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Obama goes off on Trump for reportedly having a 'secret Chinese bank account'

October 21, 2020 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

During a feisty campaign rally speech in Philadelphia on Wednesday, former President Barack Obama went off on his predecessor’s foreign financial ties, pointing to a recent New York Times story that found President Donald Trump has kept a secret Chinese bank account.

“How is that possible?” Obama exclaimed. “How is that possible? A secret Chinese bank account!”

He also observed the rank hypocrisy in right-wing media that has been obvious throughout Trump’s term in office.

“Can you imagine if I had had a secret Chinese bank account?” Obama asked. “You think Fox News might have been a little concerned about that? They would have called me ‘Beijing Barry.’”

He added: “It is not a great idea to have a president who owes a bunch of money to people overseas. That’s not a good idea. I mean, of the taxes Donald Trump pays, he may be sending more to foreign governments than he pays in the United States.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump has found his very own Dr. Death

October 21, 2020 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

After all this time, most of us realize that Donald Trump is a Russian asset. Not that he’s a secret mole necessarily or even The Manchurian Candidate, but Vladimir Putin plays him like a balalaika strumming Song of the Volga Boatmen.

No one but the two of them knows with absolute certainty why this is—whether it’s money-related (probably) or something else—but unwittingly or not, the cash-strapped president’s certainly playing the “useful idiot” role so beloved in spy fiction and such TV shows as “Homeland.” Doubtless to Putin’s delight, a second term would see an even more concerted effort on Trump’s part to tear apart the NATO alliance and other vital international coalitions, not to mention a further fracturing of these United States.

What’s more, the intelligence community has made us aware, in no uncertain terms, that Russian cybermeddling in our election is still hammering away at American social media with trolls, bots and fake websites favoring Trump, and that he has been informed that Rudy Giuliani is a primary conduit for made-in-Russia leaks and misinformation about Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump waved the allegations aside.

One of Rudy’s main sources is discredited Ukrainian Andriy Derkach, described by the US Treasury department as “an active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian intelligence services.” Nonetheless, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post has been publishing this rubbish (to the horror of many in its newsroom) and the primetime marionettes of Fox have pumped and bumped the story like a trumpet, even though the channel’s own news department doubted its veracity.

But this week, what strikes me as particularly in the style of the old Soviet Union are the actions of Dr. Scott Atlas, the neuroradiologist with absolutely no experience in virology, immunology or public health who Trump has plucked from the toxic airwaves of Fox to take over the increasingly moribund coronavirus task force.

As per The Washington Post:

Atlas shot down attempts to expand testing. He openly feuded with other doctors on the coronavirus task force and succeeded in largely sidelining them. He advanced fringe theories, such as that social distancing and mask-wearing were meaningless and would not have changed the course of the virus in several hard-hit areas. And he advocated allowing infections to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Judge shoots down DOJ push to delay Trump's rape case

October 21, 2020 in Blogs

By The New Civil Rights Movement

The United States Department of Justice received a public rebuke from a federal judge on Wednesday.

At issue was a hearing about the DOJ’s efforts to have taxpayer-funded lawyers defend President Donald Trump in a civil case over whether he defamed E. Jean Carroll after she accused him of sexual assault.

The DOJ attempted to delay the case after a government attorney was denied access to the courthouse due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The DOJ claimed that the new rules had started on Tuesday, even though Gov. Andrew Cuomo had announced the ban a week earlier.

The judge denied the motion and noted the hearing could be conducted by phone.

The judge added that “contrary to the government’s suggestion, it appears that Virginia was added to the list of Restricted States over a week ago.”

The order was posted to Twitter by Courthouse News reporter Adam Klasfeld:

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Argentina’s veteran ambassador makes a stand for the sovereignty of Latin America

October 21, 2020 in Blogs

By Vijay Prashad

This article was produced by Globetrotter.

Alicia Castro does not shy away from her views. She came to diplomacy from the trade union movement, where she was a leader when she was a flight attendant with Aerolíneas Argentinas. Castro spent eight years as a member of parliament in the Argentine National Congress, where she fought for the rights of working people. Ambassadorships in the United Kingdom and Venezuela culminated in the offer earlier this year of the post of Argentina’s ambassador to Russia.

While waiting to go to Russia to take up this position, Castro was angered when Argentina’s government voted against Venezuela in the United Nations Council for Human Rights on October 6. She resigned from her post and made her resignation letter public. “Today,” Castro wrote, “I want to present my resignation as ambassador because I do not agree with the current foreign relations policy.”

I spoke to Castro a week after she resigned from her position. She indicated to me that this was not a difficult decision. Rather, she would not have been able to serve her country’s government if she did not agree with its overall policy orientation toward its own sovereignty and the sovereignty of Latin America, the “Patria Grande” or the Great Homeland.

Corruption of ‘Human Rights’

In July 2019, Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights and former president of Chile, published a report on alleged human rights violations in Venezuela. The report had major gaps. For instance, it downplays the U.S. sanctions, even ignoring that these unilateral sanctions were in place from 2008 and not from 2017; it fails to mention the many instances of violence instigated by the opposition such as in 2014, 2017, and 2019.

To move her agenda forward, Bachelet announced in December 2019 an agreement with the Venezuelan government to set up human rights offices inside Venezuela that would report on allegations of violations. It was clear that the issue of “human rights” was not being applied in a proper forensic and legal manner; it had become a political tool for the United States of America and its allies as part of a disinformation campaign against the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro.

In September 2020, Bachelet appeared at the UN Human Rights Council to offer her view of violations inside Venezuela. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Democrats called on to impeach Bill Barr — immediately

October 21, 2020 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, more than 40 progressive groups urged the House Democrats to initiate impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Bill Barr—not only to hold his accountable for numerous wrongdoings while in office, but also as a procedural tactic to keep the Senate from confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The groups, including United We Dream Action, the Center for Popular Democracy, and the Sunrise Movement, listed multiple offenses by the attorney general which would warrant impeachment proceedings, including:

  • Misleading Congress regarding the Mueller investigation
  • Supporting—and reportedly personally ordering—the use of federal troops against protestors in support of racial justice
  • Prohibiting the referral of an intelligence community whistleblower complaint to Congress
  • Failing to comply with subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives

Beyond holding Barr to account, as a team of legal experts also demanded the Democrats do in a report last week, beginning impeachment proceedings before this Friday, Oct. 23, would throw a wrench into Senate Republicans’ plans to confirm Coney Barrett ahead of Election Day as well as their intent to use the court system to President Donald Trump’s benefit.

“The administration’s successful efforts to delay to 2021 court proceedings that would vindicate Congress’s rights and to stack the courts with unqualified Trump judges—and Trump justices—means that the window for your actions to matter is rapidly closing,” wrote the groups. “In a lawless administration whose only principle is helping the president’s friends and hurting his enemies, and in the face of widespread efforts by the administration to prevent the peaceful transition of power, the final line of accountability lies with you.”

The letter was drafted amid widespread frustration from progressives regarding the Senate Democrats’ handling of Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings last week.

Democrats, particularly Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)—ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee—”lent legitimacy to an illegitimate process,” according to Adam Jentleson, public affairs director for Democracy Forward.

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How Are Electoral College Electors Chosen?

October 21, 2020 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Despite the important role of the Electoral College, the Constitution doesn’t say much about the electors themselves.

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 argued over a lot of things, but one of their biggest debates was over how the United States should elect its president.

Some among the Founding Fathers believed that direct nationwide election by the people would be the most democratic method. Others argued that a straightforward popular vote was unfair, as it would give too much power to larger, more populous states. They also worried that public opinion could be too easily manipulated, and feared direct election might lead to a tyrannical leader determined to grab absolute power for himself.

The result of this struggle was the Electoral College, the system by which the American people vote not for president and vice president, but for a smaller group of people, known as electors. These electors then cast their votes directly for president and vice president, at a meeting held several weeks after the general election.

There are 538 total electors, including one for each U.S. senator and representative and three electors representing the District of Columbia, and presidential candidates need a majority of 270 votes to win the White House. Most of the time—but not always—the winner of the Electoral College is also the winner of the popular vote.

READ MORE: What Is the Electoral College and Why Was It Created?

How Electors Are Chosen

Elector Melba McDow, along with other electors, takes the oath of office as the Electoral College meets at the Texas Capitol in Austin, 2008

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states that electors can’t be a member of Congress, or hold federal office, but left it up to individual states to figure out everything else. According to the 14th Amendment, ratified after the Civil War, electors also can’t be anyone who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or given aid or comfort to its enemies.”

The Constitution gave each state a number of electors equal to the combined total of representatives and senators who represent that state in the U.S. Congress. State legislatures are responsible for choosing electors, but how they do this varies from state to state. Until the mid-1800s, it was common for many state legislatures to simply appoint electors, while other states …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Stunning Survival Story of Ernest Shackleton and His Endurance Crew

October 21, 2020 in History

By Kieran Mulvaney

The men on the British expedition to Antarctica endured entrapment, hunger, frigid weather, angry seas—and near madness.

All year, the ship had been trapped, the ice pushing and pinching the hull, the wood howling in protest. Finally, on October 27, 1915, a new wave of pressure rippled across the ice, lifting the ship’s stern and tearing off its rudder and its keel. Freezing water began to rush in.

“She’s going, boys,” came the cry. “It’s time to get off.”

From the moment Ernest Shackleton and his crew aboard the British expedition ship, HMS Endurance had become immobilized 10 months earlier, they had been preparing for this moment. Now, those on board removed their last remaining belongings from the ship and set up camp on the ice. Twenty-five days later, what remained of the wreck convulsed once more, and the Endurance disappeared beneath the ice forever.

Endurance Is Locked in by Ice

Officers and crew of the Endurance pose under the bow of the ship at Weddell Sea Base during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-17, led by Ernest Shackleton.

Endurance had left South Georgia for Antarctica on December 5, 1914, carrying 27 men (plus one stowaway, who became ship’s steward), 69 dogs, and a tomcat erroneously dubbed Mrs. Chippy. The goal of expedition leader Shackleton, who had twice fallen short—once agonizingly so—of reaching the South Pole, was to establish a base on Antarctica’s Weddell Sea coast.

From there a small party, including himself, would set out on the first crossing of the continent, ultimately arriving at the Ross Sea, south of New Zealand, where another group would be waiting for them, having laid depots of food and fuel along the way.

Two days after leaving South Georgia, Endurance entered the pack ice—the barrier of thick sea ice that stands guard around the Antarctic continent. For several weeks, the ship poked and prodded its way through leads in the ice, gingerly making its way south; but on January 18, a northerly gale pressed the pack hard against the land and pushed the floes tight against each other. Suddenly, there was no way forward, nor any way back. Endurance was beset—in the words of one of the crew, Thomas Orde-Lees, “frozen like an almond in the middle of a chocolate bar.”

History’s Greatest Mysteries premieres Saturday, November 14 at 9/8c on HISTORY.

They had been within a day’s sailing of their landing …read more

Source: HISTORY