Israel: Liberman: We’ll force gov’t with Likud, Blue and White to block ultra-Orthodox

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Liberman: We’ll force gov’t with Likud, Blue and White to block ultra-Orthodox

Yisrael Beytenu leader promises ‘liberal-national’ coalition after elections; Likud: Cat is out the bag — Liberman wants leftist government; Blue and White: Better late than never

Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman leaves after a faction meeting at the Knesset, on May 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman leaves after a faction meeting at the Knesset, on May 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman said Saturday that after the upcoming elections he would force an “emergency” coalition with the Likud and Blue and White parties to block ultra-Orthodox parties from entering the government.

“We will impose a government with the Likud and Blue and White parties — it will be an emergency government, a liberal-national government. We will do everything to block the ultra-Orthodox; not to let them enter the government,” he told Channel 13 news.

Liberman, who used his party’s five seats to prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a coalition after the April 9 elections, is aiming to again be kingmaker or king-breaker after September’s elections. His call for an emergency government involving both Likud and Blue and White amounts to a demand for a government without Netanyahu — though he did not spell this out in Saturday’s interview — since Blue and White, under its leader Benny Gantz, has said it will not sit in a coalition with Netanyahu, who is facing indictment, pending a hearing, in three criminal cases.

Asked whether he would again recommend Netanyahu as prime minister, might recommend another candidate, or would seek to become prime minister himself, Liberman was non-committal. But in recommending Netanyahu after April’s elections, he specified, Yisrael Beytenu had been “committing to an agenda” which it then became clear the coalition Netanyahu sought to build would not have followed. Yisrael Beytenu, he said dryly, had not been “crowning” Netanyahu “for life.”

Later Saturday, in a Facebook post, he added that “the representative of the party that wins the most seats will be the candidate to form a government.”

“Netanyahu is trying to focus the campaign on who will be prime minister,” Liberman said in the TV interview. “I think the much more critical question is what kind of government it will be.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman seen with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) in the assembly session in the plenum hall of the Israeli parliament, as the Israeli parliament vote on the Governance Bill, which among others will raise the electoral threshold. March 11, 2014. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90 )

A Likud, Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu coalition, without the ultra-Orthodox, Liberman added in his Facebook post later Saturday, would represent the will of “an overwhelming majority of the citizens of Israel.” He also ruled out a coalition in which the far-right Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir would be present.

He said he hoped Yisrael Beytenu would win enough seats in September in order to impose such a coalition. He said he’d heard ultra-Orthodox leaders saying they’d refuse to sit in a government with Liberman, and he accepted this completely. “You’ve convinced me,” he said. What was required, he said, was a government without the ultra-Orthodox. He referred to his longtime friend Aryeh Deri, leader of the Shas ultra-Orthodox party, as “my former friend.” And he complained that while Israel was currently facing a budgetary crisis, “the only place they’re not planning to cut is [in funding for ultra-Orthodox] yeshivas.”

The Likud party responded to Liberman, saying: “The cat is out the bag — Liberman says explicitly that he is willing to go with [Blue and White No.2 Yair] Lapid and Gantz, and force the establishment of a leftist government. Anyone who wants a right-wing government must vote only for the Likud party, headed by Netanyahu.”

Gantz’s Blue and White party also issued a statement, saying: “Better late than never. If Liberman had come to this conclusion before he and his party voted for the dispersal of the Knesset, they would have avoided unnecessary elections for the people of Israel.”

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz at the Knesset, June 3, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ben-Gvir slammed Liberman, saying he “once again proves that he is deep on the left, and lacks any ideological backbone.”

The Knesset voted to disband itself and called new elections for September 17, after Netanyahu failed to broker a compromise between right-wing secular Yisrael Beytenu and ultra-Orthodox parties in the wake of the April 9 elections. Netanyahu was thus unable to muster a majority coalition.

Initial polls have suggested Liberman may emerge from the coalition standoff in a stronger position, and increase his party’s five Knesset seats to eight or nine in the September election.

Liberman had repeatedly said he backed Netanyahu for prime minister, but would only join the government if there was a commitment to pass, unaltered, the Defense Ministry version of a bill regulating the draft of the ultra-Orthodox into the military. That version of the bill is opposed by ultra-Orthodox parties, who want to soften its terms.

Liberman said last month that he would not back Blue and White leader Benny Gantz for prime minister, but refused to be drawn on whether he would support Netanyahu.

Last week the Kan public broadcaster reported that during the failed coalition talks a month ago, Netanyahu agreed to an ultra-Orthodox demand to allow for gender segregation in public spaces.

A leaked draft of Likud’s agreement with the Haredi United Torah Judaism party stated that “within 90 days the government will amend the law in such a way that it will be permissible to provide public services, public study sessions and public events in which men and women are separated. This separation will not constitute discrimination according to the law.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hosted by Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism party (left), at a meal to celebrate the birth of Litzman’s grandson, June 18, 2017. (Shlomi Cohen/FLASH90)

The draft agreement also barred individuals from filing a civil suit against municipal organizers of such events on the grounds of gender discrimination.

Ultra-Orthodox groups have pressed in the past to have gender segregated events or facilities, like public transport, but the moves have been knocked down by the courts, which ruled it constituted discrimination.

On Saturday, Yisrael Beytenu MK Evgeny Sova condemned the army’s punishment of a soldier who put dairy and milk in the same fridge on a base, warning it could portend further religious strictures on troops.

“Today they forbid putting milk and meat together in the same fridge. Tomorrow they’ll forbid girls from enlisting in the army. In two days we’ll become the army for the defense of Jewish law,” Sova said.

Liberman on Saturday also attacked the Likud party’s recent announcement of the appointment of a new “special adviser” for Israel’s Russian-speaking community.

Ariel Bulshtein (Courtesy of EAJC)

The adviser, attorney Ariel Bulshtein, will help Likud target a demographic that will be vital for its campaign — right-leaning immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The move is meant to help the party’s efforts to siphon votes away Liberman, whose hard-nosed demands stymied Netanyahu’s efforts to build a coalition by the May 29 deadline.

“It’s an insult to the intelligence and an insult to the dignity of the [Russian] immigrants — Netanyahu has no idea what he is talking about,” Liberman said.

Netanyahu has blamed the Yisrael Beytenu party chief for “dragging the country to unnecessary elections.” Notably, it was Netanyahu who decided to call new elections. The more natural course of events would have been to inform President Reuven Rivlin that he had failed to form a coalition, at which point the president could have tasked another member of parliament with trying to do so.

READ MORE:
COMMENTS

JUNE 16, 2019
CURRENT TOP STORIES

US envoy Greenblatt backs Friedman on Israel’s ‘right’ to annex some settlements

White House could delay rolling out long-awaited peace plan until November, due to political turmoil in Israel, says special envoy

L-R: US President Donald Trump's envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 12, 2017. (Haim Tzach/GPO/File)

L-R: US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on July 12, 2017. (Haim Tzach/GPO/File)

US President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt on Sunday backed comments by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, in support of Israel retaining some parts of the West Bank.

Greenblatt participated in the annual Jerusalem Post conference in New York, where he was asked about comments made by Friedman published by the New York Times last weekend.

“I will let David’s comments stand for themselves,” said Greenblatt. “I think he said them elegantly and I support his comments.”

In an interview published by the New York Times last Saturday, Friedman said that some degree of annexation of the West Bank would be legitimate.

“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” Friedman said.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaks during the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, on March 26, 2019. (Jim Watson/AFP)

An anonymous American official later said Israel has not presented a plan for annexation of any of the West Bank, and no such plan is under discussion with the US.

Greenblatt spoke days before the US is set to lay out an economic component of its long-awaited Mideast peace plan on June 25 and 26 in Bahrain, where Gulf Arab states are expected to make pledges to boost the troubled Palestinian economy.

But it is not clear when the political aspects of the plan — which is expected to avoid calling for the creation of a Palestinian state — will be unveiled.

At the conference Sunday, Greenblatt also signaled that the White House might delay the full publication of its long-awaited peace plan until November, due to political turmoil in Israel, though he said no final decision had been made.

He said that the Trump administration would have published a blueprint for its peace plan this summer if Israel had not dissolved its parliament last month and declared another election — the second in a year — for September 2019.

“The new elections have thrown us off,” Greenblatt said.

Trump’s own reelection campaign for US president “should not be an obstacle,” he added.

In his remarks, Greenblatt conceded that there were limits to Arab concessions to the Jewish state.

Jared Kushner alongside a member of the Saudi delegation at a White House meeting between President Donald Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, March 20, 2018. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool/Getty Images via JTA)

“There is a limit how far the Arabs will go with Israel, they don’t want to sell out the Palestinians,” he said. “We are not going to push any country to go further than they are comfortable.”

However, he warned that “failure will put this in the box for a long time.” Such a development would be “a tragedy for the Palestinian people.”

Greenblatt also stressed that Washington is not seeking to oust the current Palestinian Authority leadership, which has already said it will reject the peace plan, but rather is hoping that the Palestinian people will be able to decide for themselves if they want to accept the peace deal or not.

“We are not looking for regime change in PA,” he said, before adding that “there is no question” the Palestinian people have the right to see what the plan offers before they decide.

During campaigning for the general election in April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to gradually annex West Bank Jewish settlements, a move long supported by nearly all lawmakers, in his alliance of right-wing and religious parties, and said he hoped to do so with US support.

Friedman, in the New York Times interview, declined to specify how the US might respond to unilateral Israeli annexation, saying: “We really don’t have a view until we understand how much, on what terms, why does it make sense, why is it good for Israel, why is it good for the region, why does it not create more problems than it solves… These are all things that we’d want to understand, and I don’t want to prejudge.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

READ MORE:
COMMENTS
MORE

Sudan’s democratic spring is turning into a long and ugly summer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

Sudan’s democratic spring is turning into a long and ugly summer

Protestor’s near the Sudanese army headquarters in Khartoum in April 2019. Photo by M. Saleh (CC BY-SA 4.0)

When protesters forced Omar al-Bashir out of power in Sudan this April after 30 years of dictatorial role, it was an unalloyed good for the world. Bashir has been wanted by The Hague since 2008 for genocide and war crimes in Darfur, and his ouster was a key step towards a free and democratic Sudan, as well as justice for Darfuris.

But what’s followed in Sudan has been far less encouraging. Sudan’s military has promised elections, but not for as much as two years. The Transitional Military Council (TMC), the military leaders now in charge of the country, have included Bashir confidantes like Lt. General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who was suspected of leading Janjawid militia massacres in Darfur. Many Sudan observers Believe that Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, is the person really pulling the strings on the TMC, where he serves as vice president. Hemedti not only recruited and led many of the Janjawid fighters who brutally suppressed dissent in Darfur—he has also been accused of having recruited child soldiers from Darfur to fight in Yemen’s bloody civil war on behalf of the Saudis.

Despite the obvious dangers, Sudanese pro-democracy protesters are back out in the streets, demanding immediate transition to a civilian government. Their demands have been met with brutal violence. On June 3, security forces including the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—whose members are veterans of the Janjawid militias responsible for Darfur’s worst massacres—killed over 100 protesters, dumping bodies into the Nile River, raping and robbing civilians stopped at military checkpoints.

Despite these horrific incidents, Sudanese citizens have continued to fight, launching a mass general strike on Sunday June 9.

The struggle over the internet

As with most conflicts today, there’s an important information component to the struggle between activists and the Sudanese military. The protests that ousted Bashir and have confronted the military have been organized by groups of middle-class Sudanese like the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors using social media, especially Facebook. Since the June 3 massacre, Sudan’s mobile internet has been largely shut down, making online organizing and reporting on conditions on the ground vastly more difficult. Sudan’s government previously shut down the internet for 68 days to combat the protests that ultimately led to Bashir’s ouster.

Facebook was an especially significant force in bringing women into the streets to protest against Bashir. Tamerra Griffin reported on a set of women-only Facebook groups that were initially used to share gossip, but which were mobilized to identify abusive state security officials, who were then hounded and sometimes chased out of their own neighborhoods. The presence of women in the protest movements and the Zagrounda chant—a women’s ululation—has become a signature of the uprising. Bashir memorably declared that the government could not be changed through WhatsApp or Facebook. His ouster suggests that the power of social networks as tools for mobilization is routinely underestimated by governments.

But now social media seems to be leveraged at least as much by the military as by the opposition. The internet has not been completely shut down—the government has been able to maintain its presence on Facebook, which features at least four pages controlled by the RSF, which are advertising the militia veterans’ version of events. Sudanese activist Mohamed Suliman is organizing a petition campaign, demanding Facebook remove these pages in recognition that they promote violence against peaceful protesters in Sudan.

In addition to combatting Sudanese propaganda on Facebook, Sudanese activists inside the country and in the diaspora are looking for ways to return internet access to the general population, so they can continue organizing protests and document government violence. Activists are organizing information-sharing networks on top of SMS and voice phone calls, but I’m also getting calls from Sudanese friends who wonder whether technologies like Google’s Loon could be used to put a cloud of connectivity over Khartoum. (The answer: maybe. Loon acts as an antenna for existing telecoms networks, and those networks in Sudan have been forced to cut off connectivity. In addition, a balloon floating 20km over a city is a very attractive missile target.)

Until very recently, the few Sudanese who had access via ADSL had been opening their wifi networks or sharing passwords with friends and inviting them to post messages from their houses. A couple of days ago I was seeing reports—unconfirmed—that even ADSL has been turned off. This may signal the start of a new phase of the crackdown.

Space Cadet@nourality

🔻🔻🔻
Last available internet route “Sudani ADSL” is now reported to be down.

This completes a dark ring over sudan as internet are now Almost completely disabled, this gives the TMC milita “janjaweed” enough lack of media attention to continue abusing and killing the Sudan.

Ahmed Abdalla@A_Abdalla

الآن قطع خدمة انترنت سوداني ADSL أيضاً
الخدمة الوحيدة التي استمرت تعمل منذ إيقاف المجلس الانقلابي الانترنت في السودان قبل عدة أيام.
الآن اكتمل التعتيم على جرائم الجنجويد في السودان والعالم يتفرج#العصيان_المدني_الشامل

85 people are talking about this

On the morning of June 10 Yassir Arman, a major figure in the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, which fought a war against Khartoum leading to the independence of South Sudan, was deported from Khartoum to Juba by military helicopter.

Yassir Arman@Yassir_Arman

I have been deported against my will by a military helicopter from Khartoum to Juba. I was not aware of where they were taking me. I asked them many times. They tied me up in the helicopter together with Comrade Ismail Khamis Jalab and Mubarak Ardol.

1,201 people are talking about this

One major channel for information from Sudan in the future may be from Sudanese who are in touch with organizers on the ground who have been forced to flee the country and report from neighboring countries.

Countries are known by the company they keep, and the military government’s supporters are well resourced: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have provided $3 billion in aid to the military leaders. Given the Trump administration’s tight ties to the Saudi and UAE governments—which have extended to overruling Congress in selling arms to those regimes—it seems unlikely that a petition to the White House to recognize the RSF as a terrorist organization will meet with approval any time soon. (By contrast the African Union—which has a regrettable history of ignoring misbehavior by African military rulers— has suspended Sudan after this weekend’s crackdown.

A few things we can do to help

It’s hard to know what to do as a private citizen when faced with a situation like the one in Sudan. Some thoughts on what might actually be helpful:

– Pay attention and ask others to do so as well. All governments, including military governments, are limited in what actions they can take by public perception. If Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates understand that people are actually watching what the Sudanese military is doing, it may limit their willingness to support a government run in part by experienced génocidaires. Reporter Yousra Elbagir is reporting from the ground in Khartoum and her Twitter feed is deeply helpful. Declan Walsh, the New York Times bureau chief, is doing excellent reporting from the groundReem Abbas, a Sudanese journalist and blogger, is sharing excellent content, much of it in Arabic. Al Jazeera’s synthesis of the conflict has been excellent, but I worry that their reliance on Skype interviews to cover events may limit their coverage going forward:

– In the spirit of getting people interested in what’s going on in Sudan, I recommend Hasan Minhaj’s occasionally silly but good-hearted Patriot Act episode on Sudan’s pro-democracy movement and the military government’s violent reaction.

– Pressure organizations that are helping legitimate the military government. That includes Facebook, which should not be hosting pages for the Rapid Support Forces, or for any entities associated with the transitional military government.

Sudan’s two telecom operators—MTN and Zain—are international companies which could (in theory) be pressured to violate the military’s demands that they shut down. Zain is a Kuwaiti company, which means they are heavily influenced by Saudi Arabia, but MTN as a South African company might be susceptible to shareholder pressure, lawsuits, etc. The Internet Society has released a statement calling for Sudan to turn the internet back on. It’s unclear whether they would be an organizing point for protests to pressure MTN.

– It can be difficult to get money to the ground in Sudan. While the Trump administration removed some financial sanctions on Sudan in 2017, other sanctions stemming from the Darfur conflict remain in place. My friends in Sudan have pointed me to Bakri Ali and the University of Khartoum Alumni Association USA, a US 501c3 which is using their tax-exempt status to deliver aid to democracy protesters.

It can be hard, in retrospect, to remember the excitement and enthusiasm that accompanied the Egyptian revolution and the broader Arab Spring. But after only a year of a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government, a military dictatorship took over. The fear right now is that Sudan could go directly from one dictatorship to another—from one Arab winter to another without an intervening Spring. Some Sudanese protesters have been using the slogan “Victory or Egypt”, looking at the return to dictatorship as the worst possible outcome. The worse outcome is even worse—it’s the prospect of systemic military violence like in Darfur, without intervention by the international community. The same folks are in charge, and we are already looking away.

Elizabeth Warren gains momentum in the 2020 race plan by plan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER)

 

Elizabeth Warren gains momentum in the 2020 race plan by plan

The senator’s ‘I have a plan’ mantra has become a rallying cry as she edges her way to the top – but is it enough to get past the roadblocks of Biden and Sanders?

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., addresses a campaign rally at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Thursday, May 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
 Elizabeth Warren at a campaign rally in Fairfax, Virginia, on 16 May. Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP

Plan by plan, Elizabeth Warren is making inroads and gaining on her rivals in the 2020 Democratic race to take on Donald Trump.

The former Harvard law professor’s policy heavy approach made an impression among activists at the She the People forum in Texas last month and was well-received at the California state party convention earlier this month.

This week a Morning Consult poll saw Warren break into the double digits at 10%, putting her in third place behind Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. A recent Economist/YouGov poll found Warren was making gains among liberal voters, with Democrats considering the Massachusetts senator for the Democratic presidential nomination in nearly equal measure with Sanders.

Her intense campaigning on a vast swathe of specific issues has achieved viral moments on the internet – even including one woman whom Warren advised on her love life – as well as playing well during recent television events.

At a televised town hall in Indiana this week, Warren listened intently as a woman who voted for Trump in 2016 described her disillusionment – not only with a president who failed to bring back manufacturing jobs as he said he promised but with an entire political system stymied by dysfunction.

Elizabeth Warren in Elkhart, Indiana, on 5 June. ‘You’ve really got to have a plan – and I do have a plan.’
Pinterest
 Elizabeth Warren in Elkhart, Indiana, on 5 June. ‘You’ve really got to have a plan – and I do have a plan.’ Photograph: Darron Cummings/AP

“I feel duped,” said the voter, Renee Elliott, who was laid off from her job at the Indianapolis Carrier plant. “I don’t have a lot of faith in political candidates much anymore. They make promises. They make them and break them.”

Warren rose to her feet. “The thing is, you can’t just wave your arms,” the she said, gesturing energetically. “You’ve really got to have a plan – and I do have a plan.”

That mantra – a nod to the steady churn of policy blueprints Warren’s campaign has released – has become a rallying cry for Warren as she edges her way to the top of the crowded Democratic presidential primary field.

But despite the burst of momentum, Warren’s path to the nomination has two major roadblocks: Sanders and Biden. Her success will depend on whether she can deliver a one-two punch: replacing Sanders as the progressive standard bearer while building a coalition broad enough to rival Biden.

Warren began that work this week with a multi-stop tour of the midwest designed to show her strength among working class voters who supported Trump. Ahead of the visit, Warren unveiled a plan she described as “economic patriotism”, which earned startling praise from one of Trump’s most loyal supporters.

“She sounds like Donald Trump at his best,” conservative Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson told his largely Republican audience as he read from Warren’s proposal during the opening monologue of his show this week. The plan calls for “aggressive intervention on behalf of American workers” to boost the economy and create new jobs, including a $2tn investment in federal funding in clean energy programs.

His praise was all the more surprising because Warren has vowed not to participate in town halls on Fox News, calling the network a “hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists”.

The debate over whether Democrats should appear on Fox News for a town hall has divided the field. Sanders, whose televised Fox News town hall generated the highest viewership of any such event, argued that it is important to speak to the network’s massive and heavily Republican audience.

As Warren courts working-class voters in the midwest, she continues to focus heavily on the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire. After jumping into the race on New Year’s Eve 2018, Warren immediately set to work, scooping up talent and building a massive operation in Iowa. Her campaign is betting a strong showing in the first in the nation caucuses will propel her in New Hampshire, which neighbors Massachusetts, and then boost her in Nevada and South Carolina.

But as Warren gains momentum, moderate candidates are becoming more vocal about their concern that choosing a nominee from the party’s populist wing will hand Trump the election.

“If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer,” former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper told Democrats in California last weekend. Though his comments were met with boos and jeers among the convention’s liberal crowd, his warning is at the heart of the debate over who should be the Democratic presidential nominee.

Warren has pointedly distinguished herself as a capitalist as opposed to a socialist or a democratic socialist, but she has not backed away from a populist platform that embraces sweeping economic reforms.

In her address to the California Democratic party, Warren rejected appeals for moderation.

“Some say if we all calm down, the Republicans will come to their senses,” she said. “But our country is in a time of crisis. The time for small ideas is over.”

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting our independent, investigative reporting than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford.

The Guardian is editorially independent, meaning we set our own agenda. Our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our editor. No one steers our opinion. This is important as it enables us to give a voice to those less heard, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different to so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.

Every contribution we receive from readers like you, big or small, goes directly into funding our journalism. This support enables us to keep working as we do – but we must maintain and build on it for every year to come. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

LULA: INDEPENDENT MEDIA IS OUR LAST HOPE

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL 247)

 

Mamata Banerjee trying to suppress her political opponents like Kim Jong-un: Giriraj Singh

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Mamata Banerjee trying to suppress her political opponents like Kim Jong-un: Giriraj Singh

Singh was talking to reporters at the party’s state headquarters upon his first visit to Bihar after being sworn in as a Union cabinet minister.

INDIA Updated: Jun 08, 2019 12:30 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Patna
mamata banerjee,kim jong-un,west bengal
The countdown to the end of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s rule has begun as she has been trying to suppress her political opponents with a ruthlessness comparable to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Union minister Giriraj Singh said in Patna on Friday.(REUTERS)

The countdown to the end of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s rule has begun as she has been trying to suppress her political opponents with a ruthlessness comparable to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Union minister Giriraj Singh said in Patna on Friday.

Singh was talking to reporters at the party’s state headquarters upon his first visit to Bihar after being sworn in as a Union cabinet minister.

“Ulti ginti (countdown) has begun for Mamata Banerjee…fear of an imminent defeat has left her frustrated. The treatment she has been meting out to her political opponents remind us of King Jong-un,” the firebrand BJP leader alleged when asked about the running feud between his party and the Trinamool Congress headed by the West Bengal Chief Minister.

“She has been displaying contempt for the country’s federal structure. She has said that she refuses to acknowledge Narendra Modi was the Prime Minister of India and has never attended meetings of the Niti Aayog where Chief Ministers of all states turn up,” he said.

Banerjee had at an election rally last month defended her inability to take calls from Modi for discussing the devastation wrought by the Fani cyclone, saying he was an “expiry prime minister” and she would talk to the PM upon the formation of a new government at the Centre.

Earlier in the day, she caused a flutter by announcing that she would not attend the meeting of the Niti Aayog scheduled later this month terming it as “fruitless” and suggesting in a letter to the Prime Minister conveying her decision that focus be shifted to the Inter-State Council for deepening cooperative federalism.

Sidestepping queries about Banerjee seeking “professional help” from poll strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishor who is also the national vice president of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), a BJP ally in Bihar, Singh said, “I do not know whose help she is seeking. But I am certain that she has ceased to get help from the common people of Bengal.” The BJP recorded a remarkable victory in West Bengal in the recent general elections as it ended up winning 18 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, only four less than the ruling TMC. The party’s tally soared from only two in 2014.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

First Published: Jun 08, 2019 08:35 IST

England: Trump’s children make play for royal treatment

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)
(ALL HAIL KING DON AND THE REST OF HIS INNER MAFIA FAMILY PURE SLIME OF THE EARTH)     (oped: oldpoet56)

Trump’s children make play for royal treatment

(CNN)At a grand banquet table in a red-carpeted Buckingham Palace ballroom, the Queen, a couple of princes, dukes and duchesses, and lords and ladies were intermixed with the Trump family: a President, a first lady, four of his five children, and two of their spouses.

Queen Elizabeth II formally invited just President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump to travel to London for an official State Banquet at Buckingham Palace. But the event became more of an extended family affair, with Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and his wife Lara, and Tiffany Trump all joining the exclusive party.
The President’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, was already set to attend in her capacity as a formal adviser to the President, and a senior member of his administration. Her husband, Jared Kushner, is also part of the United States delegation attending the ceremonial events.
For the President, bringing his adult children, in his view, is akin to showcasing his version of royalty. In an interview ahead of the trip with the British tabloid newspaper The Sun, Trump said he wanted Ivanka, Donald Jr., Eric and Tiffany to hold a “next generation” meeting with the Prince William and his wife, Kate, and Prince Harry.
“I think my children will be meeting them,” said Trump. “It would be nice.”
Though they mingled at the State Banquet, there were no plans for a sit-down meeting, a royal source told CNN International correspondent Max Foster. They did, however, join their father for his joint news conference with Prime Minister Theresa May, and later toured the Churchill War Rooms, according to their social media posts.

A family affair

Trump’s business has always been a family affair: He became a New York real estate magnate with the help of a loan from his father, Fred Trump, his then-wife Ivana Trump worked with him while they were married, and Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric all joined the Trump Organization when they came of age. But the family Trump is a far cry from the American political dynasties of the past — the Kennedys, the Bushes. Further, a vision of the President’s children as America’s equivalence to the Royal Family is at odds with everything Trump’s brand as a status quo disruptor.
Trump ran in the 2016 presidential race promising to “drain the swamp” and railing against political establishment at every turn, particularly his GOP primary rival Jeb Bush, the brother of one American president and son of another.
But since taking office, he elevated his daughter and son-in-law to two of the highest-ranking appointments inside the West Wing. He even suggested that she could hold public office herself after he leaves office.
“If she ever wanted to run for president,” the President said this year, “I think she’d be very, very hard to beat.”
But that his daughter hasn’t expressed any interest in running to him. For now, she continues her work on largely noncontroversial West Wing portfolio and style herself as a diplomat on the world stage. On Tuesday, she appeared alongside her father at a business roundtable and bilateral meetings with May as part of the official US delegation.

Separate lives

The full complement of Trump’s adult children, while present at the odd family event or holiday at Trump’s homes in Palm Beach and Bedminster, are a relatively scarce presence at the White House.
Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump live in New York City, where they assumed control of the family real estate business, though Don Jr. now spends a significant amount of time traveling the country to attend events, rallying and fundraising for the 2020 campaign season alongside girlfriend and campaign senior adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle.
Tiffany Trump, the only child of Trump’s marriage to second wife, Marla Maples, is about to begin her third year at Georgetown University Law School in Washington where she lives off-campus in a downtown apartment. Tiffany has spent part of her summer break in Europe, attending swanky events in Cannes, France, during the fabled film festival, posting photos from a yacht anchored in the Mediterranean, and this week back in London, where her boyfriend is said to live.
Ivanka Trump was in town ahead of her father’s arrival, too, posting on her Instagram account a visit to the Albert & Victoria museum to see the sold-out Christian Dior exhibition. As a member of the delegation, she joined other high-level staffers on a Buckingham Palace balcony for the formal arrival ceremony as her father inspected British troops.

Brazil: NOTHING MORE DANGEROUS THAN A PEOPLE WHO SINGS AND IS HAPPY

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)

 

US move to scrap preferential trade status unfortunate: Government

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

US move to scrap preferential trade status unfortunate: Government

Congress attacks Centre, says the decision will have grave trade and economic implications

INDIA Updated: Jun 01, 2019 23:56 IST

Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
preferential trade status,US India trade,US India ties
M Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump during a meeting in Manila in November 2017.(Reuters File Photo)

The United States on Friday formally terminated India’s eligibility for a duty-free import scheme for developing countries, effective June 5, saying it has not given assurances it “will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets” to US companies as required under relevant American trade laws.

The move was downplayed by India’s commerce ministry, which said on Saturday that India will continue to seek to build strong economic ties with the United States and that it was “unfortunate” that attempts to resolve significant US requests had not been accepted.

Officials had previously raised the prospect of higher import duties on more than 20 US goods if Trump dropped India from the programme, but there was no mention of that in the response.

“India, like the US and other nations shall always uphold its national interest in these matters,” the government said in a statement issued through the trade ministry.

The impending American termination was previewed on Thursday by a senior administration official, who described it as a “done deal” and said it was time for the two countries to move on, and try to resolve other trade irritants. The official had, however, left open the possibility of restoring these benefits if and when India complied with American demands for greater market access to its dairy products and medical devices sectors.

“I have determined that India has not assured the United States that India will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets,” US President Donald Trump said in a proclamation issued on Friday. “Accordingly, it is appropriate to terminate India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country effective June 5, 2019.”

The presidential proclamation did not mention it, but the senior administration official who had previewed the coming termination had left the door open for putting India back on the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme and restore its duty-free benefits if India was able to “achieve the reforms in market access that we need under this programme”.

President Trump had conveyed his intention to terminate India’s eligibility for the programme to the US congress on March 4. And the formal termination became due on May 4, after the mandatory 60-day notice period.

But the administration held off on the proclamation as India was in the middle of elections and there was pressure from US lawmakers, from both parties, to delay the termination to allow more time for negotiations. There was an expectation that India could avert the termination if it agreed to US demands for more market access.

But the Trump administration had concluded much before, according to people close to the developments, that India would not be able to deliver no matter how much additional time it was given. But it agreed to wait for the elections to get over, and announced the termination just a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his second term. No talks were underway at the time contrary to public assurances by Indian officials.

This US action presents the first major challenge for the new Modi government on relations with the United States, as there is talk the Trump administration might not stop at this and could be considering even more precipitate actions in line with the President’s tough posture on trade.

India has been the biggest beneficiary of the GSP programme, which allows certain imports from 120 countries to enter the United States at zero tariff. US imports from India under GSP were an estimated $6.3 billion worth of goods in 2018 , according to a report by the Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan source of research for US lawmakers.

Withdrawal of zero-tariff benefits would subject these products, presuming their volumes remain unaffected, to $190 million, according to official Indian estimates. But people familiar with these discussions have said there are fears that the new tariffs could make these products costlier for US importers, who could then switch to other cheaper alternatives to keep down their prices.

(with HTC inputs from New Delhi)

First Published: Jun 01, 2019 23:44 IST

Pakistani FM to AAWSAT: Islamic Summit to Avoid War

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Pakistani FM to AAWSAT: Islamic Summit to Avoid War

Friday, 31 May, 2019 – 10:30
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Reuters
Jeddah- Mohammed Al-Ayed
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has affirmed that the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) hosted by Saudi Arabia in attendance of Arab, Gulf, and Islamic leaders is an opportunity to address the tensed conditions in the region and avoid the breaking out of the war.

Amid the tension arising from the Iranian interventions in the region, Qureshi said that the war won’t be in the best interest of anyone, and won’t serve the region or the global economy. In fact, it would weaken the investment and increase the threat of terrorist activities, he added.

Despite all, Iran remains part of the region and can’t be removed and that’s why there should be a way to deal with it, Qureshi asserted.

As for the ballistic missiles launched by Houthis – Iran’s arm in Yemen – towards Makkah, Qureshi told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that any attack against the kingdom and the Two Holy Mosques is equivalent to an attack targeting Pakistan.

Qureshi stressed that his country will be ready in case any danger threatens the Saudi territories, lauding the continuous Saudi support to Pakistan.

Commenting on the attacks against energy sources and passages in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, the Pakistani FM stated that these energy sources don’t only contribute to economy and trade development on the level of Saudi Arabia but the world overall.

Further, he considered that the Iranian intention to close the Strait of Hormuz would escalate regional crises — Qureshi urged Iran to desist from escalation and to open up to diplomacy because extremist means would not be constructive.

Qureshi noted that the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, to Pakistan brought several achievements to both countries, adding that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have key roles in the Islamic world that could boost stability and security in the region.

How Pathetic And Immature Donald Trump Is: Asked Navy to Hide McCain Warship

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

White House Asked Navy to Hide McCain Warship

The Navy destroyer the John S. McCain near the Philippines in 2014.Credit Bullit Marquez/Associated Press

The White House asked the Navy to hide a destroyer named after Senator John McCain in order to avoid having the ship appear in photographs taken while President Trump was visiting Japan this week, White House and military officials said Wednesday.

Although Navy officials insisted they did not hide the ship, the John S. McCain, they did give all of the sailors aboard the day off on Tuesday as Mr. Trump visited Yokosuka Naval Base.

Two Navy sailors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said that the McCain sailors were not invited to hear Mr. Trump speak that day aboard the amphibious assault ship Wasp, while sailors from other American warships at the base were.

A Navy service member based on Yokosuka said that all of the American warships in the harbor were invited to send 60 to 70 sailors to hear Mr. Trump’s address, with the exception of the McCain. When several sailors from the McCain showed up anyway, wearing their uniforms with the ship’s insignia, they were turned away, the service member said.

White House aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to speak publicly, confirmed the request was made but said that Mr. Trump did not know about it. A United States official said on Wednesday that the White House sent an email to the Navy with the request on May 15.

But the president denied on Twitter on Wednesday night having any involvement: “I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan.”

Mr. McCain, of Arizona, who died last year from brain cancer, was derided repeatedly during his life by Mr. Trump, who once disparaged Mr. McCain’s service because he had been held as a war prisoner in Vietnam, saying, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

The president’s animosity toward the senator did not subside with his death.

Navy officials approached last week by The New York Times about plans for the McCain during Mr. Trump’s visit declined to comment. But one official said on Thursday that sailors aboard the destroyer were told to hide signs that identified that warship during Mr. Trump’s visit.

The White House request to hide the name of Mr. Trump’s rival, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, is the second episode to engulf the Navy in Mr. Trump’s single visit to the Wasp.

At least a few service members wore round patches emblazoned with a likeness of Mr. Trump and the words “Make Aircrew Great Again” — a play on the president’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” — on their flight suits while listening to their commander in chief speak.

Images of the patches promptly went viral. “They’re inappropriate & against regulation,” tweeted Mark Hertling, a retired three-star Army general.

Just days later, the Navy was embroiled in the McCain news. “All ships remained in normal configuration during the president’s visit,” said Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Navy spokesman.

The acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, denied knowledge of the White House request. “When I read about it this morning, it was the first I’ve heard about it,” he told reporters on Thursday during an appearance with his Indonesian counterpart in Jakarta. Asked if he planned to order an investigation into the matter, he said, “I want to find out a little bit more.”

The Wasp, an amphibious assault ship that hosts the new F-35B Lightning fighter jets, had actually been in Sasebo, Japan, and was moved to Yokosuka in time for the president’s visit.

The Chief of Naval Information, the public affairs arm of the Navy, posted on Twitter for the first time in five and a half years over the matter. “The name of the U.S.S. John S. McCain was not obscured during the POTUS visit to Yokosuka on Memorial Day,” the Navy said, using an acronym for president of the United States.

Navy Chief of Information

@chinfo

The name of USS John S. McCain was not obscured during the POTUS visit to Yokosuka on Memorial Day. The Navy is proud of that ship, its crew, its namesake and its heritage.

4,036 people are talking about this

The disclosure that the Navy entertained a request to hide a warship named after an American war hero from a president who did not serve is likely to resurface questions about whether Mr. Trump has politicized the military.

Mr. Shanahan, the president’s pick to become defense secretary — and who will soon be visiting Tokyo after his time in Jakarta — has taken pains to go along with White House requests, many of which were delayed by his predecessor, Jim Mattis. But this effort could make Mr. Shanahan’s confirmation fight in Congress more difficult.

The destroyer John S. McCain is named after the senator, as well as his grandfather, John S. McCain Sr., a Navy admiral during World War II, and his father, John S. McCain Jr., an admiral in the Vietnam era.

Meghan McCain, John McCain’s daughter, spoke out on Twitter on Wednesday night against the White House request. Ms. McCain, who has rebuked the president over how he has spoken about her father, wrote that Mr. Trump was “threatened by the greatness of my dads incredible life,” adding that in the “nine months since he passed, Trump won’t let him RIP.”

Julian E. Barnes contributed reporting.