Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Far-right Facebook Groups 'Spreading Hate to Millions in Europe'

THE GUARDIAN: Avaaz uncovers 500 accounts using fake news to spread white supremacy message

A web of far-right Facebook accounts spreading fake news and hate speech to millions of people across Europe has been uncovered by the campaign group Avaaz.

Facebook, which is struggling to clean up the platform and salvage its reputation, has already taken down accounts with about 6 million followers before voting in the European elections begins on Thursday. It was still investigating hundreds of other accounts with an additional 26 million followers, Avaaz said.

In total, the group reported more than 500 suspect groups and Facebookpages operating across France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Poland and Spain. Most were either spreading fake news or using false pages and profiles to artificially boost the content of parties or sites they supported, in violation of Facebook’s rules.

The networks were far more popular than the official pages of far-right and anti-EU populist groups in those countries. The pages taken down by Facebook so far had been viewed half a billion times, Avaaz estimated. » | Emma Graham-Harrison | Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

EU to Investigate Nigel Farage over Expenses Funded by Arron Banks

THE GUARDIAN: Move follows revelations MEP failed to declare lavish funding from year of Brexit referendum

The European parliament is to investigate Nigel Farage for failing to declare lavish expenses funded by Arron Banks.

The European parliament president, Antonio Tajani, “today refers the Farage issue to an advisory committee”, a source told the Guardian.

The advisory committee is a group of five MEPs who act as watchdogs over the parliament’s code of conduct. It stipulates that all members must declare expensive gifts and report whether third parties fund attendances at events.

Last week, Channel 4 revealed Farage was generously funded by Arron Banksin the year of the Brexit referendum. Invoices, emails and documents showed Farage benefited from a £13,000-a-month Chelsea home, a car with a driver, and promotional visits to the US in 2016. » | Jennifer Rankin in Brussels | Tuesday, May 21, 2019

May Offers MPs Vote on Second Referendum in 'New' Brexit Deal

THE GUARDIAN: Customs union vote also included in ‘10-point offer’ in last attempt to break impasse

Theresa May has offered MPs votes on a second referendum and a temporary customs union in her last attempt to get a Brexit deal through parliament.

Amid widespread expectation that the withdrawal agreement bill (Wab) will be heavily defeated early next month, and reports of serious rows in cabinet, the prime minister used a hastily arranged speech to warn of serious political disruption if Brexit is not delivered.

However, the immediate reaction to May’s proposals from MPs was overwhelmingly negative, with even previously loyal Conservatives coming out against it. » | Peter Walker and Rowena Mason | Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Will Europe's Populist Leaders Make a Breakthrough? | Inside Story

Mainstream politicians face a challenge from the far right as 400 million Europeans vote in this week's European Parliament elections. Elections for the European Parliament get underway on Thursday.

Immigration and the economy are dominating the political agenda, and the rise of the far-right is dominating the headlines.

On Saturday, right-wing leaders from nearly a dozen EU countries, including France, Germany and the Netherlands gathered for a rally in Milan to show their unity. The gathering was led by the Italian Deputy Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini, who wants to form a far-right block within the EU Parliament.

Some analysts believe that the future identity of European politics––and the EU itself––is at stake. So, how will voting shape the continent?

Presenter: Barbara Serra | Guests: Theofanis Exadaktylos, senior lecturer in European politics at the University of Surrey; Anand Menon, director of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative and a former special adviser to the House of Lords EU committee; Stefano Vergine who is an Italian journalist focussing on economics and foreign affairs

Does Europe Need the USA? | Full Debate | George Galloway, Phillip Collins, Bronwen Maddox

Is the US in dangerous decline? Many in Europe welcomed the decline of the US and its retreat from global intervention. Now with Russia flexing its muscle it feels less comfortable. No doubt the Britons felt similarly when the Romans left. Is the reality that Europe needs to be sheltering under the wing of a superpower? Or should we rapidly rearm in a troubled multipolar world?

Iran's Basic Goods Prices Double as Fall of Rial Continues | Al Jazeera English

US sanctions are making life in Iran increasingly difficult for its people. Iranians say their devalued currency is a more pressing problem. Al Jazeera's Zein Basravi reports from Tehran.

Macron wirft Moskau Förderung von Rechtspopulisten in der EU vor

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG: „Die Russen und einige andere haben noch nie so zudringlich extremistische Parteien finanziert und ihnen geholfen“, beklagt der französische Präsident. Ihr Ziel sei es, „Europa abzuwickeln“.

Wenige Tage vor der Europawahl hat Frankreichs Präsident Emmanuel Macron Russland vorgeworfen, extremistische Parteien in Europa stark zu fördern. „Die Russen und einige andere haben noch nie so zudringlich extremistische Parteien finanziert und ihnen geholfen“, sagte Macron in einem Interview, das französische Regionalzeitungen am Dienstag veröffentlichten. „Man muss besorgt sein, man darf nicht naiv sein.“

Macron nannte auch den ehemaligen Berater des amerikanischen Präsidenten Donald Trump Steve Bannon, dem er eine weiter bestehende Nähe zur amerikanischen Regierung unterstellte. Es gebe zum ersten Mal eine Zusammenarbeit zwischen „Nationalisten und ausländischen Interessen mit dem Ziel, Europa abzuwickeln“, sagte Macron. » | Quelle: nto./Reuters | Dienstag, 21. Mai 2019

Boris Johnson Not Fit to Be PM, Says Tory Minister

THE GUARDIAN: Margot James, of moderate One Nation Tory group, hits out at leadership hopeful’s ‘fuck business’ remark

Boris Johnson has been branded an unacceptable candidate to be prime minister by the Conservative minister Margot James, because of his “fuck business” remark when asked about companies’ concerns over Brexit.

James, a business minister and leading member of the One Nation Conservative group, said the comment meant Johnson was not fit for “high public office” as she addressed a Creative England event in London.

Speaking later to the Guardian, she said some of her colleagues promoting Brexit at any cost to business had the “wrong attitude”.

“I don’t think people in the public eye should be using language like that to discuss the concerns of the business community,” she said. “It’s the dismissive attitude to business that’s a problem among some people for whom Brexit is everything.” » | Rowena Mason, Deputy political editor | Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Trump Says the Military Industrial Complex Is Pressuring Him Into a War with Iran

With a thirty year Boeing veteran at the Pentagon, Patrick Shanahan as Acting Secretary of Defense, and with John Bolton and Mike Pompeo at the helm, war with Iran is likely says the former chief of staff to Secretary of State, Col. Larry Wilkerson

Democracy Now! Top US News & World Headlines — May 21, 2019

Hungary Accused of Fuelling Xenophobia with Anti-migrant Rhetoric

THE GUARDIAN: Council of Europe’s damning report says human rights violations must be urgently addressed

Europe’s top human rights watchdog has accused Hungary’s government of violating people’s rights and using anti-migrant rhetoric that fuels “xenophobic attitudes, fear and hatred”.

A damning report from the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Dunja Mijatović, concluded: “Human rights violations in Hungary have a negative effect on the whole protection system and the rule of law” and should “be addressed as a matter of urgency”.

The commissioner, whose report is based on meeting government ministers and civil society groups during a five-day visit to Hungary in February, issued a devastating critique of the Hungarian asylum system that has resulted in “practically systemic rejection of asylum applications”. Voicing alarm at the “excessive use of violence” by police in removing foreign nationals, she criticised a policy of denying food to those refused asylum. » | Jennifer Rankin in Brussels | Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Monday, May 20, 2019

How Ukip Normalised Far-right Politics

Since the Brexit vote in 2016, Ukip is no longer primarily concerned with attacking the EU. Now led by Gerard Batten, the party has started to normalise far-right ideas and has given roles to figures including Tommy Robinson. The Guardian's Peter Walker asks how it happened and examines what it means for British politics

THE GUARDIAN: Racism on the rise since Brexit vote, nationwide study reveals » | Robert Booth, Social affairs correspondent | Monday, May 20, 2019

Democracy Now! Top US News & World Headlines — May 20, 2019

Marine Le Pen Denies Steve Bannon Has Role in Her EU Election Campaign as He Sets Up Camp in Paris

THE TELEGRAPH: Steve Bannon was on Monday at the heart of a row over whether the ex-Trump strategist is playing an active role in French far-Right leader Marine Le Pen’s European election campaign.

The accusations came after the American president's controversial former eminence grise decamped to a palatial Parisian hotel days before the vote.

The elections for the European Parliament on May 26 in France will see President Emmanuel Macron's centrist party go head to head with Ms Le Pen’s National Rally, or RN, formerly known as the National Front.

Polls suggest that they are neck and neck with Mr Macron, Europe’s self-styled centrist champion, warning it would be a “catastrophe for France” should she finish ahead on Sunday. She has called for him to resign should he fail to do so.

Mr Bannon told Le Parisien this weekend he had opted to come to France as its election was "by far" the most important among EU member states. He predicted an “earthquake” next Sunday. » | Henry Samuel, Paris | Monday, May 20, 2019

The Tories Have Forgotten Their Pro-EU Voters. And They’ll Pay for It

THE GUARDIAN: In my home town, I’ve seen how middle-class angst over Brexit is creating an existential threat to the party which could once count on their votes

In a seemingly endless season of Tory nightmares, this week looks set to mark the most dreadful phase so far. The Conservatives are about to endure a set of elections that they never thought they would face. Only four years ago, the party won a general election; now, there is talk of them finishing fifth, or even sixth. With every Tory moan of pain, Nigel Farage’s nicotine grin grows ever larger. And out in the country, there is an overlooked Conservative crisis: one bound up not with the part of the population that voted for Brexit, but with the liberal, pro-remain swathe of the country without whom the future of Conservatism looks bleak indeed. » | John Harris | Monday, May 20, 2019

Republicans Terrified That Their Anti-Abortion Crusade Will Cost Them 2020

Republicans from Pat Robertson to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are terrified that the string of strict anti-abortion laws that Republicans are passing are going to cost them dearly in 2020. They deserve it. The Republican Party has no idea how far they are setting back reproductive rights for women in this country, and given the backlash that we’ve already seen, it seems likely that Republicans are going to pay dearly in the near future. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.

Donald Trump's Peace Conference Will Fail, Palestinians Say

THE GUARDIAN: ‘Deal of the century’ will begin with economic workshop that does not address core disputes

Peace efforts that ignore Palestinian political aspirations will fail, senior Palestinian officials have said, after the Trump administration announced an economic conference will take place next month as the first step of its long-awaited Middle East peace plan.

Washington said on Sunday that Bahrain had agreed to host a “Peace to Prosperity” workshop to discuss the potential economic incentives of its still-undisclosed plan, which Trump has promised over the last two years would be the “deal of the century”.

A spokesman for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Monday cast doubt over the Bahrain conference. “Any plan without a political horizon will not lead to peace,” Nabil Abu Rdeneh said. » | Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem | Monday, May 20, 2019

Europe's Centrists Draw on Austrian Scandal to Issue Far-right Warning

THE GUARDIAN: Mainstream parties hope voters will shun populists in wake of ‘politicians for sale’ revelation

Politicians from mainstream parties across Europe have called on voters to shun the far right in this week’s European elections after Austria’s vice-chancellor resigned over a video sting that showed him offering public contracts in exchange for financial and campaign backing.

Heinz-Christian Strache stepped down on Saturday after the footage emerged. Hours later, Austria’s chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, announced snap elections, ending the 18-month ruling coalition between his centre-right Austrian People’s party (ÖVP) and Strache’s far-right Freedom party (FPÖ).

The video showed the vice-chancellor proposing to trade government contracts for party donations and favourable media coverage with a woman posing as the wealthy niece of a Russian energy billionaire. He acknowledged the video was “catastrophic” but denied doing anything illegal. » | Jon Henley, Europe correspondent | Monday, May 20, 2019

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Switzerland Votes for Tighter Gun Laws by Large Margin

THE GUARDIAN: Motion to line up county’s laws with EU rules passed with 64% of votes, initial results show

Swiss voters have agreed by a nearly two-to-one margin to adopt tighter gun controls in line with changes to European Union rules, heading off a clash with Brussels.

The measure passed in the binding referendum on Sunday under the Swiss system of direct democracy by a 64%-36% margin, provisional final results showed.

The restrictions, which apply to Switzerland as a non-EU member because it is part of Europe’s Schengen open-border system, had raised hackles among shooting enthusiasts before the vote.

Failure to adopt the rules could have forced Switzerland to leave the passport-free Schengen zone and the Dublin joint system for handling asylum requests. » | Reuters | Sunday, May 19, 2019

'Future of Britain Is in Europe,' The Queen Told Germany in 1988

THE GUARDIAN: Diplomatic cables reveal the monarch also appeared to back the creation of a single market

The Queen confided to the German ambassador that she believed the future of Britain lay in Europe, newly released diplomatic cables from 1988 have shown.

“Some have not realised this yet,” the monarch allegedly said of her subjects. She also appeared to back the creation of the single market.

In a memo composed on the occasion of his farewell visit to the British head of state on 25 November 1988, the then ambassador Rüdiger Freiherr von Wechmar reported that the conversation during an “emphatically warm and unrestrained” meeting had moved on to the subject of the British people’s attitude to Europe.

“With a smirk,” Wechmar wrote, “she noted that the Brits are still a very insular people, and to most of them the magical number 1992 doesn’t mean very much.”

That was a reference to the fact that, two years previously, European leaders including the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, had signed the Single European Act, which set the member states of the bloc the objective of establishing a single market by the end of 1992, a commitment that culminated in the Maastricht treaty. » | Philip Oltermann in Berlin | Sunday, May 19, 2019

Politik-Skandal in Österreich! Alle Infos

Österreichs Regierung löst sich auf - und der Grund dafür ist ein pikantes Video aus dem Jahr 2017, das jetzt aufgetaucht ist. Im Zentrum: Vizekanzler Heinz-Christian Strache von der Partei FPÖ. Wer noch betroffen ist und was dahintersteckt, erfahrt ihr hier.

Hungary's Lone Fighter for Europe and the EU | Focus on Europe

Péter Márki-Zay, independent mayor of the Hungarian town of Hodmezovasarhely, aims to combat anti-EU sentiment in his country. But officials loyal to Hungary's governing party, Fidesz, are making his job difficult.

Iran Crisis: Deal or War? | Quadriga Talk

Sabre-rattling and sanctions are the methods of choice for Donald Trump and the US Administration in its stand-off with Iran. But can this strategy force a climb-down in Tehran? Guests: Torrey Taussig (Robert Bosch fellow), Shayan Arkian (IranAnders), Rick Noack (Washington Post)

Trump Backs Abortion in Cases of Rape or Incest, Contradicting Alabama Law

THE GUARDIAN: President suggests abortion will be election issue, tweeting ‘we must stick together and Win for Life in 2020’

Donald Trump, in a series of late night posts on Twitter, has outlined a less restrictive view of abortion than that just passed by Alabama’s Republican state government.

Alabama now bans abortion except if there is a “serious health risk” to the mother, with no exceptions for rape and incest, but the president says he favours making an exception of cases of rape and incest.

“As most people know, and for those who would like to know, I am strongly pro-life, with the three exceptions – rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother – the same position taken by Ronald Reagan,” Trump tweeted. » | Pádraig Collins | Sunday, May 19, 2019

Trump is pro-life? Really? So why all this war-mongering? Such hypocrisy! – Mark

On Contact: Threat of War with Iran w/Codepink's Medea Benjamin

Chris Hedges discusses the threat of war with Iran and the US relationship with Saudi Arabia and Israel with anti-war activist Medea Benjamin of Codepink.

Old Grudges, New Weapons… Is the US on the Brink of War with Iran?

THE OBSERVER: While American hawks talk up an ‘imminent’ threat from Tehran with no hard evidence, echoing the start of the Iraq conflict, hardliners are in the ascendant in Iran

For better or worse, America remains the world’s leading military superpower. In Washington last week, a familiar row erupted over how best that power should be used. Past targets have included Soviet Russia, al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Today the international bogeyman topping the White House’s to-do list is Iran.

Once again the US is in the process of deciding whether to go to war. As always, it is a tangled, messy and dishonest business. On one side, favouring punitive action, stand the Iran hawks. They include neoconservative retreads such as John Bolton, Donald Trump’s national security adviser, who championed the 2003 Iraq invasion; Mike Pompeo, a former CIA director and Christian evangelical who heads the state department; and Mike Pence, the ascetic US vice-president.

On the other side, opposing escalation, stand Democratic party leaders in Congress and a clutch of presidential hopefuls; sceptical Pentagon generals and security agency officials who trust Bolton as far as they can toss an IED; a majority of Washington’s more important allies in the EU and Nato; and China and Russia, which oppose American global power-plays on principle. » | Simon Tisdall | Saturday, May 18, 2019

Don’t Lead Us to Disaster, Moderate Tories Warn Frontrunner Boris Johnson

THE GUARDIAN: One Nation group of Conservatives try to stop lurch towards no-deal Brexit as ex-foreign secretary and Dominic Raab emerge as favourites among members

Conservative leadership contenders will shepherd the party to disaster if they adopt the “comfort blanket of populism” in response to Nigel Farage, scores of Tory MPs will warn this week.

Eight cabinet ministers are among a group of 60 modernising MPs who will call on contenders for the leadership to “reject narrow nationalism” in their quest to replace Theresa May. The warning comes with Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, who have both said they are willing to back a no-deal Brexit, emerging as the favourites among Tory members. Johnson is the frontrunner. » | Michael Savage | Saturday, May 18, 2019

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Europe’s Far-right Leaders Unite with a Vow to ‘Change History’

THE GUARDIAN: Matteo Salvini and Marine Le Pen are joining with allies to create what may be the third-largest bloc in the European parliament

Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini led a rally of his European far-right allies in front of Milan’s Gothic cathedral on Saturday. He pledged to change history after this week’s EU elections by making the populist alliance one of the largest groupings in the European parliament.

Flanked by France’s Marine Le Pen and leaders from nine other nationalist parties, Salvini began his speech to the packed Piazza del Duomo by quoting the British writer GK Chesterton: “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him but because he loves what is behind him.” He added that his group would remould Europe “not for our sake, but for our children”. » | Angela Giuffrida | Saturday, May 18, 2019

There’s So Much At Stake in the EU Elections. This Is about What Kind of Country We Want to Be

THE GUARDIAN: The vote will not just decide who represents us in the European parliament but the future we envision for our children

We are in the middle of a battle for Britain’s soul. On one side are those who want our country to continue to be forward looking, open to the world, tolerant, inclusive and progressive. On the other, those who want to pit our communities against each other, undo the social progress painstakingly made over decades, and who advocate a politics of division.

Across the globe, the far right is on the rise. They are gaining ground and winning power and influence in places that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

Many are using the same methods from the old far-right playbook. Picking on minority communities and the marginalised in order to manufacture an enemy. Fabricating lies in order to stoke up fear. And promoting hatred of immigrants, sympathy for white nationalism, attacks on women’s reproductive rights and rolling back the progress made on LGBT rights.

Take Donald Trump who, as US president, said there were “very fine people on all sides” when white supremacists marched through the streets of Charlottesville. Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, has embraced antisemitism and attacked LGBT rights and press freedom. Matteo Salvini, deputy prime minister of Italy, has repeatedly attacked migrants. And Marine Le Pen finished second in the last French presidential election on an anti-immigration platform. Worryingly, similar nationalist and populist parties are gaining support in almost every European country. » | Sadiq Khan | Saturday, May 18, 2019

Labour Panic as Remain Voters Switch to Liberal Democrats

THE GUARDIAN: Polls makes Vince Cable’s party the favourite for Remainers and puts it in first place in London

Senior Labour figures were engaged in a desperate battle to shore up the party’s support on Saturday night, amid warnings that its stance on Brexitwas helping to “detoxify the Lib Dems”.

With just days left before the European elections at which Nigel Farage’s Brexit party is expected to triumph, shadow cabinet ministers are among those concerned that Labour’s ambiguous position on Brexit has helped revive the Lib Dems. It comes as new polling seen by the Observer suggests Vince Cable’s party is running in first place in London and could even beat Labour overall.

One senior party figure warned: “If the consequence of Labour’s Brexit position and this European election is to essentially detoxify the Lib Dems, then that’s a real problem.” Clive Lewis, a shadow Treasury minister, said “lifelong Labour voters” would not back the party this week due to its Brexit stance. He added: “It feels like we’ve given [the Lib Dems] the political equivalent of resuscitation.” » | Michael Savage, Observer policy editor | Saturday, May 18, 2019

Strache Video Ibiza HD

Wie Strache und Gudenus auf Ibiza in eine Falle tappen

Sex Education: The Clash of LGBT and Religious Rights – BBC Newsnight

How do we balance the secular norms of an inclusive society with religious freedoms? LGBT and religious rights are both protected by law - so what happens when they clash? A change in the law is about to make it tougher for parents to remove their kids from relationship and sex education classes on religious grounds so, whose rights are more important?

Tommy Robinson: Salvini Shows Far-right Agenda Attainable

THE GUARDIAN: Anti-Islam activist lauds Italian minister while campaigning in Lancashire to become MEP

Tommy Robinson has said Matteo Salvini, the anti-Islam Italian minister accused of targeting refugees, had shown what was attainable from pursuing far-right policies.

Speaking in a pub car park on the latest stage of his European election campaign, Robinson told supporters in the former mill town of Heywood in Lancashire that Italy’s interior minister had shown it was possible to make the transition from being classed as an “extremist” into “one of the most powerful men in Europe”.

About 300 supporters, many holding aloft pints, comprised one of the biggest crowds of Robinson’s campaign to become an MEP. » | Mark Townsend | Saturday, May 18, 2019

John Bolton: The Man Driving the US towards War … Any War

THE GUARDIAN: Donald Trump’s national security adviser is stoking tensions with North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, in line with decades of taking the most hawkish position on any given issue

The US is now engaged in three major confrontations around the world that have the potential to degrade into war. And in the driving seat on all three fronts is John Bolton, one of the most fervent believers in American military power ever to work in the White House.

Donald Trump’s 70-year-old national security adviser has been a fixture in US foreign policy over the past four decades, and has spent that time, whether in or out of government, mostly arguing for the most hawkish position on any issue put in front of him.

“He actually believes when America leads, the world is a safer and better place – not just for us but for the world,” said Mark Groombridge, who worked for Bolton for more than 10 years.

In the Obama era, Bolton’s bristling walrus moustache was a near constant presence on television, almost always Fox News, from where he would vent scorn and spleen on the Democratic administration.

These days, Bolton looks considerably more cheerful, having reached the peak of the policymaking establishment that had once seemed out of his reach. » | Julian Borger in Washington | Friday, May 17, 2019

Iran Says 'There Will Be No War' as US Warns of Risk to Civilian Aircraft

THE GUARDIAN: Zarif: nobody suffering from ‘hallucination’ of taking on Iran ? US: potential for ‘miscalculation or misidentification’ of planes

Iran’s foreign minister said on Saturday “there will be no war” with the US, since “nobody in the region is suffering from a hallucination to think that he is able to confront Iran”.

Nonetheless, US diplomats warned commercial airliners flying over the Persian Gulf that they faced a risk of being “misidentified” amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

The US has ordered bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Gulf over an unexplained perceived threat, raising tensions a year after Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal between world powers and the Islamic Republic.

In remarks quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency at the end of his trip to China, the foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, said the Islamic Republic was “not seeking war”, adding: “In fact, as the supreme leader said, there will be no war since we are not seeking war and nobody in the region is suffering from a hallucination to think that he is able to confront Iran.”

He added that though Trump has said he is not seeking war, “some that have sat around him” are pushing such a conflict. » | Associated Press in Washington | Saturday, May 18, 2019

CrossTalk: Bolton War Machine

Is Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton a clear and present danger to America and the world? His saber-rattling in the Middle East, particularly against Iran, should concern us all. We are forced to ask a fundamental question – is Bolton the primary architect of Trump’s foreign policy? CrossTalking with Brian Becker, Gareth Porter, and Max Abrahms.

Austria: Far-right Vice-Chancellor Strache Forced to Resign | DW News

Austria's vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, of the far-right Freedom Party has announced his resignation from the country's coalition government. Strache was forced to step down after German media published a secretly recorded 2017 video from the island of Ibiza. It appears to show Strache offering government contracts in return for campaign donations. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, of the People's Party had already ruled out further co-operation with Strache in the country's governing coalition although Strache had denied any wrongdoing.

German Neo-Nazi Party Runs for European Elections | DW News

A minor far-right radical party in Germany called the 'Dritte Weg', or 'Third Path' is trying to boost its draw with marches evoking the country's Nazi past and openly aligns itself with National Socialism, unapologetically pushing its “Germans only” platform. The group is running candidates for the European parliamentary elections. In the town of Plauen the extremist group has found followers, amidst calls that they should be banned.

Austria Minister Heinz-Christian Strache Resigns amid Video Scandal

BBC: Austria's Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has resigned a day after secret video footage mired him in a corruption scandal.

The video appeared to show Mr Strache discussing government contracts with an alleged Russian investor in return for campaign support.

He also appeared to hint at a potentially illegal donation system for the far-right Freedom Party he leads.

Mr Strache said that transport minister Norbert Hofer will replace him.

He said he was leaving to avoid further damage to the government and claimed he had been the "victim of a targeted political attack" which had used illegal means. » | Saturday, May 18, 2019

Friday, May 17, 2019

As Rightwing Populism Spreads, Bigotry against the LGBT Community Is Growing

THE GUARDIAN: On a day dedicated to ending prejudice, I feel more uneasy than ever before about the negative rhetoric around LGBT rights

Ispent last week in Cuba, a time which overlapped with what should have been the country’s 12th annual Conga Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The march, however, organised by the government and the brainchild of Mariela Castro – daughter of Raul – was cancelled, owing to “new tensions in the international and regional context”.

This essentially translates into a fear that people taking to the streets at a time of heightened tension in the region might turn into general unrest. But there is also the unmentioned fact that religious communities in Cuba are increasingly pushing back against the otherwise repressive state’s attempts to improve LGBT+ rights. Earlier in the year proposed changes to the constitution to allow same-sex marriages were scrapped after pressure from evangelical churches and sections of the population. A spontaneous civilian-organised march to replace the cancelled conga resulted in multiple arrests.

LGBT+ discrimination still exists the world over – this can be insiduous, quotidian prejudice or extreme hatred. Homosexual sex and relationships are still illegal in 69 countries (including 35 Commonwealth countries), and can be penalised with life imprisonment, while some countries still have the death penalty on their statute books. But LGBT+ individuals had become used to good news stories: be it the ground-breaking vote for same-sex marriage in Ireland or Ana Brnabić becoming Serbia’s first openly gay prime minister).

Now, however, as rightwing populism spreads around the world, there is a noticeable rise in bigotry. The LGBT+ community is feeling besieged once again. » | Hannah Jane Parkinson | Friday, May 17, 2019

UK Advises Dual Nationals against All Travel to Iran

THE GUARDIAN: Foreign Office tightens advice after jailing of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Aras Amiri

The UK has upgraded its travel advice to British-Iranian dual nationals, for the first time advising against all travel to Iran.

The advice also urges Iranian nationals living in the UK to exercise caution if they decide to travel to Iran.

The latest tightening of the Foreign Office travel advice comes in the wake of the sentencing of Aras Amiri, an Iranian national who worked for the British Council in London, to 10 years in jail on charges of spying for the UK. » | Patrick Wintour, Diplomatic editor | Friday, May 17, 2019

German Parliament Criminalizes Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement

Germany becomes the first country in the world to criminalize the BDS movement. Shir Hever, TRNN Correspondent in Germany and expert on Palestine-Israel, responds

Post-Poe America Won’t Be Like Pre-Roe America. It Will Be Worse

THE NEW YORK TIMES: The new abortion bans are harsher than the old ones.

This week, Alabama’s governor signed legislation banning most abortions without exceptions for rape or incest, with sentences of up to 99 years in prison for abortion providers. It follows a measure that Georgia’s governor signed last week effectively banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and that is worded in a way that could lead to prosecutions of women who terminate their pregnancies after that point. Missouri’s Senate approved an eight-week abortion ban on Thursday, also without exceptions for rape or incest. It contains a trigger that will ban abortion outright if Roe v. Wade falls. A Louisiana six-week abortion ban is likely to be next.

You can see, in the anti-abortion movement, a mood of triumphant anticipation. Decades of right-wing politics have all led up to this moment, when an anti-abortion majority on the Supreme Court could end women’s constitutional protection against being forced to carry a pregnancy and give birth against their will. » | Michelle Goldberg, Opinion Columnist | Thursday, May 16, 2019

Duchess of Sussex Gave Birth at Portland Hospital in Westminster, Royal Baby's Birth Certificate Confirms

THE TELEGRAPH: The Duchess of Sussex gave birth to her first child Archie Mountbatten-Windsor at the private Portland Hospital in London, it has been confirmed, after his birth certificate became public record.

The Duchess, whose occupation was listed as “Princess of the United Kingdom”, and Duke had declined to specify the place of birth when they announced news of Archie’s safe arrival, omitting details of the medical team and location.

Today, after the Duke registered his son’s birth with the Westminster registrar, the certificate confirmed the place of birth as the private Portland Hospital.

The factual statement will end the narrative of a home birth at Frogmore Cottage, widely reported to have been the Duchess’ preferred option, and will go some way to shutting down baseless rumours about the circumstances of the birth. » | Hannah Furness, Royal Correspondent; Izzy Lyons and Gareth Davies | Friday, May 17, 2019

US-Iran Conflict Would Hit Energy Supplies, Says Iranian General

THE GUARDIAN: Gen Saleh Jokar also says Iran’s missiles could easily reach US warships in Gulf

Iranian missiles could easily hit US ships in the Gulf, and any conflict would threaten global energy supplies, a senior Iranian military official has said.

As tensions simmered on Friday, Tehran blamed the US for an escalating regional crisis that western intelligence officials fear could lead to open conflict.

“If a war happens, the world’s energy supply will suffer,” Gen Saleh Jokar, deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, said on Friday. He added: “Iran’s short-range missiles can easily reach present [US] warships in the Persian Gulf.”

Iranian military leaders say the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” approach, which includes crippling sanctions on Tehran’s economy and a unilateral pullout from a nuclear deal, has forced an inevitable reaction. » | Martin Chulov and Dan Sabbagh | Friday, May 17, 2019

What Does a Post-Roe America Look Like? As Anti-Choice Laws Multiply, Many Already Are Living in It

Meet the Alabama Doctor Who Could Face 99 Years in Prison for Providing Abortions under New Law

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban into law on Wednesday, effectively banning the procedure except in cases where a pregnant person’s life is at serious risk. The law does not make exceptions in cases of rape or incest and doctors could face 99 years in prison for performing abortions. We speak with Dr. Yashica Robinson, the medical director of the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives, one of only three clinics left in the state that offer patients abortion services. She is one of only two abortion providers living and working in Alabama. Under the new Alabama law, she could spend the rest of her life in prison for doing her job.

Democracy Now! Top US News & World Headlines — May 17, 2019

European Elections: Can Social Democracy Survive? – BBC Newsnight

World's Largest Pilgrimage – Hajj Documentary

We snuck a handicam into Mecca, Saudi Arabia to film the Islamic tradition of Hajj, the world's largest annual pilgrimage and the biggest gathering of people in the world at any given time.

Missouri Passes Anti-Abortion Law

Missouri is destroying women’s rights. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

Donald Trump's Anti-Abortion Executive Order

Two days after millions took part in the Women's March, Donald Trump signed an executive order on international abortion funding. The act will block U.S. funding to international NGO's that offer abortions.

Change UK's Anna Soubry: "The Brexit Party Is Nigel Farage's Ego Trip"

European Elections take place next week, and all week Julia Hartley-Brewer has been speaking to candidates from each major political party. Today she spoke with Change UK's Anna Soubry.

Bob Hawke, Former Australian Prime Minister, Dies Aged 89

Labor PM, who served from 1983 to 1991, modernised Australia’s economy and introduced significant social reforms

Read the article here »

THE GUARDIAN: Obituary »

Nigel Farage’s Funding Secrets Revealed

Channel 4 News investigation reveals how millionaire Arron Banks spent approximately £450,000 on Nigel Farage to fund lavish lifestyle the year following the EU referendum in summer 2016.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Trump Administration Is Lying Us Into Another War

The Trump administration claims that the threat from Iran is growing in the Middle East, and that’s why we may need to go to war against the country. Nothing could be further from the truth. Foreign intelligence and military members have said that this threat is overblown, and retired experts in the US are saying the same thing, but that hasn’t stopped this administration from ramping up their preparations against Iran. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins explains what’s happening.

Democracy Now! Top US News & World Headlines — May 16, 2019

Arrogance of Ignorance? Ft. Richard Dawkins, Evolutionary Biologist

Despite the unprecedented pace of scientific breakthroughs, humanity still seems to be as far away from the age of reason as ever. With religious extremism and political infantilism spreading across the globe, often aiding one another, has governance based on critical thinking already become a delusion? To discuss this, Oksana is joined by Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist.

A Saudi War With Iran? It’s a Cartoon for Now

An animated video published by an anonymous pro-Saudi-government group makes a point of showing off the kingdom’s arsenal in an imagined invasion of its regional nemesis, Iran. Some say they believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is behind it.CreditCreditYouTube/Saudi Strike Force

Theresa May Told: Set a Departure Date Or Be Forced Out

THE GUARDIAN: Senior Tory Geoffrey Clifton-Brown says lack of date will force rule changes to oust her

Theresa May is under intense pressure to formally announce a resignation date after one of her most senior backbenchers warned that if she did not do so she would be forced out.

Before a crucial meeting between the prime minister and the 1922 Committee, which represents Tory backbenchers, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said it would be “much more dignified” for May to name a date, rather than oblige the committee to change party rules to oust her.

The Cotswolds MP, who is treasurer of the 1922 Committee, told Sky News that May, who has promised to stand down once her Brexit deal is passed, should instead leave soon. » | Peter Walker and Andrew Sparrow | Thursday, May 16, 2019

Trump Pardons Fraudster Conrad Black after Glowing Biography

THE GUARDIAN: Former media mogul who owned Daily Telegraph spent more than three years in prison

Conrad Black, the former media mogul who owned the Daily Telegraph and the Spectator before being jailed for fraud, has been pardoned by Donald Trump – shortly after writing a book praising the US president.

The Canadian-born British citizen was once known for his extravagant lifestyle as he ran an international newspaper empire that included the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post. But he ended up serving three and a half years in prison after being convicted in 2007 of siphoning off millions of dollars from the sale of newspapers owned by the company he controlled.

Since leaving jail Black, who is also a British peer, has been on a quest to clear his name. Last year he published a book entitled Donald J Trump: A President Like No Other, writing that Trump “is not, in fact, a racist, sexist, warmonger, hothead, promoter of violence, or a foreign or domestic economic warrior”. He suggested the president had been misunderstood. » | Jim Waterson, media editor | Thursday, May 16, 2019

Donald Trump Says He Is 'Absolutely' Ready to Send Troops to Confront Iran

THE TELEGRAPH: Donald Trump yesterday suggested he is ready to send “a hell of a lot” of troops to confront Iran in the Middle East amid warnings that the two countries are stumbling towards a war.

The comments come amid mounting diplomatic and military tensions in the Persian Gulf after Iran-aligned Yemeni rebels attacked an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia and an unidentified attacker attempted to sabotage tankers.

Mr Trump said reports that the Pentagon has already drawn up plans to deploy 120,000 soldiers to the region in preparation for conflict were “fake news.”

But he added: “Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that,” he said.

“Hopefully we’re not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that,” he said. » | Roland Oliphant, Senior Foreign Correspondent | Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Democracy Now! Top US & World Headlines — May 15, 2019

Methodist Church Should Allow Same-sex Marriages, Report States

THE TELEGRAPH: Methodists have recommended that gay couples be allowed to marry in their churches for the first time in a groundbreaking report.

In a document published on Tuesday ahead of the Methodist Church’s Conference this summer, a task force called for a series of recommendations in a bid to modernise the Methodist Church.

The report was drawn up amid changes in society regarding same-sex relationships, cohabition and the delicining marriage rate, the legalisation of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage.

It also comes following the Government’s revelation last year that civil partnerships would be rolled out to heterosexual couples and the proposal has been welcomed by the LGBT community. » | Gabriella Swerling, Social and Religious Affairs Editor | Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Trump Administration Beats War Drums

Trump is one step away from starting a war with Iran. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

US Fails to Get International Support for Iran Policy | DW News

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a mission to rally support for Washington's Iran policy. So far his mission hasn't gone quite the way he'd like. Though Pompeo has been on the road for the past week, neither the EU nor Russia is backing the US strategy towards Iran.

Meanwhile, Pompeo has been reassuring Russia and the EU that Washington is not heading towards conflict with Iran. Pompeo's comments came during his first official visit to Russia, a key backer of Tehran. Iran has blamed the current crisis in the Gulf region on Washington's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Latest: Who Has NY Times in Their Pocket?

RT America’s Dan Cohen joins Rick Sanchez to discuss the commercial entanglements affecting New York Times and outlets like it and how said entanglements inform their habit of blaming the “Russian threat” for any reporting of legitimate concerns about 5G technology, fracking, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and more.

Iyad el-Baghdadi: In the 'Crosshairs' of Saudi Government | Talk to Al Jazeera

Just a few months after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, another Arab dissident says his life is also in danger.

Iyad el-Baghdadi is a pro-democracy activist and strong critic of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The UK's Guardian newspaper reported that Norwegian officials took him from his home in Oslo to a secure location. There, he was told the CIA had warned Norway's government the Saudis had him "in their crosshairs".

El-Baghdadi gained popularity during the Arab Spring when he posted pro-human rights messages on social media. The Palestinian activist was granted asylum in Norway four years ago after being expelled from the United Arab Emirates for criticising Middle Eastern regimes.

In an exclusive interview, Iyad el-Baghdadi discusses an unlikely friendship with the murdered ‘Washington Post’ journalist Jamal Khashoggi and how continuing Khashoggi's work has made him a target of the Saudi government.

US Embassy in Iraq Orders Non-emergency Staff to Leave | Al Jazeera English

The US State Department has ordered all non-emergency government employees to leave Iraq immediately. This comes amid rising tensions in the region. Last week the US deployed warships to the Gulf in a move it said was a response to indications of threats from Iran. Al Jazeera's Rob Matheson joins us live from Baghdad.