US News

Five “Obama scandals” that seem ridiculous in the Trump era

Obama scandals
  • The US has become so accustomed to the scandals of Donald Trump that some great Obama controversies now seem anecdotes
  • Obama received raging attacks for bumping fists with his wife, ordering Dijon mustard with the hamburger or taking a photo with a selfie stick

Obama scandals

United States policy is full of decisions that are subject to international criticism. But beyond its large measures of geopolitical or economic or human rights, presidencies are also marked by personal controversies that define the character in a country where leadership has a lot of charisma.

When Trump says he wants to put a pit with crocodiles and shoot immigrants on the border with Mexico, many voices rise up shocked, but drop by dropping their eccentricities are normalized. Besides Trump’s controversies, some of Barack Obama’s personal “scandals” seem ridiculous. Here, some picturesque examples.

That time he made a “terrorist greeting” with his wife

Before even being a candidate, Barack Obama already showed his sinister intentions, in Republican eyes. At a rally in Minnesota, he even greeted his wife not with a kiss on the cheek or a handshake, but with a clash of fists. Fists! A few days later, a FOX News presenter wondered on her show: “A clash of fists? A greeting? A clash of terrorist fists?” ED Hill never got to explain why bumping fist is a terrorist thing, but he did apologize. It was not worth much: the program was taken away that same week.

When he used a helmet to ride a bicycle

There are not many people who know that the 2014 war in Ukraine, for their adversaries, seemed to be Obama’s fault. The Russian invasion came a month after he committed the irresponsibility of putting on a helmet to ride a mountain bike. According to the theory of Bill O’Reilly, today fired for chaining sexual harassment with another, it was impossible for Putin to respect the US when Russian President took pictures riding on bareback and the American … put on a helmet to ride cycling! He practically went around asking Russia to invade a country, in his opinion.

When he put on a light suit

Provoke a Russian invasion, come in, but this … In August 2014, Obama left the press room of the White House wearing a coffee-colored milk suit. It wasn’t blue, nor black, it was beige. “Intolerable”. One of the star reactions on television was the one who said that with his choice of suit “he confirmed that he was a Marxist”, but there is an excellent trail of barbarities. The FOX News presenter who said Obama “looked like a circus tamer for lack of the top hat” also scores very high for his creativity.

When he ordered Dijon mustard on his hamburger

In the US, French fries are called “French potatoes”, except for a small period just before the Iraq War in which the House of Representatives decided that in their cafeteria they would be called “freedom potatoes”, to punish the wicked French who opposed the Bush invasion. That’s why one wonders what Obama thought when, on September 2009, he went to do something as American as eating a hamburger and had no other occurrence than to ask for it only with mustard … from Dijon. Not only did he not put ketchup on him, but he chose a French seasoning. They called him elitist.

When it was recorded with a selfie stick
We all thought that nobody could do anything more terrible than wearing a helmet, wearing a light suit or eating mustard, but in 2015 Obama recorded a video with a selfie stick in the White House. And meanwhile, he put weird faces in a mirror. The video was intended to convince young people to get medical insurance, but that did not soften the critics: “non-presidential,” “little presidential,” “lowers the presidency” …

A huge concern for the institution of the presidency that, four years later, has disappeared. Apparently, it is phenomenal for the presidential institution that Trump threatens his political rivals with jail or asks for a foreign country to influence elections in the United States.

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US News

65% of the US population believes that racist opinions are more common since Trump’s election

Several people participate in the 31st annual march in honor of Martin Luther King Jr
  • Four out of ten respondents in a recent survey by the Pew Research Center think that racist opinions are more admissible than before the US president came to power.
  • 63% of the population believes that the legacy of slavery continues to affect the current position of the black community in American society.
  • Three-fourths of black and Asian respondents and 58% of Latinos say they have suffered discrimination or been treated unfairly.
Several people participate in the 31st annual march in honor of Martin Luther King Jr
Several people participate in the 31st annual march in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, United States. EFE

It was one of the most repeated warnings by organizations and activists after the arrival of Donald Trump to power. They feared that their xenophobic rhetoric would translate into an increase in racist episodes throughout the country. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center concludes that two-thirds of the US population, 65%, believe it has become “more common” for people to express racist opinions since Trump was elected president in November 2016. This percentage rises 76% and 75% in the cases of black and Latino people, respectively.

Four out of ten respondents, in addition, think that these types of comments are more admissible than before, according to the study, based on 6,637 interviews conducted at the end of January.

Likewise, more than half of the population surveyed, 56%, believe that the Republican leader has worsened interracial relations with his management compared to 15% who argue that they are better now. This is also the majority vision among those who suffer racism, that is, Afro-descendants, Hispanics or Asians interviewed – 73%, 69%, and 63%, respectively -, compared to 49% of the white population that think about it

The data contrasts, on the other hand, with the number of people who believe that there was progress in interracial relations when Barack Obama was president, which amounts to 37%, compared to 25% who think they deteriorated. “The vast majority of black, Hispanic and Asian people believe that the biggest problem is that people do not see discrimination where it really exists,” said the Pew Research researchers responsible for the study, Juliana Menasce, Anna Brown and Kiana Cox.

The results of the survey of the US research group reinforce the data provided by other organizations such as Southern Poverty Law Center, which have documented the increase in groups that spread hatred “against racial, ethnic and religious minorities” throughout the country. In 2018, they registered the existence of 1,020 groups, compared to 892 accounted for in 2015. FBI statistics analyzed by the Southern Poverty Law Center conclude that hate crimes skyrocketed to 7,106 in 2017, an increase of 17%.

Another report published by Pew Research on April 15 reflects that the number of Americans who argue that Jews endure discrimination in the United States has increased by 20% since 2016. However, Muslims are considered to face greater difficulties than other groups in society: 82% say that those who profess the Islamic religion are discriminated against.

63% think that the legacy of slavery still weighs
About six in ten Americans say that interracial relations are bad, according to the previous poll by the US center. 71% of black respondents share this vision. In fact, this population shows skepticism that at some point they will achieve equal rights with white people: half of the Afro-descendants surveyed believe that this option “is too unlikely.”

The data reflect, in addition, 63% of the interviewees consider that the legacy of slavery, abolished more than 150 years ago in the North American country, continues to affect the position of the black population in the current American society. This opinion is defended by a huge number of black respondents, eight out of ten, who also think that the country has not done enough to achieve racial equality.

Likewise, most people think that being black or Hispanic adds difficulties to people when it comes to getting ahead, compared to 59% who say that being white help. However, the perception here also varies between those who experience racism and those who do not.

Among those who argue that being black hurts when it comes to opportunities, Afro-descendant respondents are much more likely than whites to point out “racial discrimination, less access to well-paid jobs and less access to good schools” as main reasons. White, however, tends to point out “family instability and lack of good references to follow” as important obstacles for blacks.

The figures also show that a huge majority of the racialized population – about three quarters of the black community (76%) and the Asian community (75%), and 58% of the Latino community -, claims to have suffered discrimination or have been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity “at least occasionally.”

The analysis of the US research group concludes that the degree of discrimination experienced by Hispanic people is greater the darker their skin. “Darker skin color is also associated with a higher probability of affirming that people have acted as if they suspected them as if they thought they were not intelligent, that they have been treated unfairly in work-related situations, which they have suffered insults or jokes or feared for their safety, “says Pew Research.

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US News

“Don’t kill him, it’s just a beer”: the murder of an African-American teenager who shocked the United States

Several people participate in the 31st annual march in honor of Martin Luther King Jr
  • Dorian Harris, a 17-year-old African-American boy, was shot dead by a store clerk in Memphis after having a two-dollar beer.
  • Anwar Ghazali has just been convicted of the homicide, which caused protests and aggravated racial tensions in the southern city, which at the time of the event commemorated 50 years of the murder of activist Martin Luther King.

On March 30, 2018, Dorian Harris, 17, entered the store The Top Stop Shop in  Memphis, from which he left moments later with a beer in his hand, which was carried without paying openly, passing in front of the clerk. Immediately  Anwar  Ghazali came out from behind the counter with a gun in his hand and chased the young African-American, to whom he shot three shots in the street. Then it was placed back in the box to charge the next buyer. Harris’s body was found two days later by a neighbor who followed the trail of his blood. Neither the clerk nor the clients reported the incident to the police.

The murder shocked this city in the southern United States – which in those days commemorated 50 years of another murder, that of activist Martin Luther King – and multiplied the historic racial tensions in the state of Tennessee. A year and a half later,  Ghazali has been convicted of manslaughter this Thursday. The sentence, which will be issued next month, can mean up to 60 years in prison.

“Don’t kill him. Don’t kill him. It’s just a beer,” shouted Beverly Lovers on, one of the people who were in the store when the crime occurred, and whose testimony was heard this Thursday at the trial. Lovers on also assured the judge that he regretted not having denounced what happened.

“They just left him there to die and I believe, with all my heart, that if they had called the police and made known that they had shot someone, my grandson would be alive today,” said Harris’s grandmother, Effie Fitch,  in statements to the newspaper The Commercial Appeal.

In the days and months after Harris’s death, dozens of protesters protested in front of the store and organized a boycott of the business. In addition, relatives and friends of Harris mounted a candlelight vigil on the street where he died. The controversy caught the attention of Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, Berenice A. King, who was in Memphis to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of his father’s murder. On Twitter, the activist wrote: “If we do not value African-American lives and believe that Dorian’s life is worth less than an allegedly stolen beer, then we are not honoring my father with authenticity.”

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US News

Ibram X. Kendi: “Racism and capitalism arise at the same time and have fed each other”

Don't kill him
  • “The term ‘non-racist’ not only has no meaning but also implies that there is a safe space outside where a person can be when there really is no neutrality,” he says.
  • “When you add the first and second amendments you have a mass murder, as happened in El Paso, ” he says.

It is a memory that still disturbs Ibram X Kendi. It was the 1990s and Kendi, a senior in high school, had to deliver a speech at a speech contest held in honor of Martin Luther King.

“When we think of the United States in the 1990s, we think of a period in the history of the country in which members of both parties [Republican and Democrat], people of all races, perceived that the rise of violent crimes between African-American youth, especially in city neighborhoods, was a consequence of a problem of African-American youth and the growing percentage of single-parent households, “he says. The historian describes this context: “Many people came to think that the root of the problem was that something was wrong with young African-American mothers.” 

“Both whites and African Americans thought that something was wrong with African-American youth: they did not give enough importance to education, they only thought about having sex and getting pregnant and” their parents had not educated them well. “That was the decade in which African Americans were labeled as  “superpredators Kendi had internalized these racist notions and embodied them in a speech to thousands of young people, mostly African Americans, and the public cheered him.

“On a day that should have served to value African-American youth – in fact, [the students] represented all the positive aspects of African-American youth – all I could think about was all the negative aspects of youth African American. I completely internalized all those racist ideas because most of them were instilled in me by adults, “Kendi says. 

Kendi is a sweet-voice giant, who collects dreadlocks in a ponytail and wears a suit with a handkerchief in his jacket pocket. This charismatic historian and writer are becoming one of the most prominent intellectuals who reflects on racism. He was born in the New York neighborhood of Jamaica, in Queens, during the presidency of Republican Ronald Reagan. His parents met in 1970 at a conference focused on African-American theology, which he describes as “the notions that Christianity, for the African-American Christian, must be a form and a source of liberation, that Jesus is black, that God is black, that the Church must be relevant to the black community. “

His parents became pastors and instilled in him a fusion of Christian ideas and black power. As a child, I listened to his parents’ eternal debates about how to fight racism to ensure that African-American people “could be really free in the US.”

During his student stage, he changed his middle name. After learning the role played by the Portuguese explorer Enrique the Navigator in the slave trade, he decided that he no longer wanted his middle name to be Henry (Enrique in English) and became Xolani (‘be peaceful’ in the Zulu language). Later,  according to The New Yorker magazine, coinciding with his wedding, he and his wife decided to call themselves Kendi, which means “the beloved” in Meru’s Kenyan language.

With training in journalism and African-American studies, his doctoral thesis analyzed the radical black student movements of the sixties. In 2016 he won the National Book Award with the book Stamped from the Beginning Trampled from the beginning); an essay that seeks to tell “the definitive history of racist notions in the US”.

In the era of Donald Trump and populism, his new book, How to be anti-racist, could not be more necessary. In essence, it is a seemingly simple idea that, somehow, when read, allows us to understand an obviousness: anyone who really wants to fight racism should not identify as “non-racist” but as “anti-racist”. In fact, for Kendi, US history can be perceived as a struggle between racist and anti-racist ideas.

“I think that most people around the world are taught to believe and believe in themselves that they are not racist,” he explains. Even people who are manifestly racist are often not identified as such, says Kendi, from colonizers and slave owners to white nationalists of the 21st century. “I am the least racist person in the world,” said Trump, a racist president, in July. “I don’t think people realize that by presenting themselves as ‘non-racist’, they identify essentially in the same way as white supremacists,” says Kendi.

The affirmation of “not being racist” does not imply having to fight racism. On the other hand, being anti-racist implies internalizing a thought that directly confronts that of racism.

According to Kendi, racists argue that “some racial groups are better or worse than others,” while an anti-racist person “actively expresses that all racial groups are equal.” In his opinion, there is no middle ground. Either we support systems and policies that promote racial inequality, enthusiastically or passively, or we actively combat them. “Therefore, the term ‘non-racist’ not only has no meaning but also implies that there is this kind of safe space outside of which a person can be when there is no neutrality. Or we are racist or anti-racist,” Kendi keeps. For this reason, he decided to write this book, in which he explains why he could not define “non-racism” and wanted to answer those who asked: “

How to apply anti-racism

What implications does this reflection have in practice? On the one hand, American anti-racist movements have demanded that the damage caused to the racialized population be repaired during centuries of systemic oppression and injustice. His claim has been caricatured as the issuance of a blank check to African-American citizens, but in a 2016 manifesto, the Movement for Black Lives coalition detailed what it could mean: universal access to education for all African-Americans; income that covers your basic needs; a national curriculum that focuses on the legacy of colonialism and slavery; and access and control of food, housing, and land.

“The average wealth of whites in the US is approximately 10 times greater than that of African-Americans, so there is a huge racial wealth gap,” says the historian, who also adds that this gap is increasing. How would it be possible, Kendi asks, to reduce, not to mention, eliminate that gap without reparations? This reflection is an anti-racist idea in action.

What role do the media play in legitimizing racist ideas and their integration into society? Muslims, immigrants, and refugees face demonization and hatred, for the notions promoted by very different media groups, from Fox News to the British right-wing media. Kendi pauses and, with a slight smile and carefully measuring his words, states that “to begin with, the mainstream media must recognize that historically they have been a dissemination platform for racist ideas.” “Throughout history, the media have reproduced racist ideas, often without knowing it,” he emphasizes.

Then there is the question of how the extreme right has tried to shield hate speech, specifically the right to use public platforms to incite hate, on the grounds that it is “freedom of expression.” Kendi points out that it is worse than that: just as the second amendment of the US Constitution gives Americans the right to possess weapons that are then used to kill their fellow citizens, the first amendment, aimed at protecting freedom of expression, can safeguard the right to incite racism.

“When you add the first and second amendments you have a mass murder, as happened in El Paso, ” he says. Kendi refers to the situation of discrediting and talking without filters: shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater and cause a fatal stampede. In front of El Paso, Christchurch, Pittsburgh, and Utøya, what counterargument is there?

An incorrect idea about Trump is that his electoral victory came in the absence of racism and that, therefore, racism promoted by the State is a new phenomenon. Kendi argues that it is no accident that Trump’s victory came immediately after that of the first African-American president of the United States. In the era of Reconstruction that followed the American civil war, the “Radical Republicans” fought passionately for the equality of those previously enslaved. Then came the segregation and laws of Jim Crow, Ku Klux Klan, lynching and racist oppression. The historian believes that the notion of a “post-racial society” simply perpetuates the myth that inequalities are not caused by racist policies, “because we are post-racial, we no longer have a racial problem.” 

After all, history is not a story of constant progress, but of victories followed by setbacks and defeats. “It is crucial that we continue denouncing Trump’s racist attitudes, but at the same time, we must recognize that they reflect and represent the history of the United States and that, even if we free ourselves from Trump, we will not get rid of racism,” he says.

Trump has acknowledged that racism against African Americans, Muslims and Latinos is ubiquitous and has promoted a campaign based on this fact. However, racism did not begin with Trump. What about George W. Bush, who partly owes his presidency to the deprivation of the right to vote of African-American citizens of Florida? And what about your response to Hurricane Katrina? What about  Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill, which led to the “greater mass incarceration of racialized populations in US history”, or of their “welfare reform”, which excessively penalized minorities? What about Reagan, who vetoed sanctions against South Africa from the apartheid and used populist expressions impregnated with racist notions such as “queen of social welfare” [when referring to people who, in his opinion, abused public aid] to reaffirm the notion of unworthy African Americans?

What is most revealing of Kendi’s ideas is how racism and neoliberalism have been merged, which justifies the decline of the public sphere in favor of the market, deregulation and drastic reduction of taxes on the rich. After World War II, the consensus in the West was that society was full of collective injustices that could only be solved with collective solutions. This prompted the foundation of the welfare state and public health in the United Kingdom. In the United States, he staged the “Great Society” and the “War on Poverty” by Lyndon Johnson. Both in the Reagan era and in that Thatcher era the notion that problems such as unemployment or poverty were a matter of character and personal, moral defects. 

“This was a revolution against the idea that the root of economic and even racial inequalities were public policies,” says Kendi. “Therefore, these new revolutionaries argued that the problem was not politics, but people.” It was a convenient argument to rationalize the growing inequality: those above deserved to be there, as did those below. “The problem was these lower racial groups, although they did not use the term ‘inferior’; they only used populist expressions,” he emphasizes.

This explains, in part, the strong reaction of whites against minority struggles for equality. As the phrase says: “When you are accustomed to privileges, equality feels like oppression.” Kendi adds that “since they are convinced that equal opportunities exist, you will perceive the claim for true equal opportunities as an attack on you and your livelihood.”

In addition, Kendi argues, it was also convenient for them to divert responsibility for the injustices caused by the powerful. If people believe that immigrants, Muslims or African Americans are to blame “for they’re own economic and social problems,” politicians who have caused injustice no longer have to account. This thought also perpetuates divisions within the working class. “In the US the working class has never been cohesive, has always been fragmented among racial groups” and prevents weaving the solidarity ties that would be necessary to progress. Kendi is also clear that the stories of racism and capitalism cannot be separated. “Racism and capitalism emerged at the same time, in Western Europe of the fifteenth century,

The future of “anti-racism”

Kendi feels hopeful. It points to the rise of “the Squad” (‘the Squad’ in English), as a new generation of racialized young congressmen is known, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar. Trump has launched racist attacks, and has asked women who have US citizenship (three of them were born in the US) “to return to the places they come from, completely plagued by crime and made dust.” Meanwhile, his followers shouted, “give it back!”

Kendi believes that ‘the brigade’ embodies something that is especially threatening not only for Republicans who support Trump but also for many moderate and progressive Democrats. It represents this young and anti-racist movement among racialized people who question and want to redefine the United States. They are detested for being too young, too radical or having a too dark complexion. It is also claimed that they will destroy the United States. Instead, Trump presents himself as the antithesis and asks citizens: “In a context of the confrontation between us and them, who are you going to support?”

Ibram X. Kend
The four congressmen who suffered the racist comments of Donald Trump: Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley EFE

For all these reasons, the big question is: how to end Trump’s speech? The historian has no doubt: racism gave him the presidency and anti-racism will take it away. While Kendi has not publicly supported any Democratic candidate, he defends clearly Democratic policies such as Medicare for All. “[Universal public health] is an anti-racist measure, since blacks and other racialized people are by far the most unprotected groups and those most likely to fall very sick or die as a result of untreated health problems.”. It also defends the legalization of marijuana and the cancellation of student loans. 

A few days have passed since the death of the iconic American essayist and novelist Toni Morrison. Kendi finds inspiration in the writer’s legacy and acknowledges that the Nobel Prize for Literature books have had a profound impact on her work: “We cannot separate American literature from Toni Morrison, especially in the last fifty years.” The fact that Morrison has contributed to inspiring a new generation of anti-racist writers, such as Kendi, is hopeful in the present context of tension. Racism, together with economic and social injustice, is at the root of the current crisis in the US. Starting from Kendi’s thinking we have the opportunity to discover an antidote to the seemingly eternal political horror.

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World Politics

Bahrain responds to UN criticism by increasing repression against activists

The bareiní human rights defender Nabil Rajab. EFE
  • “We will not waste time listening to the words of a high commissioner who has no relevance or power,” said the Bahraini foreign minister.
  • The last detainee was Nabeel Rajab, founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and one of the country’s most recognized defenders
  • In the context of the intensification of the repression, on June 14 the justice minister announced the closure of the offices of the main opposition party, the Wefaq Muslim National Society.
  • The resurgence coincides with the celebration of the United Nations Human Rights Council and, according to several activists, it is not accidental.

The bareiní human rights defender Nabil Rajab. EFE

“We will continue the path of reform initiated by our king, without allowing anyone to alter our stability and security. We will not waste time listening to the words of a high commissioner who has no relevance or power.” This is what Jalid al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, referred to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which holds its 32nd session from June 13 to July 1.

The representative thus faced, on Twitter, criticism of the abuses of his government launched by different countries during the inaugural session of the HRC. Specifically those of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, who criticized the repression of the Bahraini government against its citizens.

The last detainee was Nabeel Rajab, founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and one of the country’s most recognized defenders. His arrest on the morning of June 13 is part of the resurgence of repression carried out by the Jalifa monarchy against any form of opposition to its policies and which has been increasing since the beginning of the 2011 citizen protests.

The arrest of activists is not the only measure that the Jalifa monarchy has taken in recent days. On Tuesday, June 14, the justice minister announced the closure of the offices of the main opposition party, the Wefaq Muslim National Society. The authorities froze all their accounts and arrested the party leader, accused of “inciting the instability of the country.”

It is no accident that this resurgence occurs just now, coinciding with the celebration of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, a governmental body that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR, or UPR) English, from Universal Periodic Review), a mechanism that examines the human rights situation in the UN member states and which Bahrain now faces.

Oil sponge and police state

“Bahrain does not care about the UN, and wants to make it clear to its citizens and to the world that they will not be governed by what these types of organizations mark them,” says Bahraini blogger Mohammad Hasan in a telephone interview with Eldiario.

Bahrain is not the only one to openly show its contempt for the United Nations system, in a context of the growing weakness of the UN and human rights protection mechanisms. According to Hasan, Bahrain only follows the inertia of other really relevant countries, such as its ally Saudi Arabia, which in 2011 entered Manama with tanks to support the monarchy in its repression of protesters.

“Saudi Arabia openly shows its contempt for the United Nations system. They make it clear that they want to exhibit the weakness of these agencies and reaffirm their domestic and hegemony policies in the region, without anyone being able to stop them.”

Bahrain, a country of only 500,000 inhabitants, is a small oil sponge that has become a police state in which the minority of Sunni confession that holds power controls and discriminates against the Shiite majority. Among its milestones, it is worth being a pioneer in establishing GPS control systems for the movements of its inhabitants.

According to opposition activists, since the beginning of the protests in 2011, the victims of clashes between police and protesters protesting against the increase in repression against the Shiite majority have not ceased. According to the government, “it is Iran, in its attempt to advance its Shiite hegemony in the region, who is behind the destabilization of the country.”

“The tensions in Bahrain do not come because we do not know how to live between Sunnis and Shiites,” journalist Reem Khalifa said in an interview. “They are given by institutionalized discrimination by a group of people in power against others, even taking away their nationality, leaving them stateless. In fact, my country is the Gulf country with the greatest religious diversity and coexistence ever has been exemplary. “

Without civil protection mechanisms

The repression of governments such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and many others in the region such as those of Israel, Syria or Egypt against the civilian population in general and human rights defenders in particular, also mentioned in the framework of the HRC, highlights the increase in impunity and the practical absence of civilian protection mechanisms.

“The mentions in the Council and the Universal Periodic Review processes are important, but the truth is that there are no real measures to control government abuses such as Bahrain,” says Hasan. “If this repression occurred in other countries, we would see sanctions of all kinds. With Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, as rich allies of the West, we will see nothing more than rhetoric. Just as there are companies that generate so many benefits that become untouchable, there are countries that generate so many interests that they also become untouchable.”

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World Politics

Bahrain, a wrong way to peace in Palestine

Bahrain, a wrong way to peace in Palestine

After more than seventy peace plans and initiatives to end the conflict in Palestine (all of them failed), confidence in a just, global and lasting resolution is scarce today, as is the ability to invent a novel way. However, Jared Kushner, on behalf of the Trump Administration, has long been determined to announce that his still unknown plan is unlike any other and that, in addition, it will be final. A message that Washington now reinforces on the occasion of the international economic meeting that begins this Tuesday in Bahrain and, except for a miracle, seems also doomed to failure.

To reach that negative augury, it is enough to take into consideration the following points:

  • The so-called “agreement of the century” has not yet been presented, so participants in the Manama workshop (Kushner has not dared to call it a conference) are being asked to commit their investment funds and sign commercial contracts to blind Conditioned by the Israeli electoral calendar – with Benjamin Netanyahu forced into a new call  that seriously endangers his personal and political position – his postponement has long been delayed, while some rumors have been leaked interestingly, in any case, Doubt about its true reach.
  • Hamas has not been invited and the Palestinian Authority has not only rejected its presence in Bahrain as a sign of total distancing with an openly pro-Israel administration and has closed all channels of dialogue with the Palestinian authorities, but the class itself is doing Palestinian business. Entrepreneurs are frustrated after so many broken promises. Along the same lines, both Egypt and Jordan (despite their clear subordination to Washington) have indicated that they will only send their vice-ministers of finance and even Israel itself has shown a little disguised ambiguity about the level of its representation. As for the European Union, only Poland (increasingly aligned with Trump) has announced the sending of a first-level delegation.
  • The formula for ‘peace for prosperity’ is anything but novel. The attempt to buy peace by economic means was already at the base of the so-called Oslo Accords, trying to convince the Palestinians that their signature on the documents produced than would immediately mean a substantial improvement in their level of well-being. Time soon was responsible for confirming that the standard of living of the employed population (and of refugees) not only did not increase but fell sharply. And so it was not only because the commitments acquired in the successive donor conferences were never fulfilled nor were the agreements reached in the so-called MENA Conferences (which sought to encourage the participation of international investors and entrepreneurs),
  • Six wars and two intifadas later it seems clear that the Palestinians will not give up on their political objective of one day having their own State. It is true that being the weak part of the equation, they do not have the slightest option of defeating the occupying power by force, but it is also true that Israel has not achieved, despite its undeniable superiority, eliminating that aspiration even by the force or the purchase of wills at any price. In spite of the internal fragmentation that weakens them even more, it seems clear that the dignity of the Palestinian people is a wall sufficiently resistant to the avalanche of projects (there is talk of about 175) listed by Kushner and his team in a gesture that seems most a letter to the Magi, hoping that it is the Arab countries and international investors who put their money into play (happily estimated at about 50,000 million dollars). It is still shocking that he himself The US that has cut all economic aid to the Palestinians, is the same that now drives an economic route (with money from others) as a method of resolution.
  • Without ending the occupation begun in 1967, it is impossible to imagine a minimally attractive future for the Palestinians. The key to one day leaving the tunnel in which Palestine has been so long involved does not happen by reverting old projects, such as the construction of a land link between Gaza and the West Bank, or returning to the eternal dream of turning it into a new Singapore or a new tourist emporium. The true beginning of the road to peace – assuming that the solution to the conflict cannot be economic, but political – imperiously passes to end the Israeli occupation started in 1967 and, of course, nothing can be taken for granted if agreements are not reached. balanced over borders, Jerusalem and refugees.

If it is taken for granted that all that Washington should also know, the organization of the meeting in Manama is only explained by the high self-esteem that characterizes both Trump and Kushner, believing that his negotiating ability is infinite and that, combining the stick and the carrot, they will overcome all obstacles. The alternative explanation is no less reassuring: it seeks to stage a Palestinian frontal rejection in order to justify, on the one hand, that there is no interlocutor for peace and, on the other, that Netanyahu’s Israel feels stronger to take the next step, annexing the part of the West Bank that it considers necessary. In those we are.

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World Politics

The Caravan ‘Opening Borders’ makes its stop in Seville with Palestine as the protagonist

Arrival of the caravan breaking borders 2019 to Seville
  • The Caravan Opening Borders arrives in the Andalusian capital on its tour of southern Spain to make visible the struggle for human rights.
  • “Breaking down walls, building bridges” is the motto with which these almost 300 volunteers from all over the world travel through towns such as Motril, Tarifa, Melilla or Lepe.

Arrival of the caravan breaking borders 2019 to Seville

The 47º C that marked the thermometers of the Andalusian capital has not served as an impediment for the Caravan Opening Borders to make its stop in Seville this Friday. Its objective is to make solidarity visible towards migrants and refugees.

The Caravan Opening Borders is a network of volunteers from various associations that were born in 2016 and travels through different countries ensuring the rights of displaced people. Among its activities are informative talks, round tables or the organization of fleets with humanitarian aid to places like Palestine. His latest tour, Frontera Sur 2019, is touring some cities in southern Spain and northern Morocco such as Tarifa, Granada or Ceuta, respectively, as a gateway for migrants.

This Friday the city that has hosted the Caravan has been Seville. At 12.00 and with a warmth of this city, a total of five buses have parked next to the Isabel II Bridge, popularly known as the Triana Bridge. From them, the almost 300 volunteers who are part of this project in which there is a clear majority of women have begun to leave. They are people who come from different parts of the World- “It is the most international caravan we have ever had,” say some. They are between 20 and 60 years old and many of them carry flags of Palestine, the main protagonist of the actin Seville. Others carry banners with phrases denouncing immigration policies.

Following the words of some of its spokesmen with those who have compared the border walls of the countries with “bleeding wounds” and with those who have denounced “the absolute blockade suffered by Palestine since 1948 and continues to cause daily deaths” They wanted to call the solidarity of the rest of the citizens: “It is necessary to remove consciences, shake them, we cannot be oblivious to the suffering of others, we must fight for a better world in which people matter and not economic interests.”

At their stop in Seville they have staged the breaking of borders on the Guadalquivir River

Breaking River Borders

Many of them call for the immediate closure of the Foreigners’ Internment Centers, the well-known CIES, as well as the unlocking of the policies of the State of Israel, especially when ships with humanitarian aid try to reach Gaza. For this reason, they wanted to organize a show on the Guadalquivir River under the slogan “let’s break down walls, build bridges.” In their performance, they have simulated the breaking of a border formed by a line of canoes linked together. The ship with which they have crossed this particular wall was full of posters that claimed human rights. From the top of the bridge, you could see several banners that read phrases like “no borders” or “no walls”

To the exhibition have been added music, dances, songs for freedom and many, many applause. With this, the Caravan Opening Borders tries to give visibility to its project to “build sensitized and active citizenship with refugees and migrants”, as it says on its website.

Cristina García de Andoín, one of the journalists who travels with them, tells that they have passed through many places but one of the ones that most caught her attention was the reception in the Ceuta neighborhood of El Príncipe, because they were waiting for them with food, parties and round tables with experiences: “Ceuta is very special. Young migrants cannot walk freely in many areas of the city because they are persecuted but with the Caravan, they felt safe and supported”, something that stands out as one of the most beautiful experiences that they have lived during the tour they are doing in southern Spain and this Saturday ends in Lepe.

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World Politics

United We can send a new proposal to the PSOE to resume negotiations for a coalition government

The acting government president and socialist candidate for the presidency of the Government,
  • United We can launch four different proposals for the organization of a coalition government to the PSOE.
  • The negotiations ended in July without agreement and without investiture of the socialist candidate, Pedro Sánchez, who has until September 23 to raise support to retry the investiture.
  • The negotiating team of United We will be formed by Pablo Echenique, Ione Belcarra, Jaume Asens, Yolanda Díaz, Enrique Santiago and Juantxo López de Uralde.

The acting government president and socialist candidate for the presidency of the Government,

Pablo Iglesias has just sent a new document to Pedro Sánchez, of 119 pages, with programmatic proposals to resume the negotiations where they stalled in July for a coalition government between the PSOE and United We Can.

The Confederal table of United We met this Monday afternoon in Madrid to approve the proposal sent this morning and to define a negotiating group, formed by Pablo Echenique, Ione Belarra, Jaume Asens, Yolanda Díaz, Enrique Santiago and Juantxo López de Uralde.

The negotiations at the end of July ended without agreement and without investiture for the socialist candidate, Pedro Sánchez, who has until September 23 to raise the necessary support to retry the investiture. Otherwise, there will be election replay on November 10.

The last negotiations began when Sanchez veto Iglesias as a hypothetical vice president – “I need a vice president who defends Spanish democracy,” accused the leader of United Podemos -; and the subsequent resignation of the latter to enter the Government. From there, while the investiture debate was taking place, the two parties moved offers and counteroffers, which ended with a break in the negotiations for “an empty supply of competencies” of the PSOE, according to United We can – presidency; Ministry of Equality; Health; and Social Economy–.

24 hours after the second vote, the vice president, Carmen Calvo, said after the Council of Ministers that the “way” of the Coalition Government was closed, while United Negotiator Pablo Echenique, asked to the president of the Government that did not go “on vacation to continue negotiating.”

The impasse has lasted until Tuesday, in which United We can ask to return to the negotiations, and offer four possibilities of Government to the PSOE:

Proposal 1: Vice Presidency of Social Rights and Equality; Ministry of Labor, Migration and Social Security; Ministry of Health; and Ministry of Housing and Social Economy. 

Proposal 2:  vice-  high  Social and Equality; Ministry of Ecological Transition; Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities; and Ministry of Housing and Social Economy.

Proposition 3:  vice-  high  Social and Equality; Ministry of Ecological Transition; Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities; and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Empty Spain.

Proposition 4:  vice-  high  Social and Equality; Ministry of Labor, Migration and Social Security; Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities; and Ministry of Culture.

The document sent by Iglesias to Sánchez to “ resume the dialogue from where it was left in the month of July, when the shortage of time prevented an agreement with the PSOE, and as soon as possible form a coalition government as it already exists in many other European countries and also in our country at the municipal and regional level “also includes a series of programmatic proposals,” based on the second version of the document Spain Advances that the PSOE made public last July and in the Budget Agreement for 2019 that United Podemos and the PSOE already signed last fall. “

Among the proposals of United We can find raising the SMI to 1,200 euros at the end of the legislature, ensuring the updating of pensions to the CPI by law and repealing the 2012 labor reform; universalize the public network of schools from 0 to 3 years so that any family you want can access it; match paternity and maternity leave and make them untransferable; guarantee public services in the villages as well as adequate connectivity; the closing of the revolving doors and the creation of a police unit specialized in institutional corruption that depends on the judges; lower rental prices, avoid speculation and guarantee the right to housing; establish a minimum effective rate of 15% with a solidarity surcharge for banks, so that it gradually returns the bank bailout; ambitious objectives to reduce CO2 emissions; promote an ambitious climate change law; reform the electricity market to advance renewable energy and lower the electricity bill.

“This coalition government can become a reference throughout Europe that demonstrates that a social and democratic exit to the economic crisis is possible. We intend to work hard to build a new Europe that puts people and their rights at the center”, they affirm in United We Can.

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World Politics

Salvini wants to run Italy and is about to get it

Giuseppe Conte, Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio attend a session in the Lower House

A new and dangerous phase of Italian populism begins: the Nationalist League party is ready to devour its coalition partner
The League of Salvini has gained strength after the overwhelming result in the European and has launched a motion of censure to remove the 5 Star Movement
Steve Bannon had already planned a conflicting end for the coalition government in Italy: “They will rule together, but Salvini is the true leader,” he said.

Giuseppe Conte, Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio attend a session in the Lower House
Giuseppe Conte, Matteo Salvini, and Luigi Di Maio attend a session in the Lower House

The second act in the Italian populism drama is beginning and is a confrontation between the protagonists that made the first possible. The League has gained strength since the 2018 elections and is fed up with the 5 Star Movement (M5S), its partner in the government coalition. The feeling is that this is the time to accumulate all power and put its leader, Matteo Salvini, as prime minister.

Steve Bannon had already anticipated that something like that would end up happening. “They will rule together, but Salvini is the true leader because Luigi Di Maio, leader of the M5S, looks like Emmanuel Macron,” said theorist of the US populist wave who took Trump to the White House in 2016 just a few days after the agreement. The Italian coalition never ceased to be a strictly tactical alliance because populism always ends with a single leader.

The general elections last year, the first act of this new Italian political phenomenon, radically changed the rules of the game with the emergence of a strong populist majority among the electorate. But the coalition government that resulted has exposed abysmal differences between the partners. In the elections to the European Parliament on May 26, the League won twice as many seats as the 5 Star Movement.

For Salvini, it was the signal that the time had come to launch the second act. To verify whether it is realizable or not, the League has initiated a motion of censure against the current Prime Minister, the lawyer Giuseppe Conte, who on Tuesday lives his moment of truth in the Chamber of Deputies.

The project is to remake Italian populism in the image and likeness of the aggressive nationalism of the League. More ambiguous in its positioning, the 5 Star Movement is perceived as a lot of losers.

We are facing a rebellion of the Italian middle classes. What began as a protest against inequality, migrants and corruption, has gained strength by generating new conflicts and enemies. Now what they want is a strong leader rather than a complex alliance of poorly defined ways.

The nationalism of the League aims to close ports to immigrants, impose fines of up to one million euros to anyone who helps a refugee at sea, vote in Strasbourg against the new president of the European Commission and turn the next Italian budget into an Open rebellion against the fiscal rules of Europe.

With Salvini at the helm, everything takes place in a public spectacle of crucifixes and prayers on the beach, with the vocabulary of the ultras of the world of football and the tribal exaltation of an ethnonationalism identity. Hostility towards immigrants and the duel with Europe are the two pillars that win votes to Salvini and pulverize the M5S, whose commitment to a basic income to “defeat poverty” has proved too vague to be created by anyone.

Now Salvini prepares to go against his former allies. To get rid of it, the 5 Star Movement should have been transformed into a credible government force and a guarantor of stability. Or what is the same, move from protest to the art of governing. They were not able to do it because they were linked to an ideology against growth and that led them to make a series of mistakes.

It was a mistake to oppose the nomination of Rome for the 2024 Olympic Games and that of Turin for the Winter Games in 2026. It was a mistake to oppose a high-speed rail link between France and Italy, to a new highway in the north from Italy and an oil drilling project in territorial waters off the coast.

The 5 Star Movement has given the impression of opposing the modernization of the country and the result has been to lose leadership in the protest movement with its annihilation in the regional elections, first, and with its humiliation in the European elections, later. The possible motion of censure against Conte could now leave them without the prime minister.

In this new phase of Italian populism, the nationalists would rise to power with a probable agreement between Salvini and the Brothers of Italy, the Giorgia Meloni far-right party, bringing the country a little closer to the model of Poland and Hungary. To try to stop his former comrades in arms, the M5S will have to make the desperate decision to sink orally with traditional parties.

The next time is aggression and conflicts. With Salvini in charge, the second act of Italian populism will be a tough battle against anyone who tries to get in the way. Their adversaries will have to choose: launch a frontal challenge at the polls or form a coalition government bringing together all the anti-Salvini forces of the current parliament. In any case, the confrontation will be a kind of referendum on national identity and the relationship with Europe. In Italy, the next phase of the political battle is going to be a duel between the extremes.

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The Italian Prime Minister announces his resignation after the crisis unleashed by Matteo Salvini

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announces his resignation Tuesday in a speech in the Senate with Interior Minister Matteo Salvini
  • Salvini began on August 9 the so-called ‘mojito crisis’ by announcing from the beach the rupture of the coalition with the 5 Star Movement and the presentation of a motion of censure against the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte.
  • “The Government stops here. I will listen to all the speeches and then I will go to the Quirinal to resign,” said Conte.
  • “I am a free man and I am not afraid of the judgment of the Italians. Here there are free men and others who are less free. Those who are afraid of voting are not free,” Salvini said.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation Tuesday during a speech in the Senate following the crisis unleashed by Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announces his resignation Tuesday in a speech in the Senate with Interior Minister Matteo Salvini

“The current crisis definitely compromises the experience of this Government, which stops here,” Conte said during his speech. “I will listen to all the speeches and then I will go to the Quirinal to resign,” he added.

” Salvini’s decision violates the solemn commitment made with the government contract,” Conte denounced. “The moment of Salvini’s decision exposes the country to serious risks,” added the still prime minister, who has also accused the Interior Minister of pursuing personal and partisan interests and of “lack of constitutional culture.”

Salvini, leader of the ultra-right-wing League formation, has responded to the prime minister: “I would do the same thing again. I am a free man and I am not afraid of the judgment of the Italians. Here are free men and others who are less free. who are afraid to vote are not free, “Salvini responded in the Senate session.

Salvini started on August 9, known as the ‘mojito crisis’. Between beach and beach, music, dances, friends and mojitos, the Interior Minister broke the coalition with the 5 Star Movement (M5S), called for general elections as soon as possible taking advantage of the pull of the polls and announced a motion of censure against Conte.

“I ask the Italians to give me full powers to be able to do what we have promised without stones in the shoe. Whoever chooses Salvini knows what he chooses,” the political representative announced during one of his vacation rallies along the coast.

A few days later, Salvini’s order to seize power experienced his first defeat. The Italian Senate, with the votes of the M5S and the Democratic Party (center-left), overthrew the proposal of the ultra-rightist to expel Conte. Then, the Chamber set an appearance of the prime minister for this Tuesday.

“Dear Giuseppe, today is an important day. The day when the League will have to answer for its faults for having decided to tear it all down, opening a crisis in mid-August, on the beach, just for using the polls. Today in the Senate. M5S ministers will be by your side, “Luigi Di Maio, deputy prime minister, and leader of the 5 Star Movement said shortly before the session. “Whatever happens, I wanted to tell you that it was an honor to work together in this Government,” he said.

Several sectors of the M5S and the Democratic Party, including former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, advocate an alliance between the two parties to avoid holding elections and a foreseeable victory for the League.

Minutes before the speech of Conte in the Senate, followers of the League and the 5 Star Movement have faced the doors of the Senate. Salvini’s followers have demanded elections and those of the M5S have shown their support for the prime minister.

Salvini has referred during his speech to his immigration decisions. “And or I have not had to go talk to Merkel to ask for advice to save the election campaign because Salvini had closed the ports. I have done it and will do it again if the Italians give me the opportunity. Endpoint,” he said. “If there are those who agree with clandestine immigration, they have nothing to do with me. Regarding sovereignty: freedom is not about having a fair boss, but about not having a boss. We have the freedom to defend our borders and beaches,” has added.

“I answer only to the Italian people, neither to Merkel nor to Macron, only to men, women, and children, and I am not ashamed to say, children who have a father and a mother,” said the ultra-rightist.

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