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Battle for White House: Missing issues from US 2016 presidential debates

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Americans will vote on 8 November to decide who will be the country’s next president to lead the nation to a peaceful path without wars and bloodbaths. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have presented a crude irony to the poll that American people have been provided with a choice between not only the two most unpopular candidates, but also the two most reactionary candidates in modern history.

The usual battle for the White House by two-party system is nearing the end point. World is damn sure that irrespective of who win the battle would continue the Bushdom agenda of permanent war on Islam by using many Muslim rulers like Syrian leader Assad.

With capitalism facing serious crakes globally, (notwithstanding the strenuous efforts by World bank and IMF to promote capitalism), imperialism could face obstructions and so US president would strive hard to promote both capitalism and imperialism to phase out the “enemies” and stabilize the “world order” to benefit these anti-humanity features on a permanent basis.

Ritualistic performance?

“They came, performed and disappeared”- this description fits well for the US presidential candidates -Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump – who joined the three “joint” debates on the worthiness of their candidature.

Neither the Republican nor the Democratic person has any real vision about USA but in public mudslinging they have outsmarted the third world leaders. When the elected presidents are not duty bound to fulfill all their promises, pledges and programs, now the empty debates make the life easy for the next President too as he or she can be assured of space in NATO permanent war project on Islam for securing energy resources and for reducing Islamic populations. Pentagon led Nato terror wars can be a perfect tool for the president to justify all their illegal actions at home.

Clearly, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the only two presidential candidates of the permitted parties, viz Republican and Democratic, debated only those useless issues without any substance, without any values for the society and governance, leaving out important issues.

They’re the only candidates that stand a real chance of winning the race, but there are other third-party and independent candidates in the running. The rules around getting on the ballot differ state to state, but most voters will have two main alternatives to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Clearly, there is no clarity in their debates as to how and where exactly these two candidates would differ as the one to replace the incumbent president Obama who is heavily burned with several wars abroad.

The third and final of the Trump- Clinton presidential debates was just as false and intellectually degraded as the first two, characterized by lies by both candidates and mutual mudslinging. Trump and Clinton replied with mutual hatred, first about the allegations of sexual harassment by Trump which have been the focus of a week-long media barrage, then the charges of “pay to play” at the Clinton State Department, with donors to the Clinton Foundation receiving special access.

Both candidates gave themselves the widest possible latitude for escalating the US military aggression throughout the Middle East in the name of fighting “terrorism.” Clinton went on to advocate a wider war in the Middle East while concealing her plans after taking office, claiming she would “not support putting American troops back into Iraq as an occupying force.”

Trump: “Our inner cities are a disaster… I will do more for the African Americans than she will do in 10 lifetimes.” Perhaps most remarkable, however, was when moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump to support the election results. He refused to do so. Trump accused the media of poisoning people’s minds. He said Clinton shouldn’t have been allowed to run for president. It was Trump in a bunker, settling scores and lashing out at enemies real and perceived.

During the debate, Trump called Clinton a liar and hit back that she was a Russian puppet, not him. By the time the topic turned to “fitness to be president”, the stage was set for a total meltdown. He said the woman who has accused him of sexual harassment were in it for the fame and were Clinton campaign stooges.

Consensual candidate?

The final 2016 presidential debate took place on October 19 night, and expectations were not high either. Apparently, both leaders debated only those issues that seemed agreed upon in advance. That has been the practice of US politics cutting across the two-party system. The presidential candidates, therefore, have not been asked questions on some of the critical issues facing the nation that is fighting illegal wars abroad in Middle East on fake pretexts.

US establishment which generally decides who should be the next president and also work for that, is still seen busy with a Hillary win and Trump defeat. Clinton has become the consensus candidate of Wall Street and the military-intelligence apparatus, and, increasingly, of the Republican as well as the Democratic wing of the political establishment. It is significant that Trump never identified himself as a Republican or made any reference to the Republican Party during the debate, while Clinton repeatedly invoked the names of Republican presidents, including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and contrasted them to Trump. Hillary is ready to claim to be the next president in January 2017.

Far more rapidly than most people are aware, the quarter-century of war waged by the US since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the fifteen years of the “war on terror,” are metastasizing into a direct confrontation with the larger geopolitical rivals of the United States.

This immense war danger has been virtually excluded from the presidential election campaign and all but ignored by what presents itself as the political “left” in the United States. After a quarter-century of unending war, including eight years under Obama–the first president to serve two full terms with the country continuously at war–there is no functioning antiwar movement.

Donald Trump disgorged more of his predictable and already tiresome tirades. Words poured out in randomly shuffled stacks, like cards dealt by a drunken croupier. One imagines him under the hot lights, reeking of narcissism, Trump “Success” aftershave, and flop sweat. If Trump manages to bring up jobs and trade, he may reprise his only strong moment from the first two debates.

Once again, Hillary Clinton spends far too much time belaboring the rather obvious fact that Donald Trump is a “horrible” human being. Recent Clinton ads attacking Trump have featured everyone from military veterans to obnoxious movie characters.

The Clinton campaign calculates that its candidate is likelier to prevail by ‘disqualifying’ Trump — using ads to make the idea of voting for him socially unacceptable in professional suburbs — among additional well-educated voters … than by holding on to working-class voters tempted by Trump’s populism …” In one sense, it’s hard to blame them for devoting so much effort to dissing the Donald. An old political cliché says, “Don’t interrupt your enemy when he’s in the process of destroying himself.” It must be tempting to take that one step further and offer a helping hand.

Many voters can be persuaded to despise a privileged, bigoted, misogynistic, bullying, lying, pompous, self-regarding jackass. But Trump has undoubtedly convinced most of those voters already.

Clinton could choose to “go high” instead, using the debate platform to offer uplifting proposals around the issues that matter most to voters – issues like jobs, wages, growth, student debt, and criminal justice. When it comes to uplift, moderator Chris Wallace won’t be much help. Wallace made it clear that he plans to abdicate his journalistic responsibility on Wednesday night. He likened the moderator’s job to “being a referee in a heavyweight championship fight,” a statement that trivializes the democratic process.

The phrase “debt and entitlements” reflects a misguided, inside-the-Beltway financial mindset. This is not the first time Social Security has been badly served in this year’s debates. The third most popular question submitted for October 9’s so-called “town hall” debate was, “Do you support expanding, and not cutting, Social Security’s modest benefits?” It became even timelier after this week’s announcement that Social Security’s next cost of living adjustment will be a “measly” 0.3 percent, an average monthly increase of only $5 per month, despite the fact that drug prices and other medical costs have soared.

Issues

Both have very cleverly avoided foreign policy even in the final debate. They have no explanation for the continuation of terror wars even after their “objectives’ have been sufficiently achieved. Nor did they touch upon serious problems affecting domestic policy, they ignored the basic human rights in the most advanced nation on earth.

On every issue of domestic policy raised in the course of the 90-minute debate—democratic rights, immigration, economic policy, social spending—Clinton employed liberal rhetoric, claiming to defend abortion rights, the legalization of most undocumented workers, government-funded job-creation, a rise in the minimum wage, equal pay for women workers, and an increase in Social Security benefits. Clinton aides openly discuss the need to make such bogus promises in order to fool the American people, and Clinton herself reassures her Wall Street paymasters that they should take her campaign promises with a very large grain of salt.

On national security issues she gave a glimpse of the “genuine” hawkish Clinton, the arch militarist who sought to close the deal with the US ruling elite by demonstrating her hard-line defense of imperialist interests around the world.

Speaking for the first time in his entire campaign with some seriousness, Trump touched a number of ultra-right talking points calling for the appointment of Supreme Court justices, for a wall along the US-Mexico border and to deport millions of undocumented workers, and pointing out, correctly, that President Obama has deported many millions already. Trump appealed to the economic grievances of working people, declaring that expelling immigrant workers, renegotiating trade agreements to bar foreign imports and slashing taxes on the wealthy and the corporations would generate an unprecedented economic boom, with annual GDP growth of six or seven percent. He declared that “millions of people are registered to vote that should not be allowed to vote,” then added that Clinton herself “should never have been allowed to run for president because of what she did with emails and so many other things.”

For the first time in any of the debates, the question of a US-Russian conflict in Syria was broached when Wallace asked Clinton directly about her support for a no-fly zone over Aleppo and other contested Syrian cities. A no-fly zone meant war with Syria and Russia, and if a Russian plane violates the no-fly zone, does President Clinton shoot it down? Clinton simply ducked the question, claiming that the no-fly zone, an act of war against Syria and its allies, Russia and Iran, would be the subject of “negotiation.”

Capitalist funds and spending

Immoral act of fund raising from the rich and corporate lords by the party candidates makes the presidential poll a total farce. Those who “offer huge sums” to the candidates obviously expect “return favors” from the next president. The candidates thus spend huge resources on the campaign.

New poll finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission outlined their dramatically different approaches to the quest for the White House. Trump, while putting more money than ever into advertising, spent a fraction of the roughly USD 66 million Clinton poured into media buys.

Defying his notorious stinginess, Donald Trump more than doubled his campaign spending last month compared to August. He burned through roughly USD 70 million as his standing in polls and among fellow Republicans dropped. His Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, spent even more, almost USD 83 million. Clinton’s payroll topped 800 people, coming in as her second-highest expense of the month, about USD 5.5 million.

Trump paid roughly 350 employees and consultants. He has outsourced most of his on-the-ground voter contact to the Republican Party. The New York real estate mogul has bragged until recently about his low-cost campaign and dismissed the need for television ads and polling services. But in September, he paid USD 23 million for commercials. In August he paid Conway’s The Polling Company 130,000. Last month, he almost tripled his payment to her company, part of USD 1.7 million in September expenditures to five different polling firms.

Another big expense: Long-ago ousted Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski received a total of USD 100,000. Lewandowski was fired in June and quickly became a paid contributor to CNN. That hasn’t stopped him from collecting Trump campaign checks thanks to a contract. In September, his Green Monster Consulting firm collected what the campaign said was its final payout to him. His firm took in about USD 540,000 over the course of the campaign. As a comparison, Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, has been paid about USD 153,000 so far. One of Clinton’s expenditures causes a double-take. Her campaign reimbursed employees who purchased USD 260 worth of products from Trump International Hotel in New York.

Poll rigged and hijacked?

Commentators point out the US election administration is highly de-centralized, with each state setting its own rules and local officials administering them. In most states, observers keep tabs on poll workers too. Voter ID requirements and voting machines also have huge variations, so widespread rigging would be hard to co-ordinate. “It’s bipartisan, it’s transparent, and there’s just no justification for concern about widespread voter fraud.” Former House Speaker and Republican Newt Gingrich harked all the way back to the Richard Nixon versus JFK 1960 election this weekend, saying no “serious historian doubts that Illinois and Texas were stolen”. His comments refer to allegations that JFK’s operatives – allegedly with the collusion of public officials – fixed tallies in Texas and Illinois, giving him 51 electoral votes, and ultimately winning him the closely contested election.

In 2014, when Obama was reelected to White House, 31 known cases of impersonation fraud were found in one billion votes cast in all US elections between 2000 and 2014. And in 2012, News21 analysis of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases since 2000 turned up some 10 cases of voter impersonation. The idea that the US election will be rigged is “ludicrous”, and “certainly not stolen in the way that Trump has alleged,” according to Professor Richard Hasen, an expert in election law.

The Trump campaign has made claims of “election rigging” for months, blaming the “dishonest and distorted media” and the “Clinton machine” for the Republican’s slide in battleground states in the polls. But now the rhetoric has reached new heights, with Trump launching a twitterstorm to hammer home his allegations. A third of Republicans say they have a great deal or quite a bit of confidence that votes will be counted fairly, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Donald Trump has alleged that “large scale voter fraud” is occurring in the US, but is it possible to rig the US election? However, studies suggest voter fraud isn’t really a widespread problem in the USA.

In the third debate, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tried to be restrained, cool and matured- rather ready to assume presidency. He really did calling his previous version as mere gimmicks. During the first section of the third presidential debate, when the topic was the Supreme Court, if you squinted you could almost imagine that this was just another presidential race, with two candidates squaring off and vigorously discussing their public policy positions on abortion and gun control. Even the immigration discussion started reasonably civilly, until Clinton pivoted to turn a question about Wikileaks into an attack on Trump’s relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sparred at debate over gun rights, with the Republican nominee charging that the Second Amendment is “under absolute siege” and would be eroded if his opponent wins. Trump, in the final three weeks, is thought to be zeroing in on several key battlegrounds including Florida, Ohio and North Carolina – but the polls suggest his path to the presidency remains narrow, as even once-reliably red states like Texas are being contested by the Clinton campaign.

Trump, slipping in the polls amid various campaign controversies, said at the last debate that Clinton should be in jail – while moderating a press conference for women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. Clinton has blasted Trump all along as temperamentally unfit for office.

Trump accused the media of poisoning people’s minds. He said Mrs Clinton shouldn’t have been allowed to run for president. It was Trump in a bunker, settling scores and lashing out at enemies real and perceived.

For a commentator, the irony with the Trump campaign’s remarks about election rigging is most of them suggest there will be in-person voter impersonation on election day, which studies show is the rarest form of voter fraud. He says the most common forms of voter fraud are election official fraud – either in the form of stuffing ballot boxes, or “losing” ballots – and absentee ballot fraud.

Observations

The American political system, in which two right-wing corporate-controlled parties have long enjoyed a monopoly, is staggering toward the finish line under conditions of a global crisis so deep that no one can be certain what the world will look like when the votes are counted on November 8.

With just 20 days to the election, millennials suggest they’d rather die than vote for the two main parties while Canadians try to keep their neighbors’ spirits up.

The candidates’ third and final debate sets the tone for the homestretch of the 2016 presidential campaign – a race that already stands out as arguably the most personal, caustic and unpredictable White House battle in modern politics.

WikiLeaks has embarrassed the Clinton campaign by releasing thousands of hacked emails purportedly from her campaign chairman’s account. FBI files alleging a State Department official sought a “quid pro quo” to alter the classification on a Clinton server email added to the campaign’s – and Obama government’s – woes.

Media promote imperialism being represented by Hillary. Since the establishment hawks in USA have already decided to make Hillary the successor of Obama, it would be extremely difficult for Trump to win presidency, but nothing is impossible.

The routine US presidential poll campaign formality is over. The third and final debate is finished! The candidates go their separate ways without a handshake. Clinton walks off stage first. Of course, no love lost there, that’s for sure. What would be the fate of Americans?

To date, the controversies have appeared to hurt Trump more than Clinton, who has gradually expanded her lead over the GOP nominee in recent polls.

Media lords want the terror wars to continue and so the Bushdom agenda being pursued vigorously by Obama. Trump’s vulgarity and demagoguery, together with the media’s insatiable appetite for ratings, have made this campaign a race to the bottom. The night’s biggest question won’t be asked by the moderator. The question is: How low can this race go before it’s over?

With media projecting Hillary as the best choice to promote terror wars and Islamophobia, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have clashed in Las Vegas in final debate. Mrs Hillary Clinton vows to uphold women’s and LGBT rights, while Trump pledges to protect gun rights; Trump said he expects a key ruling that made abortion legal in the US to be overturned if president; She says Russian President Vladimir Putin wants Trump elected because he is his puppet;

Polls suggest Clinton is ahead nationally and in key battleground states.

However, Donald Trump gained on Hillary Clinton among American voters off late, cutting her lead nearly in half despite a string of women accusing him of unwanted sexual advances and the furor over his disputed claims that the election process is rigged, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday. Clinton, the Democratic former secretary of state, led Trump 44 percent to 40 percent, according to the Oct. 14-20 poll, a 4-point lead, with the Nov. 8 election fast approaching. That compared with 44 percent for Clinton and 37 percent for Trump in the Oct. 7-13 poll released last week.

If the upward swings and shifts continue Trump would land in White House to control the world. USA would wait for some more years to have their first ever woman president who is honest and sincere, unlike hawkish warmongering Hillary who over exposed as a terror inspired US leader.

The poll was a conspiracy and hence questions on Trump’s unwanted sexual advances scandal were asked of 1,915 American adults, including 546 likely Republican voters. It had a credibility interval of 3 percentage points for all adults and 5 points for Republican voters. Trump’s deficit narrowed to what it was before a video surfaced on Oct. 7 featuring him bragging about groping and kissing women. Several women, supporting Hillary, have since accused him of making unwanted sexual advances in separate incidents from the early 1980s to 2007. Trump has denied the allegations, calling them “totally and absolutely false.”

Hillary Clinton has long been the frontrunner in this contest but there have been times where she has looked far from comfortable. The most recent examples came back-to-back in early September. First, she made headlines by labeling half of Donald Trump’s supporters a “basket of deplorable”, allowing her rival to conclude it was evidence of her disdain for “hardworking people”.

Mrs. Clinton had been suffering from pneumonia fuelling further rumours about her health – rumours that some of her critics have been pushing for months. The news about her “sudden illness” helps Hillary in poll rating. Her poll numbers took a noticeable hit in the days that followed, but they appeared to recover towards the end of September.

While both candidates are unfit to be the US president, now Americans have no choice but to vote for one of them. If by mistake they prefer Hillary that would be their hilarious fate. One still hopes something good emerging out of Trump’s mind that would benefit USA and world at large. Polls suggest Clinton is ahead nationally and in key battleground states.

In order to overcome the high level expectations and manipulations, Trump and his advisers should be prudent enough to understand the under current in the campaigns trying to wean away the votes from Trump camp.

The high light of the final debate is that it has witnessed a reformed Trump performing.

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‘Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People’: Time to retire

Mohammad Ghaderi

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Again, another mass shooting, again a school, again a troubled teen, a racist, a white supremacist, a Bloods or Crips gangster, a refugee, a war veteran, a mad policeman, a terrorist from al-Qaeda, al-Nusra Front or from the ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Daesh) terrorist outfits … what difference does it make and again dead bodies lying on the ground in their blood. Who believes they were alive seconds ago. The story goes on and to my surprise it is having less effect than it used to have years ago. Why?

We are getting bad. We are not hurt anymore. Too much violence has made us numb.

What does the motto on the entrance of the United Nations building says? A poem by the Iranian influential poet Sa’adi, from the 13th century, the medieval period. The poem has many translations however one is this:

The sons of Adam are limbs of each other,
Having been created of one essence.
When the calamity of time affects one limb
The other limbs cannot remain at rest.
If you have no sympathy for the troubles of others,
You are unworthy to be called by the name of a Human.

Give it a thought, try to put it in practice, politician and statesmen in the United Nations, New York, United States. It is ludicrous that almost all of them call for end of wars, urge foe peace and tranquil but at the same time produce and sell arms.

War, violence and killing is simply unacceptable, nasty and painful in any kind and form, whether it occurs in a house, street, city, countries like Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine or the United States of America.

U.S. teen confesses to mass shooting at Florida Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

A troubled teen with alleged ties to a white supremacist group confessed on Thursday to murdering 17 people at his former high school in Florida, as the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) admitted it had received a tip-off about the 19-year-old gunman yet failed to stop him.

As Americans reeled from the country’s worst school massacre since the horror at Sandy Hook six years ago, the U.S. President Donald Trump suggested the root cause of the violence was a crisis of mental health — and defied calls to address gun control.

Terrified students hid in closets and under desks on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, texting for help as the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, stalked the school with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle.

Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, appearing on Thursday afternoon before a judge who ordered him held without bond.

After being read his legal rights, “Cruz stated that he was the gunman who entered the school campus armed with a AR-15 and began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on the school grounds,” court documents showed.

Cruz also admitted he discarded his rifle — which he bought legally in Florida — and tactical gear in order to blend in with the crowd to flee the campus, the documents showed.

The recent mass shooting at a school in Florida is the latest reminder that the United States is a “very violent country,” a journalist in Detroit says.

After the shooting, he stopped at a Wal-Mart store and then McDonald’s, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters. He was detained 40 minutes later, after police identified him using school security camera footage.

Expelled from school for disciplinary reasons, Cruz was known to be fixated on firearms — and had reportedly been identified as a potential threat to his classmates.

In a somber televised address to the nation in response to the 18th school shooting so far this year, Trump vowed to make mental health a priority — after tweeting about the “many signs” the gunman was “mentally disturbed” — while avoiding any talk of gun curbs.

Earlier in the day, Trump had asserted that “neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”

But U.S. authorities themselves were under scrutiny, after the FBI confirmed it was alerted last September to a message posted on YouTube, in which a user named Nikolas Cruz vowed: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”

In a statement, the FBI said it had carried out “database reviews and other checks” but was unable to identify the person who made the post.

Trump cites mental health, not guns, in speech on shooting

Declaring the nation united and grieving with “one heavy heart,” Trump promised on Thursday to tackle school safety and “the difficult issue of mental health” in response to the deadly shooting in Florida. He made no mention of the scourge of gun violence.

Not always a natural in the role of national comforter, Trump spoke deliberately, at one point directly addressing children who may feel “lost, alone, confused or even scared.”

“I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be,” Trump said. “You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you.”

However, the ones killed were alone when they were shot in cold blood in fear and hope. The ones who lost their precious lives had many hopes and ambitions.

Now they are dead, and it could be every and each one of us, at a school, stadium, concert hall, cinema, home, Middle East, Americas… anywhere, it could be.

Such incidents are cause of sorrow and pain, I cannot explain how I felt when I saw the horrible pictures of the Florida High School shooting, just like how I felt when I saw the massacre committed by the ISIL terrorists killing cadets in Camp Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq. At the time of the attack there were between 4,000 and 11,000 unarmed cadets in the camp. ISIL terrorists singled out Shia and non-Muslim cadets from Sunni ones and murdered them.

Who arms and supports terrorist groups like ISIL? No one can be so naeive to believe that they have just popped out. I recall the U.S. President Trump as saying on his election campaign to Hillary Clinton that the U.S. created ISIL. Well done!

While Trump stressed the importance of mental health and school safety improvements, his latest budget request would slash Medicaid, the major source of federal funding for treating mental health problems, and cut school safety programs by more than a third. Last year, he signed a resolution blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people.

Trump’s silence on guns was noted with displeasure by many who are seeking tougher firearm restrictions. But the White House said the president wanted to keep his remarks focused on the victims.

Before he was a candidate, Trump at one point favored some tighter gun regulations. But he embraced gun rights as a candidate, and the National Rifle Association spent $30 million in support of his campaign.

During his brief, televised statement, Trump said he wanted to work to “create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life,” a phrase likely to resonate with his conservative base.

In contrast, former President Barack Obama tweeted out a call for “long overdue, common-sense gun safety laws.” Obama wrote: “We are grieving with Parkland. But we are not powerless. Caring for our kids is our first job.”

In reacting to previous mass shootings, Trump has largely focused on mental health as a cause, dismissing questions about gun control. After a shooting at a Texas church in November left more than two dozen dead, the president said, “This isn’t a guns situation.”
The US has averaged one school shooting every 60 hours since the beginning of 2018, data shows.

Trump was criticized in early August for saying that both white nationalists and counter-protesters were responsible for the violent clashes at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

While Trump has offered somber responses to some tragedies, he has also drawn criticism for other reactions.

After the Orlando shootings at a gay nightclub that left 49 dead in June 2016, then-candidate Trump tweeted, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.” In the wake of a deadly terror attack in London last June, he went after Mayor Sadiq Khan on Twitter.

Sadiq Khan compares the US president’s rhetoric against Islam to tactics used by ISIL to inspire terror attacks in Western cities.

First published in our partner Tehran Times

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On Jettisoning Failed Leaders and Mass Shootings in the U.S.

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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The scene is the House of Commons; the date May 7, 1940.  A simple motion to adjourn for the ten-day Whitsun recess is of little concern to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who has a comfortable 213 seat majority.  Then things take a turn.  A plan approved by the first Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill to land troops in Norway and engage the Germans directly has been a disaster with huge losses, and the eventual naval evacuation of the expeditionary force — an Arctic Dardanelles planned by the same man.

Chamberlain rises to defend Churchill and the conduct of the war in what has now come to be known as the “Norway Debate”.  In the most unlikely of scenarios and with no evidence of Winston trying to put his name forward — in fact the opposite — when the tide turns against Chamberlain, within three days as more favored candidates are shed, he has become prime minister.  Such is the parliamentary system.  Margaret Thatcher is another example, toppled shortly after success at the polls.

The American system, however, puts the president beyond such reach other than through a laborious impeachment.  Analogous to the third Roman Emperor Caligula, Donald Trump, too, has no military or political experience.  Caligula made his horse a senator or some say consul; Trump has the equivalent running government departments and agencies.  Caligula declared himself a god; Trump tweeted he is a ‘stable genius.’  If Caligula’s reign ended with assassination, Trump’s will be more prosaic — just disaffected voters.

Another mass shooting this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Seventeen are dead and  many more injured.  The gunman, identified as Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15 assault type rifle, a weapon far deadlier than a pistol — perhaps he watched the coverage of the Las Vegas shooting.  He was a former pupil who had been suspended from the school, and who students recalled as disturbed and scary.

President Trump in his remarks following the incident did not bring up the obvious question of why an AR-15 was so easily available for purchase.  Gun owners and the gun lobby are part of his constituency.

Following a mass shooting in April 1996 when a man armed with two semi-automatic rifles killed 35 people in Port Arthur, Tasmania, the Australian government put together strict gun laws.  They were supplemented with a mandatory gun-buyback program through which 650,000 firearms were destroyed.  Did the program work?  The data tells the story more vividly:  From 1979 to 1996, Australia suffered 13 mass shootings; since 1997 it has had none.

Under his usual theme of ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’, President Trump continues to talk about finding ways to deal better with disturbed people.  The sure Australian way is to stop them acquiring guns.

Lost in the Florida school story was another shooting the same day when trigger-happy guards let loose at a National Security Agency entrance.  The forested area is a confused mass of entries and exits.  It has happened before that somebody inadvertently makes a wrong turn and panics when faced with shouting armed guards.  In this incident, bullet holes can be seen in the windshield and the three men in the car were injured.

Introducing the Gates Foundation’s annual philanthropic letter a few days ago, Bill and Melinda Gates appealed to Donald Trump to not cut foreign aid — “even a 10 percent cut could lead to 5 million deaths in the next decade”, Bill Gates warned.  Will President Trump listen?

Despite the many wonderful aspects the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, when it comes to jettisoning incompetent leaders, it is difficult to best the parliamentary system for immediacy.

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Trump’s new nuclear doctrine just rhetoric

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Recently the US President Donald Trump unveiled his new nuclear doctrine which had remained unchanged since 2010. Many experts consider Trump’s new doctrine which enjoys many ambiguities as just campaign rhetoric. To shed more light on the issue we reached out to Prof. Filip Kovacevic, University of San Francisco geopolitics.

The US new nuclear doctrine was published several days ago. This document had remained unchanged since 2010. What are the reasons for new changes?

According to the US military establishment, the most important reason for changes is that the world has been a more dangerous and geopolitically unstable place. What the generals are not saying, though, is that it was their own actions which are responsible for this state of affairs. The hegemonic US foreign policy, the attempt to force a neo-liberal Pax Americana on the diversity and richness of the world’s cultures and traditions, is the cause of the present world problems.

Of course, you won’t find this stated openly in the doctrine. What you will find there, in a typical manipulative fashion, are the accusations of others for the problems that the US foreign policy has caused itself. In fact, this hypocritical pattern of behavior, where you take the legitimate reactions of others to your own provocations and aggressive moves as the main cause of tensions and conflicts, goes back many decades into the past.

What is the most significant difference between the new doctrine and the previous one?

In my opinion, the most significant difference is that a lot more money will be poured into the development of nuclear weapons. This will inevitably lead to a nuclear arms race with other states and to the proliferation of nuclear weapons as more and more countries will want to acquire them. But it will bring tremendous profits to the US military-industrial complex. In fact, the Trump administration is completely under the control of this section of the US corporate oligarchy. Trump is essentially breaking down all the institutional checks and balances in the US political system and paving a way for a military dictatorship. I have no doubt that the next US president will be a military officer. This means that we are about to see more wars and more deaths around the world, including in the Middle East. Many old, frozen conflicts will be re-opened across Asia and, apparently, the US is also setting a stage for the first-time use of a low yield nuclear weapon. Let’s not forget, though, that the bombs with depleted uranium have already been extensively used in the US /NATO conflicts, starting with the attack on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, causing horrific public health and environmental problems for generations to come.

In new doctrine, the use of nuclear weapons is allowed in extraordinary situation. There are some ambiguities around this. What are those extraordinary situations exactly?

The fact that the US reserves the right to respond with a nuclear weapon to a non-nuclear attack is nothing new. In fact, the US dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki even though there was no nuclear threat from the Imperial Japan. However, what is new in this doctrine is that now the US considers the potential use of a nuclear weapon against a large-scale cyber-attack. This is extremely worrying, because, as is well known, it is very difficult to correctly attribute the source of a cyber-attack. This could make a false-flag attack by some rogue terrorist faction or by the inside provocateurs misinterpreted as an attack by another nuclear power and lead to the nuclear annihilation of all life on Earth.

As the US considers the first strike on Russia acceptable, it means the spirit of the cold war is governing this new doctrine. Why has the US taken this approach?

Provoked by the rapid and aggressive expansion of the US political, economic, and cultural influence in Central and Eastern Europe under the umbrella of NATO, Russia has embarked on the campaign of re-arming and strengthening its defense and security apparatus in recent years. It appears that the US thought that Russia would cave in under its demands and accept to be a third-rate power in Eurasia. However, this was a serious misunderstanding of the Russian history and tradition. Now that Russia pushes back, the US establishment does not know what else to do but to make threats. However, these are empty threats because any kind of use of nuclear weapons against Russia or against its allies within the Collective Security Treaty Organization would quickly lead to mutual destruction. The spirit of the old Cold War has returned, and it will be with us for a long time to come. Accordingly, we will see the flare-up of proxy conflicts and covert actions across the world.

How do you assess the US new doctrine toward Iran? What are the new points?

Iran is one of only four states separately mentioned in the doctrine. The others are Russia, China, and North Korea. Iran is given the least coverage because it is not seen as an immediate nuclear danger to the US .The main emphasis is on what will happen after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ends in 2031. It is stated that after this period, Iran will be able to produce a nuclear weapon within a year. Interestingly, there is no mention of the US getting out of the JCPOA before that time, which is in contradiction to what the US president Donald Trump has been saying recently. It appears that Trump’s statements are just campaign rhetoric intended to please some important and wealthy interest groups, but that, in reality, it will be difficult for the US to get out of the JCPOA, considering that all other signatories are still backing it. However, this is not to say that the US will not use all other means at its disposal, including its vast media and intelligence resources, to sow discord within the Iranian political elite and create an economic and political crisis in the country.

First published in our partner Mehr News Agency

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