July 7, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 8:08 PM


The People v Mahmoud Abbas: are the Palestinian Authority's days numbered?  (Dr Ramzy BaroudJuly 6, 2021, MEMO)

Claims that the Palestinian Authority's days are numbered are now heard frequently. This is especially so following the torture to death on 24 June of a popular Palestinian activist, Nizar Banat, 42, at the hands of PA security goons in Hebron (Al-Khalil).

The killing of Banat -- or "assassination" as some Palestinian rights groups describe it -- however, was nothing unusual. Torture in PA prisons is the modus operandi, through which Palestinian interrogators extract "confessions". Palestinian political prisoners in PA custody are usually divided into two main groups: those who are suspected by Israel of being involved in anti-Israeli occupation activities; and others who have been detained for voicing criticism of PA corruption or 

In a 2018 report by Human Rights Watch, the group spoke of "dozens of arrests" carried out by the PA "for critical posts on social media platforms". Banat slotted into this category perfectly, as he was one of the most persistent and outspoken of critics, whose many videos and social media posts exposed and embarrassed the PA leadership of Mahmoud Abbas and his ruling Fatah party. Unlike others, Banat named names and called for severe measures against those who squander Palestinian public funds and betray the causes of the Palestinian people.

Banat had been arrested by PA police several times in the past. In May, gunmen attacked his home, using live bullets, stun grenades and tear gas. He blamed the attack on Fatah.

His last social media campaign covered the scandal of the almost-expired Covid-19 vaccine doses which the PA received from Israel on 18 June. Because of public pressure by activists like Banat, the PA was forced to return the Israeli vaccines which, before then, were touted as a positive gesture by Israel's new Prime Minister, the far-right, ultra-nationalist Naftali Bennett.

READ: PA's Abbas dismisses senior official for criticising extrajudicial killing of Banat

When the PA men descended on Banat's house on 24 June, the ferocity of their violence was unprecedented. His cousin, Ammar, spoke of how nearly 25 PA security personnel raided the house, pepper-sprayed him while he was still in bed, and "began beating him with iron bars and wooden batons". After stripping him naked, they dragged him into a vehicle. An hour and a half later, the family learned of his fate through a WhatsApp group.

Despite initial denials, under pressure from thousands of protesters across the West Bank, the PA was forced to admit that Banat's death was "unnatural". The Justice Minister, Mohammed Al-Shalaldeh, told local television that an initial medical report indicated that Banat was subjected to physical violence.

Posted by orrinj at 9:18 AM


Germans see better ties with US since Biden took office: poll (Deutsche-Welle, 7/07/21)

The YouGov survey of 2,000 respondents found that 66% believed relations had improved between Germany and the US, and 19% said nothing changed.

Last year, a similar poll found that only 19% of Germans viewed the US as a friendly ally. The figure jumped to 42% this year.

The number of Germans who consider the US ill-disposed to their country fell from 27% last year to 11%.

Posted by orrinj at 9:16 AM


Patriot Front's Disastrous Philly Event Was Just Their Latest Recruiting Drive (Tess Owen, July 7, 2021, Vice News)

Patriot Front, a youth-oriented white supremacist group, were hoping that they'd come away from their midnight flash rally in Philadelphia on July 3 with a slick propaganda video they could use to recruit prospective members. 

The group, which embraces a fascism-meets-Americana aesthetic, has been recently trying to raise its public profile by showing up en masse in cities, catching local cops, media and counterprotesters off guard, and getting footage of themselves marching "unopposed." 

No such luck in Philadelphia, home of the unofficial anti-fascist mascot Gritty, whose residents have exhibited little patience for brazen displays of white supremacy in the past. Late on Saturday night, about 200 members of Patriot Front arrived in the city packed into three large Penske moving trucks, and were confronted by local residents who had gathered to chase them out of town. 

While fleeing, members of the group deployed smoke bombs to obscure their retreat. Police Officer Michael Crum told a local news station that the group "literally ran away from the people of Philadelphia."

Posted by orrinj at 9:13 AM


Trump 'stunned' chief of staff John Kelly by praising Hitler: new book (Travis Gettys, July 07, 2021, Raw Story)

Former president Donald Trump "stunned" his then-chief of staff John Kelly by praising Adolf Hitler, according to a new book.

The Guardian obtained a copy of the forthcoming book, "Frankly, We Did Win This Election," by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender, which reported the twice-impeached one-term president's remark while on a visit to Europe to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

"Well, Hitler did a lot of good things," Trump told Kelly, according to the book.

Trump made the remark after Kelly "reminded the president which countries were on which side during the conflict" and "connected the dots from the first world war to the second world war and all of Hitler's atrocities," Bender reported.

Posted by orrinj at 8:56 AM


Tucker Attacks Black Congresswoman: 'Not Smart Enough for a Real Job' (Justin Baragona, Jul. 06, 2021, Daily Beast)

Despite Carlson's claims to the contrary, Bush--who is in her first few months as a congresswoman--is a registered nurse who went on to work as a nursing supervisor and was also a pastor of a St. Louis-area church.

Carlson, on the other hand, has jokingly bragged in the past that he's "extraordinarily loaded" from his trust fund and doesn't need to work. Furthermore, despite both CNN and MSNBC canceling his shows and firing him, Fox News hired Carlson in 2009. 

Posted by orrinj at 8:28 AM


Southgate and his team are ambassadors of an England that belongs to us all (Sunder Katwala, 7/07/21, CapX)

What the Three Lions song really captures for me is what it means to be a nation. Win or lose, these are the moments that millions of us share together. They create memories and legends that become part of the story. Those mentioned in the lyrics - "Bobby belting the ball, when Lineker scored, and Nobby dancing" - can be joined by new memories, of great goals, saves and near misses; of the fear of the penalty shoot-out, or the catharsis of overcoming it. As Gareth Southgate has said, every game has the potential to create new memories and legends for supporters - the biggest games most of all.

The Three Lions anthem mattered to me a generation ago because of how Euro '96 helped to change the English footballing culture. It fostered a softer, more inclusive kind of pride and patriotism, that was particularly noticed by black and Asian fans, and by those of all backgrounds going to watch games with their children. "Football is coming home - and it's a home we all share" says Imam Qari Asim, chair of the Imams and Mosques advisory board. He is supporting the #EnglandTogether campaign in which a range of civic and faith voices are inviting everybody to celebrate how an inclusive England is coming together behind our team, tweeting #ItsComingHome and #EnglandTogether with images of support for the team.

Euro 2020 has strengthened that sense of inclusive pride, despite initial controversy over the team's determination to continue taking the knee after some fans booed in the pre-tournament friendlies. Those arguments largely subsided once the football itself began. Most fans supported the decision to take the knee. For younger people and the majority of black and Asian supporters, the team's stance has strengthened the sense that Gareth Southgate and his young, talented and diverse team are ambassadors of an England that belongs to us all. Almost all of the sizeable minority who would have preferred the players to choose a different anti-racist gesture, particularly older supporters, have moved on to get behind the national team.

So only the tiniest fringe of the Twitterati are involved in the performative unpopulism of pretending to support Croatia, Germany and Denmark against England. We should be wary of turning our national team into a culture war battleground. So it is a good day to hold out an olive branch to those engaged in their own gesture politics of boycotting the Three Lions. This should be a moment for everybody and it is not too late for them to join in and cheer on their home team tonight.

Because if Gareth Southgate's proved anything, it's the appeal of being an empathetic bridger. His pre-tournament essay spoke of his own strong sense of patriotism being about pride in tradition - playing for Queen and country, pageantry and national service. And he reflected too on how younger generations - like the players he mentors - may have a different balance of emphasis in how they voice their own national identity. A caricature can't capture a team that sees no contradiction in proudly singing the national anthem, then choosing to take a knee before kick-off.

It matters that we have something that brings us together in England. In a democratic society, we have plenty of things we can disagree about - and we are a more anxious and fractured society than we would want. Finding things we have in common creates a shared sense of identity, promotes contact between people with different backgrounds and experiences and pushes back against prejudices. Inclusive patriotism is one of the strongest forces binding society together.

Posted by orrinj at 8:19 AM


Antarctic base could be powered by wind and batteries alone (Sophie Vorrath, 7 July 2021, Renew Economy)

A New Zealand research base on Ross Island, Antarctica, could feasibly be powered by 100 per cent renewables using a combination of wind turbines, battery storage and smart controls, according to a plan proposed by Hydro Tasmania subsidiary, Entura.

Posted by orrinj at 8:14 AM


Man Who Joined 'Fight for Trump' Crowd at Capitol Siege Posed as Antifa, Discussed Molotov Cocktails With His Self-Styled Militia: Feds (JERRY LAMBE, Jul 6th, 2021, Law & Crime)

According to the complaint, Duong on Jan. 13 told the undercover agent that he was filming rioters inside the Capitol while "wearing all black in an effort to look like a member of Antifa." Short for anti-fascist, "antifa" is a catch-all term for an amorphous collection of left-wing activists. Those who oppose the movement tend to depict it as a group, rather than an inchoate collective.

While Duong purportedly jockeyed into infiltrate antifa, the FBI quickly became part of Duong's group, which was referred to as "a Bible study," but included "firearms and other training events" such as physical fitness training, "hand-to-hand combat," and training in driving skills. The group also had their own private chat server "to ensure the group could have more secure communications."

During a group meeting at Duong's home in late-March, he allegedly told attending members that he was inside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6 but was careful to make sure that he kept a mask on at all times to avoid being identified by law enforcement.

An associate described in court documents as a member of the far-right militia group Three Percenters "addressed Duong's group at a meeting at his house in Alexandria, Virginia on March 20, explaining that some of the people that went into the Capitol were smart and wore a mask, and as a result, law enforcement could not identify them," according to the complaint.

Three Percenters get their name from the myth that it represents the portion of colonists who participated in the American Revolution, a notion debunked by historians.

"In response, Duong raised his hand and laughed, stating 'I was wearing all black and wearing two different kinds of masks,'" the complaint stated.

Duong then provided a description of the "Japanese style mask" he wore, which authorities were then able to match against publicly available footage from inside the Capitol.

Posted by orrinj at 8:05 AM


Xinjiang Denialists Are Only Aiding Imperialism (Gerald Roche, 7/06/21, The Nation)

Americans have a history of rejecting the facts of unjust violence abroad. The tactic is most associated with right-wing Holocaust denialism. The historian Deborah Lipstadt traces American Holocaust denialism back to interwar historians and their criticisms of America's decision to enter World War I. Unlike denialists, these revisionists had truth on their side. Britain had falsified reports of Germans' using babies as target practice, mutilating civilians, and committing other acts of brutality in order to lure America into the war.

Post-World War II critics adopted similar strategies, often portraying the Germans as victims and the Allies as aggressors. But Germany had actually committed mass murder this time. And so revisionists became denialists. They claimed that the Holocaust had been fabricated to coax America into another European war. For these right-wing denialists, the point was never about what had happened to the victims. It was about making domestic political gains. And if that involved supporting abhorrent regimes and refusing to acknowledge their crimes against humanity, so be it.

Although these denialists mostly aimed to promote US isolationism, others have followed, pursuing different agendas using the same techniques. These have included anti-imperialists on the left who, in order to critique American empire, dismiss obvious truths and question whether well-documented massacres ever happened.

Most notorious among anti-imperialist deniers are Edward S. Herman and David Peterson. In their book The Politics of Genocide, they argue that most accusations of genocide are justifications of US imperialism in the name of "humanitarian intervention." Looking for US interests behind every report of genocide, they even invert the role of victim and perpetrator in the Rwandan Tutsi genocide, portraying the post-genocide government as a tool of US empire. Noam Chomsky, despite his otherwise nuanced views on genocide, legitimized these arguments by providing a foreword to the book.

For many anti-imperialists, the need to denounce US empire is reason enough to support any of its opponents. And if those opponents commit atrocities, their abuses can be denied. Xinjiang is just the latest iteration in this pattern. The specific identities of the Xinjiang denialists don't really matter, and I have no intention of inflating their cause by naming them or linking to their work. What brings them together is a tireless effort to debunk every aspect of the "mainstream" narrative about Xinjiang, and to scream "got his ass" at anyone who refuses to debate their ludicrous ideas.

To understand the perversity of this denialism, you don't have to believe every think tank report and news item about Xinjiang; indeed, there are good reasons to approach all of these critically. Nor do you have to agree that what's happening to the Uyghurs constitutes genocide (though I do). This is because what these anti-imperialists deny is much broader than the application of a term in international law. They deny basic facts of history.

Although, to be fair, Donald and his supporters don't really deny the Uighur genocide so much as approve of it because they are Muslims.