Tag Archives: Trump

FBI Targets ‘Black Identity Extremists’ Despite Surge in White Supremacist Violence The Trump administration is coming dangerously close to labeling Black Lives Matter a terrorist group.

A leaked FBI counterterrorism memo claims that so-called black identity extremists pose a threat to law enforcement. That’s according to Foreign Policy magazine, which obtained the document written by the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit. The memo was dated August 3, 2017—only days before the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis killed one anti-racist protester, Heather Heyer, and injured dozens more. But the report is not concerned with the violent threat of white supremacists. Instead, the memo reads: “The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.” Civil liberties groups have slammed the FBI report, warning the “black identity extremists” designation threatens the rights of protesters with Black Lives Matter and other groups. Many have also compared the memo to the FBI’s covert COINTELPROprogram of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, which targeted the civil rights movement. We speak with Malkia Cyril, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Media Justice as well as a Black Lives Matter Bay Area activist.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript.Copymay not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We end today’s show by looking at a leaked FBIcounterterrorism memo which claims so-called black identity extremists pose a threat to law enforcement. That’s according to Foreign Policy magazine, which obtained the document written by the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit. The memo was dated August 3rd, 2017, only days before the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis killed an anti-racist protester, Heather Heyer, injured dozens more. But the report is not concerned with the violent threat of white supremacists. Instead, the memo reads: “The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence,” end-quote.

Civil liberties groups have slammed the FBI report, warning the “black identity extremists” designation threatens the rights of protesters with Black Lives Matter and other groups. Many have also compared the memo to the FBI’s covert COINTELPRO program of the ’50s through ’70s, which targeted the civil rights movement.

For more, we’re going to San Francisco, California, where we’re joined by Malkia Cyril. She’s the co-founder and executive director of the Center for Media Justice as well as a Black Lives Matter Bay Area activist.

Malkia, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you talk about this report and what your assessment is of this term they have used, “black identity extremists”?

MALKIA CYRIL: Well, thanks for having me. You know, it’s a great question. What is a black identity extremist? I think we’re all trying to figure that out. Nobody knows, in part because it doesn’t exist. It’s a term fabricated by the FBI, constructed. And it has a history. I mean, for a very long time, for many decades in this country, probably centuries, the FBI has criminalized black dissent. We saw it through the COINTELPRO, the Counter Intelligence Program, as you mentioned, in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. We’re seeing it again today. This term, this idea of black extremism are coming up by the FBI, being used as a way to criminalize democratically protected speech and activity. It’s wrong, it’s erroneous, and it should be withdrawn.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what is your understanding of where it stands now?

MALKIA CYRIL: You know, right now, we don’t know. I mean, that’s part of the problem. You know, we need some information from the FBI. It’s clear that the FBIshould provide an unredacted description. What do they mean by a “black identity extremist”? Right now that description is pretty vague. It refers to some anti-white ideologies. It compares—you know, it talks about ideologies of black separatism. But it doesn’t have anything concrete. I mean, I think that’s part of the problem, that this is a categorization that has been constructed. The definition has no—makes no sense. And we need some more information from the FBI, so that we can actually respond effectively to this categorization.

AMY GOODMAN: It doesn’t refer to Black Lives Matter specifically.

MALKIA CYRIL: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about that, Malkia?

MALKIA CYRIL: Well, I mean, you know, it doesn’t refer to any specific organization, because the FBI, through its own guidelines, can’t really do that, number one. Number two, its guidelines say it can’t start investigations or investigate anyone solely on the basis of race. So what it’s done is it’s constructed, out of, you know, looking at six different cases over three years that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, of people who have committed violence against police officers. They have constructed a relationship between these cases that doesn’t exist, and then assigned some political ideology to those cases that doesn’t exist. So, anti-white feelings or sentiment doesn’t lead to police violence. Being angry as a black person in America about the—excuse me, doesn’t lead to violence against police. Being angry about police violence in America, police violence that is targeting largely people of color, also does not lead to violence against the police.

So, the bottom line here is that we have a rampant situation where white nationalism is on the rise. And yet the FBI has chosen to use its resources to construct and fabricate a threat that does not exist, instead of addressing a threat that does exist. So, whether it refers directly to Black Lives Matter as an organization or not, it’s clear this is an attempt to criminalize black dissent, which will have an outsized negative impact on those who are working in organizations like Black Lives Matter.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about another issue, about these allegations a Russian company spent more than $100,000 buying thousands of ads that sought to politicize the U.S. electorate ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Some of the allegations relate to Russian Facebook ads specifically referencing Black Lives Matter, targeting audiences in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri.

MALKIA CYRIL: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, Google also says, quote, “suspected Russian agents,” unquote, paid for tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of political advertisements last year also aimed at swaying the 2016 presidential election. Your thoughts?

MALKIA CYRIL: First of all, we have to be really clear. This is not simply about what Russia has done. This is about how Russia and the right wing of the United States has collaborated to undermine democracy. So I want to be very clear. When we talk about, you know, Russia buying these ads or using these Facebook pages, so on and so forth, what we’re really talking about is a collusion, a collaboration between a global right wing. That’s really important. We need to be really clear about that, number one.

Number two, whether the ads or the Facebook pages seem to be pro- or anti-Black Lives Matter, the fact is that these pages and these ads were anti-black. That’s what’s clear. They were using anti-black tropes of black militancy to sway an election and undermine democracy. This is not new. The CIA has done this for decades. This is a tactic that has been used by the United States internationally for decades. We should not be surprised that it is being used now. And we need to think very carefully about what is going to happen over the next several years to undermine the next presidential election. And we need to get ready.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about a CNN report, a social media campaign calling itself “Blacktivist” and linked to the Russian government used both Facebook and Twitter in an apparent attempt to amplify racial tensions during the election. Again, they attribute it to two sources with knowledge of the matter talking to CNN. The Twitter account has been handed over to Congress. The Facebook account is expected to be handed over in the coming days, was the report. Your response to Blacktivist? Have you looked into this?

MALKIA CYRIL: You know, I’ve heard about it. I’ve actually seen the page in the past. You know, I spend a lot of time working on social media issues and looking at, you know, possibly fake pages that talk about black issues, trying to weed them out from pages that are related to real, on-the-ground organizations. And what we’ve seen is, interestingly, while this has come to light, you know, the Blacktivist page has come to light as being associated with this disinformation campaign, it’s clear that this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of fake pages on Facebook, dozens of fake accounts on Twitter, that claim to be related to some black movement, but in fact are not.

What we need to be is very careful making sure that the pages we follow, the accounts we follow, are actually connected to real organizations that are doing real work on the ground. And it’s hard to do. It means that Facebook and Twitter have to take real responsibility for this kind of disinformation on their site, really do something to protect the black activists who are working on their site, and differentiate between the fake pages and the real pages, because it has real consequences for black activism.

AMY GOODMAN: Malkia Cyril, for young people who may not be familiar with COINTELPRO—you certainly are—can you talk about your own family experience? We have just about a minute. But, you know, December 4th, 1969, Mark Clark and Fred Hampton—Fred Hampton, the head of the Black Panthers in Chicago, Illinois—are gunned down by police as they’re sleeping in bed. What the Counter Intelligence Program did and the effect, for example, on your family?

MALKIA CYRIL: My mother was a member of the Black Panther Party in New York. She ran the breakfast program in New York. And my mother was visited by the FBIjust weeks before she died in 2005. So this is not something—this harassment, the kind of FBI harassment of black activists, didn’t end in 1969. It didn’t end when COINTELPRO was, you know, exposed in 1971. It is continuing today. There are hundreds of political prisoners in our prison system—black political prisoners, Puerto Rican political prisoners, Native American political prisoners—because of the Counter Intelligence Program. And we need to make sure that never, ever happens in America again.

AMY GOODMAN: Malkia Cyril, thanks so much for taking this time with us, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Media Justice, also a Black Lives Matter activist.

MALKIA CYRIL: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: That does it for our broadcast today. Happy birthday to Miguel Nogueira! Happy belated birthday, Miguel.

By Amy Goodman / Democracy Now

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Advertisements

JFK, CIA, Mafia and Fidel Castro – Trump can finally allow the truth to emerge from the shadows

Top secret files are due to be declassified this month in a move that could bring closure to one of the most traumatic events in US history – the assassination of President John F Kennedy.

A law was signed by former President George H.W. Bush in 1992 mandating the release of all documents related to Kennedy’s assassination within 25 years. Under the JFK Records Act of 1992, the National Archives has until 26 October of this year to disclose the remaining files relating to the assassination, unless President Trump determines that doing so would be harmful to national security. There are about 3,100 files still sealed by the National Archives.

Most right-thinking people would like to see the files released, to put an end to the constant speculation about the death of one of history’s most iconic politicians.

There is a smaller group, who enjoy vast, outlandish, unproven mysteries that would like to see the files remain locked up. This would allow the morbid supposition to continue.

Was there a conspiracy to kill the US President in 1963? No verifiable proof has been produced to contradict the official version of what happened on 22 November 1963, that lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy, who was in an open top limousine, from a window of the Dallas Book Depository building. Oswald was a US Marines trained marksman, but still, it was some deadly shooting with a $21 mail-order rifle.

On 24 November, live on TV, police led Oswald through the basement of the Dallas Police Station. A large man with a fedora steps forward and shoots a single bullet into Oswald, and we hear the dying man shout in pain.

Of course, it is possible Jack Ruby was a madman who was overtaken by patriotic vengefulness. The fact that Ruby, a nightclub owner, had mob connections and police contacts shot an assassin so publicly immediately raised incredulity.

The Warren Commission was set up in the wake of the Dallas events by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate. Wanting to quickly calm a nation that was entering a period of unprecedented upheaval the commission promptly decided to ratify the lone gunman theory.

However, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, in 1978 concluded in a preliminary report that Kennedy was “probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy,” that may have involved multiple shooters and organized crime. The findings of both investigations have been contested.

It would require a vast conspiracy to cover-up the involvement of other parties.

The Kennedys were at the center of a web of bizarre and extra-legal alliances in the early sixties. The Cold War was in its fifteenth year by the time John Kennedy was elected President in 1960. Morbid fear of imminent nuclear war and congressional star chambers driven by the alcoholic Joe McCarthy (a close family friend of the Kennedys) had pushed the US establishment to a deep paranoia.

John Kennedy was the first Irish Catholic to be elected to the high office, and he ran his administration like any good Irish boy should – it was a family business. Brother Bobby was installed at the Justice Department. The two glamorous Democratic poster boys were, in fact, hardnosed Cold War warriors and rabid anti-Communists. Communist leader Fidel Castro had, in 1959, installed his regime in Cuba, 90 miles off Florida and the Kennedys immediately set about removing him, by any means necessary.

The plotting began with the Dwight Eisenhower government almost immediately after the 1959 revolution. In 1961, Cuban exiles, with the backing of Kennedy and the US government, tried to overthrow Castro in the Bay of Pigs debacle. The plan was to assassinate Fidel and Raúl Castro along with Che Guevara. On the day President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, an agent was sent on a mission to kill Castro.

Yet the plotting against Castro was carried out under four US presidents, and only Kennedy was murdered.

Previously released CIA files show the Agency was, incredibly, in league with the Mafia in plotting some of the 600 attempts on Castro’s life.

One file even indicates Robert Kennedy saying he was “angry” when he found out. But he didn’t call a halt to this unholy alliance.

Sam ‘Momo’ Giancana, who was later shot dead, was one of those gangsters involved in the Cuba plots. There were alleged connections between the Kennedy brothers’ father Joseph P Kennedy and mobsters including the notorious psychopath Giancana. Giancana also sharing mistress, Judith Exner, with JFK. Giancana and JFK shared a friendship with the legendary singer Frank Sinatra. I could go on, but I am already digressing significantly.

And that is the point, when you start on the Kennedys and all the dark enemies and glamorous friends and work through in the long, ghastly history of the CIA’s foreign conspiracies you will never get to an end. It is an endlessly fascinating cocktail of sex, death, politics, show business and Cold War espionage. Such narratives sold books and movies.

Yet another question that has been asked by historians is was there a cover-up?

And some things have emerged over the last couple of years that are extraordinary.

These facts are verifiable, and they heighten the anticipation of the potential 26 October file declassification. The usually secretive Central Intelligence Agency has, incredibly, conceded that there is a problem.

In 2013, the CIA’s in-house historian concluded that the spy agency had conducted a cover-up during the Warren Commission’s investigation in 1963 and 1964. The CIA hoped to keep the commission focused on “what the Agency believed was the ‘best truth’ — that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone in killing John Kennedy.

The secret report was written in 2013 and quietly declassified in 2014. The spy agency’s historian acknowledges what others were already convinced of: that the former CIA Director John McCone and other senior CIA officials were “complicit” in keeping “incendiary” information from the Warren Commission when it began its post-JFK assassination investigation.

According to the report by CIA historian David Robarge, McCone, who died in 1991, was at the heart of a “benign cover-up” at the spy agency, intended to keep the commission focused on the lone gunman theory.

Specifically, McCone withheld from the commission the existence of the CIA and Mafia plots to assassinate Castro. Without this information, the commission never even knew to ask the question of whether Oswald had accomplices in Cuba or elsewhere who wanted Kennedy dead in retaliation for the Castro plots.

And in August of this year, a further tranche of previously classified documents was released under the 1992 Bush law. And they too were tantalizing.

The files released by the National Archives show that, within a few years of Kennedy’s assassination, some in the CIA began to worry internally that the official story was wrong.

Key CIA officials were concerned by the mid-1970s that the Agency, the FBI, the Secret Service and the commission led by Chief Justice Earl Warren had not followed up on important clues about Oswald’s contact with foreign agents, including diplomats and spies for the Communist governments of Cuba and the Soviet Union, who might have been aware of his plans to kill Kennedy and even encouraged the plot.

There is no credible evidence cited in the documents released so far that Castro or other foreign leaders had any personal role in ordering Kennedy’s death.

But if the CIA is saying it believes there was a cover-up, and it thought this as early as the 1970s then those expecting something explosive to emerge this month could be right.

Of course, as always, politics are at play.

Republican President Donald Trump is being asked to open up a file on the murder of a dead Democratic President. And not just any President, but John Kennedy, the young, tragic, handsome leader whose family became the royalty of US politics.

Republicans may believe the Kennedys’ swimming in murky waters will come to taint their legacy.

I believe the American public needs to know the truth,” said Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., who along with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is leading a congressional effort to declassify thousands of documents and recordings compiled by the CIA and FBI.

It’s still hard for me to believe it was one man, but at the same time I have no proof that it wasn’t,” said Jones.

Trump, if the argument is compelling enough from the CIA and FBI, may still keep the files secret. But many of us want it to end, one way or another.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

America’s Political Divide Intensified During Trump’s First Year As President Republicans and Democrats have grown further apart in their political views during the first year of the administration, the Pew Research Center finds.

Disagreement among Republican and Democratic voters on a range of political issues has risen sharply in recent years, a political divide that intensified during the first year of President Trump’s administration, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

“The divisions between Republicans and Democrats on fundamental political values—on government, race, immigration, national security, environmental protection, and other areas—reached record levels during Barack Obama’s presidency,” Pew’s report states. “In Donald Trump’s first year as president, these gaps have grown even larger.”

Since the widening of the partisan opinion gap is a continuation of a trend, Trump’s presidency hasn’t ushered in a new era of intense political polarization so much as it marks a new chapter in an increasingly polarized political time. Public opinion remains more divided along partisan lines than along the lines of race, religion, age, gender, and educational background, Pew finds.

As the country’s partisan divide has increased in recent years, hostility between Republicans and Democrats has remained high. Perhaps surprisingly, Pew’s data shows a slight decline in the share of Democrats and Republicans who say they have a “very unfavorable” view of the opposing party relative to one year ago. Overall, though, the numbers don’t represent a major change, and aren’t enough on their own to say that partisan hostilities are lessening. The vast majority of Republicans and Democrats, at 81 percent for both parties, say they have an unfavorable view of the other side in the latest report.

America’s partisan divergence reaches beyond the realm of political debate in Washington. Pew data indicates that Republicans prefer to live in rural areas, while Democrats prefer urban living. Sixty-five percent of Republicans say they would rather live in communities where “houses are larger and farther apart” and “schools, stores, and restaurants are several miles away.” In contrast, 61 percent of Democrats said they would prefer to live in a place where the homes are smaller and more densely packed into neighborhoods, and stores, schools, and restaurants are in walking distance.

“What it shows is that even things that are ostensibly not about politics are still subject to political divides,” Jocelyn Kiley, an associate director of research at Pew, said in an interview. “That reflects a lot about the state of the American political landscape right now.”

Those preferences line up with the urban-rural divide that showed up in the results of the 2016 presidential election. Fifty-nine percent of voters who lived in a city with a population greater than 50,000 people voted for Hillary Clinton, while 62 percent of voters who lived in a small city or rural area pulled the lever for Donald Trump, according to exit polls from the presidential election.

The fact that even living preferences have taken on a partisan dimension helps explain another aspect of America’s highly partisan political environment. It’s common for Democrats and Republicans to have social circles filled with people who share their own political beliefs. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats say that a lot of their close friends are also Democrats, while 57 percent of Republican voters surround themselves with Republican friends, Pew’s survey conducted in August 2017 shows. That inevitably diminishes the likelihood that people will have their partisan viewpoints challenged in any kind of meaningful way in their day-to-day lives.

The more that Americans’ social lives and identity become intertwined with partisan beliefs, the more pressure people will face to adopt partisan viewpoints rather than risk alienating close friends and their broader social network. That dynamic is likely one reason why Gallup found in 2015 that college-educated Republicans were more likely than less educated Republicans to say that the threat of global warming has been exaggerated, despite warnings from the scientific community that the harmful impacts of climate change are already underway.

Trump himself has a track record of climate denial, and it is possible that his own defiance of the scientific consensus will intensify skepticism among some Republican voters. Prior to taking office as president, Trump called global warming a “hoax.” After the administration announced it would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, the White House sidestepped questions over whether the president continues to think climate change is a hoax.

Pew’s latest report suggests that kind of rhetoric may have had an impact on Republican voters who support the president. Among Republicans, voters who strongly approve of Trump were also the most likely to say that there is no solid evidence of global warming, while Republicans who disapprove of the president were the most likely to say there is solid evidence. Eighty-eight percent of Republicans who disapprove of the president said there is solid evidence for global warming, while 57 percent of Republicans who “very strongly” support Trump said there is not.

As long as Republicans and Democrats continue to cluster geographically across the country and surround themselves with like-minded partisans, it’s likely that the partisan divide will remain as entrenched as ever.

By Clare Foran/TheAtlantic

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Trump says Puerto Rico’s debt needs to be wiped out

Trump says Puerto Rico’s debt needs to be wiped out US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attend a meeting with Governor Ricardo Rossello (L) © Mandel Ngan / AFP

US President Donald Trump said that Puerto Rico’s $74 billion debt would have to be wiped out to help the island recover from the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Maria that he witnessed during his visit.

“We’re going to work something out. We have to look at their whole debt structure. You know they owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we’re going to have to wipe that out. You’re going to say goodbye to that, I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is you can wave goodbye to that,” Trump told Fox News, according to Reuters.

Trump visited Puerto Rico on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria destroyed the island’s infrastructure, leaving the majority of the 3.5 million residents without access to power.

During his visit, Trump said that the reconstruction costs have thrown the federal budget “out of whack.”

“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget out of whack – because we have spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico. And that’s fine, we’ve saved a lot of lives,” Trump said.

‘You can be very proud’: #Trump praises hurricane relief in #PuertoRicohttps://t.co/GTsJKZfepbpic.twitter.com/tbj8mP4d9z

— RT (@RT_com) October 4, 2017

Moodys estimated that the recovery could cost as much as $95 billion, according to Reuters.

In May, Puerto Rico filed for the biggest bankruptcy in US municipal history, approximately $74 billion of bond debt and $48 billion of unfunded pension liabilities. The bankruptcy would break the record in the US, which was previously set by the $18 billion Chapter 9 claim by Detroit, Michigan in 2013.

The island’s economy has been in recession for nearly 10 years, with an unemployment rate of about 11 percent. At the same time, the population has fallen by about 10 percent in the past decade.

According to census data taken before the storm hit Puerto Rico, unemployment on the island was about 11 percent, while the poverty rate stood at 45 percent. The average income was $19,350, compared the the average income of the entire US, which stands at $56,516.

The White House is also reportedly preparing a $29 billion disaster aid request to support recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida, according to Reuters.

The White House will ask Congress to fund $13 billion in new relief for hurricane victims and to forgive $16 billion in debt that has accumulated in the National Flood Insurance Program.

The request is expected to be sent to lawmakers in Congress by Wednesday.

After Trump left the island, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello updated the official death toll from 16 to 34. Rossello said that the main causes of death were flooding, flying debris and mudslides.

The death toll is expected to increase further in the coming weeks.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

NFL Owners and Executives Who Protested Donald Trump Are the Biggest Hypocrites Yet

AS 3.5 MILLION AMERICANS languished without power in Puerto Rico this weekend, President Donald Trump turned his attention instead to NFL players who had decided to take a knee during the national anthem to protest injustice, bigotry, and police brutality in the U.S.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” the president bellowed at a rally for a special election in Alabama. The owners who fired players, Trump said, would quickly be among the most popular men in America.

Trump directed some of the harshest words of his presidency not at ascendant neo-Nazis or even opposition politicians, but peaceful NFL stars, many of them black, taking a knee to bring attention to a cause they care about deeply. What makes this so unique is that it wasn’t a Joe Biden hot mic moment: It was an intentional attack on free speech.

The outrage was instantaneous. Athletes and entertainers expressed their disgust. Soon, the remarks became a national, and even international, discussion.

Then came Sunday. It was the largest single day of protest in NFL history. Instead of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, 19 teams had about 200 players who participated in protests of some kind; many took a knee or had a seat during the national anthem. Three teams opted not to come out for the anthem at all.

And they weren’t alone: The protesting players were joined by owners, some of whom even decided to go down to the field to lock arms with their players as a form of solidarity. Front offices from team after team blasted Trump’s words at the Alabama rally in official press statements and tweeted infographics — all saying some version of how much they disagreed with Trump’s divisive tone or rhetoric.

And that’s where we have to pause.

The popular demands on NFL executives and owners to speak out against Trump seem strange. Most NFL owners and general managers are unknown to your average American. But here’s the thing: What Trump said about NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem was hardly different from what NFL owners have not only said, but actually done to Kaepernick.

And the team executives have been public about their feelings, though only while hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. Mike Freeman, of the sports site Bleacher Report, has been reporting on the intense hatred among NFL team front office employees.

One general manager told Freeman, of Kaepernick, that he estimated a clear majority of NFL front offices “genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did” — kneeling for the national anthem. “They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on.” The same general manager went on to say that many of the other teams’ executives were afraid to put Kaepernick on their roster because “Trump will tweet about the team.”

And that general manager was not alone. Another front office executive called Kaepernick “a traitor.” Yet another said, “He has no respect for our country. Fuck that guy.” Another executive said he would think about resigning his position if a team owner asked him to sign Kaepernick. One general manager summed up the feeling among NFL team executives: “In my career, I have never seen a guy so hated by front office guys as Kaepernick.”

All seven team executives interviewed by Freeman for one piece said they believed 90 to 95 percent of NFL front offices agreed with their harsh takes on Kaepernick. One even said Kaepernick was the most hated player since Rae Carruth, who is still in prison for plotting to murder his pregnant girlfriend.

Most of the comments came a year ago (and some this spring). What those team executives predicted has come true: Not a single team has signed Kaepernick, not even for the league minimum, not for a backup or third-string position. Kaepernick didn’t even get the chance to audition his skills in a workout. Even those teams who desperately needed a starter or an experienced backup, in the words of Minneapolis sportswriter Jim Souhan, “decided that they prefer comfortable losses to uneasy victories.”

Kaepernick has been effectively banned from the NFL by owners and management who hate his guts like they do traitors and murderers.

That’s why what happened yesterday was perplexing. Some of the team owners showing solidarity with their players had made million-dollar donations to Trump’s inaugural committee, knowing full well where he was coming from. And many of the same team executives who were releasing statements and locking arms in support of players have shown their own disdain for Kaepernick — some, presumably, were the same ones who trashed him to Bleacher Report, others simply failed to show Kaepernick solidarity by refusing to give him a shot at playing again.

Trump learned his disdain for protesting players from them. Way before he called protesting players sons of bitches, the team executives were saying, fuck Colin Kaepernick.

Never mind that Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, the two best quarterbacks in the game, say Kaepernick should be in the league. Never mind the fact that some teams are still winless with quarterbacks who are struggling through every single quarter. Before Trump said a single word in Alabama, those teams had already shut Kaepernick out.

What the NFL players did yesterday was genuine — real solidarity with one of their own. But what most of those team owners and general managers did was marketing. It was, in the words of ESPN’s Howard Bryant, “performance art.” It looked and felt real, but was as counterfeit as a $3 bill. These owners and general managers put on a beautiful show yesterday, but as long as Kaepernick, in the prime of his physical career, is unemployed, they clearly lack the courage of their convictions. Kaepernick should’ve been on the field yesterday.

In March, one general manager told Bleacher Report’s Freeman, “I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.” Despite the owners and managers, they failed. This much is clear: Colin Kaepernick’s quiet bravery has sparked a movement that refuses to die.

By Shaun King/TheIntercept

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Trump tells African leaders his friends are ‘going to your countries trying to get rich’ — and makes up country of Nambia

This is such a tragedy if it wasn’t true. China and India are going over to Africa in droves buying up land and building.

During a luncheon at the United Nations on Wednesday, President Donald Trump reportedly told African leaders that he has “so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich.”

“Africa has tremendous business potential,” the president said.

He later referred to the non-existent country of “Nambia” when discussing health crises on the continent. It is unclear if Trump was referring to Namibia or Zambia. There is no country called Nambia.

By NOOR AL-SIBAI/RawStory

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

Hillary Happened

So someone has ghost-written another Hillary Clinton memoir. My biggest question when I picked it up was: Did Hillary stiff the writer out of the final payment as she did Barbara Feinman, real author of It Takes a Village?

You don’t have to read any further than the cover of the book to answer the question posed by its title: What Happened: Hillary Clinton. Glutton for punishment, I took a masochistic dive into its dark pages anyway.

It soon became apparent that Hillary shouldn’t haven’t treated Feinman so churlishly. What Happened would have greatly benefited from her stylistic enhancements. The prose in this book is as brittle as the mind behind it. Notice the lack of a question mark in the title. This is a telling punctuational elision. It signals that this text will not be an investigation into the dynamics behind the most perplexing election in American history.   Don’t skim these pages in search of a self-lacerating confession or an apologia. What Happened reads more like a drive-by shooting rampage. The book is a score-settling scattershot rant, enfilading anyone who stood in Clinton’s way, from Bernie Sanders to James Comey. Amid Hillary’s hitlist of villains, even toothless Joe Biden gets gut-shot.

There are, naturally, two ways of interpreting the results of the 2016 elections pitting the two most unappetizing candidates in American history against each: either Trump found some way to defeat Hillary or, more probably, Hillary managed to lose to Trump. But Hillary’s psyche can’t swallow either scenario. So, she endeavors to create a mystery where there is none. The outcome was so inexplicable, she reasons, that there must be some hidden mechanism at work: Russian hacking, press bias, left betrayal, FBI sabotage. Clinton summons a lineup of the possible suspects: Bernie Sanders, Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange, Jill Stein, the New York Times, CNN, and Jim Comey. Alas, Hillary and her ghost-writer are not John LeCarré. She can’t spin a coherent and plausible cyber-spy yarn, in part because Clinton keeps getting sidetracked by a compulsion to wash her own hands of any culpability in blowing the election.

The closest Hillary comes to any admission of personal liability is when she discloses that she may have blundered when she smeared Trump’s supporters as “deplorables.” Then she suddenly pulls back, recalibrates and defends her denunciation of white working class voters as an act of courage, speaking truth to the powerless, even though it may have harmed her. “I regret handing Trump a political gift with my ‘deplorables’ comment,” she writes. “[But] too many of Trump’s core supporters do hold views that I find — there’s no other word for it — deplorable.” What started as a confession ended in a boast.

Of course, Hillary Clinton has never been able to conceal her contempt for her enemies, real and imagined. It’s one reason she’s never been a successful politician. Where others are supple, she is taut. Unlike Bill, Hillary is a prolific, but graceless and transparent liar. She is also probably the nastiest political figure in America since Nixon. Yet she lacked Nixon’s Machiavellian genius for political manipulation. Hillary wears her menace on her face. She could never hide her aspiration for power; her desire to become a war criminal in the ranks of her mentor Henry Kissinger (symbolized by the laurels of a Nobel Peace Prize, naturally). Americans don’t mind politicians with a lust to spill blood, but they prefer them not to advertise it.

Thus, Clinton was miscast from the beginning as a political candidate for elected office. Her skills and temperament were more suited to the role of political enforcer in the mode of Thomas Cromwell or John Erhlichman. But her ambition wouldn’t let her settle for the role of a backstage player. “One thing I’ve learned over the years is how easy it is for some people to say horrible things about me when I’m not around,” she fumes with Nixonian fury, “but how hard it is for them to look me in the eye and say it to my face.”

Hillary has tried to reinvent herself many times and does so yet again in this meretricious coda to her failed campaign. She made herself more domesticated for the southern electorate in Arkansas. She shifted the blame to her advisors after the disaster of her health care bill. She washed off the blood-spatter from the Ken Starr investigations by portraying herself as the target of a witch hunt. She exploited an addled Daniel Patrick Moynihan to justify running as an interloper for Senator in New York. She rationalized her votes for the Iraq War by saying she was duped by Colin Powell and Dick Cheney. She manufactured a timely tear for the cameras after her loss to Obama. She assumed the mantle of unrepentant war-monger during her belligerent tenure as Secretary of State and transubstantiated into a white dove during her debates with Bernie Sanders.

She has weeded and blurred inconvenient episodes from her resumé. She has gone on talking tours. She has appeared in town halls. She has reintroduced herself, again and again. She’s changed her name, hairstyles and fashion designers. She exchanged dresses for pantsuits. She shifted from drinking pinot noir to craft beers. She’s backed wars both before she opposed them and after she condemned them. But she remains the same Hillary Rodham Clinton Americans have known since 1992. Everybody sees this except her. Americans know Hillary better than she does herself.  All of her manufactured mirages are translucent to the very the people she wants to deceive.  When Hillary looks in the mirror, she must see what might have been (should have been in her mind) and not what is. And that schism enrages her.

“Why am I seen as such a divisive figure and, say, Joe Biden and John Kerry aren’t?” she mopes. “They’ve cast votes of all kinds, including some they regret, just like me? What makes me such a lightning rod for fury? I’m really asking. I’m at a loss.”

This self-pitying book should prove a challenge for library cataloguers. Shall they shelve it as non-fiction or fiction? What do we make of a woman who lies so casually about matters great and petty, including the origins of her own name? For years, Hillary has insisted that her mother named her after Edmund Hillary. HRC was born in 1947. The New Zealand mountaineer and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Everest six years later in 1953.

Hillary rarely offers anything remotely revealing about herself, other than plastic platitudes and self-flattering fables. But what seeps through this memoir page after page is an animus that seethes beneath her very thin-skin against anyone she believes has slighted her. Brooding on her fate, she writes mordantly: “It wasn’t healthy or productive to dwell on the ways I felt I’d been shivved.” Yet that’s precisely what she does, incessantly. [Note the deployment of the prison slang “shivved,” with its faint whiff of black criminality. The cunning use of racist tropes is a familiar trick in the Clinton playbook. It implies that she has been stabbed in the back by a friend or someone she thought she owned.]

Hillary’s politics never really matured much beyond the inbred conservativism that drew her to Barry Goldwater in the mid-60s. She’s a moral prude, a hawk, and an unrepentant capitalist, who is deeply suspicious of black people. Eventually, the Democratic Party devolved toward her austere political views, abetted by her husband, Al Gore and the other neoliberal “New Democrats.”

What she had, the ace of up her sleeve, was her feminism. But it was a unique brand of feminism. Call it power feminism, which asserted individual ambition rather than a militant political agenda. She also weaponized the feminism of victimhood. At one point in What Happened, she compares herself to Cersei Lannister in “Game of Thrones.” Not Cersei the torturer, assassin and war-monger, mind you, where the parallels might have been germane. But Cersei the victim of male power, who was forced to walk naked through the streets of Kings Landing while being jeered and pelted with garbage and feces by the townfolk in a ritual of public shaming. Hillary charges that her chance to rule was undone by a nation of misogynists, who thrilled at her torments. “I wish so badly we were a country where a candidate who said, ‘My story is the story of a life shaped by and devoted to the movement for women’s liberation’ would be cheered, not jeered. But that’s not who we are.”

As for the 53 percent of white women who voted against her, they too are portrayed as victims. We are led to believe that these women weren’t acting on their own agency in the voting booth. Rather they were captives, little more than automatons controlled by their husbands, fathers, bosses and preachers.

Throughout her career HRC regularly scolded poor black and Hispanic families about taking “personal responsibility” for their dire circumstances. Indeed, Clinton cast welfare reform as the penance the poor must pay for not getting their shit together. But personal responsibility is a quality that Hillary never adopts for her own failures and screw-ups, including grave ones such as the invasion of Libya or sliming black teens as “super predators” in her lobbying blitz to enact her husband’s vicious Crime Bill. She can’t forgive Bernie Sanders for having the temerity to challenge her pre-ordained coronation and shining a spotlight on the more ignoble chapters of her political career.

“Bernie routinely portrayed me as a corrupt corporatist who couldn’t be trusted…Bernie was outraged about everything. He thundered on at every event about the sins of the ‘millionaires and billionaires,’” she raves. “I was more focused on offering practical solutions that would address real problems and make life better for people.” She then cynically blames Sanders for her losses in Ohio and Pennsylvania with apparently no assist from Putin: “What did matter, and had a lasting impact, was that Bernie’s presence in the race meant that I had less space and credibility to run the kind of progressive campaign that had helped me win Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2008.” Tell Putin the news, Bernie.

Hillary Clinton has been obsessed with power her entire adult life. Now it has finally slipped from her hands, and, like some deposed monarch or disgraced CEO, she can only see a conspiracy behind her downfall. Of course, the Clintons have always been professional paranoids. Every roadbump in their political careers has been covertly placed in their path by some shadowy, malign force. In What Happened the “vast right-wing conspiracy” Hillary inveighed against in the 1990s has morphed into a vast “left-right conspiracy of men,” who, in her portentous words, “want to blow up the system and undermine it and all the rest of the stuff they talk about.” The system, of course, is a stand-in for herself. Her defeat at the hands of a ruthless and scheming patriarchy, we are encouraged to believe, is a trembling testament to American political decline. This egotistical gibberish comes from the woman who seemed eager to bring the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust over Syria and Ukraine.

What Happened is a sordid book, petulant and spiteful. It made me feel queasy and dirty while reading it, like the whole 25-year-long experience of Clintonism itself. By the end, I got the sense that its sleazy torrent of invective and blame-mongering was more an attempt to console the frail psyche of the author rather than to repair her shattered image to any readership the book might find. In the years to come, What Happened will prove much more valuable as documentary evidence for psycho-historians than political scientists.

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist