Author: Mitchell Blatt (Page 2 of 29)

Trump’s Demagoguery actualized

Donald Trump talked a lot about his contempt for the free press and how he would like to deny broadcast licenses, “open up” libel laws and raise taxes on his enemies, like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Republicans unenthusiastic about having to defend Trump but nonetheless still in favor of Trump-Republican policies often responded by shrugging their shoulders and saying that Trump’s frequent blowups are just words and that he can’t actually implement them. It would be unconstitutional, for example, to levy taxes on one particular individual just because you don’t like the newspaper he is involved in owning.

It is also unconstitutional for a president to appoint an Attorney General, a cabinet-level position, without Senate confirmation. But that’s just what Trump did on Wednesday when, the day after the election, he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and “appointed” Matthew G. Whitaker, a partisan Republican who opposes the Mueller investigation, without Senate approval.

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Korean court ruling on compensation for forced labour to hurt relations with Japan

The Japan-Korea relationship, already strained by the ‘comfort women’ controversy, faces new challenges after a Korean court ruled in favor of workers coerced to work for Nippon Steel during Japan’s 35-year occupation of Korea.

Japan resists further demands for compensation or new apologies related to its colonialism and war in Asia. It views the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea as having settled all controversies. But controversies continue to spring back up time and time again.

In 2015, Japan arrived at agreement with Korea on a plan to compensate Korea and its few remaining ‘comfort women’ with 1 billion yen (US$8 million) in exchange for “permanently” settling the issue. But after the Korean government refused to remove statues of ‘comfort women’ set up outside the Japanese diplomatic offices in Seoul and Busan, Japan threatened to withhold the money.

Korea’s new president Moon Jae-in threatened to try to renegotiate the ‘comfort women’ agreement, as he (and a majority of Koreans) opposed it. He felt it did not account for the wishes of the living former sex slaves and that Japan hadn’t apologizes forcefully enough. Japan, for its part, feels that Korea is always moving the goalposts.

Earlier in October, Japan did not participate in an international naval review held in Korea after Korea demanded that Japan’s navy remove its ‘Rising Sun’ flag. Japan had participated in fleet reviews before with that flag–the same flag it flew during World War II–but Korea apparently raised the issue strenuously this time because anti-Japan sentiment has been running high in recent years.

The ruling by Korea’s Supreme Court came 13 years after the case was first filed in Korean courts. The claimants, who were forced to work in the Japanese steel industry and had compensation withheld, originally filed in Japan, but their case was dismissed by Japanese courts in 1997 on the grounds that the 1965 treaty addressed compensation.

The treaty’s terms on individual compensation were limited, causing it to be unpopular in Korea, but it did call for Japan to provide $800 million to Korea in economic development. Japan provided that much and much more in additional investment and aid. Japan’s aid and investment was important, but not sufficient, for Korea’s development during the 1960’s and 70’s. (Ironically, many Koreans even resent Japan for sometimes trying to take too much credit for Korea’s development.)

Brett Kavanaugh and burdens of proof

Brett Kavanaugh is credibly accused of attempting to rape a girl while at a party in high school. It does not need to be said that we don’t know for sure if he did it–that much is obvious. Probably only a few people will ever know for sure.

But the many people attempting to defend Kavanaugh and cast doubt on the accusations have no basis on which to say the accuser is “lying.” They similarly do not know.

Kavanaugh is facing confirmation to the highest court in the land. He is facing a job interview. He is not facing a trial. If he loses, he returns to his lifetime job as a judge at the level of the U.S. district court. He will not be deprived of his life or liberty.

The National Review‘s David French, however, stated on Twitter, “We cannot and must not abandon the notion that an accuser bears the burden of proof. It’s not enough to raise suspicion. If you make a claim, you have to support it at the very least with your sworn testimony.”

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100% of headlines on People’s Daily about Xi Jinping

From September 3-4, Beijing has hosted the 2018 China-Africa Forum. Headlines from the summit continue to dominate the news in China.

On the front page of the People’s Daily from September 5 to 7, 100 percent of the headlines were about Xi Jinping.

Typical were headlines like this from September 6:

Xi Jinping meets Nigeria president Buhari
Xi Jinping meets Madagascar president Hery
Xi Jinping meets Chad president Déby

The entire front page of the paper on September 6 used the same structure for each of the ten headlines in the main section.

Since Xi Jinping took power, he has been glorified more than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. A Reddit user with 36,000 “karma points” who frequently presents charts has used data from people.com.cn to show that Xi is mentioned on the front page of the People’s Daily more than any leader since Mao.

And since Xi became president for life at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, he has been mentioned almost every day.

Chinese citizens are being arrested for vandalizing propaganda of Xi.

Now the question might be not how many days is Xi featured on the front page, but how many times in one day.

Sources for charts:
Xi Jinping is being mentioned almost every single day on People’s Daily front-page headlines, something only Mao had done during the cultural revolution. (1949-2018)
Is Xi Jinping mentioned in a headline of the People’s Daily front page today? (2007-2018)

Sen. Van Hollan and Merkley protest Kavanaugh nomination

WASHINGTON, DC, SEPT. 6, 2018: Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Chris Van Hollan (Md.) broadcast from outside the Supreme Court on the afternoon of Thursday, September 6 to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Both senators pointed to Kavanaugh’s conservative beliefs and jurisprudence, the effect his rulings could have on abortion rights and universal access to healthcare (and Obamacare), and his expansive views on presidential power.

Van Hollan said, “When it comes to his views on executive power, he’s an extremist. … That’s why Trump picked him.”

Kavanaugh has expressed deference to presidential power in the past. In a 2009 article in the Minnesota Law Review, he wrote, “We should not burden a sitting President with civil suits, criminal investigations, or criminal prosecutions.” In 1999, Kavanaugh expressed skepticism of the historic ruling in US v Nixon, which forced Nixon to produce his White House tapes. Would Justice Kavanaugh vote to force Trump to respond to a subpoena by Mueller? That’s their concern.

Merkley and Van Hollen also referenced emails leaked to the New York Times showing Kavanaugh was skeptical of whether Roe v Wade should be treated as established law. Not only does that put abortion rights at risk, they said, the lack of transparency and vetting in the confirmation process, in which documents have been reviewed by a Republican lawyer before being released, is worrying.

Kavanaugh has not answered questions about his particular views on abortion or executive power, refusing to take a position on what he calls “hypotheticals.”

Exclusive: The scene at Lafayette Park and marching with the counterprotesters

Lafayette Square was filled with protesters hours before the alt-right began marching towards the White House—counterprotesters, that is.

Pre-march

The counterprotesters consisted of a diverse group of people. Many were individuals who simply opposed racism who didn’t appear to be aligned with any specific group. Many were centrists or moderate liberals. One man who wore a NATO flag as a cape said, “I like to piss off both sides. I oppose fascism and communism.”

There was no shortage of hardcore activists and far-left ideologues, as well. Activist groups organized around communism, socialism, anarchism and “racial justice” all sent large contingencies.

At 12:20 pm, a group of black rights activists came marching down 16 Street NW carrying signs and chanting. Among the groups represented on their shirts and signs were Black Lives Matter, Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) and the Party for Socialism & Liberation (pslweb.org). Black protesters marched in front, followed by white allies. The Revolutionary Communist Party, A.N.S.W.E.R. and Refuse Fascism.org had organized protesters into the park, too, by then.

The park was divided in half—counterprotesters were allowed to fill the northern half, alt-right racists in the southern half. The counterprotest site was a cacophony of chanting and speeches by anti-racists, including Daryle Lamont Jenkins of One People’s Project.

The alt-right arrives

But the real action was along the orange line of the Metro.

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Alt-right marches to Lafayette Park (Unite the Right 2 photos)

Outnumbered by police officers. Outnumbered by journalists. Heavily outnumbered by counterprotesters.

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Revolutionary Communists, Black supremacists, leftists counterprotest noone

Alt-right doesn’t show up to its own protest on first day

The alt-right is coming to Washington, DC to rally outside of Donald Trump’s home in the White House for the anniversary of the bloody Unite the Right event of 2017.

Well, they should be coming tomorrow, Sunday, August 12. They didn’t end up showing on August 11. The 2017 event took place between August 11 and 12.

Counter-protesters had been taking part in an #OccupyLafayettePark protest ever since August 9, in addition to “Impeach Trump” protesters who had already been gathered outside the White House most evenings since July 17. The counter-protest contingency (and the media) was really hoping to give the alt-right an early welcome on Saturday evening, but did not get the chance.

Reporters had been camped out in Lafayette Park since morning. Some had even done shots there Friday night. Rumor swirled Saturday that alt-right supporters would make their first entrance Saturday at 5 pm. Later the time was said to be 5:30 pm.

At 5 pm, a group of black supremacists arrived with a pan-African flag and shield.

They accused “whites” of causing and/or being complicit in crimes of humanity.

“He has killed more than any other man on planet earth. Not only did he bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan, he started blazing the fire in Vietnam.”

They left after 15 minutes or so.

The anticipation grew.

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What does Reason think the police should have done?

Do libertarians want mentally ill people involuntarily confined?

Reason‘s Zuri Davis blogs, relying on a Washington Post interview, that local sheriffs had been getting reports that Forrest Gordon Clark, who is suspected of causing a huge forest fire raging in California now, was a threat.

Milligan says, he has been warning the local sheriff’s office and U.S. Forest Service about Clark, repeatedly telling them, “You have to do something or he’s going to kill someone or burn this place down.” Milligan reports that Clark sent him several texts promising that the area was “going to burn just like we planned.” Milligan say that he attempted to alert the authorities but did not receive a response. He criticized, “Why the hell didn’t they respond? I reported this over and over again.”

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Editor on Trump’s threats against Iran

The greatest strategic mistake by the United States in the opening decades of the 21st century has been to get stuck in unwinnable wars in the Middle East, a region with declining strategic importance relative to Asia.

At the time when a predecessor, George W. Bush, invaded Iraq, Donald Trump supported the war. Later, during the 2016 presidential campaign he pretended – loudly and without shame – that he had opposed the war. What would he do if he had a similar decision in front of him as president? We may well get to know sometime soon.

Trump unleashed his vitriol against Iran on July 22, threatening war in an all-caps screed on Twitter.

“To Iranian President Rouhani,” he said. “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”

Trump practices “honor politics.” Please take note that the cause of the Trump’s outburst wasn’t anything Iran had actually done vis-à-vis America, but rather words used by his Iranian counterpart Trump took as a “threat.”

Rouhani had issued a boilerplate statement in response to Trump’s previous provocations, declaring: “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.” Sniping back and forth is nothing unusual in U.S.-Iranian relations and certainly nothing for the American leader to get angry about. However, Trump seems to have chosen to believe Rouhani’s words were something the U.S. should “not stand for.”

Were Trump’s empty rhetoric the only thing on display, that would be worrisome enough for what it says about the mindset of the commander-in-chief of the largest military in the world. What is more concerning, however, is that Trump has been stoking the flames against Iran since he was elected, and his provocations have intensified of late.

On May 9, he made good on his pledge to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran. Now, he is warning other countries not to import Iranian oil, or else he will impose sanctions against them. Sanctioning a country that continues to comply with the nuclear deal – respected by all signatories except the United States – is an inherently provocative act.

Iran is already facing economic problems and unrest. Now, European companies, including France’s largest oil producer, Total, are reluctantly pulling out of Iran in order to avoid problems. Is it any wonder that Trump’s escalatory actions began shortly after neoconservative hardliner John Bolton became National Security Adviser in April?

Read full article: Column: Trump threatening war with Iran

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