The Prime Minister Of Armenia Has Resigned

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

The Prime Minister of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, has stepped down following days of mass demonstrations in the streets of the capital Yerevan over what was seen as an unconstitutional power grab by the former president.

Sargsyan previously served two, five-year terms as president of the former Soviet Republic. First elected in 2008, he served as the country’s head of state until he was appointed prime minister earlier this month.
Armenian policemen detain an opposition supporter during a rally in central Yerevan on April 21, 2018, held to protest former president Serzh Sargsyan's election as prime minister.

Over the weekend Nikol Pashinyan, an opposition MP and leader of the protests, was arrested but was released Monday shortly before the announcement.
“Nikol Pashinyan was right. I was wrong,” Sargsyan said in a statement published on the state-owned Armenpress website.
“The situation has several solutions, but I will not take any of them. That is not mine. I am leaving office of the country’s leader, of Prime Minister. The street movement is against my tenure. I am fulfilling your demand. Peace, harmony and reasoning for our country,” he said.
Sargsyan took office as Prime Minister after being elected by parliament on April 17, eight days after his presidency ended.
His handpicked successor, Armen Sargsyan, no relation, was sworn in as President on April 9.
Under constitutional changes promoted by Serzh Sargsyan in 2015, the office of prime minister in Armenia became more powerful than that of president leading to concern of authoritarian rule descending on the country.
Sargsyan had previously said he would not try to become prime minster.
Reports and video posted on social media showed scenes of jubilation in the capital Yerevan.
Sargsyan, 63, was a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Why Is The American Government Committing Treason Against Every American

Why Is The American Government Committing Treason Against Every American

 

There are going to be some folks who will be mad at me for insinuating such a thing about our government, some will call me unpatriotic for saying such a thing. Well, honestly, I think that the vast majority of the American People aren’t quite as naive as we were 50 years ago, or even say, one year ago.  I know that I am not the wisest human being to ever walk this planet but I have spent most of my 60 plus years trying to pay attention to reality. We all know by now that there are good and bad people in every profession. There are some professions that we all believe or joke about as being dirty whether it be so or not, like door to door magazine salesmen, used car dealers, bankers, insurance salesmen, NSA personnel, politicians, and oil executives. I have tried to always be completely truthful in everything I write on this site, always to the best of my knowledge and ability, and that is what I am going to do in this article.

Treason, yes treason, that is what I said. The first duty of any government is to keep its people safe. If they forsake this most basic vow, they are guilty of treason against their own people and this is what has been going on now for a very long time. Nothing this bad can last forever without horrible consequences and at any moment all of our lives can be changed in a flash. Back in 1980 I worked at a major U.S. oil company headquarters in Houston Texas in the executive protection field, I learned there just how easily major politicians can be bought and paid for with absolutely no regard for the welfare of the country by either the politician or the company. These actions I witnessed and heard sickened me to my core so I quit and moved many states away from that job.  Some of the things I heard there would make you mad, sick, or just laugh at some of the pure stupidity and out of touch with reality they could be there in their ivory towers.

For many years I have traveled all over the United States many, many, times. I am going to tell you some of the things I have seen and that I know are absolute truth. When you travel through west Texas and you go through the Midland, Odessa area on interstate 20 you are going through the Permian Basin. This is where the best crude oil in the world is at, it is the oil that the rest of the world’s oil is judged by, this is the land that the Bush family worked, lived, and prospered in. If you look out in the fields on each side of the highway especially if you travel at night you will occasionally see vertical lights out in the fields, these are oil drilling rigs digging for the black gold. Does it make any sense to still be drilling? Most folks would say yes, I think. But now, if you travel west Texas, Oklahoma, California, Wyoming, or North or South Dakota you will see something that might surprise you, at least at a minimum, even in west Texas, half or more of all the pump jacks are turned off and the new holes that get dug are then capped.

Now, do you ask why? Good question, now I am going to start telling you why I think that you and I and everyone in our country are having our safety sold out, it’s all about money and greed folks. I have some friends in these High Plains areas who work in these fields and have been told the same thing goes on up there, wells get dug, then capped. You probably know of this oil pipeline that Canada and some U.S. companies want to lay pipe for from Canada down to the Gulf Coast but the government won’t approve it because environmental organizations don’t want it running through sensitive land areas in places like Nebraska. Here is a thought, I know for a fact that there are oil refineries in states like Wyoming and Montana, why does the oil pipeline have any need to go all the way to the Gulf Coast, is it so the oil companies can export it? We have been told for decades now that we don’t have the oil storage or refining capabilities that are needed. Why not? Create more jobs in these western states, build a lot more storage areas and the needed amount of oil refineries there to handle the new oil we are finding on our own land and if Canada want’s to run this joint pipeline adventure into the States there is plenty of unused government land to build these facilities on. These things should have been done many years ago for the reason of National Security, your security, my security, and the security of all of our families have been at stake for years, but we were then and now still being sold out.

Back as far as the early seventies our people learned that we are not and island unto our selves, that events outside of our borders can badly harm us. With the OPEC oil embargo OPEC countries cut way back on what they would sell us because we dared to back Israel. What has our government done to correct this national security issue? What is our current government doing now to correct this major safety issue? President Obama wouldn’t approve the Canadian pipeline, and he all but killed the cola industry and the nuclear industry is being phased out, plus there are many, many oil fields that the government wouldn’t give drilling permits for. But now, President Trump seems willing to give drilling permits just about anywhere except off the east coast of Florida where he has personal business interests. Yet still, where are the new refineries and storage units for all the oil we are producing and the gas we are producing on our own shores, where are they? I know that oil and gas and coal are not the only forms or energy we use in our country, but they are a huge part of it at this time. The U.S. Department of Energy say’s that in 2012 we imported 40% of the oil we consume at this time, 40% folks. In this country we have seen when we have a 2% down tick in the economy it throws us into a deep recession, at best. Folks, what would happen in this country if say even 30% of that 40% were shut off from us, that would be 12% loss. What would that do to our economy, to everyone’s lives, our jobs, our ability to get to them, also what would the cost of a gallon of gas be then?

If we the people are not the first concern for every one in our government why not? Now I am going to spout a few figures to you that come from the Independent Statistics and Analyst Department of the U.S. Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, from one of their web sites. We (oil companies) are exporting these following items, 1) Crude Oil 2) Crude Oil Products 3) Finished Motor Gasoline 4) Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel 5) Distillate Fuel Oil 6) Residual Fuel Oil 7) Propane/Polypropylene 8) here it just said “oil-oils”.  People, why is our government allowing the sale of any of this outside of our own borders? Their own stats say that we are importing 7.4 M.M.B.D. of crude oil while at the same time we are exporting 1.M.M.B.D., people, why is this being allowed. In the “Interest of National Security” these things could be stopped and corrected, why aren’t they? Money, greed?Treason?

There are many real things that could have been done already to cut down on our imports while they were building the refineries and storage facilities that are needed. Any secure nation is not secure unless it is 100% self-sufficient in its energy requirements with large energy stock piles in case of any type of attack on that country. Folks, we are nowhere near being in a safe zone. Another part of this issue is the fact that we are importing energy from countries that hate us and who are supporting militant groups so that they can attack and kill us all. How ignorant is it that you give the people who want nothing more than to kill you the weapons and the bullets to do it with? That’s what we are doing and have been doing for decades now, why is our government past and present trying to get us all killed? Is the answer the same as what I witnessed while working for that major oil company in Houston, is it all about power and greed and to hell with the people, it does seem that way to me.

One other quick issue I want to touch on before I close, again the government could have used the “for national security, or at least, for the good of the country” slogan to force these issues, and they do have the power to do exactly that in time of emergencies . Question is, why wait until you have the emergency before you make any plans or take the needed steps to survive the emergency? One of the things the government could have/should be enforcing is much more stringent MPG requirements for at least the past forty years yet President Trump just this past week canceled the higher MPG requirements. Think how much less fuel imports would be if all new cars sold in America were required to get 40 MPG in town and out, no exceptions, and all Pickups and SUV’s were required to get a minimum of 30 MPG in town and out. Why is it not a forced issue that every new vehicle made or sold in America has to be a Hybrid? These things can be done and should have been forced on the car makers decades ago. Would there have to be changes in the design and size of the units, of course. But think about it, if these laws were in effect now and our units were getting these MPG’s now how much of a savings would all of us have at the pump? Think of all the other places that money could be spent to improve our life styles and at the same time stimulate our economy. I will close now with this one very major issue. Our import export deficit is now over a trillion dollars a year and a huge portion is from imported energy. This policy is stupid and dangerous to every one of us. Our governments policies not only give our enemies the weapons they use to kills us with but in so doing, this export deficit is killing the value of our currency making the things we can buy much more expensive because the dollar is so down graded, and this hurts every one of us. So again, why the heck is our government putting every ones lively hood and lives at such risk? Is it as simple as money and greed, because they couldn’t possibly just be this stupid could they, well, maybe President Trump could, but no, in this case it is all about greed.

As I said earlier in this article, there are good and bad people in every occupation, even politics. When I lived in northern Illinois back about 40 years ago I had a real good Congressman in a man named John Anderson and I was blessed to have had an excellent Congressman when I lived in eastern Tennessee named M.D. Phil Roe. I have had contacts with Congressman Roe a few times and I beg you, if you have a good Congressman or Senator, state of federal, please try to communicate these concerns to them before we either end up with a totally crippled country, or before we’re all dead.

 

The 11 most eye-opening lines in James Comey’s ‘A Higher Loyalty,’ ranked

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

The 11 most eye-opening lines in James Comey’s ‘A Higher Loyalty,’ ranked

(CNN)Days before its official release, excerpts of James Comey’s memoir about his time as FBI Director under President Donald Trump have leaked. Actually, flooded.

There’s a lot of pieces of the Comey book — “A Higher Loyalty” — kicking around the media world at the moment. Some are salacious, others are stunning and some are just plain surreal.
I scanned through all of the available excerpts and plucked out the lines that are most devastating for Trump. Then I ranked them by level of damage they are likely to cause. Here they are, ranked from least to most problematic for the President of the United States.

11. “His face appeared slightly orange with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles, and impressively coifed, bright blond hair, which upon close inspection looked to be all his…..As he extended his hand, I made a mental note to check its size. It was smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so.”

This is, in a word, dumb. Or, in another word, petty. If Comey wanted to build the narrative with this book that he is truly committed to the good of the country rather than in selling books or scoring partisan points, he’d have been better served to leave this stuff out. Noting the size of Trump’s hands or the fact that he tans feels beneath the broader stated mission of the book: To reveal why Trump is simply not fit for the office he currently holds. Comey also mentions that Trump was shorter than he looked on TV. First off, everyone is short to the 6’8″ Comey. Second, who cares?

10. “I stared at the soft white pouches under his expressionless blue eyes. I remember thinking in that moment that the president doesn’t understand the FBI’s role in American life.”

Again, the fact that Trump has “soft white pouches” under his “expressionless blue eyes” feels more like an unnecessary jab than an essential insight. BUT, Comey’s next sentence is important — because he’s right. Trump has demonstrated time and time again that he simply doesn’t understand — or doesn’t care about — the unique role the Justice Department plays within the federal government. Yes, they work under him. But they don’t exactly work for him. He’s never seemed to get that.

9. “I had often wondered why, when given numerous opportunities to condemn the Russian government’s invasions of its neighbors and repression — even murder — of its own citizens, Trump refused to just state the plain facts…Maybe it was a contrarian streak or maybe it was something more complicated that explained his constant equivocation and apologies for Vladimir Putin.”

There’s no question that prior to the last week or so, Trump has been largely unwilling to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country as a whole. (The Syrian chemical attack and Russia’s continued support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appears to have changed how Trump thinks about Putin.)
But, we already knew that. And everything else in this excerpt is pure speculation. “Maybe it was something more complicated” isn’t exactly hard and fast evidence.

8. “Another reason you know this isn’t true: I’m a germaphobe. There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me, no way.”

This one is more salacious than anything else. But, that Trump feels the need to convince Comey that he never watched two prostitutes pee on one another is, um, something else.

7. “He brought up what he called the ‘golden showers thing’ . . . adding that it bothered him if there was ‘even a 1 percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true….In what kind of marriage, to what kind of man, does a spouse conclude there is only a 99 percent chance her husband didn’t do that?”

Don’t be too quick to dismiss this as simply salacious. Yes, there is that. But it is absolutely telling about the state of Trump’s marriage that he was asking the FBI director to prove the falsehood of the “pee tape” to his wife — almost certainly because she wouldn’t believe him.
Then there’s the fact that Trump seems to believe that proving the tape doesn’t exist to Melania Trump is a worthy use of the FBI’s time. Which is, um, something.

6. “It is also wrong to stand idly by, or worse, to stay silent when you know better, while a president brazenly seeks to undermine public confidence in law enforcement institutions that were established to keep our leaders in check.”

Comey here is echoing people like Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake who have castigated their fellow Republicans for refusing to condemn Trump when he attacks the Justice Department or the Intelligence Community. The argument is that silence is essentially assent. Only by saying, “No, what Trump is doing is wrong and should stop immediately” can Republicans hope to have a party in the post-Trump era.
Amid Trump’s ramped-up rhetoric on deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and special counsel Robert Mueller, it will be interesting to see what Republican reaction will be if the president decides to fire either (or both) of those men. Will Republicans speak out?

5. “Asking — rhetorically, I assumed — whether he seemed like a guy who needed the service of prostitutes. He then began discussing cases where women had accused him of sexual assault, a subject I had not raised. He mentioned a number of women, and seemed to have memorized their allegations.”

Two things are at work here — one not terribly problematic for Trump, the other potential more so. The first is that he demonstrates he has a massive ego and believes that he is so appealing to women that any story about him frequenting prostitutes simply can’t be believed.
The second is that he is intimately familiar with the details of the bevy of accusations made against him by a number of women during the 2016 campaign. That level of interest/obsession belies the public face of dismissal and unconcern Trump and his people have presented when confronted with the allegations.

4. “Now it was pretty clear to me what was happening. The setup of the dinner, both the physical layout of a private meal and Trump’s pretense that he had not already asked me to stay on multiple occasions, convinced me this was an effort to establish a patronage relationship.”

This is very important. What Comey is alleging here is that Trump, from the start, saw his relationship with Comey as entirely transactional. I’ll let you stay in your job as FBI director but I want something for it. That something, as we now now, was a loyalty pledge that Comey refused to give.
Trump’s approach to every encounter appears to be similar to what Comey describes here. Let’s make a deal where you get something but, far more importantly, I get something.

3. “[Kelly] said he was sick about my firing and that he intended to quit in protest. He said he didn’t want to work for dishonorable people who would treat someone like me in such a manner. I urged Kelly not to do that, arguing that the country needed principled people around this president. Especially this president.”

This anecdote is going to make chief of staff John Kelly’s life even harder than it already is. Rumors of him clashing with Trump and/or being on the way out are everywhere. Now, he’ll have to face a barrage of questions over whether Comey’s recounting of the moments right after Trump fired him are accurate. And if Kelly says they are, how can he stay in his job? If he says Comey got it wrong, will Trump even believe him?

2. “The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”

In this excerpt, Comey is comparing Trump to a mob boss. Which is a tough comparison to make when you are dealing with the President of the United States. But, Comey is right in the main when it comes to how Trump sees himself and how he leads his team. Trump must always be the strongest and toughest one in any room. He expects total loyalty from those who work for him — and works to rid his inner circle of those he believes have shown even a speck of disloyalty to him. He doesn’t tell the truth about things that are easily and provably false — largest inauguration crowd ever, millions of illegal votes cast — and then dares those around him to question him.
I don’t know any mob bosses personally but there’s not question that Comey nails Trump here.

1. “This President is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values. His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty.”

These two sentences are the most damaging thing to Trump so far in the Comey excerpts because they speak to a number of demonstrated truths. We know that Trump said more than 2,000 things in his first year in office that were either partially or entirely untrue. We know he looks at every situation as a chance to extract something for himself. That he is immensely self focused to the point of a blindness as to how his actions might be perceived by people who aren’t him. We know that he either misunderstands or chooses to ignore traditional norms for how a president acts, what he says and how he treats those who work for him.

FTC Warns Companies ‘Warranty Void if Removed’ Stickers Are Flatly Illegal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘EXTREMETECH’)

 

FTC Warns Companies ‘Warranty Void if Removed’ Stickers Are Flatly Illegal

If you’ve ever purchased a game console or other piece of electronics gear, chances are you’ve seen a “Warranty Void if Removed” sticker stuck somewhere on the device. There’s typically a peel-away tape used to confirm whether a device has been opened. If it has, companies will often attempt to deny warranty claims.

What many people don’t realize is that this is illegal. The 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act made it illegal for companies to force users to only repair hardware using specific components or via “authorized” resellers. While companies are not required to offer warranties, if they do offer a warranty, they aren’t allowed to void it simply because the customer has the device repaired elsewhere. Companies are allowed to require you to ship the device to them for warranty service or to return it to the store you purchased it from, but they can’t void your warranty just because you repaired an unrelated problem yourself. The Mag-Moss Act states:

No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on the consumer’s using, in connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or service provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade, or corporate name.

We’ve covered this issue before, but the topic is back on the radar thanks to recent FTC action. The government agency announced it has sent warnings to six specific companies, notifying them that their continued use of “Warranty Void if Removed” stickers is in direct violation of federal law. They even wrote a song about it. I quote:

When the screen goes blue
And the car breaks down
And the smartphone keeps rebooting eternally
Consumers won’t be afraid
No, they won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand by your warranty.

(The song appears in an accompanying blog post as opposed to being part of the letter. Thank God the author isn’t relying on his scansion skills for job security).

PS4Feature

This practice isn’t unique to Microsoft. Image by iFixit

The FTC didn’t name which companies it contacted, but notes that the firms in question sell “automobiles, cellular devices, and video gaming systems in the United States.” The FTC does give three examples of offending warranty language, however, which let us hone in on some of the targets by searching for the text strings directly:

“The use of [company name] parts is required to keep your… manufacturer’s warranties and any extended warranties intact.” = Hyundai.

“This warranty shall not apply if this product… is used with products not sold or licensed by” = Nintendo.

“This warranty does not apply if this product… has had the warranty seal on the [product] altered, defaced, or removed” = Sony.

The FTC continues:

FTC staff has requested that each company review its promotional and warranty materials to ensure that such materials do not state or imply that warranty coverage is conditioned on the use of specific parts of services. In addition, FTC staff requests that each company revise its practices to comply with the law. The letters state that FTC staff will review the companies’ websites after 30 days and that failure to correct any potential violations may result in law enforcement action.

Don’t put up with any BS from Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft (Microsoft has used the same types of warnings on the Xbox One). Your warranty is not void simply because you opened a box. They’re not allowed to tell you differently, and neither are firms like Apple (another likely recipient of one of these letters). This consumer-hostile bullshit is illegal, period, full stop. For more information on this topic and a breakdown of what actions can or cannot void a warranty, see this article.

‘Teflon don, Trump’ About To Go Down In The Flames Of Impeachment?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

(Is The ‘Teflon don, Trump’ About To Go Down In The Flames Of Impeachment?)

Right Turn

Trump melts down after Cohen raid — and only hurts himself

  
 April 10 at 9:00 AM 
 2:01
Trump fumes ‘attorney-client privilege is dead’ after FBI raid

President Trump tweeted his outrage at an FBI raid of his personal attorney Michael Cohen’s home and offices, calling it a “witch hunt.”

In an extraordinary series of events, the FBI executed a no-knock raid on President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen’s office, home and hotel. The president, seated alongside his top military and civilian national security advisers to discuss a response to the Syrians’ use of chemical weapons, launched into a rant in which he did not rule out firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, accused law enforcement of bias, whined that Hillary Clinton was not being prosecuted, suggested Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein had behaved improperly in signing off on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, railed again at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself (and thereby allowing the investigation proceed) and deemed execution of a warrant signed off on by a federal judge and approved by a U.S. attorney and deputy attorney general, both of whom he appointed, to be an “attack” on the country.
Let’s start with the raid. The Post reports:

Michael Cohen, the longtime attorney of President Trump, is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, according to three people with knowledge of the case.
FBI agents on Monday raided Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of the investigation, seizing records about Cohen’s clients and personal finances. Among the records taken were those related to a 2016 payment Cohen made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, according to another person familiar with the investigation.
Investigators took Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records, including tax returns, as part of the search of his office at Rockefeller Center, the second person said.
In a dramatic and broad seizure, federal prosecutors collected communications between Cohen and his clients — including those between the lawyer and Trump, according to both people.

Let us not understate how extraordinary a development this is. The standard of proof required to raid any attorney’s office is exceptionally high. To authorize a raid on the president’s lawyer’s office, a federal judge or magistrate must have seen highly credible evidence of serious crimes and/or evidence Cohen was hiding or destroying evidence, according to legal experts. “The FBI raid was the result of an ongoing criminal investigation *not* by Mueller but by the interim US Attorney personally interviewed and selected by Trump himself, pursuant to a warrant issued under strict standards by a federal judge, subject to approval by the head of the Criminal Division,” said constitutional scholar Larry Tribe. He warns that “firing Sessions or Rosenstein (or reining in Mueller) would trigger a crisis for the Constitution and our national security but wouldn’t even extricate Trump from criminal investigation of his innermost circle.” In short, Tribe concludes, “This is every bit as shattering as many have surmised.”

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What we don’t know is whether the suspected wrongdoing extends to Trump or is solely attributable to Cohen. (By referring the matter to the New York prosecutor, Mueller may have signaled this is not germane to the Russia investigation; however, any possible crimes concerning Stormy Daniels, for example, may or may not implicate Trump.) Whatever the FBI sweeps up may very well further enmesh Trump in an investigation in which what seemed like a series of separate topics — Trump’s personal finances, potential obstruction of justice, possible Russian collusion and hush money paid to a porn star — have begun to bleed into one another. Trump is as vulnerable as he has always been, in part because he plainly does not know what federal prosecutors now have in their possession and because intense pressure may be brought to bear on Cohen to “flip” on Trump.
Trump cannot take much comfort in the attorney-client privilege. For one thing, it applies to legal communications; if Cohen is acting as a businessman/”fixer,” no privilege may attach. Moreover, the attorney-client privilege cannot apply to communications that are part of a crime (e.g., a conspiracy to obstruct justice). Trump once said investigating his finances were a “red line” for Mueller; the latest move in raiding Cohen transgresses any limitation Trump could possibly have dreamed up. His reaction reflects his fury in not being able to fend off Mueller.
Trump’s response was disturbing on multiple levels.
First, Trump in essence declared war on the rule of law. “It’s, frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for,” said the president, who now equates the operation of the criminal-justice system under the rule of law to be an attack on the country. He is the country in his eyes. Those who challenge him are enemies of the country. There is no better formulation of his authoritarian, anti-democratic mindset than this.

 3:03
Opinion | Trump can fire Mueller, but that won’t get rid of the Russia investigation

Opinion | If President Trump fires the bane of his legal troubles, he could spark a legal and constitutional crisis.

Second, his tirade against Sessions should rekindle concerns that he is contemplating firing him and putting in a flunky to protect himself. “The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this, and when he recused himself,” Trump said. “Or he should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself, and we would have used a — put a different attorney general in. So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country.” That, too, is a picture-perfect distillation of his warped view of the presidency. He hands Mueller another admission that he thinks the DOJ should protect him from, instead of conducting investigations into criminal and counterintelligence matters.
Third, Trump’s attempts to discredit Mueller’s team and the FBI should highlight the necessity of Congress protecting the special counsel. (“This is the most biased group of people. These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen.”) When he says the investigation is a “witch hunt,” he may be plowing the way to fire Mueller and/or Rosenstein or refuse to cooperate with an interview. In either event, we would face a constitutional crisis.
Fourth, Trump’s insistence that his campaign has been exonerated from “collusion” (“So they find no collusion, and then they go from there and they say, ‘Well, let’s keep going.’”) is baseless. More than 70 different contacts between Trump team and Russian-related figures have been found. Multiple indictments and plea deals have been struck. The investigation continues. His false certainty that there is no evidence of collusion can now be seen as the motive for his attempts to discredit and derail the investigation, to obstruct justice, in other words.
Finally, Trump’s rambling, unhinged reaction — after his attorneys no doubt counseled him to keep quiet — should shake his supporters. The pressure of the investigation and vulnerability to prosecution and/or impeachment are not going to vanish. His family and his fix-it lawyer won’t stop Mueller. His TV friends cannot keep the FBI at bay. He lashes out like a cornered animal. The angrier and more panicked Trump becomes, the greater chance he will behave in extreme and destructive ways.
“The president cannot help himself,” former White House ethics counsel Norman Eisen told me. “Instead of doing his job as our chief federal law enforcement official and allowing the rule of law to operate unimpeded, he lashes out when he feels personally threatened.” He adds, “The president’s words were more befitting a mob don when the feds are closing in. Given Michael Cohen’s role in Trump’s past, perhaps they are. The American people will not stand for any Trump attempt to match his hostile words with aggressive action against Mueller, Sessions, Rosenstein or other DOJ officials. If he does, it will be the beginning of the end for his presidency.”
Now would be a good time for Republicans to find their spines, remember their oaths and act to insulate Mueller and Rosenstein from Trump. A simple declaration that firing either would be an impeachable offense would, frankly, be a help to Trump. He could use some outside restraint.

Former Iranian Hostages Should Not Be Compensated With American Tax Dollars

Former Iranian Hostages Should Not Be Compensated With American Tax Dollars

 

For those of us who are old enough to remember the Iranian hostage debacle where the American embassy in Tehran was over ran by ‘students’ loyal to the new Islamic Revolutionary government in the fall of 1979 was the beginning of the end for one Demon and the rise of the Devil who took his place. Now our President with the stroke of his pen has brought this event back into the news concerning payments to all the former hostages and their families is just another slap in the face of the American tax payers. For those of you who are too young to remember this event that lasted 440 days, ending the day Ronald Reagan/George H.W. Bush was sworn into office (January 20th, 1981) you need to crack open the history books and enlarge your knowledge of this event. This was a major black eye to all Americans and it did hasten the downfall of President Jimmy Carter as our President.

 

I do not blame the people of Iran for being livid with the American government for their (our) backing of their Dictator the Shaw of Iran. This monster murdered thousands of his own countrymen and imprisoned and tortured many thousands more. Our government had a long track record of backing people like him and Saddam as long as our government got things like a listening post, Airfields or Bases that we could have access to, we turned a blind eye to the murders and torturing of the citizens. Plus the fact that this gave our military industries here in America extra customers that was worth many billions of dollars to their stock holders and did help create and keep thousands of Americans employed in well-paying jobs. We had no moral high ground when it came to propping up these blood thirsty foreign leaders, it is/was no wonder that the people of Iran hated our country. But there again is the issue of reality, we the people didn’t know what was going on in Iran, but our governments security agencies did know and they still gave the Shaw the weapons to kill his own people with. It is quite stupid to believe that a countries people (here in America) should be held at charge for what they had no knowledge of yet we do teach that a person or people are (guilty by association). When a government is evil (aren’t they all) it is easy to paint the citizens of that country with the same brush their leaders are painted with. This is ignorant yet we humans do still make this mistake often in our everyday laws.

 

When a person takes a job with the government and you are assigned to one of our embassies you know very well that you just became a target for those who hate your flag and that your position comes with dangers. The people working at the Tehran embassy knew their lives could be in danger for working there yet they accepted the jobs they had and the pay checks and benefit packages that came with their position. Then there is the matter of the Marines who were guards there at that time, they darn sure knew the dangers of that job before they ever stepped foot into the compound. What I am saying is that what happened back then was part of the job that they all knew could happen, or even worse, do you remember Benghazi Libya just a few of years ago?

 

Buried deep in a federal spending bill that President Obama signed was an allocation of money to be given to those 53 former hostages (only 36 are still alive) and their families. I hate what those people had to go through at the hands of those so-called students but you and I should not have to pay each of them 4.4 million dollars as compensation plus $600,000 to each of their surviving spouses and grown kids (97) of them. If anyone should have to pay this bonus to these people it should be the then Vice President in waiting George H. W. Bush and his estate. Why should he have to pay this money? My answer to that is simple, Mr Bush (study your history) who coined the phony phrase “America doesn’t negotiate with terrorist” cut a deal with the government of Iran to keep those Americans as hostages until he and Mr Reagan took office. We (American government) gave the Iranian government missiles and other weapons to keep our people as hostages because he (Mr Bush) did not want the Carter Administration getting the credit for their release. In my opinion, Mr. Bush’s actions were criminal as well as treasonous just as his Iran Contra actions a couple of years later where we sold weapons to Iran for the cash to support our illegal (Congress said so) attempt to over through the government in Nicaragua. Now do you see why I believe that if anyone should have to put money out-of-pocket to cover these ‘bonuses’ it should be the Bush estate not the American people. Mr. Bush also signed off the hostages ‘right’ to sue the Iranian government for their country’s actions, nice caring ‘leader’ huh?

 

I am going to end this article with some numbers for you to digest. To the former hostages themselves we the tax payers are paying those 53 people a total of $233,200,000.00 plus the $600,000.00 to another 97 spouses and children totaling $58,200,000.00. Folks that is a total of $291,400,000.00 that you and I have to cough up in order to pay this bill. I as a person like seeing these people getting this life altering amount of cash, good for them, their children, and their grandchildren but you and I should not have to pay this bill. These poor souls suffered a lot during their time of being kidnapped by this Demonic Iranian horde but the fact still remains that they received their pay checks while in the employment of the American government during and after this event. Mr Bush being he is the one that negotiated with these terrorists I believe if anyone should have to cough up that money it should be the Bush family, not we the people.

 

 

FBI Raids The Office Of Trumps Personal Lawyer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

The FBI raided the office of Michael Cohen, a personal lawyer and confidant of President Donald Trump, Cohen’s attorney confirmed to CNN Monday.

One source familiar with the matter told CNN that included in the documents authorities seized was information related to Stephanie Clifford, better known as porn actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with Trump in 2006 that the White House has denied.
Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Cohen, said in a statement that the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York had executed “a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications” between Cohen and his clients.
A White House official said Trump had been watching TV reports of the FBI raiding Cohen’s office, and that Trump knew about the raid before the news broke.
Ryan’s statement called the search “completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” and said federal prosecutors had told him it stemmed partially from a referral by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller.
“I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller,” Ryan said in the statement. “… It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients. These government tactics are also wrong because Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath.”
The New York Times first reported on news of Monday’s raid.
The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the searches Monday.
A person briefed on the search told the Times that the FBI also seized emails, tax documents and business records, including communications between Trump and Cohen.
The White House official said it is unclear if Trump has spoken to Cohen.
Cohen is a longtime ally of the President, and admitted earlier this year to setting up a limited liability company in 2016 to pay Daniels. She has alleged she had an affair with Trump a decade earlier, and that the payment was hush money. The White House has denied Daniels’ allegations of an affair with Trump.
Asked about the Daniels controversy last week, Trump said he did not know about the payment and declined to comment further, instead referring questions to Cohen.
“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” Trump said. “Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”

5 Things Written by Martin Luther King Jr. That Everyone Should Read

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

Dr. Martin Luther King addresses some 2,000 people on the eve of his death—April 3, 1968—giving the speech "I've been to the mountaintop."
Dr. Martin Luther King addresses some 2,000 people on the eve of his death—April 3, 1968—giving the speech “I’ve been to the mountaintop.”
Bettmann/Getty Images
By LILY ROTHMAN

6:30 PM EDT

The words written about Martin Luther King Jr. during his too-short life and in the half-century since his assassination — 50 years ago Wednesday, on April 4, 1968 — would be impossible to count. King himself left a deep archive of writings, speeches and sermons, too. His spoken orations in particular are a powerful reminder of why he was destined to become part of the pantheon of American icons.

“One has to remember that King above all was a preacher,” says Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, chair of African American and African Diaspora Studies at the Indiana University Bloomington and an editor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Sermonic Power of Public Discourse.

While she notes that he was so prolific that it’s near impossible to choose, Calloway-Thomas spoke to TIME about the pieces of King’s work that everyone should know about. They are:

“The Death of Evil upon the Seashore” (May 17, 1956)

“The death of the Egyptians upon the seashore is a glaring symbol of the ultimate doom of evil in its struggle with good.”

This sermon was delivered to a massive crowd at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling against school segregation, at an early moment in this phase of the civil rights movement, with the Montgomery bus boycott still ongoing. To Calloway-Thomas, the sermon is noteworthy for the optimistic vision it presented at such a moment. “He had to help African-American people imagine themselves,” she says. “I think the Death of Evil upon the Seashore is that speech.”

It wasn’t the first time King preached on these ideas, and in fact the link he draws between the Biblical exodus and the story of African-American progress toward freedom and equality was an old one, but those present noted that his delivery that day was particularly moving. “He taps into that reservoir, that myth of the Hebrew children in bondage,” Calloway-Thomas says, “and he elevates it and makes it more publicly known.”

Read the full speech here

Letter from a Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963)

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Yes, this is a letter, not a speech or sermon — but Calloway-Thomas says it’s worth including on such a list anyway. After all, the circumstances that created this letter are inherently linked to the fact that he couldn’t deliver a speech in person. At the time, King found himself jailed in Alabama after ignoring an injunction against protests in Birmingham. During that time, a group of clergymen wrote an open letter urging him away from protests. He wanted to respond but, from the jail, his only option if he wanted to answer quickly was to write it down. “Ideas have moments and if those moments aren’t used, you lose that rhetorical moment and it no longer has the force it had,” Calloway-Thomas says.

So, in a format she likens to a spoken call and response, he answers the questions that were posed to him about his methods. While also explaining that he’s on strong biblical footing, he provides the public with a way to understand the work he’s doing. His rhetorical skills are also on display as he uses a story about his 6-year-old daughter’s early perceptions of racism and segregation to underline that the matter is not theoretical. In the years since, this letter has become one of 20th century American history’s most famous documents.

Read the full letter here

“I Have a Dream…” (Aug. 28, 1963)

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

The speech that remains Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous oration — one of the most famous orations in American history, if not world history — is that well-known for a good reason, Calloway-Thomas says. This was the moment when the world as a whole really saw King, and the moment was carefully orchestrated, framed by the Lincoln Memorial. “Think about how dazzling that was!” she says. “Think about the robust visuals and the lovely words echoing from Dr. King. It was an elixir that was made to circulate.”

But, she says, the power of his voice and the impact of the image can sometimes overwhelm the full message of the speech. “Dr. King had some pretty radical statements in that speech,” Calloway-Thomas adds. “Most people gloss over the part in that speech where King says that if we overlook the urgency of now there’ll be a rude awakening. I’ve never seen a student go to that section of the speech; people go right to ‘I have a dream’ and they don’t notice the threat.”

Read the full speech here

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“A Time to Break Silence” (April 4, 1967)

“We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors.”

In this speech, King publicly answers his conscience, as Calloway-Thomas puts it, on the matter of the Vietnam War. With an undercurrent of “anguish” about the fact that he feels he must speak, and must criticize the choices of Lyndon Johnson, who had often been an ally, he entered the arena of opposition to the war.

“This is an unsettling moment. People paid attention, but that meant there was backlash,” she says. President Johnson and many others felt that he ought to stay focused on domestic civil-rights issues and leave the foreign policy to them, but in this speech he makes clear why those two topics cannot truly be separated. That idea, Calloway-Thomas says, parallels the experience of earlier fighters for justice, such as Frederick Douglass, who got to the world stage with one kind of story — their personal freedom narratives, in that case — and shocked some of their allies when they showed that their thinking was far more expansive.

Read the full speech here

“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” (April 3, 1968)

“I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

Start with the date on this one: that’s April 3, 1968, the night before King was assassinated. In this speech, which summons King’s primary background as a preacher, he returns to the story of Moses. Rather than speaking on the joy of the Exodus, though, he turns to the end of Moses’ life, and his death just outside the Promised Land to which he had delivered his people. King casts himself as another leader who may not be there for the end of the journey. “He used Christian values and Democratic traditions to bring people together, so it’s not surprising that he goes to this idea,” Calloway-Thomas says. “What’s significant here is when it occurred. It was almost apocalyptic. Because it occurred at that time it has lingering significance and carries with it an abundance of pathos.”

Of course, as Calloway-Thomas says, we can imagine a scenario in which King gave this speech and then lived. The emotional resonance of his words might be lessened without the seemingly prescient layer of fate, but the story would be there all the same. “Here’s a man talking about longevity, here’s a man talking about god’s Will, here’s a man talking about going up to the mountaintop and looking skyward toward heaven and looking over into the Promised Land,” she says. “It’s a gorgeous story.”

Read the full speech here

‘A Tragic, Forgotten Place.’ Poverty and Death in Indonesia’s Land of Gold

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

An illegal gold miner sifts through sand and rock as he pans for gold in Timika, Papua Province, Indonesia, on Feb. 4, 2017.
An illegal gold miner sifts through sand and rock as he pans for gold in Timika, Papua Province, Indonesia, on Feb. 4, 2017.
Ulet Ifansasti—Getty Images

When Bardina Degei cooks dinner, she doesn’t use a stove. She rarely even uses a pot. In her wooden home in Enarotali, the capital of Paniai regency in the restive Indonesian province of Papua, the housewife usually just places a sweet potato — known locally as “nota”— directly into the fireplace.

After half-an-hour, the charred tuber is retrieved and devoured with eager, unwashed hands. Degei sits on the mud floor — she has no furniture — which is where she also performs her daily chores, such as washing clothes with murky water from the nearby swamp. A bucket in a roofless room serves as a latrine. As the youngest of her husband’s four wives, she has been assigned no fields to tend. (Polygamy is common here.) Of course, working late can be dangerous: Most of the village men are unemployed and many drink heavily, plus there are the soldiers. “No one dares to walk around the village after 5 p.m.,” she says.

It’s a rare glimpse of daily life in the highlands of Papua, a former Dutch colony that was absorbed into Indonesia in 1969 following a controversial referendum, when just 1,026 elders were forced to vote though a public show of hands before occupying troops. An existing movement agitating for independence against Dutch rule swiftly turned its ire against the Jakarta government, which maintains tight control over the region, barring foreign journalists or rights monitors. In 2003, the province was officially split into Papua and West Papua, with independent Papua New Guinea occupying the eastern part of the island.

Enarotali is as remote as it is desolate; the journey here involves a 90-minute flight from the provincial capital Jayapura to Nabire, and then a stomach-churning five-hour drive by hire car. (There is no public transport.) The town of some 19,000 people consists of wooden houses ringed by bamboo fencing, corrugated iron roofs transformed by rust into varying tawny shades.

Locals work to catch crabs from the mining operations site in Timika, Papua Province, Indonesia, on Feb. 2, 2017
Locals work to catch crabs from the mining operations site in Timika, Papua Province, Indonesia, on Feb. 2, 2017
Ulet Ifansasti—Getty Images

Very few Indonesians have made the journey here, let alone journalists, and practically no foreigners. Before Christian missionaries arrived, Mee Pago Papuans worshiped a God named Uga Tamee. There were other changes, too. “We were not used to wearing these clothes,” says Degei, indicating her vividly colored, hand-woven turban, dark shirt and a bright skirt. “Before, we only wore leaves on our bodies.”

Papua is Indonesia’s poorest province, where 28% of people live below the poverty lineand with some of the worst infant mortality and literacy rates in Asia. But it is also Indonesia’s land of gold. The world’s largest and most profitable gold mine, Grasberg, owned by Phoenix-based Freeport McMoran, lies just 60 miles from Paniai, a highland province around the size of New Jersey and home to 153,000 people. In 2015 alone, Freeport mined some $3.1 billion worth of gold and copper here. In addition, Papua boasts timber resources worth an estimated $78 billion.

These riches are, however, a source of misery for Papuans, ensuring Indonesia’s powerful military maintains a suffocating presence. A 2005 investigation in The New York Times reported that Freeport paid local military personnel and units nearly $20 million between 1998 and 2004, including up to $150,000 to a single officer. Papuan calls for greater autonomy threaten this golden goose, and are dealt with mercilessly.

According to rights activists, more than 500,000 Papuan’s have been killed, and thousands more have been raped, tortured and imprisoned by the Indonesian military since 1969. Mass killings in Papua’s tribal highlands during the 1970’s amounted to genocide, according to the Asia Human Rights Commission.

Read More: Papua Remains a Killing Field Even Under New Indonesian President Jokowi

Indonesian police arrested more than 3,900 peaceful protesters in the region last year alone. We Will Lose Everything, a 2016 report by the Archdiocese of Brisbane, contains testimony of atrocities committed the previous year, such as extrajudicial executions, torture — rape and electrocution are especially popular, according to another report — and the brutal crushing of peaceful demonstrations. “It’s difficult to count the number of victims as incidents happen every week,” says Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

The screws have tightened as Papua’s resources bring an influx of settlers from elsewhere in Indonesia. The province’s 3.5 million population is 83% Christian, but the demographic is changing as Muslim economic migrants arrive from Indonesia’s populous islands of Java, Borneo, Sumatra and Sulawesi. Javanese warung canteens sell fried chicken and gado-gado mixed-vegetables served with peanut sauce. Local people struggle to compete.

“The migrants started to sell chicken and vegetables in the traditional market cheaper than the local Papuans,” explains Abeth You, a 24-year-old Paniai native who moved to the provincial capital Jayapura for work. “It made the native Papuans — the mama-mama [the women] of Papua — lose their market.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, vowed to address the inequalities and rights abuses in Papua during his election campaign in 2014. The former carpenter secured 27 of Papua’s total 29 districts — including Paniai — on the way to the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. But precious little has changed in Papua, and today local people feel betrayed.

“Our hearts have been broken because in 2014 we voted for Jokowi, with the expectation that he would fulfill our hopes for justice to be restored,” You says.

A illegal gold miner walks as they pan for gold along the Aikwa river are located within Freeport's official mining operations in Timika, Papua Province, Indonesia, on Feb. 4, 2017.
A illegal gold miner walks as they pan for gold along the Aikwa river are located within Freeport’s official mining operations in Timika, Papua Province, Indonesia, on Feb. 4, 2017.
Ulet Ifansasti—Getty Images

‘It Was Crowded, Many Shots Were Fired’

In fact, Paniai suffered a nadir just two months after Jokowi’s October inauguration. On Dec. 7, 2014 a group of 11 children were outside singing Christmas carols in front of a bonfire in Enarotali when two Indonesian soldiers on a motorbike broke through the gloom. The startled children told them that they should turn on their headlights.

One of the soldiers took umbrage at their tone and later returned with four soldiers, according to local Pastor Yavedt Tebai. The soldiers, who had been drinking, chased and beat the group with their rifle butts, said victims and witnesses. Then one of the soldiers fired into the group of children.

One child, 16-year-old Yulianus Yeimo, was beaten so badly he fell into a coma.

A couple of hours later, the nearby government Election Commission building was set ablaze, and things escalated the following day. About 1,000 young Papuan men, women and children gathered on a soccer field in front of the local police station and military command center to demand justice. They carried ceremonial hunting bows and performed the waita dance — running in circles and simulating birdsong — of Papua’s Mee Pago tribe. Some protesters started hurling stones at police and military posts.

A Papuanese activist delivers speech during a protest against the fatal shooting of teenagers during clashes with security forces in Enarotali, at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Jakarta on Dec. 10, 2014.
A Papuanese activist delivers speech during a protest against the fatal shooting of teenagers during clashes with security forces in Enarotali, at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Jakarta on Dec. 10, 2014.
Adek Berry—AFP/Getty Images

As tempers grew more heated, an order was sent to the soldiers through internal radio: “If the masses offer resistance more than three times, shoot them dead,” it said, according to an official document seen by TIME that has not been released to the local media.

Yeremias Kayame, 56, the head of the Kego Koto neighborhood of Enarotali, saw the impending danger and appealed for calm, imploring the crowd to go back home. Nobody was in the mood to listen. “When I turned around I suddenly got shot in my left wrist,” he told TIME on the porch of his brightly painted wooden house.

Kayame still doesn’t know who fired but says the bullet came from the ranks of amassed soldiers. “It was crowded, many shots were fired,” he adds.

Local man Alfius Youw was hit three times, according to his cousin who witnessed the shootings. “I ran to him and examined his body to make sure it was him,” Yohanes, who like many Indonesians only goes by one name, told TIME somberly. “I saw he was dead … I kissed him.”

The Papua Police Chief Inspector General Yotje Mende told reporters that his officers were only “securing” their station because it was under attack.

“We have to defend ourselves when people threaten to kill us,” Papua Police spokesperson, Commissioner Pudjo Sulistiyo said in 2015. “It’s a matter of life and death.”

According to Human Rights Watch, five young protesters were killed and many more injured.

‘I’m Afraid of Being Arrested by the Military, Afraid to be Shot’

News of the killings only filtered through to Jakarta the following day. Three weeks later, Jokowi gave an impassioned speech in Jayapura, where he expressed sympathies with the victims’ families and vowed to address the historic abuses in Papua. “I want this case to be solved immediately so it won’t ever happen again in the future,” he said.

Security Minister Wiranto said in October 2016 that he was setting up a non-judicial mechanism to settle historic human-rights violations. But the excuses started almost immediately. “Most of the violations occurred a long time ago. Some were in the ’90s and in early 2000s. The point is we are committed to addressing these violations, but there are processes to go through,” he said.

Then Wiranto backtracked when speaking to TIME in Jakarta on June 5, saying he has no plans to establish a grievance mechanism in Papua. Instead, “All will be [settled] by law,” he said.

Wiranto, who the U.N. has indicted for “crimes against humanity” relating to more than 1,000 deaths during East Timor’s bloody 1999 independence vote, said that 11 cases of human-rights violations in Papua have already been settled, including the Paniai incident.

Families of the Paniai victims greeted such claims with grim incredulity. “I’ve been interviewed four times for the past three years, but there has been no progress at all,” Yohanes says. “I’m tired.”

He says that years later, he still lives in fear. “I’m afraid,” he says. “I’m afraid of being arrested by the military, afraid to be shot.”

His brother Yacobus echoed the view that people in Paniai are fearful of discussing the incident. He says he was beaten by the military after helping to bury four of the victims. “After burying the bodies, the military came looking for me,” he says.

‘A Tragic, Forgotten Place’

The shootings haven’t stopped. On Tuesday, Indonesian police shot at villagers in Paniai’s neighboring Deiyai regency. One person died and 17 others were wounded, including children, during a confrontation between villagers and the manager of a construction company who refused to help transport an unconscious man to hospital.

The man, 24-year-old Ravianus Douw who drowned while he was fishing in a nearby river, died on the way to hospital. Incensed villagers protested in front of the company’s site office. Police said the villagers threw rocks at officers, who responded by firing warning shots. But locals say the mobile brigade (Indonesian paramilitary police) began shooting at the crowd, killing one.

“We were so panicked, we are afraid there will be revenge,” 29-year-old Dominggu Badii, who lives near the hospital and witnessed the injured being hurried in, tells TIME. “I have been hiding in my house for two days.”

The Deiyai parliament has called for the officers involved to be held to account and the police mobile brigade to be withdrawn from the area.

Paniai has always been a troublespot for the Indonesian government. The lack of meaningful development feeds the discontent of the tribal Mee, Moni, Dani, and Damal peoples, who live sprawled across Papua’s verdant central highlands. Many joined the Free Papua Movement (OPM), the rebel army that claims to defend the rights of the Papuans by launching sporadic attacks and kidnapping raids on Indonesian soldiers. Some of the top OPM leaders hail from Paniai, including Tadius Yogi and Daniel Yudas Kogoya.

In response, thousands of people in Paniai have been arrested and arbitrarily detained by the military in recent years, under the guise of “safeguarding national sovereignty.” Some never reappear. Among the people of Papua, Paniai is known as “a tragic, forgotten place.”

Poverty feeds the discontent. The little rice on sale in Enarotali is too expensive for locals to buy. Bread is just as out of reach. People here grow everything they eat: mainly nota plus some fruit and leafy vegetables. Farming is the job of the women, who each can maintain four or five fields of the sweet potato. They usually keep most of the harvest for the family, with the rest sold in the local market. Ten pieces of nota cost only 10,000 Indonesian rupiah (75 cents).

Over time, economic inequalities have grown between the native Papuans and the new migrants, who have arrived in greater numbers since the opening of a new air routes to Nabire Airport. What few jobs exist typically go to the better-educated and wealthier migrants. Papuans rarely have the capital or the necessary skills to run their own businesses competitively.

“The young people are not interested to stay in the village … because there’s no jobs or money here,” says John Gobai, the chairman of the tribal council of Paniai.

‘They Don’t Need Money, They Just Want Justice’

Isolation keeps the world’s eyes off Papua. In addition, reporting restrictions for international media remain tight. Earlier this year, French journalists Franck Escudie and Basille Longchamp were deported from Papua for a “lack of coordination with related institutions” despite having been granted rare permission to film.

According to Phelim Kine, Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, Jokowi’s election campaign pledges to lift reporting restrictions to boost transparency and development have not been realized. “There are new hazards for foreign journalists attempting to report from Indonesia’s restive easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua: visa denial and blacklisting,” he said in a statement.

The lack of press scrutiny means international pressure on the Indonesian government has been largely limited to Papua’s immediate neighbors. In March, six Pacific nations — Tonga, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, and the Solomon Islands — urged the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate the “various and widespread violations” in Papua, including the Paniai shooting. These same countries have historically backed the OPM.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo departs after a ceremony to release political prisoners at Abepura prison located in Jayapura, in the eastern province of Papua, on May 9, 2015.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo departs after a ceremony to release political prisoners at Abepura prison located in Jayapura, in the eastern province of Papua, on May 9, 2015.
Romeo Gacad—AFP/Getty Images

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir shrugged off the group’s allegations, telling journalists in Jakarta, “In Indonesia, a democratic system still applies and there’s free media so it’s hard for the evidence of human rights cases to be covered up.”

Local people want more foreign governments to take note. When an official delegation from the Netherlands, headed by the nation’s human rights ambassador Kees Van Baar, visited Jayapura on May 4, local people broke their silence, beseeching, “We want freedom,” according to a source who also attended the meeting but who asked to stay anonymous.

Indonesia has another presidential election in 2019, but Papuans say they are unlikely to vote again for Jokowi. “Jokowi is a person who has good intentions, but he is surrounded by the people who are involved in the Paniai shooting,” says Gobai, the tribal council chairman.

He wants Jokowi to know that the Paniai people, aside from living under the looming threat of a rapacious military, wallow in destitution, with paltry education and health services.

Gobai says the Paniai people, like other Papuans, consider their vote to Jokowi as a “debt” he must repay. “They don’t need money, they just want justice,” he says.

Despite the threats and intimidation, families of the Paniai shooting victims carried out one last symbolic act of defiance: burying one victim’s body on land just opposite the police and military station. Knowing that justice may never be served, at least they won’t let those responsible forget their crimes. “A member of our family has been killed,” says Yacobus, head bowed. “What else could we do?”

Government And Greed – The Slow Death Of America

Government And Greed – The Slow Death Of America

 

Friends, as we all know we have a lot of problems that we the people must address here in our country, that is if we wish to continue to have a country. Most of the problems we are not addressing at all, this tends to make these problems worse not better. I am going to try to address some of these problems here tonight and I would like your feedback on these issues if you have the time to do so. Poverty is the first thing on my agenda tonight. I know that almost no issue has only one side to it or one cause of it and certainly poverty is a worldwide curse which afflicts at least a couple billion people worldwide, but I am only going to try to address the U.S. problem here tonight.

A lot of our countries problems are generated because of poverty, what I am saying is that if we had no poverty here in our country a lot of other issues would for the most part disappear. The federal government says that the official unemployment rate is hanging out at about 4.2%, but most everyone I would think knows that this is simply a government generated farce. If you dig into the real numbers you find that the long-term unemployed (the people who have been unemployed longer than their unemployment checks) are not counted. Another outlier in the government’s figures is that if a person is able to find a part-time job the government counts them as being employed. These people are the folks usually referred to as the real unemployed and the underemployed. By what I hear from many of the “talking heads” on the radio I believe that the real unemployed/underemployed figure should be at least 10%. Of course some markets are better than others, some places may be 4% while others are 20%. Some people say that if you are in one of the bad areas just move to a better market. There is a problem with that line of thought though, what are these people suppose to use to move on, their good looks? Gas, rent, cars, deposits, these are things that most people in these situations simply do not have. As most everyone knows poverty causes many other problems besides major depression. People are going to need a roof over their head if they have any possibility to obtain employment, somehow people need to be able to pay their rent and utilities. Food, now that is an issue for humans even if they live under a bridge. People need jobs that will at least pay the minimum bills such as rent, utilities, and food. For most good jobs, (those that haven’t already left the country), people need real job skill training.

For about 30 years I was a commercial cross-country truck driver, in this job you get to see the reality people around our country are having to live in that you would never get to see if you were working in an office or a factory.  Out here you see 60+ year old women with obvious physical ailments working at fast food joints, jobs that the politicians seem to think only high school kids are doing. You see one-armed men working at guard gates checking in trucks and cleaning toilets in truck stops. Adults are doing these type jobs because it is all they can get and a lot of these jobs are just part-time so that the companies (just like at your local Wal-Mart) won’t have to pay any benefits. You know, people aren’t doing jobs like these because it is their life long ambition to work and live like this. Also, these type jobs are almost always paying at or very near the minimum wage. I know some folks will say that I am lying about seeing adults with these physical problems working like this because they could just file for social security and live on that. Have you ever tried to collect social security? If you are very lucky you will get your turn down notice within 12 months, then you can go get an attorney (they will work pro-bono) and refile, hopefully within 6-9 months you will get your next turn down. You and your attorney can then go before a judge (who is paid by social security), hopefully it will only take you about three months to see the judge then usually another couple of months before you get his decision. You see the problem most everyone has is that they don’t have anyway to survive while all this is going on, no food, no housing, nothing. If you are in that spot, what are you suppose to do? What would you do if it was you? Hopefully you have a wealthy family that will be willing to keep you and your family alive while you are trying to get your disability checks, very few are that fortunate. Some folks will say, well, they could get government housing. Even if you are lucky enough to live in a low crime area like where we live there is this thing called, a waiting list, I checked here, the waiting list is 42 months.

People all over our country are hurting badly even though the media doesn’t say much about it when one of their beloved far left democrats is setting in the White House, and no, I am not a republican. It is very common to see a three bedroom apartment being rented by three adults, or maybe three couples, this is not because people wish to live communal, it is so they have three paychecks to help split the rent (remember the comedy program Three’s Company)? So often I see adults in different fast food uniforms walking to their jobs. It’s not for the exercise for most folks, it’s because they can’t afford a car. With minimum wage jobs you have no extra money to spend on anything, cars, gas, insurance, or food and rent. If you are lucky enough to be in a position where you think I am blowing smoke up your behind, look in your local news paper for the cost of rent, now take a minimum wage paycheck after taxes and see how well you are going to be able to live, folks, it isn’t pretty.

As you travel around the country and you go through the cities you see things that will make you sick at heart. You see all the poverty and the slums, the graffiti, the trash. You also see all the bars on business windows and on the homes, you see homeless people wandering the streets along with the working girls and guys with so many strung out on one habit or another. You see people congregating under bridges as well as boarded up burnt out homes where the lucky homeless can find shelter as long as they are not one of the many crack houses. You know, many in politics want to get away from having any blame for any of our people s problems, but I believe that out government is the biggest problem that all of us Americans have. I am setting here in our living room watching the Presidents State of the Union Address, so much BS on both sides of the aisle. We here in America are a ship without a rudder, I wish we as a country had actual leaders who cared about the Constitution and our freedom more than their bank accounts. I guess I’m just dreaming.

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