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Dec 16, 2017, 03:25 AM
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 on: Dec 13, 2017, 08:03 PM 
Started by Cantewasake - Last post by Cantewasake
Hola Gonzalo!

Los pasos saltados pueden sugerir que el alma en el 'pasado' rechazo soluciones para los aspectos que dejo sin resolver?. Y esto tambièn implique situaciones de culpa ?

Estos 'bloqueos' intencionales que el alma ha creado, es debido a la misma razón de volcarse en sí misma para asì cambiar dichos patrones del pasado, y ahora manifestar su auto-relación y con los demás desde maneras distintas?
Además, supongo que el nodo sur en leo, hablaría de alguien deseosa de reconocimiento y sentirse especial, por medio de padres, amigos, parejas y al haber la lección y el deseo evolutiva de auto-sustenarse, crear seguridad interior e independencia, este deseo de ser reconocida se trunca ocasionando esa confrontaciòn y vuelco hacia sí misma y comenzar a responderse ¿ Porque esto?

Venus con la sesquicuadratura con plutón , en oposición con urano. en sextil con nodo sur, y en trigono con el nodo norte que están en casa IV y X que refieren que un ciclo esta terminando y otro iniciando,  Estos son simbolos pudieran sugerir que el alma lleva tiempo  intentando Rebelarse- liberarse de condicionamientos y que ese ciclo esta terminando e iniciando uno nuevo donde pueda  crear sus nuevos modos de relacionarse consigo misma y los otros y de llevar acabo su quehacer..?

'Para poder hablar de formas más concretas sobre las vías actuales que el Alma necesita evaluar para su avance en relación con esto, hay que hacerlo de forma muy realista' .
Con esto te refieres a evaluar-observar la vida real de la persona? o como es de forma muy realista.

Te agradezco tu tiempo y disposición en responderme Gonzalo, muchas bendiciones.

 on: Dec 13, 2017, 09:24 AM 
Started by Deva - Last post by Deva
Hi Wei,

What you have written so far accurately reflects the core evolutionary intentions of Pluto conjunct the South Node in Libra in the 6th house, and Venus in Sagittarius in the 8th house. Yes, purging the need to convince and convert others and trusting one's intuitive knowledge allows expansion beyond limited beliefs. You make a good point that relationships that are based upon the mutual commitment to both partner's growth, and freedom to discover one's personal truth reflect a healing negative patterns of the past (Pluto in Libra in the 6th house conjunct the South Node, Venus in Sagittarius in the 8th house). I look forward to reading the evolutionary states soon.



 on: Dec 13, 2017, 07:17 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Paris climate summit opens with Bill Gates, DiCaprio, but not Trump

13 Dec 2017 at 07:09 ET   

Two years after the landmark Paris climate accord, dozens of world leaders and philanthropists are back in the French capital on Tuesday for a summit where they are being urged to put their money where their mouth is - and help poorer countries deal with the impact of climate change.

French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting the " One Planet " summit on the two-year anniversary of the Paris climate accord, which saw nearly 200 governments agree to end their heavy reliance on fossil fuels and limit further global warming.

Yet developing countries say rich nations are falling short of their pledge to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to help them switch from fossil fuels to greener energy sources and adapt to rising temperatures and increasingly erratic weather.

Macron is hopeful the world will rise to the challenge posed by the United States' decision, announced in June, to withdraw from the deal.

"The decision of President Trump just to leave the Paris agreement was the very beginning of a new story. And I do believe that to our collective chance, it created a huge momentum," Macron said on Monday evening.

"After his decision, we accelerated the ratification, we had more and more countries joining the club and ratifying the Paris agreement, it was a sort of big shock for a lot of people saying "Wow! it's the very first country to decide to leave the club. Now it is at risk."

Some 50 world leaders are due to attend the Paris meeting.

Schwarzenegger and Bloomberg champion the cause

The United States will send only an official delegation from the Paris Embassy, but superstars Leonardo DiCaprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as the governor of California Jerry Brown are due to attend.

Well-known philanthropists have also met with Macron at the Elysee presidential palace - from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The summit aims to focus on how public and private financial institutions can devote more money to fight climate change, and how investors can pressure corporate giants to shift towards more eco-friendly strategies.

"Financial pledges need to flow faster through more streamlined system and make a difference on the ground," said Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, whose island nation is among the most exposed to rising sea levels and extreme storms.

"We are all in the same canoe," rich countries and poor, he said.

In central Paris, environmental activists kept up the pressure with a demonstration calling for an end to all investment in oil, gas and non renewable resources.


France’s Macron takes lead in climate change battle, with the U.S. absent

By James McAuley
December 13 2017
NY Times

PARIS — The United States may have withdrawn from the Paris climate change accord, but on Tuesday dozens of world leaders and philanthropists met to find solutions to the swiftly warming planet — and send a message of resolve to the White House.

More symbolic than policy-driven, Tuesday’s summit comes two years after the landmark “COP21” conference in Paris, where 196 participating countries — including the United States — vowed to keep this century’s global temperature increase below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. In one of the most controversial moments of his young presidency, President Trump announced in June that the United States would leave the Paris accord.

The United States is now the only nation on Earth to have rejected the global pact.

Although the rest of the world — and much of the United States — has continued working to meet the Paris commitments, French President Emmanuel Macron called Trump’s decision “very bad news” and cautioned against complacency. In opening remarks Tuesday, he minced no words. “We’re losing the battle,” he said. “We’re not moving quickly enough. We all need to act.”

The “One Planet” summit focused on practical ways to continue meeting climate goals without the participation of the U.S. government. The main emphasis was private financing for climate initiatives in the United States and elsewhere. A major goal of the summit was to encourage private investors to fill the annual gap of $210 billion needed to meet the requirements of the Paris agreement.

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted the One Planet Summit in Paris on Dec. 12, two years after the Paris climate accord was signed. (Reuters)

Toward that end, the summit did secure some major commitments. The Gates Foundation, for instance, announced Tuesday that it would pledge $300 million over the next three years to support farmers in Africa and Asia struggling with the effects of climate change: diminished soil fertility, extreme weather and crop pests, among others. Earlier this year, the foundation had pledged a separate $300 million to benefit public health and poverty reduction programs in Tanzania.

AXA, the world’s third-largest insurance company, announced further reductions of coal investments by an additional 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion). And the World Bank — to meet its Paris commitments faster — said it would stop financing projects involving upstream oil and gas beginning in 2019. Other U.S. philanthropic organizations also supported the cause. On Monday, the Hewlett Foundation pledged $600 million over five years to nonprofits working on climate change issues.

On the U.S. front, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire and leading climate change advocate, vowed to persuade more companies to change their practices. Bloomberg emphasized the business incentives behind addressing climate change. “Clean energy is now cheaper than coal, energy efficiency saves money and improves your bottom line, and talented people want to work for companies that care about the planet,” he said.

The biggest challenge to persuading more companies to go green, Bloomberg added, is that “reliable data doesn’t exist.” To solve that problem, he has chaired the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), an organization that seeks to communicate financial risk related to climate change.

“Together we are going to meet the goal that this country set in Paris by reducing emissions by at least 26 percent. There isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us,” he said.

Since his election, climate change has been among Macron’s signature issues. When Trump announced that the United States would drop out of the Paris accord, Macron immediately launched a campaign called “Make Our Planet Great Again,” a riff on Trump’s campaign slogan. As part of that campaign, Macron offered research grants for 18 foreign scientists studying climate change to pursue their work in France. On Monday, he announced the winners, including 13 Americans.

For political analysts, Tuesday’s summit provided further evidence of Macron’s desire to assert France as a principal mediator in virtually every important global deliberation, especially on climate change.

“There is an element of prestige here, because France and President Macron want to play a leading role in the global climate governance, and I think there are just two leaders who are credible there: Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping,” said Marc Antoine Eyl-Mazzega, director of the Center for Energy at the French Institute for International Relations, a Paris-based think tank.

Xi — who was not in attendance at Macron’s second Paris summit, although Chinese representatives were — also has been a supporter of the Paris agreement, even if China remains the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on Earth. He, too, has been critical of Trump on the issue of climate change.

“Some countries have become more inward-looking and less willing to take part in international cooperation, and the spillovers of their policy adjustments are deepening,” Xi said in September, stopping short of mentioning the United States by name.

But some see Chinese emissions as the potential thorn in Macron’s plans.

“The exit of the U.S. from climate credibility leaves a gap. The U.S. has traditionally played the role of bad cop with China, forcing them to reduce their emissions. Now that role may fall to Macron,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House climate adviser, now with the Progressive Policy Institute.

“I think Macron recognizes the urgency of climate action in a way that maybe older generations don’t, but he’s got to realize that global emissions can’t peak until Chinese emissions do. And Chinese emissions are still growing.”


France names winners of anti-Trump climate change grants

New Europe

PARIS — Eighteen climate scientists from the U.S. and elsewhere hit the jackpot Monday as French President Emmanuel Macron awarded them millions of euros in grants to relocate to France for the rest of Donald Trump's presidential term.

The "Make Our Planet Great Again" grants — a nod to Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan — are part of Macron's efforts to counter Trump on the climate change front. Macron announced a contest for the projects in June, hours after Trump declared he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.

More than 5,000 people from about 100 countries expressed interest in the grants. A majority of the applicants — and 13 of the 18 winners — were U.S.-based researchers. Macron's appeal "gave me such a psychological boost, to have that kind of support, to have the head of state saying I value what you do," said winner Camille Parmesan, of the University of Texas at Austin. She will be working at an experimental ecology station in the Pyrenees on how human-made climate change is affecting wildlife.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Parmesan described funding challenges for climate science in the U.S. and a feeling that "you are having to hide what you do." Trump has expressed skepticism about global warming and said the Paris accord would hurt U.S. business by requiring a reduction in climate-damaging emissions.

"We will be there to replace" U.S. financing of climate research, Macron told the winners in Paris on Monday. "If we want to prepare for the changes of tomorrow, we need science," he said, promising to put in place a global climate change monitoring system among other climate innovations.

The research of the winning recipients focuses on pollution, hurricanes and clouds. A new round of the competition will be launched next year, alongside Germany. About 50 projects will be chosen overall, and funded with 60 million euros ($70 million) from the state and French research institutes.

Initially aimed at American researchers, the research grants were expanded to other non-French climate scientists, according to organizers. Candidates need to be known for working on climate issues, have completed a thesis and propose a project that would take between three to five years.

The time frame would cover Trump's current presidential term. French officials have not revealed the value of the grants, but said the amount varies by project. Senior researchers were eligible for awards of up to 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million), the president's office said.

Some French researchers have complained that Macron is showering money on foreign scientists at a time when they have been pleading for more support for domestic higher education. Macron unveiled the first winners at a startup incubator in Paris called Station F, where Microsoft and smaller tech companies announced projects to finance activities aimed at reducing emissions.

Monday's event is a prelude to a bigger climate summit Tuesday aimed at giving new impetus to the Paris accord and finding new funding to help governments and businesses meet its goals. More than 50 world leaders are expected in Paris for the "One Planet Summit," co-hosted by the U.N. and the World Bank. Trump was not invited.

Other attendees include Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took a spin on a Parisian electric bike Monday to call attention to health problems caused by pollution. The Hollywood star and former California governor argued that Trump's rejection of the Paris climate accord doesn't matter, because companies, scientists and other governments can "pick up the slack" to reduce global emissions.

Angela Charlton and Catherine Gaschka in Paris contributed.

 on: Dec 13, 2017, 06:56 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
USA Today editorial torches Trump: ‘Not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library’

Bob Brigham
Raw Story
13 Dec 2017 at 21:57 ET                   

A powerful Wednesday editorial by USA Today has blasted President Donald Trump after his sexist tweet against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

“A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush,” USA Today explained.

“With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low,” the editorial observed.

“Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed,” explained USA Today. “If recent history is any guide, the unique awfulness of the Trump era in U.S. politics is only going to get worse. Trump’s utter lack of morality, ethics and simple humanity has been underscored during his 11 months in office.”

The newspaper also took issue with so few members of the Senate Democratic Party Caucus demanding President Trump step down.

“It is a shock that only six Democratic senators are calling for our unstable president to resign,” the editorial lamented.

They concluded that a “president who shows such disrespect for the truth, for ethics, for the basic duties of the job and for decency toward others fails at the very essence of what has always made America great.”

Read the important USA Today editorial on President Donald Trump: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/12/12/trump-lows-ever-hit-rock-bottom-editorials-debates/945947001/

 on: Dec 13, 2017, 06:47 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Footage shows Trump with his sexual assault accusers he claims he never met

13 Dec 2017 at 21:29 ET       

President Donald Trump claimed Tuesday that he has never even met the women accusing him of sexual assault.

Within hours, a lot of footage proved otherwise.

Photos and videos of Trump with some of the women he has deemed liars resurfaced on social media through the day, showing them together years before the real estate mogul and reality TV star ran for the White House.

People posted a photo of Trump standing next to reporter Natasha Stoynoff at Mar-a-Lago. Stoynoff has said that while she was reporting on Trump and his third wife Melania for a story about their wedding anniversary in 2005, Trump cornered her and forcibly kissed her.

When Stoynoff told her story during the 2016 campaign, Trump responded by tweeting, "Why didn't the writer of the twelve year old article in People Magazine mention the 'incident' in her story. Because it did not happen!"

A photo of Trump with another accuser, Jill Harth, resurfaced on Twitter.

Harth told The Guardian that Trump groped her under a table when she and George Houraney, her romantic and business partner at the time, were at dinner together. She said Trump's unwanted advances continued at Mar-a-Lago in 1997 when he allegedly pushed her up against a wall and “had his hands all over me and tried to get up my dress again." She shared her allegations as part of a lawsuit against Trump, who settled out of court.

A video of Trump with one accuser, Summer Zervos, also circulated on social media: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHoPl8DZFS0

Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice,"  told reporters at a 2016 press conference that Trump kissed her on the mouth when they met in 2007. She said Trump grabbed her shoulders, kissed her aggressively and “placed his hand on my breast.” She is now suing Trump for defamation after he accused her of lying.

Nearly 20 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, and he has denied all of the accusations. A denial tweet Tuesday morning apparently set off the second look through the day of footage of him with his accusers.

"Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia - so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met. FAKE NEWS!" he tweeted.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that Trump’s tweet was specifically about three women, Rachel Crooks, Samantha Holvey, and Jessica Leeds, who held a press conference the previous day about their accusations against the president.

More than 100 Democrats in Congress have demanded a congressional investigation into the accusations, many of which surfaced during the 2016 campaign.

 on: Dec 13, 2017, 06:42 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Alabama election: Democrats defeat Roy Moore, dealing huge blow to Donald Trump

Doug Jones becomes first Democrat to win any statewide office in Alabama in decades after Moore’s campaign for Senate marred by sexual assault claims

    Roy Moore’s stunning defeat reveals the limit of Trump-style politics
    Doug Jones victory speech: ‘This race has been about dignity’

Ben Jacobs in Montgomery and David Smith in Birmingham, Alabama
Wednesday 13 December 2017 07.27 GMT

The Democrat Doug Jones has beaten his Donald Trump-backed Republican rival Roy Moore in the diehard Republican state of Alabama, setting off a political earthquake that shook Washington.

His victory in a special election for a US Senate seat – by a margin of 49.9 to 48.4 with 100% of precincts reporting – is a major personal blow to the president and his efforts to pass tax reform on Capitol Hill.

Jones was able to become the first Democrat in a decade to win any statewide office in Alabama by beating Moore, who had faced multiple allegations of sexual assault during a campaign which exposed Republican party faultlines.

Moore, who late on Tuesday was refusing to concede the race, had been favored in the deep red state until two women came forward to claim that Moore assaulted them when they were teenagers; a number of other women said the Alabama Republican had romantically pursued them when they were underage. Moore has denied all the allegations.

Alabama has long faced a profound racial divide, which was reflected in the results. According to an exit poll, Jones won 95% of the African-American vote but only 27% of the white vote in the Yellowhammer State. However, widespread African-American turnout on Jones’s behalf overcame Moore’s margins in rural, predominantly white parts of Alabama.

Jones also made significant inroads among college-educated whites. He won well-educated Madison county by a margin of 57-40. A center of the aerospace industry, the county voted for Trump by a margin of 55-38 in 2016.

‘More in common than what would divide us’

Jones emerged to a euphoric reception just before 10pm local time. “Folks, I gotta tell you, I think that I have been waiting all my life and now I just don’t know what the hell to say,” he said, beginning a 10-minute speech. “I have always believed that the people of Alabama had more in common than what would divide us.”

The election had never been either about him or Moore, he insisted. “This entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of what zip code you live in, is going to get a fair shake.”

His speech was met with cheers and applause and chants of “USA! USA!”

The Democratic victory will reduce the Republican majority in the Senate to 51-49 once Jones takes his seat on Capitol Hill. This significantly reduces the margin for error as Republicans attempt to push through a major corporate tax cut.

They already have one defector in senator Bob Corker, and Jones’s election means a single additional Republican breaking ranks would sink the legislation.

Moore’s defeat also marks a major personal blow to Trump, who endorsed the Alabama Republican and held a rally on his behalf just over the state line in Pensacola, Florida. Although most national Republicans rushed to distance themselves from Moore in the aftermath of the allegations, Trump reaffirmed his support through tweets and public statements.

Shortly after the results were called, Trump tweeted his congratulations to Jones:

    Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

    Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!
    December 13, 2017

Early on Wednesday morning, the president tried to claim he had always known Moore would lose, recalling his backing for opponent Luther Strange in the Republican primary that had preceded the special election. “The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily),” Trump wrote, “is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!”

Moore’s defeat is a significant blow to the efforts by Steve Bannon and the populist Trump wing of the Republican party to undermine Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

Bannon and his allies are planning a series of primary challenges against establishment Republicans in 2018. Moore’s defeat significantly reduces their leverage as the joint efforts of Bannon and his rightwing news website, Breitbart, could not elect their preferred candidate in a state that Trump won in a landslide in 2016.

Steven Law, the head of the McConnell-allied Senate Leadership Fund, put the blame squarely on Bannon moments after the race was called. “This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running,” Law said. “Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the president of the United States into his fiasco.”

Cory Gardner, the head of the National Republican Senate Committee, which flatly refused to back Moore, said: “Tonight’s results are clear: the people of Alabama deemed Roy Moore unfit to serve in the US Senate.”

While national Republicans accepted defeat, at Moore’s election night event, the candidate and his supporters still held out hope.

‘The evening is not over yet’

Moore’s campaign chairman, Bill Armistead, took the stage to insist that “the evening is not over yet” and cited Alabama’s provision for an automatic recount if result was within half of a percentage point. He also noted optimistically that there were still outstanding military ballots.

Moore then took the stage to say: “When the vote is this close, it’s not over.” He then bemoaned that he had been “painted in an unfavorable and unfaithful light” before urging attendees to go home and go to sleep.

Cal Zastrow, a friend of Moore who had come down from Michigan to volunteer for the campaign, tried to frame the results within a bigger picture. “I was cheering for him and supporting him but Jesus is wonderful whether Roy Moore wins or loses,” he said. “I’m not distressed. I’m not discouraged. Jesus is wonderful.”

At Jones’ election night party hundreds of supporters, many waving signs, erupted in cheers at a hotel ballroom in Birmingham when, on giant TV screens, CNN declared the race for the Democrat. There were hugs, smiles, tears and chants of “We want Doug!” The raw emotion was evident.

John Parker, 26, a bartender, said: “I think it’s astounding and unprecedented in Alabama politics, and a response to what we’re seeing nationally. This is a direct response to President Trump. Roy Moore is unfit for any job, let alone [that of] a public servant. Alabama tonight voted for America.”

He added: “There is hope and joy. Tomorrow’s another day in Alabama.”

Caitlin Barringer, 29, who works in healthcare, said: “We finally have a person who will represent all of Alabama. I can’t believe it’s taken this long for people to realise that Roy Moore is not what he says he is.”

Looking at the media crews in the ballroom, she added: “I’m thankful everyone from all over the world is here and Alabama has shown we are so much more than closed-minded people.”

Community activist Keith Williams, 43, who is African American, said: “Miracles do happen. I have a message for America: don’t count Alabama out. The progressive movement is going forward.”


Roy Moore’s stunning defeat reveals the red line for Trump-style politics

Richard Wolffe

The shock election results saw a Democrat make rare inroads in deep-red Alabama – and will hasten the existential question facing the Republican party

Wednesday 13 December 2017 05.30 GMT

There’s no sugar coating the stunning defeat for Donald Trump and his cronies in Tuesday’s senate contest.

There’s no accusation of fake news that can cover the tracks of the disastrous results for the president – and for his supposedly populist politics – little more than one year after his own election.

There’s no comeback for his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who declared war on the Republican establishment by stumping for a toxic candidate like Roy Moore.

This wasn’t a marginal contest in some familiar swing state, a typical bellwether of political trends. We’re talking about Alabama. One of the most Republican states in the union where there’s a long and violent history of rejecting outside influences, and anything that smacks of progressive politics.

If Trumpism has any future, any constituency moving forward, it should be thriving in Alabama. For months we have all endured the endless reporting from Trump Country where the president’s loyalists say their love of the blowhard-in-chief is undiminished.

Instead, Alabama – the state whose love of segregation gave us some of the greatest flashpoints in the civil rights movement – has drawn the reddest of red lines. There are still limits to what voters consider acceptable behavior, and Roy Moore is on the wrong side of them.

Standing by him are his biggest boosters. Donald Trump chose to waste what little remains of his political capital on a man accused of being a sexual predator of teenage girls. The Republican National Committee tarnished its name by supporting Moore’s campaign in its late stages after earlier abandoning him. And then there’s Steve Bannon, who lambasted every Republican for treating Roy Moore like a cancer on the GOP.

For now, Democrats can enjoy the sight of their first senator from Alabama in a quarter of a century. They can enjoy the moral victory of seeing Doug Jones, who successfully prosecuted two of the racist killers behind the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, triumph over a Republican who seemed to hanker after the days when slavery stained the South every day. Democrats can start recalculating the vote-counts on every legislation now they have narrowed the GOP’s Senate majority to just two.

“I have always believed that the people of Alabama have more in common than what divides us,” Jones said in his victory speech. “We have shown the country the way that we can be unified.”

For Democrats, the winning way is pretty clear: run against the demagoguery and divisive politics of Donald Trump.

For Republicans, the lessons are just as clear, but far harder to follow. In the coming weeks and months, Republicans now need to wrestle with something they have happily ignored for the last year. Alabama’s results will hasten the existential question facing every GOP member of Congress who faces re-election next year: is it better or worse to break with Donald Trump?

Until Alabama, this seemed like an easy calculation. Trump’s obvious failings, his freakish nature and his abusive conduct were all brushed aside because he seemed to have a lock on his party. Who could stand against Trump except senators who already said they were retiring from politics?

Now the balance has shifted dramatically. Who can afford to stand with Trump when the Democratic voters are so energized they turn out in numbers huge enough to overturn the monumental Republican majority in Alabama?

The more delusional Republicans will dismiss Tuesday’s results as the fault of a disastrously poisonous candidate like Roy Moore.

Who could vote for a senate candidate who was reportedly banned from shopping malls because of his alleged interest in teenage girls?

What kind of candidate agrees with Vladimir Putin that America is a focus of evil in the world, and who speaks fluent Russian along the way?

But there’s someone on the national stage who bears an uncanny similarity to the profile of Roy Moore. Someone who stands accused of sexual predation on young women, who demonizes the media as much as he lauds Vladimir Putin, and who pretends that his critics are subjugating working class voters. That man works out of the Oval Office.

For the next year, Republican candidates will be hounded at every campaign stop by a simple question: do you approve of Trump’s treatment of women? The party of Moore and Trump is no place for suburban women voters, who have decided the last several election cycles. And women voted by huge margins for Doug Jones in Alabama.

The scale of the surprise is worth measuring. Donald Trump won Alabama by a monumental 28 points just one year ago. The fact that the race was in any way competitive speaks volumes about the disastrous effects of his presidency and Moore’s candidacy.

Two years earlier, Jeff Sessions – the man whose hapless tenure as attorney general prompted Tuesday’s election – won re-election in Alabama with 97 per cent of the vote. These are the kind of numbers that Saddam Hussein used to enjoy in his periodic elections. The remaining three percent of the free votes went to write-in candidates because no other candidate bothered to file in time to get on the ballot.

Even Mitt Romney won Alabama by 22 points in 2012, despite his reputation as a moderate Republican. As much as black voters rallied to Barack Obama with record turnout, they still only represent 25% of Alabama’s population.

In Alabama, the past is never dead in large measure because people like Roy Moore have no idea how the past was experienced by his fellow Alabamians. You don’t need a degree in history from the University of Alabama to understand Moore’s worldview.

At a rally in September, he was asked by an African-American voter in the audience when he thought America was last great. “I think it was great at the time when families were united – even though we had slavery – they cared for one another,” he said. “Our families were strong, our country had a direction.”

In case you were still confused, Moore is the kind of man who appeared on conspiracy wingnut radio in 2011 to lament the constitution’s amendments that abolished slavery, and gave the vote to women and African-Americans.

His reward for this kind of racism was to energize the very voters he disdained. The African-American voters of Alabama have delivered a crushing blow to Trump-style politics.

It’s only reasonable to expect Latino voters to deliver the same blow to GOP candidates who support their president’s demonization of immigrants. It’s only normal to expect women to disdain Republican candidates who refuse to condemn Trump’s sexual harassment.

And it’s only realistic to expect Donald Trump will learn nothing from his humiliation in Alabama. He will continue to rage against Hillary Clinton, the media, and athletes who protest for equal justice. He will continue to obsess about Twitter and cable television instead of finding a new political path.

The real test of the next year lies not with the president, but with his party. Only one of them has the capacity to change.


Five things we learned from Doug Jones's win in Alabama

Democrat’s stunning victory in the fiercely red state is a heavy blow for Trumpism and could widen the rift within the Republican party

    Democrats defeat Roy Moore, dealing huge blow to Donald Trump
    Roy Moore’s stunning defeat reveals the limit of Trump-style politics

David Smith in Birmingham, Alabama
Wednesday 13 December 2017 07.49 GMT

1. Like Darth Vader, Steve Bannon is beatable

The former White House chief strategist has compared himself to the Star Wars villain, but this was the moment he dropped his lightsaber. In 2016, Bannon helped pull off one of the greatest election upsets in American history. But in 2017, he backed one of the worst Senate candidates in American history, making light of allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls, and went down in flames. The old playbook, such as blaming the media, did not work even in a Republican stronghold. Among those questioning Bannon’s judgment is likely to be Donald Trump, who was persuaded to throw in his lot with Moore – and who notoriously hates losing.

2. The Republican civil war is about to get even uglier

The Alabama special election had turned into a lose-lose situation and, unsurprisingly, Republicans lost. A Moore win would have been bad, saddling them with demands for an ethics investigation or expulsion and tarnishing the brand for years. But a Republican Senate defeat in Alabama for the first time since 1992 is hardly cause for celebration, reducing the party’s majority to 51-49 in the chamber. Divisions were painfully exposed by the failure to pass healthcare legislation. Now there will be soul searching and recriminations over this self-inflicted wound. Questions will be asked about Bannon’s undue influence on the party. Is he driving them over a cliff?

3. A pattern is emerging

Historically, the party that occupies the White House struggles in special and mid-term elections. In 2010, Democrats received what President Barack Obama called a “shellacking”. There is a now-growing body of evidence that, despite Trump’s ability to change the rules, this pattern is not only holding but becoming turbocharged. Republicans performed badly in Virginia and elsewhere last month. Now they have lost Alabama, which in sporting terms would be the equivalent of New Zealand losing to Jamaica at rugby. With Trump’s approval rating at a record low, a potential meltdown in the 2018 mid-terms awaits.

4. The anti-Trump coalition has been emboldened

Last month’s elections were dubbed “the revenge of the suburbs”, as women, minorities and university-educated voters joined to deliver a rebuke to Trump by voting in a new slate of female, African American and transgender Democrats. What happened in Alabama appears to confirm this trend. African Americans turned out in big numbers in one of America’s most racially divided states. Many women were appalled by the accusations against Moore. Suburbia, including establishment Republicans, again appears to have dealt a decisive blow.

5. Trump did indeed scramble the electoral map

Trump defied all conventional wisdom to win the presidency, turning some traditionally blue states red. But it cuts both ways. Democrats, who lost the white south in the 1960s, suddenly find that even a state such as Alabama is in play, albeit thanks to Moore’s uniquely negative characteristics. This will give fresh hope to progressives in cities such as Austin, Texas, Nashville, Tennessee, and other islands of blue surrounded by red. Paradoxically, at a moment when America is at its most divided since the Vietnam war, the battle lines are being redrawn.


'Suck it, Bannon': former Trump strategist has bad night in Alabama

Hardline nationalist faces fierce backlash from Republicans after getting heavily involved in Roy Moore campaign

David Smith in Birmingham, Alabama
Wednesday 13 December 2017 11.58 GMT

It was Meghan McCain, the daughter of Senator John McCain, who summed up the feelings of many in a three-word tweet: “Suck it, Bannon.”

This moment had been a long time coming. The hardline nationalist, who helped mastermind Donald Trump’s election victory, brought his blow-everything-up philosophy to the White House then returned to rightwing Breitbart News, had finally got his comeuppance.

Republicans’ stunning reversal in Alabama on Tuesday was a defeat for the candidate and alleged child molester Roy Moore, a defeat for the president, Donald Trump, but, above all, a defeat for Steve Bannon.

“Bad night for a lot of people, but mostly for Steve Bannon,” the Republican strategist Bruce Haynes tweeted. “He’ll be blamed (rightly so) supporting a terriblehorrible candidate, for poor judgment, awful last minute comments and for dragging the president into a losing race.”

The former investment banker and White House chief strategist apparently thought he could do for Moore what he did for Trump in last year’s presidential election. He cast the race as less about Alabama than about furthering Trump’s economic nationalist agenda. In the Republican primary he defied the president himself, who endorsed Luther Strange. Moore won that contest and Bannon dived in with both feet.

It was only this Monday that his biographer, Joshua Green, wrote an article for Bloomberg headlined: “How Steve Bannon Rescued Roy Moore’s Campaign Against All Odds.”

Green noted that by 14 November, facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers reported in the Washington Post, Moore had been abandoned by the Republican party and was at risk of losing the Trump cheerleader and Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Bannon recognised that this would probably be fatal. According to Green, he asked Hannity not to call on Moore to withdraw and instead to let Alabama voters decide. A source said Hannity texted one of Bannon’s Breitbart colleagues: “You pull this off it’s a f--- miracle.”

Bannon, who has branded the media the opposition party, is also said to have sent Breitbart reporters to Alabama in an effort to discredit the Washington Post story, or at least kick up enough dust to cause confusion.

By election day, the strategy appeared to have worked. Bannon had persuaded Hannity to back down, Trump to endorse and the Republican National Committee to restore funding. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, muted his past calls for Moore to step aside, saying the people of Alabama should decide.

But in the end, all Bannon’s efforts, including a speech at a campaign rally on the eve of the election (“There’s a special place in hell for Republicans who should know better”), were in vain. Backed by women and African Americans in particular, Democrats enjoyed their first Senate victory in a quarter of a century in Alabama, a Republican bastion in the deep south where Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 28 percentage points.

Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to McConnell, tweeted: “I’d just like to thank Steve Bannon for showing us how to lose the reddest state in the union.”

The party backlash was swift and vicious. Steven Law, head of the pro-McConnell Senate Leadership Fund, said: “This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running. Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the president of the United States into his fiasco.”

Bannon had been plotting an insurgency against the Republican establishment in the 2018 congressional elections, supporting primary candidates such as Kelli Ward in Arizona, Danny Tarkanian in Nevada and Kevin Nicholson in Wisconsin, all of whom oppose McConnell staying on as Senate leader.

But suddenly, the emperor has no clothes and all is in doubt. There is less and less reason to believe that Trump’s electoral success can be replicated by “mini-Trumps” at a local level. Bannon, so used to attacking, may suddenly find himself playing defence.

Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, tweeted: “Lesson for the GOP: if there is a bridge too far in Alabama, there is a bridge too far in every other state where Steve Bannon wants to run a fringy candidate.”

Some felt that, by losing, Republicans had won, coming one step closer to getting Bannon out their system, rejecting extremism in favour of moderation. The former senator Norm Coleman wrote: “Short term pain, long term gain. Roy Moore and Steve Bannon losing tonight is big win for the GOP. We will survive 2 years of D. Jones. Moore would have buried GOP in 2018.”

The president, however, still casts a long shadow.


As Democrats rejoice in Roy Moore loss, Republicans look for someone to blame

Allies of the controversial candidate were quick to call out the Republican establishment, while Democrats declared the victory a triumph of ‘decency’

Ben Jacobs in Montgomery, Alabama
Wednesday 13 December 2017 06.14 GMT

The Democrats’ win in Alabama over Republican Roy Moore provoked reaction from jubilant Democrats, somber Republicans looking to point fingers, and a surprisingly gracious Donald Trump.

Shortly after Doug Jones’s shock victory over Moore in a special election for US senate, the president, who had gone out of his way to endorse Moore, posted: “Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!”

Besides Trump, other Moore allies were less enthusiastic about the result and cast the blame on the Republican establishment. Andy Surabian, a Bannon ally and chief strategist for the Great America Alliance Super Pac told the Guardian: “By doing everything in their power to defy the president and throw this race to a liberal Democrat, [senator majority leader Mitch] McConnell and his allies just ignited a firestorm with the grassroots.”

Corey Stewart, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for US Senate in Virginia in 2018, who had come to Alabama to campaign for Moore’s, said: “The Republican establishment got exactly what it wanted. It wanted to defeat a pro-Trump candidate like Judge Moore.”

Among the Republicans repelled by the allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore, there was a sense of relief. Jeff Flake, a Republican senator from Arizona who had donated to Jones, simply tweeted: “decency wins.”

Others used the result as an opportunity to take shots at former White House strategist Steve Bannon who had ardently backed Moore. Steven Law, the chair of the Senate Leadership Fund, a Super Pac closely allied with McConnell said in a statement: “Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the President of the United States into his fiasco.”

Conservative pundit Meghan McCain, the daughter of John McCain, wrote on Twitter: “Suck it, Bannon.”

Democrats were obviously elated. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer crowed that Doug Jones would be an outstanding Senator who would represent Alabama well, saying: “He was a great candidate and will be an even better Senator.”

Senator Bernie Sanders echoed his colleague in a statement: “Congratulations to the people of Alabama for doing what few thought they would do. This is a victory not just for Jones and Democrats. It is a victory for justice and decency.”

Of course, some did not miss the opportunity to taunt the president and the Republican party. Congressman Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania mocked Trump for creating the vacancy by appointing Jeff Sessions to the Senate in a tweet: “Hey @realDonaldTrump – So how’s picking Jeff Sessions to be your Attorney General working out for you?”.

Tom Perez, the chair of the DNC, said in a statement: “Alabama voters didn’t just reject Roy Moore, they embraced Doug Jones and the Democratic party’s vision for a brighter future. They joined millions of voters across the country who are standing up to Donald Trump and the GOP’s radical agenda by making their voices heard and electing Democrats up and down the ballot.”

Perez went on to take a shot at the national Republican party for embracing Moore.

“While Republican leaders embrace accused child molesters like Roy Moore for their own political gain, Democrats will keep fighting for working families and for what is right because we are the party of the people.”


Trump attacks senator and dismisses sexual harassment claims as Democratic conspiracy

    President sends ‘ugly and suggestive’ tweet about senator Kirsten Gillibrand
    Gillibrand condemns Trump’s ‘sexist smear’ and says: ‘I will not be silenced’

Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington and Amanda Holpuch in New York
13 December 2017 21.42 GMT

Donald Trump claimed on Tuesday that the harassment accusations against him were a Democratic conspiracy as he lashed out at a prominent female senator with what she quickly dubbed a “sexist smear”.
The sexual misconduct allegations against Donald Trump – the full list
Read more

“Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump,” the president tweeted.

Gillibrand – who along with three male Democratic senators has called on Trump to resign over the numerous sexual misconduct accusations against him – responded on Twitter minutes later. “You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office,” the New York senator wrote.

Hours later, Gillibrand told reporters on Capitol Hill that Trump’s post was “a sexist smear attempting to silence my voice. It’s part of the president’s effort at name-calling.”

She added: “I will not be silenced on this issue. Neither will the women who stood up to the president yesterday, and neither will the millions of women who have been marching since the women’s march in January to stand up against policies they do not agree with.”

Trump singled out Gillibrand while ignoring the male senators who have also called on him to step down: the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, the New Jersey senator Cory Booker and the Oregon senator Jeff Merkley.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, denied there were any sexual implications behind Trump’s tweet, telling reporters: “Only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way.

“This is the same sentiment the president has expressed many times before when he has exposed corruption of the entire political system,” Sanders said. “This isn’t a new sentiment. This isn’t new terminology.

“He’s not alleging anything,” she added. “There’s no way that this is sexist at all.”

But the tweet drew swift condemnation from Democrats for its provocative innuendo, particularly against the backdrop of a national dialogue around sexual harassment against women.

Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, accused Trump of trying to “slut-shame” Gillibrand.

“Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame @SenGillibrand?” Warren wrote on Twitter. “Do you know who you’re picking a fight with? Good luck with that, @realDonaldTrump.”

Warren later characterized Trump’s tweet as “disgusting”, telling reporters on Capitol Hill: “It was clear what he was getting at. He is disgusting.”

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi also condemned Trump’s attack, saying it was “disgusting and disgraceful, and of course obviously not true”.

Trump’s comments came a day after three women who previously accused Trump of sexual harassment shared their stories in an interview on NBC and at a press conference in New York. While the White House has expressed a desire not to relitigate the accusations, the president’s outburst placed the conversation squarely back on his treatment of women.

The women who retold their stories on Monday – Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks – urged Congress to investigate Trump’s behavior.

A fourth accuser, Melinda McGillivray, appeared on NBC Tuesday morning to speak about her own sexual misconduct allegation against Trump.

McGillivray, who like the other women had initially shared her story during the 2016 campaign, accused Trump of groping her in 2003 at his Mar-a-Lago hotel in West Palm Beach, Florida. McGillivray said she was 23 at the time and photographing a concert at Trump’s property.

“The next thing I know, I feel a grab on my right side … to my surprise, it’s Donald,” McGillivray said on Megyn Kelly Today.

“He’s standing a foot and a half away from me, so he had to reach out and touch me. I stand there and I’m stunned. I don’t even know what to do with myself in that moment.”

At least 16 women have accused Trump of sexual assault. In many cases, the behavior they describe mirrors what Trump himself bragged about doing in a 2005 Access Hollywood tape leaked months before the November election. In the tape, Trump boasted of kissing and groping women without their consent.

Trump dismissed the claims in a tweet on Tuesday morning, suggesting – without evidence – that they were part by of a coordinated effort by Democrats to undermine his presidency.

But while Trump claimed not to know the women alleging misconduct, there was some photographic evidence to the contrary. Footage from the Apprentice shows Trump sitting across the table from Summer Zervos, a former contestant who said he groped her. Natasha Stoynoff, a former correspondent for People Magazine, was photographed with Trump at Mar-a-Lago on the same day she alleges he forcibly kissed her. Another photograph shows Trump and Jill Harth, who opened up to the Guardian last year about filing a lawsuit against him for “attempted rape” in 1997.

With the issue of sexual misconduct under a national spotlight, nearly 60 female lawmakers have formally requested a congressional investigation into Trump. In a letter, 56 female Democrats wrote to the House committee on oversight and government reform requesting an investigation. “We cannot ignore the multitude of women who have come forward with accusations against Mr Trump,” the Democratic Women’s Working Group wrote.

At a press conference Tuesday, the lawmakers lamented that while other powerful men from entertainment, media and politics had been held accountable for allegations of sexual misconduct, the complaints of Trump’s accusers had “fallen on deaf ears”.

“The #MeToo movement has arrived and sexual abuse will not be tolerated, whether it’s by a Hollywood producer, the chef of a restaurant, a member of Congress or the president of the United States,” said Lois Frankel, a representative from Florida who is the head of the working group.

Gillibrand’s office said she met with Trump once in 2010 and that his daughter, Ivanka, was also present for the meeting.

According to federal records, Trump donated $7,950 to Gillibrand’s House and Senate campaigns between 2007 and 2010. Ivanka Trump separately donated $2,000 to Gillibrand in 2014.

 on: Dec 13, 2017, 06:28 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Chinese authorities collecting DNA from all residents of Xinjiang

Officials build database of iris scans and blood types of everyone aged 12 to 65 in region home to 11 million Muslim Uighurs

Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong
Wednesday 13 December 2017 04.53 GMT

Chinese authorities are collecting DNA samples, fingerprints and other biometric data from every resident in a far western region, Human Rights Watch has said.

Officials are also building a database of iris scans and blood types of everyone aged between 12 and 65 in Xinjiang, adding to controls in a place some experts have called an “open-air prison”.

The region is home to over 11 million Uighurs, a Muslim Turkic minority, and is occasionally hit by bouts of violence.

The data can be used for “surveillance of persons because of ethnicity, religion, opinion or other protected exercise of rights like free speech”, according to Human Rights Watch.

Part of the collection is being done through government-provided medical checkups, and it is unclear if patients are aware the exam is also designed to transmit biometric data to the police.

Although the checks are officially voluntary, one Uighur said local cadres “had demanded that they must participate in the physicals”. A story in a local newspaper encouraged officials to “work hard to convince them to participate”.

Nearly 19 million people have participated in the medical exams, dubbed Physicals for All, in 2017, according to state news agency Xinhua. For people determined to be “focus personnel” – a euphemism for those the government views as dangerous – their data will be collected regardless of age.

“The mandatory databanking of a whole population’s biodata, including DNA, is a gross violation of international human rights norms,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s even more disturbing if it is done surreptitiously, under the guise of a free healthcare program.

“Xinjiang authorities should rename their physical exams project ‘Privacy Violations for All’, as informed consent and real choice does not seem to be part of these programs,” she added.
China: Xi Jinping wants ‘Great Wall of Steel’ in violence-hit Xinjiang
Read more

Officials in the region claim the scheme is meant to improve policies aimed at poverty alleviation. They also say it is targeted at “social stability”, a phrase commonly used to describe crackdowns on government critics.

In the massive effort to collect biometric data from millions of residents, police in Xinjiang bought DNA sequencers from the US company Thermo Fisher Scientific, according to Human Rights Watch. The company refused to directly address its products being used in Xinjiang, saying only: “We do expect all of our customers to act in accordance with appropriate regulations and industry-standard best practices.”

Biometric data collection also applies to people originally from Xinjiang who have moved to other parts of China, where they will be required to submit their information locally.

Xinjiang is one of the most tightly controlled parts of China, with the Uighur minority facing increased scrutiny in recent years. Heavily armed troops on city streets are a common sight and the authorities frequently hold mass rallies to bolster their support in the fight against the Islamic extremists Beijing blames for a series of attacks on government officials and civilians.

But rights groups say most of the violence stems from restrictions on religion, culture, language and expression, as well as a lack of economic opportunities in the impoverished region. Uighurs often complain high-paying jobs are given only to Han Chinese.

 on: Dec 13, 2017, 06:24 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Palestinians no longer accept US role as mediator, Abbas tells summit

Recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel was a crime that threatens world peace, Palestinian president tells delegates in Istanbul

Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem
Wednesday 13 December 2017 11.59 GMT

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has formally declared that Palestinians will no longer accept the US as a mediator in the Middle East peace process following Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In his strongest public statement since Trump’s announcement last week, Abbas called the move a “crime” that threatened world peace. He demanded the United Nations take charge of the peace process as Washington was no longer “fit” for the task.

Abbas was speaking at a hastily convened meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, where members were called upon to recognise a Palestinian state amid strong condemnations of both the US and Israel.

“Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state,” Abbas told delegatees. “We do not accept any role of the United States in the political process from now on. Because it is completely biased towards Israel.”

Also in attendance were King Abdullah of Jordan, the Lebanese president Michel Aoun, the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait, and the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, who called on all Muslim nations to unite to defend the rights of Palestinians.

The summit was opened by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause. He hopes to unite Muslim leaders behind a tough final statement from the meeting.

Erdoğan called for the acceleration of the recognition of Palestine by international institutions, denouncing the US move as an unlawful and provocative “red line” for Muslims, and describing Israel as an occupying and “terror” state.

In a sign of cracks in the unity of Muslim countries – and reflecting the wider tensions in the region – Saudi Arabia and Egypt were represented at a relatively junior level, and took a backseat in the proceedings.

In comments pointedly aimed at Saudi Arabia, Rouhani said the only reason Trump “dared” recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was because some in the region were seeking to establish ties to Israel.

Rouhani’s remarks – and the prominence of countries closer to Iran at the summit – suggest that the contentious issue of Jerusalem risks being sucked into the escalating confrontation between Riyadh and Tehran.

Much of the language on Wednesday morning echoed that used in an emergency Arab League meeting in Cairo at the weekend, when Arab foreign ministers demanded that the US rescind Trump’s decision.

Analysts, however, raised doubts as to whether Turkey’s leadership could bridge gaps in the Muslim political community, which is divided along Shia and Sunni lines.

Despite the strength of the condemnations the meeting appeared to have fallen short of the hopes of Palestinians for a display of unity.

Aaron Stein, resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, told AFP before the meeting he believed Muslim leaders would merely “issue a boiler-plate condemnation”. “What that actually means is anyone’s guess,” he added.

There are fears that regional tensions may be fanned further by a visit early next week by the US vice-president, Mike Pence, which was originally billed as focusing on the experience of Christians in the Middle East.

Abbas has already said he will refuse to meet Pence in protest, and Christian Palestinian leaders have also come under pressure to boycott his visit.

Trump’s announcement last week prompted an outpouring of anger in the Muslim and Arab world, where tens of thousands of people took to the streets to denounce Israel and show solidarity with the Palestinians.

Firing aimed at Israel from inside the Palestinian coastal enclave of Gaza that began after the announcement continued on Wednesday morning. The Israeli air force – which has killed four Palestinians in Gaza in recent strikes – retaliated, wounding several Palestinians.

 on: Dec 13, 2017, 06:22 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Egyptian pop singer sent to prison for video that 'incited debauchery'

Shyma, 21, sentenced to two years over video in which she appeared in her underwear and suggestively ate a banana

Staff and agencies in Cairo
13 December 2017 20.20 GMT

An Egyptian pop singer has been sentenced to two years in prison for “inciting debauchery” in a racy music video clip.

Shyma, a little-known 21-year-old singer, was also fined 10,000 pounds (£420) by a Cairo court.

The director of the clip, Mohamed Gamal, received the same sentence. Both can appeal against the ruling.

Shyma was arrested on 18 November, police said, following complaints about the video for her song I Have Issues.

In the video, she appears singing in her underwear and suggestively eating an apple and a banana before a classroom of young men.

The video created a stir on social media in conservative Egypt and was discussed on TV talkshows.
Egyptian singer Sherine Abdel Wahab to face trial over Nile comments
Read more

“Singer Shyma presents a lesson in depravity to youths,” said the Youm 7 newspaper in an article after the video was released.

In a Facebook post at the time, Shyma apologised for the video and said she had not anticipated the backlash.

“I didn’t imagine all this would happen and that I would be subjected to such a strong attack from everyone, as a young singer … who has dreamt from a young age of being a singer,” she wrote.

The authorities under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have used wide-ranging morality laws to crack down on a range of artists.

In 2015, a court jailed a female dancer to a year in prison for “inciting debauchery” in a raunchy music video for a song called Let Go of My Hand.

 on: Dec 13, 2017, 06:17 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Bollywood sexual harassment: actors speak out on Indian cinema's open secret

Women tell the Guardian that unmasking of abusive men is overdue in industry that shames and undermines victims

Michael Safi in Mumbai
Wednesday 13 December 2017 01.02 GMT

The casting director had one hand pressed to the phone at his ear; the other, according to a police complaint, he rested on Reena Saini’s thigh.

“He was casting for TV serials,” Saini, 26, recalls. “One day he called me for an audition. And when I reached the place he said, come into my car and talk, I’m in a hurry.”

While the car idled in Mumbai traffic, and his young nephew sat in the backseat, Saini says the casting director, Sohan Thakur, started to grope her. “It made me so embarrassed,” the Bollywood hopeful says. “I didn’t know if it was intentional, or by mistake. I was numb, I was freaked out.”

After she squirmed from the vehicle, she says Thakur called her with a warning not to share the incident. “He told me, if you say this to anyone, it will be your minus in the industry,” she says. “People won’t see you as a good girl.”

Thakur denies the allegations, and has said in a detailed response on Facebook that CCTV evidence supports his account of events and that he will be suing for defamation.

Swara Bhasker is now an established, award-winning actor in Bollywood, the Mumbai film industry. But she was fairly new to the business when one director started incessantly texting her on set.

It soon escalated to requests for “intense” one-on-one meetings. “He started saying he needed to fall in love with my character,” she says. “He would always call me on the pretext of discussing this lovemaking scene – and I’d go and he’d always be drinking.”

Late one evening he knocked on her door while drunk, she says, and demanded she hug him. To endure the project, Bhasker was forced to enlist another crew member as her chaperone.

“Now I understand why in the olden days the actresses used to take their mothers on shoots,” she says.

Stories of sexual assault and harassment are among several shared with the Guardian by women in Indian film industries. All of those interviewed said the mass unmasking of abusers in the media and entertainment worlds of the US, UK and elsewhere was long overdue in India – but were doubtful such a reckoning would occur any time soon in the world’s largest producer of films.

None could identify an offender accused of crimes on the scale of the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who has now been accused of rape by multiple women – allegations Weinstein denies.

But what is endemic, they say, is a deeply entrenched culture of actors – mostly women, but some men – being pressured to exchange sexual favours for roles and the promise of fame.

“The casting couch is one of Indian cinema’s most open secrets,” says Anna MM Vetticad, a journalist and author on the film industry.

“It is always very subtle,” says Bhasker. “People try to insinuate that there are 10,000 girls for one role – so what can you do?”

“They make situations uncomfortable and load choices in a way where if women want to get ahead, you have to do certain things,” another prominent actor, Tisca Chopra, says.

Both women say they have resisted the “casting couch” even when it cost them work. “I have lost roles,” Bhasker says. “I know the directors who won’t answer my calls because I made it clear I would not get into that relationship situation.”

Criticism of this culture is usually expressed as accusations that women are “sleeping their way to the top”, says Vetticad, “instead of pointing to the excruciating pressures women are subjected to in India’s heavily male-dominated industries”.

She adds: “Male producers, directors and actors have the power to make and break these women’s careers, and so routinely and aggressively proposition them, or at the very least let it be known that a willingness to grant sexual favours would help a woman professionally.”

“It definitely is a problem,” agrees Amit Behl, the senior joint secretary of the Cine and TV Artists Association in Mumbai.

Tens of thousands of young actors arrive in film hubs such as Mumbai each year hoping to emulate superstars such as Deepika Padukone or Aamir Khan.

“Mentally, in terms of awareness of the laws, they’ve just come from small towns with big dreams – they face maximum exploitation,” Behl says.

As in other countries, sexual harassment is likely rampant across the Indian workforce, he adds, but is especially acute in industries such as cinema, where a huge pool of workers, poor regulations and artistic discretion vest enormous power in employers. “It’s an insecure industry in which people take advantage of each other because of this insecurity,” he says.

This year, a shocking allegation roused the women of one Indian film industry into action.

In February in Kerala state, centre of Mollywood, the Malayalam film world, a prominent female actor was bundled into a car and sexually assaulted for several hours before being dumped on the street.

In a bombshell move in July, police arrested a major Mollywood star, an actor known as Dileep, for allegedly orchestrating the kidnapping and assault. He denies the charges.

Padmapriya, a National Film Award-winning Mollywood actor, was aghast by the crime – but also by the way the industry reacted to Dileep’s arrest. “All the big actors went and met with him, said everything would be fine,” she says.

Some industry figures attacked the victim, suggesting she was lying or might have staged the crime for publicity. “We were very frustrated,” says Padmapriya, who like many Indians goes by one name.

What started as a series of Facebook posts in support of the woman snowballed into something unprecedented: the formation of a women’s film collective aimed at quashing sexism and sexual harassment in the Malayalam film world.

“It was inspired by our colleague, but the first time we met we didn’t even speak about her – we just talked about our own experiences,” Padmapriya says. “If one woman was talking about the casting couch, I was talking about how I was being sidelined because I was a female actor.

“We realised this was much bigger than what had happened to our colleague,” she says.

In November, the Women in Cinema Collective was officially registered. It aims to advocate for women, but also provide counselling, legal advice and a formal redressal mechanism for when accusations of sexual harassment or assault arise.

Awareness and reporting of crimes against women has grown across Indian society in the past five years, and the film industry has not been immune. “People are becoming more open about it, complaining, expressing their ire on social media, going to the cops,” says Behl.

His organisation has received nearly 50 formal complaints of sexual harassment in the past two years, he says, compared with 12 in the three years before.

The same whisper networks that trafficked warnings about Weinstein in the US also exist in India. Off-the-record, Bhasker reeled off a dozen household names in Bollywood who are regarded as “serial harassers”.

They are unlikely to be unmasked any time soon, she says. Bollywood and other Indian film industries have no appetite for controversy. “This is a not an industry that has typically stood for causes,” Bhasker says.

She raises the recent furore around Padmavati, a film about a legendary Hindu queen whose release was indefinitely postponed after protests and death threats against the cast. “Producers don’t go to court. They don’t fight. It is a non-confrontational industry.

“Why, in a context like this, would people with tens of millions of rupees to lose align themselves with some powerless struggling girl? They’ll say, sorry babe – just go home. It is not a context that breeds solidarity.”

Actors who call out their harassers must also contend with a culture that still shames victims, and which eyes female stars with awe and reverence, but suspicion too.

“It is an industry where actors have to wear any kind of dress or do intimate scenes,” Padmapriya says. “And people assume, if you’re up for doing that, then what’s the big deal?”

    If you have information about sexual misconduct in Bollywood, please contact michael.safi@theguardian.com

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