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« Reply #4140 on: Nov 14, 2018, 05:10 AM »

Ban Gas and Diesel Vehicles? Spain Proposes Bill to Address Climate Change


The Spanish government is considering a slew of new climate-regulations in order to slash its greenhouse gas emissions, including a ban on sale of gasoline and diesel cars beginning in 2040.

A draft of the country's "Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition" published Tuesday also proposes measures such as ending fossil fuels subsidies, a ban on fracking, halting new oil exploration licenses and a transition to 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2050, according to media reports.

If enacted, the law would bring major changes to Spain, which is Europe's second-largest carmaker after Germany, and the ninth-largest globally. Brands such as Daimler, Ford, Nissan, Peugeot Citroen, Renault and Volkswagen have manufacturing plants in the country.

"Some of the most important necessary changes affect transport," the document said, per Reuters. "From 2040, the registration and sale in Spain of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles that directly emit carbon dioxide will not be permitted."

This the nation's first law on emissions reduction and clean energy, according to Climate Home News. Overall, the aim is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2030 and by 90 percent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

"Our proposal is to reduce Spain's current greenhouse gas emissions by a third in just a decade, which we consider an international milestone and a sign of our firm commitment to the fight against climate change," Spain's ecological transition minister Teresa Ribera told the publication.

Spain joins other European countries such as France, the UK, Denmark, Scotland, the Netherlands and Norway that have proposed similar internal combustion engine bans in order to tackle climate change. Even car-obsessed Germany has allowed its cities to ban diesel vehicles from its roads to combat air pollution.

Spain's minority government is led by Socialist Pedro Sánchez, who has served as prime minister since June. His party holds less than one-quarter of the seats in parliament. The climate legislation will need the support of other parliamentary parties in order for it to pass.

José Luis García Ortega from Greenpeace España told Climate Home News that the government's proposals are actually not strong enough to meet the Paris agreement's goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. He said Spain needs to reduce its emissions to net-zero and switch to renewables by 2040 instead of 2050

"We just can't afford to wait," he said.

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« Reply #4141 on: Nov 14, 2018, 05:13 AM »

Justin Trudeau says Canada in talks with Pakistan over Asia Bibi

PM says Canada is a ‘welcoming country’ and that discussions are being held over fate of freed Christian woman

Staff and agencies
14 Nov 2018 05.44 GMT

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has said talks are underway with Pakistan over Asia Bibi, a Christian woman whose acquittal on blasphemy charges against Islam last month sparked mass protests in the South Asian country.

“We are in discussions with the Pakistani government,” Trudeau said in an interview with Agence France Presse in Paris, where he attended an anniversary event marking the end of world war one. His comments were confirmed by a spokesman in Ottawa.

“There is a delicate domestic context that we respect which is why I don’t want to say any more about that, but I will remind people Canada is a welcoming country,” he said.

Bibi, who spent eight years on death row in Pakistan before being released, is in protective custody because her life is in danger from those who disagree with the acquittal. Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, has appealed for help to Britain, Canada, Italy and the United States.

Britain’s former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has urged the UK to give Bibi asylum. In a letter to his successor, Jeremy Hunt, and home secretary Sajid Javid he is reported to have said: “We cannot allow the threat of violence to deter us from doing the right thing. I do not think it is a dignified position for the UK, given our historic links with Pakistan and the extent of our influence there, to look to others to do what we are allegedly nervous to do ourselves.”

While AFP said Canada’s discussions were about potentially offering Bibi and her family asylum, this was not confirmed by the spokesman in Ottawa.

Islamists have threatened to escalate protests in Pakistan if Bibi is allowed to leave the country. Islamabad has indicated it will bar her from travelling abroad.

Last week, Canada urged Pakistan to ensure Bibi’s wellbeing and foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said the government was “extremely engaged in this issue”.

Bibi was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 after neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim. They said she made derogatory remarks about Islam. She is a Protestant and denies committing blasphemy.

Islamists shut down roads in major cities in Pakistan during three days of demonstrations against Bibi’s acquittal at the end of last month.

Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Mulook, fled to the Netherlands earlier this week because of fears for the safety of his family.

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« Reply #4142 on: Nov 14, 2018, 05:37 AM »

Pakistan's schools crisis has 'devastating impact on millions of girls'

A third of girls are unable to attend primary school due to lack of facilities, research by Human Rights Watch reveals

Karen McVeigh
14 Nov 2018 07.42 GMT

Pakistan’s school system is in crisis, with a lack of government facilities creating “education deserts” for poor children, especially girls, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

A third of girls across the country are not attending primary school, compared with 21% of boys. By the ninth grade, just 13% of girls are still in school, it said.

In Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, the picture is bleaker still: 81% of girls did not complete primary school in 2014/15, compared to 52% of boys.

Nearly 22.5 million children are out of school, according to Imran Khan’s party manifesto, published before he was elected prime minister in July.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, Shall I Feed my Daughter or Educate Her?, concludes many of the most serious barriers to education lie within the school system. A chronic lack of investment in education has led to a shortage of government schools, particularly girls schools. Other factors include prohibitive school fees, corporal punishment, poor quality schools in the public and private sector, a lack of regulation and corruption.

Girls face additional barriers, as part of a broader landscape of gender discrimination in the country, including child marriage, sexual harassment and child labour.

“The Pakistan government’s failure to educate children is having a devastating impact on millions of girls,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at HRW. “Many of the girls we interviewed are desperate to study, but instead are growing up without the education that would help them have options for their future.”

The Pakistan government has acknowledged a persistent “under investment” by the state, leading to “a poor quality of education for those who are fortunate enough to get enrolled and no education for the rest”, the report said.

While the nation’s constitution advocates free and compulsory education for all children aged five to 16 years old, there is no organised effort by the government to ensure all children study, it found. The country’s highly decentralised government structure also meant that education policy varied significantly across regions.

The HRW report said the government’s “abdication of responsibility” towards education has created an explosion of largely unregulated new private schools of wildly varying quality, including low-cost establishments which are often the only option for poor families. According to UN guidance, Pakistan should spent at least 15 to 20% of the total national budget and 4 to 6% of GDP in eduction. It spent 12.6% (in 2016) and 2.8% (in 2017) respectively.

In interviews for the report, girls talked again and again about their desires to “be someone” and how their dreams have been crushed by being unable to study.

Khan’s political party’s manifesto promises major reforms to the education system.

“The government recognises that education reform is desperately needed and promises to make this a priority, especially for girls – a positive step,” Gerntholtz said. “We hope that our findings will help the government to diagnose the problems and identify solutions that will give every Pakistani girl a bright future.”

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« Reply #4143 on: Nov 14, 2018, 05:38 AM »

Aung San Suu Kyi stripped of Amnesty's highest honour over 'shameful betrayal'

Organisation cites ‘apparent indifference’ to atrocities committed against the Rohingya by Myanmar’s military

Rebecca Ratcliffe
14 Nov 2018 17.32 GMT

Amnesty International has withdrawn a prestigious human rights award from Aung San Suu Kyi, following what it described as a “shameful betrayal” of the values she once stood for.

It is the latest in a series of accolades to be withdrawn from Aung San Suu Kyi, including the US Holocaust Museum’s Elie Weisel award and Freedom of the City awards, which were revoked by Edinburgh, Oxford, Glasgow and Newcastle.

Amnesty International said on Monday that Aung San Suu Kyi, now Myanmar’s civilian leader, was no longer a symbol of hope, and that it had withdrawn its highest honour, the ambassador of conscience award. It cited her “apparent indifference” to atrocities committed against the Rohingya and her increasing intolerance of freedom of speech.

Aung San Suu Kyi received the ambassador of conscience award in 2009, while under house arrest, for her role in championing peace and democracy. She was described as “a symbol of hope, courage and the undying defence of human rights” by Irene Khan, Amnesty International’s then secretary general.

Kumi Naidoo, the organisation’s current secretary general, said in a letter to Aung San Suu Kyi that her ambassador title could no longer be justified.

“Our expectation was that you would continue to use your moral authority to speak out against injustice wherever you saw it, not least within Myanmar itself,” Naidoo wrote in the letter.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been widely accused of being apathetic or complicit in the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, who, the UN has warned, continue to be targeted in an “ongoing genocide”.

More than 700,000 Rohingya people remain in Bangladesh, having fled a brutal military crackdown that began in August 2017. UN investigators said that during the campaign, Myanmar’s military carried out killings and gang rapes with “genocidal intent”, and called for the commander-in-chief and five generals to be prosecuted for the gravest crimes under international law.

Yanghee Lee, the UN special investigator on human rights in Myanmar, said she believed Aung San Suu Kyi was in “total denial” about accusations of violence.

“Without acknowledgement of the horrific crimes against the community, it is hard to see how the government can take steps to protect them from future atrocities,” said Naidoo.

Amnesty International added that Aung San Suu Kyi’s administration had stirred up hatred against Rohingya by labelling them “terrorists”, obstructed international investigations into abuses, and failed to repeal repressive laws used to silence critics.

In September, Aung San Suu Kyi defended the imprisonment of two Reuters journalists who were given seven-year jail terms after investigating the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Rahkine state. The sentences were widely condemned by international governments, human rights groups and the UN as a miscarriage of justice and a symbol of the major regression of freedom of expression in Myanmar.

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« Reply #4144 on: Nov 14, 2018, 05:41 AM »

Czech PM's future hangs in balance after son's kidnap claims

Opposition demands no-confidence vote on Andrej Babiš’s minority government

Robert Tait in Prague
14 Nov 2018 17.52 GMT

The political future of Andrej Babiš, the scandal-tainted Czech prime minister, has been plunged into fresh doubt after his son said he had been lured to Crimea and abducted to stop him testifying about alleged criminal fraud in his father’s business dealings.

Opposition parties demanded a parliamentary no-confidence vote on Babiš’s minority coalition government after the Czech news site Seznam Zprávy broadcast a documentary that included footage of his son, Andrej Babiš Jr, making dramatic allegations apparently implicating his father.

Babiš, 35, tracked down to Switzerland, where he was living with his mother, the prime minister’s first wife, said he had been persuaded to go to Crimea at a time when police were seeking to question him. Babiš, who has a history of mental health problems, had been given the choice of “taking an extended holiday” or being admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

Once in Crimea he was forcibly detained by two Russians, one of whom was a psychiatrist who had previously treated him during a stay in a Prague mental hospital, he claimed.

Babiš has been charged, along with his billionaire father, in the long-running investigation into allegations that nearly €2m (£1.7m) in EU funds was falsely obtained by one of the latter’s businesses, Čapí Hnízdo (Stork’s Nest), a hotel and conference centre south of Prague.

However, police have still to interrogate the prime minister’s son, having been unsure of his whereabouts after he left the Czech Republic, leaving the prosecution effectively stalled.

The money was awarded as a small business grant after Čapí Hnízdo was transferred from Babiš Sr’s sprawling Agrofert company to undisclosed new ownership in 2007. It later emerged that the new owners were the prime minister’s son and daughter, along with his partner of the time and future wife, Monika, and her brother. The complex was subsequently repossessed by Agrofert, a conglomerate of 230 companies including chemical, food, energy and media firms.

In an email exchange with two Czech journalists who spent a year tracking him down, Babiš Jr admitted to being “technically” connected to Čapí Hnízdo. He also said he had been made to sign some papers on the matter but did not understand what they were.

Amid a political outcry, the supreme state attorney’s office said it would investigate the son’s claims.

The prime minister, attending an international conference on Libya, in the Sicilian city of Palermo, issued an angry denial, calling the report “a manipulation”, an “outrageous” attempt by journalists to pressure law enforcement authorities, and “part of a script to destroy me and get me out of politics”.

Writing on Facebook he said his son was mentally ill and on medication and also that his daughter, Andrea, had bi-polar disorder. “No one kidnapped my son, he left the Czech Republic voluntarily,” he wrote, adding that police had investigated the alleged kidnapping and dismissed it.

The Czech prime minister, the country’s second richest man, worth an estimated US$3.5bn (£2.7bn) heads a minority coalition consisting of his Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO) party and the Social Democrats (ČSSD), which relies on the Communist party (KSCM) to stay in power. Other parties have refused to serve in a Babiš-led government because of the charges facing him.

The fate of a no-confidence motion would almost certainly depend on the Social Democrats, the coalition’s junior partner. The party said it would speak to Babiš first before deciding.

Jiří Pehe, a political analyst at New York University, in Prague, said Babiš would be weakened even if he survived a confidence vote. “Before, he could always say the whole thing was a plot and he’d done nothing wrong,” said Pehe. “Now there’s a video that goes to the core of something emotional. Even if Czechs don’t believe the son, they see that there is something very wrong in the prime minister’s family.”

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« Reply #4145 on: Nov 14, 2018, 05:42 AM »

Sri Lanka MPs pass no-confidence vote against disputed PM Rajapaksa

Rajapaksa’s allies refuse to recognise legitimacy of vote, deepening constitutional crisis

Michael Safi and Amantha Perera in Colombo
Wed 14 Nov 2018 08.36 GMT

Sri Lankan lawmakers say they have passed a no-confidence motion against the country’s purported prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, removing the PM and his cabinet from their posts and deepening an unprecedented constitutional crisis in the country.

But allies of Rajapaksa – controversially appointed by Sirisena last month after the president sacked the incumbent PM, Ranil Wickremesinghe – say they are refusing to recognise the legitimacy of Wednesday’s vote, extending the uncertainty that paralysed the government for the past fortnight.

The drama on Wednesday morning left it unclear who, if anyone, is currently Sri Lanka’s lawful prime minister.

There were chaotic scenes on the floor of the country’s parliament during the sitting, with Rajapaksa storming out of the house and some legislators from his party storming the well of the chamber in a bid to halt proceedings.

Amid shouting, lawmakers say the parliamentary speaker, Karu Jayasuriya, announced he would take a voice vote instead. Opponents of Rajapaksa were audibly louder, and Jayasuriya declared the no-confidence motion had been carried.

But Namal Rajapaksa, an MP and son of the purported prime minister, told the Guardian his side did not recognise Wednesday’s vote. “The speaker said over the noise that he wanted us to scream to decide who’s the prime minister,” he said.

“We can’t do that. If the speaker wants to select a prime minister, then he can show 113 votes to the president and ask for it.”

Wickremesinghe, who President Sirisena has been trying to sack from the prime ministership and replace with Rajapaksa, said he had submitted a petition with the signatures of 122 MPs supporting the no-confidence measure in his opponent Rajapaksa.

“If any one wants to challenge the speaker’s decision they can put it to vote,” he said.

“We will now take steps to ensure that the government in place before the 26th Oct will continue,” he later posted on Twitter.

But it was unclear whether he had legally resumed his role as prime minister, fuelling confusion over who commands state institutions such as the police and public service.

“I wish to inform all government servants and police that you cannot carry out illegal orders from the purported government that has failed to demonstrate the confidence of the people,” Wickremesinghe said.

Anura Dissanayake, from the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna party, said he considered both the prime minister’s seat and the cabinet empty, and called on Sirisena to appoint someone for parliament to approve.

Parliament has been adjourned until 10am on Thursday, but there are fears the assembly could be suspended before then.

At least five MPs who had previously expressed support for Rajapaksa crossed over on Wednesday morning to Wickremesinghe’s side.

Footage from outside parliament showed supporters of both sides protesting, separated by a line of riot police.

Wednesday’s events are the latest chapter in an unprecedented period of turmoil for what Sri Lankans boast is Asia’s oldest democracy.

Sirisena surprised the country on 26 October when he announced Wickremesinghe had been summarily dismissed as prime minister and that Rajapaksa was appointed in his place.

Constitutional experts queried whether the sacking was legal and Wickremesinghe demanded parliament be allowed to decide on his leadership, but was prevented from doing so when Sirisena abruptly suspended the body.

Wickremesinghe’s forces, along with civil society groups and foreign governments, have been calling for parliament to be allowed to resume. Rajapaksa, meanwhile, worked to persuade enough MPs to defect to win a confidence vote on the parliamentary floor.

Last Friday, he conceded he had failed to do so, prompting Sirisena to escalate the dispute by dismissing parliament and sending Sri Lankans to the polls.

Sirisena and Wickremesinghe’s fragile coalition has deteriorated in the past 18 months and observers argue the president was hoping to protect his job by allying himself with Rajapaksa, a former party colleague who is probably the most popular politician in Sri Lanka.

The Buddhist nationalist strongman, nicknamed “Lord of the Rings” for his taste in heavy, gem-laden jewellery, is accused of overseeing a litany of human rights abuses during his decade in power until 2015, including in the final months of the country’s brutal civil war against Tamil militants.

Sirisena’s election gambit was temporarily blocked on Tuesday evening when it was suspended by the country’s supreme court, which wants to hear a series of challenges to the order from Wickremesinghe, other parties and civil society groups.

The court’s judgment on Tuesday cleared the way for parliament to resume the following day – though the sitting has served only to exacerbate the political chaos.

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« Reply #4146 on: Nov 14, 2018, 05:45 AM »

Nervousness descends in Dublin over Irish Sea border

Cabinet meeting on Brexit called as Ireland reiterates objection to hardening of sea border

Lisa O'Carroll in Dublin
Wed 14 Nov 2018 10.50 GMT

The Irish government has said it does not want to see any “hardening” of the border in the Irish Sea, ahead of a crunch cabinet meeting in Dublin on Brexit on Wednesday morning.

The prime minister, Leo Varadkar, and his deputy, Simon Coveney, had a two-hour teleconference call with Ireland’s representative in Brussels last night following leaks that the deal had been agreed.

However, there were indications that they had not yet seen the 500-page draft withdrawal agreement but were merely apprised of the detail.

Varadkar has called his ministers to a specially convened cabinet meeting at 9.30 this morning with a possible statement later today.

His party’s Brexit spokesman in the senate, Neale Richmond, said the priority was to ensure the backstop provision to guarantee the Irish border remains open “never comes into play”.

Richmond told RTE’s Morning Ireland that there was no desire to humiliate the UK as the DUP’s Brexit spokesman, Sammy Wilson, has suggested following the Brexit leaks on Tuesday.

“The priority will always be that in the future declaration framework that in the next transition period we can negotiate that deep and meaningful trade customs and regulatory arrangement between the EU and the UK as a whole, that will ensure not only is there no hard border on the island of Ireland but there is no hardening of the border down the Irish Sea, that’s something the government is keen to achieve and I think can achieve,” Richmond said.

“There is no ambition to humiliate anyone. Whatever the deal will be it won’t be a good deal, because there simply is no such thing as a good deal.”

A nervousness has descended in Dublin over the cabinet meeting in Westminster with a virtual media blackout on the subject of Brexit on Wednesday morning.

Ireland has said that Brexit is the most damaging event in its history with the lucrative £56.5bn (€65bn) a year trade with the UK at risk if there are barriers in the form of tariffs or border checks.

Sources said the government wants to stay “below the radar” and see how Theresa May’s cabinet meeting plays out and whether she will survive without any resignations.

It has been widely reported that there is just one “backstop” to ensure the Irish border remains open in the withdrawal agreement.

The backstop, which is envisaged as an insurance policy in the event of no deal, however is deeply embedded with the terms of the transition period with a temporary UK-wide customs arrangement.

There are expected to be specific provisions for Northern Ireland which involve closer regulatory alignment to the single market with a review mechanism.

It is believed the first review date would be in July 2020.

This would enable the two sides to agree one of three things.

The first would be the implementation of a new regime un January 2021 at the end of the transition period. This would be predicated on a final deal on the future trade and security relationship being complete or near completion by then, which many think is highly unlikely.

The second option would be to agree a short extension to the transition period to enable negotiations to continue. Theresa May has suggested an extension of just three months may be needed.

The third option would be the backstop in the event of no deal and no extension in the transition period. This would mean the UK remaining in the customs union until further notice with deeper provisions for Northern Ireland in relation to single market regulations.

Richmond repeatedly said it was important to project the discussion beyond the withdrawal agreement as the long-term “priority” for Ireland was a future relationship with the UK.

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« Reply #4147 on: Nov 14, 2018, 06:14 AM »

‘Things could get really dicey’: Trump is reportedly furious and lashing out at everyone as he realizes the how badly the GOP did in the midterms

Cody Fenwick, AlterNet
14 Nov 2018 at 05:25 ET                  

In the past week, President Donald Trump has behaved even more frantically and erratically than he normally does — tweeting aggressively, excessively insulting reporters and skipping opportunities to on American veterans, triggering negative press reports.

And according to a new report from the Washington Post documenting what it called “five days of fury,” it’s not just his public persona that has become more dour and testy. Behind the scenes, Trump is lashing out at allies and expressing his frustration toward those around him as the results from the 2018 midterm elections continue to pour in and look increasingly bad for the Republican Party.

“He was frustrated with the trip. And he’s itching to make some changes,” one anonymous official told the Post, referring to Trump’s visit this week to Europe. “This is a week where things could get really dicey.”

Even when British Prime Minister Teresa May reached out on Friday to offer congratulations on the midterms (despite his party’s defeats), the president reportedly responded with fury:

    Trump berated May for Great Britain not doing enough in his assessment to contain Iran. He questioned her over Brexit and complained about the trade deals he sees as unfair with European countries. May has endured Trump’s churlish temper before, but still her aides were shaken by his especially foul mood, according to U.S. and European officials briefed on the conversation.

According to the report, Trump was personally offended when French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a speech denouncing nationalism, which was widely interpreted as a rebuke to the American president. Trump made his anger with Macron public on Twitter.

“The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%. He was just trying to get onto another subject,” Trump wrote. “By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!”

When Trump decided not to go to a World War I memorial outside Paris with other world leaders because of bad weather, he faced a torrent of criticism on Twitter and in the media. According to the report, Trump reacted angrily to his staff because they hadn’t foreseen the backlash.

“Trump told aides he thought he looked ‘terrible’ and blamed his chief of staff’s office, and [deputy White House chief of staff Zachary D. Fuentes] in particular, for not counseling him that skipping the cemetery visit would be a public-relations nightmare,” it said.

Trump’s anger has also focused on election officials, particularly in Florida, where the ongoing recount has undermined the early reported victories of his allies Gov. Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis.

The most obvious source of Trump’s continuous outpouring of anger is the devastating losses the GOP suffered in the 2018 midterms, even as the party has kept control of the Senate. Despite initial analyses suggesting that the blue wave had been a disappointment, as ballots continued to be counted, a consensus emerged that Democrats really had won a spectacular victory. Having claimed the elections as a personal triumph, Trump now looks weak and deluded.

But there’s another possible source of his anger. Other reports have suggested that White House officials believe special counsel Robert Mueller is prepared to hand down more indictments soon in the Russia investigation — or perhaps unseal indictments that have already been filed with the court. Donald Trump Jr. is the subject of much speculation as a potential target of the investigation.

It’s plausible that lurking possibility is weighing on Trump and increasing his stress levels — only compounded by his diminished standing after the midterms.


Ex-CIA director terrified by Trump ‘brooding and sulking’ and warns these are ‘extremely dangerous times’

Raw Story

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House” on Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan worried about President Donald Trump’s mental state.

America’s former top spy also gave anchor Nicolle Wallace his intelligence assessment of Trump’s White House.

Brennan wondered about Trump’s state-of-mind during a conversation about special counsel Robert Mueller and Democrats winning the House of Representatives in the midterm elections.

“I wonder whether or not what we’ve seen over the last couple days — both in France as well as here in the United States — that Mr. Trump is brooding and sulking, and really concerned and quite anxious,” Brennan noted. “Who knows what’s going on behind-the-scenes and whether or not he’s withdrawing because of the result of the pressure that he’s feeling — which is dangerous for someone who holds the office of the presidency to feel that they are under assault from the Department of Justice.”

“You’ve been warning, really since the early months of the Trump presidency, about potential repercussions around the world of his style of leadership or abdication of it,” Wallace noted. “Do you think we’re seeing some of those repercussions around the world, the rebuke of nationalism from [Emanuel] Macron and others?”

“Yes, I think what Macron, [Justin] Trudeau, and others are saying publicly — which is in direct contradiction to some of the things Mr. Trump has said about nationalism — it demonstrates our allies and partners around the world may, in fact, sense that the time is now to stand up to Mr. Trump,” Brennan replied. “Maybe they’re also detecting that his political footing is corroding and now’s the time to actually change tack on this, because they don’t have to worry about him over the longer term.”

“Can I just ask you one last question?” Wallace wondered. “If you were offering an intelligence assessment of the American president for another country, how would you describe him?”

“I would say this is, even in an administration that has been so beset by problems, this is the most unsettled moment,” he replied. “Because a number of things have come together. The Democrats are now in control of the House, they are going to be able to have real investigative powers. You have a lot of people who are maybe leaving the administration, the attorney general has been sacked, and you have the Mueller investigation that’s coming to fruition.”

“It’s the confluence of factors together, I would say to a foreign leader, America is now going through a real rough patch and I’m hoping that, you know, the Secretaries of State and Defense and others are going to keep it on a strong track, but I must tell you that the President of the United States is having some real issues to deal with and it may manifest itself on the global stage in some unsettling ways,” Brennan concluded.

“Scary stuff,” Wallace noted.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvhhhfTlR8E


This psychiatrist believes Trump suffers from a ‘God complex’ and is ‘erotically attached to violence’ — here’s why

Chauncey Devega, Salon - COMMENTARY
14 Nov 2018 at 16:14 ET                  

Donald Trump evidently believes he is above the law. Last week, he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with Matthew Whitaker, a political operative from Iowa whose only apparent qualification is his public opposition to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russia scandal. This is but the most recent example of Trump’s apparent efforts to obstruct justice.

Trump’s lack of respect for the country’s long-standing democratic norms and institutions also extends to America’s alliances, security arrangements with its allies and friends, and the international order more broadly. To that end  Trump has threatened to remove the U.S. from NATO, hailed the merits of nationalism (while barely pretending that does not mean white nationalism), tried to surrender U.S. security to Russian President Vladimir Putin and proclaimed on numerous occasions that America will now stand (mostly) alone in the world.

Donald Trump is also a habitual liar who is at war with the truth and empirical reality. For Trump the world (and reality) must be bent to his will. His supporters love him because of all these traits and behaviors, not despite them. Their adoration for Trump is almost libidinal.

Donald Trump is an authoritarian in waiting, who acts as though he believes himself to be God. How does he convince himself that the rules do not apply to him? What is the role of violence in Trump’s appeal and power? Is Trump responsible in some ways for the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and the other hate crimes and acts of violence which have taken place during his campaign and now presidency? What role does violence play in Donald Trump’s cult of personality? How do his apparent mental pathologies help him to manipulate his supporters and the American people at large?

In an effort to answer these questions I recently spoke with Dr. Justin Frank. This is our second conversation for Salon. He is a former clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center and a physician with more than 40 years of experience in psychoanalysis. He is the author of the bestselling books “Bush on the Couch” and “Obama on the Couch.” His most recent book is “Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President.”

Our conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

In the last few weeks America has seen an outbreak of high-profile violence and tragedy. There was the apparent hate crime killing of two black people in Louisville, the “MAGAbomber,” who attempted to assassinate numerous prominent Democrats, and then the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. Donald Trump repeatedly failed to respond to those events with any kind of human empathy or decency. How do we explain this behavior?

Trump is unable to manage anxiety. Therefore, he cannot help the American people manage their anxiety. Trump’s pathology leads him to get rid of everything that makes him anxious. He impulsively encourages violence. He impulsively is divisive. Donald Trump impulsively externalizes his own fear of his inner chaos — he has had to struggle against this fear ever since he was two years old. Here is another problem: One of the roles of a president or other leader is to function as a lawgiver figure, a type of parental figure for a society. In that way presidents and other leaders function as a superego figure.

They set the tone for behavior, for morality, for right and wrong. What Trump has done is he has given the superego permission to become violent. He has sanctioned such violence, which is very disturbing. Donald Trump is like a person who has road rage. But he has the world’s biggest bully pulpit and is able to express this rage in front of everyone.

Because Trump is president, he has a deep impact on so many people. If anyone is unstable or people are angry, even it is justifiable, a leader gives permission to express it. It comes and goes in waves. It may have gotten worse because of Trump’s anxiety about the midterms. I worry that Trump’s anxiety has translated into even greater externalization of his aggression.

Donald Trump stimulates more and more attacks because he has to get rid of his fears of being attacked. He essentially externalizes this anxiety and fear. So many people want to argue that Trump is Machiavellian with his obsession about immigrants and that “caravan” from Latin America — that this is some ploy to get re-elected and help the Republicans. That’s part of it, but the main thing is to manage his own anxiety. Unfortunately for us, when he does that, Trump functions like a father figure who says, “OK kids, you’re on your own. You can do whatever you want.”

I and others have compared Donald Trump to Charlie Manson. He is giving his followers permission and encouragement for violence. He also leads a political cult. Do you think that is a fair read of the situation?

I agree. Donald Trump is the Charles Manson of American politics. It’s very important to see that Trump can have clean hands. He can invite other people to express his destructiveness so he doesn’t have to carry it out. For Trump, words are the equivalent of weapons. Trump does not need a gun. Words are his bullets. He enables other people to buy their own guns and fill the barrels with his tweets and just shoot people. It’s a very disturbing quality.

Manson is not the only person you can use as an example here, but it is a dramatic way to get people to pay attention.

I had a patient who was on the inpatient psychiatric ward. This patient used to walk down the hall, light a match and throw it over his shoulder. It became clear that he wanted to set the ward on fire, but he was going to leave it up to chance in his mind. If the match landed and went out, he’d light another match and do the same thing. It was a way of denying responsibility, psychologically, for him.

That is Trump. Such behavior is the sign of what’s called a thought disorder. It’s a sign of a person who is unable to think properly. In some ways it would be much better if Trump would just say whatever horrible thing he wants to. Instead, he gets other people to do it. He then avoids responsibility. That kind of abdication of thought is what makes Donald Trump, in my opinion, unfit to be president. He wants other people to do the thinking and acting for him. It is  bad enough for anybody to behave that way, but to have the president of the United States act like that is very dangerous.

There is another serious problem with Donald Trump as well. When a child  has hyperactive tendencies and they are untreated, a whole cycle of problems can begin. This is Trump. It limits not only his intellectual development, but these problems mean that as an adult he also can’t listen to other people. He can’t think properly. Trump doesn’t understand what people are saying. It’s not like he doesn’t agree with it. Because Trump does not understand, he therefore has to retreat to name-calling or going to his base to whip up a frenzy of activity. Donald Trump on a fundamental level does not understand complex issues. He has never had to think about or grapple with them because it makes him too anxious.

This is why Donald Trump always says things such as, “I have the best words,” or “I’m the smartest person, I know things other people don’t.” Together such comments signal something extremely disturbing. As a psychoanalyst it appears to me that Donald Trump is presenting behavior of what is called “unconscious grandiosity.” Donald Trump is close to thinking that he is God. It’s called the “God complex” and it’s essentially saying, “I know more than anybody else.” At some deep level Donald Trump thinks he is the deity and he does in fact know more than anybody else. Trump believes that he is God as a manifestation of a defensive grandiosity, in order to compensate for his ignorance and not really knowing things.

There is often a tendency in the mainstream American news media — never mind his apologists, defenders and enablers — to say that Trump is just kidding when he talks about violence, that it is all “harmless” political theater. In reality Donald Trump is not playing. Always believe the autocrat.

Everything Trump says must be taken seriously. Donald Trump is erotically attached to violence. He is excited when he does those professional wrestling moves at his rallies. He is like a child. The problem is, Trump has nuclear weapons and he’s the president. Trump’s attraction to violence is not like someone laughing at slapstick comedy where an actor trips and falls down. It is really a pleasure that’s very visceral and deep and destructive. Trump has had this attraction to violence since he was two years old. Donald Trump has constant and consistent themes of violence in his speech and behavior. The content may be different but it is always the same tune. But even with all his distractions, the message is always there. It is always about aggression, bullying, divisiveness and attacking tradition.

Why is there so much denial in the American news media and the public at large about Trump’s threats of violence? It is almost as though people think that they will somehow be exempt or safe from Trump’s threats and those of his supporters.

When we were children we had night terrors. Your mother or father or other caregiver would come into your room and calm you down. The terrors would go away. When the child grows up they start organizing those scary thoughts and feelings and separating them in their mind into good and bad. What Trump does is he adds to the night terrors. He has found a way to reactivate them in the American people. Trump then says, “I can make America great again. I will turn on the lights. I’ll make everything OK.”

How do we explain the dozens if not hundreds of hate crimes and other violence by Trump’s supporters? The SPLC and other groups have documented how Trump supporters, very often wearing Trump regalia like MAGA hats, have attacked people while chanting his name and slogans. Is this just pathology seeking out pathology?

No. Disorganized minds need another mind to help them organize their thinking, in this case to justify their expression of their anger. When a person wears one of Trump’s MAGA hats they are essentially living inside of their father. Other Trump supporters who express their loyalty in similar ways are also living inside of their mothers. The MAGA hats makes them feel like they are therefore immune from certain kinds of considerations, such as compassion for other people. This allows them to identity with a destructive aggressor. Trump has permitted and encouraged violent behavior, aggression. Trump’s MAGA hats mean, in essence, that his supporters are living inside of the president.

This is very profound. It is the behavior one sees in cults. For instance, you can have a religious cult and the leader is all powerful. You submit to everything they say. When Trump says, “Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” George Orwell could not say that better.

What Trump is saying in a basic way is, “The only way you can be safe is to be on my side and believe in me. Otherwise, you’re going to be attacked.”

How would you explain the accused “MAGAbomber,” the man in Florida who allegedly sent all those mail bombs? What is his relationship to Donald Trump?

He is the same. The MAGAbomber is just Trump writ large. He’s following the orders. It’s what you do when you’re in a cult. Remember, everybody in a cult is not at the same level of psychological development as everybody else in the same cult. They may all love the leader and revere the leader, but each member still has their own different psychologies and different tendencies to do things their own way.

The MAGAbomber is essentially an extreme version of a person who is saying, “I’m going to do everything Daddy says. I’m going to attack everybody who’s bad. All my neighbors are bad. I’m going to scare the hell out of them and do it.” The MAGAbomber is one version. The bigot who shot up the synagogue in Pittsburgh is another version. The man who tried to do a repeat of Charleston and ended up killing two black people in Louisville is another version.

Again, Trump’s music, so to speak, is one of hatred, destructiveness, instilling fear. It’s all about living out Trump’s internal conflicts and fears on the world stage. He’s the puppeteer and we’re the puppets. The MAGAbomber is just a different kind of puppet.

Trump and the right-wing media’s obsession with the supposed “caravan” of refugees coming from Latin America is another reflection of the relationship between racism, anxiety and violence. How does this work?

As a psychoanalyst, the caravan represents future babies that his mother is going to bring in the world. Trump doesn’t want any more little siblings. He doesn’t want any more people to get a piece of the pie. He wants it all.

Immigrants unconsciously can represent future babies who are a threat. For Trump and those who think like him, the “caravan” is also a reflection of the idea that black and brown people are going to take away white people’s jobs. There is also an element in this obsession where the “caravan” and nonwhites are viewed as being dirty, human pollutants by Trump and his supporters.

Donald Trump was explicitly told by leaders of the Jewish community not to go to the memorial for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting until he renounced white nationalism, anti-Semitism and other types of racism and bigotry. Of course he went anyway. Most decent human beings would not have done such a thing. What is going on inside his mind? Does he experience shame?

No, but that is the point. When they say, “Don’t come,” to him it’s a challenge. Ultimately, it has nothing to do with the subject. When someone tells Donald Trump “You can’t do it,” he says, “I’m going to do it.” Donald Trump cannot accept being told “No.”

He will not accept it. Going to Pittsburgh is just another example of Trump’s defiant streak. This is why he is obsessed with deregulation. He hates any rules that limit him.

If Donald Trump showed up at your practice and said, “I just want to be a better person. People don’t like me. Give me some advice.” What would you tell him?

The first thing I would say is “Mr. Trump, who loves you? Who do you love? What’s important to you?” I would just get down to basics about life and love, because there’s no other way to deal with him. You have to get through on a deep emotional level and everything else is just noise to him. I would also say to Donald Trump, “Tell me how you broke your heart.”

He has a lot of internal pain.

Yes. Donald Trump has run away from this pain his whole life, and he’s been successful at doing so. I would directly address that issue very simply, very slowly and very directly. He would have to experience a breakdown because he’s avoided all of those feelings his whole life. This would be the way to help him put things back together in a healthy way.


Yale psychiatrist explains how Trump’s mental issues will cause him to self-destruct

Raw Story

Yale psychiatry professor Bandy X. Lee does not diagnose lightly. In fact, she emphasizes that her theory about the mental state of President Donald Trump does not reflect the professional opinion of any of the institutions that she is affiliated with, including the Yale School of Medicine.

Nevertheless, she tells Raw Story that it’s her opinion that rather than acting strategically, Trump’s pattern of behavior shows signs of severe psychological distress and that both Trump and his supporters are self-destructively spiraling in a way that spells dire trouble for the nation and the world.

Conversation edited for clarity below:

Tana Ganeva: Can you explain your theory about Donald Trump’s mental state, that the behavior is pathological rather than strategic?

Professor Bandy X. Lee: What mental health professionals look at are patterns. Patterns of his behavior. Oftentimes Trump’s assertions don’t bring him the advantages that strategy would.

It fits a pattern more of someone acting that is driven by emotional compulsions. It’s the emotional need to reframe situations. For example, the idea that the midterm elections are a win for him and if not, it’s seen as a fraudulent election.

Whereas this reframing may be effective for those who are relatively uninformed and are emotionally predisposed to believing Mr. Trump because of their emotional dependence.

Trump and his supporters … both of their defects fit like a lock and key to fulfill each other’s emotional needs. It’s why we see the phenomenon of his base not abandoning him, even at great cost to themselves. This can be explained through their emotional wounds and it is not necessarily consciously strategic.

In other words, when we say strategy we think of logical, organized planning. And sometimes pathological symptoms can seem very effective, because when you have rationality and logic removed, you have a very, very strong emotional component that takes over.

And that can manifest … that can sometimes be incredibly powerful, not only because it overwhelms and overpowers those who are logical and rational but also the …. lesser of the psyche. The psyche operates in layers.

The lesser layers may be less logical and less healthy … but when they take over they can be very powerful. Far more powerful than logical planning.

Tana Ganeva: Isn’t voting always an emotional decision? Does anyone really vote in their own self-interest?

Professor Lee: Right but those who are healthier can think more logically and rationally in terms of self-interest. Those who are healthier will make choices that are life-affirming in general.

Those who are less healthy may be attracted to courses that are self-destructive. A person’s emotional health can be measured by the degree to which they choose a course that is life-affirming instead of choosing a course that’s destructive. A course that’s destructive to themselves or others.

And it’s almost regardless of intention. It’s regardless of what a person’s stated desire is. When an individual becomes too ill … as mental health professionals we have to act, even if it’s against their will sometimes.

Once we treat them they realize how overtaken they were by the illness. Even kicking and screaming they later come back and thank you for the treatment. Their state at the time of illness is not necessarily the person’s conscious thought or desire when they are well.

So this can happen to varying degrees. Individuals can choose courses for themselves that are life-affirming versus course that cause damage and destruction. They may consciously … believe those choices are good for them but they’re actually choosing a self-destructive course.

Tana Ganeva: Would one say that about the President?

In my opinion I believe so because he is driven by pathology rather than healthy choices. He’ll make choices that are self-destructive even if they seem effective at the time and produce results that appear to benefit him. He’s choosing a self destructive course, not just for him but for the nation.

There are many examples of this. He appears to make choices that are deceptive and manipulative of others, that demean others for his apparent benefit. These choices are coming out of pathology and ultimately destructive to him, also.

Tana Ganeva: Do you think he’ll be re-elected?

I’m not an expert at that kind of thing. But one cannot underestimate the power of mental pathology to lure and deceive and to spread destruction. We have seen how his own attraction to conspiracy theories, how powerful is his ability to spin reality into something he wishes to perceive as real. If you collude in that or you’re lured into that then anything is possible.

We’ve seen multiple nations go to their own peril and great destruction due to pathological leaders taking charge and leading entire nations to their destruction.

That’s the power of mental pathology it can hypnotize you almost … to do things in ways you would not otherwise do.

So, we’ve got a group of desperate refuge seekers hundreds of miles away … he spins that into an invasion that’s imminently threatening and that requires thousands of troops at the border, for example, to the point where people were ready to act on those beliefs.

Tana Ganeva: It seems that social media plays a role in a lot of these pathologies, from the President on down.

Social media absolutely has a role. What has happened is when you have conspiracy theories or fabricated news, it functions like a form of brainwashing. It’s the way you control information that gets to certain people.

If you’re isolating information from other sources of information…. social media creates a natural condition for brainwashing to occur. And we often talk about information bubbles. It seems more severe for those on the right than on the left, although I hear it happens on both sides. On the right it’s far more extreme and far more divorced from reality. You have the very conditions that allow for thought reform to happen.


WATCH: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow explains Trump’s ‘one big Hail Mary pass’ to ‘fix all of his problems at once’

Raw Story

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Tuesday suggested that President Donald Trump had attempted one big “Hail Mary” pass following the midterm elections.

“The White House — the Trump administration more broadly — appears to be in a kind of rattly phase,” the host noted. “Some of today’s wobbles appear to be the inevitable product of investigatory pressure on ethically challenged high-ranking individuals.”

“So, some of it, I think, is driven by the way ethics scandals tend to end up, which is not good for the ethically challenged official,” she continued.

“A lot of this, though, appears to be driven by the political pressure that the White House is newly under in the wake of last week’s elections results,” she observed. “Democrats appear on-track to gain 37, if not 38, seats in the House of Representatives from these elections — which would be their largest congressional gains in a midterm election since the immediate aftermath of Watergate, right after Richard Nixon resigned.”

“So there is a lot going on right now in the news; there is a lot of pressure on this White House in this administration and from everything we have seen thus far, this is a president who does not handle pressure particularly well,” Maddow noted.

Maddow said firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and attempting to install Matt Whitaker as acting Attorney General may be Trump’s big “Hail Mary” pass.

“His one, big, desperate, probably-won’t-work effort to try to fix all of his problems all at once by trying to fix law enforcement so it starts to help him out instead of continuing to threaten both him and senior members of his administration,” she continued.

“And ‘Hail Mary’ passes occasionally do work, right? That’s why it’s still a play that people try in football,” she reminded. “There are reasons tonight to think that this one is probably not going to work.”


‘Showdown’: MSNBC analyst warns that Dems ‘could shut down the government’ over acting AG Whitaker

Raw Story

Bloomberg political reporter Sahil Kapur noted that regardless of how they chose to do it, Democrats are preparing to initiate a showdown over President Donald Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

In an MSNBC panel discussion, Kapur noted that what happens with Whitaker “is going to come down to how far the Democrats push the issue.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s threat that Democrats may refuse to support the next government funding legislation if it doesn’t include a provision to protect special counsel Robert Mueller if the acting AG doesn’t recuse himself was just shy of threatening an all-out government shutdown — but the Bloomberg reporter said it could come to that.

“The Democrats have a filibuster in the Senate so they can push this fight and potentially shut down the government December 7th if they don’t get what they want,” Kupar noted. “They will be taking over the House of Representatives in seven weeks. I think one way or another we’re going to see a showdown over this and I don’t see the demands dissipating.”


‘He’s going to indict a group of people’: Watch ex-prosecutor explain her theory on next round of Mueller indictments

Raw Story

With rumors swirling that special counsel Robert Mueller could issue new indictments any day, a former federal prosecutor offered an intriguing theory on MSNBC.

In August, longtime GOP confidante Roger Stone predicted that he would be the next to be indicted by the special counsel and asked for money from supporters.

On Monday, longtime conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi predicted that he would be indicted, and also asked for money.

MSNBC analyst Mimi Rocah, who served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, joined MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Tuesday to discuss the latest developments in the special counsel’s investigations into a conspiracy with Russia by Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The host asked Rocah when the special counsel would make the decision to indict.

“So I think, one, when they have the evidence,” Rocah explained. “And two, my hunch is that he’s not going to indict one person alone, but he’s going to indict a group of people.”

“And so it may be that he’s still working on building — you know, assuming anyone’s going to be indicted, but it seems that the signs point that way — that he’s working on indicting a group of people together for similar conduct,” she suggested.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zEzEIU266Y


Senior White House aide set to be fired after Melania Trump calls for dismissal

    Mira Ricardel is deputy security adviser and a John Bolton ally
    Ricardel reportedly clashed with members of first lady’s staff

Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington
Tue 13 Nov 2018 22.18 GMT

Donald Trump’s deputy national security adviser is reportedly set to be fired following a dispute with the first lady, Melania Trump.

The US first lady took the extraordinary step of publicly pushing for the move against Mira Ricardel, the top aide to the national security adviser, John Bolton, on Tuesday.

“It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that [Ricardel] no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director, said in a statement.
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It marked a rare intervention on personnel matters by Melania Trump, who has otherwise maintained a relatively low profile as first lady.

Ricardel, who was hired in April by Bolton after he assumed the role of Trump’s national security adviser, reportedly clashed with members of the first lady’s staff over seating on a plane during Melania Trump’s recent trip to Africa.

The East Wing staff have reportedly complained that Ricardel feuded with them over the use of national security council resources. Ricardel also shared a contentious rapport with White House chief of staff John Kelly and the defense secretary, Jim Mattis.

A senior Trump administration official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Guardian that Ricardel remained at the White House on Tuesday. She was pictured standing close to Trump earlier in the day at a White House event to belatedly mark Diwali.

Ricardel’s possible exit comes as the Trump administration is bracing for a potentially major shake-up following last week’s midterm elections, which began with the firing of the attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

The president was reportedly considering replacements for Kelly, and Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of the department of homeland security. Reports surfaced late on Monday that Trump was preparing to remove Nielsen, a close ally of Kelly’s with whom the president has grown frustrated over immigration enforcement.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that Nielsen’s departure, although not yet finalized, is imminent.

Tyler Houlton, a DHS spokesman, sought to downplay the rumors, stating: “The secretary is honored to lead the men and women of DHS and is committed to implementing the president’s security-focused agenda to protect Americans from all threats and will continue to do so.”

Ricardel, who previously worked in the commerce department, has been an integral part of Bolton’s efforts to restructure the NSC. Bolton, one of Ricardel’s only remaining allies in the administration, was traveling in Asia with Vice-President Mike Pence on Tuesday.


‘The First Lady will cut a b*tch’: Colbert mocks Melania Trump and her new ‘be fired’ campaign

Raw Story

Funnyman Stephen Colbert on Tuesday caricatured First Lady Melania Trump and her staff for firing National Security Council official Mira Ricardel.

Colbert read a public statement put out by Stephanie Grisham, the director of communications for the First Lady.

“It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” Grisham charged.

“That is a classy way to diss somebody,” Colbert noted.

“Furthermore, it is the position of this office that the First Lady will cut a b*tch,” he added.


    TONIGHT: Melania is calling for the removal of a national security aide. It's part of her new program, "Be Fired." #LSSC pic.twitter.com/Vye4Tinvbx

    — The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) November 14, 2018


Republican CNN pundit nails Melania Trump for acting like she is in the royal family: ‘Last time I checked we didn’t have one’

Raw Story

CNN political commentator Amanda Carpenter took a swipe at the prima donna status of the Trump White House.

During a panel discussion Tuesday, host Jake Tapper cited a Wall Street Journal report that revealed the only people who feel secure in their jobs at the White House are related to the president.

“Last time I checked we didn’t have a royal family, but they sure like to act like it,” Carpenter said. “How hostile of a workplace is this? They treat the people who go to serve them in good faith with such hostility and slam the door on them as they go out.”

She asked what the possible purpose could be for such an action.

“I mean, I really wanted to give Melania [Trump] a fair chance, and I thought she was doing a great job as first lady, until you had that moment with the ‘I just don’t care’ jacket,” she confessed.

Democratic strategist Symone Sanders was floored by the fact that the biggest scandals for Michelle Obama were when she wore a sleeveless dress and told children to eat their vegetables.

Even the host noted he’s not clear how anyone can avoid the first lady “throwing shade on a sitting deputy national security official.”

The panel all agreed that the Trump White House has become more like “Survivor” than an episode of “The Apprentice.”

Watch the panel discussion: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6x4sfl

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The obscure history of the ‘virgin’s disease’ that could be cured with sex

The Conversation
15 Nov 2018 at 07:32 ET                   

Female virginity, we’re increasingly told, is a psychological rather than a physical condition. It’s not something that can be “lost” or “taken”.

Yet while not every woman has a hymen, and it’s rarely some tough barrier, the concept of technical virginity still focuses on whether there has been vaginal penetration by a penis. And surgical reconstructions are still performed, for example in Iran, to create a “membrane” that can tear or even produce some red dye.

Looking back through European history, was the hymen always the definitive mark of virginity? A 14th-century writer, commenting on a book called On the Secrets of Women, named the hymen “the guardian of virginity”. This picked up an early Christian idea that virginity was spiritual as well as physical. Virginity was something more than a hymen – and it was possible to be a virgin in the soul even if not in the body.

‘Guardian of virginity.’

By the 16th and 17th centuries, doubts about the hymen were widespread. In The Midwives Book (1671), the midwife Jane Sharp wrote on just one page both that “bleeding is an undoubted token of virginity” and that “the sign of bleeding perhaps is not so generally sure”. As for the hymen, she wrote that “some think it is not found in all maids”. No change there, then.

Virginity as a ‘disease’

But one thing was very different when early modern writers thought about virginity. They believed in a particular disease which only virgins could have. First described in the 16th century, what was called “the disease of virgins” had a range of usefully vague symptoms: feeling faint, breathlessness, odd eating habits. All of these were attributed to blood which hadn’t managed to leave the body.

Odd eating habits?

Surprise, surprise: while bloodletting could help, the best cure was having sex. Sex would open up the body and move the retained blood around. It’s interesting that the idea of a “disease” worked for those who believed in the hymen as a barrier, and for those who didn’t. The latter thought that the problem was a different sort of closure, that of little internal “mouths” that allowed blood from all over the body to get into the womb in the first place.

If you had the “disease of virgins” your skin colour was thought to be a very unattractive hue, often greenish, or very pale – which didn’t do anything for your chances of getting married. This is one possible reason why the condition was also called “green sickness”. Or perhaps it was so named because it affected those who were “green” in the sense of sexual inexperience.

While physicians issued dire warnings of the consequences of not marrying as soon as your periods started, by the 18th century ordinary people told jokes about the “disease of virgins”. In the 1705 ballad Enfield Common a sufferer is cured by a “lusty gallant” who manages to “ease her, and fully please her”. He explains:

    Then with her leave there, a dose I gave her,
    She straight confes’d her Sickness I did nick it.

When virginity – hymen or not – was a disease, sex (preferably marital) was the only lasting solution. Some women were thought to have a recurrence if they didn’t have children. A few writers thought that even particularly effeminate men could succumb to the disease. But for most the experience of sexual intercourse did the job. Or, to look at it another way, if this set of common symptoms appeared in a girl of marriageable age, the only diagnosis possible was “the disease of virgins”.The Conversation

Helen King, Professor of Classical Studies, The Open University

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US oil firm's bid to drill for oil in Arctic hits snag: a lack of sea ice

Hilcorp’s plan to extract 70,000 barrels a day follows Trump’s reversal of an Obama-era ban on fossil fuel activity in the region

Oliver Milman in New York
Thu 15 Nov 2018 06.00 GMT

Plans to establish the first oil drilling operation in US Arctic waters have hit an ironic snag – a lack of sea ice caused by rapid warming in the region.

Last month, the Trump administration approved the go-ahead of the Liberty project to extract oil from beneath the Beaufort Sea, off Alaska’s north coast. The drilling would be the first of its kind in federal waters in the Arctic and follows Trump’s reversal of an Obama-era ban on fossil fuel activity in the polar region.

But in order to get to the oil, Hilcorp Energy, the Texas-based company behind the project, has to construct a temporary gravel island about five miles offshore so it can drill in shallow water.

This nine-acre structure requires an expanse of landfast sea ice, or ice that forms each winter and attaches to the coast, which would then be covered in gravel and then concrete. However, a recent lack of shoreline ice has complicated Hilcorp’s plan to extract up to 70,000 barrels of oil a day, totaling around 150m barrels over two decades, from the site.

A spokesman for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which oversees offshore leasing, said Hilcorp originally forecast it would take a year to construct the island, but this plan has now been revised due to thinning sea ice.

“To safely transport gravel offshore in the Arctic, the ice along the route of the ice road must be of adequate thickness,” the spokesman said. “Over the last few years, that thickness has not developed until unusually late in the season.”

Hilcorp has now added another year to its timeline to get the drilling island completed, he said. Construction is set to start in 2020.

Climate change driven by the burning of fossil fuels is causing the planet to warm, with the Arctic heating up twice as quickly as the global average. The region experienced its warmest winter on record earlier this year, with scientists and local communities reporting an unusually late freeze-over of the Arctic ocean.

The Arctic contains year-round ice as well as fluctuating seasonal ice, which Hilcorp is relying upon for its drilling operation. In September, Nasa reported the annual minimum sea ice extent was the sixth lowest on record, with the Arctic sea ice area declining by about 13% a decade.

“A number of studies have shown that landfast ice is forming later and breaking up earlier each year,” said Andy Mahoney, an assistant research professor in geophysics at the University of Alaska.
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Mahoney said businesses like Hilcorp that rely upon shoreline ice for drilling platforms will likely face “significant challenges as the growing season shorten”, with the melting of permafrost and coastal erosion also hampering projects.

The Trump administration has opened up virtually all federal waters, including the Arctic, for oil and gas drilling leases, as part of what the president has called an “US energy dominance” strategy.

Environmentalists have decried plans to drill in the Arctic, pointing out that fossil fuel use needs to sharply decline if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change and raising the specter of a potentially disastrous oil spill.

“Opening the Arctic to offshore oil drilling is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Kristen Monsell, ocean legal director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This project sets us down a dangerous path of destroying the Arctic. An oil spill in the Arctic would be impossible to clean up and the region is already stressed by climate change.”

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« Reply #4150 on: Today at 05:18 AM »

Blood coal: Ireland’s dirty secret

Burning coal is the single largest contributor to global climate breakdown. Human rights violations at the sites of fossil fuel extraction are often hidden.

Noel Healy

The connections between County Clare, Ireland and La Guajira, Colombia may not be entirely obvious at first glance. Yet the regions are linked through a shared commodity: coal. Extracted in one region and burned in the other.

Coal extraction in La Guajira has a dirty secret, which I’ve witnessed first-hand: it is connected to a system of production entrenched in violence, bloodshed and environmental destruction.

Since 2001, almost 90% of coal burned at Moneypoint power station in County Clare in the west of Ireland has come from Colombia. Two-thirds of it was purchased from Cerrejón mine in Colombia’s northern department of La Guajira.

Spanning 69,000 hectares – around three quarters the size of county Dublin – Cerrejón is one of the world’s largest open-pit coalmines. It is also linked to well-documented environmental and human rights abuses for over two decades.

Ireland’s largest electricity-generation station, Moneypoint, is owned and run by the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) utility company. Because the ESB is majority (95%) state-owned, the Irish government has a duty and responsibility to challenge and try to prevent adverse human rights impacts connected to the company’s fuel purchases.

As the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights put it,

    Businesses have a responsibility for human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business rela­tionships, even if they have not contributed to those impacts.

Extraction “sacrifice zones”

I’ve seen the impacts. On two separate Witness For Peace delegations to La Guajira, human rights campaigners and academic researchers, myself included, documented human rights violations and the socio-environmental devastation inflicted on communities in Cerrejón’s mining zone. Our newly published study reveals that inhabitants of La Guajira have become victims of coal mining, instead of beneficiaries. It also reports parallel injustices among communities affected by fracking in Pennsylvania.

    Noel Healy (@DrNoelHealy)

    "Embodied energy injustices: Unveiling and politicizing the transboundary harms of fossil fuel extraction and fossil fuel supply chains".

    New paper with @jenniecstephens & @stephmalin_soc

    Thread (1)https://t.co/Sl0lf6nLqy pic.twitter.com/XDfoECqjSv
    October 23, 2018

Cerrejón mine has displaced thousands of historically marginalised indigenous Wayúu, Afro-Colombian and campesino communities by physical force, intimidation, coercion, and through the contamination of drinking water and farmland. Cerrejón mine uses over 17 million litres of water a day, but the average person has access to just 0.7 litres.

Official displacement follows a Colombian legal procedure called “expropriation,” where the state approves or participates in the removal of populations in zones designated for natural-resource extraction or megaprojects. But the involvement of the Colombian government does not necessarily make the displacements just or nonviolent.

In 2001, for example, the Afro-Colombian town of Tabaco was bulldozed and its residents forcibly removed by state security forces to allow the Cerrejón mine to expand. A Colombian Supreme Court order called for the community to be resettled. Following an independent inquiry in 2008, Cerrejón mine signed an agreement for the reconstruction of Tabaco. Ten years later, Tabaco residents have yet to be resettled.
Assassinations of social leaders

In the neighbouring department of El Cesar, three Drummond mine union leaders were murdered in 2001. More recently in La Guajira, activists who resist Cerrejón’s expansion plans have received renewed death threats.

Despite the 2016 Colombian Peace Agreement, there has been a spike in assassinations of social leaders nationwide. At least 123 were murdered in the first six months of 2018.
International responsibility

The chronic lack of transparency in energy supply chains shields coal-importing countries, shareholders and consumers from the horrors of outsourced fossil-fuel extraction impacts. Last week, transnational human-rights group London Mining Network brought threatened community leaders to testify at the AGM of Cerrejón’s co-owners, BHP. Impacted communities seek corporate accountability, and they want the international community’s help.

Holding Cerrejón coal mine accountable

Calling for the ESB to stop buying coal from Cerrejón mine may initially wash the Irish government’s hands of its blood coal. But this would neutralise the government’s current purchasing power and influence to advocate for peaceful and just negotiations that guarantee basic human rights for displaced communities.

Instead, the Irish government should first bring the concerns of Colombian and international human rights organisations to the Colombian government, Cerrejón mine, and its owners BHP, Glencore Xstrata, and Anglo American. It should call for Cerrejón to acknowledge its responsibility for the destruction of Tabaco, and to carry out a just resettlement per the independent inquiry that the mine itself called for.

Climate breakdown

That Ireland is still burning coal – the same week climate scientists warned that the world has just 12 years to get control of climate change – is nothing short of reckless. But then, this is a government whose annual budget on 09 October failed to introduce even a modest carbon tax as a step to reducing Ireland’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Frack off

The government’s plan of replacing Moneypoint power station with a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility, supplied via fracked gas from the US, would replicate Ireland’s complicity in human rights violations. Methane and other GHGs leaked by natural gas pipelines and facilities warm the climate as much as coal in the short term. New fossil fuel infrastructure with 30-40 year lifespans is not the answer to Ireland’s coal problem.

Even if the Irish government stops buying Cerrejón coal, it still has a responsibility for what has happened in the past. It must repair the damages done to those harmed by climate change, by coal, and by the impacts of the transition, such as the loss of jobs for fossil fuel industry workers. Only the government can make a just transition a reality.

The International Energy Association says that “Ireland’s location at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean ensures one of the best wind and ocean resources in Europe.” A clean-energy economy can happen. An Irish energy revolution can happen. But not without government help.

Annual €200m–€600m fines for not meeting EU green-energy targets may change the government’s tune. If they don’t, maybe the Climate Case Ireland legal action will.

Noel Healy (@DrNoelHealy) is an Associate Professor of Geography at Salem State University. He received his PhD from the National University of Ireland Galway. He is a native of County Clare, Ireland.

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« Reply #4151 on: Today at 05:20 AM »

France Looks to Curb Palm Oil and Beef Imports to Halt Deforestation


In a significant move to combat worldwide deforestation, the French government unveiled a national strategy on Wednesday that looks to curb imports of soybean, palm oil, beef and beef products, cocoa, rubber, as well as wood and its derivatives.

The new plan, a joint effort from five French ministries, identifies these items as contributing the most to "imported deforestation"—meaning these products are directly or indirectly tied to forest degradation.

For instance, the production of palm oil—a common vegetable oil found in chocolate, baked goods, soaps, biofuel and much more—has cleared much of Malaysia's and Indonesia's tropical rainforests and is a driver of wildlife habitat degradation, human rights violations and climate change.

Between 1990 and 2015, the world's forested area has shrunk by a staggering 129 million hectares—an area almost equivalent in size to South Africa, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

What's more, clearing so much forested area has led "to an 11 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions and significant consequences in terms of preserving biodiversity and natural habitats," the French ministries noted in a joint statement.

"European countries bear an important responsibility, since a third of this deforestation is due to the consumption of agricultural products by the countries of the European Union," the statement added.

They proposed 17 measures aimed at ending deforestation caused by the import of unsustainable products by 2030.

Such measures, according to Reuters, include financial aid to encourage exporting countries or regions to respect non-deforestation criteria; the launch of a "zero deforestation" label for consumers by 2020; and a 2019 push for a European policy on imports posing a risk for forests.

"The objective of this strategy is to bring each actor (producers, companies, investors, consumers) to change their practices to reduce deforestation," the ministers explained.

The United Nations has a goal of halting deforestation by 2020. With some 13 million hectares of forest destroyed annually, this goal could prove difficult to reach unless the world gets its act together.

France is among a coalition of seven EU countries that called on the European Commission last month to deliver an action plan to tackle global deforestation by the end of the year.

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« Reply #4152 on: Today at 05:22 AM »

Rights groups condemn 'brutal and humiliating' tests on gay men in Tunisia

Men suspected of sodomy are being subjected to anal examinations and confiscation of phones by police, with more than 70 gay men jailed last year

Rebecca Ratcliffe
15 Nov 2018 07.00 GMT

More than 70 gay men were jailed by Tunisian authorities last year, according to activists, who warn anal tests and phone searches are being used to identify suspects.

Mounir Baatour, lawyer and president of the Tunisian LGBT association Shams, said that while the 2011 revolution had given greater freedoms to civil society groups, this had been accompanied by a rise in discrimination. “When LGBT people started [speaking out] after the revolution, stigma and homophobia increased,” he said.

Shams recorded 71 prosecutions for homosexuality and sodomy in 2017, and a further 53 prosecutions so far in 2018. Under article 230 of the penal code, gay or lesbian sex is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Human Rights Watch and Shams said anal examinations to determine sexual orientation should be banned.

“The Tunisian authorities have no business meddling in people’s private sexual practices, brutalising and humiliating them under the guise of enforcing discriminatory laws,” said Amna Guellali, Tunisia’s director for HRW.

In June, a presidential commission, the individual freedoms and equality committee, proposed the decriminalisation of homosexuality. Last month, this proposal was included in draft legalisation put forward by members of parliament.

The draft legislation was welcomed as a breakthrough by LGBT rights campaigners, though it is feared the proposals are unlikely to gain support from conservative politicians.

“This is something big that we didn’t envisage years ago. But it doesn’t mean we will have a law,” said Guellali. “It is a step forward but there is still a lot of work to be done.”

Last week, HRW warned police are using anal tests and confiscating men’s phones to gather evidence for prosecutions. In 11 cases reviewed by the group, men were mistreated in police custody, forced to make confessions and denied access to legal counsel.

In one case, a 32-year-old man, known as KS, said he was gang-raped after meeting a man he had spoken to on Grindr. The man invited KS to his house, where he showed him a police badge. Two other men arrived, who beat and raped KS.

To receive medical treatment, he was required to file a complaint of gang-rape to the police. Instead of treating him as a victim, officers instead ordered an anal test to determine whether he was “used to practising sodomy”. Such tests are recognised by the UN as a cruel and degrading treatment which can amount to a practice of torture.

In September 2017, Tunisia’s minister for human rights, Mehdi Ben Gharbia, said the country would ban forced anal examinations to determine sexuality, but that suspects can still be asked to undergo a test. Campaigners say tests should be banned outright – including so-called consensual exams – since a refusal to comply can still be considered a sign of guilt by trial courts.

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« Reply #4153 on: Today at 05:28 AM »

Thais outraged by child boxer’s death in ring

Agence France-Presse
15 Nov 2018 at 08:30 ET                   

Thais have reacted with shock and anger after a 13-year-old boxer died during a charity bout, reviving calls for a ban on fights between children in the brutal Muay Thai martial art.

Thai boxing is hugely popular in the country and many fighters enter the sport at a young age in search of fame and fortune.

But the involvement of kids who sometimes start under 10 years of age in bouts that use kicks and elbows to the head — often without headguards — has stirred frequent criticism.

More so as the young fighters are often family breadwinners from poor families and bouts are subject to frenzied ringside gambling.

Anucha Tasako collapsed after his opponent delivered several blows to his head at a bout in Samut Prakan province, near Bangkok, on November 10.

Smartphone footage shown by local media captured the grim moment he hit the canvas as assistants quickly rushed into the ring to help the motionless Anucha, who fought under the alias Phetmongkol Sor Wilaithong.

He later died from a brain haemorrhage, according to police.

Domestic media said he had been fighting since he was eight and had competed in more than 150 bouts.

His opponent, Nitikron Sonde, is around the same age, police said. He took to Facebook to express his sorrow at the death.

“I regret it,” he posted on Tuesday, “but I have to do my duty to win so I can make enough money to sponsor myself through education.”

Neither fighter was wearing protective headgear.

A bill to prevent minors aged under 12 from taking part is under consideration.

The draft bill is likely to gain support after Anucha’s death.

Outrage and anger poured in as news of his death spread, with some blaming the referee for not stepping in sooner to end the fight.

“He could barely stand. Why didn’t the referee stop the fight but let him continue to be hit until he was knocked down,” one Thai Facebook user said.

Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports was quoted in local media saying he would submit the draft bill “as soon as possible”.

But some defended the practice of starting fighters young.

“I don’t agree with the draft law to totally ban boxers who are under 12 years old because 99 percent of the famous Thai boxers and Olympic winners began fighting when they were young,” Tawee Umpornmaha, 59, a Thai Olympic medalist, told AFP, describing the boy’s death as an accident.

“I began at 12 with more than 200 fights. The question is do we have proper safety measures? We must give importance to safety measures including field doctors,” he said.

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« Reply #4154 on: Today at 05:30 AM »

Bangladesh says Rohingya refugees will not be forced back to Myanmar

Repatriations will be ‘totally voluntary’ but no one spoken to by UN was willing to go

Hannah Ellis-Petersen, Shaikh Azizur Rahman and Michael Safi
Thu 15 Nov 2018 09.11 GMT

Bangladesh has said it is fully prepared to begin repatriating Rohingya refugees to Myanmar but emphasised it would not force anyone to go back against their will.

Four trucks and three buses have been stationed at Unchiprang camp in Cox’s Bazar since Thursday morning, ready to carry refugees who have been “approved” to a transit camp by the border – but not one refugee has been willing to board them.

Most on a list of those approved to return have gone into hiding.

Mohammad Abul Kalam, Bangladesh’s refugee relief and rehabilitation commissioner, told the Guardian his team had completed the “physical and logistical preparations” to facilitate the repatriation.

“We decided to repatriate refugees from the Unchiprang camp today,” he said. “Our entire team has reached the camp in the morning. There is also a medical team, which is ready to accompany the returning refugees up to the border. If we get anyone voluntarily willing to return, we will help them cross the border.”

Abul Kalam emphasised that Bangladesh was “totally committed to the principle of the non-refoulement and voluntary repatriation”. “We will not force anyone to go back to Myanmar against his or her will,” he said.

More than 2,000 Rohingya refugees had been put on the list approved by Myanmar for return, without their consent. While the plan was to send them back in batches of 150 per day, by Wednesday night almost all had gone into hiding in other camps and in the nearby forest amid fears they would be sent to Myanmar against their will.

Hours before repatriation was due to begin, the UN high commissioner for refugees had located just 50 families listed for repatriation, all of whom said they did not want to return to Myanmar in the current conditions.

However, while Abul Kalam acknowledged most Rohingya were still too afraid to return, he insisted: “At least some Rohingya, we believe, are willing to go back to Myanmar now. We are trying to reach them in different camps. We are ready to help them return to Myanmar.”

5:56..'They slaughtered our people': Rohingya refugees on Myanmar’s brutal crackdown - video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxG10iTT17A

The few who are reportedly willing to return are 420 Hindus – but Kalam said they were focusing on repatriating Rohingya for the time being and would repatriate those Hindus at a later stage.

Mohammad Idris, a Rohingya community leader who was at a meeting at Unchiprang camp on Thursday morning, said all 50 of the families in the camp listed for return had “disappeared from their shacks three or four days ago and the officials have failed to trace them”.

He added: “Since this morning, army and police have surrounded the camp. Refugee and other administrative officials have been holding meetings with the majhis and other Rohingya community leaders seeking their help to persuade the listed refugees to return to Myanmar.”

Rohingya refugees told the Guardian of the multiple ways the Bangladesh authorities were trying to “persuade” refugees to go back, including telling them that it was the only way they would get the Myanmar government to give them rights and citizenship.

They also made direct threats. Saifullah, who lives in Balukhali camp, said the (Camp in Charge) CIC had warned the majhis of “stern actions” if the Rohingya who are in the repatriation list did not return to Myanmar.

“The CIC have been telling Rohingya refugees will face hardship if they do not return to Myanmar,” he said. “They are threatening to stop supplying rations to refugees, saying they will be barred from working with the different NGOs and will not have the freedom to move around freely.”

The UN has called on both governments to halt the “rushed” repatriation plans but the pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears. Bangladesh, however, tried to quell the panic by instructing NGOs it maintained its commitment to voluntary returns and that all NGOs should continue their work as usual.
The Guardian view on returning the Rohingya to Myanmar: don’t make them go
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There are more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar who fled a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar military in August 2017, which was described by the UN fact-finding mission as genocide. Women were raped, children massacred and thousands killed, while most Rohingya villages in Rakhine state were burned to the ground.

According to the head of the UN fact-finding mission, the genocide in Rakhine against the Muslim minority was ongoing, and there were demonstrations this week among Buddhist Rakhine communities who protested against the return of the Rohingya.

Myanmar has insisted it is ready for returns and laid the blame for any delays at Bangladesh’s door. Officials have stated that refugees from Cox’s Bazar will be processed in one of the two centres built by Bangladesh and then transported to Myanmar either by boat or on land to Hla Phoe Khaung transition camp, in Rakhine state.

The Myanmar government have assured the international community the Rohingya will then be housed in new homes built in Maungdaw, one of the three areas in which the Rohingya had lived before the crackdown, though they will not be allowed to travel outside of the township. Most will also be unable to return to their original homes and villages because they were destroyed by the military.

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