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Donald Trump to meet press on 11 January over conflict of interests

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World has been looking for the news about real policies of newly elected US President Donald Trump to have an idea about what kind of presidency he would prefer to install- particularly if he would make nay departure from the usual US foreign policy matters with regards to Russia and Palestine or he would also continue the Neocon ideas of regimes everywhere by terror wars to make entire world to promote US agenda for the world.

Already, Trump has revealed his conflictual mindset by making contradictory statements, especially its readiness to promote Israel in Mideast to shield the crimes being perpetrated by its military and police against humanity in Palestine. His policy statement would make the matter somewhat clear to the world.

Precedent has seen American presidents-elect field numerous press conferences during the transition to power to discuss matters such as their choices to fill their cabinet and policy plans for the incoming administration. The methods of the new president communicating news about the transition have been unorthodox for an incoming head of state.

President elect Donald Trump has largely snubbed thus far the tradition that the presidential news conference has become. Instead Trump has relied largely on rallies, photo ops, select interviews and — in unprecedented fashion — on tweets.

Trump, elected in November, has not held a press conference since July, and his announcement gave just the latest date set for the much-delayed event previously due to take place 15 December.

In a tweet, Trump said he will hold a press conference on 11 January, during which he has previously indicated he would unveil his governance plans in order to avoid any conflict of interest between the White House and his business dealings.

Economic announcements of this magnitude are rare and generally take place through a news release or a carefully planned press conference, requiring the efforts of many public relations experts who carefully consider every word and gesture. Last month, he unexpectedly announced to reporters camped in the lobby of his Manhattan Trump Tower skyscraper that Masayoshi Son — the flamboyant head of Japanese telecoms giant SoftBank and a self-made billionaire — had announced a $50 billion investment in the US that would create 50,000 jobs. Steven Mnuchin, tapped to become Secretary of Treasury, and Wilbur Ross, the commerce pick, announced on CNBC television that they had been appointed to their Cabinet positions by Trump. The official announcement was published several hours later.

Trump voiced new doubts that Russian hackers attempted to influence the US election on his behalf, accusing Democrats of lax security and saying WikiLeaks had denied Moscow was behind the documents it made public. Trump, in a spate of notes on Twitter, continued to raise questions about the findings by US intelligence agencies that Russia was behind a series of leaks that embarrassed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign ahead of the Nov. 8 vote. Documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager, were leaked to the media in advance of the election. One email showed the Clinton campaign received a question in advance of a town hall forum.

Trump, who will take office on Jan. 20, is scheduled to receive a briefing from intelligence officials on the hacking issue on Friday. He has suggested the briefing was postponed to give intelligence officials more time to build their case.”The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

Over years of occupational and expansionist brutalities of the Zionist regime in Palestine have emboldened the Israeli soldiers (heroes”) to kill any Palestinian anywhere at will because they know the Israeli government would call the state crimes like this as heroism.

Meanwhile, a Jewish soldier , another “Our hero!” , who shot dead a Palestinian lying wounded and motionless on the ground in the occupied West Bank was surprisingly convicted of manslaughter on January 04 Wednesday in one of the most polarising cases in Israel’s history. So far Israeli courts do not punish any Jew even if he or she commits heinous crèmes against Palestinians.

The decision to court-martial Sergeant Elor Azaria, who shot the Palestinian after he stabbed a Israeli soldier last March for routine harassment, stirred public controversy in Israel from the start, with right-wing politicians calling after the verdict on President Reuven Rivlin to pardon the 20-year-old defendant. As the decision was being read at a heavily guarded military court in Tel Aviv, several hundred far-right core backers of Azaria – one of them even carrying a Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” banner – willingly clashed with police. Ten months ago, Azaria was an army medic serving in the Israeli-occupied city of Hebron when two Palestinians carried out the stabbing. Hebron has been a longtime flashpoint of violence, and the incident occurred during a wave of Palestinian street attacks on Israeli criminals. .

While one of the two Palestinians was shot dead by troops, the other was shot and wounded. Eleven minutes later, as the wounded man, Abd Elfatah Ashareef, 21, lay on the ground incapacitated, “hero” Azaria shot him in the head with an assault rifle. At the trial, Azaria contended that he believed the Palestinian, though motionless, still posed a danger because his knife was nearby, and that he might have been carrying explosives. “He deserves to die,” Azaria was quoted in the verdict as telling another soldier after pulling the trigger. The three-judge panel rejected Azaria’s argument.”One cannot use this type of force, even if we’re talking about an enemy’s life,” the court said in its verdict. “We unanimously convict the accused of manslaughter and of conduct unbecoming (a soldier).”Azaria, who was smiling as he awaited the verdict as the chief judge read out the conviction.

Video footage of the shooting, taken by a Palestinian human rights activist, showed the knife was not within Ashareef’s reach, and no bomb was found. The video was distributed to news organisations, ensuring that the incident drew international attention amid allegations by Palestinians and rights groups that Israeli soldiers have been using excessive force against the Palestinians they come across on daily basis.

The point is the Israeli military thinks Trump is going to be on the side of Zionists to shield their crimes as his own and, as his predecessors haves done, would naturally work against Palestinians.

Guantánamo Bay controlled by CIA-Pentagon duo in Latin America to terrorize Muslims the worst possible inhuman ways is the most shameful black blot on western democracy claims. The 59 prisoners who remain at Gitmo today have never faced a fair trial. Many – like more than 700 before them – are held on the basis of a mix of bogus statements, made under torture or coercion. Unfortunately, Trump – a self-proclaimed patriot – appears happy with this most un-American state of affairs.

The president-to-be obviously knows nothing about Guantánamo Bay, like many other things, including foreign policy, said that “There should be no further releases from Gitmo.” His tweet adds: “These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.” And on top of leaving people to rot in Gitmo without trial, President-elect Trump promises to bring back “a hell of a lot worse than water boarding”. Trump doesn’t “think it’s tough enough.” Trump seems to be fairly ill-informed about torture techniques as well: the main conclusion of the US Senate’s 2014 probe into Bush-era torture was that it “was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence.”

What Trump doesn’t appear to understand is that most Gitmo prisoners can’t go “back to the battlefield” – because they were never there in the first place. In 2002, the last Republican administration said that those held at Guantanamo were “the worst of the worst,” but thus far the vast majority of the prisoners held there have been cleared. Most of the men there were never the worst of anything.

Those who Trump would keep forever without trial, but for whom my charity Reprieve will continue to advocate, including a former Pakistani taxi driver who was mistaken for a terrorist called Hassan Gul, and taken to a secret prison for “unauthorised” torture over a year. And a young man from Yemen who had travelled far from home in search of work, and then got caught up in the chaotic aftermath of 9/11. The US military was offering life-changing sums of bounty money to Afghans and to Pakistanis if they turned over Arab men.

The outgoing president Obama was dead right to say that Gitmo is a blot on the US. As long ago as 2004, an intelligence agent opined that for every detainee we hold at Guantanamo, we have provoked 10 people to want to do us harm. Today, the same expert would no doubt revise this estimate up to hundreds. Osama bin Laden estimated that he had 100 followers in 2001.

It is time to make America great again, and to apply such Trump parlance where it rightly belongs. That is emphatically not torture, rendition, detention without trial and assassination. It is respect for human rights, and US values like due process and the rule of law.

The horrific ways in which Guantanamo’s prisoners have been repeatedly tortured makes it surprising there aren’t more who hold a mighty grudge. In my experience, the overwhelming majority just want to return home, rebuild their lives and forget the terrible nightmare of the last decade and more.

Meanwhile, much peace loving Americans seek a month of resistance leading up to the president-elect’s inauguration on January 20. Thousands of activists, journalists, scientists, entertainers, and other prominent voices took out a full-page call to action in the New York Times on Wednesday making clear their rejection of President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence with the simple message: “No!” Trump is “assembling a regime of grave danger” that is an “immoral peril to the future of humanity and the earth itself,” the call to action continues. “Millions must rise up in a resistance with a deep determination such that we create a political crisis that prevents the Trump/Pence fascist regime from consolidating its hold on the governance of society.” “Stop the Trump/Pence regime before it starts! In the name of humanity we refuse to accept a fascist America!” the ad states, followed by a list of signatories that includes scholar Cornel West; author Alice Walker; Chase Iron Eyes of the Standing Rock Sioux; educator Bill Ayers; poet Saul Williams; CNN’s Marc Lamont Hill; Carl Dix of the Communist Party USA; and numerous others.

Trump can end bloodshed in Palestine as well as entire Mideast or help Israel complicate the saturation further. Does he also seek disasters?

Choice is Trump’s

As the unusual president elect, Trump would do well by pursuing a new set of policies abroad that would greatly benefit the shivering humanity. Terror wars must end. Trump should recognize Palestine and ask Israel also do the same for the sake of creating the necessary preconditions for the natural establishment of Palestine and for peace in Mideast.

Hopefully Trump would have to let the world know that he cares for humanity and peace in the world and he is well reformed from being a mere political hawk to become a genuine statesman to lead America and world positively and in the best ways possible.

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Americas

In Praise of the Lioness of Law: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her Jurisprudence

Punsara Amarasinghe

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image credit: Wikipedia

The death of the US Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg has created an abyss in the court for the liberal voice where justice Ginsburg was seen as the linchpin of the liberal block of the Supreme Court at a time when that block was shrinking. Especially late judge had vociferously advocated for women ‘rights, environmental issues and often came up with unique dissents in delivering her judgements which were propelled by her jurisprudence which embodied the solemn ideal in American legal system “Equal Protection under the Law “. She was on a quest to defend the delicate balance between honoring the timelessness of American Constitution and recognizing the depth of its enduring principles in new centuries and under new circumstances.

She grew up in an era where men held the helm in every aspect of social life and especially the legal profession was utterly dominated by men. Recalling her legal studies at Harvard law school in the 50’s judge Ginsburg had stated later how she was once asked by the Dean of Harvard law school to justify her position as a law student that otherwise would have gone to a man. Yet she had the spunk to overcome all the obstacles stood on her way and excelled as a scholar becoming the first female member of the Harvard Law Review.

In tracing her legal career that it becomes a salient fact, Judge Ginsburg marked her name in American legal history even decades before she joined the bench. While at the American Civil Liberties Union in the early seventies she made an upheaval in American in legal system in famous Supreme Court Case Reed Vs Reed. In Reed Vs Reed the brief drafted by Ginsburg provided an astute analysis on the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause. Ginsburg’s brief changed the aged long practice existed in the State of Idaho on favoring men over women in estate battles by paving the path for a discourse on gender equality rights in the USA.

Judge Ginsburg’s appointment to the Supreme Court in 1994 during Clinton administration marked the dawn of new jurisprudential chapter in the US Supreme Court. Two terms later, in the United States v. Virginia (VMI), Justice Ginsburg applied her lucid perspective to a sharply disputed constitutional claim. The United States challenged Virginia’s practice of admitting only men to its prestigious military college, the Virginia Military Institute. Writing for six Justices, Ginsburg held this policy unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. In reaching this result, Ginsburg adroitly cut away potentially confounding issues about women’s participation in the military or the advantages of single-sex education.

Her robust activism in securing gender equality often attracted the admirations of the feminist scholars and activists, but it should be noted that her contribution was not only confined to the protection of gender equality. She was a robust critique of racial dissemination which still pervades in American society and she frequently pointed out how racial discrimination has marred the constitutional protections guaranteed to every citizen. Especially in the case of Gratz Vs Bollitnger, she stressed on the commitment that the state ought to fulfil by eliminating the racial biases existing employment and education. Moreover, disabled citizens. In Olmstead v. Zimring, she held that “unjustified institutional isolation of persons with disabilities is a form of discrimination” violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.45 She elaborated a two-fold concept of discrimination, noting that unneeded institutionalization both “perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life”.

In remembering the mortal departure of this prudent judge that one cannot forget her keenness in incorporating international law into her judgements regardless of the disinclination shown by conservative judges like Antony Scalia. Going beyond the mere textualism approach to the law, Ginsburg’s jurisprudence was much more akin to using international law to make substantive decisions. For instance, in her concurring verdict in Grutter Vs Bollinger, Justice Ginsburg relied upon international human rights law, and in particular upon two United Nations conventions, to support her conclusions.

Indeed, the demise of Ruth Ginsburg is a major blow for the liberalists in the USA, especially in an era where liberalist values are at stake under the fervent rise of populist waves propounded by Donald Trump. Especially late judge had been one of the harsh critics of Trump even before ascendency to the Oval office. The void created by the demise of judge Ginsburg might change the role the US Supreme Court if the successor to her position would take a more conservative approach and it will fortify the conservative bloc in the US Supreme Court. Trump has already placed Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh and the third pick would more deeply entrench the conservative views in the US Supreme Court, which would inevitably undermine the progressive policies taken during Obama’s administration towards issues such as the environment. The political storm appeared after the death of the late judge has already created a tense situation in US politics as president Trump is determined to appoint a judge to fill before the presidential election in November.

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The Politics of (In)security in Mexico: Between Narcissism and Political Failure

Lisdey Espinoza Pedraza

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Image credit: Wikimedia

Security cannot be that easily separated from the political realm. The need for security is the prime reason why people come together to collectively form a state. Providing security is, therefore, one of the most basic functions of the state as a political and collective entity.

Last Friday, the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) laughed during his daily morning press briefings over a national newspaper headline about 45 massacres during his presidency. This attitude summarises in a macabre way his approach to insecurity: it is not his top priority. This is not the first time that AMLO has showed some serious and deeply disturbing lack of empathy for victims of crimes. Before taking office, he knew that insecurity was one of Mexico’s biggest challenges, and he has come to realise that curbing it down will not be as simple as he predicted during his presidential campaign.

Since the start of the War on Drugs in 2006, Mexico has sunk into a deep and ever-growing spiral of violence and vigilantism as a result of the erosion of the capacity of the state to provide safety to citizens. Vigilantism is when citizens decide to take the law into their own hands in order to fill the vacuum left by the state, or to pursue their own very particular interests. Guerrero, Michoacán, Morelos, Tabasco, Tamaulipas and Veracruz have over 50 vigilante organisations that pose substantial danger to the power of the state.

Vigilantism is not the only factor exacerbating the security crisis in Mexico: since 2006, young people have also started to join drug cartels and other criminal organisations. There are important sectors of the population who feel that the state has failed to represent them. They also feel betrayed because the state has not been able to provide them with the necessary means to better themselves. These frustrations make them vulnerable to the indoctrination of organised crime gangs who promise to give them some sort of ideological direction and solution to their problems.

As a result, it is not enough to carry out a kingpin arrest strategy and to preach on the moral duties we have as citizens as well as on human dignity. People need to be given enough means to find alternative livelihoods that are attractive enough to take them out of organised crime, Mexico can draw some important lessons from Sierra Leone who successfully demobilised and resettled ex-combatants after the armed conflict. Vigilantism, recruitment by organised crime, and insecurity have also flourished because of a lack of deterrence. The judicial system is weak and highly ineffective. A large proportion of the population does not trust the police, or the institutions in charge of the rule of law.

A long-term strategy requires linking security with politics. It needs to address not only the consequences but also the roots of unemployment and deep inequality. However, doing so requires decisive actions to root out widespread and vicious corruption. Corruption allows concentration of wealth and also prevents people from being held accountable. This perpetuates the circle of insecurity. Mexico has been slowly moving towards a borderline failed state. The current government is starting to lose legitimacy and the fragility of the state is further perpetuated by the undemocratic, and predatory governance of the current administration.

Creating a safer Mexico requires a strong, coherent, and stable leadership, AMLO’s administration is far from it. His popularity has consistently fallen as a result of his ineffective policies to tackle the pandemic, worsening insecurity, and the economic crisis. Mexico has reached over 72,000 Covid-19 deaths; during his initial 20 months as incumbent president, there has been 53,628 murders, among them 1800 children or teenagers, and 5888 women (11 women killed per day) This criminality rate is double than what it was during the same period in the presidency of Felipe Calderón (2006-2012); and 55% higher than with the last president, Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018). Mexico is also experiencing its worst economic recession in 90 years.

Insecurity remains as the issue of most concern among Mexicans, seeing the president laughing about it, can only fill citizens with yet more despair and lack of trusts in the government and its institutions. AMLO’s catastrophic performance is not surprising, though. Much of his failures and shortcomings can be explained by both ideology and a narcissistic personality. Having someone with both of those traits ruling a country under normal, peaceful times is already dangerous enough, add an economic crisis and a pandemic to the mix and the result is utter chaos.

AMLO embodies the prototypical narcissist: he has a grandiose self-image; an inflated ego; a constant need for admiration; and intolerance to criticism. He, like many other narcissists, thinks about himself too much and too often, making him incapable of considering the wellbeing of other and unable to pursue the public interest. He has a scapegoat ready to blame for his failures and mistakes: previous administrations, conservatives, neoliberalism, academics, writers, intellectuals, reporters, scientists, you name it, the list is long and keeps getting longer.

AMLO keeps contradicting himself and he does not realise it. He has been claiming for months that the pandemic is under control: it is not. He declares Mexico is ready to face the pandemic and we have enough tests and medical equipment: we do not. He says Mexico is on its way to economic recovery: it is not. He states corruption is a thing of the past: it is not. He says Mexico is now safer than ever before: it is not. When told the opposite he shrugs criticism off and laughs, the behaviour of a typical narcissist.

AMLO, alike narcissists, due to his inability to face criticism, has never cared about surrounding himself by the best and brightest. He chose a bunch of flunkies as members of his cabinet who try to please and not humiliate their leader. A further trait of narcissistic personalities is that they love conflict and division as this keeps them under control. The more destabilisation and antagonism, the better. AMLO since the start of his presidency has been setting states against states for resources and for pandemic responses, instead of coordinating a national response. He is also vindictive: playing favourites with those governors who follow him and punishing those that oppose him.

Deep down, narcissistic leaders are weak. AMLO is genuinely afraid to lead. He simply cannot bring himself to make decisions that are solely his. This is why he has relied on public referendums and consultations to cancel projects or advance legislation. He will not take any responsibility if something goes wrong: It was not him who decided, it was the people, blame them. He inherited a broken system that cannot be fixed during his term, blame the previous administrations, not him.

AMLO is a prime example of a textbook narcissist, unfortunately he is not the only one: Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Recep Erdogan, Rodrigo Duterte are only a few more examples of what seems to be a normalised behaviour in contemporary politics. Every aspect of AMLO’s and other leaders presidencies have been heavily marked by their psychopathology. Narcissism, however, does not allow proper and realistic self-assessment, self-criticism, and self-appreciation therefore such leaders will simply ignore the red flags in their administration and have no clue how despicably and disgracefully they will be remembered.

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Minor Successes And The Coronavirus Disaster: Is Trump A Dead Duck?

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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That reminder from the Bible, ‘He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone’ may give us pause — but not journalists who by all appearances assume exemption.  And the stones certainly bruise.

Evidence for the bruises lies in the latest poll numbers.  Overall, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump 50 to 43 percent, a margin that has continued to increase since January.  It is also considerably wider than the few points lead Hillary Clinton had over Trump four years ago.  It gets worse for Trump. 

In the industrial states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, which Trump in 2016 won by razor thin margins, he is losing by over 4 percent.  Also key to his victory was Wisconsin where, despite his success in getting dairy products into Canada, he is behind by a substantial 7 percent.  Key states Ohio and Florida are also going for the Democrats.

Trump was not doing so badly until the coronavirus struck and during the course of his news conferences he displayed an uncaring persona larded with incompetence.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, the man he fired for correcting Trumpian exaggerations became a hero and Trump the bully.

If that bullying nature won him small rewards with allies, he hit an impasse with China and Iran … while bringing the two closer to each other.  Then there is the border wall, a sore point for our southern neighbor Mexico.  President Lopez Obrador made sure the subject never came up at the July meeting with Trump,   Thus Mexico is not paying for it so far and will not be in the foreseeable future.

The United Arab Emirates, a conglomeration of what used to be the Trucial States under British hegemony. have agreed to formalize its already fairly close relations with Israel.  In return, Israel has postponed plans to annex the West Bank.  Whether or not it is in Israel’s long term interest to do so is a debatable question because it provides much more powerful ammunition to its critics who already accuse it of becoming an apartheid regime.  However, it had become Prime Minister Netanyahu’s sop to the right wing who will have to wait.  Of course, the reality is that Israel is already the de facto ruler.

If Mr. Trump was crowing about the agreement signed on September 15, although it is akin to someone signing an agreement with Puerto Rico while the United States remains aloof.  As a postscript, the little island of Bahrain also signed a peace deal with Israel.  Bahrain has had its own problems in that a Sunni sheikh rules a Shia populace.  When the Shia had had enough, Saudi and UAE troops were used to end the rebellion.  Bahrain is thus indebted to the UAE.

How many among voters will know the real value of these historic (according to Trump) deals particularly when he starts twittering his accomplishments as the election nears?

There things stand.  As they say, there is nothing worse than peaking too early.  Bettors are still favoring Trump with their money.  The longer anyone has been in politics the more there is to mine, and for an opponent to use to his/her advantage.  Time it seems is on Trump’s side.  

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