President Obama announces U.S. troops in Iraq will be home by the holidays, Herman Cain declares homosexualityÂ is a choice, QaddafiÂ dies, last moments captured in a riveting & revolting video, Europe struggles to staunch economic bleeding while American cities seek bankruptcy relief.
Obama Announces U.S. Troops in Iraq will be Home by the HolidaysÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
President Barack Obama announced Friday thatÂ he was ordering allÂ American soldiers currently stationed in Iraq to return to the U.SÂ by the Christmas holidays.Â TheÂ Iraq War has been fought forÂ nearly 9Â years,Â 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 calledÂ a “promise kept” was made much easier toÂ deliver as the Iraqi governmentÂ refused toÂ extend immunity to AmericanÂ soldiers, a non-starter for the Administration. A contingent of military trainers could be in the offing, however.
Â Qaddafi Captured Alive, Likely Executed by Libyan RebelsÂ in the Sands ofÂ Surt
ReportsÂ thatÂ MuammarÂ QaddafiÂ had been shot and was injured began breaking around 8:15 a.m. ESTÂ on Thursday morning.Â During the next 20 minutes, media reports indicated that QaddafiÂ hadÂ been captured and was perhapsÂ mortally wounded. A photo takenÂ via aÂ mobile phone began moving on the wires, depicting a ghostly lookingÂ and bloodied Qaddafi, surrounded by raucousÂ Libyan rebels. By 9 a.m. Reuters and BBC were reporting Qaddafi was dead. The QadaffiÂ “dead’ video was initially broadcast by Al-Jazzera, to the consternation of someÂ media critics. But this writer believes the American media, in particular, has gone to such lengths to not offend Americans, that Â it has in effect wrongly sanitized the depravity of war. Perhaps itÂ was the rightÂ time to showÂ war’s dehumanization.Â This video portrayed, perhaps, the last minutes of Qaddafi’s life and reflectsÂ the deep well of pent-up rage, unleashed inÂ retribution uponÂ himÂ by those who suffered beyond anyÂ measure,Â during his 42-years ofÂ despotic rule.
After Prime Minister MahmoudÂ JibrilÂ of Libya’s NationalÂ Transitional Council confirmed Qaddafi’sÂ capture, whoÂ JibrilÂ later saidÂ was killed in a cross fire, NATOÂ wasted no time in announcing it would be winding downÂ its air campaign effort, by the end ofÂ October, including anÂ announcementÂ to recommend its end,Â by AdmiralÂ JamesÂ Stavridis, its chief military officer on Facebook, arguably a first in world history.
Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN Office of the High CommissionerÂ of Human Rights announcedÂ on Friday that its special committeeÂ on Libya would investigate the circumstances of Qaddafi’s deathÂ due to conflicting reports on how he died.Â The video, which he called “disturbing”Â showed QaddafiÂ alive and in the custody of Libyan rebels, who were roughly pushing him around.Â Libyan NTC member WaheedÂ Burshan,Â echoedÂ UN doubts over the exact circumstances ofÂ Qaddafi’s deathÂ and supported an investigation, raising questions over earlier claims by Prime MinisterÂ 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, ChristofÂ 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,Â in Pakistan andÂ Libya (indeed Spencer Ackerman, aka “Attackerman,”Â reported that the Pentagon dropped bombs onÂ Qaddafi’s convoy onÂ Thursday,Â before he wasÂ killed.) InÂ his presentation on targeted killingsÂ to the General Assembly, HeynsÂ saidÂ 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 usedÂ by the U.S. in Yemen as well, whichÂ targeted andÂ executed AnwarÂ Al-wlaqiÂ and Osama Bin Laden was executed by a U.S. Navy Seal Team in Pakistan.Â These tactics have been defended byÂ Attorney General Eric Holder and Harold Koh, the State Department’s Legal Advisor.Â His full statement can be read here.
While Uganda is currently known for its pursuit to legally execute known homosexuals, it’s long history of violence, perhaps unknown to many Americans,Â is epitomized by the banal, destructive actions of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s ResistanceÂ Army (LRA)Â againstÂ children in Northern Uganda.Â The LRAÂ originatedÂ in Uganda in 1987Â as an armed resistance to the government, but has since become a violent ridden militia that operates not onlyÂ in Northern Uganda, but also inÂ SouthÂ Sudan.Â The ChristianÂ and animistÂ African theologically based militantÂ groupÂ Â has terrorized Uganda’s neighbors, including the Central African Republic andÂ the Democratic Republic of the Congo.Â Kony has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. This past week,Â President Obama ordered 100 Special Forces into Uganda to assist the governmentÂ 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, markingÂ its 13th summitÂ in 21 monthsÂ about theÂ EuropeanÂ sovereign debt crisis due to Greece’s fiscal insolvency that began in 2009,Â claiming they moved forward on addressing the crisis, yetÂ deciding not to tap funds from the European Central Bank,Â ultimatelyÂ to aid in the bailout of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain (known as the PIIGS), preventing a global economic calamity.Â Â The meeting has generatedÂ new pressure onÂ Italy’s Prime Minister Silvia Berlusconi to cut debt, enabling Italy to receive bailout funds.Â 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.
This writer hasÂ stubbornlyÂ resisted reporting on the Republican presidential contest, but could not resist this week when Herman Cain announced his intolerance andÂ bigotry toward LGBTÂ AmericansÂ during anÂ appearance on CNN’s Piers Morgan, when he declared that homosexuals choose toÂ Â be gay and thus can revert to beingÂ heterosexuals, justÂ like changing one’s clothing.Â Â He retorted by stating his race as proof of bona fide minority status:Â â€œI was born Blackâ€¦ this doesnâ€™t wash off” during his offensive remarks. The New Civil Rights Movement forumÂ reported it all, includingÂ Dan Savage’s public challenge toÂ Cain in a letter demanding he prove it.Â Thus far, no response from Cain.Â PerhapsÂ GetEQUAL may take up the task of following Cain around on the campaign trail?
Republican PartyÂ Finalizes Early Primary Caucus Dates
The Republican Party’s primary and caucus schedule that has been expected to begin in January 2012Â had been, until recentlyÂ up-in-the-air, until Nevada finally conceded the first Republican Â primary date back to New Hampshire by announcing it would hold its primary on Feb. 4.Â New Hampshire will remain the first primary in the nation when the Granite State votersÂ go to theÂ election polls onÂ January 10.Â Iowa Caucuses are scheduled for January 4, the first onesÂ in the country.Â South Carolina will be the second primary on January 21.Â Florida’s primary’s date was recently set for January 31, defying Republican Party rules.
Michelle Bachmannâ€™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.Â Reports from Politico.com indicate that they had not been paid in a month.Â The Bachmann SouthernÂ New Hampshire director Caroline Gigler,Â jumped toÂ Texas Gov. Rick Perryâ€™s campaign, according to a report in the National Journal.Â Bachmann had difficulty explaining the disarray inÂ her campaign from the stump in Iowa today.
Rhode Island Going Bankrupt, while other U.S. Cities Struggle with InsolvencyÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
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.Â In late August, Central Falls, Rhode IslandÂ applied for bankruptcy and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, joined them last week, as both cities have been unable to cover payroll andÂ pension costs for retirees.
Rhode Island is facing a steepÂ downturn in tax revenues, saddled by 10.5 percent unemployment, and perhaps poor management,Â it is nowÂ challenged to cover a Â $14.8 billion pension system that demandsÂ payment ofÂ ten centsÂ from every state tax dollarÂ to cover the outlay of pension checks.
Hamtramck, Michigan asked for permission to apply for bankruptcy inÂ November 2010, when it had a cash short-fall and would not be able to cover the salaries of its 155 employees.Â But the Michigan State Treasury department forbid it to file, despite its serious cash short fall.Â 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 cityÂ decided it just could not cover.Â Â Â However, Harrisburg’s mayor, the state’s governor and a state senator, declared the capital city’s action illegal and unlawful.Â Nonetheless, the city attorney filed papers in federal court.Â 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 InstituteÂ 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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‘Chutzpah’: Biden Blasts Johnson ‘Taking Credit’ for $30 Million Project He Voted Against
Speaking in Pueblo, Colorado to promote his highly-successful “Bidenomics” fiscal program, President Joe Biden on Wednesday blasted Speaker of the House Mike Johnson for “taking credit” for a major federally-funded infrastructure project despite having voted against the legislation that made it happen.
“All across America,” the editorial board of the Las Vegas Sun wrote in August, “the success of Bidenomics is well beyond debate.” They also quoted former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, who “wrote in an essay last month, Bidenomics ‘is turning out to be the most successful set of economic policies the United States has witnessed in a half-century.'”
President Biden traveled to Colorado and spoke to voters in the district represented by U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO).
“The company that Biden visited, CS Wind, is on the home turf of Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who has described the president’s climate policies as ‘a massive failure,'” The Associated Press reported.
“’Did you all know that you’re part of a massive failure?’ Biden said to the workers and local officials gathered for his speech as he touted hundreds of new jobs fueled by tax incentives for clean energy initiatives. ‘None of that sounds like a massive failure to me. How about you?'”
At one point, President Biden targeted Speaker Johnson and Florida Republican Vern Buchanan, one of the wealthiest members of Congress.
“The new Republican Speaker of the House, along with Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan just visited Sarasota, Florida yesterday to tour the construction of a new terminal at that airport. It’s going to create thousands of jobs over time. The project is funded with nearly $30 million from the bipartisan recession law. It’s going to generate more than $30 million for Florida, multiple times times over and guess what? Both the Speaker and the Congressman voted against the law. And spoke against the law. But now they’re down there taking credit for it being built.”
“As my mother would say, ‘God love ’em,'” the President continued. “As one of my friends back home would say, ‘that’s real chutzpah.'”
Watch the President below or at this link.
Biden: The new Republican Speaker with Vern Buchanan just visited Sarasota to tour the construction of a new terminal. Both of them voted against the law but now they’re down there taking credit for it.. pic.twitter.com/KS5fyVg5Xj
— Acyn (@Acyn) November 29, 2023
How Mike Johnson Spent the Day Protecting Mike Johnson
Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson made two major statements Wednesday at a press conference on his Biden impeachment inquiry, both of which serve to protect not the rule of law, the public’s faith in the credibility of Congress, or American democracy, but Mike Johnson.
Johnson, elected Speaker by every House Republican just five weeks ago, was widely described as a “back-bencher,” (a British term Americans have co-opted to refer to a low-profile or lower-level member of Congress,) yet he was anything but. While not well-known by the American people, Johnson had made his mark during the 2020 election, leading The New York Times recently to call him “a key architect of his party’s objections to certifying President Biden’s victory.”
“Mr. Johnson played a leading role in recruiting House Republicans to sign a legal brief supporting a lawsuit seeking to overturn the results” of the 2020 presidential election, The Times reported. “In December 2020, Mr. Johnson collected signatures for a legal brief in support of a Texas lawsuit, rooted in baseless claims of widespread election irregularities, that tried to throw out the results in four battleground states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.”
In an opinion piece last month, The New York Times’ Jamelle Bouie declared, “Mike Johnson Is a Right-Wing Fever Dream Come to Life.”
In addition to Johnson’s far-right wing views on religion and social issues, Bouie pointed to the Speaker’s “tireless advocacy on behalf of Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.”
He noted: “Johnson wrote one of the briefs purporting to give a legal justification for throwing out the voting results in several swing states. He advanced the conspiracy theory that Venezuela was somehow involved with the nation’s voting machines. On Jan. 6, 2021, he urged his Republican colleagues to block certification of the election on the grounds that state changes to voting in the face of the pandemic were illegitimate and unconstitutional. When questioned, during his first news conference as speaker, whether he stood by his effort to overturn the 2020 election, he ignored the question, and his fellow Republicans shouted down the reporter who asked it.”
Johnson “is, in short, an election-denying extremist who believes that his allies have the right to nullify election results so that they can impose their vision of government and society on an unwilling public.”
On Wednesday, Speaker Johnson falsely described both impeachments of Donald Trump as “meritless.”
It was an important statement for him to make, for Mike Johnson.
“I’m a lawyer. I’m a constitutional law attorney,” Speaker Johnson told reporters Wednesday, a statement he frequently uses to remind people of his status. “I served on President Trump’s impeachment defense team twice. And we lamented openly, we decried how the Democrats politicized that process, they were brazenly political, and how they brought those meritless impeachment charges against the president.”
Donald Trump was impeached the first time for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after “Trump froze military assistance for Ukraine,” NPR reported in early 2020, “at the same time he sought investigations that he thought might help him in the 2020 campaign.”
The second time Trump was impeached, in January 0f 2021, was for “incitement of insurrection.” Speaker Johnson calling that meritless is in direct contradiction of a Colorado judge’s recent ruling that Trump did, in fact, “engage in insurrection.”
“This, what you’re seeing here, is exactly the opposite,” Johnson continued on Wednesday, referring to his committee chairmen’s impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. It is an inquiry that Republicans have been forced to admit, even while on Fox News, they have no actual proof of any impeachable offense.
“We are the rule of law team,” Johnson continued. “The Republican Party stands for the rule of law. And the people in charge of this are doing this thoroughly, carefully. methodically. They’re investigating and gathering all the facts and to do this appropriately and to do it in a manner that upholds our constitutional responsibility. requires time, it requires a sound process. You don’t rush something like this. You can’t.”
Speaker Mike Johnson during a news conference dismisses both of Trump’s impeachments as “meritless” pic.twitter.com/twXn3ztSh2
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 29, 2023
It was critical for Johnson to mischaracterize and demean Democrats’ impeachments of Donald Trump, especially Trump’s second impeachment over his “incitement of insurrection.”
Remember, as The Times noted, Johnson was a “key architect” of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. The insurrection was part of that effort.
Two weeks ago NCRM noted the stakes for Johnson “are simple: his three-vote majority is already razor-thin. Speaker Kevin McCarthy made clear Santos would be allowed to stay as long as possible. Will Johnson direct his leadership team to actively whip to expel Santos, knowing his majority will slip even further?”
Johnson answered that question on Wednesday. Despite having just called his House Republican caucus “the rule of law team,” Johnson effectively declared he opposes Republican efforts to expel U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY), who is facing 23 federal felony charges, and a damning Ethics Committee report.
Johnson’s tiny majority would become even smaller, should the House expel the embattled New York GOP lawmaker. And early next year it could shrink even more, given the announced upcoming resignation and exit of U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), not to mention the other “House Republicans who may head for the exits.”
Dana Houle, a former chief of staff for a Democratic Congressman noted, “Ohio law is murky, but it’s possible [Bill Johnson’s] (overwhelmingly Republican) seat will remain open until November. It’s a reason why Santos won’t be expelled; if Santos’ & Johnson’s seats are vacant the GOP will have only a two seat majority.”
And that’s likely another reason why Speaker Johnson on Wednesday declared, “we’re going to allow people to vote their conscience” on the Santos expulsion vote, expected Thursday. “We’ve not whipped the vote and you wouldn’t I trust that people will make their decisions thoughtfully and in good faith. I personally have real reservations about doing this. I’m, I’m concerned about a precedent that may be set for that.”
Speaker Johnson says he has “real reservations” about expelling George Santos pic.twitter.com/JyaluKfVET
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 29, 2023
Watch the videos above or at this link.
Speaker Mike Johnson to Be Keynote Speaker at Hardline Christian Nationalist Lawmakers’ Gala
Last week, Christian nationalist religious-right activist and former Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert announced that House Speaker Mike Johnson will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming National Association of Christian Lawmakers gala that is being held at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC on Dec. 5.
The National Association of Christian Lawmakers, as its name suggests, is a far-right Christian nationalist organization founded by Rapert in 2019 that seeks to spread its far-right “biblical worldview” across the nation and “take authority” over every level of government.
Rapert, who last week was appointed to the state library board by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is a hardline anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ activist who has declared that no Christian can ever vote for a Democrat because Democrats have “been enlisted to further the antichrist cult in our country.”
Christian nationalist Jason Rapert attempts to topple the “LGBTQ cult” that has allegedly taken over the country: “Let go of our reins of government in this nation! You will not drag us into your pit!” pic.twitter.com/2F2UXrKzYC
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) September 25, 2023
Christian nationalist Jason Rapert is sick of all “the idiots in the country that want to make you think that a man’s gotta be able to go up and slobber all over another man and hug and kiss him and pretend like they’re married.” pic.twitter.com/pYRmZvy7eo
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) February 7, 2023
Former Arkansas state senator and founder of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers Jason Rapert declares that Christians “must take authority” over government: “Do you think that America is gonna be free with a bunch of drag queens running this place?” pic.twitter.com/cUp6pyr4XF
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) February 2, 2023
“This is what the NACL does every day all across this country,” Rapert bragged. “We are fighting against the people that are putting the queer books into your school libraries and trying to groom these children into homosexuality.” https://t.co/frIHtEAF05 pic.twitter.com/USWXPyFxiq
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) March 22, 2023
Christian nationalist Jason Rapert has high hopes for the 2024 presidential election: “My hope is that the people of this nation will reelect Jesus to be on the throne here again in our country.” pic.twitter.com/lCrNGFt8A0
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) May 5, 2023
When the National Association of Christian Lawmakers held a meeting earlier this year, participants used it as an opportunity to discuss plans to strip public libraries of their funding, convince states to designate June as “Christian History Month,” and defend the practice of imposing “the death penalty for sodomy.”
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is reprinted here by permission.
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