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Week in Review: U.S. Troops in Iraq Home by Holidays, Cain Declares Homosexuality a Choice, American Cities Face Bankruptcy

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President Obama announces U.S. troops in Iraq will be home by the holidays, Herman Cain declares homosexuality is a choice, Qaddafi dies, last moments captured in a riveting & revolting video, Europe struggles to staunch economic bleeding while American cities seek bankruptcy relief.

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Obama Announces U.S. Troops in Iraq will be Home by the Holidays                                                                                     

President Barack Obama announced Friday that he was ordering all American soldiers currently stationed in Iraq to return to the U.S by the Christmas holidays.  The Iraq War has been fought for nearly 9 years, the second longest war in American history that resulted in 4,400 U.S. deaths and 103,000 to 112,000 civilian fatalities, according to Iraq Body Count. Obama’s decision, which he called  a “promise kept” was made much easier to deliver as the Iraqi government refused to extend immunity to American soldiers, a non-starter for the Administration. A contingent of military trainers could be in the offing, however.

 

 Qaddafi Captured Alive, Likely Executed by Libyan Rebels in the Sands of  Surt

Reports that Muammar Qaddafi had been shot and was injured began breaking around 8:15 a.m. EST on Thursday morning.  During the next 20 minutes, media reports indicated that Qaddafi had been captured and was perhaps mortally wounded. A photo taken via a mobile phone began moving on the wires, depicting a ghostly looking and bloodied Qaddafi, surrounded by raucous Libyan rebels. By 9 a.m. Reuters and BBC were reporting Qaddafi was dead. The Qadaffi “dead’ video was initially broadcast by Al-Jazzera, to the consternation of some media critics. But this writer believes the American media, in particular, has gone to such lengths to not offend Americans, that  it has in effect wrongly sanitized the depravity of war. Perhaps it was the right time to show war’s dehumanization.  This video portrayed, perhaps, the last minutes of Qaddafi’s life and reflects the deep well of pent-up rage, unleashed in retribution upon him by those who suffered beyond any measure, during his 42-years of despotic rule.

 

NATO Announces the End of the Libyan War on Facebook

After Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril of Libya’s National Transitional Council confirmed Qaddafi’s capture, who Jibril later said was killed in a cross fire, NATO wasted no time in announcing it would be winding down its air campaign effort, by the end of October, including an announcement to recommend its end, by Admiral James Stavridis, its chief military officer on Facebook, arguably a first in world history.

Doubts About Account of Qaddafi’s death; UN Human Rights Chief Calls for Investigation

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights announced on Friday that its special committee on Libya would investigate the circumstances of Qaddafi’s death due to conflicting reports on how he died. The video, which he called “disturbing” showed Qaddafi alive and in the custody of Libyan rebels, who were roughly pushing him around.  Libyan NTC member Waheed Burshan, echoed UN doubts over the exact circumstances of  Qaddafi’s death and supported an investigation, raising questions over earlier claims by Prime Minister Jibril, that the deposed leader had been killed in crossfire.

UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur Denounces Use of Unmanned Drones and Targeted Killings

As the Libyan war reached its final moments on Thursday, Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial Killings, made veiled allegations against the United States for its stepped up use of unmanned drone aircraft, in Pakistan and Libya (indeed Spencer Ackerman, aka “Attackerman,” reported that the Pentagon dropped bombs on Qaddafi’s convoy on Thursday, before he was killed.) In his presentation on targeted killings to the General Assembly, Heyns said the “current use of drones and raids into countries where there is not a recognized armed conflict to kill an opponent, as in Pakistan or Yemen, is highly problematic…The use of such methods by some States to eliminate opponents in countries around the world raises the question why other States should not engage in the same practices. The danger is one of a global war without borders, in which no one is safe.” Drones have been used by the U.S. in Yemen as well, which targeted and executed Anwar Al-wlaqi and Osama Bin Laden was executed by a U.S. Navy Seal Team in Pakistan.  These tactics have been defended by Attorney General Eric Holder and Harold Koh, the State Department’s Legal Advisor. His full statement can be read here.

U.S. Deploys 100 Special Forces Troops to Uganda to Confront Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army

While Uganda is currently known for its pursuit to legally execute known homosexuals, it’s long history of violence, perhaps unknown to many Americans, is epitomized by the banal, destructive actions of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) against children in Northern Uganda.  The LRA  originated in Uganda in 1987 as an armed resistance to the government, but has since become a violent ridden militia that operates not only in Northern Uganda, but also in South Sudan.  The Christian and animist African theologically based militant group  has terrorized Uganda’s neighbors, including the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Kony has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. This past week, President Obama ordered 100 Special Forces into Uganda to assist the government in confronting Kony and his thugs, an action that many human rights advocates and groups are quietly applauding.

Eurozone Crisis Continues, Leaders Fail to Achieve Self Imposed Deadline Today

European leaders met in Brussels today, marking its 13th summit  in 21 months about the European sovereign debt crisis due to Greece’s fiscal insolvency that began in 2009, claiming they moved forward on addressing the crisis, yet deciding not to tap funds from the European Central Bank, ultimately to aid in the bailout of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain (known as the PIIGS), preventing a global economic calamity.  The meeting has generated new pressure on Italy’s Prime Minister Silvia Berlusconi to cut debt, enabling Italy to receive bailout funds.  The bailout fund is expected to reach 1.2 to 1.4 trillion Euros, according to Irene Finel-Honigman, a financial expert and faculty member at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.

National

Republican Presidential Contest Low lights:  Herman Cain’s Declares Homosexuality is a Choice –Dan Savage Challenges Cain:  “Prove it!”

This writer has stubbornly resisted reporting on the Republican presidential contest, but could not resist this week when Herman Cain announced his intolerance and bigotry toward LGBT Americans during an appearance on CNN’s Piers Morgan, when he declared that homosexuals choose to  be gay and thus can revert to being heterosexuals, just like changing one’s clothing.  He retorted by stating his race as proof of bona fide minority status: “I was born Black… this doesn’t wash off” during his offensive remarks. The New Civil Rights Movement forum reported it all, including Dan Savage’s public challenge to Cain in a letter demanding he prove it.  Thus far, no response from Cain.  Perhaps GetEQUAL may take up the task of following Cain around on the campaign trail?

Republican Party Finalizes Early Primary Caucus Dates

The Republican Party’s primary and caucus schedule that has been expected to begin in January 2012 had been, until recently up-in-the-air, until Nevada finally conceded the first Republican  primary date back to New Hampshire by announcing it would hold its primary on Feb. 4.  New Hampshire will remain the first primary in the nation when the Granite State voters go to the  election polls on January 10.  Iowa Caucuses are scheduled for January 4, the first ones in the country.  South Carolina will be the second primary on January 21.  Florida’s primary’s date was recently set for January 31, defying Republican Party rules.

Michelle Bachmann’s New Hampshire Staff Quits on Friday

Michelle Bachmann’s New Hampshire staff quit in a unified walk-off, including the state director on Friday, although Bachmann feigned ignorance of their departure.  Reports from Politico.com indicate that they had not been paid in a month. The Bachmann Southern New Hampshire director Caroline Gigler, jumped to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign, according to a report in the National Journal. Bachmann had difficulty explaining the disarray in her campaign from the stump in Iowa today.

Rhode Island Going Bankrupt, while other U.S. Cities Struggle with Insolvency                                                                                                                        

During the past year, three U.S. cities have become increasingly insolvent, due to short falls in their budgets as tax revenues have dramatically dropped due to long-term unemployment.  In late August, Central Falls, Rhode Island  applied for bankruptcy and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, joined them last week, as both cities have been unable to cover payroll and pension costs for retirees.

Rhode Island is facing a steep downturn in tax revenues, saddled by 10.5 percent unemployment, and perhaps poor management, it is now challenged to cover a  $14.8 billion pension system that demands  payment of ten cents from every state tax dollar to cover the outlay of pension checks.

Hamtramck, Michigan asked for permission to apply for bankruptcy in November 2010, when it had a cash short-fall and would not be able to cover the salaries of its 155 employees.  But the Michigan State Treasury department forbid it to file, despite its serious cash short fall.  It has continued to struggle since then, finally applying for a $2.5 million loan from the state that can cover its expenses through June 2012.

Just last week, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the state capital, filed for bankruptcy, which follows Central Falls, Rhode Island, who became the first city in the United States to apply for bankruptcy in August 2011, due to pension outlays that the city decided it just could not cover.   However, Harrisburg’s mayor, the state’s governor and a state senator, declared the capital city’s action illegal and unlawful.  Nonetheless, the city attorney filed papers in federal court.  Harrisburg has turned to the State of Pennsylvania for relief several times in the past year, including a $4.3 million bailout.

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

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Bombshell WSJ Report: Trump Pressured DOJ Attorneys to Sue States in the Supreme Court to Overturn Election

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President Donald Trump pressured U.S. Department of Justice attorneys, possibly including former Attorney General Bill Barr, to file a lawsuit against four U.S. states in the U.S. Supreme Court, in one of his final attempts to overturn the election before leaving office.

The Wall Street Journal reports late Saturday night that effort “failed due to pushback from his own appointees in the Justice Department, who refused to file what they viewed as a legally baseless lawsuit in the Supreme Court.”

The Journal also confirms Friday night’s New York Times reporting that Trump attempted to remove his own acting Attorney General, Jeffrey Rosen, after Barr left the DOJ just two days before Christmas.

According to the Journal, “senior department officials threatened to resign en masse should Mr. Trump fire then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, according to several people familiar with the discussions.”

“Senior department officials, including Mr. Rosen, former Attorney General William Barr and former acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall refused to file the Supreme Court case, concluding that there was no basis to challenge the election outcome and that the federal government had no legal interest in whether Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden won the presidency,” the paper adds.

The paper does not specify the exact timeframe of when Trump tried to force DOJ to file the lawsuit, but based on its report it had to have been after December 11, when the Supreme Court dismissed what most election law attorneys considered a frivolous suit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with other Republican state attorneys general.

This is a breaking news and developing story. 

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'DANGEROUS FOOLS'

GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy Says “Everyone” Is to Blame for Capitol Riots

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While Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California has previously said that he thinks former President Donald Trump bears some responsibility for the January 6 coup attempt in which his supporters ransacked the Capitol to overturn the election that he and Republicans baselessly claimed was stolen, McCarthy added in a Thursday interview, “I also think everybody across this country has some responsibility [for the coup attempt.]”

McCarthy then said that anti-Trump Democrats, rude social media users, unprepared law enforcement authorities were all responsible too, even though Trump literally told his followers on the morning of January 6 to march to the Capitol and fight to stop legislators from approving the election victory of now-President Joe Biden. 

“I think this is what we have to get to the bottom of, and when you start talking about who has responsibilities,” McCarthy said. “I think there’s going to be a lot more questions, a lot more answers we have to have in the coming future.”

It’s especially telling that his Senate counterpart, now-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has directly blamed Trump for the riots.

“The mob was fed lies,” McConnell said Wednesday. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.” 

After months of making baseless claims that a national conspiracy of widespread voter fraud stole the election from him, a claim laughed out of courts 60 times over for lack of evidence by judges that Trump himself appointed, Trump held a “Stop the Steal” rally on the morning of January 6 in which he said, that he won the election “by a landslide” and encouraged his followers to “stop the steal” by going to the Capitol. If people don’t “fight like hell,” Trump said, “you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

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'ETHICS PROGRAM HAS BEEN RAZED TO THE GROUND'

Russia Explodes with Protests Against Putin Poisoning and Jailing His Biggest Opponent

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Russian citizens in 38 cities are protesting the country’s sham elections in which Russian President Vladimir Putin has felt so threatened by the opposition candidate, anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, that he has had him imprisoned and poisoned in an attempt to silence his voice and kill his movement.

The Russian presidential elections are a complete sham used to legitimate Putin’s power. In the last election, Putin “won” nearly 77 percent of the vote amid claims of ballot stuffing, the Kremlin choosing which candidates get to run, police arresting any anti-Putin protesters and pro-Putin candidates receiving far more financial backing than his opponents.

Navalny himself, a popular anti-corruption campaigner who is one of Putin’s most outspoken critics, according to The Week, has previously been barred from running due to a trumped-up and controversial fraud conviction allegedly masterminded by Putin. In August 2020, Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent called Novichok and survived his hospitalization. Navalny has said he got a Russian federal agent to reveal how he was poisoned, though the Kremlin has denied any involvement.

Three days ago, Navalny was jailed once more for allegedly violating his parole. He now inhabits Matrosskaya Tishina or Sailor’s Silence, a jail in Moscow’s north-east region that has housed high-ranking prisoners that authorities have wanted to cut off from the outside world since the Soviet era, according to Reuters. The jail is notoriously deadly.

Russian citizens across the nation have seemingly had enough and have begun protesting his imprisonment, as the videos below attest. Hundreds have been arrested as police fight to maintain control.

The U.S. Embassy in Russia has weighed in by saying, “We’re watching reports of protests in 38 Russian cities, arrests of 350+ peaceful protesters and journalists. The U.S. supports the right of all people to peaceful protest, freedom of expression. Steps being taken by Russian authorities are suppressing those rights.”

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