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U.K.’s Johnson Asks EU for Brexit Delay He Doesn’t Want

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LONDON—British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pressing ahead to try to win parliamentary backing for his new Brexit deal as the European Union considers his grudging request to extend the looming Oct. 31 Brexit deadline.

Johnson late Saturday sent an unsigned letter to the EU seeking a delay to Britain’s impending departure from the bloc, as required by law. But he followed it with a signed letter indicating that he does not favor another extension.

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EU officials have not responded to the request.

Johnson could face legal challenges from opponents who feel that sending the second letter was done to frustrate Parliament, which has not approved his Brexit plan but does want to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

Johnson returns to Parliament on Monday to keep seeking support for his Brexit proposal, which was approved Thursday by EU leaders.

The post U.K.’s Johnson Asks EU for Brexit Delay He Doesn’t Want appeared first on Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists.

Hong Kong Again in Chaos as Protesters Defy Ban

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HONG KONG—Hong Kong streets descended into chaotic scenes following an unauthorized pro-democracy rally Sunday as protesters set up roadblocks and torched businesses and police responded with tear gas and a water cannon.

Protesters tossed firebombs and took their anger out on shops with mainland Chinese ties as they skirmished late into the evening with riot police, who unleashed numerous tear gas rounds on short notice, angering residents and passers-by.

Police had beefed up security measures ahead of the rally, for which they refused to give permission, the latest chapter in the unrest that has disrupted life in the financial hub since early June.

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Some 24 people were hurt and treated at hospitals, including six with serious injuries, the Hospital Authority said.

Police did not give an arrest figure. One person was seen being handcuffed and taken away to a police van.

As the rally march set off, protest leaders carried a black banner that read, “Five main demands, not one less,” as they pressed their calls for police accountability and political rights in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Supporters sang the protest movement’s anthem, waved colonial and U.S. flags, and held up placards depicting the Chinese flag as a Nazi swastika.

Many protesters wore masks in defiance of a recently introduced ban on face coverings at public gatherings, and volunteers handed more out to the crowd.

Matthew Lee, a university student, said he was determined to keep protesting even after more than four months.

“I can see some people want to give up, but I don’t want to do this because Hong Kong is my home, we want to protect this place, protect Hong Kong,” he said. “You can’t give up because Hong Kong is your home.”

Some front-line protesters barricaded streets at multiple locations in Kowloon, where the city’s subway operator restricted passenger access.

They tore up stones from the sidewalk and scattered them on the road, commandeered plastic safety barriers and unscrewed metal railings to form makeshift roadblocks.

A water cannon truck and armored car led a column of dozens of police vans up and down Nathan Road, a major artery lined with shops, to spray a stinging blue-dyed liquid as police moved to clear the road of protesters and barricades.

At one point, the water cannon sprayed a handful of people standing outside a mosque. Local broadcaster RTHK reported that the people hit were guarding the mosque and few protesters were nearby. The Hong Kong police force said it was an “unintended impact” of its operation to disperse protesters and later sent a representative to meet the mosque’s imam.

As night fell, protesters returned to the streets, setting trash on fire at intersections.

Residents jeered at riot police, cursing at them and telling them to leave. The officers, in turn, warned people that they were part of an illegal assembly and told them to leave, and unleashed tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Along the way, protesters trashed discount grocery shops and a restaurant chain because of what they say is the pro-Beijing ownership of the companies. They also set fire to ATMs and branches of mainland Chinese banks, setting off sprinklers in at least two, as well as a shop selling products from Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi.

The police used a bomb disposal robot to blow up a cardboard box with protruding wires that they suspected was a bomb.

Organizers said ahead of the march that they wanted to use their right to protest as guaranteed by Hong Kong’s constitution despite the risk of arrest.

“We’re using peaceful, rational, nonviolent ways to voice our demands,” Figo Chan, vice convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, told reporters. “We’re not afraid of being arrested. What I’m most scared of is everyone giving up on our principles.”

The group has organized some of the movement’s biggest protest marches. One of its leaders, Jimmy Sham, was attacked on Wednesday by assailants wielding hammers.

On Saturday, Hong Kong police arrested a 22-year-old man on suspicion of stabbing a teenage activist who was distributing leaflets near a wall plastered with pro-democracy messages. A witness told RTHK that the assailant shouted afterward that Hong Kong is “a part of China” and other pro-Beijing messages.

The protest movement sprang out of opposition to a government proposal for an extradition bill that would have sent suspects to mainland China to stand trial, and then ballooned into broader demands for full democracy and an inquiry into alleged police brutality.

The post Hong Kong Again in Chaos as Protesters Defy Ban appeared first on Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists.

U.S. Troops Leaving Syria for Iraq, Not Home as Trump Claims

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KABUL, Afghanistan—While President Donald Trump insists he’s bringing home Americans from “endless wars” in the Mideast, his Pentagon chief says all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq and the American military will continue operations against the Islamic State group.

They aren’t coming home and the United States isn’t leaving the turbulent Middle East, according to current plans outlined by U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper before he arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday. The fight in Syria against IS, once spearheaded by American allied Syrian Kurds who have been cast aside by Trump, will be undertaken by U.S. forces, possibly from neighboring Iraq.

Esper did not rule out the idea that U.S. forces would conduct counterterrorism missions from Iraq into Syria. But he told reporters traveling with him that those details will be worked out over time.

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Trump nonetheless tweeted: “USA soldiers are not in combat or ceasefire zones. We have secured the Oil. Bringing soldiers home!”

The president declared this past week that Washington had no stake in defending the Kurdish fighters who died by the thousands as America’s partners fighting in Syria against IS extremists. Turkey conducted a weeklong offensive into northeastern Syria against the Kurdish fighters before a military pause.

“It’s time for us to come home,” Trump said, defending his removal of U.S. troops from that part of Syria and praising his decision to send more troops and military equipment to Saudi Arabia to help the kingdom defend against Iran.

Esper’s comments to reporters traveling with him were the first to specifically lay out where American troops will go as they shift from Syria and what the counter-IS fight could look like. Esper said he has spoken to his Iraqi counterpart about the plan to shift about 1,000 troops from Syria into western Iraq.

Trump’s top aide, asked about the fact that the troops were not coming home as the president claimed they would, said, “Well, they will eventually.”

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday” that “the quickest way to get them out of danger was to get them into Iraq.”

As Esper left Washington on Saturday, U.S. troops were continuing to pull out of northern Syria after Turkey’s invasion into the border region. Reports of sporadic clashes continued between Turkish-backed fighters and the Syria Kurdish forces despite a five-day cease-fire agreement hammered out Thursday between U.S. and Turkish leaders.

The Turkish military’s death toll has risen to seven soldiers since it launched its offensive on Oct. 9.

Trump ordered the bulk of the approximately 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria to withdraw after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear in a phone call that his forces were about to invade Syria to push back Kurdish forces that Turkey considers terrorists.

The pullout largely abandons America’s Kurdish allies who have fought IS alongside U.S. troops for several years. Between 200 and 300 U.S. troops will remain at the southern Syrian outpost of Al-Tanf.

Esper said the troops going into Iraq will have two missions.

“One is to help defend Iraq and two is to perform a counter-ISIS mission as we sort through the next steps,” he said. “Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal, but that’s the game plan right now.”

The U.S. currently has more than 5,000 American forces in Iraq, under an agreement between the two countries. The U.S. pulled its troops out of Iraq in 2011 when combat operations there ended, but they went back in after IS began to take over large swaths of the country in 2014. The number of American forces in Iraq has remained small due to political sensitivities in the country, after years of what some Iraqis consider U.S. occupation during the war that began in 2003.

Esper said he will talk with other allies at a NATO meeting in the coming week to discuss the way ahead for the counter-IS mission.

Asked if U.S. special operations forces will conduct unilateral military operations into Syria to go after IS, Esper said that is an option that will be discussed with allies over time.

He said one of his top concerns is what the next phase of the counter-IS missions looks like, “but we have to work through those details.” He said that if U.S. forces do go in, they would be protected by American aircraft.

While he acknowledged reports of intermittent fighting despite the cease-fire agreement, he said that overall it “generally seems to be holding. We see a stability of the lines, if you will, on the ground.”

He also said that, so far, the Syrian Democratic Forces that partnered with the U.S. to fight IS have maintained control of the prisons in Syria where they are still present. The Turks, he said, have indicated they have control of the IS prisons in their areas.

“I can’t assess whether that’s true or not without having people on the ground,” said Esper.

He added that the U.S. withdrawal will be deliberate and safe, and it will take “weeks not days.”

According to a U.S. official, about a couple hundred troops have left Syria so far. The U.S. forces have been largely consolidated in one location in the west and a few locations in the east.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing operations, said the U.S. military is not closely monitoring the effectiveness of the cease-fire, but is aware of sporadic fighting and violations of the agreement. The official said it will still take a couple of weeks to get forces out of Syria.

Also Sunday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a group of American lawmakers on a visit to Jordan to discuss “the deepening crisis” in Syria.

Jordan’s state news agency Petra said that King Abdullah II, in a meeting with the Americans, stressed the importance of safeguarding Syria’s territorial integrity and guarantees for the “safe and voluntary” return of refugees.

The post U.S. Troops Leaving Syria for Iraq, Not Home as Trump Claims appeared first on Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists.

Tulsi Gabbard Just Released a Bonkers Response Video About Hillary Clinton

Mother Jones Magazine -

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard released a video Sunday blasting Hillary Clinton, claiming that Clinton and the “war machine” are trying to “destroy” and “discredit” her because she dared defy them by supporting Bernie Sanders in 2016. “They will not intimidate us. They will not silence us,” Gabbard says before making a plea to viewers to join her in “speaking truth to power.” “Don’t be afraid.”

Hillary & her gang of rich, powerful elite are going after me to send a msg to YOU: “Shut up, toe the line, or be destroyed.” But we, the people, will NOT be silenced. Join me in taking our Democratic Party back & leading a govt of, by & for the people! https://t.co/TOcAOPrxye pic.twitter.com/TahfE2XOek

— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 20, 2019

Gabbard’s video is the latest in a series of responses following Clinton’s Thursday appearance on a podcast with former Obama adviser David Plouffe. Clinton told Plouffe the Russians were “grooming” a Democratic candidate to be a third-party candidate, without directly mentioning Gabbard by name. “I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said. “She’s the favorite of the Russians.”

Gabbard was quick to take aim at Clinton, calling her “the queen of warmongers” and “the embodiment of corruption” in a Friday tweet that soon went viral.

Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a …

— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 18, 2019

Gabbard also told an NBC reporter on Saturday the comments were part of a “smear campaign” “coming from people like Hillary Clinton and her proxies, the foreign policy establishment, the military-industrial complex, who obviously feel threatened by my message and by my campaign because they know that they can’t control me.”

The video Gabbard released Sunday doesn’t explicitly mention Clinton’s recent comments, but it appears to be a direct response to the feud between the two. 

Democratic presidential candidates Andrew Yang, former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke, and Marianne Williamson have come to Gabbard’s defense. Pete Buttigieg said he didn’t want to “get in the middle” of the battle but said he wasn’t comfortable with Clinton’s comments.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker had perhaps the most memorable response to Gabbard’s tweet on Friday:

https://t.co/wS8OHq1au0 pic.twitter.com/3l6GEm3Wa2

— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) October 18, 2019

Online Lies Aren’t Helping Donald Trump Much

Mother Jones Magazine -

The New York Times informs us that Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is blitzing the online world:

On any given day, the Trump campaign is plastering ads all over Facebook, YouTube and the millions of sites served by Google, hitting the kind of incendiary themes — immigrant invaders, the corrupt media — that play best on platforms where algorithms favor outrage and political campaigns are free to disregard facts.

….That campaigns are now being fought largely online is hardly a revelation, yet only one political party seems to have gotten the message. While the Trump campaign has put its digital operation firmly at the center of the president’s re-election effort, Democrats are struggling to internalize the lessons of the 2016 race and adapt to a political landscape shaped by social media.

My goodness. I guess Democrats must be taking a pummeling as Trump’s approval rating climbs and climbs. Let’s take a look:

Huh. After six months of blitzing, Trump’s net approval rating has gone down from -8.2 to -11.5. It’s almost as if all those outrageous online ads have had no appreciable effect on anyone but Trump’s base, which already approved of him anyway.

It’s possible, of course, that without all the online ads Trump’s approval rating would have dropped even more. However, it’s also possible that incendiary online ads are mostly a waste of money because they appeal only to true believers in the first place. I think the latter is more likely.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with keeping your base worked up. It’s a time-honored strategy, and Democrats will be doing it too once they agree on a candidate. But Trump isn’t going to win in 2020 with a base strategy. His base is just way too small. He’s going to win—if he wins—by taking some votes from the middle. He might or might not do that via social media, but he definitely won’t do it with obviously scurrilous ads. That’s the kind of thing that turns off moderates.

Bottom line: don’t worry too much about the fact that Trump is able to lie online, especially this far ahead of Election Day. It may keep his base frothing at the mouth, but that’s about all. It’s not the game changer people sometimes make it out to be.

Super PAC in Ukraine Scandal Faced Multiple Legal Troubles

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ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Last year, a Department of Defense contractor quietly donated half a million dollars to a group supporting President Donald Trump’s reelection.

Once a watchdog organization noticed it, the contribution raised an alarm. Federal contractors are not allowed to donate to political entities. And groups are required by law to examine all donations for potential legal issues. If they discover that a contractor has made a contribution, the money has to be returned.

Related Articles by by The Grayzone by Common Dreams

The other unusual aspect of the donation was the man behind it. Randy Perkins, the founder of DOD contractor AshBritt Environmental, had no history of six-figure contributions to federal political groups, although he has been a regular donor to Republicans for the past 15 years. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a Democrat in 2016.

The watchdog group pointed out that the money came in a day after AshBritt won a supplemental contract award worth $460,000 from the DOD for wildfire cleanup, bringing its contract total to about $1.7 million.

Asked about the donation, Perkins said he had meant to make a personal donation to express his support for specific Trump policies: “I actually think this administration cares deeply about children and mental health issues.” He said the contract extension had nothing to do with the contribution.

America First Action, the Trump super PAC that accepted the donation, adjusted its report on the source of the funds only after the watchdog group, the Campaign Legal Center, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. Since America First’s creation in 2017, it has refunded just a fraction of 1% of all the funds it has raised.

If you’ve been hearing about America First recently, it’s likely because two associates of presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani were arrested on allegations that they illegally funneled money to the group.

But that case is not the only problem that has ensnared the PAC as its role in backing Republican candidates has grown.

In another instance, the American subsidiary of a Canadian company made three donations totaling $1.75 million to America First in 2018. In another complaint, the Campaign Legal Center questioned the source of the donation and alleged that Wheatland Tube LLC may have violated laws against foreign nationals contributing to federal campaigns. The company declined to comment on the matter.

Last year, Common Cause, the political reform group, asked the FEC to determine whether the Trump campaign had illegally coordinated with America First and America First Policies, a related group that can raise money without disclosing its donors. The complaint alleged that the president and his campaign were improperly soliciting contributions for the two entities.

The FEC has not acted on any of these complaints to date, and it currently lacks a quorum to vote on enforcement actions proposed by its staff.

“The number of complaints is pretty remarkable,” said Ann Ravel, a Democrat who served as chair of the FEC in 2015.

America First communications director Kelly Sadler told ProPublica that the group takes its obligations seriously and goes to great lengths to comply with the law.

The PAC has denied any wrongdoing in the criminal case against the Giuliani associates. Sadler said the contribution at the heart of the indictment has been placed in a segregated account and will remain there “until these matters are resolved and a court determines the proper disposition of the funds.”

As a super PAC, America First can take unlimited donations from corporations and individuals. In return, it is not supposed to coordinate with campaigns, which are restricted in the amount of donations they may accept.

America First has raised more money to support Trump’s reelection than any super PAC. It is currently chaired by Linda McMahon, and it has raised nearly $50 million over the last two years, including about $9 million in this election cycle to reelect Trump.

Its affiliated nonprofit group, America First Policies, was co-founded by Brad Parscale, now the president’s campaign manager.

McMahon, a former professional wrestling executive, until March was a member of the president’s cabinet, overseeing the Small Business Administration. She also donated $1 million to the PAC, whose public filings show 19 donations of at least $1 million.

The PAC’s top donors include casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and Geoffrey Palmer, a billionaire California developer. Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, who run a shipping supplies company, donated half a million dollars each.

In the 2018 election, America First spent more than $29 million supporting Republican candidates in House and Senate races. Former Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, a powerful GOP leader, received heavy backing from the PAC — $3 million toward a contest he would go on to lose.

The $500,000 donation attributed to AshBritt was among a flood of big donations coming into the PAC in the spring of 2018. The company, based in Deerfield Beach, Florida, does disaster cleanup work.

The Campaign Legal Center’s complaint got little attention. Under FEC rules, a committee has 30 days to confirm the legality of a questionable donation or to refund it; nearly three months passed before the PAC amended its filing to show the donation as being made directly by Perkins.

Perkins said he tried to rectify the matter by providing “all paperwork to the FEC” and resubmitting forms to America First stating that the funds were in fact drawn from a corporate account that would later be taxed as personal income.

“When I wrote the check, I cleared it with America First,” Perkins told ProPublica.

Perkins acknowledges that the optics of his America First donation are less than ideal.

“The facts might be a problem,” he said. “But they are facts.”

A few weeks after Perkins’ donation, the PAC received $325,000 from Global Energy Producers, the Florida energy company that is now at the center of a presidential impeachment inquiry. The PAC was referred to as “Committee 1” in the federal indictment of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

The two men, according to the indictment, were key characters in a coercion campaign to recall the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, which they believed would pave the way for an investigation into Trump’s Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.

The indictment also alleges that Fruman and Parnas promised to fundraise for Sessions. Around the same time, Sessions wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging Yovanovitch’s ouster.

Sessions, who is now running for Congress in a new district, did not respond to messages from ProPublica. In a statement issued on his behalf, he acknowledged meeting with the two Florida businessmen several times but said he took no action on their behalf.

Sessions denied that his letter to Pompeo was directly related to the meetings. He said he will donate the contributions Parnas and Fruman gave to his campaign to Texas charities.

The post Super PAC in Ukraine Scandal Faced Multiple Legal Troubles appeared first on Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists.

Mike Pompeo Is Going to Have to Come Up With a Better Answer Than This on Ukraine

Mother Jones Magazine -

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday whether it would have been “inappropriate” for the United States to withhold military aid to Ukraine until the country pursued an investigation into President Donald Trump’s political rivals. Pompeo, insisting the question was a “hypothetical” one, didn’t have an answer.

But Thursday, the president’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, admitted that Trump did, in fact, hold up military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory about his political rivals. Mulvaney walked his statement back hours later—and tried to do so again Sunday morning—but the damage was already done. 

“George,” Pompeo said Sunday, in response to Stephanopoulos’ question about the alleged quid pro quo, “I’m not going to get into hypotheticals and secondary things based on what someone else has said.”

“Except it’s not a hypothetical,” replied Stephanopoulos, who was the White House communications director under President Bill Clinton. “We saw the acting chief of staff—”

“George, you just said, ‘If this happened,'” Pompeo interjected. “That is, by definition, a hypothetical.”

“The chief of staff said it did,” Stephanopoulos shot back—leaving Pompeo staring at the camera in silence for several seconds.

Watch the exchange in full below.

JUST IN: "I'm not going to get into hypotheticals," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says when asked if it's appropriate to condition Ukraine aid on political investigation after Mick Mulvaney's comments.@GStephanopoulos: "Except it's not a hypothetical" https://t.co/vwL0GRcvq3 pic.twitter.com/VBBTvIVhAk

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) October 20, 2019

Mick Mulvaney Tried to Lie on Fox News About His Ukraine Comments. Then Chris Wallace Ran the Tape.

Mother Jones Magazine -

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney went on Fox News on Sunday to attempt to explain statements he made this week involving President Donald Trump and Ukraine. It didn’t go well.

Here’s the backstory: Mulvaney made a stunning admission on Thursday that yes, the Trump administration withheld aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory about Democrats and election hacking in 2016. It was, as he affirmed, a quid pro quo. Hours later, Mulvaney issued a statement walking those comments back. Both Democrats and Republicans criticized the statements.

Mulvaney went on Fox News Sunday to do a little more damage control. Host Chris Wallace didn’t waste any time asking Mulvaney directly about the remarks.

“Why did you say, in that briefing, that President Trump had ordered a quid pro quo that aid to Ukraine depended on investigating the Democrats?” Wallace asked.

“Again, that’s not what I said,” Mulvaney replied. He went on to say that the United States held up the aid due to “rampant corruption” in Ukraine and concerns about European nations failing to help with foreign aid.

Wallace didn’t let up. He played the footage from Thursday’s briefing. Watch the exchange below:

EXCLUSIVE Interview: Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney joined us live to respond to his remarks on U.S. aid to Ukraine. #FNS #FoxNews pic.twitter.com/MeGhGXeCqK

— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) October 20, 2019

Mulvaney also addressed Trump’s announcement on Twitter late Saturday that the G7 summit would not be held at the president’s Doral resort in Florida. In an effort to seemingly smooth over concerns about a conflict of interest on the president’s part, Mulvaney made matters worse for Trump by saying, “At the end of the day [the president] still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.” 

Only on FOX News Sunday: Mick Mulvaney reacts to the president's decision to scrap the G7 summit at his Doral resort: "At the end of the day he (the President) still considers himself to be in the hospitality business." Exclusively on FOX News Sunday. Check your local listings. pic.twitter.com/vYfJCwPtJK

— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) October 20, 2019

Ocasio-Cortez Backs Sanders at Packed NYC Rally

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“I am back,” Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said Saturday, as he spoke to over 25,000 people at a rally in New York City that featured Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who endorsed the Vermont senator’s White House bid.

Watch video of the event below:

The “Bernie’s Back” event, which kicked off shortly after 1 pm in Queensbridge Park in Queens, marked the campaign’s first rally since Sanders was hospitalized for a heart attack earlier this month. Sanders told the crowd he was “more ready than ever to carry on with you the epic struggle that we face today” and “more than ready to assume the office of president of the United States.”

On Saturday afternoon, the hashtag #BerniesBack was trending in the U.S.

Thank you @AOC pic.twitter.com/Wtn5N2HSNJ

— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) October 19, 2019

Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement was reported earlier this week by the Washington Post.

Tomorrow: I’m so excited to be joined by @MMFlint and @AOC in New York for a rally to show the billionaire class we’re ready to take them on. RSVP here: https://t.co/nyqtMVEcXQ pic.twitter.com/Ux03Z6qbkE

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 18, 2019


Thousands upon thousands are here in Queensbridge Park – with a line still in the streets – for the #BerniesBack rally with @AOC pic.twitter.com/EvhP8MKCMZ

— Bill Neidhardt (@BNeidhardt) October 19, 2019

The capacity for the rally was 20,000, but so many people came the campaign had to turn people away, said Sanders. According to the campaign, nearly 26,000 people were in attendance.

“Our priority is not only defeating Donald Trump,” Ocasio-Cortez told the crowd. “It’s defeating the system of which he is a symptom.”

“It wasn’t until I heard of a man named Bernie Sanders that I began to question and assert and recognize my inherent value as a human being that deserves health care, housing, education and a living wage.” –@AOC #BerniesBack https://t.co/Rv0o4i9s9L

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 19, 2019

The two lawmakers sung each other’s praises. AOC praised Sanders for his “non-stop advocacy” including fighting for a single-payer healthcare system while she was a child relying on CHIP.

Sanders, meanwhile, called Ocasio-Cortez a “fierce defender of the working class of our country” who’s “taken on the greed of Wall Street” and “electrified this country” with her Green New Deal legislation.

At the rally, Sanders said in a tweet Friday night, “we will say, without apology: Safe and decent housing is an essential right. A Green New Deal is the only sufficient response to our climate crisis. And the obscene greed of corporate America must end.”

On social media, the campaign shared remarks from other speakers at the rally, including campaign co-chair and San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Caren Yulín Cruz, filmmaker Michael Moore, and campaign co-chair Nina Turner.

“We want a justice system that doesn’t gun down Black folks in their houses. We are going to clean up this criminal injustice system.” –@ninaturner #BerniesBack https://t.co/Rv0o4i9s9L

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 19, 2019

“We must win because of a fundamental value that power is in the streets and government is to serve the people, not just the 1%. We must win because there is too much at stake.” –@CarmenYulinCruz #BerniesBack https://t.co/Rv0o4i9s9L

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 19, 2019

Speaking to NBC News Saturday before the rally began, Ocasio-Cortez, who was an organizer for Sanders’ 2016 campaign, said her endorsement was due to “a moment of clarity” about the role she wanted to play. She said she decided, “I want to be part of a mass movement.”

“It was less about… being overly politically calculating,” she said, “and it was more about the authenticity and clarity of that moment.”

Sanders has also received the endorsement of two other members of the Squad—Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)

Explaining her support, Omar said in a video released this week: “The senator is the only candidate that is proposing a complete cancellation of student debt. The senator is the only candidate that is proposing to provide universal school meals. The senator is the only candidate that wants to make sure that we end our endless wars and will fight for human rights and hold everyone accountable regardless of whether they are an ally or a foe.”

Related Articles by by by Common Dreams

In a phone call with supporters on Friday, Sanders said the rally would be a “powerful event” and touched on key issues of his campaign including income and wealth inequality, Medicare for All, and the climate crisis.

The campaign, added Sanders, has “a great path to victory.”

That path relies on generating “the largest voter turnout by far in the history of our country” to counter President Donald Trump, whom Sanders called “the most dangerous president in the history of this country,” as well as a “formidable opponent” who will have “unlimited amounts of money from his billionaire friends and from others.”

That makes the endorsements from Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and other progressives so key, said Sanders, as “they are able to generate and are generating enormous support among young people, among people of color, among working class people all over this country.”

“With Alexandria, with Ilhan, and others on board,” Sanders continued, “we’re going to put together a coalition that is going to win and win big” and be able to create “an economy and a government that works for everybody and not just the one percent and wealthy campaign contributors.”

The post Ocasio-Cortez Backs Sanders at Packed NYC Rally appeared first on Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists.

Only One View at The View: Biden Not So Bad

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting -

by Douglas Grant

When the then–Democratic frontrunner stopped by the table of The View on April 26 for his first interview since announcing his presidential run, he was afforded an honorific rarely applied to US vice presidents: “The legendary Joe Biden!”

It was a warm homecoming. They called him Joe; he called them friends. Meghan McCain asked him, “What took so long to get into the race? We’re so happy you finally announced.”

When the subject turned to Biden’s handling of the 1991 Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings, Joy Behar joked, “Welcome to The View apology tour.” She all but fed Biden lines on how to handle apologizing to Hill (“You know, I think what she wants you to say is…”), but Biden wouldn’t bite.

Joy Behar on Joe Biden (The View, 9/4/19): “He’s touchy-feely and he didn’t mean it.”

Still, The View has served as a sort of daytime rapid response room for Biden’s candidacy: defending him against charges of being too old (Ana Navarro: Biden “is running against Donald Trump, guys. He’s not running against Usain Bolt”—3/22/19), inoculating him against charges based on his decades-long career (Abby Huntsman: “We all know any dirty laundry he might have”—1/30/19), normalizing his invasive interactions with women (Behar: “He’s touchy-feely and he didn’t mean it”—9/4/19) or dismissing his mangling of a war story (McCain: “He’s probably just exhausted, too”—9/4/19).

The panel seemed particularly intent on squelching memories of the Hill hearing: Sunny Hostin (4/29/19) declared Biden’s apology “should be the end of it,” while Huntsman insisted, “If folks on the left are going to rake him over the coals for something that happened so long ago…then you deserve Trump.” McCain (3/27/19) seemed to offer her youth as a defense of Biden: “This was 27 years ago. I was in elementary school. I have no memory of this.”

The View hosts are quick to boost a Biden union endorsement (4/30/19) or offer general words of support (Huntsman: “I love Joe Biden. I want him to do well”—9/5/19). But it’s their standing up against the many questions that could be raised about Biden’s candidacy that distinguishes the panel.

This tendency has not gone unnoticed at the table. During a discussion of Kamala Harris laughing at a voter using a slur against the developmentally disabled about Donald Trump, Hostin (9/9/19) said, “The men get passes every single time. Every single time. Especially Joe Biden. We’ve given him a pass, really, at this table very, very often for the gaffes.” Moderator Whoopi Goldberg replied, “I think Joe has gotten a pass at this table because, at least a couple of us, actually know, know, know him.”

The New York Times (5/22/19) described The View as “a place where Democrats and Republicans alike go to introduce themselves to a national audience.”

The View’s name conveys that the show is meant to showcase a range of perspectives from a diverse cross section of women, but in practice their views often converge on the Washington consensus. Conceived by pioneering journalist Barbara Walters (a regular dinner party host of Henry Kissinger, and professional reference for an aide to Syria’s Bashar al Assad) as a “dessert” after decades as a globe-trotting interviewer, The View has undergone a radical change from its interviews with soap stars, and episodes with names like “Hip, Fun and Fashionable Mall Clothing/How to Avoid Spreading Germs,” to now leading an episode with a national security adviser’s resignation and a co-host labeling Brazil’s president a fascist.

With about 3 million daily viewers, about as many as Fox News star Tucker Carlson garners each night, The View has become what the New York Times (5/22/19) has called “the most important political TV show in America.” A must-stop for candidates running and politicians rising, its influence extends far past its single hour each weekday. The show’s hosts, past and present, have jumped to lofty media perches like NBC‘s Today (Meredith Vieira), Fox NewsFox and Friends—in effect, the new presidential daily briefing (Elisabeth Hasselbeck), CNN (Sunny Hostin and Lisa Ling). and MSNBC (Nicole Wallace). ABC in particular uses the show as a source of talent, finding homes for hosts at This Week (Meghan McCain), Good Morning America (Sara Haines) and Good Morning America Weekend (Paula Faris).

Despite its wide influence on news and politics, The View is still treated with condescension: when Bill Maher said recently that he never misses an episode of the daytime staple, his liberal audience laughed.

The View is not without its capacity to surprise, quoting Colin Kaepernick’s reference to Robert L. Allen’s Black Awakening in Capitalist America, and using Black History Month, LGBTQ Pride Month and Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate overlooked contributions to American life, and introduce the life stories of people like Sylvia Rivera and Robert Smalls to a daytime audience. At its table, The View has had discussions about police violence, sexual violence, sexism, and racism. The show featured 9/11 first responders’ fight for healthcare years before Jon Stewart championed the cause on air, and its hosts have championed the importance of unions.

Nearly a decade before the New York Times debated using the word “lie” in its pages, Joy Behar (9/12/08) called John McCain’s negative ads against Barack Obama “lies”—to the GOP presidential candidate’s face, an appearance that Cindy McCain said “picked our bones clean.” (That was long before McCain’s daughter became one of the panelists on the show, of course.) The View also gave Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz a thorough grilling on his vapid run (1/30/19) that repelled his attempts at both-sidesism, its knowing audience laughing at Schultz’s insistence that “you can’t buy the presidency.”

But it also introduced into daytime talk the 2008 controversy about Barack Obama’s relationship with former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, before Glenn Beck even had a Fox News contract. They allowed Alan Dershowitz to filibuster against his alleged sex abuse victim, indulged in Russiagate and facilitated the Ilhan Omar smear. When The View does a deep dive on issues in the news, they turn to ABC News’ Jonathan Karl to provide impartial analysis, though Karl came up through the right-wing media ecosystem (Extra!, 7/11), and despite his more recent checkered record.

Following the third Democratic debate, Behar (9/13/19) dismissed differences between candidates of the center and of the left:

They’re all on the same page…. So you’re not just voting for a person, you’re voting for a party. I think people need to remember that. So that if you don’t love Joe Biden, remember if he can get elected, he will do the right thing.

But in fact, political figures to Biden’s left, like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Ilhan Omar, do not get the same treatment on The View: They are seldom given passes, and are often met with a marked skepticism.

While the hosts largely believe that a 76-year-old creature of Washington can reunite the country and appeal to Trump voters, cold water is consistently thrown on any more progressive politicians. Speaking of Ocasio-Cortez, Behar (3/11/19) said, “Half the things she talks about are impossible to do, right now.” On who Ocasio-Cortez might endorse in the presidential race, Behar (6/17/19) said: “She wants a transformational presidential candidate. We would love that. I say, get somebody in there who can not AOC but W-I-N, OK? Win, and then we can worry about being transformational afterwards.” Or candidates get written out: “It’s a two-person race, Warren and Biden, period,” McCain (9/13/19), an ABC News contributor, said, which might come as news to residents of Iowa and New Hampshire, and donors in all 50 states.

Meghan McCain (The View, 9/13/19): “I hate ageism,” but “I thought Bernie Sanders was going to cough himself into a coma on the stage last night.”

After the hosts condemned Julian Castro’s contentious debate exchange with Biden as a “cringeworthy” display of “ageism,” and mere moments after herself declaring, “I hate ageism,” McCain (9/13/19) followed that up with, “I thought Bernie Sanders was going to cough himself into a coma on the stage last night, if you want to talk about somebody looking old.”

Or candidates get ignored after they leave the table: Three weeks after Sanders insisted on The View that he, like Andrew Yang and other candidates, supports taxing big tech companies like Amazon and Facebook, Goldberg (9/26/19) asked Yang:

Why do you think no one on either side, or in the middle, has embraced this idea that companies that make their bones in our country should help us participate in our growth?… Nobody’s saying, “That’s a great idea…and suddenly no one’s paying taxes but us?”

Challenging national security conventions does not go down well at the table, either: In 2011, when Michael Moore suggested Osama bin Laden should receive a trial, in keeping with the tradition of Nuremberg, he received a chilly response, even from its nominal liberal panelists. And when Julian Assange was arrested, and McCain (4/11/19) railed that he was a “cyber terrorist,” the bipartisan Washington consensus was upheld by moderate, conservative and liberal panelists alike: Behar said that Assange had “hacked into the Democrats’ computers and helped Trump get elected, basically,” while Huntsman said, “There is a difference in being a whistleblower and a straight-up hacker.”

It took Hostin, a former federal prosecutor, to point out that if McCain had a problem with WikiLeaks, “then you need to have a problem with the Pentagon Papers, the Panama Papers, the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs being released.”

The View signs off each episode by reminding its audience, “Take a little time to enjoy the view.” It’s good advice, but they should think about broadening theirs.

You can send feedback to ABC here (or via Twitter: @TheView). Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective. Feel free to leave a copy of your message in the comments thread.

And Now We Are Three

Mother Jones Magazine -

Mrs. Dr. M arrived today with cat #3 in tow. This is Moloko, a somewhat shy but gorgeous Siberian. Timmy really, really wants to play with him, but Moloko prefers to hide instead.

Mexico Gunbattle Underscores How Government Has Ceded to Cartels

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EL AGUAJE, Mexico—The Mexican city of Culiacan lived under drug cartel terror for 12 hours as gang members forced the government to free a drug lord’s son, but in many parts of Mexico, the government ceded the battle to the gangs long ago.

The massive, rolling gunbattle in Culiacan, capital of Sinaloa state, was shocking for the openness of the government’s capitulation and the brazenness of gunmen who drove machine-gun mounted armored trucks through the streets.

But in state after state, the Mexican government long ago relinquished effective control of whole towns, cities and regions to the drug cartels.

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“They are the law here. If you have a problem, you go to them. They solve it quickly,” said a young mother in the town of El Aguaje, in western Michoacan state. El Aguaje is so completely controlled by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel that the young wife of lime-grove worker – who would not give her name for fear of reprisals – can’t turn to police: They are too afraid to enter the town.

When a convoy of Michoacan state police did make a rare appearance in El Aguaje last Monday, they were ambushed and slaughtered by Jalisco cartel gunmen. Thirteen state police officers were shot or burned to death in their vehicles.

When police returned to recover the burned-out patrol vehicles the next day, they were in such a hurry to accomplish their task that they left behind the crushed, burned, bullet-pierced skull of one of their colleagues lying on the ground.

In the neighboring town of El Terrero, meanwhile, the rival New Michoacan Family cartel and its armed wing, the Viagras—who control that side of the river—have daubed their initials on houses and lamp posts, and last week burned several trucks and buses to block the bridge and prevent a Jalisco cartel incursion.

In some cases, the government has even defended cartel boundaries, apparently as part of its strategy of avoiding bloodshed at all costs.

For example, in the Michoacan town of Tepalcatepec, police line up every day to man a checkpoint at a highway leading into Jalisco state to prevent an armed incursion by Jalisco cartel gunmen. The problem is that the government force is working in coordination with a vigilante group allied with a drug cartel. The vigilantes are posted on a nearby hilltop where they can watch over the highway, armed with .50 caliber sniper rifles.

In Guerrero state, to the east of Michoacan, soldiers and state police man checkpoints between rival gangs of vigilantes, many of which are allied with drug gangs. Soldiers allow vigilantes armed with assault rifles to roam freely, but not to invade each other’s territories.

And in the northern state of Tamaulipas, when the United States began returning asylum seekers to wait for hearings in Mexico, the government knew it couldn’t protect the migrants from the Zetas drug cartel in the border city of Nuevo Laredo and so it simply bused them out of the city. Now known as the Cartel of the Northeast, the former Zetas control Nuevo Laredo so completely that they recently ordered local gas stations to refuse to sell gasoline to army vehicles.

In many regions, cartels enriched by drug profits have held extensive control for at least a decade, buying off or cowing law enforcement and building huge arsenals, along with networks of informants to protect narcotics routes from the government or rivals.

The cartel grip in Tamaulipas was so firm by 2011 that Zetas gunmen were able to kidnap almost 200 people from passing buses and kill them even as the passengers’ unclaimed luggage kept piling up at local bus stations. Nobody reported the crimes for months.

In this context, the government’s decision to release drug lord Ovidio Guzmán—son of imprisoned capo Joaquin Guzmán Loera—after the Culiacan shootouts was striking only because the government so publicly dropped even the pretense of enforcing the law.

“It’s not unprecedented for Mexican authorities to pick up a major capo and then release him; that’s actually unfortunately too common,” said David Shirk, a political science professor at the University of San Diego. “But what’s really unprecedented is to openly acknowledge that the state does not have the capacity or the stomach for keeping a major capo behind bars because of the potential consequences.”

“But what message does it send to people who are under the yoke of criminal organizations all over Mexico?” Shirk asked. “I think the message is, ‘You’re on your own. We’re not going to come in and rescue you because you could get killed in the process.'”

The message to soldiers in the Mexican army is also pretty clear: The Defense Department blamed a military squad for the “rushed” operation to arrest Ovidio Guzmán that set off the Culiacan gun battles and pledged to investigate and punish the leaders of the squad.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office less than a year ago, has repeatedly urged military restraint, saying his predecessors’ hardline confrontation strategy in gang-controlled areas “turned this country into a cemetery, and we don’t want that anymore.”

Earlier this year praised a squad of soldiers for restraint after they were kidnapped and forced to return a .50 caliber rifle seized by a previous patrol. He defended the response to the Culiacan uprising by saying, “The capture of one criminal cannot be worth more than the lives of people. … “We do not want deaths. We do not want war.”

Hence, soldiers are likely to avoid taking any initiative, slide into a passive role and do anything to avoid bloodshed.

And the message to the cartels is clear. “Of course this is a victory for the Sinaloa Cartel, and a defeat for everyone,” said Ismael Bojorquez, the director of the Sinaloa newspaper Rio Doce.”In practical terms, Lopez Obrador decreed a truce with the narcos, and they are happy, they can move freely … the narcos can grow and grow and become more dangerous.”

Average citizens in many zones, meanwhile, can only hope the most benign cartel comes to rule in their town. The problem is that almost all of the cartels promise to respect the local population and not kidnap them or shake them down for protection money. But all of the gangs eventually break that promise.

It thus becomes a question not of fighting the cartels, but accepting whichever seems the least malign at any given moment. And the gangs appear to be picking up on that message, too.

When the Jalisco cartel left the bodies of 19 members of a rival gang scattered on an overpass in the Michoacan in August, they left behind a banner saying “We are not a threat … Beautiful people, go on about your routine.”

On Friday, after the Culiacan gunbattles, José Luis González Meza, a lawyer for the family of Ovidio’s father, the imprisoned drug lord known as “El Chapo,” said the family “apologizes” for the shootouts and pledged, “They will take care (of the expenses) of the wounded and the dead. … However many there were, man, no problem, they will help them economically.”

“In his (Guzman’s) territory … there are no protection payments charged to taxi drivers, or bus drivers,” said González Meza, referring to extortion commonly practiced by other gangs. “Every two weeks, he draws up a list of poor people and sends it to stores, telling them to cancel their debts.”

And the message for the rest of the world? Don’t expect Mexico to help capture or extradite drug lords anymore, as the country did with the elder Guzmán.

“It does send a very sobering signal, I think, to Mexico and arguably to Mexico’s U.S. partners,” said Shirk. “If I were going to write the next State Department advisory for Mexico, I would dramatically increase this number and the number of advisories that I had for different parts of Mexico, because it’s very clear that the federal government is ceding territory … and not just rural territory, but major cities and perhaps even entire states to drug traffickers.”


AP Writers Christopher Sherman and Maria Verza contributed to this report

The post Mexico Gunbattle Underscores How Government Has Ceded to Cartels appeared first on Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists.

Thousands in Germany, France Protest Turks’ Push Into Syria

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BERLIN—Thousands of people in the German city of Cologne and in the French capital demonstrated Saturday against Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria.

Cologne city authorities said around 10,000 people took part in marches organized by left-wing groups. Police were out in force amid concerns about possible violence but authorities said the event was largely peaceful.

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In Paris, more than 1,000 gathered at the Place de la Republique to denounce Turkey’s actions. Some displayed banners saying “The Turkish state is committing crimes against humanity in total impunity.”

Turkey’s incursion into Syria, aiming to rid the border area of Kurdish fighters as U.S. forces withdraw, has caused death and destruction and sent tens of thousands of civilians fleeing their homes.

“America has abandoned us. Everyone has abandoned us,” said Kurdish student Zade Adjoev in Paris, noting that the Kurds were on the front line as partners with the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group. “When it works for them, they call us Kurds. When it doesn’t, we are terrorists.”

A member of the Kurdish Democratic Council in France, Cemile Renklicay, called Turkey a “more dangerous enemy” than the Islamic State group because the extremists “didn’t have fighter jets.”

In Cologne, some demonstrators carried flags of the Syrian Kurdish force known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which Turkey is trying to push back. Others carried placards with slogans such as “No deals with the AKP regime” — a reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party.

Germany is home to large Turkish and Kurdish communities, and tensions between them have turned violent in the past.

The post Thousands in Germany, France Protest Turks’ Push Into Syria appeared first on Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists.

Gabbard Fires Back at Clinton Suggestion That She’s Russia’s Pawn

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MANCHESTER, N.H.—It’s Hillary Clinton vs. Tulsi Gabbard on the sidelines of the 2020 presidential race.

The Hawaii congresswoman fought back unsparingly after Clinton appeared to call her “the favorite of the Russians” in a recent interview and said she believes the Russians have “got their eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate.” Clinton, the former senator, U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, did not name Gabbard directly.

In a series of tweets Friday, Gabbard called Clinton the “personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.” Gabbard also alleged there has been a “concerted campaign” to destroy her reputation since she announced her presidential run in January.

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“It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me,” Gabbard tweeted about Clinton. “Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.”

There is lingering trepidation in the Democratic Party of a repeat of the 2016 presidential race, when Russia interfered in the U.S. election in an effort to help Donald Trump defeat Clinton. U.S intelligence agencies have warned that Russia intends to meddle in the 2020 presidential election, as well. Russian President Vladimir Putin has mocked that possibility, joking earlier this month that Moscow would “definitely intervene” again.

During a Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday, Gabbard criticized a TV commentator who she said had called her “an asset of Russia.” She called the comments “completely despicable.”

Without naming Gabbard, Clinton seemed to echo the commentator’s remark during a podcast appearance this week on “Campaign HQ with David Plouffe.” Plouffe was campaign manager for President Barack Obama in 2008 and served as served as a senior adviser to the president.

“She’s the favorite of the Russians,” Clinton said, referring to the person she had earlier identified as a woman “who’s currently in the Democratic primary.” ”They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”

Clinton also called Trump “Vladimir Putin’s dream” in the interview. She went on to say that Trump’s inauguration speech was “like a declaration of war on half of America.” Clinton also describes 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein as “a Russian asset.”

The Russians know they can’t win without a third-party candidate, Clinton added.

Gabbard said later Friday on CBSN that she “will not be leaving the Democratic Party. I will not be running as an independent or a third-party candidate.”

Stein, who ran against Trump and Clinton as a Green Party candidate, received about 1% of the vote in the 2016 election, but some Democrats said her candidacy syphoned votes away from Clinton and helped Trump win, particularly in states like Wisconsin. The Senate Intelligence Committee asked Stein for documents as part of its probe into Russian interference in the election because she attended a 2015 dinner in Moscow sponsored by Russian television network RT with Putin. Stein has said she attended “with a message of Middle East peace, diplomacy and cooperation.”

In a tweet Friday, Stein accused Clinton of “peddling conspiracy theories to justify her failure instead of reflecting on real reasons Dems lost in 2016.”

The post Gabbard Fires Back at Clinton Suggestion That She’s Russia’s Pawn appeared first on Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists.

Boris Johnson Insists He’ll Stand Firm Against Brexit Delay

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LONDON—A defiant Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday that he would resist attempts to delay Britain’s departure from the European Union beyond the end of the month, after Parliament postponed a decision on whether to back his Brexit deal and ordered the government to ask the EU for more time.

Johnson said he still aimed to meet the Oct. 31 deadline and would tell EU leaders that delaying Brexit is a bad idea. The bloc said it would wait to hear from the British government about what it wanted to do next. The government has until 11 p.m. Saturday to send a letter asking the EU for a three-month postponement.

“I will not negotiate a delay with the EU and neither does the law compel me to do so,” Johnson said. “I will tell our friends and colleagues in the EU exactly what I’ve told everyone in the last 88 days that I’ve served as prime minister: that further delay would be bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy.”

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At a rare weekend sitting of Parliament, lawmakers voted 322-306 to withhold their approval of the Brexit deal until legislation to implement it has been passed.

The vote sought to ensure that the U.K. cannot crash out of the EU without a divorce deal on the scheduled departure date. Johnson, who struck the agreement with the EU earlier this week, said he was not “daunted or dismayed” by the result and would continue to do all he can to get Brexit done in less than two weeks.

Parliament’s first weekend sitting since the Falklands War of 1982 had been dubbed “Super Saturday.” It looked set to bring Britain’s Brexit saga to a head, more than three years after the country’s divisive decision to leave the EU.

But the government’s hopes were derailed when House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said he would allow a vote on an amendment to put the vote on the deal off until another day.

The amendment makes support for the deal conditional on passage of the legislation to implement it, something that could take several days or weeks. It also gives lawmakers another chance to scrutinize — and possibly change— the Brexit departure terms while the legislation is in Parliament.

The government still hopes it can pass the needed legislation by the end of the month so the U.K. can leave on time.

The leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said the government would hold a debate Monday on its Brexit-implementing legislation — effectively a second attempt to secure approval for the deal.

It’s unclear whether that would be allowed under House of Commons rules against holding repeated votes on the same question. Bercow said he would make a ruling Monday.

Despite Johnson’s vow not to “negotiate” a Brexit delay, the government has said it will comply with a law passed by Parliament last month ordering it to request an extension if a deal has not been approved by Saturday.

Opposition lawmakers warned that Johnson must ask for the Brexit extension or face legal consequences.

“Any failure of a prime minister who thinks he is above the law — well, prime minister, you’ll find yourself in court,” said Ian Blackford of the Scottish National Party.

The vote was welcomed by hundreds of thousands of anti-Brexit demonstrators who marched to Parliament Square, demanding a new referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU or remain. Protesters, many wearing blue berets emblazoned with yellow stars symbolizing the EU flag, poured out of subways and buses for the last-ditch effort.

“Another chance for sanity and perhaps rationality to take over, rather than emotion,” said filmmaker Jove Lorenty as he stood outside Parliament. “Never give up until the fat lady sings. No one knows what will happen, but we have hope.”

Johnson, who came to power in July vowing to get Brexit finished, called any delay to Britain’s departure pointless, expensive and deeply corrosive of public trust.” And he warned that the bloc’s approval could not be guaranteed.

“There is very little appetite among our friends in the EU for this business to be protracted by one extra day,” Johnson said. “They have had three and a half years of this debate.”

EU leaders have made the same point. French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that “the Oct. 31 date must be respected. I don’t believe new delays should be granted.”

The EU was guarded in its response to Saturday’s vote.

“It will be for the U.K. government to inform us about the next steps as soon as possible,” EU Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva tweeted.

When push comes to shove, the EU seems likely to grant an extension if needed to avoid a disruptive no-deal Brexit.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his country saw the vote as a delay, rather than a rejection of the Brexit deal. For EU leaders, avoiding a chaotic, no-deal Brexit should be the “top priority,” he said in a tweet.

And the European Parliament’s chief Brexit official, Guy Verhofstadt, noted that time was now tight to get the deal approved by the EU legislature before Oct. 31, meaning a short delay might be needed.

If Parliament approves the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in time, Britain could still leave by the end of October. The government plans to introduce the bill next week and could hold late-night sittings of Parliament in hope of getting it passed within days.

But Johnson must win over a fractious and divided Parliament, which three times rejected the Brexit plan negotiated by his predecessor Theresa May.

His hopes of getting the deal through Parliament were dealt a blow when his Northern Ireland ally, the Democratic Unionist Party, said it would not back him. The party says Johnson’s Brexit package — which carves out special status for Northern Ireland to keep an open border with EU member Ireland — is bad for the region and weakens its bonds with the rest of the U.K.

To make up for the votes of 10 DUP lawmakers, Johnson has tried to persuade members of the left-of-center Labour Party to support the deal. Late Friday, the government promised to bolster protections for the environment and workers’ rights to allay Labour fears that the Conservative government plans to slash those protections after Brexit.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dismissed the prime minister’s promises as inadequate.

“This deal is not good for jobs, damaging for industry and a threat to our environment and natural world,” he said. “Supporting the government this afternoon would merely fire the starting pistol in a race to the bottom in regulations and standards.”


Associated Press writers Gregory Katz in London and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed to this story.


Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and British politics at https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

The post Boris Johnson Insists He’ll Stand Firm Against Brexit Delay appeared first on Truthdig: Expert Reporting, Current News, Provocative Columnists.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Endorses Bernie Sanders at New York City Rally

Mother Jones Magazine -

At a campaign rally in Queens on Saturday afternoon, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) presidential bid.

Watch the endorsement here:

Before unseating longtime Democratic representative Joe Crowley in the 2018 midterm elections, Ocasio-Cortez worked as an organizer on Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Three years later, as one of the stars of the Democratic party, she is delivering a key endorsement to Sanders as he gets back on the campaign trail after suffering a heart attack earlier this month.

In the lead up the “Bernie’s Back” rally in Long Island City, Sanders called Ocasio-Cortez “one of the great political phenomenons in recent American history” in an interview with NY1. 

“This is a young woman who a year ago nobody knew who she was. And in one year, in the United States Congress she has been a leader on major issue after major issue, including the Green New Deal, including issues of housing, including issues of addressing the crisis of student debt,” he said. “So she is really an inspiration to people not only in New York but all over this country and I’m very, very proud that she is now a part of our campaign.”

People started lining up for 1 P.M. rally early Saturday morning.

Amateur footage of the scene moments before the start of Sanders’s return rally (feat. AOC). pic.twitter.com/mA4JVg4qng

— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) October 19, 2019

A Small But Growing Group of Republicans: Trump Is Forcing Us to “Defend the Indefensible”

Mother Jones Magazine -

In the past two weeks, President Donald Trump has allowed Turkey to slaughter Kurds, awarded an international summit to one of his own resorts, and watched his chief of staff admit (then un-admit) to a quid pro quo with Ukraine. Although it feels strange to even type these words, some Republicans in Congress may be reaching their limits with Trump. The Washington Post reports:

A growing number of congressional Republicans expressed exasperation Friday over what they view as President Trump’s indefensible behavior, a sign that the president’s stranglehold on his party is starting to weaken as Congress hurtles toward a historic impeachment vote. 

In interviews with more than 20 GOP lawmakers and congressional aides in the past 48 hours, many said they were repulsed by Trump’s decision to host an international summit at his own resort and incensed by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s admission—later withdrawn—that U.S. aid to Ukraine was withheld for political reasons. Others expressed anger over the president’s abandonment of Kurdish allies in Syria.

Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), who represents a district that Trump won by 22 points, has been particularly candid about his potential willingness to impeach the president—or about as candid as it gets amongst his colleagues. “I’m still thinking about it, you know?” Rooney said. “I’ve been real mindful of the fact that during Watergate, all the people I knew said, ‘Oh, they’re just abusing Nixon, and it’s a witch hunt.’ Turns out it wasn’t a witch hunt. It was really bad.”

Trump has been forcing GOP legislators to “defend the indefensible,” a senior House Republican aide told the Post. “You have to go out and try to defend him,” Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said. “Well, I don’t know if I can do that!”

“I have no doubt that Doral is a really good place. I’ve been there, I know,” Simpson added about Trump’s decision to host next year’s Group of Seven summit at the Florida resort. “But it is politically insensitive. They should have known what the kickback is going to be on this, that politically he’s doing it for his own benefit.”

John Kasich, the former presidential candidate and Republican governor of Ohio, has also jumped on the impeachment bandwagon:

John Kasich: "If I was sitting in the House of Representatives today, and you were to ask me… do I think impeachment should move forward and should go for a full examination and a trial in the United States Senate, my vote would be yes." https://t.co/PsAT634Ags pic.twitter.com/ysKlr5q72s

— The Hill (@thehill) October 19, 2019

Despite the unusually forthcoming criticism, Trump still has a firm hold over most of the party he has held hostage since 2016. As a senior Senate Republican aide told New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi, “The White House is just like, ‘Oh, Trump will handle everything.’ Which is crazy — but it seems like that’s their strategy. It’s a depressing time.”

Nuzzi asked if anything would change for conservatives who’ve been unwilling to publicly voice voice their frustrations. “It’s all bullshit until it’s not,” the aide said. “At this point, it is bullshit. Obviously it could change, but it hasn’t. So who cares?”


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