25 Jul

United States Wars, News and Casualties

 United States Wars, News and Casualties


Our Country’s Treasure, Chapter Two 

Originally Published in 2007

“I regret they got hurt,’ Bush,the former president and war criminal said of the veterans.”

To the War Criminal Bush – And to the thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians?

Never, ever forget that the War Criminals Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld etc. founded ISIS and today are proud of what they did and feel no regret.

‘It was the right decision’: Bush says he has ‘no regrets’ about invading Iraq and Afghanistan when asked how he feels when he sees wounded veterans

Since the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts began, at least 8,000 US and allied soldiers have died, according to CNN.

Tens of thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, according to the United Nations.

The civilian death toll in Iraq is estimated to be somewhere between 170,000 and 190,000, according to Iraq Body Count

The McGlynn


War News


Total Dollar Cost of War>>

Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

Cost of Military Action Against ISIS>>

Cost of Pentagon Slush Fund>>

GUARD: MPs must act to bring about a ceasefire in Yemen

Ann Clwyd MP calls for the parliamentary committee on arms export controls to be reconstituted. Plus Rina Vergano on the shame of London hosting the Defence and Security Equipment International arms fair

I am dismayed that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia continue and that it remains the UK’s most important weapons market, despite the Saudi-led coalition having attacked civilians in Yemen in contravention of international humanitarian law (UK approved £283m of arms sales to Saudis after airstrike on Yemen funeral, 24 July). And the killing there continues: the Office of the UN high commissioner for human rights, for example, has reported that a deadly airstrike on 18 July by the Saudi-led coalition on the small village of al-Asheerah in the Taizz governorate, currently controlled by the Houthis, killed 18 civilians, including 10 children and two women, despite any evidence of a military objective in the immediate vicinity of the destroyed house.

First and foremost, what the Saudis, and all other warring parties, are doing in Yemen must be subject to further international scrutiny. In addition, UK arms sales need to be properly scrutinised by parliament. The committees on arms export controls must be reconstituted as soon as the constituent committees are up and running – as agreed by parliamentary colleagues from all parties who have signed early day motion 124.

Read full story »

REU: Syrian Observatory says eight killed in Ghouta air strikes

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said overnight air strikes killed at least eight people in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta.

The deaths were the first civilian casualties in the area – the last major rebel stronghold near Damascus – since a cessation of hostilities was declared there on Saturday. The strikes, targeting the town of Arbin, wounded an additional 30 people, it said.

The Civil Defence for rural Damascus, a rescue service operating in the area, said the dead included five children and two women.

In a statement on its Facebook page, it put the number of wounded and missing at 50. The air strikes hit the area at 11 p.m. (2000 GMT), it said.

Read full story »

AP: Al-Qaida in Syria close to snuffing out competition in north

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels and activists are warning that an al-Qaida-linked jihadi group is on the verge of snuffing out what remains of the country’s uprising in northwestern Syria, after the extremists seized control of the opposition-held regional capital, Idlib, last weekend.

With the jihadis cementing their authority over the city and its province, also called Idlib, Syrian President Bashar Assad has been supplied with a useful pretext for a long-expected assault against the rebellious province: that the uprising against him is largely driven by Islamists and terrorists.

“There is the real possibility that because of the Nusra Front’s domination, the regime will enter the area with international approval,” said Lt. Col. Fares Bayoush, a longtime opponent of Assad, who has been leading a rebel faction in north Syria.

The Nusra Front is one of the many names for the al-Qaida-affiliate that now heads the mighty Hay’at Tahrir al Sham militant group — Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee — that seized the city of Idlib, as well as two border crossings with Turkey to feed its coffers. It is also known as HTS.

Read full story »

AP: Russia deploys military police at ‘safe zone’ in Syria

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has deployed military police to monitor the cease-fire in a safe zone in the eastern suburbs of Syria’s Damascus, the chief of the Russian General Staff said on Monday.

Russia has been providing air cover for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s offensive against the Islamic State group since 2015 and previously deployed a military police force to patrol the city of Aleppo last year.

Russia, Iran, which supports Assad, and Turkey, which backs rebels fighting his forces, in May approved a plan to create four “de-escalation” zones in Syria, pressing Assad’s air force to halt flights over designated areas across the war-torn country.

Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi told a news conference Monday that Russia set up two checkpoints and four monitoring posts in one of the zones, in the area known as eastern Ghouta. The Russian Defense Ministry last week said that the Syrian government and the opposition reached an agreement on the boundaries of the zone, several days after bombardment and airstrikes in the area.

Read full story »

IraqiNews: Car bomb blast in Raqqa leaves casualties among SDF ranks

Raqqa (Syria News) Ten members of the Syrian Democratic Forces had been killed, on Monday, in a car bomb blast, south of Raqqa, a source told Qasioun News.

The source said in a statement that ten members of the Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in a booby-trapped vehicle explosion in Hishan Ibn Abdelalek neighborhood, south of the city of Raqqa.

Furthermore, the Islamic State-held “Amaq” agency claimed via its official Twitter account the responsibility for the car bomb blast, reporting that a suicide bomber who was driving a booby-trapped vehicle blew up himself near a gathering of Syrian Democratic Forces members in the area.

Read full story »

ITV: Final days of frontline battle against IS in Mosul caught on camera

The final days of the frontline battle to push so-called Islamic State out of Mosul have been captured by a camerawoman filming for ITV News.

Jana Andert was allowed to accompany Iraqi special forces deep into enemy territory as the fighting reached its climax earlier this month.

Other soldiers were told they could not follow the unit, which was on a mission to finish off an enemy that was on the retreat but still inflicting casualties.

IS seized Mosul in June 2014, declaring it the centre of a new “caliphate”, but last October, backed by US-led coalition warplanes, the Iraqi Army launched a major offensive to recapture the city.

Read full story »

AP: Afghan security scrutinized after suicide bomber kills 24

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban suicide bomber killed 24 people in a horrific early morning assault in a neighborhood where prominent politicians reside, causing residents and analysts to question the government’s ability to protect Afghanistan’s capital.

Another 42 people were injured in the attack that took place during morning rush hour as government employees and students made their way to work and school. Plumes of black smoke were seen billowing skyward outside the entrance to a private high school. Students in nearby dormitories were injured by flying glass.

Several cars were destroyed and small shops that lined the busy street were decimated and many of the occupants within killed.

Read full story »

ISIS used funeral participants as human shield to attack Afghan forces

A probe into the deadly operations against the ISIS terrorists in eastern Nangarhar province has confirmed the civilian casualties besides scores of ISIS insurgents were killed or wounded. The probe team was found after reports emerged that several civilians sustained casualties in the raid conducted in Haska Mina district. According to the findings of the

Read full story »

Pak army chief reacts at Afghan, US officials remarks regarding terror sanctuaries

The Pakistani chief of army staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has expressed concerns regarding the remarks of the Afghan and US officials regarding the terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan, mainly the notorious Haqqani terrorist network. Gen. Bajwa expressed his concerns during a meeting with General John W. Nicholson, Commander Resolute Support Mission (RSM) and US Forces

Read full story »

Taliban militants have reportedly captured Jani Khel district in Paktia

The Taliban insurgents have reportedly captured the control of Jani Khel district in southeastern Paktia province of Afghanistan. Certain local officials have confirmed that the control of the district fell into the hands of the Taliban insurgents after days of heavy gun battle between the security forces and the insurgents. The officials are saying that

Read full story »

Enlightenment Movement cancel protests hours before deadly suicide attack

The enlightenment movement cancelled a demonstration due for Kabul today hours before a deadly suicide attack rocked Kabul city, leaving scores of people dead or wounded. Presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi informed regarding the cancellation of the demonstration while briefing reporters today. He said President Ghani has thanked the movement for their decision to cancel

Read full story »

Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians>>

Recent Casualties

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom Sentinel.

Pfc. Hansen B. Kirkpatrick, 19, of Wasilla, Alaska, died July 3, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from wounds received during an indirect fire attack. The incident is under investigation.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.

DOD:  The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

They died June 10 in Peka Valley, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of gunshot wounds sustained in Peka Valley, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.

The Soldiers were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Company D, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, KY.

Killed were:

Sgt. Eric M. Houck, 25, of Baltimore, Maryland;

Sgt. William M. Bays, 29 of Barstow, California; and

Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge, 22 of Youngsville, North Carolina

Total Casualties

Iraq Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

Afghanistan Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

PTSD: National Center for PTSDPTSD Care for Veterans, Military, and FamiliesSee Help for Veterans with PTSD to learn how to enroll for VA health care and get an assessment.All VA Medical Centers provide PTSD care, as well as many VA clinics.Some VA’s have programs specializing in PTSD treatment. Use the VA PTSD ProgramLocator to find a PTSD program.If you are a war Veteran, find a Vet Center to help with the transition from military to civilian life.Call the 24/7 Veteran Combat Call Center1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk to another combat Veteran.DoD’s Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) 24/7 Outreach Center for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury provides information and helps locate resources.Call 1-866-966-1020 or email resources@dcoeoutreach.orgMilitary OneSourceCall 24/7 for counseling and many resources 1-800-342-9647.Need further assistance? Get Help with VA PTSD Care, Benefits, or Claims.

24 Jul

Toxic water drives health, property value worries in Grayling and More

Toxic water drives health, property value worries in Grayling

GRAYLING, MI — Tim and Colby Chilcote were among dozens of Grayling area homeowners who walked out of Camp Grayling with an under-the-sink filter system designed to clean a toxic chemical seeping from the base airfield out of their drinking water.

The couple moved from Wayne County into a Grayling Township home near the Au Sable River a week before it was announced in May that their new neighborhood would undergo well testing for perfluoroalkyl substances in the groundwater.

Up north, “we assumed everything would be cleaner and nicer,” said Colby Chilcote, a mother of two young children.

Now, they are among a community of homeowners near the Grayling Army Airfield worried about the health effects associated with drinking perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), also called perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which are moving in largely unknown ways through the soil and groundwater south and southwest of the base.

Camp Grayling toxic plume has likely spread off base

Camp Grayling toxic plume has likely spread off base>>

That’s counter to questionable info distributed by state lawmaker.

On Wednesday evening, July 19, officials with the Michigan National Guard, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Health and Human Services and Military and Veterans Affairs stood before a several hundred people at the Camp Grayling armory and tried to reassure the skeptical townhall crowd that their water problem was being taken seriously.

It’s not entirely clear how well that message resonated. The turnout was much larger than the first meeting about the problem in late May. Many in the room were holding envelopes of well test results delivered this week, which, according to the panel of state officials, held better news than they might seem.

Of the 178 well samples collected so far, (about half the amount of well samples being sought), only 23 had detectable levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctyl sulfonate (PFOS), two PFCs which are tied to thyroid, kidney, liver, reproductive and other health problems.

Defense bill would require national PFC health study

Defense bill would require national PFC health study>>

Michigan military base towns dealing with toxic foam problem.

Of those positive samples, only three were above the 70 parts-per-trillion health advisory level established last year by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has only set unenforceable exposure guidelines for PFOS and PFOA, two unregulated contaminants generating escalating concern nationwide as more water supplies discover their systems are polluted by PFCs coming, in many cases, from mystery sources or military bases.

The city of Grayling is now among that group. As the meeting ended, department of public works superintendent Kyle Bond disclosed that perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), which is closely related to PFOA and PFOS, had been discovered in very low concentrations in both city municipal supply wells.

The city wells are east of the base, away from the plumes moving south of the airfield, which came from a chemical-based firefighting tool called Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) that was used in fire training at the airfield. The wells were tested after the initial public meeting on the contamination on May 18 and the results led Bond to shut one well down. Then the second well came back positive.

After the initial PFC discovery in Grayling, city water had been considered unaffected. A free hookup is still offered outside city hall for any township resident with a polluted well to fill-up jugs as a free alternative supply.

Now the city and DEQ are scratching their heads, suggesting that perhaps atmospheric desposition could be the cause, given the wells location east of the base. Grayling did not test for PFCs in 2013 after the EPA asked community water systems to start looking for the chemicals; a testing round that subsequently turned up PFCs in the Ann Arbor and Plainfield Township municipal supplies.

Grayling will now test quarterly for PFCs and expects to develop a long-term strategy to figure out what, if any, action will be taken.

Richard Benzie with the DEQ drinking water division said more municipal water supplies are expected to test positive for low levels of PFCs as sampling expands nationwide.

In Oscoda, Benzie said the Huron Shore Regional Utility Authority (HSRUA) is also testing positive for low PFC levels. The utility is considered the safe source for private wells contaminated by the extensive plumes coming from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base.

“They are pervasive,” he said. “There are many sources and they have been widely used throughout the environment. We’re all facing this new paradigm together and trying to figure out how to deal with it.”

“An abundance of caution has been used thus far.”

The term “abundance of caution” was used frequently during the meeting by Eden Wells, Michigan’s chief medical executive at the DHHS, who is on the job despite a pending felony criminal wrongdoing charge related to the Flint water crisis filed against her by special prosecutors from state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office.

Wells said that Aquasana under-counter water filter systems are being given to homes where wells tested below the EPA’s advisory level as a precautionary measure because there’s still much uncertainty about the extent and toxicity of the PFC plumes.

Because AFFF was used decades ago, it’s likely that PFCs have been moving through the Grayling Township groundwater for many years. The new testing is something of a snapshot in time of the PFCs as they exist today.

The DEQ is planning to set up a network of monitoring wells outside of the base to help develop some better understanding of the depth and movement of the plume. At the edge of the base, testing found PFCs at 10 times the EPA advisory level.

What are PFCs and why you should care

What are PFCs and why you should care>>

You probably have some level in your blood already.

Follow-up testing may show higher contamination levels in homes that had low initial testing results, Wells said. Nonetheless, she repeated several times that water in homes with PFCs under the health advisory level was ok to drink.

Regardless of the actual testing results, many in the crowd were concerned about how the mere presence water pollution would affect property values. Several people spoke anecdotally of neighbors who lost an offer on a house or are stuck with a property that’s unmarketable because the water isn’t thought to be safe.

After the meeting, Leslie LeBlanc, who lives on Evergreen Drive south of the airfield, said more consideration should be given to a filtration system at the wellhead instead of under the sink.

“My kids drink from the hose, drink their bath water,” she said. “It’s not practical to only have one filter in the house.”

“Even though we’re below the allowable levels and are told we’re safe, it’s hard to be ok with that. My kids have growing, developing bodies. When I was pregnant, I was drinking this water and it has cancer causing chemicals in it. But ‘trust me, it’s not much. Trust me, it’s ok?'”

“I’d rather not have any in my water,” LeBlanc said.

She’s been thinking about moving but the water problem has changed the equation. Even if she can find a buyer and the PFCs only ding her property value by a couple percentage points, “it’s still thousands of dollars out of our pocket through no fault of our own.”

Although no long-term solutions for a safe, sustainable water supply were discussed, Major General Gregory J. Vadnais, Michigan National Guard commander, told the crowd that “we’re certainly looking for the federal government to step-up.”

“We’re working on that through the National Guard Bureau,” said Vadnais, who reminded the crowd that although the military used the AFFF that caused the pollution, the panel of officials trying to answer their questions were all from state or local agencies.

“The guys who own the installation, they are not here,” Vadnais said.

For now, “we’ve got the state of Michigan writing the checks to deal with it.”

Veterans blame Air Force base water for chronic diseases

Cindi and Lawrence Ashbeck were stationed at Wurtsmith Air Force Base from 1986 to 1993. The couple and their children have suffered multiple health problems they think are linked to drinking contaminated water on the base. (Courtesy | Cindi Ashbeck)

Veterans blame Air Force base water for chronic diseases>>

Pollution investigation hits home for Wurtsmith families.

Air Force thumbs its nose at new Michigan safe water law

OSCODA, MI — The U.S. Air Force says it won’t provide safe drinking water to Oscoda residents affected by chemical pollution from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base because a Michigan law seeking that is discriminatory.

The Air Force Civil Engineering Center coordinating Wurtsmith cleanup says the service branch is “not authorized” to comply with the requirements of Michigan Public Act 545 of 2016, a new state law which took effect in January.

Air Force spokesperson Mark Kinkade said the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which created the Superfund program, only compels the U.S. government to comply with state law if it’s not discriminatory.

“The Michigan law does discriminate as it only applies to federal and state agencies, not to all entities and persons,” Kinkade said.

As result, the “Air Force is not authorized to comply with the mandates of Act 545 to provide an alternative water supply or to reimburse the state of Michigan when it provides an alternative water supply,” he said.

Public Act 545 amended Michigan’s Safe Drinking Water Act to require the state or federal government provide an “alternative water supply” to any Michigan property owner with a polluted well if state health officials issue a related drinking water advisory and the government caused the pollution.

Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, sponsored the bill after military officials told him at a meeting last year that the Air Force would provide alternative water to affected properties if Michigan amended its laws to require that.

“I am extremely disappointed in the U.S. Air Force for not living up to its word and its responsibilities,” Stamas said. “The federal government needs to be held accountable for what they did, and I will be asking Attorney General Bill Schuette to pursue action to enforce the law.”

Messages left with Schuette’s staff late Friday were not immediately returned.

The Air Force claims the Department of Defense prohibits it from spending money to provide safe water unless a private well tests for chemical concentrations above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health advisory level.

In Oscoda, toxic fluorocarbons called perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) — the official scientific name is in flux — have been leaching through from the base for decades. The chemicals were in firefighting foam the military began using in the 1970s but the plumes that resulted weren’t discovered until the late 1990s.

Read Full Article>>

24 Jul

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

View All>>


World Politics

United States

Anthony Scaramucci: leakers will be punished – video

Source: Reuters

The McGlynn: Bullshit!

White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci calls leaks coming from the White House ‘un-American’ and ‘an injustice to the institution of the American presidency’ and said those leakers will be fired. Scaramucci added that Donald Trump has ‘no reason to pardon anybody’ and ‘did nothing wrong’. He was referring to Trump’s tweet on Saturday saying he had ‘complete power to pardon’ amid ongoing investigations of possible ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia.

Donald Trump’s son-in-law bought part of old New York Times building from Soviet-born tycoon, Guardian investigation into Russian money in NYC property market finds

Jared Kushner, seen in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in May.

Jared Kushner, seen in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in May. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Donald Trump, who acts as his senior White House adviser, secured a multimillion-dollar Manhattan real estate deal with a Soviet-born oligarch whose company was cited in a major New York money laundering case now being probed by members of Congress.

A Guardian investigation has established a series of overlapping ties and relationships involving alleged Russian money laundering, New York real estate deals and members of Trump’s inner circle. They include a 2015 sale of part of the old New York Times building in Manhattan involving Kushner and a billionaire real estate tycoon and diamond mogul, Lev Leviev.

The ties between Trump family real estate deals and Russian money interests are attracting growing interest from the justice department’s special counsel, Robert Mueller, as he seeks to determine whether the Trump campaign collaborated with Russia to distort the outcome of the 2016 race. Mueller has reportedly expanded his inquiry to look at real estate deals involving the Trump Organization, as well as Kushner’s financing.

Kushner will go before the US Senate intelligence committee on Monday in a closed session of the panel’s inquiry into Russian interference in the election in what could be a pivotal hearing into the affair.

Leviev, a global tycoon known as the “king of diamonds”, was a business partner of the Russian-owned company Prevezon Holdings that was at the center of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit launched in New York. Under the leadership of US attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump in March, prosecutors pursued Prevezon for allegedly attempting to use Manhattan real estate deals to launder money stolen from the Russian treasury.

The scam had been uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, an accountant who died in 2009 in a Moscow jail in suspicious circumstances. US sanctions against Russia imposed after Magnitsky’s death were a central topic of conversation at the notorious Trump Tower meeting last June between Kushner, Donald Trump Jr, Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin.

Donald Jr and Manafort have been called to testify before the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, at which they are certain to face questions about the Trump Tower encounter.

Two days before it was due to open in court in May, the Prevezon case was settled for $6m with no admission of guilt on the part of the defendants. But since details of the Trump Tower meeting emerged, the abrupt settlement of the Prevezon case has come under renewed scrutiny from congressional investigators.

Four Russians attended the meeting, led by Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer with known Kremlin connections who acted as legal counsel for Prevezon in the money laundering case and who called the $6m settlement so slight that “it seemed almost an apology from the government”. Sixteen Democratic members of the House judiciary committee have now written to the justice department in light of the Trump Tower meeting demanding to know whether there was any interference behind the decision to avoid trial.

Constitutional experts are also demanding an official inquiry. “We need a full accounting by Trump’s justice department of the unexplained and frankly outrageous settlement that is likely to be just the tip of a vast financial iceberg,” said Laurence Tribe, Harvard University professor of constitutional law.

Separately, the focus of investigators on Trump family finances stem from the vast flow of Russian wealth that has been poured into New York real estate in recent years. As Donald Trump Jr put it in 2008, referring to the Trump Organization: “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Among the overlapping connections is the 2015 deal in which Kushner paid $295m to acquire several floors of the old New York Times building at 43rd street in Manhattan from the US branch of Leviev’s company, Africa Israel Investments (AFI), and its partner Five Mile Capital. The sale has been identified as of possible interest to the Mueller investigation as Kushner later went on to borrow $285m in refinancing from Deutsche Bank, the German financial house that itself has been embroiled in Russian money laundering scandals and whose loans to Trump are coming under intensifying scrutiny.

Court documents and company records show that AFI was cited in the Prevezon case as a business partner of the defendants. In 2008, Prevezon entered a partnership with AFI in which Prevezon bought for €3m, a 30% stake in four AFI subsidiaries in the Netherlands. Five years later, AFI tried to return the money to the Russian-owned company, but it was intercepted and frozen by Dutch authorities at the request of the US government as part of the Prevezon money-laundering probe.

In Manhattan, Leviev’s firm also sold condominiums to Prevezon Holdings from one of its landmark developments at 20 Pine Street, just a few blocks from Wall Street.

Real estate brochures describe the lavish interior decor of the condominiums, replete with bathrooms bedecked in stone and exotic woods, and boasting “the ultimate in pampering; a sybaritic recessed rain shower”. The 20 Pine Street apartments that Leviev sold to Prevezon were later frozen by US prosecutors seeking to block the flow of what they alleged to be money stolen from the Russian treasury and laundered through New York real estate.

Prevezon’s 20 Pine Street apartments and €3m in assets were all released as part of the settlement in May.

The Guardian contacted both Kushner and Leviev for comment, but they did not immediately respond.

Read Full Article>>

Bipartisan group agrees on Russia sanctions for meddling in election>>

Scaramucci vows to stop White House leaks and calls leakers ‘un-American’>>

The wrath of Donald Trump>>

Trump tweets tweak of Republicans ‘who do little to protect’ him>>

New communications head Anthony Scaramucci deletes old tweets>>

Donald Trump attacks press as Russia scandal swirls around Jeff Sessions>>


Charges include claims that Cumhuriyet journalists helped the separatist Kurdistan Workers party and Gülen movement

Protesters hold copies of the Cumhuriyet during a demonstration in Istanbul in 2016

Protesters hold copies of Cumhuriyet during a demonstration in Istanbul last year. Photograph: Yasin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images

The trial of 17 reporters and executives from Cumhuriyet, one of Turkey’s last standing opposition newspapers, is set to begin on Monday with rights activists decrying the continuing muzzling of free speech in one of the world’s largest jailers of journalists.

The charges include accusations that the newspaper’s journalists aided the separatist Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) and the Fethullah Gülen movement, which is widely believed in Turkey to have orchestrated last year’s coup attempt, and complaints of irregularities in the elections of the organisation’s board of executives.

Rights activists say the trial is an assault on freedom of expression and the accusations are absurd, because Cumhuriyet, the country’s newspaper of record that is committed to secularism, has long warned of the dangers of the Gülen movement, which itself has long been at odds with the PKK.

They argue that the other charges are an attempt at replacing the newspaper’s board of directors with government appointees more pliable to the ruling party’s influence.

“I have been a journalist for a long time and have dealt with this for a long time,” said Ayd?n Engin, a veteran journalist with Cumhuriyet who is also standing trial on Monday, but had been released for health reasons. “I will say that I am ashamed and in agony for my country because of these irrational accusations,” he said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development (AK) party have, for years worked to dismantle or co-opt Turkey’s free press. That crackdown has accelerated in the year since last July’s coup, with more than 150 journalists believed to be behind bars in Turkey, the highest in the world ahead of China and Egypt.

As of March this year, 173 media outlets had been shut down, including newspapers, magazines, radio stations, websites and news agencies. More than 2,500 journalists have been laid off as part of the closures and 800 have had their press cards revoked, according to the Republican People’s party (CHP), the main opposition bloc.

The government has also exerted pressure on media outlets that do not toe the official line by pressuring advertisers not to do business with them and pursuing cases of defamation, or by slapping them with large, unpayable fines. After media outlets that once belonged to the Gülen movement were seized, the government-appointed trustee boards that have transformed those newspapers and TV stations into a loyalist press.

These loyalist media outlets are often referred to as “penguin media” because a TV station that was fearful of antagonising the government during the Gezi protests of 2013 aired a documentary about penguins instead of broadcasting the protests.

That threat of a trustee board hangs over Cumhuriyet, a newspaper that was founded in 1924 and is the only serious newspaper in circulation that is vehemently opposed to government policies. It has described the crackdown after the coup in which the government dismissed or detained tens of thousands of civil servants, police and military officers, academics, judges and journalists as a “witch-hunt”, and has repeatedly criticised Erdo?an as an authoritarian attempting to destroy democracy.

“Erdo?an has described democracy as a train before,” said Engin, referring to a quote by the president that described democracy as a train that one can get off from once you reach you destination. “It’s going to be worse for Cumhuriyet. Maybe it will be a shut down, a quick and painless death, or we will suffocate slowly.”

Read Full Article>>


Campaigners say Britain should have halted weapons exports after attack that caused international outrage

A funeral hall where 140 people died after an airstrike by Saudi-led forces in October 2016 in Sana’a.

A funeral hall where 140 people died after an airstrike by Saudi-led forces in October 2016 in Sana’a. Photograph: Hani Mohammed/AP

The British government approved £283m of arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the six months after a Saudi airstrike on a funeral that killed scores of people and was criticised by the UN, figures reveal.

The airstrike, on 8 October 2016, hit a funeral hall in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, killing 140 people and injuring hundreds more, in one of the bloodiest attacks in the two-year Saudi-led campaign in Yemen.

British arms exports to Saudi Arabia have faced intense scrutiny from MPs and campaigners since the start of the conflict, but the country remains the UK’s most important weapons client.

Following the attack, the UK trade secretary, Liam Fox, delayed signing a set of export licences and his officials prepared for sales to Saudi Arabia to be suspended. However, documents obtained by the Guardian revealed that the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, advised him that the sales should continue, as he judged there was no clear risk that British weapons would be used for serious breaches of international humanitarian law.

In the following six months, the government authorised exports including £263m-worth of combat aircraft components to the Saudi air force, and £4m of bombs and missiles, according to data from Campaign Against Arms Trade.

This is a steep decline from the £1bn of bombs and missiles sent to the country in a single quarter in summer 2015. But campaigners say the sales remain a matter of concern.

“The terrible funeral bombing should have been a time for reflection and for the UK to reconsider its uncritical political and military support for Saudi Arabia,” said Andrew Smith, spokesman for Campaign Against Arms Trade. “Instead, it has continued licensing fighter jets, bombs and other deadly weapons to the regime.

“If killing 140 people and turning a scene of mourning into a massacre isn’t enough to stop the arms sales, then what more would it take? Yemen has fallen into a terrible humanitarian catastrophe. How many more people need to die before the UK finally does the right thing and stops arming the regime?”

The figure does not include aircraft cannon equipment, targeting software, aircraft components, assault rifles and more that were exported under 24 open licences, in which the value of the equipment is not recorded.

Smith said open licences were “even less transparent” than the standard individual export licences, which apply to specific sets of restricted goods that are being exported.

This month, the high court ruled that the government had not breached its own weapons export laws by continuing to approve arms sales to Saudi Arabia, despite mounting allegations of indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Yemen. UK and EU arms sales rules state that export licences cannot be granted if there is a “clear risk” that the equipment could be used to break international humanitarian law.

Dismissing the case brought by Campaign Against Arms Trade, the judges ruled that the government had access to enough senior Saudi officials and data on the conflict to allow it to be confident there was no clear risk UK weapons might be used to commit atrocities.

“The UK government takes its defence export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world,” said a spokeswoman for the Department for International Trade. “We rigorously examine every application on a case-by-case basis against the consolidated EU and national arms export-licensing criteria.

“We draw on all available information, including reports from NGOs and our overseas network, and our export licensing system allows us to respond quickly to changing facts on the ground. We have suspended or revoked licences when the level of risk changes and we constantly review local situations.”

The latest statistics also reveal £86m-worth of weapons exports to Turkey between the attempted coup in July 2016 and the end of March 2017, including £25m of body armour, helmets and armour plates, and £16m of armoured vehicles. This is a steep rise on the £45m authorised over the same period a year earlier.

Read Full Article>>


Venice residents protest against excessive tourism – video


Earlier this month an estimated 2,000 Venetians marched against a tourism industry they argue has eroded their quality of life, that is damaging the environment and driving residents away. Venice’s population has fallen from about 175,000 in the post-second world war years to 55,000 today.



Outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicerwaves to reporters.

Outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer
waves to reporters. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Sean “Spicey” Spicer, we knew ye all too well. Six months of shambolic press briefings, incoherent communications strategy and endless rumors of your demise. It was all too much for us, and ultimately for you too.

How satisfying it must have been to quit just as the asylum came under new management. How pleasurable for you to watch Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci take your podium as the new communications director and literally struggle to make the microphones work. That’s what we like to call a political metaphor.

To be fair for a brief second or two, the notion of Trump’s communications director is obviously a contradiction in terms. How can anyone direct the communications of a man who tweets at the TV? We all know, as you do, Sean, that serving as Trump’s press secretary is the Worst. Job. Ever.

Perhaps that’s why the Mooch fumbled his first announcement, about your successor. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, your principal deputy, is the winner of the poisoned chalice and the target of endless TV critiques from the reality TV star now serving as commander-in-chief.

Congrats, Sarah! And thanks for reminding us at the top of the briefing that Friday was the last day of “Made in America Week”. What a week it’s been for Trump’s American-made output.

The Mooch reminded us of his qualifications for the complex job of strategic communications by digging deep into his bag of man-of-the-people phrases to explain his mission. “There might be an arbitrage spread between how well we are doing and how well some of you guys think we’re doing,” he explained.

Perhaps in a few weeks the former financier could introduce the nation to “National Arbitrage Week”, when hard-working Americans could focus their energies on day-trading their 401(k)s. That way the arbitrage spread on the Mooch’s job prospects might narrow too.

In a fine display of message discipline, the newly crowned King of Comms spent his first few minutes shooting down all those nasty press reports about a feud with Reince Priebus, the rather sad and diminished White House chief of staff.

Reince is best friends with Spicey, and he nixed the Mooch from another job because of ethical concerns about his overseas investments. How quaint: ethical concerns in the Trump White House.

Both Priebus and the beleaguered nationalist Steve Bannon – formerly the puppet master inside the West Wing – are reported to have opposed the Mooch’s new job. Trump overruled them both to create a White House that has more byzantine power-struggles than Constantinople.

In his first turn at the podium, the Mooch dismissed this as so much fake news. Far from being rivals, he and Reince were brothers. And like all good middle-aged brothers, he said, “we rough each other up sometimes”. The Corleone brothers may have enjoyed a similar kind of relationship before it all went south.

Of course the real challenge in this White House lies not behind the press podium but about 60ft away, inside the Oval Office.

Donald J Trump believes he is the master of communications, as his thumbs dance delightfully across the Twitterverse. He judges his comms staff not on the basis of the usual metrics – poll numbers and press coverage, for instance. That’s far too conventional for the man who upended convention by winning the presidency after losing the popular vote by historic margins.

No, this chief executive casts his communications director on the basis of his TV appearances, giving no regard to his lack of experience in, you know, communications. The Mooch is one of Trump’s fiercest defenders on cable news: an essential qualification for a pro-Trump pundit and a questionable basis for corralling the sprawling communications of the executive branch.

Sadly Trump also cast the Mooch without checking his policy positions or previous statements on the same TV screen he watches all day. Because the president’s new pet student has tweeted in support of gun control. Of course, those old tweets mysteriously disappeared on Friday.

He also appeared on Fox Business News in 2015, deriding Trump as “an inherited-money dude from Queens County”. In less than glowing terms, he called Trump “anti-American” and predicted that he would fail to get elected.

Read Full Article>>


Six bizarre moments we won’t let Sean Spicer forget – video report

Sean Spicer is said to be looking for another role in the Trump administration following an uneven tenure as press secretary. Since taking the position, Spicer has clashed with journalists over the Trump inauguration, and even hidden in bushes outside the White House, leading to widespread ridicule ranging from Melissa McCarthy’s SNL impression to garden decoration



23 Jul

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

View All>>


Presidents of Colombia, Mexico and Argentina Are Negotiating Exit of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro

Presidents pledge to help Venezuelan democracy

TODAY VENEZUELA – The Presidents of Argentina, Mexico and Colombia are involved in alleged negotiations to give dictator Nicolás Maduro a safe passage out of Venezuela, The Financial Times reports.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is reportedly leading an effort with support from Argentine President Mauricio Macri and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto that involves a “laissez-passer” for Maduro.

Venezuela’s government is at a crossroads following a referendum that showed overwhelming disdain for the country’s current condition and leadership. The results were backed by major powers and organizations across the globe, and led the United States to threaten the country with oil sanctions that could all but crush the economy.

Since then, various stories have spread regarding a potential exit — either peaceful or otherwise — by Maduro and the major members of his regime.

This Monday, Santos traveled to Havana, Cuba in order to analyze potential solutions to the Venezuelan crisis with island President Raúl Castro.

Though Macri was not present at the meeting, the Argentine newspaper Clarín reported that he is backing any push for negotiation that leads to improved conditions in Venezuela. In Chile, Macri reportedly told President Michelle Bachelet that he no longer trusts strategic alliances involving Maduro, as he has proven time and again that he won’t honor their commitments.

Santos, however, is reportedly the only world leader who maintains an ongoing, active dialogue with Maduro. He revealed this Monday, July 17 that he went to Cuba looking to be a mediator for Venezuela despite the Castro-Maduro alliance that already exists.

Source: Diario Las Américas; La FM


World Politics

United States

She has only been a senator since last January, but the presidential buzz is growing as the party debates the need for a radical edge

California senator Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris is only the second black woman ever to have been elected to the US senate. Photograph: Sandy Huffaker/Corbis via Getty Images

Kamala Harris, California’s new senator, earlier this month made a visit to Chowchilla state prison, often described as the largest women’s prison in the world. Harris, only the second black woman to have been elected to the senate, toured the facility and sat down to talk with inmates. She later called them “extraordinary”, and praised their optimism about finding a new life after prison.

But the moment she dwelled on most was a visit to the silk-screening room, where the women were manufacturing American flags.

Later, in front of an audience of criminal justice reform advocates in Washington DC, Harris would share that story. She gestured out the window to the American flags flying above the nation’s capital, some of which she suggested may have been made in Chowchilla. “Isn’t it part of who we are in America that we believe in second chances?” she asked.

Six months into the presidency of Donald Trump, Republicans are flailing amid efforts to erase health insurance for tens of millions of Americans. Democrats are already eagerly looking forward to the 2020 presidential race – and a new candidate to lead them.

However, the Democratic party is also riven with disagreement. Does its salvation lie in maintaining a centrist position, or taking a strong shift left, towards Bernie Sanders’s unapologetic embrace of universal healthcare, a higher minimum wage, and tuition-free colleges?

There is a growing presidential buzz surrounding Harris, who is making headlines after her tough questioning of attorney general Jeff Sessions during a Senate hearing, and then reportedly wowing big Democratic donors at an event in the Hamptons this month.

In an America where racism has been emboldened and where the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan recently held a rally in a college town and was confronted with more than a thousand furious protesters, the Democratic party is still negotiating its own racial politics. It is caught between those who are moving to woo back white working-class voters who defected to Trump, and those who argue that it would be better to focus on mobilising African American voters, whose turnout dropped in 2016.

There’s a long list of potential 2020 contenders, many of them, including Harris, making the obligatory claims that they are focused on their current jobs and not thinking ahead to the White House. Sanders, now 75, still has enthusiastic backers and has been touring the country, as has senator Elizabeth Warren, the progressive firebrand from Massachusetts. Warren has long been enough of a challenge to Trump that he gave her a demeaning nickname during his campaign: Pocahontas, a reference to her reported Native American descent.

Former vice-president Joe Biden, who chose not to run for president in 2016, has a new book out, Promise Me Dad, about the year after his son Beau’s death from cancer. He has been blunt in his frustration at what he sees as the failure to channel the economic anxieties of the middle class: “You didn’t hear a single solitary sentence in the last campaign about that guy working on the assembly line making 60,000 bucks a year and a wife making $32,000 as a hostess in a restaurant.”

Harris is a comparative unknown on the national stage – one recent poll found that 53% of voters had never heard of her. But she offers an interesting solution to the problem facing the party. She is a leader whose success inspires young women of colour. At the same time, Harris’s rhetoric and positions are often scrupulously centrist. She likes to talk about how her civil rights activist family were appalled when she decided to become a prosecutor. Rather than try to challenge America’s love of law-and-order politics, Harris is trying to reshape that instinct, pivoting from “tough on crime” to “smart on crime”, the title of her 2009 book.

At Women Unshackled, a criminal justice reform conference in Washington DC last week, Harris was treated like a star. The conference planned for 300 attendees but attracted double that and she was mobbed in the hallway by enthusiastic young women. Vogue magazine’s website ran a photo of the senator surrounded by jubilant young faces, with women crowding around her, arms outstretched to get a photograph on their phones. After her speech, Harris told a reporter for Yahoo news that Democrats needed to have a message “much bigger” than resisting Trump.

“The issues are not simple, so the message is not going to be simple,” she said, rejecting any “monosyllabic” slogan, “but essentially it’s about telling the American public we see them”.

Criminal justice reform, one of Harris’s key issues, is also one of the Democratic party’s failures. Hillary Clinton was attacked for her role in boosting the party’s harsh, pro-prison stance, part of a push towards mass incarceration that has devastated black families and that many Americans now see as a shameful mistake.

Young activists confronted Clinton over labelling young black Americans in 1996 as “the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators’, no conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way but first we have to bring them to heel.”

Harris is pursuing criminal justice legislation focused on practical problems: encouraging states to reform their bail systems, which trap low-income defendants in jail before their trials simply because of their inability to pay, and treating incarcerated women with more dignity, including providing them with free tampons and calls home to their children.

At the conference, Harris’s speech was relaxed and anecdotal, drawing on her time as a prosecutor and California attorney general. She also struck repeated notes that might appeal to a more conservative audience, noting: “I agree we must be talking about wasteful spending in our country … we must be talking about tax reform.”

Harris repeatedly emphasised her willingness to lock up violent offenders and based her appeals for reform on a mix of moral and financial arguments. She highlighted her much-criticised approach to reduce truancy among children in San Francisco by “being the bad guy” and deciding “to start prosecuting parents for truancy”.

Read Full Article>>

Bipartisan group agrees on Russia sanctions for meddling in election>>

The Resistance Now: having a chat with Bernie Sanders>>

Sources say Trump-Russia investigators are seeking Paul Manafort’s cooperation>>

Some questioned whether activists had protested less over the death of a White Australian woman. Friday night’s anger at mayor Betsy Hodges and the departure of the city’s police chief answered that

Valerie Castile, centre, mother of shooting Philando Castile, marches in memory of Justine Damond on Thursday in Minneapolis.

Valerie Castile, centre, mother of shooting Philando Castile, marches in memory of Justine Damond on Thursday in Minneapolis. Photograph: Stephen Maturen/AFP/Getty Images

In the aftermath of the police shooting of Justine Damond, many on the right of the political spectrum asked on social media: “Where are the protests now?”

The claim was clear: when a black cop killed a white woman, Black Lives Matter, or other African American activists pushing for police reform, would not be quick to protest.

That narrative went mainstream on Wednesday, in a piece by CNN writer Doug Criss. Criss noted that a vigil was held for Damond the day after the shooting, but added that “there weren’t widespread protest marches, like the ones Black Lives Matter held last year after Philando Castile’s shooting death at the hands of an officer in nearby Falcon Heights”.

Criss went on to quote David Love, a journalist who writes on race issues whom Criss said had not “seen too many people from the movement express any anger or outrage about the shooting”.

They spoke too soon. Any doubts about the diverse nature of the groups rallying around Damond’s case were answered on Friday, during a media conference Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges held to explain her decision to ask for the resignation of police chief Janeé Harteau in the wake of the Damond shooting.

Hodges was only a few sentences in when protesters began streaming in the door. One of them, John Thompson, a friend of Philando Castile who has become a fixture at protests after Castile’s death, quickly interrupted her, asking her to resign. Soon afterward he and another community activist, Chauntyll Allen, were leading the now crowded room in chants of “If Justine don’t get it, shut it down”, echoing a similar cry used during the protests against Castile’s shooting.

Whatever one thinks about their tactics, the group of protesters that interrupted that media conference on Friday was diverse, with a large contingent of young white protesters and several long-time black activists in the lead. Was this is a new trend that Criss and Love had missed?

The truth is that black activists have been at the forefront since day one.

Last Saturday night, Damond, a 40-year-old spiritual healer from Sydney, Australia, called 911 to report a possible sexual assault. She was in her pyjamas when she approached the Minneapolis squad car that responded. Officer Mohamed Noor, who was in the passenger seat, shot her through the driver’s side window.

About 300 people attended the vigil, near the crime scene, the next day. Cathy Jones, an African American woman who works as a mail carrier by day, was one of the organizers. Following the police shootings of Jamar Clark in 2015 and Philando Castile last year, she marched at protests with Black Lives Matter and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Last week, she went to South Minneapolis soon after hearing of the shooting, to see how she could help.

Read Full Article>>


Walesa addresses protesters in Gdansk, condemning plans by rightwing ruling party to take control of Polish legal system

Lech Wa??sa addresses a large crowd of anti-government protesters in Gda?sk

Lech Walesa addresses a large crowd of anti-government protesters in Gdansk on Saturday. Photograph: Wojciech Strózyk/AP

The former Polish president Lech Wa??sa has joined protests that have broken out across the country over plans by the populist ruling party to put the supreme court and the rest of the judicial system under its political control.

The EU and many international legal experts say the changes would mark a dramatic reversal for a country hailed as a model of democratic transition over the past quarter century, and would move Poland closer toward authoritarianism.

The president of the European council, Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, had on Thursday accused the ruling Law and Justice party of dragging the country back in time.

The party has defended the changes as reforms to a justice system that its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczyczski, said was never properly purged of former communists after that political system collapsed in 1989.

Wa??sa addressed protesters in Gda?sk, his home city and where he led strikes in the 1980s against the communist regime that eventually toppled the government and ushered in democracy.

The 73-year-old recalled those democratic changes, saying that the separation of powers into the legislative, executive and judicial branches was the most important achievement of his Solidarity movement.

Protest against supreme court legislation in Gda?sk

Protest against supreme court legislation in Gdansk. Photograph: Jan Rusek/Agencja Gazeta/Reuters

“You must use all means to take back what we achieved for you,” he told a crowd that included many young Poles. The 1983 Nobel peace prize winner also said he would always support their struggle, appearing to rule out any leadership role for himself in the protest movement.

He was welcomed with chants of “Lech Walesa” and “we thank you”.

His appearance came after Poland’s upper house of parliament approved a supreme court overhaul, defying the EU and critics at home who say the legislation will undermine democratic checks and balances.

Tens of thousands of protesters had gathered earlier in Warsaw and cities across Poland for candlelit vigils to protest against the draft bill, as the senate debated it late into the night. Some protesters carried Polish and EU flags, chanting: “Free courts.”

To become law, the proposal still has to be signed by the president, Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Duda’s spokesman, Andrzej Lapinski, said on Saturday he saw flaws in the legislation and an inconsistency between two articles regarding the appointment of the head of Poland’s top court.

?api?ski stopped short of saying whether the president would reject the bill or seek the opinion of the constitutional court. Duda has 21 days to sign it into law.

The Eurosceptic PiS argues new rules are needed to make the judiciary accountable and efficient.

But the opposition and judges’ groups in Poland as well as critics in Brussels say the legislation is a new step by the Polish government towards authoritarianism.

The US, Poland’s most important ally in Nato, issued a statement urging Poland to ensure any changes respect the constitution. “We urge all sides to ensure that any judicial reform does not violate Poland’s constitution or international legal obligations and respects the principles of judicial independence and separation of powers,” it said.

Read Full Article>>



The president, under pressure over a deepening scandal, says ‘all agree’ that he has ‘the complete power to pardon’, but analysts suggest this is not the case


Legal experts say it is unclear if the president can self-pardon. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

An apropos-of-nothing assertion by Donald Trump on Twitter on Saturday morning, that “all agree the US president has the complete power to pardon”, raised interesting questions: How broad is the president’s pardoning power, and does it extend to self-pardons?

As the Russia scandal deepens, with Congress preparing to interview Donald Trump Jr and special counsel Robert Mueller accessing the president’s tax returns, Trump has been seeking legal advice on the question of self-pardons, the Washington Post reported on Friday morning.

Notwithstanding Trump’s assertion that “all agree” on the matter, legal experts say it is unclear if the president can self-pardon. The constitution does not weigh in explicitly on the issue and there is no direct precedent. No president has ever attempted to self-pardon.

Richard Nixon looked into it when he stood accused of obstruction of justice and abuse of power in the Watergate scandal. His personal lawyer told him he could do it but the justice department said he could not, said Brian C Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University whose recent book, Constitutional Cliffhangers, devotes a chapter to the issue of self-pardons.

Nixon decided not to attempt a self-pardon, leaving the task of pardoning him to his successor, Gerald Ford.

“It really is uncharted territory, and that makes it interesting to discuss but hard to predict,” Kalt said. “Anyone who’s certain is wrong.”

Legal analysis of the issue grapples with two main questions, Kalt said. One: what is a pardon, implicitly. Is it something you can give yourself, or is it inherently something you can only give someone else? Two: how to apply the legal principle that no one should be a judge in his or her own case?

“The courts apply that, except when they don’t,” Kalt said.

The Latin phrase “Nemo judex in causa sua” (one cannot be a judge in his own case) has been applied by legal analysts to the question of self-pardons, wrote Fordham law professor Jed Shugerman on his blog, adding: “But the pardon power is executive, not judicial, so a president isn’t formally a judge in his own case.

“Plus we don’t live in Rome, even if the Latin sounds wicked smart.”

Incidentally, a Latin analysis also figures in the question of whether a pardon is something you can give yourself. Kalt pointed out that the word “pardon” shares a Latin root with the word “donate”.

“If you can’t make a donation to yourself, it doesn’t make sense to talk about pardoning yourself,” said Kalt. “That wouldn’t be a pardon.”

There is no strong extant guidance for how the framers of the constitution intended to use the word, he said.

Hypothetically speaking, if the president self-pardoned but prosecutions against him went ahead anyway, the decision on whether the self-pardon was valid would be left to the courts. Any ruling on the matter would be likely to be appealed to the supreme court.


© 2017 | Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS)

Global Positioning System Gazettewordpress logo