An anniversary to deplore

Maggie Black, 22 February 2017 

Exactly a year ago, on 22 February 2016, Baquer Namazi returned home to Tehran in the expectation of being able to see Siamak, his oldest son. Siamak had been arrested in October 2015 while on a family visit from the US, and subsequently held incommunicado in the city’s notorious Evin prison. Baquer, an 80-year-old UNICEF retiree with an unblemished career as a humanitarian worker and champion of child protection, did not get to see his son. But he did see the inside of Evin prison. He was arrested himself and has been incarcerated there ever since.

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The riddle of Europe’s election season

Gavin Hewitt – Chief correspondent, BBC

Many Europeans eye the months ahead with foreboding. They see anti-establishment parties on the ascendancy. Angela Merkel – for so long Frau Europe – may lose power. And the financial markets are skittish over the possibility of a Marine Le Pen victory in France. Every edge up in her poll ratings sends bond yields rising.

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Senate GOP begins to push Trump away

By Juan Williams*  -  The Hill

At what point do Republicans in Congress start looking out for their political future and go after President Trump’s ties to Russia?

Even before the president’s national security advisor Michael Flynn was forced out, Gallup had President Trump with the worst ratings of his presidency so far — 55 percent disapproval to 40 percent approval.

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The Silence of the Hacks

Paul Krugman – The New York Times

The story so far: A foreign dictator intervened on behalf of a U.S. presidential candidate — and that candidate won. Close associates of the new president were in contact with the dictator’s espionage officials during the campaign, and his national security adviser was forced out over improper calls to that country’s ambassador — but not until the press reported it; the president learned about his actions weeks earlier, but took no action.

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Our collective failure to reverse inequality is at the heart of a global malaise

By Kate E Pickett *,Richard G Wilkinson**   - Research to Publication Programme

Each year, at its meeting in Davos, the World Economic Forum produces a report on global risks, highlighting the biggest challenges the world is facing and the connections between them. Inequality entered the list of global risks in 2012, and in 2017 rising income and wealth disparity ranked as the most important trend likely to determine development across the world over the next decade.1 Oxfam also issues reports on inequality at Davos—in 2014 shocking the world with its estimate that the 85 richest people in the world owned as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion; this year reporting that just eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world.2 , 3

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What Did President Trump Know and When Did He Know It?

By Joan Walsh – The Nation

Michael Flynn is out, but until there’s an investigation by Congress, we’re at the mercy of intelligence leaks for the story.

The country is a little bit safer with Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn deposed as National Security Adviser—but not much. It’s a relief to be rid of the paranoid, Islamophobic, fact-averse Trump adviser who reportedly didn’t know he needed Congress to approve new arms deals. But let’s be clear: The White House cover story for Flynn’s departure makes no sense. The most dangerous person in the White House still has a job.

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How Should One Resist the Trump Administration?

David Brooks  – The New York Times

How should one resist the Trump administration? Well, that depends on what kind of threat Donald Trump represents.

It could be that the primary Trump threat is authoritarianism. It is hard to imagine America turning into full fascism, but it is possible to see it sliding into the sort of “repressive kleptocracy” that David Frum describes in the current Atlantic — like the regimes that now run Hungary, the Philippines, Venezuela and Poland.

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What the Rest of the World Can Do

By Saleemul Huq *

Feb 8 2017 (The Daily Star, Bangladesh) – Although President Trump has only been in office for less than a month, it is already becoming clear how he intends to carry out implementing his campaign pledges and who he is appointing in his cabinet. It is therefore possible to assess some likely actions and policies on climate change based on his campaign statements and also some of his advisers’ statements and most importantly from his own Twitter statements.

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Why Is Trump Adviser Wearing Medal of Nazi Collaborators?

by Eli Clifton –Lobelog*

The White House’s omission of Jewish victims of the Holocaust in its statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day raised objections from Jewish groups across the political spectrum but the Trump administration’s combative defense was perhaps the most surprising move by a presidency facing record low approval numbers. Last Monday, Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka refused to admit that that it may have been poor judgment not to specifically acknowledge the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust.

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The problem with the past is that it doesn’t pass: on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Por Boaventura de Sousa Santos*

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution (RR)1 and also the 150th anniversary of the publication of the first volume of Karl Marx’ Das Kapital. Combining the two historic dates may seem strange because Marx never wrote in detail about the revolution and communist society and, even if he had, it is unimaginable that what he might have written could bear any resemblance to what the Soviet Union (USSR) was, especially after Stalin took over the leadership of both the party and the State.

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Zombie Ideologies Like Unbridled Consumerism Threaten to Destroy the Planetary Environment

By Paul Raskin / Tellus Institute

Where is the bold vision to save the world from an exploitative economic system and myopic politics?

The following is an excerpt from Paul Raskin’s new book Journey to Earthland (Tellus Institute, 2016).

We are bound together on a precarious passage to a land unknown and unnamed. Even a stray dog, as Hannah Arendt once noted, has better odds of surviving when given a name.

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Preserving the Sanctity of All Facts

Roger Cohen – The New York Times    

Fact-based journalism is a ridiculous, tautological phrase. It’s like talking about oxygen-based human life. There is no other kind. Facts are journalism’s foundation; the pursuit of them, without fear or favor, is its main objective.

But in this time of President Trump’s almost daily “fake news” accusations against The New York Times, and of his counselor Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts,” and of untruths seeping like a plague from the highest office in the land, there’s increasing talk of “real” or “fact-based” journalism.

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A Dire Vacuum in a World in Crisis

By Baher Kamal

ROME/GENEVA, Feb 9 2017 (IPS) – “The world is in a crisis, not least because governing élites have estranged themselves from the needs and aspirations of ordinary people. This sense of being left behind has lead the latter to rebel against their country’s stratified governance,” warns a Geneva-based human rights and dialogue centre.

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How Russia Became the Middle East’s New Power Broker

BY OWEN MATTHEWS , JACK MOORE , DAMIEN SHARKOV –   NEWSWEEK

Russia is clawing its way back to being a superpower—at the expense of U.S. influence and prestige.

On the morning of January 11, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar climbed up the companionway of an aircraft carrier floating off the Mediterranean port of Tobruk. As a Marine band played and an honor guard presented arms, an admiral in a white full-dress uniform greeted the Libyan strongman, who was a senior commander in the U.S.-backed rebel forces that ousted the dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011. After the welcoming ceremony, the 73-year-old Haftar, an American citizen who for many years lived in the United States, was escorted below decks for a secure video conference with the Middle East’s most energetic foreign power broker.

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NATO is Indeed Obsolete

By Jonathan Power*

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) – So what does President Donald Trump think about NATO? Twice during his campaign he rubbished it publically, saying it was “obsolete”. Yet early February when he met the UK’s prime minister, Therese May, it was all hunky dory. He told her he supported NATO 100%.

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