Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How a Christian Bloc Helped Oust Brazil's President
Oct 24, 2016
by Cláudio Carvalhaes and Raimundo Barreto

The impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, the first female president of Brazil, has been accurately described as a farce. Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff termed it “the impeachment of an innocent president.” Soci­ologist and philosopher Michael Löwy called it a pseudo-legal coup, with many elements resembling the 1964 coup d’état, which led to a dictatorship lasting for 21 years.

The reelection of President Dilma (as she is known in Brazil) in 2014 revealed a political divide. From the moment of her reelection, powerful sectors of Brazilian society decided that they would not wait for another election and began to work to regain political control from Rous­seff’s Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabal­hadores). Rousseff’s predecessor, PT leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, had expanded social programs, which lifted 36 million people out of poverty and into the middle class. In response, an opposition alliance was formed involving members of the private sector, traditional political figures, and the mainstream media. Leading newspapers and the television network Globo (one of the most powerful media empires in the world) devoted considerable time and space to reporting on widespread corruption associated with Rousseff and the PT.

Operation Car Wash, an investigation into corruption initiated in 2014 by the Federal Police of Brazil (it was named after a gas station and car wash operation allegedly used for money laundering), selectively leaked information to the media and became a political instrument used to chastise Rousseff’s party and its allies. Though politicians from opposition parties have appeared in the investigation, only PT politicians and their allies have been sent to jail. Yet at no moment did Dilma’s administration intervene in the investigation. And despite their freedom to scrutinize her administration, investigators were un­able to find evidence that Rousseff was involved in any act of corruption.

However, the slowing of the Brazilian economy after successive years of growth deeply affected Rousseff’s image. Main­stream media, in conjunction with opposing parties, bombarded the public with news of economic decline, high unemployment, and “international concerns” for Brazil’s future. This activity spread the image of a president unable to lead—an accusation easy to make in a society deeply ingrained with patriarchal views. Such efforts helped build support for the impeachment, mostly from the middle and upper classes who were tired of the alleged socialism of the government—rhetoric promoted by political leaders deeply involved in corruption and trying to save their own political future.

Since Rousseff was not found to be corrupt, her impeachment had to be based on something else. She was accused of unauthorized use of parts of the government budget to pay for social programs. Previous presidents and sitting governors and mayors have often resorted to that kind of move to keep the government functioning. A few days prior to Rous­seff’s impeachment, a public prosecutor in Brasilia declared that Rousseff had not committed any “crime of responsibility,” showing that there were no constitutionally viable grounds for impeachment. In early September, two days after the impeachment, the same senate that voted to oust Rousseff approved a law changing the limits on the use of supplementary credits, making legal exactly the kind of budgetary decision it had cited to justify her impeachment.

The impeachment process was judicial cover for a political maneuver. On the day of the vote, Senator Acir Gurgacz of the Labor Party explained his vote for Rousseff’s impeachment to the press: “There was no crime, but I voted for her impeachment. She lacked political support to continue her mandate.” Joaquim Barbosa, former president of the Brazilian Supreme Court, called the impeachment procedures “pathetic.”

In an editorial on August 27, Le Monde wrote, “If this is not a coup, it is at least a farce. And the real victims of this policy tragicomedy unfortunately are the Brazilian people.” Many international voices have denounced the undemocratic maneuver to take down an elected president in the largest Latin American country.

The Brazilian oil company PETROBRAS has been at the epicenter of corruption charges, and the struggle for control of giant offshore oil reserves should not be discounted as a factor influencing this process. Whereas PT administrations wanted to keep exploration of “pre-salt” oil reserves—the oil lies under domes of salt—mostly under the control of the Brazilian government, the opposition, in conjunction with the Brazilian congress, aims to sell operation rights to multinational companies without much regulation or accountability. Latin America has a long history of colonial and neocolonial alliances involving local elites and foreign political and economic interests, and there have been concerted efforts to topple left-wing governments in the region. Considering this, the ousting of President Rousseff and the attempt to dismantle the Brazilian left are not isolated events.

Some of the most vocal politicians in favor of the impeachment were evangelical leaders. In 2010, 44 million Brazilians, or about 22 percent of the entire population, identified themselves as evangelical or Protestant, and that growth has led to political influence. Neo-Pentecostals have led the evangelical boom and have uniquely contributed to the development of an evangelical political ideology.

The Frente Parlamentar Evangélica, one of the most influential caucuses in the Brazilian parliament, exemplifies that ideology. Politicians elected by large evangelical constituencies occupy important special commissions in the parliament—such as the Commission on the Statute of the Family—and their projects include finding a “cure” for homosexuality and a definition of family that excludes nonheterosexual persons. In the past few years, FPE has allied with other conservative caucuses (including a powerful rural landowners bloc and the so-called bullet bloc, which lobbies to ease strict firearms control) to advance proposals such as reducing the minimum age of criminal responsibility, punishing doctors who perform abortions, and changing the demarcation of indigenous lands. Together these groups consistently blocked any proposal Rousseff sent to the Congress for two years, bleeding an already weakened administration to death.

Jair Bolsonaro—a member of Con­gress often referred to as the Brazilian Trump—honored the colonel who tortured Rousseff when she was a part of a guerrilla political movement in the 1970s. Bolsonaro, recently baptized by an evangelical pastor in the Jordan River, already has supporters for the 2018 presidential election.

But Brazilian evangelicals are not homogeneous. Over the past two decades many progressive evangelical voices have emerged, including Evangelicals for Justice, Missão na Íntegra, Rede FALE (SPEAK Net­work), the pro­gressive evangelical move­ment, and the black evangelical movement. This progressive evangelical minority has joined ecumenical Protestants and progressive Catholics in opposing torture, racism, sexism, misogyny, and human rights violations.

Such agendas are extremely relevant in a society that continues to be particularly unjust and violent for women (a woman is killed in Brazil every two hours and assaulted every 15 minutes), black youth (one young black Brazilian is killed every 23 minutes), indigenous peoples (more than 130 indigenous persons are killed by armed farmers in land conflicts every year), and LGBTQ people (according to Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring Project, Brazil is the country with the highest rate of murders of LGBTQ persons in the world).

The Brazilian National Council of Churches, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Brazil, the United Presbyterian Church, and the Alliance of Baptists of Brazil have unequivocally condemned Rousseff’s impeachment and warned about the neoliberal agenda of the incoming administration and its impact on the poor and marginalized groups.

Though unwarranted, the impeachment of Rousseff was to some extent a self-inflicted wound by her government. The successful re­forms that led to expanded social programs were not accompanied by structural political reforms. Colonial roots of power and social relations remained untouched, making it easier for oligarchy to assert control. Further­more, Rousseff appointed neoliberal economists and politicians to first-rank positions, placing her administration in the hands of those who eventually be­trayed her. Frei Betto, who worked in the Lula administration, has said that “not a single fundamental reform—agrarian, tributary, political, social security, education, health—was done. The inequality between rich and poor remains obscene. PT exchanged a project for a new Brazil for a project of power.” Lula himself has been charged with negotiating oil contracts to benefit his family.

For now, the political project aimed at turning Brazil into a country for everyone has been frustrated. Now is the time to turn back to popular movements and networks formed by those who continue to resist the politics of revenge and intolerance on a daily basis, regardless of the success of grand political projects. As Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil sings: “Our love is like a grain / seed that needs to die in order to flourish.”

A version of this article appears in the November 9 print edition under the title “A coalition to impeach.”

Monday, October 24, 2016

Calais 'Jungle' Demolition: Hundreds of Migrants Abandon Bus Queues and Head Back to Camp After Processing Delays
David Chazan, Calais  James Rothwell  Rory Mulholland
24 OCTOBER 2016 3:07PM
Telegraph, UK

Thousands of people have been loaded onto buses outside the squalid Calais migrant camp and taken to asylum centres dotted around the French countryside in a bid by the government to shut down the so-called 'jungle' once and for all.

Aid agencies had warned that some migrants could try to resist being relocated, though there were only a handful of minor scuffles with police on Monday morning.

Hundreds of migrants who grew frustrated with lining up for the buses headed back to the camp later in the day, complaining that they were not being processed quickly enough.

The major three-day operation sought to clear the sprawling shanty town near the Calais port - a symbol of Europe's failure to resolve its migrant crisis - of its estimated 6,000 - 10,000 occupants.

About 60 buses were used on Monday to take up to 3,000 people to asylum centres in Haute Savoie, Haute Loire, l’Isère, Drôme and Saône et Loire.  

On Tuesday, 45 buses will come for a further 2,500 people, and on Wednesday 40 buses for around 2,000 people.

It comes after riot police came under attack on Sunday night from migrants protesting the camp's closure, who hurled rocks and lit fires.

French police have also warned that a group of British anarchists are attempting to disrupt the operation.

"Considering activists from hard-Left group No Borders have arrived in the Calais area and have set up home in squats, there is a high risk the activists have penetrated the camp with a view to influencing the migrants as they did in March," a police spokesman for the Calais region said.

Police say they have set up a total of 12,000 homes for migrants in Calais around the country, though they estimate the camp's current population to be around 8,000 people. Aid workers say it could be far higher.

Up to 200 members of the "No Borders"  group  arrived in the camp over the weekend, according to a senior local official.

Fabienne Buccio, the Calais prefect, said access to the camp was being heavily regulated to prevent activists from stoking violence inside.

"I don't know where these buses will take us but I want to get to England. My aunt lives there," said Samuel Haptom, 16, from Eritrea.

 Adel Moussa, 17, from Sudan, said he had no family members in Britain but was still hoping he would be allowed to start a new life in the country.

Most of the youngsters have spent long months living in the squalor of the Calais camp.

As officials and charity workers spread out across the Jungle on Sunday distributing flyers about the camp's impending demolition, some were still clinging to hopes of a new life across the Channel.

"They'll have to force us to leave. We want to go to Britain," said Karhazi, a young Afghan among many of the migrants who had their hearts set on Britain, believing it to offer better prospects.

"We have yet to convince some people to accept accommodation and give up their dream of Britain. That's the hardest part," Didier Leschi, head of the French immigration office OFII told AFP.

Hundreds of migrants are returning to the Jungle camp, frustrated at being made to queue for more than four hours to be bused to accommodation centres elsewhere in France.

"It should be managed better," said Shakram, 17, an Afghan migrant.

"We have a lot of patience but this is not right. These people have agreed to go but why are they not being dealt with faster?"

The Telegraph's Rory Mulholland has captured this footage of more scuffles breaking out near the camp.

Mohammed, 36, who served as a major in the Afghan army, stayed in the caravan that has been home for him, his wife and two sons aged 9 and 7 for the past 10 months.

"We've been told we can stay here until Wednesday," he said.

"We will try to stay in the Calais area. We have close relatives in Manchester, my wife's mother and brother. They are British citizens and we are determined to join them. Britain is better than France for our family."

Mohammed said they fled Afghanistan because the Taliban threatened to kill them unless he agreed to take suicide bombers into the army base where he worked as an instructor.

"We've tried to get to Britain 35 times but every time the police stopped us," he said.

Ashran, 24, also from Afghanistan, said he would not leave Calais.

Sipping a plastic cup of coffee in a clearing among tents, he said: "I'm not getting in any bus. I want to go to England," he said in fluent English.

"You see these people getting on the buses today? In a couple of weeks they'll be back in Calais, maybe not in this jungle but in another one."

Ashran said he had managed to reach Britain but was arrested and sent to Italy, the first European country he entered, where he was fingerprinted.

He said he had tried dozens of times to get back to the UK.

"I've been inside trucks, on top of trucks. But every time they catch me."

Some 2,000 migrants streamed out of the Calais "jungle" camp on Monday as riot police surrounded the shantytown, due to be demolished this week.

By 9-30 am, the migrants, mainly young men from Eritrea and Sudan, had made their way to a temporary bus station set up outside the camp.

From there they will be taken to accommodation centres in other parts of France.

British officials shepherded a group of children through the crowds before their transfer for resettlement in the UK, where many of them have relatives.

There was sporadic clashes during the night, with piles of rubbish set ablaze by some migrants.

Police fired tear gas to disperse troublemakers but the situation this morning is largely peaceful and the mood good humoured.

"I don't know where these buses will take us but I want to get to England. My aunt lives there," said Samuel Haptom, 16, from Eritrea.

Other teenagers queuing to leave were from Sudan and Ethiopia.

 Adel Moussa, 17, from Sudan, said he had no family members in Britain but was still hoping he would be allowed to start a new life in the country.

Most of the youngsters have spent long months living in the squalor of the Calais camp.

A helicopter flew overhead and scores of riot police vans surrounded the perimeter of the camp, where between 6000 and 10,000 migrants have been living.

The French authorities say there are about 6,400 but charities claim there are more than 10,000.

The majority are hoping to claim asylum in Britain. They have been trying to board ferries, lorries and trains illegally.

Migrants have been congregating in Calais for more than 20 years, but the French authorities now believe they can clear the Calais area of all camps.

A small group of protestors, including some activists from Britain, gathered outside the camp this morning, but were outnumbered by police.

Natacha Bouchart, the Mayor of Calais, said she was ‘relieved but also worried’ about the operation to clear and demolish the camp, describing it as "Europe's largest shantytown".

The authorities expect it to take a week.

She confirmed that members of a left wing British group called No Borders are in the northern French port town, expressing fears that they were planning to attack the police.

About 1,250 officers are being deployed to empty the camp before bulldozers roll in.

When part of the Jungle was demolished in March, fighting broke out with police.

Fires were lit across the camp, while water canon and tear gas was used to hold back mobs of activists and migrants.

Young Afghan men have already been seen smashing up the makeshift cafes, shops, and restaurants that have sprung up in the Jungle. They tried to set some of them on fire.

 Migrants who refuse to leave the Jungle face arrest.

They are being instructed to report to officials at the temporary bus depot where they can choose to be transferred to the Bordeaux region in south-western France, or Brittany.

About 60 buses are to take up to 3,000 people on Monday, with 45 buses on Tuesday, for 2,500 people, and on Wednesday 40 buses for 2,000 people.

This will continue throughout the week.  Unaccompanied minors living in the Jungle will be processed separately and interviewed by British officials.

Pierre-Henry Brandet, a spokesman for the French interior ministry, tells  La Voix du Nord: "This morning's success shows that the initiative was well prepared.

"The hardest thing from now on is persuading the migrants who don't want to leave the camp to do so in the coming days."

A joint survey carried out by Help Refugees and Auberge des Migrants has found that the population of the camp has dropped by 20 per cent - but the number of unaccompanied child refugees has increased.

The number of unaccompanied child refugees has shot up from 1022 to 1291 in recent months, according to the aid agency.

It added that today alone at least 3,000 people would be displaced from the camp, with thousands more to follow in the coming days.

Rather than apply for asylum in France, most have preferred to head to Britain for a variety of reasons, writes Adam Plowright.

Some have family networks there, while others are attracted to Britain's reputation as a more economically vibrant country. The English language is also a big draw.

As the evacuation approached, more and more residents began seeking asylum in France, seeing it as the only way to avoid deportation.

Conditions are bleak. Sanitation is limited and illnesses spread easily. Women and children risk sexual violence, while brawls and deadly road accidents are commonplace.

For the local economy, repeated targeting of trucks has seriously disrupted traffic at the port and Channel tunnel.

Locals complain about the image of their town, and Calais bars and restaurants say trade has been severely hit. Protesters blocked roads in September to demand the camp's closure.

The conditions have also drawn criticism from the United Nations and charities, embarrassing the French government.

In 2003, the two countries signed the so-called Le Touquet accord, which effectively moved Britain's border with France to the French side of the Channel.

Much ink has been spilled over the French government's plan to disperse the Calais camp's estimated 10,000-strong population among smaller asylum centres dotted around the country.

They have reportedly set aside up to 12,000 places for migrants from the so-called 'jungle' - but details as to where exactly these centres are has been fairly scant.

The exact locations are now emerging in the French press - local newspaper La Voix du Nord says the buses arriving in Calais today are headed for centres in Haute Savoie, Haute Loire, l’Isère, Drôme and Saône et Loire.

They are mainly rural locations, most of which will house between 100 and 300 migrants according to Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister.

Up to 200 members of the "No Border" British anarchist group who are opposed to the destruction of the so-called 'jungle' arrived in the camp over the weekend, according to a senior local official.

Fabienne Buccio, the Calais prefect, said access to the camp was being heavily regulated to prevent activists from stoking violence inside.

"In total, there must be between 150 and 200 No Borders activists in the camp," she said.

"We know that many of them arrived this weekend. We have already turned back activists at the border, we can do this."

It comes after  Giles Debove, a police union spokesman, said forces "will have to be very vigilant" when tackling the anarchists.

Yvette Cooper, chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, has just BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

"They are right that the camp needs to be cleared and it should never have lasted this long, when it is dangerous and squalid. It could never be an answer to the refugee crisis that Europe has faced.

"There has been a concern though that we need to make sure people have a place to go, in particular the children. The French authorities have not put in proper alternative arrangements to make sure the children are somewhere safe.

"It is quite shocking that this could have gone on for so long with criminal gangs building up a base and desperate refugees not getting the help and support they need.

"There are children who have family in the UK who could be looking after them. They are still stuck in Calais today and that is really worrying. Once the clearing starts there is a significant risk that many of those children just disappear.. the consequences are that they slip into the arms of traffickers and gangs.

"We also passed the Dubs amendment back in May so that Britain could help lone children. It is right that Britain does its bit."

Asked about the prospect of the British border moving back across the Channel under a new French government, she said: "I don't want to see that happen. I don't think it will help the process. I think having the border controls in Calais has helped and it is something we should try and retain, but there has to be a plan between Britain and France to help these children and teenagers."

The Home Office is facing anger from a rural community in Devon for failing to tell them they are hosting up to 70 unaccompanied migrant teenagers from Calais.

As police fired tear gas into crowds of migrants in the Calais “Jungle” on the eve of the the planned closure of the squalid camp, a "respite facility" near the market town of Great Torrington, about 25 miles from Bude, is set to welcome some of the first arrivals under the "Dubs amendment", which grants refuge to the most vulnerable.

However, one local community leader said the choice of location was "bizarre" as he claimed Government and council officials had failed to consult the town's 5,000-strong population.

"We are a very tolerant, accommodating community but that is a very large amount of people," said Nick Hallam, secretary of the Great Torrington Cavaliers, which has won The Queen's award for voluntary service.

Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, says she is confident the demolition of the camp will go ahead "smoothly."

But she also said heavily armed security were ready to deal with troublemakers.

'We have tried to plan for everything. This is a big operation...but I am confident that 90 per cent will make the right decision and accept a place at a reception centre in another part of France.

The first bus has arrived in Calais, picked up a group of refugees, and set off again for an asylum centre in central France.

Groups of migrants have gathered at sunrise with the few belongings they have to wait for buses which will take them to new reception centres dotted around France.

"I feel very happy, I've had enough of the Jungle," 25-year-old Abbas from Sudan told AFP.

"There are a lot of people who don't want to leave. There might be problems later. That's why I came out first," he added.

Not everyone wants to go - thousands are expected to simply flee the camp during the demolition, sleeping in the streets of Calais before eventually returning to the 'jungle."

Some say they will simply move on to other smaller migrant camps in northern France, such as the "Grande-Synthe" camp, which houses around 2,500 migrants. 
France Begins Emptying 'The Jungle' Migrant Camp
John Bacon
10:49 a.m. EDT October 24, 2016

France began clearing out "The Jungle" migrant camp at Calais on Monday as refugees waited in long lines to be processed and then were bused to other areas of the country.

The ramshackle camp, a symbol of Europe's struggle to control the crush of refugees fleeing war-torn Sudan, Afghanistan and other nations, is home to more than 6,000 asylum-seekers. France announced last month the notorious camp will be emptied and closed.

Authorities planned on moving 2,500 people out Monday. The almost 2-year-old, impromptu camp is scheduled to be empty in a few days.

More than 1,000 French police were on hand to keep the peace, and few problems were reported.

"We knew this morning that there would be a lot of people, and that's what's happening," regional Prefect Fabienne Buccio told Reuters news service. "There was no pushing... We had a particular concern for the minors, paid them particular attention, but it went well."

Most of the people living in the  camp hoped to cross the English Channel into Britain, lured by a relatively strong economy and a language with which many migrants are at least familiar. Thousands have attempted to stow away on trucks headed for Eurotunnel or hide on Eurotunnel trains. Few make it there, however, and plans call for shuttling most of the migrants to other areas of France.

Major Nurzei told The Guardian he was thrilled to be going to Normandy with eight friends from the same town in Afghanistan. Nurzei said he left his home country after Islamic State militants cut off the tip of his tongue and broke his fingers.

"U.K. is no good, too much of a headache," he said. "I like France. The U.K. take the children, but they don’t want the adults. We can’t go back to our country.”

Britain's anti-slavery commissioner Kevin Hyland has warned that many of the camp's estimated 1,200 unaccompanied children were turning to human traffickers to find a path to Britain. Hyland, along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, called for special considerations for many of the youths.

Daniel, an unaccompanied 16-year-old Eritrean, told the Associated Press he has been in Calais for eight months, trying daily to jump on a truck to England. Daniel was heading to the registration center for processing with his cousin, also an unaccompanied minor.

“I’m not happy because it’s finished, The Jungle. I want to go to the U.K.,” he said. “I don’t want France."

Christian Salome, head of the charity Migrants' Hostel, said those leaving Monday had wanted to go.

"I'm much more concerned about later in the week when the only ones remaining are those who do not want to leave, who still want to reach England," he told Agence France-Presse.
Black Democrats to Hillary Clinton: Send Money to Take Congress
New York Times
OCT. 24, 2016

Hillary Clinton with Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina last month. Mr. Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, called on Mrs. Clinton to help fund voter turnout efforts in congressional races. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — She holds a commanding lead in the presidential race and has $150 million in her campaign treasury, but some leading Democrats are urging Hillary Clinton to use more of that money to win control of Congress, publicly revealing a crack in party unity with racial overtones that could have lasting consequences if she is elected.

In interviews, two senior African-American members of the House called on Mrs. Clinton to draw from her war chest to fund voter-turnout efforts in congressional races, warning that even if she handily defeats Donald J. Trump, her presidential agenda will be stymied unless she sweeps in new Democratic lawmakers with her.

At issue is a strategic choice with profound implications: Should Mrs. Clinton reach to defeat Mr. Trump in more states like Utah? Or should she instead divert some of her resources to Democrats who are battling in tight races in liberal states like New York and centrist states like Colorado, where she is assured of victory, or in Republican-leaning states like Indiana and Missouri that she has effectively written off?

As Mrs. Clinton confidently expands her campaign into conservative-leaning states, she should make the knife’s-edge fight for the Senate and the Democratic effort to cut into the Republicans’ House majority a priority, said the lawmakers, Representatives James E. Clyburn of South Carolina and G. K. Butterfield of North Carolina.

“She may be in a good place, but I don’t think the party is in a good place yet,” said Mr. Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat.

Mr. Butterfield, noting that the party’s “down-ballot races are not as comfortable as the presidential race,” added: “I’m concerned about the African-American vote. We’ve got to get a turnout in the African-American community that equals or surpasses the white turnout.”

Mr. Clyburn and Mr. Butterfield, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said they had taken their pleas in recent days to senior officials in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and received respectful hearings but no firm commitments.

While both congressmen said they applauded their nominee’s effort to expand the presidential map, their lobbying effort highlights the competing pressures Mrs. Clinton faces in the campaign’s final weeks.

Many of her closest advisers want to humiliate Mr. Trump by aggressively competing in Republican bastions like Arizona and Utah. But other senior party officials would like her to divert significant financial resources to help congressional Democrats.

Mrs. Clinton announced last week that she would send a total of $1 million to Indiana and Missouri, two states where she is not competing that have crucial Senate races. But some Democrats would like to see more.

Mr. Clyburn cited Colorado, where he had just visited and where Mrs. Clinton is very likely to prevail, as an example of a state where he hoped she would continue to spend money for the good of Democratic House candidates. “The young people working on campaigns there I talked to said, ‘We can win this election, but I can’t hire nobody to carry people to polls,’ ” he said, adding that they told him they had “no budget for that.”

What particularly grates on black Democratic leaders is that there always seems to be ample money for television ads, which enrich the party’s top media consultants. In September alone, Mrs. Clinton spent $66 million on commercials.

“I don’t understand why we think that churches and other groups ought to be running vans to the polls for free,” Mr. Clyburn said. “We don’t ask these guys who place TV ads to do it for free.”

The congressmen did not specify how much money they hoped Mrs. Clinton would divert, but with competitive Senate races in at least seven states and two or more hotly contested House campaigns in 13 states, Democratic candidates would benefit from seven-figure commitments.

Aides to Mrs. Clinton, who has started to infuse her stump speech with attacks on Republican congressional candidates, noted that she had committed several million dollars of additional funding in recent days to aid the entire Democratic ticket. And some of her backers privately noted she was doing far more, both in her remarks and with her money, than President Obama had done for other Democrats in his two elections.

“Since the start of the campaign, Hillary Clinton has been deeply committed to electing Democrats from the statehouse to the halls of Congress,” said Marlon Marshall, Mrs. Clinton’s director of states and political engagement. “Having already invested an estimated $100 million in joint efforts to support coordinated campaigns, we’re now supercharging it in the final weeks of the campaign.”

Even as Mr. Trump slips in the polls in nearly every battleground state, raising Democratic hopes for an Electoral College landslide, Republicans continue to run competitively in the hardest-fought Senate and House races.

Public polling shows that Democrats are well positioned to narrowly win control of the Senate, but as many as seven seats remain up in the air. These contests could determine whether Democrats can gain enough of a majority to overcome the occasional straying by some of their more conservative senators.

In the House, Democrats are expected to gain seats, but it is unclear how close they can come to picking up the 30 needed to capture control.

And with newly disclosed fund-raising records revealing that Mrs. Clinton and her joint fund-raising arms began October with more than $152 million in the bank, Mr. Clyburn and Mr. Butterfield believe she should provide more to aid Democrats in races that could go either way.

“I believe the Clinton campaign has the resources,” Mr. Butterfield said.

Mr. Clyburn invoked a bitter anecdote to make his case, recalling how in 2004 John Kerry barely lost the presidency and subsequently was found to have ended the election with $14 million unspent.

“Why was that money sitting in the bank?” Mr. Clyburn said, echoing many Democrats who would have preferred to have seen it transferred to the party.

Both lawmakers said Mrs. Clinton was certain to enjoy an overwhelming victory margin among African-Americans, but they argued that black turnout could determine how many congressional seats Democrats capture. Voting by blacks surged in Mr. Obama’s two victories, but many Democrats have expressed concerns about diminished black enthusiasm in this election, particularly among younger people.

“I want this party, in the final weeks of the campaign, to be out there hiring workers to go out and beat the bushes, knock on doors, get people to polls,” Mr. Clyburn said.

Six of the seven states with Senate races that are likely to determine the balance of power have sizable African-American populations. Among them, North Carolina has the largest proportion of black residents: 22 percent.

“If we can just pump $200,000 to $300,000 into black political groups here that are experts at getting out the African-American vote, I think that can make a difference,” Mr. Butterfield said.

Mr. Butterfield said he had also lobbied Senators Chuck Schumer of New York, the incoming Democratic leader, and Jon Tester of Montana, who leads the Senate Democratic campaign arm, to direct more money to the party’s ground game. A spokesman for the Senate Democratic campaign effort said it was directing money to state parties to drive black turnout and had contracted with former Representative Steven Horsford of Nevada, a political consultant, to help run its efforts in states where the black vote is crucial.

Mr. Butterfield and Mr. Clyburn cast their arguments in practical terms, saying it was in Mrs. Clinton’s interest to begin her presidency with as many Democrats as she could help get elected before facing a potentially difficult first midterm election. Democrats, Mr. Clyburn noted, were all too familiar with making gains in presidential years only to see them erased.

“It’s time for us to work on getting her a supporting cast in place so she can get the kind of Supreme Court that can leave her legacy in place” and enact her legislative agenda, Mr. Clyburn said. “Or else we’ll see ourselves facing the same problems in two years that we did in 2010.”
Reports: Syrian Troops Capture High Point in City of Aleppo
OCT. 24, 2016, 5:30 A.M. E.D.T.

BEIRUT — Syrian state media and opposition activists say government forces and their allies have captured a high point in the city of Aleppo where fighting with rebel groups resumed over the weekend.

The SANA news agency said on Monday that the government troops took the hilltop of Bazo on the southern edge of Aleppo, near military bases.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Bazo was taken amid heavy bombardment. The Observatory and the Aleppo Media Center, an activist collective, say that government forces are shelling the eastern, rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo.

SANA says rebels shelled government-held neighborhoods, killing one person and wounding seven.

Fighting returned to Aleppo on Saturday night, after a lull meant to allow rebels and civilians to leave the eastern districts expired without anyone leaving.
Tom Hayden, Famed Anti-Vietnam War Activist, Dies at 76
Tom Hayden speaks in Detroit at the Source bookstore
on March 29, 2015.
(Photo by Abayomi Azikiwe)
BBC World Service

Famed American anti-war activist Tom Hayden has died aged 76.

Hayden died in his home in Santa Monica "after a lengthy illness", the Los Angeles Times reports.

He was a member of the "Chicago seven" charged with conspiracy over anti-Vietnam war protests in 1968 and eventually acquitted.

Hayden later served in the California state assembly and Senate for nearly two decades. He was married to actress Jane Fonda between 1973 and 1990.

Born in Michigan in 1939, he became an activist during his time at the University of Michigan, where he helped to found Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

While there, he wrote a policy document called the Port Huron Statement, which he styled the "agenda for a generation".

Mr Hayden and the SDS went on to become a major influence on the 1960s protest movement, particularly against the Vietnam war.

"Rarely, if ever, in American history has a generation begun with higher ideals and experienced greater trauma than those who lived fully the short time from 1960 to 1968,'' he wrote in the essay Streets of Chicago.

In 1968, Mr Hayden was part of a controversial anti-war demonstration in Chicago, timed to coincide with the Democratic National Convention.

The protest turned violent, with eight people - including Mr Hayden - charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines to incite a riot.

The so-called Chicago seven trial - originally the Chicago eight, before one defendant was tried separately - ran for years, with appeals and retrials. Mr Hayden was eventually cleared of all charges.

In 1973, he married actress Jane Fonda, who was herself an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War. She was internationally famous and wealthy, while he was still seen in some quarters as an anti-establishment troublemaker.

He would go on to reinvent himself in the coming decades, moving away from the image of a long-haired student protester.

He turned his attention to mainstream politics in the late 1970s, earning himself a place in the California State Assembly in 1982. A decade later, shortly after his divorce from Fonda, he moved on to the California Senate.

He also became a prolific writer of books and essays, and served as a columnist for several outlets.

Fifty years after he wrote the Port Huron statement, about a generation "looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit", he wrote that the concentration of wealth in the hands of the elite was a "mountain untouched" .

Writing in The Guardian in 2012, he called the Occupy Wall Street protests a "new force in the world".

"The Occupy movement, and kindred spirits from the Middle East to China, is driven by young people who feel unrepresented by the institutions, disenfranchised economically, and threatened by an environmental catastrophe," he said.

"The direct action movement of the early 1960s was similar in nature."

Hayden married actress Barbara Williams in 1993, and had a son, Liam.
Tom Hayden, Key 1960s Social Activist and Political Partner and Husband of Jane Fonda, Dies
Tom Hayden at Source Bookstore in Detroit on March 29, 2015.
(Photo by Abayomi Azikiwe)
By Elaine Woo
October 24 at 2:13 AM

Tom Hayden, the preeminent 1960s radical who roused a generation of alienated young Americans, became a symbol of militancy by leading riotous protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and added Hollywood glamour to his mystique with an activist partnership and marriage to film star Jane Fonda, died Oct. 23 in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 76.

Hayden’s wife, Barbara Williams, said he died after a long illness, according to the Associated Press. He had heart disease and was hospitalized for a stroke in 2015.

At a moment in history — June 1962 — before U.S. escalation in Vietnam, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the civil rights March on Washington and the awakening of the environmental and feminist movements, Mr. Hayden emerged as one of the most articulate spokesmen of youthful angst.

At 22, a year out of college in Michigan, he drafted the Port Huron Statement, an expansive Utopian manifesto that extolled “participatory democracy” as an antidote to the complacency and conformity of the Eisenhower decade.

The ideological lodestar of Students for a Democratic Society, which became the largest and most influential organ of the 1960s New Left, the Port Huron Statement was credited with drawing hundreds of thousands of idealistic, restless youths into an anti-authoritarian movement that rocked society at its foundation.

Decades later, the landmark text reverberated in popular culture as a punch line in the 1998 film “The Big Lebowski,” in which the old hippie protagonist declares himself an author of “the original Port Huron Statement, not the compromised second draft.” Although others weighed in on the final version, it adhered to Mr. Hayden’s buoyant themes, which have echoed in contemporary movements for democratic engagement around the world, from student protests in the Middle East to Occupy Wall Street.

The proclamation, named for the SDS gathering on the shores of Lake Huron north of Detroit, owed much to Mr. Hayden’s combination of iconoclasm and deep social conscience forged by his Catholic upbringing.

For the fledgling SDS, he had conducted fearless front-line activism in the South. But his master stroke for the organization was the 64-page tour de force that confronted a hypocrisy in American ideals, disillusionment with social progress and anxiety in a supposed age of prosperity.

“We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit,” Mr. Hayden wrote in the oft-quoted first lines of the statement that he and a few friends hand-delivered to the Kennedy White House before a mass distribution of 60,000 copies sold for 25 cents each.

He went on to assume influential roles in many of the most important student upheavals of the period before focusing his rage on the United States’ involvement in Vietnam.

In 1965, as a guest of the North Vietnamese, he became one of the first Americans to visit wartime Hanoi. Years later, he urged Fonda to make the trip, a public relations disaster that saddled the actress with the derisive nickname “Hanoi Jane.”

With Rennie Davis, Abbie Hoffman and other radical leaders, Mr. Hayden went on to plot the massive antiwar demonstrations that turned Chicago’s streets into a battleground for five days in August 1968.

“Let us make sure that if our blood flows, it flows all over the city,” he told throngs of young protesters in the city’s Grant Park on the day Vice President Hubert Humphrey became the Democratic presidential nominee.

Confronted by Democratic Mayor Richard J. Daley’s 12,000 Chicago police in addition to 6,000 Army troops and 5,000 National Guardsmen, Mr. Hayden exhorted the demonstrators to “turn this overheated military machine against itself.”

After arrests and injuries ran well into the hundreds, Mr. Hayden and seven others were charged with conspiracy to incite violence. The Chicago Eight, as they were initially known, became the Chicago Seven when Black Panther leader Bobby Seale was separated from the case. Mr. Hayden was found guilty but the conviction was overturned in 1972 by an appeals court, which cited improper rulings by an antagonistic trial judge.

Older Americans are some of our greatest assets, and they’re steering the economy in new directions.
The rebel who by 1967 had earned a spot on the FBI’s Rabble Rouser Index would later spend the bulk of his public life trying to change the system from within.

Calling himself a “born-again middle-American,” a claim that some detractors found opportunistic, Mr. Hayden reinvented himself in the liberal mainstream, was elected to the California legislature in 1982 and for 18 years represented an affluent swath of Los Angeles County.

With funding from the profitable Jane Fonda workout franchise, he and Fonda founded the Campaign for Economic Democracy, a progressive, grass-roots organization later known as Campaign California that gave him an enduring prominence that eluded many of his old friends from the ’60s.

He was “the most influential politician to come out of the New Left,” said Todd Gitlin, a Columbia University sociologist and historian of the ‘60s who succeeded Mr. Hayden as SDS president. Unlike many on the left who disdained hierarchy, “Tom was one of very few people I knew who actually wanted to lead and liked power,” Gitlin said.

Anitwar activism

Thomas Emmett Hayden was born in Royal Oak, Mich., a middle-class Detroit suburb, on Dec. 11, 1939. His father was a former Marine who worked for Chrysler as an accountant. He was also a violent drunk and, by the time Tom was 10, his parents had divorced. He was raised by his mother.

He grew up worshipping at the church led by Father Charles Coughlin, the “radio priest” who gained national prominence during the Depression as an advocate for the jobless but later revealed himself to be a rabid anti-Semite.

Disturbed by Coughlin’s teachings, Mr. Hayden drifted away from the church in his teen years. In his farewell column as editor of the high school paper, he used the first letter of successive paragraphs to spell “Go to hell.” He was banned from attending graduation.

In 1957 Mr. Hayden entered the University of Michigan and, by his senior year, was editor of the student newspaper.

The pivotal event of his college career came during what he later called his “summer of transformation.” On a picket line outside the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, he interviewed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “Ultimately,” King told him, “you have to take a stand with your life.”

Older Americans are some of our greatest assets, and they’re steering the economy in new directions.
“As I left the line, and later as I left Los Angeles, I asked myself why I should be only observing and chronicling this movement instead of participating in it,” Mr. Hayden recalled in “Reunion,” his 1988 memoir.

After graduating in 1961, he accepted an offer from SDS founder Al Haber to become the fledgling group’s field secretary in the South. He was beaten by segregationists and, on his 22nd birthday, he found himself in a jail cell in Albany, Ga., after participating in a Freedom Ride from Atlanta.

Mr. Hayden was helping organize the urban poor in Newark, an extension of his SDS experience, when he joined Marxist historian Herbert Aptheker and radical historian Staughton Lynd on a peace mission to Hanoi. Ignoring State Department prohibitions on travel to North Vietnam, Mr. Hayden arrived in Hanoi on Dec. 21, 1965, and spent much of the next 10 days surveying the destruction caused by U.S. bombs.

Two years later, Mr. Hayden made a second trip to Hanoi and wound up escorting three captured American soldiers from Phnom Penh back to the States, a North Vietnamese gesture of solidarity with the American peace movement.

In 1968, determined to find a way to “lance the tumor that Vietnam was in our lives,” he joined Hoffman and Davis as the critical Chicago leaders of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. .

On the worst day of violence in Chicago, he was among a crush of demonstrators driven through the windows of the Hilton Hotel’s Haymarket Lounge by police brandishing batons and tear gas. Much of America watched the scene unfold live on their TV sets.

Three months later, Republican Richard M. Nixon, who had pledged to restore order in America, won the presidency by a decisive margin.

A second act

At an antiwar event in Ann Arbor, Mich., in February 1971, Mr. Hayden met Fonda, then in the midst of a transition from sex symbol in movies (“Barbarella”) to dramatic actress and left-wing activist. They did not cross paths again until early 1972, when Mr. Hayden, in cheap rubber sandals and a long braid, approached her after a speech in Los Angeles. Fonda later wrote of the “electric charge” she felt when he placed a hand on her knee.

They married in 1973, when Fonda was three months pregnant with their son. They named him Troy after a North Vietnamese dissident and chose a Hayden family name, Garity, for his last name.

By then, they were consumed by the Indochina Peace Campaign, with the objective of reviving opposition to the war and Nixon’s conduct of it.

Before embarking on a 90-city speaking tour in fall 1972, they decided to leave “behind our counterculture trappings,” Fonda wrote in her memoir, “My Life So Far.” “It wouldn’t do if the way we looked turned people off to what we were saying. So I trimmed Tom’s hair, bought him a suit and tie, exchanged his rubber sandals for brown leather, and got myself a couple of wrinkle-proof conservative outfits.”

In early 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were signed and much of the antiwar movement shut down. Mr. Hayden began to reposition himself for an extraordinary second act, culminating in his successful run for the California state assembly in 1982.

Fonda knocked on doors for him and poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign. But their united front belied increasing tensions, including his constant belittling of her fitness and movie career. Their 1990 divorce was bitter.

Mr. Hayden’s brief early marriage to civil rights worker Sandra “Casey” Cason ended in divorce. Survivors include his third wife, actress Barbara Williams, whom he married in 1993; their son, Liam; a stepdaughter, Vanessa Vadim, from Fonda’s marriage to French filmmaker Roger Vadim; and Garity, an actor who portrayed his father in the 2000 Abbie Hoffman biopic “Steal This Movie.”

Mr. Hayden vied for other offices, including the California governorship and Los Angeles mayor, but he could not fully shake his radical past, despite his assertions that he no longer clung to what he called “overly romantic” beliefs that had driven him against the establishment during a tumultuous decade.

“You don’t navigate challenges and remain unchanged,” he told Rolling Stone on the 50th anniversary of the Port Huron Statement. “Not that you don’t sometimes yearn to be young again, but you’ll never see the world the way you did when you were truly young.”
Prominent Anti-War Activist And Member of ‘Chicago 8’ Tom Hayden Dead At 76
Tom Hayden speaks at Detroit book signing on March 29, 2015.
(Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe)
He was one of several protesters arrested and charged with incitement and conspiracy during the Democratic national convention in Chicago in 1968.

10/24/2016 02:35 am ET

(Reuters) - Veteran social activist and politician Tom Hayden, a stalwart of America’s New Left who served 18 years in California’s state legislature and gained a dash of Hollywood glamour by marrying actress Jane Fonda, has died aged 76, according to media reports.

Hayden died in Santa Monica, California, after a lengthy illness, The Los Angeles Times reported on its web site.

“A political giant and dear friend has passed,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wrote on Twitter, adding “Tom Hayden fought harder for what he believed than just about anyone I have known.”

Hayden, who forged his political activism as a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society, which stood at the core of the 1960s anti-war and civil rights movements, was principal author of the group’s revolutionary manifesto, the Port Huron Statement.

The University of Michigan student ventured into the Deep South, where he joined voter registration campaigns and was arrested and beaten while taking part in the “freedom rider” protests against racial segregation.

Hayden, however, became perhaps best known as one of the “Chicago Eight” activists tried on conspiracy and incitement charges following protests at the turbulent 1968 Democratic National Convention. He was ultimately acquitted of all charges.

A New York Times book review of his 1988 memoir, “Reunion,” one of more than 20 books published under his name, called Hayden “the single greatest figure of the 1960s student movement.”

Outliving contemporaries Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Eldridge Cleaver and Huey Newton, Hayden remained active in left-wing politics well into the 21st century, posting on Twitter just a week ago.

Winning election himself to the California state Assembly in 1982, and then the state Senate a decade later, Hayden went on to serve a total of 18 years.

Later he became director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center, a nonprofit left-wing think tank devoted mainly to analysis of continued U.S. military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, drug policy and global poverty.

Hayden was married to actress Jane Fonda from 1973 to 1990, with whom he had two children. Midway through their marriage, the couple graced the cover of People Magazine.

In later years his writings were published in national publications including The New York Times, the Boston Globe and the Denver Post. He served on the editorial board and was a columnist for The Nation magazine, and was the author of more than 20 books.

Tributes poured in on social media.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Achieng Abura Death: Kenyans Pay Tribute to Music Star
21 October 2016
BBC World Service

Kenya's Afro-jazz singer Achieng Abura performs one of her songs at the Nairobi's Carnivore 13 March 2004 restaurant, where she is trying to popularise her music especially among the youth who are used to the hip-hop style.Image copyrightAFP

Tributes are pouring in for Kenya's afro-jazz star Achieng Abura after she died of an undisclosed illness at a hospital in Nairobi on Thursday.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta described her as an "inspiring figure" whose death was a "big blow".

She was the lead singer of the main anthem for celebrations marking the adoption a new constitution in 2013.

A fellow singer said her death was cruel at a time when her son, who had sickle cell disease, "needed her most".

"The gap she has left will never be filled," Princess Jully told Kenya's Standard newspaper.

The newspaper quoted a family source as saying that Ms Abura was admitted to the intensive care unit, before she died on Thursday.

On 7 October, Ms Abura wrote on her Facebook account that she had lost more than 50kg (eight stone) in the last three years and she felt weak.

"Walking is a problem with pains all over. Doctor says I must add 30kg then lose it as I exercise and firm up," she wrote.

"The irony of life. I was not even losing weight intentionally! I allowed life to get the better of me. Learn from my mistakes." she added.

Ms Abura started as a gospel singer, releasing her debut album, I Believe, in 1990. She later branched out into afro-jazz and afro-fusion, with her last album, Rebirth, released earlier this year.

In a statement, Mr Kenyatta said her death was a deep loss to the nation.

"But even as we mourn Ms Abura, let us also celebrate her life and achievements. She was a good and inspiring figure in the music industry, and a great mentor to upcoming musicians," he added.

The Standard newspaper reports that popular signer Suzzana Owiyo visited Ms Abura in hospital on Wednesday and described her condition as unstable.

Kenya had lost one of it "greatest" musicians, it quoted Ms Owiyo as saying.

Ms Abura's exact age was unclear, but she was believed to be in her early fifties when she died.
US Election 2016: Presidential Race Goes Down the Drain
Anthony Zurcher
North America reporter
BBC World Service
15 October 2016

The second week of October is likely to be remembered as the moment when the 2016 presidential campaign went careening off the rails and spinning into the void.

Pundits and election wags love to talk about the so-called "October surprise" - a last-minute revelation that turns an election upside down. This October, the only surprise seems to be a day without surprises.

Here are just some of the highlights of a week that will likely cast a shadow over US politics for years to come.

If there were any doubts about the direction the second US presidential debate was going to take on Sunday night, they were dispelled an hour before showtime, when Donald Trump held an impromptu press conference with women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault.

The striking thing is that while the former president's sexual history was broached by the Republican, it probably wasn't the most eye-popping, norm-breaking moment of the debate.

That, instead, came when Mr Trump said that Hillary Clinton feared his presidency because his election would lead to her imprisonment.

"Such incendiary talk is an affront to elementary democratic decency and a breach of the boundaries of American political discourse," writes conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer.

In the days since the debate, Mr Trump has only increased the voltage. Where once he used to downplay his crowd's "lock her up" chants, now he eggs them on.

"She has to go to jail," he said at a Pennsylvania rally.

Gone is any semblance of moderation or talk of pivot and restraint. It's red meat from here on out.

Parade of the accusers

While Mr Trump's embrace of "lock her up" rhetoric received the lion's share of condemnation from the left and the right, that debate moment likely won't have the greatest impact on the final month of the campaign. That (dubious) honour goes to his assertion that his secretly recorded discussion of how he made unwelcome advances on women was "just talk".

Such a blanket denial has prompted a steady stream of women to come forward to assert that Mr Trump's actions do, in fact, reflect his candid words. Jessica Leeds, who accused Mr Trump of fondling her on a plane, said she practically jumped out of her skin when she heard Mr Trump deny any improper behaviour.

The Trump campaign has promised that it will release evidence that the accusers are fabricating their claims - and Mr Trump in several speeches has issued blanket denials. So far, however, the sum total of evidence levelled against the growing list of women coming forward is a discussion of the mobility of airline armrests, an insistence that Mr Trump wouldn't have enough private time with the women in question to do anything untoward and, most amazingly, Mr Trump's own assertion that one of the women wasn't attractive enough to catch his eye.

"Believe me, she would not be my first choice," he said at a North Carolina rally on Friday.

Believe me, that line isn't going to win him any votes.

Hacked to pieces

You'd be hard-pressed to notice over the din of the travelling circus the Trump campaign has become, but the Clinton team also spent the week weathering a scandal of its own. Thanks to the release by Wikileaks of emails possibly acquired by Russian hackers, the public has been given an inside view of the Clinton campaign - and the picture it paints is often unflattering.

Campaign operatives obsess over messaging and even individual tweets, they mull over negative campaign tactics, try to resolve staff infighting and speculate on ways to inspire a liberal revolt within the Catholic Church.

The emails - assuming they are authentic - contain a full opposition-research dossier on primary opponent Bernie Sanders and staff-culled highlights of the most controversial portions of Mrs Clinton's speech to Wall Street banks that feature her pining for a hemispheric free-trade, open-borders zone.

They also show the campaign's at-times cosy relationship with mainstream journalists and television pundits - including evidence that former Democratic campaign operative (and current party head) Donna Brazile may have given the Clinton team a sneak peek at a question from a televised town hall forum during the Democratic primary.

Trump v the world

Let's face it, email controversies aside, right now it's just Donald Trump's world and we're all living in it. Unfortunately for the Republican nominee, that particular world is one with enemies around every corner, conspiring to seize what is rightfully his.

After announcing that he was free of "shackles" in a tweet on Tuesday morning, Mr Trump has proceeded to pick fights with members of his own party's leadership, condemn what he sees as a hopelessly biased media and warn of an international cabal that aims to subvert American democracy.

He regularly tells his supporters that they should carefully monitor polling places in "other communities" for signs of malfeasance. His own website currently has a sign-up for volunteer "election observers".

"This election will determine whether we are a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy, but are in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system, and our system is rigged," Mr Trump said at a rally in Florida on Thursday.

His campaign, he said, was at war with "a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities".

Mr Trump's latest remarks have some commentators saying he's moved from anti-Semitic dog whistles to a fully fledged bullhorn.

"Whatever Trump is thinking or means, the white nationalists and neo-Nazis he's activated will hear his speech with glee because he's channeling textbook anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, with all the code words and emotional tenor," writes liberal blogger Josh Marshall. "These are the kinds of conspiratorial, revanchist fantasies that spur violence and attacks on the mundane ordinariness of democracy itself."

The one-two Obama punch

This week also featured two of the Democratic Party's biggest guns unloading their most pointed fusillades.

President Barack Obama, who has seen his approval ratings soar to their highest point in nearly four years, appears to be running out of pejoratives to describe the Republican nominee. On Wednesday he said Mr Trump's comments on women would disqualify him from employment at a 7-Eleven convenience store, let alone the presidency.

Perhaps more concerning for Republicans up and down the ballot, however, was Mr Obama's decision to try to tie the party as a whole to what could be Mr Trump's sinking electoral ship.

"They don't get credit for at the very last minute when, finally, the guy they nominated and supported is caught on tape saying things that no decent person would even think, much less say, much less brag about, much less act on," Mr Obama said in Ohio on Thursday.

"You can't wait until that finally happens and then say that's too much and then think somehow you're showing any kind of leadership and deserve to be elected to the United States Senate."

Those remarks stand in sharp contrast with the tone Mr Obama took at the Democratic National Convention in July, when he said that Mr Trump didn't embody Republican or conservative values.

Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama launched her own attack on Mr Trump - and, if anything, it was more personal and more deadly. She has the advantage of being able to speak to Americans not as a politician but as an ordinary citizen (who happens to live in the White House, of course). And in this case, she was speaking to the nation as an outraged woman.

"This is not something we can sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election," she said of Mr Trump's surreptitiously recorded comments. "This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behaviour."

That her speech took place shortly before Mr Trump's free-form conspiracy rant, media condemnation and blanket denial of sexual assault allegations just made the contrast more stark.

Radioactive fallout

Rhetoric and media furore aside, what this election really boils down to is a numbers game. Who can marshal financial and manpower resources and who can't? Who's got the votes in key states, and who doesn't? Messaging and momentum matter, but in the end it's only important insofar as it puts ballots in the box and numbers on the board on election day.

According to current polling, it's been a miserable week for Donald Trump. His numbers are tanking nationally, as Hillary Clinton has stretched her lead from a virtual dead heat before the first debate to high single digits.

The story in swing states is equally troubling for the Republican. He still leads in Iowa, but the pivotal battlegrounds of Ohio, Florida and North Carolina are trending away from him. Then there are states that are normally safe for Republicans - Arizona, Georgia, Utah, Alaska and Indiana - that are showing signs of tightening.

A recent poll of Texas, which Republicans have carried in every presidential election since 1976 and hasn't elected a Democrat to state-wide office since 1994, shows Mr Trump only ahead by four points.

With less than a month until election day, time is running out for Mr Trump. Next week's presidential debate could be the last opportunity he has to shake up the race - but if the past two face-offs are any indication, they are more likely to cement Mrs Clinton's lead.

Pundits and prognosticators have been wrong about Mr Trump many times in the past. His primary campaign proved to be one long refutation of conventional wisdom. After this at-times-stomach-turning week, however, it's looking more and more like it would take an unprecedented reversal of fortune for the New York businessman to add the White House to his real estate empire.
Muammar Gaddafi, Another Majority World Martyr
By Tortilla con Sal

Libya now is submerged in political chaos, economic ruin and universal violence. | Photo: Reuters

22 October 2016

Hugo Chavez condemned the attack on Libya because they recognized the fascism and racism underlying the West’s phony rhetoric.

Muammar Gaddafi will always be a hero of a majority world, a world which continues still, after centuries, to pay the human, social, economic, cultural and now environmental costs of Western capitalism and pseudo-democracy. In retrospect, the West’s 2011 attacks on Libya, Syria and Ivory Coast, even more than the onslaught against Iraq and Afghanistan, definitely confirmed the West's bankruptcy in political, economic, social, cultural and moral terms.  After the West’s destructive neocolonial campaign of 2011, no one can take seriously Western political and intellectual leaders or the foreign news coverage of Western media, of almost any variety.

NATO Destruction of Libya

This year’s fifth anniversary of Muammar Gaddafi's murder is a reminder full of implicit rebuke for just about everyone involved in Libya’s destruction. Even at the time, it was clear to honest observers that the disgraceful UN Resolution 1973 was based on media and NGO falsehoods, ideological manipulation and brute neocolonial power. It cynically urged all countries to search for peace when everyone involved knew for sure that the Western powers were intervening militarily to overthrow the Libyan Jamahiriya. The African Union was completely humiliated when its call for negotiations was treated with scandalous, open contempt by the Western governments.

The leadership of Russia and China, neglecting their own interests, accepted Western assurances of good faith despite everything they knew, even then, of the West’s double-dealing over Ukraine, Iran and North Korea. Now President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping are paying the price of their predecessors’ culpable naivety. President Bashar Assad of Syria recognized Libya’s terrorist dominated transitional government. Iran and Hezbollah withheld support for Libya’s Jamahiriya mainly on the pretext of the decades-old murder of Imam Moussa al-Sadr. In fact, the Libyan authorities most likely to have been responsible for that murder were the traitorous leaders of the Libyan rebels.

Now, Libya’s terrorist leaders have repaid Syria, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah with rivers of those countries’ martyrs’ blood, while Western governments and media of all political shades commit the same sadistic mass-murdering crimes and repeat the same shameless, cynical lies in Syria as they did against Libya. No one can legitimately deny that Muammar Gaddafi's predictions back in March 2011 were completely, presciently accurate. In March 2011, he said: “I play, personally, a stabilizing role in the African region. If the situation in Libya is destabilized then Al Qaida will take command here. Libya will turn into a second Afghanistan and the terrorists will roam across Europe.”

Libya now is submerged in political chaos, economic ruin and universal violence. Al Qaida is rife in Europe, while Arab and African migration to Europe has become an endless, out of control human catastrophe. The consequent reactions in the West to these events have multiplied even more the harm and suffering unleashed by NATO’s attacks on Libya, Syria and Ivory Coast. Support for fascist ideology has grown across the United States and Europe, perhaps most clearly in the frightening and disturbing U.S. election campaign. There, Western media have mounted against Donald Trump the kind of hate campaign normally reserved for recalcitrant foreign leaders like Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez, Bashar Assad or Muammar Gaddaffi.

The world watches two mediocre, corrupt, deceitful, mercenary, stereotypical Yankees vying to succeed a genocidal, cynical, opportunist president long ago bought off by Wall Street. That is the class of political leadership ruling the West and its corporate-run pseudo-democracies. U.S. presidential candidate Henry Wallace’s words in 1945 about American fascism ring truer than ever now, "The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”

Hugo Chavez and his fellow ALBA country leaders condemned the attack on Libya because they recognized the fascism and racism underlying the West’s phony rhetoric about democracy and freedom. Likewise, Comandante Chávez and now President Nicolas Maduro lead the current ALBA leaders in their condemnation of NATO’s war on Syria. They do so because they are familiar with the decades-long history of destabilization by Western powers trying to overthrow Libya and Syria’s governments via low-profile intimidation and terrorism turning finally in 2011 to outright terrorist war .

The ALBA country leaders also recognize that a clear majority in Libya supported the Jamahiriya, just as in Syria a clear majority supports President Assad. They are also well aware of the huge support the Libyan Jamahiriya provided for the fight against apartheid in South Africa, for sovereign African economic development and of Syria’s role defending Palestinian nationhood against the genocidal Western powers. International leaders like Nelson Mandela, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Evo Morales and Daniel Ortega recognized those realities and how completely bogus alleged Western governments’ human rights concerns invariably are.

Those same governments’ leaders destroyed Iraq, permitted Israel’s genocidal attacks on Gaza, Georgia’s massacre of people in South Ossetia and the endless mass murder in Afghanistan and Somalia and elsewhere. They control the UN’s mission in Haiti, where U.N. forces have committed various massacres of civilians and polluted the country with cholera. They maintain the infamous UN mission to the Congo where over the decades UN forces have been accomplices to genocide. These are merely the most obvious cases. Worse than their countries’ governments, almost all Western progressives and radicals,  even with all that recent history, attacked Libya’s Jamahiriya and its leader. They retailed every last NATO propaganda falsehood while hypocritically proclaiming themselves neutral.

The journalist Abdel Baset bin Hamel puts the matter succinctly and well, noting: “The Libyan experience of over 43 years under Muammar Gadaffi remains without precedent. The country regularly experienced reforms responding to the difficulties emerging from time to time in the fields of education, healthcare or infrastructure. The reason for the crisis in the country now is the change imposed by outside forces with international consent….It is clear that the massive military campaign was not aimed at resolving the crisis since in Sirte and Benghazi Libyans are still being killed. On the other hand, that military campaign facilitated the theft of billions of dollars from Libyans...From a political viewpoint, Libya was the most independent country in the region… What happened was not a revolution but a catastrophe for which Libyans are dying today... Gaddafi took the initiative to work out how to unite the people under a single flag. He had the gift of leadership. He was seen more as a leader than as some kind of functionary. In other words, he was unique.”

Bin Hamel's remarks are borne out by Muammar Gaddafi's martyrdom while fighting NATO. His family has just published his last call to them: “Hana, Aisha, it’s your Dad... I want to leave you honor not infamy. Better fire and death than ignominy… Tonight I’m going to launch an operation to try and break out of Sirte. Certainly, I could die doing so but don’t be sad. Don’t cry. Rather express your joy publicly, Hana, Aisha, Safiyya. This martyrdom will seal now a battle against 40 States in permanent aggression against us for 40 years.”
Iraqi Forces Launch New Advance Against Islamic State as Mosul Battle Continues
Photos: The battle for Mosul, Iraq
Associated Press

Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, launched coordinated military operations in October 2016 to wrest the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from Islamic State.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces have launched a new offensive on a town near Mosul as part of a massive operation aimed at retaking the country's second largest city from the Islamic State group.

The Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, said they launched a dawn offensive Sunday on two fronts to the northeast of Mosul, near the town of Bashiqa.

Maj. Gen. Haider Fadhil, of Iraq's special forces, said they had also launched an assault on Bashiqa, surrounding it and seizing parts of the town. He said the Kurds had captured two villages near Bashiqa and a small Shiite shrine in the area.

Over the last week, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have been battling IS in a belt of mostly uninhabited towns and villages around Mosul, contending with roadside bombs, snipers and suicide truck bombs.

With a catalog of over 12 million products and free shipping on orders over $49, Wayfair is changing the way people shop for everything home.

The Mosul offensive involves more than 25,000 Iraqi ground forces as well as U.S.-led coalition aircraft and advisers. It is expected to take weeks, if not months, to drive IS from Mosul, which is home to more than a million civilians.

Bashiqa is close to a military base of the same name where some 500 Turkish troops are training Sunni and Kurdish fighters for the Mosul offensive.

The presence of the Turkish troops has angered Iraq, which says it never gave them permission to enter the country and has called on them to withdraw. Turkey has refused the demand, insisting that it play a role in retaking Mosul from IS.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has visited both countries in recent days, and arrived in the Kurdish regional capital Irbil on Sunday, where he was expected to discuss the issue with Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani.

After meeting with Turkey's leaders, Carter had announced an "agreement in principle" for Turkey to have a role in the operation.

But Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appeared to bat that idea down when he met with Carter on Saturday, insisting that Mosul was an "Iraqi battle."

"I know that the Turks want to participate, we tell them thank you, this is something the Iraqis will handle and the Iraqis will liberate Mosul and the rest of the territories," he said.

The forces taking part in the Mosul offensive include Iraqi troops, the peshmerga, Sunni tribal fighters and state-sanctioned Shiite militias.

Many fear the operation could heighten tensions between Iraq's different communities, which are allied against IS but divided over a host of other issues, including the fate of territories near mostly Sunni Mosul that are claimed by the largely autonomous Kurdish region and the central government.

Associated Press
AT&T Agrees to Buy Time Warner for $85.4 Billion
New York Times
OCT. 22, 2016

The headquarters of Time Warner in New York. Today’s Time Warner is the byproduct of many rounds of spinoffs and acquisitions. Credit Adrees Latif/Reuters

In the world of media, bigger remains better.

So in the wake of Comcast’s $30 billion takeover of NBCUniversal and Verizon Communications’ serial acquisitions of the Huffington Post and Yahoo, AT&T has bought one of the remaining crown jewels of the entertainment industry.

The telecommunications giant agreed on Saturday to buy Time Warner, the home of HBO and CNN, for about $85.4 billion, creating a new colossus capable of both producing content and distributing it to millions with wireless phones, broadband subscriptions and satellite TV connections.

The proposed deal is likely to spur yet more consolidation among media companies, which have already looked to partners to get bigger. This year, Lionsgate struck a deal to buy the pay-TV channel Starz for $4.4 billion. And the Redstone family, which controls both CBS and Viacom, has urged the corporate siblings, which split 10 years ago, to consider reuniting.

AT&T and Time Warner said both of their boards unanimously approved the deal.

“When Jeff and I started talking, it became clear to us very quickly that we shared a very similar vision,” Randall L. Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, told reporters on a conference call on Saturday, referring to Jeffrey Bewkes, Time Warner’s chief executive. “Time Warner, we believe, is the clear leader in premium content.”

Most analysts and investors have noted that Time Warner was part of one of the biggest merger follies of all time, when it sold itself to AOL at the height of the dot-com boom. That combination — also pitched on the idea of uniting content and the internet — proved unwieldy and was later stripped apart to a few core businesses.

This time, however, the rise of online outlets like Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube and the shift of younger customers from traditional media have pressured media companies to seek out consolidation partners. These media companies are anticipating drops in fees from cable service providers and declining revenue from advertisers. Getting bigger would give them more negotiating leverage with both service providers and with advertisers.

Among their top priorities is finding new ways of reaching consumers. HBO, for example, offers its HBO Now service to deliver shows like “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld” to consumers who do not have cable subscriptions.

Even Disney, widely seen as the strongest content company, with brands like Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, has been grappling with how to overcome challenges facing its network channels. ESPN, which long served as a growth engine, is now facing declining ratings and subscriber erosion, putting advertising sales into question.

“The biggest thing that we’re trying to do now is figure out what technology’s role is in distributing the great content that we have,” Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said at a presentation at Boston College on Oct. 5.

Comcast’s takeover of NBC has proved a model for this new world of media deal-making. While the cable giant has occasionally been scrutinized for possible regulatory violations, NBCUniversal has generally thrived under its current ownership, with NBC enjoying a ratings comeback and Universal delivering a wide range of hit films, from blockbusters like “Jurassic World” to dramas like “Straight Outta Compton.”

Still, Time Warner’s deal with AT&T is likely to face tough scrutiny from government regulators increasingly skeptical of power being consolidated among a few titans. Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee for president, indicated on Saturday that he would seek to block the merger if elected “because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”

Over the last decade, Time Warner has spent significant time selling or spinning off AOL, many of the Time Inc. stable of publications, and Time Warner Cable, which was sold to another cable operator. The remaining businesses are HBO, one of the most-admired pay-TV channels; Warner Bros. movie studios; and cable channels that include CNN, TNT, Turner Sports and TBS.

Overseeing much of Time Warner’s downsizing was Mr. Bewkes, for whom Saturday’s agreement serves as validation of sorts. He faced tough questions two years ago when he turned down 21st Century Fox’s bid of $85 a share, arguing that the offer sharply undervalued his company.

Now, Mr. Bewkes has found a suitor willing to offer significantly more — $107.50 a share in cash and stock — and done so at a time when media companies are under pressure to strike their own deals. AT&T’s offer represents a roughly 35 percent premium to where Time Warner’s stock was trading before news reports of the merger talks emerged.

“Time Warner chairman and C.E.O. Jeff Bewkes and his senior management team can see where the entire legacy media world is headed: secular decline,” Richard Greenfield, a media analyst at BTIG, wrote in a research note on Saturday.

Mr. Greenfield added, “We believe Bewkes will end up being remembered as the smartest C.E.O. in sector — knowing when to sell and not overstaying his welcome to maximize value for shareholders.”

The announcement on Saturday also affirms the ambitious deal-making of AT&T. One of the former so-called Baby Bells that arose from the 1982 breakup of the original AT&T, the company has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on acquisitions to reconstitute some of its parent’s empire.

That has included buying DirecTV for $48.5 billion, adding satellite TV subscriptions as an additional source of negotiating leverage with content providers, along with the satellite company’s steady stream of cash.

AT&T has also made other moves to acquire content. It has set up a joint venture with Peter Chernin, a prominent media executive, and the company was one of the bidders for Yahoo this year.

The telecom company has also been working on its own online video service, for which Time Warner’s trove of media could prove enormously helpful. Combining with AT&T is meant to accelerate those efforts, Mr. Bewkes said. “We think this is great for continued innovation in content,” he said during Saturday’s conference call.

Still, AT&T’s biggest rivals have not stood still. Comcast struck an agreement this spring to buy DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion, adding the “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda” franchises to its media holdings.

Verizon has charted a different course, focusing more on internet-based properties and advertising technology players rather than traditional media companies. Its $4.8 billion deal to buy Yahoo, rooted in the aging tech company’s hundreds of millions of users, follows previous takeovers of the Huffington Post and AOL.

Not everyone seems persuaded by the latest flurry of deal-making. Disney commented on the deal in a statement late Saturday, saying, “A transaction of this magnitude obviously warrants very close regulatory scrutiny.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, also put out a statement cautioning approval. “I will be looking closely at what this merger means for consumers and their pocketbooks, and whether it stands up to stands up to the rigorous review standards set by the Department of Justice’s antitrust division in the last few years,” he said.

And in a Twitter post on Saturday, Steve Case, the former chief executive of AOL responsible for the doomed merger with Time Warner, wrote of AT&T’s move, “#DejaVu.”

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Zimbabwe Pays Off IMF Arrears
October 22, 2016
Enacy Mapakame Business Correspondent
Zimbabwe Herald

Zimbabwe has cleared its arrears with the International Monetary Fund as part of efforts to settle its overdue financial obligations to the multilateral institution.This is a milestone in the country’s endeavour to attract fresh capital.

The IMF said Zimbabwe, which had been in arrears since 2001, last Thursday settled its obligations, amounting to $107,9 million to the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust.

The IMF said Zimbabwe transferred part of its SDR holdings kept at the IMF to the PRGT account to clear the arrears.

“Zimbabwe is now current on all its financial obligations to the IMF,” said IMF communications director Mr Gerry Rice in a statement.

In his Mid-Term Monetary Policy Statement presented last month, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya indicated significant progress had been made towards the re-engagement process to clear the country’s external debt arrears with multilateral financial institutions.

Indications were that Zimbabwe would have cleared arrears by year end.

“Significant work has been recorded to ensure that the country clears its arrears by 31 December 2016. It is critical to note that it is Zimbabwe that owes multilateral and bilateral creditors and not vice versa,” he said.

As at September 2016, the country’s arrears to the IFIs totalled $1,8 billion. Of this, the IMF accounted for $110 million, AfDB- $601 million, IDA- $218 million and IBRD at $896 million.

Dr Mangudya could not be reached for comment as he is away on business in Germany.

External debt arrears clearance will improve Zimbabwe’s country risk premium through reducing its debt overhang.

This will also enhance the country’s access to foreign finance.

Economist Dr Gift Mugano said although Zimbabwe still needs to meet financial obligations with other MFIs such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank, this was a step in the right direction.

“The issue of debt overhang has been serious and our relations with these institutions have been bad because of that,” said Dr Mugano.

“The IMF and WB are like international ‘commissioners of oath’ in business confidence and if we do not pay them they can give us a tag which is bad and difficult to shake off,” he said.

He added, under normal circumstances, the country should be getting fresh capital from the IMF.

However, the multilateral lender does not operate in isolation, said Dr Mugano, as it is still controlled by the world’s super powers with significant voting rights and bias against Zimbabwe.

“It is not a straight jacket,” he said.