Sunday, June 16, 2019

Psychopathic: ‘We need points!’ US must invade Venezuela to scare Iran & N. Korea, Graham claims

RT | Jun 15, 2019

FILE PHOTO © Reuters / Mike Blake
Sen. Lindsey Graham has suggested President Trump “put military force on the table” by invading Venezuela (and possibly Cuba) in order to scare North Korea and Iran into doing what they're told. What could possibly go wrong?

Give Cuba an ultimatum – without Cuba, Maduro doesn’t last one day – tell Cuba to get out of Venezuela. Do what Reagan did in Grenada – put military force on the table!” Graham told a Fox News host, going from zero to invasion in ten seconds flat in response to a question about how Trump should handle his foreign conflicts.

We need points on the board,” the South Carolina senator insisted. “Start with your own backyard… Fix Venezuela and everybody else will know you’re serious.” North Korea and Iran, he implied, would fall right into line after Venezuela was put in its place.

While Graham paid lip service to the president’s non-military accomplishments, reluctantly congratulating him on slowing down North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, his advice didn’t include much by way of diplomacy: “When it comes to Rocketman, letters don’t matter anymore to me, it’s performance.” Graham notably called for Trump to “end the nuclear threat” mere hours after the president’s Hanoi summit with the North Korean leader collapsed.

Graham's Monroe-doctrine-on-steroids patter isn’t exactly unfamiliar to those who’ve been following his bellicose ravings – the Republican senator dropped a Grenada reference just last month as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro prepared to meet his US-backed would-be replacement Juan Guaido in Oslo for negotiations, perhaps seeing his chance for a war in South America slipping away.
It’s easy to see why Graham would take such a fond view of Reagan’s bullheaded 1983 Grenada invasion. While it was universally condemned – the UN deemed it a “flagrant violation of international law” by a vote of 108 to 9, and even UK PM Margaret Thatcher privately disapproved (though she backed her ally in public) – Americans supported the invasion, having been convinced via a well-orchestrated propaganda campaign that a few hundred American medical students on the island were in mortal danger under the island’s new government.

Reagan hoped the neat and tidy four-day invasion would shore up Americans’ faith in their own military, which had been on a steady downhill slide since Vietnam, and Graham appears to believe the US would similarly receive a morale boost from Venezuela, despite the obvious differences in population and military power.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Hong Kong Suspends China's Extradition Bill Indefinitely

LA Times | Jun 15, 2019 | David Pierson

Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks Saturday at a news conference in Hong Kong. (Hector Retamal / AFP/Getty Images)
A sense of futility pervaded the throngs of protesters in Hong Kong this past week. Many said they chose to demonstrate out of principle, not because they believed they could prevent the passing of an extradition bill that would have left them largely at the mercy of the authoritarian government in Beijing.

Then the unthinkable happened. On Saturday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that the proposed legislation she spent months championing would be suspended indefinitely.

The groundswell of resistance, it appears, was too large to ignore.

“There’s a sense of victory that at least we were able to stop it for now,” said Fernando Cheung, a legislator for the opposition Labor Party who, like many in his camp, is still calling for the bill to be withdrawn.
“The fight will definitely continue,” he said.

The stunning reversal suggests there are limits to how much Beijing can encroach on Hong Kong’s autonomy despite years of threats and official impunity — including the disappearances of booksellers and the abduction of a mainland billionaire from a luxury hotel by Chinese state security.

The bill, which would have amended a law in order to allow Hong Kong to send people to China for trial, sparked fears of losses to freedom of speech and assembly — rights that are guaranteed under Hong Kong’s constitution for 50 years after Britain returned the former colony to China in 1997.

Lam’s proposed legislation was so unpopular that roughly 1 in 7 people in the city of 7 million were estimated to have attended peaceful demonstrations last Sunday to voice their opposition.

From there, the pressure only mounted on Lam, who said the amendments were needed to close a loophole that protects fugitives in Hong Kong.

On Wednesday, mass demonstrations outside the government’s headquarters descended into chaos and violence, leaving Hong Kong’s financial district shrouded in tear gas in a scene reminiscent of the 2014 Umbrella Movement. Protesters, journalists and police were injured in the melee and charges were leveled at the police of excessive force. On Friday, thousands of mothers staged a sit-in demanding the safety of the city’s youth and an end to the proposed bill.

Perhaps more important in the ultra-capitalistic territory, members of Hong Kong’s business community turned on Lam. Reports of tycoons shifting capital out of the city to rival financial centers including Singapore sent a signal that even the rich and powerful were worried about their futures in Hong Kong — particularly because the bill allowed China to request a suspect’s assets in Hong Kong be frozen or seized.

“We welcome the government’s decision to suspend resumption of the second reading of the extradition bill, which will allow things to cool down and let everyone return to rational debate,” Aron Harilela, chairman of the city’s biggest business group, the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, told the South China Morning Post.

Hong Kong’s special status with the United States was also jeopardized by the extradition bill. Amid a worsening trade war with China, U.S. congressional lawmakers threatened to reintroduce a bill that would take trade privileges away from Hong Kong if they deemed it insufficiently autonomous from China.

The growing crisis prompted more calls for Lam to step down amid accusations that she is increasingly out of touch with citizens — a criticism that only heightened perceptions she is primarily a proxy for Beijing.
Jimmy Sham, center, a member of the Civil Human Rights Front, speaks Saturday at a news conference near the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong. (Roman Pilipey / EPA-EFE/REX)
It was against this backdrop that Lam made her announcement Saturday standing at a podium in front of a wall-sized picture of Hong Kong’s iconic skyline and harbor.

The longtime civil servant who was picked by Beijing two years ago to lead Hong Kong was unapologetic and said opposition to the bill was the result of her failure to persuade people that there was nothing to fear from its implementation.

“My relevant colleagues and I have made our best efforts, but I have to admit that our explanation and communication work has not been sufficient or effective,” she said.

Lam deflected questions about resigning and denied that the decision to suspend the legislative effort was aimed at placating Hong Kong residents on the eve of another mass protest planned for Sunday.

Lam also refused to say if she met with members of China’s central government, an almost certainty given the magnitude of recent events, experts said.

China’s central government released a statement Saturday saying it supported Lam’s decision while also restating its position that the amendments were necessary.

Activists and opposition lawmakers, though pleased that the bill was shelved, were furious that Lam was unapologetic and that she praised the work of police despite charges of extreme force.

“Carrie Lam really has a talent for agitating the public,” said Cheung, the Labor Party legislator. “This should be seen as a retreat or at least a sort of compromise made by the administration. However, the attitude she displayed was as if she committed nothing wrong.”

Nathan Law, a founder of the pro-independence political party Demosisto, said opposition to the bill would not end until it was fully withdrawn. He also demanded Lam resign and that an investigation be launched of police conduct the past week.

“The suspension is not enough for people to retreat,” he said. “We will continue to pressure until all the demands are fulfilled.”

Calls were also growing for the government and police to reverse their decision to deem Wednesday’s demonstrations a “riot.” Doing so would reduce the legal liability for those arrested or implicated. Protesters argue they did not provoke riot police into action.

Students at Hong Kong University said they were not satisfied with Lam’s response Saturday, calling her insincere.

“Her announcement was full of excuses,” said a 19-year-old law major who only provided his last name, Ting. (Many young Hong Kongers are nervous of reprisals by the police for speaking out or participating in the demonstrations.)

“I will continue to fight for a withdrawal and join the protest on Sunday,” he said.

The reversal of the controversial bill harks back to 2003 when an estimated 500,000 people marched in Hong Kong to protest an anti-subversion law pertaining to China. The government eventually backed down and shelved the proposed legislation.

Ben Bland, an analyst at Sydney-based think tank Lowy Institute and the author of “Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow,” said Lam’s reversal was a rare victory for Hong Kong’s autonomy, but warned many threats remained.

“Suspending the bill will give some temporary succor to supporters of democracy in Hong Kong as it shows that when they are united and act en masse, they can force the government to think twice, at least temporarily,” he said. “The problem is that this bill is only one of many threats to Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy, which are increasing at a worrying rate.”

Bland said Hong Kong’s legislature, for example, was still charging ahead with a bill that would impose up to three years in jail for disrespecting the Chinese national anthem.

“I don’t think the suspension of the bill changes the fundamental tension facing Hong Kong,” he said. “Beijing is determined to curb opposition in Hong Kong and accelerate the city’s integration into mainland China. Many Hong Kongers are determined to resist these threats to their freedoms, autonomy and core identity. Yet the more they fight back, the more Beijing feels the need to crack down in the name of national security.”

Special correspondent Tang Wai Yin in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

'I was afraid to protest when I was 8. Not anymore' – 18-yo Palestinian icon Ahed Tamimi to RT

RT  | Jun, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi © REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi grew up protesting the Israeli occupation. She took part in her first rally when she was eight, and a decade later, she doesn't believe in reasoning with Israel.

Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian resistance icon at just 18 years of age, told RT Sputnik host George Galloway that she believes young Palestinians like her are the future of the fight against Israeli occupation. While she hopes to use her worldwide fame to advance the Palestinian cause, many more are following in her footsteps back home in Palestine.

"No occupation lasts forever as long as we have Palestinian children who still resist the Israeli occupation, like the martyrs who have paid the ultimate price for the Palestinian cause, who became martyrs for their causes as 19-, 20-, 18-, and 16-year-olds. But there are many more Palestinians like them that offer themselves for the cause."

Hardened by a lifetime of protest, Tamimi rejects the idea of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through talks. She says that her family has suffered a lot at Israeli hands. Tamimi's father was first arrested when she was three, and has been in and out of prison, mostly in, as she was growing up. She told Galloway that he was repeatedly tortured in detention, and once slipped into a coma. Her mother was arrested six times, and suffered an injury to her leg that prevented her from walking for two years. Her aunt was killed by an Israeli soldier. Risking death every time she protests the status quo, Tamimi says she doesn't feel fear anymore.

Read more at RT..


Saturday, June 8, 2019

VERDICT: Jury awards Gibson’s Bakery $11 million against Oberlin College SJW Rampage

Punitive damage phase to start next Tuesday, which could increase the damages to $33 million.

The Jury in the Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College case has reached a verdict.

According to our reporter in the Courtroom, the jury awarded $11 million. Here are the details: Allyn W. Gibson was awarded $3 million, David Gibson $5.8 million, Gibson Bros. $2,274,500. Next Tuesday there will be a separate punitive damages which could be a double award (meaning tripling the $11 million to $33 million).

[Judge John Miraldi reading Jury Verdict][Photo Credit Legal Insurrection Foundation]
(clarification) Meredith Raimondo was held liable on the libel and interference with business relations, but not intentional infliction of emotional distress. By stipulation, the college is responsible for any amounts awarded against her, so she will not pay anything out of pocket.

We followed this case from the start of the protests, through the lawsuit process, and now trial. Here’s my statement:
The verdict sends a strong message that colleges and universities cannot simply wind up and set loose student social justice warriors and then wash their hands of the consequences. In this case, a wholly innocent 5th-generation bakery was falsely accused of being racist and having a history racial profiling after stopping three black Oberlin College students from shoplifting. The students eventually pleaded guilty, but not before large protests and boycotts intended to destroy the bakery and defame the owners. The jury appears to have accepted that Oberlin College facilitated the wrongful conduct against the bakery.
We will have interviews and video later. We will update this post as more information becomes available.

[Four generations of Gibsons after Jury Verdict][Photo Credit Legal Insurrection Foundation]


Video of David Gibson reacting:

More complete statements by attorneys Lee Plakas, Owen Rarric, and plaintiff David Gibson:

As previously posted, I was amazed at the tone-deaf and demeaning approach of Oberlin College to this family business. Oberlin College claimed the Bakery was worth only $35k, less than one semester at Oberlin College:
I’m still shaking my head at the tone-deafness of the defense in belittling this family business which has sustained five generations of Gibsons, and at the time of the protests sustained three generations: 90-year-old Allyn W. Gibson, his son David Gibson, and his grandson Allyn D. Gibson. There also were almost a dozen employees. After the protests, the Gibsons stopped taking salaries and most of the employees have been laid off. This is real life to these people. To say that the business was worth only $35,000 erases the lives of these people. Maybe it’s just the plaintiff’s lawyer in me coming out, but I’d cross examine this defense expert and college president, and show in closing argument, the tuition, room and board charges at Oberlin College. This business, which has been an important feature of the community since 1885, is worth less than one semester at Oberlin College?
This case is bigger than just this case, and reflects reflects Higher Ed disconnect from the lives of most Americans:
First, from the start of this case I have questioned the aggressive and demeaning attacks on the Gibsons as a defense strategy. There is no evidence that the Gibsons did anything wrong, unless you consider stopping people from stealing something wrong. That lawful act of protecting one’s property nonetheless has devastated a 5-generation business because of Oberlin College racial politics. Gibson’s Bakery survived two World Wars, the Depression, the turmoil of the 1960s, and the so-called Great Recession, but it may not survive Oberlin College’s social justice warriors and their faculty and administrative enablers. If the jury understands this, the other pieces of the case fall into line, factually and legally.

Second, I never cease to be amazed at the arrogance of the college community as reflected in the defense that Gibson’s Bakery was close to worthless. It’s the arrogance of the credentialed. A business that is in its 5th generation, and that currently supports three of those generations, is something of value. A business that employed almost a dozen local employees prior to this incident is something to value. Ultimately the jury will have to put a monetary value on the dramatic drop in business, and the loss of reputation of the individuals, but to demean the business the way was done is maddening.
Scott Wargo, spokesman for Oberlin College, provided the following comment in response to my inquiry: “The College does not have a comment.”

Oberlin just sent this blast email:
Dear Members of the Oberlin Community:

I am writing to update you on the lawsuit that Gibson Bros., Inc. filed against Oberlin College and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo in the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas in November 2017.

Following a trial that spanned almost a full month, the jury found for the plaintiffs earlier today.

We are disappointed with the verdict and regret that the jury did not agree with the clear evidence our team presented.

Neither Oberlin College nor Dean Meredith Raimondo defamed a local business or its owners, and they never endorsed statements made by others. Rather, the College and Dr. Raimondo worked to ensure that students’ freedom of speech was protected and that the student demonstrations were safe and lawful, and they attempted to help the plaintiffs repair any harm caused by the student protests.

As we have stated, colleges cannot be held liable for the independent actions of their students. Institutions of higher education are obligated to protect freedom of speech on their campuses and respect their students’ decision to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Oberlin College acted in accordance with these obligations.

While we are disappointed with the outcome, Oberlin College wishes to thank the members of the jury for their attention and dedication during this lengthy trial. They contributed a great deal of time and effort to this case, and we appreciate their commitment.

Our team will review the jury’s verdict and determine how to move forward.

Donica Thomas Varner

Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary

Read more at Legal Insurrection..