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Sun, 08 Dec 2019
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Why the impeachment fight is even scarier than you think

donald trump microphone
© Getty Images
Political scientists have studied what our democracy is going through. It usually doesn't end well.

For decades, Republicans and Democrats fought over the same things: whose values and policies work best for American democracy. But now, those age-old fights are changing. What was once run-of-the-mill partisan competition is being replaced by a disagreement over democracy itself.

This is particularly evident as the president and many of his allies crow about the illegitimacy of the House impeachment inquiry, calling it an attempted coup, and as the White House refuses to comply with multiple congressional subpoenas as part of the probe.

Comment: The above is clearly highly partisan and one-sided ('Look at what Trump is doing!'). But the point of 'regime cleavage' is good to keep in mind. Many have been noting for some time the possibility of a new American civil war and this seems to add more credence to this possibility. And if this happens, of course, it will be Trump's fault.

See also:


Thousands continue protests outside Georgian parliament demanding electoral reforms, police blast crowds with water cannons

Tbilisi georgia

Police use a water cannon against demonstrators as they try to block the entrances to parliament in Tbilisi on November 26.
After issuing a 30-minute ultimatum before dawn, Georgian police used water cannons to disperse protesters near parliament and detained several activists, hours after thousands assembled in the capital demanding electoral reforms.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement early on November 26 that 28 protesters were detained for "disobedience to police and hooliganism." Earlier reports said two members of the opposition United National Movement, Ako Minashvili and Gia Tevdoradze, were among those detained.

The Health Ministry said four people were injured, three of whom remain hospitalized. Local media report that a journalist from the Mtavari Alkhi TV channel, Vasil Dabrundashvili, was among the injured. It is not clear if he is among those still in the hospital.

Police use a water cannon against demonstrators as they try to block the entrances to parliament in Tbilisi on November 26.

Comment: For insight into the situation in Georgia, see: US preparing for another color revolution: Georgia 2020

Heart - Black

Teasing rivalry: 16-yr-old tied to a pillar, burnt alive in Mansa, Punjab

Jaspreet Singh , murdered dalit

Jaspreet Singh (above) and the men who attacked him belong to the Dalit community.
A sixteen-year-old boy was tied to a pillar at an abandoned rice sheller in Mansa and burnt alive, police said on Sunday.

Three people have been arrested for the boy's murder. Both the victim and the accused belong to the Dalit community. The incident happened on Saturday, while the body was recovered on Sunday morning.

SHO, Mansa city police station, Sukhjeet Singh said, "As per our investigation, Jaspreet Singh was first tied to a pillar with a rope, and then petrol was poured over him before setting him on fire." Jaspreet died on the spot. SSP Mansa Narinder Bhargav confirmed the arrest of all three accused — Jashan Singh, Gurjeet Singh and Raju Singh.

Life Preserver

True humanitarians: Russian special forces medics arrive in Syria's Kobane to help local residents

Russian doctors
© Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresensky
The first units of the medical special forces arrived at the Russian military police base near Kobane in northern Syria, where they will provide assistance to the local population.

Special forces medics arrived near Kobane on a Mi-8 helicopter along with equipment, medicines, dressing materials.

According to surgeon Sergey Ponomarev, local residents have not had adequate medical care for a long time.
"Chronic diseases are neglected, acute [diseases], respectively, too ... We are ready to work here all the way ... After some time, the full medical team will arrive. I think we will be able to take about 100 people a day", Ponomarev told reporters.
The first medical aid point was deployed just three hours after the arrival. It has drugs and equipment for all occasions. For example, there is a telemedicine device that can connect to an X-ray, an ultrasound machine and, through a satellite, convene consultations with specialists from Russia in real-time.

Comment: Kind of reminds us of this:

US calls on Russia to help deliver aid to Rukban Camp in Syria

and this:

Russia delivers humanitarian aid to residents of Aleppo, Syria

and this:

Russia sends 72nd convoy containing 450 tonnes of aid and seasonal gifts to suffering people of Donbass

and this:

Russia sends humanitarian aid to Deir ez-Zor after breaching 3yr ISIS siege

and this:

ICRC praises Russia for aid in Syria and evacuation of 35,000 civilians from Aleppo

and this:

True humanitiarians: Russia delivers another 17 tonnes of aid to Syria

and this:

Russia invites Japan to join Aleppo humanitarian aid operation in Syria

and this:

US-backed Syrian rebels betrayed by the US, turn to Russia for aid

and this:

Russia airdrops 32 tons of humanitarian aid to Syrian city besieged by ISIS

and this:

Russia sends 30 tons of humanitarian aid to Ecuador after massive earthquake

and this:

Grateful residents return to liberated Palmyra, thank Russia for aid

and this:

Russia offers assistance to international organizations bringing humanitarian aid to Syria

and this:

Red Cross praises Russia's role in bringing humanitarian aid to Syria

and this:

Russia sends over 40 tons of humanitarian aid to Kyrgyzstan

and this:

Russia's humanitarian aid to troubled Luhansk and Donetsk regions exceeds 114,000 tons

and this:

Russia among countries delivering humanitarian aid to New Orleans after Katrina

and this:

While US and the West defame Putin, Russia quietly helps others and delivers a regular shipment of relief aid for Serbia's flood-stricken regions

and this:

Russia to aid Japan in filtering radioactive water

and the list goes on...


Banking restrictions worldwide show why it's vital to be as financially independent as possible

closed bank
As capital controls and banking restrictions continue to affect various populations worldwide, standing in the way of individuals and their hard-earned savings, some are looking to safer options and even cryptocurrencies. Lebanon, Zimbabwe, and India are just a few of the countries to deal with centralized restrictions on access to money in recent times, but anyone that's ever had to so much as wait in a long line at the bank knows that when it comes to your money, the more direct and immediate the control, the better.

Bad News Banking

Recent headlines involving major banks have showcased a fact perhaps few would like to face: when it comes to your money in the bank, the bank ultimately has the final say. Roelof Botha, former CFO of Paypal, announced on Twitter Monday that his 20-year banking relationship with Bank of America had been abruptly cut short by the institution with no reason given. One commenter bit back at Botha by saying the same thing happened to him with Paypal, and noting the problems with both centralized institutions stated:

Comment: See also:

No Entry

Singapore invokes 'fake news' law for first time over Facebook post

Singapore fake news censorship
© Alastair Pike/AFP/Getty Images
Singapore political figure Brad Bowyer on Monday corrected a Facebook post questioning the independence of state investment firms following a government request, in the first use of the country's new "fake news" law.

Bowyer used "false and misleading" statements alleging the government influenced decisions made by state investors Temasek Holdings and GIC, according to a statement on the official government fact-checking website.

Bowyer said he had placed a correction notice with a link to the government statement above his Facebook post following a request to do so under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).

"I have no problem in following that request as I feel it is fair to have both points of view and clarifications and corrections of fact when necessary," Bowyer said in a statement on Facebook.


Equal pay for unequal work is a symptom of prosperity (not progress)

women's soccer
On Monday, 4 November 2019, Australian media outlets announced a historic deal brokered between the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) and the Professional Footballers Association after a year of negotiations. This new arrangement will see the Matildas (the Australian women's soccer team) and the Socceroos (the Australian men's soccer team) evenly splitting the sport's commercial revenue, rather than each team receiving a cut of their own generated revenue. This follows a number of other nations arranging similar collective bargaining agreements.

This change has been described as a major win for women's sport, but detractors have been quick to point out some logical and ethical inconsistencies. Chief among these is the Matildas' highly publicised 7-0 loss to a team of teenage boys from Newcastle in 2016 which raised questions about the standards of Australian women's soccer. At that time, goalkeepers Melissa Barbieri and Mark Bosnich engaged in an online exchange, during which Barbieri argued it was not the intention of female soccer players to be paid the same as their male counterparts.

This debate is an addition to the growing list of global gender-based sporting controversies that span decades. In 1973, retired 55-year-old self-styled tennis hustler, Bobby Riggs lost to Billie Jean King in a match dubbed the "Battle of the Sexes" the subject of a 2017 feature film of the same name. 44 years later, outspoken former tennis champion John McEnroe attracted criticism for disputing that Serena Williams was the world's greatest tennis player. Speaking to multiple outlets, McEnroe suggested that Williams would be ranked 700 on the men's circuit. In recent years, gender issues have been complicated further by an array of transgender controversies in sports such as Australian football, martial arts, and teenage wrestling. There have also been persistent attempts to exclude Caster Semenya from women's athletics for having high levels of naturally produced testosterone.


'Do not cross red lines': Iranian Guard chief warns US and its allies

© theiranproject.com
1Iranian Brigadier General Hossein Salami
Iran will destroy the United States and its allies if they cross Tehran's red lines, the head of the country's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has said in his address to a pro-government rally denouncing last week's violent protests over the rise in fuel prices.

Addressing thousands of demonstrators in the capital on Monday, General Hossein Salami accused the US, the United Kingdom, Israel and Saudi Arabia of stoking the unrest, in which dozens were killed by Iran's security forces.
"We have shown restraint ... we have shown patience towards the hostile moves of America, the Zionist regime [Israel] and Saudi Arabia against the Islamic Republic of Iran ... but we will destroy them if they cross our red lines."
The demonstrators, waving the Iranian flag and banners that read "Death to America" and "Death to Israel", descended on Enqelab (Revolution) Square. Some in the crowd set fire to American flags.

Comment: Scenes from Tehran, November 25, 2019:
Tehran claimed that "anarchists" and US-backed "mercenaries" were behind the rioting. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced his support for the anti-government protesters. Rallies in solidarity with them were held in several North American and European cities.
© Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA via Reuters.jpg
General Hossein Salami delivers his speech at the pro-government demonstration in Tehran
Iranian protesters
© Reuters/Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA
Iranian pro-government protesters attend demonstration in Tehran, November 25, 2019.
© AFP/Atta Kenare
Iranian pro-government demonstrators burn flags in Tehran's central Enghelab Square, November 25. 2019.


FM Wang Li: 'Hong Kong is part of China and no one can mess it up' - as opposition gains in community election

Polling Station HongKong
© Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha
Polling station in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, China November 24, 2019.
Beijing has said that the outcome of the municipal vote that saw opposition taking nearly 90% of the seats won't change Hong Kong status, while warning against any attempts to disrupt the situation.

Preliminary results of the election reported by local broadcaster RTHK suggest that about 390 seats out of 452 that were up for grabs in 18 district councils have been claimed by the anti-government candidates.

Asked to comment while the vote count was ongoing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that regardless of the outcome, Hong Kong will remain an unalienable part of the Chinese state.
"It's not the final result yet. Let's wait for the final result, OK? However, it is clear that no matter what happens, Hong Kong is a part of China and a special administrative region of China. Any attempt to mess up Hong Kong, or even damage its prosperity and stability, will not succeed."
Hong Kong administrator Carrie Lam, meanwhile, said that the semi-autonomous city's government would respect the results of the district poll.


US to launch a news alternative for Chinese citizens since Beijing's news is biased

© Voice of America/Radio Free Asia/KJN
The US-funded broadcasters Voice of America and Radio Free Asia are about to join forces to establish a new media structure, tasked with providing Chinese citizens with an 'alternative' to their own state media, a report claims.

Against the background of a seemingly never-ending US-China trade war, Washington has, apparently, decided to reach out to some ordinary Chinese people and to provide them with no less than a brand new "alternative" to their domestic state media, which, it says, only promote Beijing's "narratives, values and misinformation."

At least that's what a report in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) claims. The report suggests that Voice of America and Radio Free Asia plan to work together to create a totally new "digital brand" operating 24/7 in Mandarin on social media, on the internet and through various other broadcasting platforms.

The new network is reportedly expected to focus particularly on Chinese youth, both in China and beyond. The news comes as the US Agency for Global Media - a newly founded governmental entity tasked with coordinating the work of all of the US' state-funded media - proudly reported about the growing demand for that sort of content in China, saying that the number of people tuning in weekly to VOA and RFA rose by more than six percent in total in 2018.

Comment: See also: