Voices from Russia

Monday, 19 June 2017

Russia SLAMS Trump’s Cuba policy

Russia supports the legacy of Comrade Fidel and respects Cuba’s socialist vision

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The MID RF expressed solidarity with Cuba and cautioned against a return to “Cold War rhetoric”. It condemned moves by the Trump Administration to reimpose a ban on Americans travailing to Cuba as well as a likely return to many previously lifted sanctions dropped during Barack Obama’s historic thaw with Havana. Trump came out with hardline policies on Cuba in a lengthy campaign-style speech from Miami, home to many anti-Communist Cubans. The MID RF released a condemnatory statement saying that the USA’s “arrogant style of doing business with Cuba is pointless”. It also said that if the USA fully returns to the era of embargo, blockade, and sanctions, the USA would be totally out of step with the expressed will of the UN General Assembly. Russia reaffirmed its position on Cuba in the following way:

We reaffirm our unwavering solidarity with Cuba… a friendly peace-loving country, an authoritative member of the international community, which has a recognised constructive role in Latin America and in world affairs.

Moscow and Havana have been close ever since the Cuban Revolution of 1959, relations were somewhat strained in the 1990s but have seen become close and fruitful again under President Putin. In many ways, this is the clearest sign yet that Trump intends to run for President in 2020. Republicans long used the issue with Cuba to cultivate votes among anti-Communist Cubans living in the important state of Florida. Trump’s Cuba policy is likely nothing more than an attempt to win future votes in an important US state.

18 June 2017

Adam Garrie

The Duran

http://theduran.com/russia-slams-trumps-cuba-policy/

Editor:

The MID RF reaffirmed Russia’s support for the Island of Freedom and its socialist vision. Those who say that Russia is “conservative” can eat shit and die!

BMD

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Donald Trump: America’s Death Rattle

Most of the US defence budget is spent on logistics for lengthy pointless wars in foreign parts and a great deal is sheer corruption on the part of US Congressmen (“If they’re not millionaires when they get there, they’re millionaires when they leave”… the US Congress is the global gold standard of corruption, as Mark Twain noted). Trump is simply slopping the hogs, with no real increase in US military power, which isn’t what the American public thinks it is… the USA has a second-rate army, backed by an air force that mostly targets civilians and a navy that can insert it anywhere, but not support it beyond a limited coastal zone. Trump’s policy simply underlines that… it’s a salesman’s smoke n’ mirrors, nothing more.

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At this point, it’s a truism that Donald Trump’s rise signalled a fracturing of American political identification. Finally, long-standing religious support for Republican candidates found itself in a seemingly impossible position. One could either… as many did… turn up one’s nose at an immoral candidate, not merely a liar, but a known deviant and coveter of goods. On the other hand, one could go the route of Jerry Falwell Jr and so conflate policy positions with godliness and worthiness as to, at least in the eyes of many, forsake even the veneer of a deeper-than-the-skin piety. Many, I imagine, found themselves in-between. Then, on the other side of the aisle, there was a lack of enthusiasm surrounding Hillary. The centre-left found itself exhausted, and, with Bernie Sanders defeated, many stayed home, or limply threw a bone Hillary’s way, or, as in some Midwestern states, defected to Trump.

We didn’t say it much at the time, but this forecasts something itself foregrounded by the Donald’s campaign slogan… American greatness (if it ever existed) was in notable decline, perhaps on life support. This isn’t merely the nostalgia of the Trump voter, nor is it some recollection of the bygone days of Bush II. Even during George W’s presidency, one could argue that America’s reassertion of its role as world cop was, in reality, a cover-up. How did Shakespeare put it? Right… “The lady doth protest too much methinks”. What were we covering up?

Anecdotally, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Europe, and I must admit that most public services there seem superior to our own. It’s true that much of the architecture and in Germany and England reminds me of something out of a dystopian Spanish textbook, but the NHS took care of me in the UK (at no cost!); German public transit makes NJ Transit and Amtrak look like a rail-line from Ulaanbaatar to Pyongyang (I doubt such exists, but you get the idea). However, these are mere anecdotes. What do the “experts” and numbers say? The American Society of Civil Engineers gave America a D+ in 2017. We got the same grade at their last check-in in 2013. The BBC summed up the report:

The ASCE report says US roads are “chronically underfunded and becoming more dangerous” and assesses that one in every five miles of highway is in poor condition. More than two of every five miles of urban interstates are congested, contributing to an estimated 160 billion USD (9.25 trillion Roubles. 1.09 trillion Renminbi. 10.32 trillion INR. 212 billion CAD. 210 billion AUD. 143 billion Euros. 125 billion UK Pounds) in wasted time and fuel in 2014. Deaths on the roads, falling for years, rose by 7 percent in 2015. There are also problems with the power grid. More than 640,000 miles of high-voltage lines are at full capacity. Most US power lines are from the 1950s and 1960s and are already past their life expectancy. Public transit is also “chronically underfunded”, ASCE said, with a 90 billion USD (5.2 trillion Roubles. 613 billion Renminbi. 5.8 trillion INR. 119 billion CAD. 118 billion AUD. 80.4 billion Euros. 70.3 billion UK Pounds) rehabilitation backlog. US Airports serve more than two million passengers every day, but airport infrastructure and air traffic control systems “aren’t keeping up”, ASCE said, resulting in increased congestion.

Time article merely took the problem for granted, asking how to fix it, not questioning if a crisis exists. The New Yorker doesn’t sound much more sanguine:

Even more egregious than the lack of new investment is our failure to maintain existing infrastructure. You have to spend more on maintenance as infrastructure ages, but we’ve been spending slightly less than we once did. The results are easy to see. In 2013, the Federal Transit Administration estimated that there’s an 86 billion USD (5 trillion Roubles. 586 billion Renminbi. 5.5 trillion INR. 114 billion CAD. 113 billion AUD. 76.8 billion Euros. 67.2 billion UK Pounds) backlog in deferred maintenance on the nation’s rail and bus lines. The American Society of Civil Engineers, which gives America’s overall infrastructure a grade of D+, said that we’d need to spend 3.6 trillion USD (208 trillion Roubles. 24.6 trillion Renminbi. 232 trillion INR. 4.8 trillion CAD. 4.7 trillion AUD. 3.2 trillion Euros. 2.8 trillion UK Pounds) by 2020 to bring it up to snuff.

Furthermore, lest one think this is merely a product of partisan bias, The Week made it clear that America’s infrastructure looks, well, not so great:

Throughout the election, one of the few points Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could agree on was the country’s need for improved infrastructure… transportation systems, energy, and so on. However, tradeoffs between sustainability and economic growth make it unclear how exactly to proceed. Now, researchers argue that we need to pay attention to what’s keeping us from investing in infrastructure more broadly to create environmentally sustainable infrastructure.

Meeting those challenges may require a new approach. Ilmi Granoff, J Ryan Hogarth, and Alan Miller wrote in a Nature Climate Change perspective:

For the world to meet the twin challenges of improving human welfare whilst preventing the worst impacts of climate change, it’ll need to develop and follow a model of emissions minimising and resource-efficient “green” economic growth. Firstly, scaling up infrastructure investment is a necessary condition for achieving green growth, but not a sufficient condition… it can lock in emissions or efficiency. Secondly, mobilising capital for low-carbon infrastructure investment will have less to do with establishing billions of dollars in “new” resources for low-carbon infrastructure, and more to do with unlocking and decarbonising the trillions of dollars in annual infrastructure investment yet to be deployed under any growth scenario.

Those conclusions stem from several observations about the state of infrastructure spending around the world. Firstly, despite evidence of economic benefits, investment in buildings, roads, and transportation fell in countries like the USA and Germany in recent years, according to an IMF report. At the same time, much of the infrastructure in those countries is starting to crumble. In developing countries, there’s simply less infrastructure to begin with. Of course, this is just to bring up infrastructure. For example, there’s also homelessness. Europe saw a rise in homelessness over the last ten years or so, although the numbers are still dwarfed by those in the USA, where 2014 estimates said that 2.5 million children are homeless, with some reporting general numbers as high as 3.5 million.

Anecdotally, I spend a lot of time in New York City, where the homeless are at once ever visible and totally invisible; whereas, my experiences in Berlin, Oxford, Freiburg, Zürich, and Vienna were (again, at a personal level) very different. In Germany, it’s not uncommon to see quasi-homeless punks on the streets, living with their dogs and travelling in… I kid you not… packs. To my eyes, the level of degradation among the homeless in the EU is much lower [than in the USA], although my experiences might mean nothing. At a minimum, one study (from 2007) had this to say:

The highest rates for lifetime literal homelessness were in the UK (7.7 percent) and USA (6.2 percent), with the lowest rate in Germany (2.4 percent), and intermediate rates in Italy (4.0 percent) and Belgium (3.4 percent). One also finds less compassionate attitudes toward the homeless on many dimensions in the USA and the UK.

Add in our healthcare crisis and epidemic drug use (my high-school graduating class alone has seen four student deaths from opiates since I left) and things, to understate them, don’t look the best for the USA. Trump’s campaign clued us into this fact, even if exactly what he meant by “great again” obscured its reality. The sad truth is that the Bush-era cover-up remains on the books. Only in the realm of foreign policy do we really still pretend to act as a “great nation”. For whatever it’s worth, this veneer may finally come to end, it may finally find its final symptom in, you guessed it, Donald Trump.

I didn’t think we’d impeach Donald Trump; in a way, I still don’t. However, the fact is that we’re now talking about it in earnest. Given a slew of recent gaffes, residual dissatisfaction with Trump as a man and as President, and the fact that he was never all that popular to begin with, the possibility is not now entirely farfetched. Only the total inefficacy of the Democratic opposition and Republican control of both houses of Congress really stand in the way of the beginning of such proceedings. To be clear, I think impeachment unlikely. Nevertheless, were it to come, Trump would likely be the first president successfully impeached (if your own party has to turn on you to get impeachment on the table, things don’t look very good). Andrew Johnson escaped removal by one vote. Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment proceedings. Clinton, of course, handily beat efforts to get rid of him.

Trump’s demise thus would be a singular event in the history of the USA. So much talk of his removal centres around what comes next… President Pence? The future of the GOP? An effete Democratic Party? This is understandable, but it misses the real meaning of his successful impeachment; such views miss the grander-scale catastrophe afoot. If all we have left to justify ourselves in our “greatness” is stable governance, foreign authority, and a long-fought-for aura of respectability, Trump’s defeat would shake the world loose of all such illusions. We can’t claim “greatness” in any meaningful domestic sense; we can’t really claim it in terms of foreign policy, except insofar as we have waged wildly unpopular wars abroad. With Trump gone, it’d finally rip the veneer away. It’d unmask the USA for what it is… just another country, and, to be honest, not a particularly amazing one at that.

From a Catholic perspective, I wonder if this wouldn’t be a good thing. I continue to think successful impeachment unlikely; I continue to believe that the next four years will look typically Republican, if not with a bit more silliness and absurdity. However, it’s hard not to wonder… if America goes down, what becomes of the jingoism and patriotism so endemic to the Religious Right? The City on the Hill would finally have to come to terms with its rotting sewage, its hordes of homeless, its rusted trains packed with the destitute. Would such actually change the minds of our Christians? Could we return to a godliness divorced from undue patriotism?

One can hope.

17 May 2017

Chase Padusniak

Jappers and Janglers

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jappersandjanglers/2017/05/donald-trump-americas-death-rattle/

 

 

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Iraqi Christians Face “Death Sentence” as Trump Prepares Mass Deportations

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Editor:

The stupidity of this is mindboggling. The silence of so-called “conservatives” should give you the measure of this godless and demonic movement. They support this and they support Trump in doing this to Christians. All those who voted for Trump are patsies… he’s handing over US foreign policy to Israel and the KSA. He’s also enabling every Russophobe in creation. All Orthodox who voted for this man are partially responsible for this and for the present campaign against the Rodina. It gives you the measure of Dreher and Potapov, doesn’t it (Whiteford is too stupid to garner blame for his rightwing rants… he’s merely an ignorant Yahoo… not calculating and mendacious like Dreher or Potapov).

This is evil. Note well that the “conservatives” are silent about this. Where is Fox News? Where is Sean Hannity? Where is the National Review? May God curse their movement.

Interestingly, I think that Trump himself isn’t that stupid. However, Netanyahu and Prince Mohammed bin Salman are that hateful and they forced Trump’s hand (both have an irrational hate of Iran and its allies). If this doesn’t prove to you that US foreign policy in the Middle East comes from Tel Aviv and Riyadh, nothing will. Strange bedfellows, the KSA and Israel, wot? It proves that hatred can make the most bitter opponents collude together to harm a third-party. God do help the USA and Middle Eastern Christians.

BMD

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A large roundup of Iraqi Christians by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sparked off widespread criticism of President Donald Trump, who previously pledged to protect such communities from persecution in the Middle East. Over the weekend, the ICE seized dozens of Iraqi Christians and other immigrants a series of ICE raids, many of which took place in Michigan, a state known for its large Middle Eastern population. Those arrested face risk of deportation back to their home countries, some of which Trump previously criticised as being hostile toward Christians. CNN reported that many of the detained face years-old charges, with some having not committed any crimes in the past two or three decades. Activists such as Steve Oshana, the Assyrian Christian executive director of A Demand for Action, a non-profit that assists at-risk religious and ethnic communities in the Middle East, attacked Trump for allowing authorities to send Christians back to places like Iraq, where the USA said that a “genocide” against the faith was occurring. On Monday, Oshana, who claimed that some of those arrested hadn’t committed any crimes at all, told Catholic news outlet EWTN:

Someone like the President of the United States has to step in, he promised in the past that he was going to protect our community, but the people who are being sent back now are being sent back as a direct deal between the USA and the Iraqi government to accept these people.

Lavrena Kenawa, an American Chaldean Catholic, cried as she thought about her uncle, seized Sunday by ICE agents during a rally outside the Mother of God Catholic Chaldean Church in Southfield MI on 12 June 2017. A number of protesters gathered to criticise President Trump’s authorisation of raids targeting Iraqi Christians (amongst other groups the President once pledged to protect from persecution in the Middle East). ICE stated that the raids were “consistent with the routine targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis”. According to Michigan’s Local 4 News, however, scenes of chaos reportedly broke out near Detroit’s ICE office as busses removed the suspects. Protestors claiming that ICE apprehended as many as 80 people in the area assembled outside the detention centres, shouting slogans that accused ICE of racism, and attempted to block the buses from departing. On Sunday, local lawyer Wisam Naoum said that ICE officers deliberately waited to take action when the local Chaldean Catholic Assyrian community gathered for Mass. On a Facebook post, Naoum said:

This is a deliberate attack on the Chaldean Catholic Assyrian community of Detroit by the Administration. They waited until Sunday when our community would be going to church and gathering with their families and have rounded up to 40-60 community members.

Naoum said he’d heard reports of the authorities sending suspects to prisons as far away as Ohio and that some final orders to deport individuals to Mosul were received. Mosul is the former Iraqi stronghold of the Islamic State (ISIS) that now serves as a venue for a violent showdown between the jihadists and an Iraqi government-led offensive. ISIS had its origins in Iraq’s Sunni Muslim jihadist movement and the militant group took control of up to 45 percent of the country in 2014, subjecting Shiite Muslims, Christians, and ethnic minorities to mass torture, enslavement, and executions. Despite sweeping victories by Iraqi forces against ISIS in Iraq, Christian protesters claimed being sent back to the country amidst the current instability would effectively constitute a “death sentence”. In January, Trump tweeted:

Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We can’t allow this horror to continue!

Shortly after Trump took office earlier this year, ISIS’s infiltration of Iraq led Trump to add the war-torn nation to a list of countries he sought to ban all travel and immigration from. Shortly afterwards, a federal court struck down the measure, prompting Trump to resubmit the order, this time omitting Iraq, as he’d faced criticism from both the Iraqi community and government, which is deeply involved in the fight against ISIS. According to Politico, in exchange, the Iraqi government reportedly agreed to accept Iraqi nationals designated for deportation by the USA. Most recently, despite Iraq’s absence, a federal appeals court also blocked and struck down the second inception of the travel ban on Monday.

14 June 2017

Tom O’Connor

Newsweek

https://www.yahoo.com/news/iraqi-christians-face-apos-death-200731868.html?.tsrc=fauxdal

Monday, 29 May 2017

“I Didn’t Run a Bad Campaign; I Didn’t Lose”

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Through my wife, the editor of The Nation magazine, I’m close to… if not close, at least I see and hear them… leading figures of the Democratic Party. Moreover, the Democratic Party, particularly the Hillary Clinton wing of the Democratic Party, has already made it clear that it’s going to push this Trump-Russia story, at least until the Congressional elections in 2018. They think it’s a winning issue, and I think it’s clear, that this is Mrs Clinton’s hope to run again because she’ll say:

I didn’t run a bad campaign; I didn’t lose… Putin stole my election from me and gave it to Trump.

They’re going to push this at the grassroots, it’s already there at the town meetings, at Democratic grassroots, and they’re going to push it and push it at least until the elections, off-year elections, we call them, in 2018. Therefore, this is a given. No matter what facts emerge, the Democratic Party is going to push this as they are now every day.

Stephen Cohen

RT

Facebook

Editor:

Madame Shillary’s Upper Middle robots are shuffling down the Road to the Abyss, like lemmings. Don’t argue with them… it’s fruitless. They were the only group to profit from NAFTA (the rich always profit under a capitalist system)… they think that the Clintons are hunky-dory. They don’t know or care what ordinary folks think or want. The deaths of our sons mean nothing to them. It’s a Bizarro World that we live in, no?

BMD

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