professionalism. DHS will continue to protect the homeland.

# # #
Rep. Don Beyer @RepDonBeyer  24 hours ago
We have a constitutional crisis today. Four Members of Congress asked CBP officials to enforce a federal court order and were turned away.

Christopher Hayes @chrislhayes  Jan 30
This is stunning. The executive branch is straight up defying a court order right now.

Christopher Hayes added,
Damon Silvers @DamonSilvers
Attys at Dulles with a fed court order entitling them to see detainees told by CBP "it's not going to happen" Attys seeking contempt order


1. Pursuant to an Executive Order signed by President Donald Trump on January 27, 2016, the U.S. government banned entry into the United States by all non-citizens from seven listed countries, subject to an undefined waiver process. This ban, when first promulgated, included individuals on immigrant visas and returning lawful permanent residents.

2. The Immigration and Nationality Act provides no way to legally effectuate such a ban against this category of immigrants. As a result, upon information and belief, Department of Homeland Security officials have been effectuating the ban by bullying these arriving immigrants into “voluntarily” relinquishing their claims to lawful permanent residence into the United States.

3. On information and belief, respondents (through their agents and employees) lied to immigrants arriving after the Executive Order was signed, falsely telling them that if they did not sign a relinquishment of their legal rights, they would be formally ordered removed from the United States, which would bring legal consequences including a five-year bar for reentry to the United States. Because respondents knew that there was no valid, legal basis to remove these individuals from the United States, these were material, false representations.

4. Throughout this time, respondents denied arriving immigrants access to legal counsel.

5. On information and belief, these acts occurred nationwide, including but not limited to Washington-Dulles International Airport. During the first 24 to 48 hours that the ban was in place, Customs & Border Protection reports that it denied entry to at least 109 individuals. Many of these individuals were unlawfully compelled to “voluntarily” renounce their U.S. immigration status.

Trump himself remains defiant in the face of the federal court order in State of Washington et al v Donald J Trump et al and continues to rail the U.S. judicial system:


One can almost see down the road to where this is leading.

At first the people who supported Donald Trump's election will enthusiastically and uncritically support his actions as U.S. President.
Although some will blindly remain fervent adherents of the Cult of Donald, many will become quietly concerned when these actions begin to impinge on their daily lives.
By the time he plunges America into a severe financial crisis or a war these same people will become alarmed and begin to look more closely at what state agencies and public institutions have become under the Trump regime – but by then they will be too afraid to speak out.

After I finished writing the paragraphs above I came across an article in Jurist which with more elegance and erudition canvasses the same subject, so I've included an excerpt here.

First they came for the Muslims.................

Professor David M. Crane writing in Jurist on 3 February 2017 - First It's the Muslims: An Evolution to Dictatorship:

The intellectual elite of Germany and much of the middle class at first stood back, amused, embarrassed, disbelieving that this proud nation of culture, of tolerance, of openness would elect this small little man who ranted and raved about a great German nation, a Reich that would last a thousand years. They could not believe that he would last long politically and stood aside in the early years thinking that the political system in place would cause his demise. By the time they realized the shift of almost complete power to one man had actually happened, it was too late. They had only one choice: swear allegiance or leave. Some left when they still could, but most stayed and accepted their national fate.
I have faced down dictators most of my professional life. To understand my adversary I have studied the twentieth century's dictators, how they came to power, their psyche, and their methods of destroying their own citizens. There are patterns, similarities, regarding despots, dictators, and thugs who rise to and hold power in their countries. Their track record is horrific with the destruction of over 95 million human beings at the hands of these dictators in the last century.
Understanding the similar conduct of largely ordinary men rising to absolute power can help us in many ways: from investigating and prosecuting them for violations of domestic and international crimes, identifying those politicians or political movements trending toward despotism, to prevention and counter measures to blunt their move to power. Liberal democracies today need to understand the past, the present trends, to protect our futures. The consideration of these traits are instructive today in the United States and elsewhere.
So what are those similarities among despots and dictators? First in a country where a dictator comes to power, there is an anger towards the establishment, a long term disappointment and lack of trust in their government. They use this loss of faith in the centralized government to start building a political base to gain power. Dictators want to "drain the swamp," to clean house, to start over.
Second, the rising dictator uses fear to shift that frustration away from their policies to what is called "a boogey man." Dictators for a century all used a "boogey man" to focus their citizenry away from their absolute power to a threat outside the country. The Three Pashas in Turkey blamed the Christian Armenians for the loss of the Ottoman Empire; Adolf Hitler blamed the Jews for weakening Germany; Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung focused on Western capitalism; and the Ayatollah of Iran blamed the Great Satan of America for their economic problems. Outsiders who were different, who had a different religion became an internal and external threat and were either accounted for and interned or deported. Those who sought admission to their country were banned for who or what they were.
Third, dictators view the press as their enemy and initially seek to limit press access to their regimes, then ban or control the press entirely. They consider the press an enemy of the state and take appropriate action. The liberal press is blamed for factual distortions. The dictator declares they are not using real facts and fashion their own truths, what you would call today "alternative facts." Joseph Goebbels stated that "if you lie to the people long enough, they will believe it as the truth." In a dictatorship the truth is the first casualty.
Fourth, a dictator surrounds himself (yes, they are all men) with only those people who tell him what he wants to hear, not what he needs to hear. The truth becomes dangerous to the government and to those who know it. The dictator does not want to know the truth, they fear the truth and those who work with and for the dictator fear knowing and telling them the truth. They could lose their influence, power, jobs, even their lives, as well as their family's lives if they are truthful. It's a downward paranoid spiral.
Fifth, the dictators of the twentieth century also suffered from some type of psychological disease or defect. From paranoia, schizophrenia, depression, and narcissism these men slipped farther and farther away from reality the longer they stayed in power. A perfect illustration is when Joseph Stalin fell dying on the floor in his bedroom and laid there for fourteen hours, the doctors and handlers were too afraid to declare him dead in fear of the repercussions of even saying, let alone knowing that he had died.
Sixth, dictators over time consider the law only as a guide, to be broken, modified, or ignored. The longer in power the more they feel they are above the law and take action according to their own whims. A political cult develops around them. They become above all men. Society is what the dictator says it is. The national identity becomes the dictator. Where once government workers or members of the armed forces swore allegiance to the law, they now must swear allegiance to the dictator himself without question. The refusal to do so is expulsion or death.
In the United States we now have a President who fits several of these traits and has acted accordingly — all within two short weeks as President. The surprising thing is how easily he has been able to do this without any institutional resistance. America is not used to someone of this caliber. We sit back stunned, cowed, or in quiet glee as this new President begins to "make America great again." Is he becoming America's first "dictator"? This remains to be seen.
Our only counter to this "new type" of President is the Constitution of the United States. The founders of this nation contemplated a Trump and put in the necessary checks and balances to ensure that America did not create a king or dictator. The power was reserved to the people, us; and all those elected answer to that people, not the other way around. The other two branches of government will be critical to our republic with this power grabbing new President. They must do their constitutional duty and pay heed to the law and to the people to counter his seeking absolute power.
David M. Crane is a Professor of Law at the Syracuse University College of Law. He is the former Chief Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone, 2002-2005. He is also the founder of Impunity Watch, the Syrian Accountability Project and the IamSyria Campaign.

Friday, 3 February 2017

The Trump Regime is such a weird mix of Mein Kampf meets Hollywood


Bully boy Donald J. Trump's political manoeuvres since taking office are such a weird mixture of Hitler's 'How to create a New World Order' playbook and the satirical script of the 1997 movie "Wag The Dog" that it is beginning to feel that he is capable of even the unimaginable……


Thursday, 2 February 2017

In 1947 the Atomic Clock was set at 7 minutes to midnight & by 2016 the clock stood at 3 minutes to midnight - Donald Trump's presidency has moved its hands to 2 minutes 30 seconds


Six days after Donald John Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America the Atomic Doomsday Clock moved closer to Armageddon.


It is two and a half minutes to midnight
2017 Doomsday Clock Statement
Science and Security Board
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Editor, John Mecklin

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Doomsday Clock, a graphic that appeared on the first cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists as it transitioned from a six-page, black-and-white newsletter to a full-fledged magazine. For its first cover, the editors sought an image that represented a seriousness of purpose and an urgent call for action. The Clock, and the countdown to midnight that it implied, fit the bill perfectly. The Doomsday Clock, as it came to be called, has served as a globally recognized arbiter of the planet’s health and safety ever since.

Each year, the setting of the Doomsday Clock galvanizes a global debate about whether the planet is safer or more dangerous today than it was last year, and at key moments in recent history. Our founders would not be surprised to learn that the threats to the planet that the Science and Security Board now considers have expanded since 1947. In fact, the Bulletin’s first editor, Eugene Rabinowitch, noted that one of the purposes of the Bulletin was to respond and offer solutions to the “Pandora’s box of modern science,” recognizing the speed at which technological advancement was occurring, and the demanding questions it would present.

In 1947 there was one technology with the potential to destroy the planet, and that was nuclear power. Today, rising temperatures, resulting from the industrial-scale burning of fossil fuels, will change life on Earth as we know it, potentially destroying or displacing it from significant portions of the world, unless action is taken today, and in the immediate future. Future technological innovation in biology, artificial intelligence, and the cyber realm may pose similar global challenges. The knotty problems that innovations in these fields may present are not yet fully realized, but the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board tends to them with a watchful eye.

This year’s Clock deliberations felt more urgent than usual. On the big topics that concern the board, world leaders made too little progress in the face of continuing turbulence. In addition to the existential threats posed by nuclear weapons and climate change, new global realities emerged, as trusted sources of information came under attack, fake news was on the rise, and words were used in cavalier and often reckless ways. As if to prove that words matter and fake news is dangerous, Pakistan’s foreign minister issued a blustery statement, a tweet actually, flexing Pakistan’s nuclear muscle—in response to a fabricated “news” story about Israel. Today’s complex global environment is in need of deliberate and considered policy responses. It is ever more important that senior leaders across the globe calm rather than stoke tensions that could lead to war, either by accident or miscalculation.

I once again commend the board for approaching its task with the seriousness it deserves. Bulletin Editor-in-Chief John Mecklin did a remarkable job pulling together this document and reflecting the in-depth views and opinions of the board. Considerable thanks goes to our supporters including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, MacArthur Foundation, Ploughshares Fund, David Weinberg and Jerry Newton, as well as valued supporters across the year.

I hope the debate engendered by the 2017 setting of the Clock raises the level of conversation, promotes calls to action, and helps citizens around the world hold their leaders responsible for delivering a safer and healthier planet.

Rachel Bronson, PhD
Executive Director and Publisher
26 January, 2017
Chicago, IL

It is two and a half minutes to midnight

Editor’s note: Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 15 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and new technologies emerging in other domains. A printable PDF of this statement, complete with the executive director’s statement and Science and Security Board biographies, is available here.

To: Leaders and citizens of the world
Re: It is 30 seconds closer to midnight
Date: January 26, 2017
Over the course of 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanity’s most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change.
The United States and Russia—which together possess more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons—remained at odds in a variety of theaters, from Syria to Ukraine to the borders of NATO; both countries continued wide-ranging modernizations of their nuclear forces, and serious arms control negotiations were nowhere to be seen. North Korea conducted its fourth and fifth underground nuclear tests and gave every indication it would continue to develop nuclear weapons delivery capabilities. Threats of nuclear warfare hung in the background as Pakistan and India faced each other warily across the Line of Control in Kashmir after militants attacked two Indian army bases.
The climate change outlook was somewhat less dismal—but only somewhat. In the wake of the landmark Paris climate accord, the nations of the world have taken some actions to combat climate change, and global carbon dioxide emissions were essentially flat in 2016, compared to the previous year. Still, they have not yet started to decrease; the world continues to warm. Keeping future temperatures at less-than-catastrophic levels requires reductions in greenhouse gas emissions far beyond those agreed to in Paris—yet little appetite for additional cuts was in evidence at the November climate conference in Marrakech.
This already-threatening world situation was the backdrop for a rise in strident nationalism worldwide in 2016, including in a US presidential campaign during which the eventual victor, Donald Trump, made disturbing comments about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons and expressed disbelief in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board takes a broad and international view of existential threats to humanity, focusing on long-term trends. Because of that perspective, the statements of a single person—particularly one not yet in office—have not historically influenced the board’s decision on the setting of the Doomsday Clock.
But wavering public confidence in the democratic institutions required to deal with major world threats do affect the board’s decisions. And this year, events surrounding the US presidential campaign—including cyber offensives and deception campaigns apparently directed by the Russian government and aimed at disrupting the US election—have brought American democracy and Russian intentions into question and thereby made the world more dangerous than was the case a year ago.
For these reasons, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has decided to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to catastrophe. It is now two minutes and 30 seconds to midnight.
The board’s decision to move the clock less than a full minute—something it has never before done—reflects a simple reality: As this statement is issued, Donald Trump has been the US president only a matter of days. Many of his cabinet nominations are not yet confirmed by the Senate or installed in government, and he has had little time to take official action.
Just the same, words matter, and President Trump has had plenty to say over the last year. Both his statements and his actions as president-elect have broken with historical precedent in unsettling ways. He has made ill-considered comments about expanding the US nuclear arsenal. He has shown a troubling propensity to discount or outright reject expert advice related to international security, including the conclusions of intelligence experts. And his nominees to head the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency dispute the basics of climate science.
In short, even though he has just now taken office, the president’s intemperate statements, lack of openness to expert advice, and questionable cabinet nominations have already made a bad international security situation worse.
Last year, and the year before, we warned that world leaders were failing to act with the speed and on the scale required to protect citizens from the extreme danger posed by climate change and nuclear war. During the past year, the need for leadership only intensified—yet inaction and brinksmanship have continued, endangering every person, everywhere on Earth.
Who will lead humanity away from global disaster?