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01 Nov

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

The McGlynn Statement:

Beginning today through the U.S. election on November 6th the emphasis will be on the election.

The battle for our Country’s very soul is at stake. The Fascists, led by Trump the Dump, must be defeated.

To the Young and Women; Please Vote! The future is in your hands.

The McGlynn

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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World Politics

United States

Abrams and Winfrey host two town halls in the battleground state to discuss the ‘critical value of women in leadership’

Oprah Winfrey takes part in a town hall meeting with the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams ahead of the midterm election in Marietta, Georgia, on Thursday.

Oprah Winfrey takes part in a town hall meeting with the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams ahead of the midterm election in Marietta, Georgia, on Thursday. Photograph: Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters

Oprah Winfrey has lent her star power to Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat aiming to become America’s first black female governor in the midterm elections next week.

“I am here today because Stacey Abrams cares about the things that matter,” Winfrey told a cheering crowd at a Cobb County town hall, citing Abrams’ stance on environmental protection, healthcare and gun control.

Winfrey, who said she is a registered independent, has long championed Democratic Party causes and some fans earlier this year tried to encourage her to run against Republican President Donald Trump in 2020. She has said she does not want to run.

“I’m here today because of the men and because of the women who were lynched, who were humiliated, who were discriminated against, who were suppressed, who were repressed and oppressed … I refuse to let their sacrifices be in vain,” she told the audience, to cheers.

Winfrey and Abrams are hosting two town hall meetings on Thursday in Decatur and Marietta, cities in the battleground state, for a discussion on “the critical value of women in leadership and what is at stake for our communities in the election”.

Within hours, tickets to the free town halls were snapped up; messages on Abrams’s campaign website stated: “We’re sorry, but this event has reached maximum capacity.”

The race for the governor’s office in Georgia has become a flashpoint for accusations of voter suppression.

Abrams’ Republican rival, Brian Kemp, serves as Georgia secretary of state, a role in which he oversees state elections. Earlier this month, a coalition of state civil rights groups sued Kemp, accusing him of trying to depress minority voter turnout to improve his chances of winning.

Winfrey might also campaign door-to-door with Abrams on Friday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

While Winfrey’s appearance will win headlines for Abrams, it is not clear whether her celebrity status will be enough to propel Abrams to victory, with recent polls indicating that Abrams and Kemp are neck and neck in the contest.

However, Libertarian Ted Metz, the third name on the ballot, could take just enough votes to mean there is no outright winner, triggering a December run-off.

With Winfrey’s visit, Abrams may be attempting to mobilize suburban voters and African American women, two groups she is counting on at the polls.

“Vote your values,” Winfrey said, addressing the women in the audience. “Vote your conscience … the vitriol and the ads, they are designed to confuse and confound you with fear … When you know the right thing, and you can feel it … you can’t be influenced by propaganda and fear.”

Winfrey’s involvement could also serve as counterweight to Vice-President Mike Pence’s three campaign stops for Kemp this week, the Journal-Constitution also points out.

More high-profile visits are planned, with former President Barack Obama coming to Atlanta on Friday for Abrams, and President Donald Trump campaigning on Sunday for Kemp.

Kemp, whose support stems from rural areas and “outer suburbs”, has used Abrams’s star appeal to drum up opposition in his base.

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Bolton hailed Brazilian president-elect a ‘positive sign’ as he announced new sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba

John Bolton in the White House briefing room in Washington DC on 3 October.

John Bolton in the White House briefing room in Washington DC on 3 October. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

John Bolton has welcomed Brazil’s far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro as a “positive sign” for Latin America as he hailed a new ally against what Bolton called a “troika of tyranny”: Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

In a speech in Miami on Thursday, the US national security adviser announced new sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba, including a ban on US citizens taking part in trade in Venezuelan gold. Bolton also added over two dozen entities owned or controlled by the Cuban military and intelligence services to a sanctions blacklist.

Bolton was speaking a few days before midterm elections in which the diaspora from Cuba and other Latin American states represent an important part of the Florida electorate.

As the Trump administration has done in the Middle East, Bolton drew a clear line between friends and foes, and used bellicose language likely to stoke growing fears in Latin America that Washington could recruit rightwing governments in Brazil and Colombia to take military action against Venezuela.

“The recent elections of like-minded leaders in key countries, including Ivan Duque in Colombia, and last weekend Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, are positive signs for the future of the region, and demonstrate a growing regional commitment to free-market principles, and open, transparent, and accountable governance,” Bolton said in his speech at Miami-Dade College.

He did not address widespread concerns about Bolsonaro’s stated admiration for Brazil’s 21-year military dictatorship and its use of torture, and portrayed repression in Latin America as an exclusively communist phenomenon.

“[T]oday, in this hemisphere, we are also confronted once again with the destructive forces of oppression, socialism and totalitarianism” Bolton said.

“Under this administration, we will no longer appease dictators and despots near our shores in this hemisphere. We will not reward firing squads, torturers, and murderers … The troika of tyranny in this hemisphere – Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua – has finally met its match.”

The collapse of the Venezuelan economy – largely as a result of the incompetence, corruption and repression of the Maduro regime – has triggered an exodus of more than 2 million people into neighbouring countries, precipitating a regional crisis.

In Nicaragua, hundreds of people have been killed in a brutal crackdown on protests against the country’s leader, Daniel Ortega. In Cuba, although Raúl Castro has stepped down as president and reforms have been announced, the island remains in the firm grip of the communist party.

As well as referring to the three countries as the “troika of tyranny”, Bolton called them a “triangle of terror stretching from Havana to Caracas to Managua”, rhetorical devices echoing George W Bush’s “axis of evil”.

He accused the three countries of being “the cause of immense human suffering, the impetus of enormous regional instability, and the genesis of a sordid cradle of communism in the western hemisphere”.

However, on the same day, the Trump administration’s relative isolation was highlighted at the UN general assembly, which overwhelmingly adopted its 27th annual resolution calling for an end to the US economic embargo on Cuba. The US mission tried unsuccessfully to amend the text of the resolution to put pressure on Cuba to improve its human rights record.

The speech was delivered among rising tensions in Latin America. Earlier this week, Colombia’s foreign minister, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, denied reports in the Brazilian press that Colombia was conspiring with Bolsonaro to use force to topple Venezuela’s leader, Nicolás Maduro. In his speech, Bolton only referred to the use of sanctions against the three governments.

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Feel the love, feel the hate – my week in the cauldron of Trump’s wild rallies

A Trump supporter at a rally in Montana. What’s the source of Trump’s appeal? Photograph: Fred R Conrad for the Guardian

On the eve of the midterms, the most powerful man on earth corrals his troops around two visions of America – one full of hope, the other one much darker – and tests the ground for 2020

by

There is no understanding Donald Trump without understanding his rallies.

They are the crucible of the Trump revolution, the laboratory where he turns his alternative reality into a potion to be sold to his followers. It is at his rallies that his radical reimagining of the US constitution takes shape: not “We the people”, but “We my people”.

As America reels from a gunman killing 11 Jewish worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue; pipe bombs being sent to 14 of the US presidents’ leading opponents, and Trump declaring himself a nationalist and sending thousands of troops to the US border to assail unarmed asylum seekers; the most powerful person on earth continues to rely on his rallies as seething cauldrons of passion.

And that’s not all. Trump is using them as a test run for his 2020 bid for re-election.

Which is why I have crisscrossed the country, from Montana and Wisconsin in the north to Texas in the south, Arizona in the west to North Carolina in the east, to observe the president delivering his message to his people.

Five rallies, eight days. At each, we explore a different emotion that Trump evokes to arouse his people’s devotion, in search of the source of his appeal.

The instant you attend your first Trump rally you are confronted by an uncomfortable truth: to figure out what’s happening you have to acknowledge the love. It may not be pure and selfless. It may be narcissistic and at times even threatening. But love is very much in the air.

Twenty minutes into his speech in Missoula, Montana, Trump breaks from the autocue and exclaims: “I love you too.” He scours the crowd – “Who said that? Who said that?” – until he locates the person who has just declared love for him.

“It’s finally a woman,” he exclaims. “You know, I get it from the men all the time. So far every guy that said ‘I love you’, they’re just not my type.”

Locker-room talk, but it works. It sparks a collective guffaw from Trump supporters. Women cackle, men squirm. It’s a lovefest.

Trump uses the word “love” repeatedly. He loves Montanans, he tells them. Such “loyal, hardworking, incredible patriots”. Later in the speech, he uses “love” in reference to the air hangar where the rally is held, the people of Maine, his first lady, his hair, a couple of local Congress members and hunting and guns.

His supporters repay his love – with interest. They begin forming a line well before dawn that by midday snakes around a giant field under the state’s legendary big sky. The procession is ablaze with red Make America Great Again hats and national flags draped over shoulders amid a festive mood not unlike a carnival.

Francie Bruneau, 58, has driven 200 miles from Spokane, Washington, and will stand for seven hours in line before Trump appears. “He speaks to me,” she says. “He’s like your friend next door, someone you can go to the pub with and drink beer.”

“He doesn’t drink,” someone interjects.

Much has been written about Trump rallies, and the dark forces they invoke. But today the crowd has the character of a family outing of proud Americans, happy to be among their own in a state that Trump won in 2016 by 20 points.

“You can see the love right here,” says Robin Pedersen, 56, a horse trainer from Florence, Montana. “Everybody’s civil, everybody’s getting along

Under Montana’s famous big sky, Trump addresses thousands of his supporters.

Under Montana’s famous big sky, Trump addresses thousands of his supporters. Photograph: Fred R Conrad for the Guardian

Further down the line Phil Zacha, 82, is wearing a T-shirt that articulates what many people will say to me in the coming days. It bears the words: “Trump: he says what I think.”

Tonight, his stump speech is closely scripted and he largely cleaves to it. There’s more swagger in his demeanor than there was in 2016 – and there was plenty then. Two years ago he was the insurgent candidate on an unlikely mission to disrupt. Now he is the accomplished victor commandingly in charge.

Here in this sealed terrarium of 8,000 loving supporters, far from the multiple dangers of Robert Mueller, legal threats from porn stars and debates over impeachment, he is in his element.

“I just walked in and a big strong guy grabbed me, it happens every time. And he said, ‘Sir, Mr President, thank you so much for saving our country.’”

The president entices his followers to believe he is lavishing his love on them. But it works both ways: he’s also drawing on their love. The rally is his charging station, the place he goes to refuel his ego and his zealotry.

“We did it together, not me. I’m the spokesman,” he says. “By the way, how have I done?”

The crowd roars.

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