Nel's New Day

July 2, 2017

DDT Moves BFF from Russia to Saudi Arabia

Weeks ago, several Middle East countries led by Saudi Arabia opened diplomatic war against the tiny country of Qatar. Saudis said that they oppose Qatar’s terrorism, but they have other reasons. Qatar’s wealth from natural gas creates independence from Saudi’s dictates. The exports can also be shipped by sea instead of through pipelines like Saudi oil. Because natural gas comes from the Persian Gulf, Qatar keeps friendly connections with Iran.

In the past, Qatar had close relations with the United States after Saudi Arabia told U.S. forces to leave its country in 2003. The U.S. military base heading operations against ISIS moved to Qatar and houses 11,000 troops at this time. Some of Qatar’s wealth goes to the media service Al Jazeera, which is not always kind about Middle East governments as well as supporting grassroots efforts to overturn autocracies during the Arab Spring. But the power structure in the Middle East is shifting.

After only two years leading Saudi Arabia, King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz has named his son as his replacement  instead of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulazizto. The transfer to Mohammed bin Salman, 31, was peaceful perhaps because he demanded that the Israelis send 18 fighter jets in case of any measures by bin Nayef. Bin Salman has headed up the country’s military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, and U.S. officials expressed concern over his reckless gambles last year with the economy and the Yemen conflicts. His leadership may seriously affect gas prices because he support’s OPEC’s desire to prop up oil prices through limiting worldwide oil production.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had banked on his friendship with Russia to make money, but widespread publicity has caused serious problems with this close relationship. His fawning over Saudi Arabia during his May trip indicates that he may have transferred his allegiance to another country that can provide him great financial gains.

Foreign agents for Russia are disappearing from DDT’s circle, but he started to add at least one with Saudi connections. Richard Hohlt, who earned $430,000 thus far this year as a registered foreign agent lobbying for Saudi Arabia, is DDT’s nominee for the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. The donor to DDT’s campaign would make recommendations for prestigious White House fellowships. “I will issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT! #DrainTheSwamp,” DDT tweeted last October.  DDT has turned to stocking the swamp.

DDT has shifted his position toward Saudi Arabia in several ways. During his campaign he claimed that the Saudis were behind the 9/11 attacks, and after he was inaugurated, he complained about the U.S. losing a “tremendous amount of money” defending the kingdom.  The U.S. has long known about Saudi Arabia’s terrorism. According to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009, “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” In September 2014, she wrote that “Qatar and Saudi Arabia… are providing clandestine financial and logistical support to ISIL [Daesh] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

The adulation that DDT received during his stay in Saudi Arabia flipped his attitude. He needed a reason for his 180-degree turnabout so he is claiming that the U.S. “can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology.” Another DDT tweet read, “Perhaps it will be the beginning of the end of the horror of terrorism.” His position is terrifying other Gulf States that fear the same ostracism as Qatar. Saudi’s goal is to isolate Iran. Bin Salman said, “We will not wait until the battle is in Saudi Arabia, but we will work so the battle is there in Iran.” He claims that Saudi Arabia is fighting the Houthis because of Iran although the group has almost no support from Iranians.

The Saudi war in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians because of their targeting hospitals, marketplaces, civilian neighborhoods, and even a funeral for bombing. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) has said that these actions “look like war crimes.” Washington has provided the Saudis with cluster munitions, aircraft, and aerial refueling services as well as intelligence on targets. The destruction has blocked aid groups from providing food, medicine, and other essential supplies to civilians suffering from a cholera outbreak and a massive famine. The result is a strengthened al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from its increased influence in Yemen.

The Obama administration supported Saudi Arabia to persuade the leaders that the U.S. had not moved over to Iran but backed off after Congress and humanitarian groups opposed the Saudi targeting of Yemen civilians. In December 2016, the U.S. suspended a sale of laser-guided bombs and other munitions to the Saudi military.

The new administration has lifted this suspension despite 47 votes collected from a Senate coalition led by Al Franken (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rand Paul (R-KY). Defense Secretary James Mattis has advocated far more support for Saudi attacks with intelligence sharing and possible U.S. troops. Mattis had declared that Iran is “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.” DDT has promised $110 billion worth of arms to the Saudis, about the same as during both President Obama’s terms. That includes over 100,000 bombs like those used on Yemen.

For Saudi Arabia, DDT is the ideal U.S. president if they can overlook his rejection of Muslims and non-white people. He prefers dictatorships to human rights, prizes loyalty above all else (except money), is controlled by fanatically anti-Iran generals, and shows himself to be highly susceptible to flattery. DDT’s missile strikes in Syria put him on the side of Saudi Arabia instead of Syria and prolongs the civil war that the Assad regime will most likely win.

While DDT was making a speech in Saudi Arabia telling people that he is not there “to tell other peoples how to live, what to do or who to be,” Iran’s reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, was re-elected on a platform of combatting extremism and expanding individual freedoms. On the other hand, the Saudis spend tens of millions of dollars to place its violent, extremist version of Islam throughout the world, including the European Union. The Saudi extremist version of Islam, Wahhabi, has been responsible for 96 percent of terrorist casualties since 2001, and Saudis were 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks. Dissent in Saudi Arabia is punishable by beheading—and that includes the press. Saudi Arabia lacks election and imprisons critics,and women are second-class citizens in many ways.

DDT pledged a foreign policy to stay out of the Middle East because past U.S. “foreign interventions unleashed ISIS in Syria, Iraq and Libya.” (For once, he was right!) In a conflict between Shiites and Sunnis, the Islam world is choosing sides with Russia leading Syria, and Iran. Saudi Arabia expects the United States to lead up the opposition to DDT’s former BFF, Russia. Now the U.S. is taking actions far more hawkish than voters feared from candidate Hillary Clinton. This path will divide Syria into religious/ethnic separations and be in the midst of a global war against Russia.  The U.S. shot down a Syrian army plane, the first such attack in 18 years, and sent more military member to southeast Syria. Despite a claim of staying within a “deconfliction zone,” the troops are over 100 miles from its supposed base. Another 3,000 to 5,000 new troops are destined for Afghanistan. DDT has abdicated his responsibly as commander-in-chief to “Mad Dog” Mattis who got his name from razing Fallujah in Iraq. Other general—National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford—are aiding and abetting.

The generals and DDT are hoping that Congress doesn’t notice that the executive branch cannot constitutionally declare war, but the House has taken a step toward restricting DDT. For years, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has introduced an amendment to the 2018 military spending bill in the Appropriations Committee to require congressional debate and approval for U.S. military action in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other world countries. Lee’s measure would repeal the 2001 authorization for the president to take action in situations connected to 9/11, a law that presidents have liberally used—over actions in almost 20 countries around the world and deployments in at least ten. President Obama kept asking Congress to create new legislation for his attacks, but the Republicans ignored him.

Every year Lee failed—until now. The House GOP leadership is resisting, but the committee vote was unanimous in favor of Lee’s amendment. Lee persisted—and achieved a victory.

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June 6, 2017

War in Middle East: DDT’s Path to Popularity?

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 11:51 PM
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Many world leaders fear that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants a war to increase his popularity. What if it is true? Less than two weeks ago, he came home for a nine-day trip that included a visit to Saudi Arabia, and a senior official declared, “Donald Trump united the entire Muslim world in a way that it really hasn’t been in many years.” The unity doesn’t exist—especially since yesterday’s rift in the Middle East when Saudi Arabia led eight countries to isolate Qatar over its supposed support for terrorism.

One theory for Saudi Arabia’s action is DDT’s empowerment of Saudi with warmth for them and an excessive criticism of Iran. DDT worsened the situation by seeming to take credit for the problems in the Middle East through his tweets. He began with this one:

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!”

DDT added praise for Saudi Arabia’s actions in isolating Qatar:

“They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

The tweets were his usual early morning, knee-jerk reaction with no involvement with his administrative officials.

The action: Eight countries have severed diplomatic ties with the tiny country of Qatar, about the size of Connecticut with a population of under 2.3 million with only 12 percent of them natives and the others workers, most of them from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Philippines. Five countries—Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen—started the dispute, and Libya, Mauritius, and the Maldives joined in. Countries have stopped flights in and out of Doha, the Qatari capital, and Saudi Arabia eliminated all land, sea and air links with Qatar. The country’s diplomats have been told to leave foreign posts from some of the countries as well as Qatari citizens.

The reason: Qatar is criticized for its reputed support of the Muslim brotherhood, a nearly 100-year-old Islamist group that Saudi Arabia and UAE consider a terrorist organization. Then Saudi Arabia became incensed with Qatar-owned Al Jazeera’s news story supporting Israel and Iran; both Saudi and UAE blocked access to the television network as well as other Qatari newspaper websites. According to U.S. intelligence, the news story was fake news from Russian hackers, but Qatar’s opponents didn’t believe the information. Then Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to congratulate him on his reelection. Qatar News Agency’s website is still offline because of hacking attempts. Qatar and Iran share the biggest natural gas field in the world, and Saudi Arabia sees this as a problem to them as well as Iran’s nuclear program and its growing influence in the Middle East. The Saudis have accused Qatari officials of meeting with the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Problems for Qatar: Almost all food in Qatar comes from Saudi Arabia which has stopped shipping to the nation, and trucks carrying food may be stranded on the Saudi side of the border. A major global airlines, Qatar Airlines must now detour around airspace above Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE at highly increased fuel costs, flight times, and ticket prices. That creates a hardship for families that live in Dubai and commute to Doha, a 45-minute flight before the barricade. Qatar is also scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup, and the recent action keeps supplies, workers, and possibly soccer fans from easily going in and out of the country.

Problems for Qatari neighbors—and the U.S.: The country has over a $300 billion sovereign wealth fund founded in 2005 to increase money from its natural resources. As the world largest LNG exporter with pipelines in the Gulf, Qatar could cut off supplies. The Al Udeid Ari Base, the principal U.S. regional center responsible for daily air missions and air operations coordination against ISIS is located on Qatar. The country also houses the forward headquarters of the United States Central Command, which manages all U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East. About 11,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed there.

Demands: Saudi Arabia has not been specific about what they expect from Qatar although they have stated that they expect a stop to terrorism. They could also demand the closure of Al Jazeera, the television network that launched English-language programming.

Pentagon is trying to stop the damage: spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters that the U.S. is “grateful to the Qataris for the longstanding support for our presence and their enduring commitment to regional security.” Yes, Qatar supports groups considered terrorist organizations, such as Hamas. But so does Saudi Arabia. And the U.S. military bases in Qatar also allows it to be an intermediary between this country and theirs. For example, Qatar was instrumental in dealing with the Taliban to release U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Knowing that the U.S. needs to be good terms with all countries in the region, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked for the countries “to sit down together and address these differences” because “it is important that the [Gulf Cooperation Council] remain unified.”

DDT’s tweet is another of his 180-degree turns. He had never accused of Qatar promoting radical ideology before, and in fact he has praised Qatar. During his visit in Saudia Arabia, DDT said that U.S. relations with Qatar were “extremely good.” During that speech to the Saudis, DDT also said, “Qatar, which hosts the U.S. Central Command, is a crucial strategic partner.” On that trip DDT also met separately with the emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (left), on May 21 and discussed the “the purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment.” He told reporters, “We are friends, we’ve been friends for a long time now, haven’t we?” As for the sales to Qatar, DDT said, “That means jobs, and it also means frankly great security back here, which we want.”

DDT has 270,000 reasons for supporting Saudi Arabia: that’s the number of dollars that the Saudis have paid for stays at DDT’s Washington, D.C. hotel for lodging, catering, and parking. The group paying DDT is the organization lobbying against the law that permits victims of terrorist attacks to sue foreign government, meaning that Saudi Arabia could be financially responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Part of the Saudi lobbying campaign is recruiting U.S. veterans and sending them on luxury trips to Washington. DDT’s hotel is a very nice place for them to stay.

Leaders in the Western world consider the Saudi regime a danger to public security because of its dissemination of Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Sunni Islamism practiced in Saudi Arabia that has been identified by the European parliament as a driver of global terrorism. Saudi claimed that the restrictions against Qatar were caused by the nation’s support of terrorism. After George W. Bush’s war in Iraq put Shia Muslims in control, open polarization between Sunni and Shia Muslims have increasingly polarized the entire Middle East as Saudi Arabian Sunni fundamentalists exacerbate their battle against Iranian Shiites.

The current problem is said to be the worst in the region since the Gulf Cooperation Council was formed 36 years ago. Although Qatar, like Saudi Arabia, is predominantly Shia, the country has tried to stay neutral between the Saudi-Iran conflict. Sunnis want the nation to take sides with them. Qatar has also been blamed for the 2011 Arab Spring overturning regimes in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. The dispute is the most serious to hit the region since the formation of the Gulf Co-operation Council 36 years ago.

When George W. Bush blew up the Middle East in the early 21st century, he knew little about its politics and culture. DDT knows less. But maybe he thinks that he can match Bush’s popularity if he just blows up the world.

May 21, 2017

Sunday Speeches: DDT Pandering; GOP Spin

The grand introduction to a nine-day tour by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was today’s pandering speech to over 50 Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia, a speech written by Islamophobic Stephen Miller. Miller knew that DDT had to walk a fine line between not offending his racist U.S. base and the audience of 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, including 3.3 million in the U.S. alone. Gone was the term “radical Islamic terrorism” which he used as a litmus test for conservatives, damning all people who refused to say this expression. Only once did he slip in “Islamic terrorism” among the 32 times that he referred to terrorism in the 34-minute speech. The teleprompter read “Islamist,” but DDT may be accustomed to his own term which refers to the religion rather than a political movement.

Saudi Arabia was the safest place to give the speech because DDT is in sync with the authoritarian regime there. In his desire to feel royal, DDT is comfortable with their ostentatious wealth, lack of concern for rule, and a disregard for democracy. He had also just favored them with the $110 billion arms sale that President Obama had delayed on the basis of human rights and how the weapons would be used as well as the proposed Qatar purchase by Qatar of “a lot of beautiful military equipment,” as DDT describes them. DDT brought them other multi-billion dollar deals such as $6 billion for Lockheed for 150 Black Hawk helicopters and $15 billion for General Electric.

The speech also avoided other such alien concepts to the Middle East as democracy, gender equality, and political reform—again matching DDT’s approach toward ruling. Even better for Saudi support, he blamed Iran instead of ISIS “fueling sectarian violence”; he spoke about the “despair” of the Iranians on the day after they freely elected a liberal reform president and demanded that the largest Shiite country in the Middle East be more isolated. According to DDT, Iran is to blame for “so much instability,” and Shiite Hezbolla and Yemienis were equally condemned.

DDT claimed his purpose was not to “lecture” before he launched into ponderous and repetitious demands of “drive them out” like an Old Testament prophet declaiming that the Muslims are totally responsible in this “battle between good and evil.” Nowhere did he mention that his hosts are responsible for the Wahhabi Salafit extremists who murder “innocent people.” DDT also praised Saudi Arabia for its “strong action against the Houthi militants in Yemen,” an action using U.S.-made cluster bombs in crowded cities indiscriminately killing people and exacerbating a massive humanitarian crisis.

“We are adopting a principled realism, rooted in common values and shared interests,” DDT told his audience, indicating that these “common values” can include misogyny, murder by beheading, and dictatorships in the name of oil and gas. He said, “Our friends will never question our support, and our enemies will never doubt our determination.” But the generality didn’t define “friends,” which could include Russia, Iran’s supporter, and the warring militias in the Middle East. DDT said:

“We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes – not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. And, wherever possible, we will seek gradual reforms – not sudden intervention.”

Translations for this statement could  include that the U.S. can reverse its positions at a minute’s notice based on a knee-jerk reaction to an occurrence but that the U.S. will not oppose crimes against humanity unless it will be of some financial benefit.

DDT’s speech is being declared “presidential,” the common description for words he didn’t prepare that were carefully read with no off-script comments.

Yet former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams pointed out a major flaw, “an understanding of what produces extremism”:

 “The president’s approach would work if terrorists were coming from outer space, and our task were solely to organize against them militarily. That is no doubt part of the task—but not all of it, because they are coming from within the societies whose leaders he was addressing. He offered no explanation of what was producing this phenomenon…. Trump had no theory and therefore could not suggest what might be done to prevent more extremists from rising.”

While DDT was in Saudi Arabia trying to overcome the ghastly scandals of May, his faithful were spinning his actions on the Sunday talk shows.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that DDT talked about firing former FBI director James Comey with the Russian officials to prove he wasn’t distracted by any problems in Washington. As usual, Tillerson pressed his talking point that U.S. and Russian relations were “at a low point.”

National security adviser H.R. McMaster explained DDT’s meetings with the Russians as a desire to “find areas of cooperation.” Asked about DDT’s statements about Comey, McMaster said:

“Well, I don’t remember exactly what the president said. And the notes that there apparently have I do not think are a direct transcript.”

DDT reportedly called Comey “crazy” and “a real nut job” as well as firing Comey relieving “great pressure because of Russia.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) disagreed with DDT that Comey is a “nut job.” On Face the Nation, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said:

“This is a horrible thing for a president to say. Former Director Comey is no way, shape, or form a ‘nut job.’”

Even Republican members of Congress didn’t defend DDT’s statements. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that the investigating committees on Russia’s meddling need to have “the notes.” He added:

“The White House would benefit from some systems in place that perhaps avoids some of the unnecessary friction points that come up on a daily basis…. People got what they voted for.”

Asked about DDT’s speech, Rubio said that he differed with him on DDT’s approach to human rights issues:

“I think it’s in our national security interest to advocate for democracy and freedom and human rights. We just have a disagreement on the right way to approach it.”

“The White House would benefit from some systems in place that perhaps avoids some of the unnecessary friction points that come up on a daily basis,” Rubio said.

With the possibility of again running for president, Rubio may have felt the need to soft-pedal his response, but Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was not shackled by any such requirement when he told Fox’s Chris Wallace that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey “had no business in the Oval Office” and cited Russia’s invasion into Crimea:

“Mr. Lavrov is the stooge of a thug and a murderer, who used Russian precision weapons to strike hospitals in Aleppo, who has committed human rights issues all over the place.”

McCain called himself “almost speechless” about the report that DDT told Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he fired Comey  to take “off” some of the pressure about Russia. Almost, but not completely. McCain said, “I don’t know why someone would say something like that,” he told Wallace.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in his interview today that the House Intelligence Committee investigation is examining possibly Russian collusion with DDT and his campaign. House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said that the scandal surrounding Russia goes far beyond DDT.

DDT may be back on U.S. soil sooner than expected. His staffers say that he is “exhausted” after less than two days of travel into his nine-day trip and  is already canceling some of his performances. This from the man who said that Hillary Clinton “lacks stamina” after her constant travel around the world while she was Secretary of State. Maybe he’ll be too tired to tweet.

 

January 29, 2017

Protesters Gather over Muslim Ban

Filed under: Donald Trump,Religion — trp2011 @ 8:44 PM
Tags: , , , ,

protest-boston-copley-squareThe women’s march was only a week ago, and now thousands of protesters, such as the ones in Boston’s Copley Square above, have gathered in opposition to President Donald Trump’s (PDT) ban on Muslims coming into the United States. PDT’s order, written by white supremacist Steve Bannon, bars all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days and all Muslims from seven Middle East countries for 90 days. Although PDT staffer Reince Priebus denied on Meet the Press that the ban is also on legal U.S. residents who hold green cards, these people have also been retained. The order states that they will need a case-by-case waiver to enter the country. Especially notable about the order is that is poorly written and was not vetted by any legal members of the PDT administration.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, called the ban “a dark moment in U.S. history,” citing the need for suffering people to save their lives by seeking refuge. Cupich wrote:

“The world is watching as we abandon our commitments to American values. These actions give aid and comfort to those who would destroy our way of life. They lower our estimation in the eyes of the many peoples who want to know America as a defender of human rights and religious liberty, not a nation that targets religious populations and then shuts its doors on them.”

PDT has denied that his ban has anything to do with religion:

“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion.”

trumpYet PDT’s order clearly identifies that refugee claims are for “religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” All seven countries’ majority religion is Islam; thus the ban clearly favors Christian refugees and violates the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment prohibiting one religion over another. Equal protection is also covered in the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. PDT is following his campaign promise of calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” and his admission that he would pretend the ban would be a neutral immigration restriction. Another argument for overturning PDT’s ban is the violation of a federal law forbidding discrimination based on national origin in the immigration system.

Within the first 23 hours of the ban, at least 375 people were impacted before U.S. District Court judge Ann M. Donnelly of Brooklyn issued an emergency order last night, halting the deportations. The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of those banned, which Donnelly said is likely to succeed when a full trial is held in several weeks. Several other federal courts also issued similar stays. Rulings in four other cities are limited to those already at U.S. airports or in transit, not to the legality of PDT’s ban.

A federal judge ordered the DHS to allow an Iranian man holding a U.S. visa to return to California from Dubai where he was awaiting removal to Iran. Judge Dolly Gee found that PDT’s ban “violates the Establishment Clause, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and his rights to Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”

Yet many people are still in airport detention. After issuing the ban, PDT provided no guidance to airports or airlines about actions, other than confirming that the ban will not be lifted. Canadian Prime Minister has offered to take any refugees holding green cards who are banned in the U.S.

PDT counselor Kellyanne Conway, promoter of PDT’s “alternative facts” on Meet the Press a week ago, hid on the Fox network today and still had a meltdown about the horrible press that prints information about the new president. Describing reporters, she said:

“We turn the other cheek. If you are part of team Trump, you walk around with these gaping, seeping wounds every single day…. I’m here every Sunday morning. I haven’t slept in a month.”

[Turn the other cheek? Gaping wounds? A comparison to Jesus?]

Conway was fortunate in her interview: Chris Wallace failed to point out that the ban most likely violates international treaties, federal statutes, and the U.S. Constitution. Yet she couldn’t even handle that situation.

Arguments from the PDT team are that the ban promotes safety at the cost of a small convenience. But bans on the basis of nationality or religion can be disastrous to national security. It can undermine efforts of security agencies and erode relationships necessary to fight terror.  Iran has already accused Congress of violating its agreement after lawmakers put new sanctions on the country last month. The ban will accelerate hostilities in a fragile relationship: Iran’s Foreign Ministry has called PDT’s order “an insult to the Islamic world, and especially to the great nation of Iran.” According to the statement:

“The decision of the Government of the United States incorporates certain requests that are illegal, illogical, and contrary to international law. The Islamic Republic of Iran will carefully examine and legally pursue any negligence or violation of the international obligations of the United States under bilateral and multilateral agreements and reserves the right to respond as necessary.”

A Bipartisan Policy Center report pointed out that the result can be reciprocal bans against U.S. citizens and commerce, costing the nation billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. The Iraqi parliament is already contemplating a block on visas for people from the U.S. who want to travel to the country.

Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich called the immigration “ham-handed” because it “sowed so much confusion” among international travelers and “sent a message that somehow the United States was looking sideways at Muslims.” He added, “In probably many Arab capitals today, people are like, ‘What is America doing?’ ”

Showing that public outcry can be effective, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly issued a blanket waiver to immigrants holding green cards or entitled to permanent residence in the U.S., allowing them to enter the country, despite President Trump’s new executive order. But the damage to the nation’s reputation is already done. There’s no going back. World War III, anyone?

November 21, 2015

Christians Discriminate against Muslims in U.S.

 

Firefighter. let it burnThree Muslim-American students were murdered in Chapel Hill last February. Christian white people in the U.S. wanted to call this hate crime a matter of a parking dispute, but the three young people were lined up on the ground, kneeling, and shot in the back of their heads execution style. It was a Christian terror attack. A few days later, the Quba Islamic Institute in Houston, storing religious books, was completely destroyed by fire last February because of arson. Dustin Herron, a retired Houston-area firefighter who volunteered at the time for Crystal Beach Fire & Rescue posted the following:

“Let it burn … block the fire hydrant.”

That summarizes the conservative response since the attacks in Paris.

Indiana’s governor Mike Pence, who might have run for president if his state hadn’t tried to pass an anti-LGBT “religious liberty” law, told two Syrian refugee families that they cannot come to his state. He also told two religious charities, Exodus Refugee Immigration and Catholic Charities, that no other families will be allowed in Indiana. One of the families waited for three years in Jordan before the vetting process was completed.

In Rhode Island, state senator Elaine Morgan suggested segregated camps for Syrians after calling on state governments to refuse any Syrian refugees in the country. She thinks refugees are part of a plan “to spread out their people to attack all non Muslim persons.” One U.S. human rights abuse was the internment of about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, some of the U.S. citizens, in abusive camps during World War II.

According to the annual Hate Crimes Statistics Report, the number of the hate crimes in 2014 decreased for every minority group except Muslims. The increase of 14 percent against Muslims may be under-reported because they tend not to report these crimes. The rise of these crimes against Muslims parallels the increase in the number of hate groups formed in the U.S., most of them based on conspiracy-based and virulent anti-government leanings. Christian attacks have moved from LGBT people to Muslims.

Following the tragedy of hate in Paris last week, Christian people in the U.S. immediately responded—with more irrational hate. Gunshots at mosques and private homes, threatening phone messages, hate graffiti, Islamophobic statements at community meetings—these are only a few of the occurrences during the past week. The Islamic Center of Pflugerville (TX) was vandalized with feces and torn pages of the Quran.

In contrast to the bigoted reaction from conservatives, seven-year-old Jack Swanson took his piggy bank to the Pflugerville mosque and gave them all the contents of $20.

The day before the killings in Paris, ISIS killed 45 people and injured another 200, some of them critically, in Beirut (Lebanon). The death toll would have been much higher if a man had not thrown himself on a bomb to save his son. A terrorist group left 147 people dead and 79 injured at Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya last April, a tragedy that barely grazed the U.S. news media. A terrorist bomb on an airplane between Russia and Egypt killed 224 people. Only the attacks in Paris affected people in the U.S.

The U.S. concern primarily for people in France and not those on other continents might come from experiencing human empathy for only victims similar to themselves. Studies show that individuals focus more on their “ingroup,” creating an “empathy gap” among victims in attacks. The media obsessed with the attacks in Paris but gave little attention to other attacks.

Some people in the United States see every one of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as connected to the Paris attacks. These facts might give a different perspective:

  • Worldwide the 1.6 billion Muslims are expected to increase by 35 percent by the year 2030.
  • By 2050 the number of Muslims in the world will match the number of Christians.
  • Only 20 percent of Muslims live in the Middle East.
  • The majority of people who follow the Islamic religion, more than 60 percent, live in the Asian-Pacific region.
  • Muslims have lived in China for more than 1400 years.
  • Less than 15 percent of the world’s Muslim population is Arab.
  • Two-thirds of the U.S. Arab population is Christian, not Muslim.
  • The most common name in the world is Muhammad.
  • All Muslim women do not wear hijabs.
  • The percentage of women in government in Muslim-majority countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Sudan and Saudi Arabia, is higher than in the United States.
  • The youngest female president in the world, Atifete Jahjaga, the president of Kosovo, is a Muslim woman.
  • Muslims give twice as much to charity as Christians.
  • When Columbus came to America, he may carried a book written by Portuguese Muslims who had navigated their way to the New World centuries before him.
  • Muslims may have settled in America before the Europeans did.
  • The first wave of Muslims to the U.S. was African slaves; at least 25 percent of the slaves violently kidnapped from their homes and families by white men were Muslim.
  • About six million Muslim live in the United States; about one-third are black.
  • Muslims range from highly orthodox to moderate to secular with many different interpretations of their religion.

The United States is not and never has been a Christian nation. On June 10, 1797 the United States signed a compact of friendship with the Muslim population living along the Barbary Coast. The Treaty of Tripoli was commissioned by President George Washington. It was unanimously approved by the United States Congress. It was signed by the country’s second President, John Adams. Of special importance is Article 11, which reads:

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen (Muslims); and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan (Mohammedan) nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

How far will GOP politicians go in using the Paris attacks? Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) blamed the current distrust of Syrian refugees on President Obama’s handling of the 2011 terrorist attack in Benghazi. Yes, Benghazi. Again. Buck believes that the White House covered up some imaginary scandal, leading to U.S. distrust and making the Benghazi tragedy responsible for hostility toward refugees from a different country. (An aside about the recent 11-hour Benghazi hearing: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) said that Hillary Clinton laid “a trap” for the committee by making her appearance go “as long as possible.”

States_that_have_surrendered_to_ISIS

The above map shows which states have embarrassed the people of the United States by surrendering to ISIS. All the “red states” have GOP governors except New Hampshire. Since the map was published on November 16, 2015, Oregon has joined the green section.

What problems have we had from refugees in the U.S.? Since 9/22, 750,000 people have come into the U.S. as refugees. The following chart shows the number of refugees arrested on domestic terrorism:

refugees arrested

That’s right: zero.

The people happiest about conservatives’ rejection of Syrian refugees are members of ISIS. They hoped for this reaction, and they got it. ISIS isn’t a country: it’s an idea. Propaganda spreads this idea, and ISIS has succeeded. The more conservatives spew their hatred, the more ISIS can persuade people that peace is impossible. Rejected by the U.S., people are sent into the arms of ISIS.

January 25, 2015

Don’t Force the Actions of a Few to Represent All

Aftershocks of the recent 17 killings in France starting at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris have reverberated throughout the world. People are still claiming that cartoonists should realize that they could be killed if they displeased someone, sending the similar message that women are raped because of what they wear and how they behave. Conservative Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said that Carbonnier might still be alive if he had not been “so narcissistic.”

The media has escalated the fury toward Muslims through its extensive messaging about the tragedy. Hours before the tragedy, a car bomb killed almost 50 people in the Yemni capital, Sanaa, as men lined up to enroll at the police academy. There may have been ties between the two disasters, but only one of them was highlighted. Yemen almost silently suffers through the Western media while millions of people in the U.S. blame all Muslims for the Paris event.

Howard Dean has taken a lot of heat for asking that these killers not be called “Muslim terrorists” because they are only thugs who don’t follow Mohammad’s philosophy as identified in the Koran. As with 9/11, conservatives abstract the actions of a very few to an entire group and use the killings for personal gain by fomenting greater fear in the United States. For example, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “It’s not an attack on our homeland, but it’s definitely an attack on our way of life. There’s a perfect storm brewing to have this country hit again.” He called on the president to “admit” that the attack was motivated by religion.

In The New Yorker, George Packer denied that the killings had a relationship with the ethnic tensions and poverty in parts of Paris. He wrote that the entire reason was the support of “Islamist ideology.” As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote, however:

“Poverty, political oppression, systemic corruption, lack of education, lack of critical thinking, and general hopelessness in these countries is the spark.”

Abdul-Jabbar pointed out that the reason for this violence is always money. These attacks never change the behavior considered undesirable by that attackers: people keep writing, publishers keep publishing, and ideology just becomes more defiant, as in the case of 9/11. According to Abdul-Jabbar:

“[Attacks are] about swaggering into a room, flexing a muscle, and hoping to elicit some admiring sighs …  more recruits and more donations to keep their organization alive. They have to keep proving they are more relevant than their competing terrorist groups. It’s just business.”

Bill Maher is now using his show to promote hatred toward Muslims. Once noted for being anti-religious, he has moved to attacks primarily on the Islam faith, ignoring Christian terrorists. During one show, Maher could not come up with any Christian violence since the 16th century. Last December, however, Larry McQuilliams fired more than 100 rounds in downtown Austin (TX) and tried to burn down the Mexican consulate because law enforcement killed him. He had a map pinpointing 34 other buildings, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and several weapons as well as a copy of Vigilantes of Christendom, a book connected with the Christian-focused white supremacist group Phineas Priesthood. McQuilliams had left a note in the book describing himself as a “priest in the fight against anti-God people.”

McQuilliams’ Christian terrorist attack follows many others in the name of Christianity. Ku Klux Klan crimes are against not only minorities but also Catholics and Jews because of the KKK’s Christian fundamentalism. Members of The Order, a militant Mormon group, murdered Jewish talk show host Alan Berg in 1984. Members of the Christian group Army of God have been responsible for bombings at clinics where women can get abortions and for the explosion at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta (GA). Scott Roeder, the Christian killer of Dr. George Tiller, said that his faith was the reason for shooting Tiller in the head in 2009 while the doctor was ushering at his church. Christian Wade Michael Page killed seven people at the Milwaukee Sikh Gurdwara in 2012 in an effort to stop non-white non-Christians from having an equal role in society.

Northern Ireland and Northern India have extensive histories of Christian-on-Christian violence while the Lord’s Resistance Army in Western Africa uses Christianity to recruit child soldiers and force them to terrorize local villages. In 2011, Norweigian Anders Behring Breivik used bombs and guns to kill 77 people, many of them teenagers, in his goal to preserve “Christian Europe.” Even he has not been recognized as a Christian terrorist: a piece in The Guardian claimed that “his ideology had nothing to do with Christianity but was based on an atavistic horror of Muslims.”

In the eight years during George W. Bush’s reign, the number of hate groups, many of them with Christian roots, increased 54 percent. While people in the U.S. fear Islam attacks within the country, the Hutaree, an extremist militia group in Michigan that touts Christian inspiration, has more weapons that all the Muslims charged with terrorism in the United States since the 2001 attacks. Yet no one has asked Christian leaders such as Billy Graham or Rick Warren to openly oppose violence committed in the name of Christ, and the media has largely ignored any possibility of Christian terrorism.

These “lone wolf” attacks by lonely alienated people of all religions use religious ideas for excuses rather than reasons for violence. Despite a claim from an al-Qaeda official, there is no evidence that a higher religious authority sent the Paris killers to commit their crimes. Said and Cherif Kouachi were raised in a secular household, and the latter man described himself as “an occasional Muslim.” The cartoons in Charlie Hebdo ridicule entire races or cultures.

Defending religion is an excuse for committing horrible deeds to express rage and show power and glory. The KKK rides around in white sheets and burn crosses to intimidate people. Anti-abortionists harass women on the sidewalks in front of women’s clinics whether the women are there for a surgical procedure or just an examination.

Abdul-Jabbar wrote:

“When the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross in a black family’s yard, prominent Christians aren’t required to explain how these aren’t really Christian acts. Most people already realize that the KKK doesn’t represent Christian teachings. That’s what I and other Muslims long for—the day when these terrorists praising Mohammed or Allah’s name as they debase their actual teachings are instantly recognized as thugs disguising themselves as Muslims. It’s like bank robbers wearing masks of presidents; we don’t really think Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush hit the Bank of America during their down time.”

Conservatives complained that Muslims are not condemning the actions of the Charlie Hebdo killers. Check here for statements from CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA Spokesperson Qasim; Muslim Council of Britain; French Muslim Council (CFCM); Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF); Arab League, an organization representing 22 Arab countries; Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association; Muslim Advisory Council to the NYPD; Birmingham (AL) Islamic Society; Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the Drancy mosque in Paris’s Seine-Saint-Denis suburb; Muslim Canadian Congress; United Arab Emirates Foreign Ministry; and others.

An entire religion cannot be blamed for the actions of a few. If that were true, the United States should turn against the Christian religion. Just as Fox owner, Rupert Murdoch, wants all blacks to take responsibility for the actions of a few, so does he want the two billion Muslims in the world to be blamed for the Charlie Hebdo murders. Yet he didn’t expect the Tea Party or whites to take responsibility for the actions of Jerad and Amanda Miller when they killed five people, including two police officers, in Las Vegas. Never has the right-wing media called on the white race to expel its “cancers.”

Several people in the Paris Kosher grocery store Hyper Cacher are still alive because of a Muslim. When Amedy Coulibaly opened fire in and killed four people, Lassana Bathily, a Muslim employee, hid people in the walk-in freezer. Should we say that the bravery of Bathily represents all Muslims?

April 28, 2013

Fundamentalist Religion Creates RTS

Raised in the Assemblies of God denomination, Dr. Marlene Winell is a human development consultant in the San Francisco Area and the daughter of Pentecostal missionaries. For 20 years she has counseled men and women in recovery from various forms of fundamentalist religion, people whose psychological symptoms whose psychological symptoms were either exacerbated by religion or caused by it. Two years ago, she began to wrote and speak about “Religious Trauma Syndrome” (RTS), raising the question of whether toxic religion is merely misinterpretation.

Winell explains RTS as

“a set of symptoms and characteristics that tend to go together and which are related to harmful experiences with religion. They are the result of two things: immersion in a controlling religion and the secondary impact of leaving a religious group… Emotional and mental treatment in authoritarian religious groups also can be damaging because of 1) toxic teachings like eternal damnation or original sin 2) religious practices or mindset, such as punishment, black and white thinking, or sexual guilt, and 3) neglect that prevents a person from having the information or opportunities to develop normally.”

One example of RTS comes from children’s fear and anxiety caused by images of hell while they are too young to process these ideas. Many people have suffered trauma from seeing the film A Thief in the Night that shows the horrors of “end times” for nonbelievers.

Depression, cognitive difficulties, and problems with social functioning are other problems from RTS. Because fundamentalist Christians believe that people are depraved and in need of salvation, teachings result in a loss of self-worth. Winell explained, “A core message is ‘You are bad and wrong and deserve to die.’” Some people deliberately injure themselves, engaging in cutting and burning their arms, because they believe they must be punished.

Devout Christians and Catholics try to persuade people that they are weak and dependent, that they must lean on God but “trust and obey.” The result is an inability to make decision.

People who are forced into conformity as children, as fundamentalists force them into, are left with no support system without the religion. They are left without a real choice, either stay in the terror of the religious beliefs or the terror without it. Fundamentalist religious teach fear about the world so that its members will not have the skills to leave. Losing this support results in anger, depression, and grief.

Asked about the difference between RTS and PTSD, Winell explained that RTS is about a specific harmful experience. Another difference is the difference in social context. For example, survivors of domestic abuse can easily be understood and supported. No one sends them back for more abuse in the way that someone might want people to return to their religion in the form of pastoral counseling, AA, or another church.

Labeling RTS is important because it gives the experience validity. It also encourages professionals to take it seriously, offering treatment and training.

Winell doesn’t lump all religions together. She explains:

“Religion causes trauma when it is highly controlling and prevents people from thinking for themselves and trusting their own feelings. Groups that demand obedience and conformity produce fear, not love and growth. With constant judgment of self and others, people become alienated from themselves, each other, and the world. Religion in its worst forms causes separation.

“Conversely, groups that connect people and promote self-knowledge and personal growth can be said to be healthy. Such groups put high value on respecting differences, and members feel empowered as individuals. They provide social support, a place for events and rites of passage, exchange of ideas, inspiration, opportunities for service, and connection to social causes. They encourage spiritual practices that promote health like meditation or principles for living like the golden rule.

“More and more, nontheists are asking how they can create similar spiritual communities without the supernaturalism. An atheist congregation in London launched this year and has received over 200 inquiries from people wanting to replicate their model.”

Polls show that more and more people are leaving religion; within just the last five years the “religiously unaffiliated” in the U.S. have grown from just over 15 percent to just under 20 percent. More and more people are discussing RTS with almost 8 million hits on the Internet.

One major problem with fundamentalism in the United States is that it mirrors the Islam religion that they hate. Rebellion against a government, religious control, denial of science, absence of democratic process, religious law, subjugation of women, threats of violent force—all these are indicative not only of the Islam law but also the Christian fundamentalist approach. Megachurches and fundamentalist sects encourage violence, promoting gun ownership to overthrow the U.S. government.

The people who are frightened of what they call sharia law, based on the Koran, fail to realize that they are trying to impose the fundamentalist Christian law onto all the people in the United States. Evangelical fundamentalist Christians are the real terrorists who will destroy the United States if they gain power.

One prime example is the $130-million church in Dallas (TX), the First Baptist Church, with 11,000 members many of them oil company presidents, corporate lawyers, real estate barons, and a collection of very rich, very widowed dowagers. Before last fall’s election, Rev. Robert Jeffress told his congregation that if Obama’s winning the election would lead to the rise of the Anti-Christ. He had serious problems with Mitt Romney, however, because, according to Jeffress, Mormonism is not Christianity but a cult.

Judaism?  “Judaism, you can’t be saved being a Jew, you know who said that by the way, the three greatest Jews in the New Testament, Peter, Paul, and Jesus Christ, they all said Judaism won’t do it,” said Jeffress. Islam (like Mormonism) is “from the pit of hell,” a religion that promotes pedophilia, according to Jeffress.

In  Dallas money is holy, a form of blessing from God, instead of a temptation to evil for the soul. To be poor is a moral failing, and to be needy is to be diseased. Desegregation is also unchristian, according to Jeffress’ predecessor, W. A. Criswell, who was at the First Baptist Church in Dallas for over 50 years. True ministers, he argued, must passionately resist government-mandated desegregation because it is “a denial of all that we believe in.”

His belief remains in other churches throughout the South. The Appleby Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas, is one of the country’s fundamentalist churches openly promoting the idea that the Biblical Noah pronounced a curse on descendants of his son, Ham, whose descendants were black and fated to be an underclass of slaves. Their belief is that Satan is who “wants to eliminate color by interracial marriages.”

The teaching of such bigotry and ignorance doesn’t stay in the churches; thousands and thousands of children in the United States are homeschooled or in private schools—sometimes paid for by taxpayers—that teach the fundamentalist Biblical justification of racism and slavery.”

Freedom of religion in the United States has taught reasonable people that they must accept all religions, including those that would take over the country and remove our freedoms. All non-fundamentalists need to gather together—the religious and the non-religious—to keep the United States free for new ideas and progressive development.

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