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Ireland Votes to Decriminalize Blasphemy by a Massive Margin

October 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The country has been moving in more liberal direction.


Ireland voted by a massive margin this weekend to end the country's legal prohibition on blasphemy.

The “yes” side of the referendum, which amends the constitution and undermines the 2009 Defamation Act, won nearly 65 percent of the vote to 35 percent, according to the BBC

In recent years, Ireland has been moving in a more liberal direction and overturning some of its reactionary laws.

The country voted to legalize gay marriage in 2015, becoming the first country to do so in a popular vote. And earlier this year, the country voted to legalize abortion in another landslide referendum.

“Ireland is rightly proud of our reputation as a modern, liberal society,” Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said, cheering the blasphemy referendum result.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Is Trump Anti-Semitic? Here's What the Evidence Shows

October 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

After a gunman carried out a devastating mass shooting at a synagogue, many suggested Trump's rhetoric has played into this form of hate.


Is President Donald Trump anti-Semitic? After a shooter killed 11 people and wounded six others at a synagogue on Saturday, many observers said there was a clear connection between Trump's own bigotry and the devastating massacre.

Others responded by disputing that Trump can reasonably be accused of anti-Semitism. So which conclusion is correct?

Here's the case that the president's rhetoric has often been — and knowably so — anti-Semitic and likely to stoke bigotry toward Jewish people.

During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly used imagery and tropes known to be associated with anti-Semites and propaganda against Jews. On July 2, 2016, he tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton next to a Star of David against a background of cash. When this was criticized, he deleted the tweet. The image originated on a neo-Nazi forum, according to Mic. (Trump also retweeted other neo-Nazis during the campaign, including an account called @whitegenocideTM.)

Trump quickly deleted the Star of David tweet. But later, he defended it, saying it was a “Sheriff's Star,” not a Star of David. This implausible excuse actually makes the original offense worse, because it sounds like an obvious wink and nod to anti-Semites. Someone who made a genuine mistake by promoting Nazi content would sincerely and profusely apologize.

Later in the campaign, Trump used vague and ominous rhetoric to describe nefarious “banks” trying to undermine the working class. While it's of course not out of bounds at all to criticize the banking industry, Trump's use of global conspiracy tropes came very close to echoing racist myths about Jewish people. He said:

It's a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful large corporations and political entities. Just look at what this corrupt establishment has done to our cities like Detroit, Flint, Michigan, and rural towns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, and all across our country. …

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Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Is Lying About 9/11 — Again — to Defend His Abominable Behavior

October 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Any president of the United States should know better.


During his presidential campaign, President Donald Trump faced heavy criticism for repeatedly lying when he claimed that he saw “thousands” of “Arabs” celebrating in New Jersey when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. This was widely panned as an outrageous lie — and a deeply racist one at that — and yet his campaign continued and eventually succeeded.

Now that he's president and under fire for his reaction to multiple hateful and terrorizing attacks this week, he's taken to lying about 9/11 again.

In addition to the criticism saying Trump stokes irrational and bigoted climate among his followers, many noted that he continued to hold his starkly partisan campaign rallies, despite a need for national unity in the wake of the attacks. To defend this decision, Trump said at a rally on Saturday:

With what happened early today, that horrible, horrible attack in Pittsburgh, I was saying maybe I should cancel both this and that. And then I said to myself, I remembered Dick Russell, a friend of mine, great guy, he headed up the New York Stock Exchange on September 11th, and the New York Stock Exchange was open the following day. He said — and what they had to do to open it you wouldn’t believe, we won’t even talk to you about it. But he got that exchange open. We can’t make these sick, demented, evil people important.

But as the Washington Post and others noted, this is just not true.

“The NYSE and even the over-the-counter Nasdaq exchange never opened for trading the morning of the attacks and were closed until Sept. 17 — the longest shutdown since 1933,” wrote the Post's Glenn Kessler .”Other stock markets around the world were closed as well. It’s easy to figure this out using Google. There’s even a whole Wikipedia page.”

Kessler noted that presidents usually have teams that can run facts checks and make sure that they don't make these kinds of errors. But Trump spreads falsehoods such as this all the time and rarely if ever corrects himself. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Trump Is Applying a Match to Kindling': Conservative Writer Explains Why There's No Equivalence Between Democrats' and Republicans' 'Incivility'

October 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Sen. Marco Rubio tried to blame both sides. Max Boot isn't having it.


Critics of President Donald Trump and the GOP's inflammatory rhetoric and willingness to pander to the most fringe and vile elements of their base in the wake high-profile partisan and extremist violence are facing a familiar reply: Both sides do bad things, so there's no use in blaming the right wing any more than we blame the left.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), for instance, suggested that it was just as bad to think the mail bomber who targeted Democrats and CNN was a “false flag” operation as it is to accuse Trump of having any culpability in the attack, given the suspect's clear fondness for the president's most vicious attacks and hatred of his critics.

But as conservative and ex-Republican Max Boot argued in a new Washington Post column, this is a completely vacuous claim.

It should “be clear to all that holding the president of the United States to account for his hateful rhetoric is not the same thing as subscribing to lunatic 'false flag' conspiracy theories that ricochet around the right-wing world,” wrote Boot. “In their eagerness to protect their leader, Republicans are guilty of the very sin they have spent years decrying — false moral equivalence.”

He added: “Extremism has been present in America for a long time. But Trump is applying a match to the kindling.”

Boot argued that he does not appreciate forms of what he sees as “incivility” on left-leaning activists — protests of administration officials at restaurants, for example, or comparing Trump to Hitler.

And yet in his view, none of that is comparable to Trump's misdeeds:

Trump calls Democrats “evil” and “crazy.” He accuses them of being “treasonous” and “un-American.” He claims they are in league with MS-13 gang members. He says they are trying to open our borders to criminals and to turn America into Venezuela — a bankrupt socialist dictatorship. He denounces the media as “the enemy of the people.” He applauds a congressman who assaulted a reporter and calls for his political opponent to be locked up. He singles out minorities such …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Reporters Educate Sarah Sanders After Her Absurd Insult of the Washington Post: 'That's What Newspapers Do'

October 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Does she even understand the point of journalism?


White House Press Secertary Sarah Sanders was not happy Sunday about the Washington Post's reporitng on the ties between President Donald Trump and the recent high-profile attacks against a Pittsburgh synagogue and major Democratic figures, who were sent mail bombs that failed to detonate this week.

Eleven people were shot and killed at the Tree of Life synagogue attack Saturday, and six others were wounded.

Sanders angrily responded to a tweet showing that the Post's front page, which addressed what critics were saying about Trump's violent and often bigoted rhetoric and the clear support that the suspect in the mail bombings case showed for the president.

“Is there any tragedy the Washington Post won’t exploit to attack President @realDonaldTrump?” Sanders wrote. “The evil act of anti-Semitism in Pittsburg was committed by a coward who hated President Trump because @POTUS is such an unapologetic defender of the Jewish community and state of Israel.”

New York Times reporter Peter Baker pointed out, however, that the Post's reporting wasn't an “attack” on the president. It was journalism.

“To be clear, the Washington Post is not attacking the president,” Baker said. “The president's critics are and the Post is writing about the conflict. That's what newspapers do. We don't just quote the people in power but the people who disagree with the people in power.”

Maggie Haberman, also with the Times, added: “Additional point – the alleged bomber had a truck covered with Trump/MAGA photos. Covering reality-based events isn’t an 'attack.'”

Of course, there's no reason to think Sanders doesn't know this. The administration has cynically been attacking the press since day one, often for simply reporting the facts. Trump and his aides will often decry a story or a report as “fake news” — only to confirm it in the weeks to come and ignore the fact that they had ever denied it.

It's a dangerous and self-serving game that is particularly condemnable given that the mail bomber also targeted CNN this week. Continuing the administration's shameful and baseless attacks on the press is nothing short of negligence …read more

Source: ALTERNET