June 2, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 8:21 PM


The Chinese Dream Imperiled (Andrew Meyer, 6/02/20, History News Network).

The imposition of new "security" laws on the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong by China's National People's Congress is undoubtedly a watershed event in the history of East Asia and of global affairs more generally. Hong Kong has been a key driver of the "economic miracle" that has transformed the People's Republic of China since that nation first moved to liberalize its economy in 1979. Even while Hong Kong remained a British colony, it was an important gateway through which hard currency and foreign investment flowed into mainland Chinese markets. After the repatriation of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, the role of the city and its economy became even more integral to the maintenance of economic growth nationwide.

All of that is now at risk. [...]

Hong Kong has been both an asset and a liability to Beijing since 1997. Its benefits as an asset were mentioned above: Hong Kong was, and remains, one of the wealthiest cities in China, and as a financial center has fostered growth that has broadcast prosperity throughout the PRC. But at the same time, Hong Kong's autonomy has posed dangerous challenges to the delicate matrix of Chinese political culture. Hong Kong Chinese are free to engage in speech that would result in imprisonment (or worse) if undertaken in Wuhan or Beijing. The annual candlelight vigils that are held every June 4 to commemorate the massacre that brought the Tiananmen Square protest movement to an end are only the most ostentatious flouting of Beijing's official line. More subtly subversive messages are carried by Hong Kong media constantly, and as the economy of China has liberalized, it has become increasingly difficult for Beijing to prevent PRC citizens from being exposed to them. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:56 PM


FBI Finds 'No Intel Indicating Antifa Involvement' in Sunday's Violence: Trump wants to designate Antifa a terrorist organization despite lack of authority and zero evidence of wrongdoing. (Ken Klippenstein, 6/02/20, The Nation)

The FBI's Washington Field Office "has no intelligence indicating Antifa involvement/presence" in the violence that occurred on May 31, according to an internal FBI situation report obtained exclusively by The Nation. That same day, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he would designate Antifa a terrorist organization, even though the government has no existing authority to declare a domestic group a terrorist organization. Following the president's tweet, Attorney General William Barr said in a statement, "The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly." 

The FBI report, however, states, "based on CHS [Confidential Human Source] canvassing, open source/social media partner engagement, and liaison, FBI WFO has no intelligence indicating Antifa involvement/presence." The statement followed a list of violent acts like bricks being thrown at police and a backpack containing explosive materials, which were flagged by the FBI under a "Key Updates" section of the report. The FBI has been issuing such reports daily since the weekend, according to an FBI source, who added that none of these documents contained any evidence of Antifa violence.

The report did warn that individuals from a far-right social media group had "called for far-right provocateurs to attack federal agents, use automatic weapons against protesters." (The Nation is withholding the name of the group in order to not disrupt any potential law enforcement investigations.)

Last year, FBI documents obtained by this reporter showed that the Bureau has listed "racially-motivated extremist groups" among its top counterterrorism priorities. While those priorities did include white supremacist groups, they also included what the FBI called "Black Identity Extremists." The documents reveal that the Bureau linked "retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement" to the "shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri," from which the Black Lives Matter movement originated.

The report, marked "For Official Use Only," was provided to The Nation by an FBI official on the condition of anonymity.

Posted by orrinj at 7:48 PM


Exclusive: Most Americans sympathize with protests, disapprove of Trump's response - Reuters/Ipsos (Grant Smith, Joseph Ax, Chris Kahn, 6/02/20, Reuters) 

Even in rural and suburban areas largely unaffected by the demonstrations, most people expressed support. A little more than half of rural residents said they were sympathetic to the protesters, while seven out of 10 suburbanites agreed.

Forty-seven percent of registered voters said they planned to support Biden in the Nov. 3 election, compared with 37% favoring Trump. Biden vowed not to "fan the flames of hate" in a speech on Tuesday about the unrest.

Posted by orrinj at 7:47 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Story of the Really Weird Night Richard Nixon Hung Out With Hippies at the Lincoln Memorial (HOWARD MEANS, MAY 17, 2016, The Washingtonian)

Nixon, it turned out, couldn't sleep Friday night--and couldn't stop talking, either. Between the end of his 10 pm press conference and 3:30 the next morning, the White House logged 50 phone calls from the President, eight to national-security adviser Henry Kissinger alone. Shortly after the last call, Nixon roused his valet, Manolo Sanchez, to ask if he wanted some hot chocolate. Sanchez declined, but Nixon wasn't discouraged. Had Sanchez ever seen the Lincoln Memorial, the President persisted. The valet apparently had not, and with that, the Night of the Weird began.

"I said, 'Get your clothes on, and we will go down to the Lincoln Memorial,'" Nixon said in a version of events he dictated for the record several days later. "Well, I got dressed, and at approximately 4:35, we left the White House and drove to the Lincoln Memorial. I have never seen the Secret Service quite so petrified with apprehension."

With cause. Protesters had already gathered at the memorial in advance of Saturday's demonstration against the war, against the Kent State dead, against, most personally and viscerally, Richard Nixon himself. But a man on a manic high, as the President almost certainly was, and the commander in chief of the world's largest army and his own Secret Service, as he constitutionally was, is not easily dissuaded.

A famous photograph captures the next scene: Nixon in suit and tie, the ski-nose profile tilted slightly forward, a handful of sleepy-eyed demonstrators listening in shock and dull amazement, maybe wondering what drug could have produced such an apparition, as the President reprised his press-conference triumph for an early-morning audience who, stranded on the Mall, hadn't watched a moment of it.

"I said I was sorry they had missed it because I had tried to explain in the press conference that my goals in Vietnam were the same as theirs--to stop the killing, to end the war, to bring peace...There seemed to be no--they did not respond. I hoped that their hatred of the war, which I could well understand, would not turn into a bitter hatred of our whole system, our country, and everything that it stood for. I said, 'I know you, that probably most of you think I'm an SOB. But I want you to know that I understand just how you feel.' "

That's the President's official account. The protesters would tell an alternate version to the press who descended on them that morning. Nixon mentioned Vietnam, but when that drew a tepid response, he moved to other topics. What college were they attending? One student was at Syracuse University, a chance for the commander in chief to talk about football. Another was from California--on to surfing.

Both accounts are in keeping with a President obsessed with war matters, battered by Kent State, challenged by small talk (aides commonly fed him three-by-five cards for such moments), and physically brave, but as the sun began to rise and word of the night visitor spread, even Richard Nixon had to acknowledge that it was time to leave.

Haldeman caught up with the presidential party at about 6:15, but not back at the White House. Manolo Sanchez had never seen the famous "well" of the House of Representatives, either. Having roused security there, the President was sitting at one of the House desks as his valet took to the same podium used for State of the Union addresses.

From there, and now also with press secretary Ron Ziegler in tow, the presidential entourage proceeded to the Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue for breakfast. Back at the White House finally and still unable to sleep, Nixon wandered over to the Old Executive Office Building to greet the soldiers who were just waking up in their sleeping bags on the fourth floor. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Bill de Blasio Has Failed: Like the president, New York City's mayor has shrunk from sight amidst anti-police protests. (Alex Shephard, June 2, 2020, TNR)

Asked about video showing two police cars plowing through a crowd in Brooklyn, Mayor Bill de Blasio was unambiguous: It was actually the protesters' fault. Although he described the video as "upsetting," de Blasio said it was "inappropriate for protesters to surround a police vehicle and threaten police officers." The officers, he continued, had no choice but to "get out" of an "impossible" predicament. "If the protestors had just gotten out of the way we wouldn't be talking about this situation," he said.

It was de Blasio at his most obtuse, no small accomplishment given his seven bumbling years as mayor. He had surely seen video that proved that his description of events was inaccurate--the police were not surrounded, they chose to drive through a crowd. Later, he praised police officers for displaying "restraint" over the weekend. The NYPD's Sergeants Benevolent Association, possibly the nastiest police union in the country, repaid his kindness by doxxing his daughter Chiara, who was arrested while protesting in Manhattan on Sunday evening. The Sergeants Benevolent Society tweeted out an internal arrest report, which contained her drivers license and address, something the NYPD does not usually do.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Optics Over Substance (HANNAH YOEST  JUNE 2, 2020, The Bulwark)

Before the president came out to speak, peaceful protesters gathered on the north side of Lafayette Square--where the buildings were still covered in graffiti from the night before, when police beat back protesters with tear gas, flash bangs, and pepper balls. Waiting for the president's address, the protesters chanted "Hands up don't shoot," "Take a knee," and "Lock them up." At 6 p.m.--an hour before the curfew of 7 p.m., newly instituted that day by Mayor Muriel Bowser--the D.C. National Guard joined police in riot gear on the other side of barriers erected along the Square.

It had been announced that the president would speak at 6:15, but the Rose Garden podium remained empty. At about 6:35, the police began to fire tear gas and flash bangs against the crowd to clear the roads in front of Lafayette Square. Police then charged the protesters, violently beating them back.

All this happened within earshot of the reporters still waiting in the Rose Garden, who looked around as they heard the commotion. It is under these conditions that the president finally walked out to deliver a speech in which he declared himself "an ally of all peaceful protesters" before then threatening to deploy the U.S. military if governors fail to end the riots:

First, we are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now. Today, I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.

If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.

The networks broadcast these ominous remarks on a split screen: On one side, the president in the Rose Garden; on the other, peaceful protesters running away from police. Loud bangs and sirens were audible.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


52 per cent of Americans say Donald Trump is a RACIST (NIKKI SCHWAB, 6/01/20, DAILYMAIL.COM)

A Yahoo News/YouGov poll found 52 per cent of U.S. adults believe the president is a racist, while another 37 per cent of those polled said he was not.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Four Extremist Groups Suspected of Involvement in Protest Violence (Masood Farivar, June 01, 2020, Voice of America)

White supremacists   [...]

[A] growing number of individuals inspired by far-right ideology have carried out deadly shootings in recent years. The violent elements of the far right are known as "accelerationists" because they seek to accelerate a race war. FBI Director Christopher Wray has said that most of the FBI's domestic terrorism investigations involve white supremacist groups. [...]

Boogaloo Boys  

A relatively new incarnation of the anti-government militia movement, the Boogaloo Boys are an online community of pro-gun activists who advocate for a second boogaloo, their term of choice for civil war. The movement took off last summer when white supremacists appropriated the term for a cause of their own: a race war as opposed to a civil war, according to Megan Squire, a professor of computer science at Elon University. Mostly, though not exclusively, white, Boogaloos have been promoting themselves as libertarians fighting tyranny, according to Squire.  

Antifa   [...]

Organizing on social media, antifa followers show up at right-wing rallies dressed in black and wearing masks and often engage in violent confrontations.      

Antifa sympathizers were among counter-protesters at the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned violent.      [...]

Anarchists   [...]

"For the most part, the anarchists we see here in the United States tend to be more disenchanted with the progressive left," said Brian Levin, a professor of criminal justice at California State University.   

But anarchists thrive on the right as well. The Bay Area National Anarchists, for example, "envision a future race war leading to neo-tribal, whites-only enclaves to be called "National Autonomous Zones," according to SPLC.  

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Twitter suspends fake antifa account tied to white nationalists (Ina Fried, 6/02/20, Axios)

Twitter said Monday that it has suspended an account named "ANTIFA_US" which it says was tied to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa. Over the weekend, the account had called for violence and its posts had widely circulated online.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


St. John's clergy: Trump used church as prop, Bible as symbol of division (Ursula Perano, 6/01/20, Axios)

Rector Gini Gerbasi said she was helping the Black Lives Matter organizers, fellow clergy and others hand out water during the peaceful protest when the tear gas and rubber bullets were fired. "That man turned it into a BATTLE GROUND first, and a cheap political stunt second," she said of Trump.

"We were literally DRIVEN OFF of the St. John's, Lafayette Square patio with tear gas and concussion grenades and police in full riot gear," Gerbasi said. "We were pushed back 20 feet." She said she was OK but "shaken" by the ordeal.

What else they're saying: Mariann Budde, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, D.C., told the Washington Post on Monday she was "not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop."

Trump held a bible in his hand while standing outside the church for only a few minutes. Budde tweeted later that the president "used a Bible and a church of my diocese as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our church stands for."