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#ENOUGH! #NEVER AGAIN!

March For Our Lives, Washington, DC, March 24, 2018

Washington, D.C. and the entire country received a powerful lesson in civics today. Democracy worked. Hundreds of thousands, if not a million, students bonded into an unstoppable movement that is determined to change America.

The passion and the eloquence of the Parkland students was as moving and inspiring as it was astounding. They and the other young speakers at the March for our Lives rally captured the nation and people all over the world. Their tears welled up, remembering friends and siblings who were mowed down. The crowd wept with them. Only someone with a heart of stone could fail to be moved.

They hammered the politicians who support the N.R.A. and also the ones who don’t commit themselves. There was no mention of Democrats or Republicans, though they did single out a Republican senator. The Parkland students pinned price tags of $1.05 to their jackets. That is what they calculated the life of each student in Florida is worth to the Florida government. It’s the amount collected by Sen. Marco Rubio from the N.R.A. divided by the number of students in his state.

David Hogg

“The cold grasp of corruption shackles the District of Columbia,” declared 17-year-old David Hogg. Again and again, the students vowed, “We will vote you out!” threatening retribution at the ballot box for politicians who don’t support a meaningful program of gun control and safety.

Stoneman Douglas survivor Delaney Tarr scoffed at the STOP School Violence and Fix NICS Acts. “We are not here for bread crumbs; we are here for real change,” she said. “We are here to lead, we are here to call out every single politician to force them into enacting this legislation.”

Hogg continued, “They haven’t even gotten started, and we have.” Hogg personifies the audacity and authority of the mantle he and his comrades have assumed. They know they are leading the charge. “We are the future, and we will vote!”

Naomi Wadler

The intelligence and the poise of the students was amazing. Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old girl, was one of the most polished and eloquent. She said she represented “the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper” and “who are simply statistics.” Responding to a charge that she’s “the tool of an adult,” she avowed that isn’t true. “My friends and I might still be 11, we might still be in elementary school, but we know,” she said. “We know life isn’t equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong. We also know that we stand in the shadow of the Capitol and we know that we have seven short years until we, too, have the right to vote.”

Trevon Bosely

Invited by the Parkland organizers, students from all over the country streamed to Washington to March for our Lives. They also were survivors of gun violence or had direct connections to the victims. Trevon Bosely, 19, came from Chicago, where his brother was gunned down while leaving church. He looked out at the crowd. We are all a family, he said, a family united in pain, hope and determination to change. “We are survivors not only of gun violence, but of silence,” he said, condemning the apathy of the adults who have done little to stop the violence.

Edna Chavez

The diversity and the unity of the students was as impressive as it was moving. Latina Edna Chavez remonstrated against the demeaning of and violence against her brown and black colleagues and black men shot by the police in South Central Los Angeles. She insisted that armed teachers, metal detectors and transparent backpacks are not the answer. They don’t work, she said.

Bosely deplored the meager resources allotted to his school and neighborhood in Chicago, charging that lack of funding in black communities leads to unemployment and contributes to gun violence.

Stoneman Douglas survivor Jaclyn Corin showed she understood that the violence endured by Chavez and Bosely is a national problem. “We recognize that Parkland received more attention because of its affluence,” she said. “But we share this stage today and forever with those communities who have always stared down the barrel of a gun.”

Samantha Fuentes begins to feel ill

A friend comes to the rescue

Feeling better

Samantha Fuentes, recovered

Samantha Fuentes was wounded at the Parkland school shooting, and her face still bears the scars. Fuentes was midway into her speech when an attack of nerves overcame her and she turned away from the podium to vomit. A black girl came to the white girl’s side to steady and comfort her friend. Fuentes regained her composure, exclaiming, “I just threw up on international television, and it feels great!” and continued her speech smiling and confident, with her friend at her side.

Emma González, crying silently

Emma González and friend, hands clenched

Three Parkland students have become the faces of the movement. David Hogg and Cameron Kasky declared the beginning of a revolution. Emma González began to speak out the day after the shooting. In her speech at the rally, she remembered the 17 victims of the infamous attack. She finished naming them, tears streaming down her face, and grew silent. After a few minutes, the crowd began to chant her name. She remained stony-faced and silent. They quieted down for a few minutes, then attempted another chant, followed by silence and tears. The awkward and uncomfortable silence lasted six minutes, 20 seconds, the time González said the shooter took to terrorize, wound and kill the Stoneman Douglas students. Correction. See @Emma4Change below

I am unspeakably proud of these kids. If they are the future of America, then we are not doomed, as I feared. They have given me hope.

Yolanda Scott

The rally was reminiscent of past movements led by young people. Civil rights, the Viet Nam war, women’s rights, gay rights— movements that snowballed until they succeeded in attaining the change they demanded.

Martin Luther King Jr., whose activism changed the nation forever, was reincarnated in the person of his nine-year-old granddaughter, Yolanda Scott. “My grandfather had a dream,” she said. “I have a dream that enough is enough and that this should be a gun-free world. Period.”

And the President spent the day golfing at his club in Florida.

The signs were left outside the empty White House

Survivor schools bond

Real Quick: my speech today was abt 6 mins & 30 secs, including both my speech and my silence. The fact that people think the silence was 6 minutes… imagine how long it would have felt if it actually was 6 minutes, or how it would feel if you had to hide during that silence

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More on Trump’s parade

Retired Army Major General Paul D. Eaton reacted on VoteVets.org to the parade being planned by “a wannabe banana republic strongman.”

Donald Trump has continually shown himself to have authoritarian tendencies, and this is just another worrisome example.

For someone who just declared it was “treasonous” to not applaud him, and for someone who has, in the past, admired tactics of everyone from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin, it is clear that a military parade isn’t about saluting the military – it’s about making a display of the military saluting him.

The military is not Donald Trump’s to use and abuse in this way. Our military is the very best in the world – they are not to be reduced to stagecraft to prop up Donald Trump’s image. Any commander in chief who respects the traditions of the military would understand that.

Unfortunately, we do not have a commander in chief, right now, as much as we have a wannabe banana republic strongman.

@realDonaldTrump has blocked @VoteVets, an organization of 500,000 veterans, military families, & supporters.

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Pink Pussyhats

Streaming out of the subway in waves of pink exuberance, New York City women had lost none of the energy from last year’s Women’s March. Signs abounded, screaming opposition to Donald Trump and the harm his decisions have done to American life and the welfare of the planet. America is a nation of immigrants, so DACA and immigration were major themes. Women’s rights— #MeToo, abortion and pay parity— were the other main focus.

There were people in costume, like the man covered with dollar bills and other currencies, all splattered with blood. They were bands. One had a tuba, clarinets, saxophones, a trombone, a melodica, tambourines and, of course, drums. Another was all drums, played by women in blue, dancing and drumming. Fogo Azul (blue fire) wore blue pussy hats. They had everyone in earshot moving and dancing.

Many creative, artistic signs.

“A woman’s place is in the House, the Senate, the White House.”

It doesn’t say ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled Norwegians yearning to breathe free.'”

We all enjoyed ourselves, but we appreciated

“Resign. Don’t make me march again.”

The march was scheduled to begin at 71st St. and Columbus Avenue at 11 a.m. My group met at 66th and Columbus at 11:30. By that time,, Central Park West, the main route, was inaccessible from the side streets, so the March was directed up Columbus to join the mainstream on Central Park West. It took us three hours to reach Central Park West at 77th St. A policeman told me that people had to march to 91st St. to reach the end of the line.

The procession began to move a little faster as the shadows lengthened and people peeled off.

At 4 o’clock I was the only one of my party left. I reached Columbus Circle (59th St.) and the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weakening. I told myself it was okay not to continue. I had, after all, marched 22 blocks in three hours only to return to my starting point. I wish I’d had a seat in the helicopter overhead to see the barely moving double flow of enthusiastic people waving signs and making music in a huge demonstration of solidarity.

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An sea of pink, pussy-hatted women of all ages–
babies

 

 

to grandmas–

Not every pussyhat was worn by a woman.
Although the vast majority of marchers were women, supporting men took part too.

 

 

 

Of the several themes, the most consistent, the one that tied the others together, was anti-Trump anger.

His boastful claim that when he sees an attractive woman he “grabs her by the pussy” was of course the inspiration for the pussy hat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were little pussycats

Big cats roared in defiance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Covered with bloodied currency, this figure embodied scandal and corruption:

Rounding up the usual suspects for Special Counsel Robert Mueller:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Votes, instead of pussies, were proposed for grabbing instead.

Getting out the vote to defeat Republicans and Trump in particular was a popular theme. 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were references to #MeToo.

Plunder of the Earth was a pressing concern.

And the music played and the marchers danced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course, the Trump Shutdown.

 

Trump’s unforgettable language.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally,

 

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Women’s March 2018!

Going to be a great day!3A6A1EDB-5BDC-49D2-B305-F2CC523CB637

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Russian oligarchs and now “Baby Doc” too

Trump’s vicious smear of Haiti is coming back to bite him. 

On Monday, Haiti’s high court held an emergency session to allow the unsealing after 35 years of the documents from the indictments of former dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier for money laundering. After three decades under wraps, the timing of their release to the public can hardly be an accident. The revelation that in 1983 Donald Trump signed the deed and accepted $446,875 in cash from the brutal and corrupt tyrant for an apartment in Trump Tower followed on the heels of Trump’s widely reported slur of the Caribbean island.

Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier in 2011
by Marcello Casal Jr

Paying cash is one indication of possible money laundering; selling to unidentified buyers or shell corporations is another.

Haiti’s president had no knowledge of the sealed documents— he learned of them through the reporting of Buzzfeed News on Trump’s likely facilitation of money laundering by Americans and wealthy foreigners through the sale of apartments in his luxury condominiums.

The report took months to prepare. BuzzFeed investigated every sale of the 22 Trump-branded condominium high rises in the United States since the 1980s. They identified more than 1,300 all-cash sales to shell companies— no mortgages, so that the buyers had no imperative to reveal their real identities or finances.

Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in 2017 warned that

real estate transactions involving luxury property purchased through shell companies—particularly when conducted with cash and no financing—can be an attractive avenue for criminals to launder illegal proceeds while masking their identities.

BuzzFeed calculated that Trump condo sales matching the Treasury’s characteristics of possible money laundering totaled $1.5 billion. They accounted for 21% of the 6,400 Trump condos sold in the US and include Trump-branded buildings that pay the president(!) licensing fees or a percentage of the sales. BuzzFeed found that between 2008 and 2010, 11 buildings licensed by Trump sold condos to hundreds of shell companies, all paying an average of $1.2 million cash. Trump revealed in 2015, reports BuzzFeed, that his “real estate licensing deals” and other brands were worth $3.3 billion. 

Steve Bannon thinks Russian collusion won’t be Trump’s main problem with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff. “You realize where this is going,” Wolff says Bannon told Trump. “This is all about money laundering.”

Early on, Trump had warned Mueller not to cross the line by investigating his or his family’s finances. Bannon reportedly scoffed at the president, pointing out that by telling a prosecutor where not to go, you direct his investigation precisely there.

As it happens, Mueller has hired Andrew Weissman, a Washington attorney who used  to head the criminal fraud division of the Justice Department. He specializes in money laundering.

Steve Bannon will testify under subpoena before a grand jury tomorrow, and after losing his position in the Trump administration, his seat on the Breitbart board, his editorship of Breitbart News, his radio show, his financial backing from the billionaire Mercer family, not to mention his close friendship with Trump, what does he have left to lose?

Stay tuned.

Correction: It is not known when Bannon will before the Grand Jury.

Update

Bannon was subpoenaed by Mueller today to appear before a grand jury, a very unusual move. Normally, a conversation (not under oath) takes place first.

In an other very unusual move, The House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election issued a bipartisan subpoena to Bannon after he refused to answer questions in a nine-hour closed-door session. There has never been a bipartisan subpoena before.

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“Shithole countries”

When the U.S. president speaks, the world listens.

And reacts. North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, whom Trump calls “Little Rocket Man,” in return has denounced Trump as a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.” But the latest frenzy is another order of magnitude— not a pissing match between puerile grown men, but an odious smear of countries on two continents.

In a meeting yesterday Trump let loose when lawmakers were discussing protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” he asked. Instead, he said, we should have more people from Norway and countries like it, i.e., whose people are white, not black or brown. In short order, the president’s words were broadcast worldwide.

Angered by the insult and mincing no words, world leaders denounced Trump as a racist. Rupert Colville, UN human rights spokesman, began by saying

There is no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.

Vicente Fox, ex-president of Mexico said, Trump’s mouth was “the foulest shithole in the world.”

It’s incredible that Trump has been president for a year and he still hasn’t learned that everything he says is on the record. No remark or tweet goes unnoticed. We know he’s not “stable,” let alone a “genius”— not even “a very smart person,” as he tweeted:

Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star….

….to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!

— @realDonaldTrump

But how can he think that people will believe his denials of something he said in front of a bunch of witnesses? No one who knows anything about Trump is so credulous as to accept his word over that of Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, who was present. The Republican lawmakers who were there didn’t back Trump, but at least they didn’t support his denial either.

Since “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” was published last week, it seemed the media had nothing else to write or talk about. The portrait of the president limned by author Michael Wolff is of an incompetent braggart with no knowledge of policy or history or even the Constitution. His over-riding interests are golf and making money. He hardly ever reads but he does watch hours of television every day.

But we knew all this. What is new, at least for me, are the details. I didn’t know, for example, that when he wasn’t having his usual dinner at 6:30 with Steve Bannon, Trump often would get into bed with a cheeseburger, three television screens and his telephone.

What has really caught the most attention is Wolff’s assessment that Trump is not only incompetent and unsuited for the presidency, but that his mental abilities are deteriorating. Trump repeats himself all the time, telling the same story three times in one hour. His attention span, as we already knew, is very short, a question of a few minutes.

This last brouhaha perfectly illustrates Trump’s mental deficiencies. He said something outrageous in front of a group of people. He doesn’t consider or even imagine the implications of his words and their likely effects on both the domestic and international stages. Then, when he sees the adverse reactions at home and across the globe, he attempts to recover by admitting he used “tough” language, but denying that he said what everyone now knows he said. He constantly lies and contradicts himself. Something is missing. There is no way to negotiate or reason with such a person. It’s time for Trump to go.

Republicans, grow a spine. Don’t just withdraw from the arena, resist. Fight for the Constitution and the values you swore to safeguard.

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Mental Deviants & Gun Nuts

How many more times, indeed?

Ben East Books

A dozen years ago when I worked in Saudi Arabia, the government had a habit of referring to domestic terrorists as ‘deranged’ and calling them ‘mental deviants.’ We mocked the Saudis mercilessly for it.

The Royals were denying reality. They failed to acknowledge and confront the extremist forces at loose in the Kingdom, extremist views held by murderers with the will and the means to destroy human life in large-scale attacks. In other words: terrorism conducted by terrorists.

Of course, we understood where the denial stemmed from. Saudi governing legitimacy dated to a 19th-century deal with the adherents of an 18th Century vision of Islam. To call the terrorists what they were — terrorists — would have been to condemn and alienate the traditional Saudi power base.

So ‘deranged’ and ‘mental deviants’ it was.

In today’s America we are witnessing a similarly ludicrous pandering to extremist elements devoted to archaic notions…

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