Sunday, January 15, 2017

African Solutions to African Problems 
ZIMBABWE SUNDAY MAIL
Felex Share in Bamako, Mali

President Mugabe joined more than 30 African Heads of State and Government for the 27th France-African Summit which ended here yesterday with issues around peace and security taking centre stage.

The high level summit — held at the Bamako International Conference Centre — witnessed exchanges, discussions and commitments on pertinent issues between the African and French leaders.

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and France President Mr Francois Hollande co-chaired the two-day forum.

Summarising some of the resolutions that were set for adoption by the leaders later yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said: “Basically the document looks at two issues that is peace and security in the African region and partnership and development between Africa and France. “France has been active especially in this part of the world (West Africa), assisting in the security sector where there has been problems of rebels of various kinds.

“This is an area that is hot to Mali and neighbouring countries and a lot of time was devoted to discussing these issues.”

France has been deploying soldiers in Mali since 2013 to help the conflict-ridden nation push back an Islamist insurgency.

This resulted in a peace deal between the Malian Government and Tuareg-led rebels in 2015.

President Mugabe, then African Union chairperson, oversaw the major peace deal, imploring the warring parties to adhere to the accord and “turn their swords into ploughshares”.

On economic development, Minister Mumbengegwi said: “France has already pledged 20 billion euros towards development assistance, some of which will assist French companies willing to invest in Africa.”

France claims to have delivered 11,5 billion euros of development assistance between 2014 and 2016 to Africa and plans to spend about 4 billion per annum for the next two years to reach the 20 billion euros mark pledged at the 2013 France-Africa Summit in Paris.

In Zimbabwe, a number of French companies are taking up vast investment opportunities in the Southern African country’s manufacturing sector.

Opening yesterday’s summit, President Keita called for commitment and concerted efforts from African countries to end challenges bedeviling them.

“Mali is not yet stable but you showed trust and Malian people will not forget their debt to you,” he said. We are facing the threat of terrorism but if we join hands we will conquer and become fully developed.”

President Hollande echoed the same sentiments, saying “nothing is impossible when we are united and acting in solidarity to counter terrorism”.

“France is not there to exert influence or change political decisions made by African countries,” he said.

“We are here for peace, working with African countries to build their defence capabilities. It is African countries that have to ensure they provide security for Africans. It is Africa that has to combat terrorism, we are just here to offer support. “

African Union chairperson, President Idriss Deby of Chad said the summit’s theme — “Partnership, Peace and Emergence” — addressed the concerns of African countries.

“This is a period of major turbulence in Africa,” he said.

“The turbulence is two-fold, security and economic challenges which are affecting development programmes. We have no choice but to unite our forces.

“Africa is a place where peace and security are always threatened and it is us who have to re-double our efforts to counter this.”

He said the summit could not deliberate without pondering the issue of migration that sees thousands of African youths leaving their countries in quest of opportunities elsewhere, mainly Europe.
How Do We Explain the Rise of Anti-globalization?
 Martin Jacques

In two dramatic developments, 2016 saw the end of globalisation as we have known it. The first was Brexit last May, the decision by the UK to leave the European Union after 43 years of membership. It came in the only conceivable way it could happen – a referendum.The country’s elected leaders would never have voted for it, but a referendum might and did. Even now the consequences are largely unknown.

It seems likely that the UK will leave the EU, but the terms of its leaving, and what alternative arrangements it might negotiate instead, are shrouded in uncertainty.

The longer-term impact on the European Union is similarly uncertain. Brexit was undoubtedly the biggest blow the EU has suffered since the former Common Market was founded in 1957.

The expansion of the EU from the initial six members to the present 28, was the most obvious yardstick of its success. Now the process of integration has been put into reverse with Britain’s exit: 28 is becoming 27.

And in the wake of the decision by one of the largest and most influential (albeit reluctant) members to leave, others could follow.

Could the EU unravel? It is not impossible. Certainly the EU has been malfunctioning for a long time: it is no accident that the EU has, with Japan, been the worst economic performer in the developed world since the Western financial crisis.

It is important to recognise that the British vote was not just about Europe.

It went much deeper. It was a protest vote by a large section of the population against how they felt left behind in recent decades: stagnant or falling wages, the increasingly precarious nature of their circumstances and growing inequality.

These processes had been at work since the late 70s, as pro-globalisation policies had combined with the extension of the free market, large-scale immigration and the withdrawal of state provision to create a much harsher environment.

The Western financial crisis in 2007-8 proved a decisive moment in this process.

Real incomes are now on average lower than they were in 2007, they have never fallen before like this over the course of more than a century.

Seen in this light, it is clear that the vote was not just about Europe but more fundamentally was about globalisation and the neo-liberal regime that had held sway since 1979.

The same general trends are evident in varying degrees across most of Europe but the most dramatic expression came in the United States.

The theme is familiar: a large section of the white male working class has suffered stagnant or falling real wages over a period of decades but especially since the financial crisis.

Unlike in Britain where the revolt took a largely right-wing form – mainly because of immigration – in the US it could be seen on the left (Bernie Sanders’ challenge to Hillary Clinton) and on the right in the form of Donald Trump.

Although Trump won the Republican nomination, he did so against virtually the whole of the Republican establishment.

He went on to win the presidential election opposed by most of his own party’s leaders, the whole of the Democratic Party and the majority of the media.

More than in any presidential election since 1945, Trump’s victory was that of a populist authoritarian leader rather than a party: in so doing he overturned many of the established norms of American democracy.

How do we explain the rise of this new mood?

The neo-liberal era of globalisation, which has dominated Western politics since 1980 – advocated by right and left alike, from Reagan, Clinton and Obama to Thatcher and Blair – had led to the worst Western financial crisis since 1931.

And its aftermath has resulted in almost a decade of close to zero growth and falling living standards.

As a result, globalisation became deeply discredited in the developed world and especially the US.

The result was entirely predictable, albeit somewhat delayed, namely a wave of disillusionment in the established parties and their leaders, and a growing disenchantment with international and national institutions.

Another factor is also at play. Western power is visibly in decline. America is no longer what it was and Americans can see this. Europe’s decline has been rampant, indeed in historical terms extraordinary.

The continent has lost its way. Most Westerners are aware of the rise of Asia and especially China.

The extent to which the authority of, respect for, and prestige of Western leaders and institutions has been bolstered by and derived from the fact that they have for so long run the world should not be underestimated.

Their authority is still significant but, like the ice caps, it has been steadily evaporating. Such has been the seismic nature of the crisis that its fall-out has not been limited to globalisation. On the contrary, other long-standing assumptions are threatened or have already been undermined.

It is Trump’s expressed intention to ‘Make America Great Again’, by which he means to restore American prosperity and power and halt or reverse China’s rise.

His image of America is back to something like the 1950s when the US was predominant in the world and whites were dominant at home.

He has questioned the ‘One China’ policy and threatens to take the Sino-US relationship back to the pre-1972 era. It is entirely possible that the European Union will not survive in its present form, a situation which would deliver Europe back to something like the 1950s.

More alarmingly still, if present events have a spiritual predecessor, then the obvious candidate is the 1930s. So what will this mean for China?

In 2007-9 it already began to feel the tremors from the coming earthquake when it introduced the huge stimulus programme to compensate for the dramatic contraction of Western markets following the financial crisis.

Now it faces an even more severe test: firstly, there is the threat to globalisation consequent upon Trump’s declared intention to raise import duties against Chinese products, a likely more hostile attitude towards Chinese inward investment, and pressure on US companies to repatriate some of their operations; and secondly what increasingly looks like a new cold war against China.

How should China react? In the face of the threat of a new cold war, China needs, in the spirit of Deng Xiaoping, to win friends and partners wherever they may be found, thereby seeking to isolate Trump as much as possible while avoiding the provocations of which he is so fond.

The USSR fought the US toe to toe in the cold war: that was a huge mistake.

And as for globalisation, China has already set out its store, namely that it is a strong supporter and believes it to be in the global interest. In the developing world, it has a strong ally.

Two final points. It is likely that the situation will get worse, perhaps much worse, before it gets better. These unpredictable and dangerous times should be regarded as the new norm: the hitherto relatively benign environment of the reform period, namely 1978-2015, but especially 1978-2007, is now history.

And second, Trump will not reverse American decline nor will he thwart China’s rise: the reason for both is too deep and too profound.

But he could cause a lot of damage by his actions.

The author is a Senior Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies, Cambridge University.

Source: People’s Daily.
Bondholders Say Mozambique Will Pay as JPMorgan Sees Default
by Paul Wallace  and Matthew Hill
Bloomberg
January 13, 2017, 6:38 AM EST

‘Market’s overreacted in spades,’ says bondholders’ adviser; Mozambique bonds and currency will fall if it defaults: Teneo; Will Mozambique default or not?

JPMorgan Chase & Co. says the African nation is poised to miss payment on a $60 million coupon next week, but a former International Monetary Fund official who’s advising bondholders insists the government has the money.

“It’s in the interest of Mozambique, as well as the bondholders, for the government to pay the coupon,” Charles Blitzer said in an e-mailed response to questions. “I can’t see any good consequences if it doesn’t. The market has overreacted in spades.”

The country’s $727 million of bonds sank to a record after JPMorgan analysts said the government’s rhetoric implies it’s “highly unlikely” to make the payment on Jan. 18.

Mired in a financial crisis after commodity revenue plummeted and the IMF cut aid, Mozambique said in October it would seek to restructure the Eurobond as well as $1.4 billion of government-guaranteed loans to two state companies. Lazard Freres & Co., which represents Mozambique along with law firm White & Case LLP, said the government would have no money left over for debt payments in 2017, including those on the Eurobond.

That sparked a stand-off with bondholders, who formed a creditor committee to argue their case for preferential treatment over other creditors on the grounds that the state guarantees on the loans may be illegal.

“The situation in Mozambique has improved since October,” said Blitzer, who’s advising creditors including Franklin Templeton and AllianceBernstein LP. “In recent months capacity to pay has improved as both the exchange rate and reserves have stabilized and begun to move up.”

The January 2023 bond, which fell to a record 50 cents on the dollar on Jan. 11, was quoted at 54 as of 1:15 p.m. in Maputo, the capital, still down 6 cents from last week. The yield is 26.1 percent.

While the government hoped to finalize a restructuring by Jan. 18, it still hasn’t started formal discussions with the bondholders. There’s a 15-day grace period to settle the coupon payment, according to the prospectus.

Debt Audit

“There’s nothing on the record to indicate they’ve made a decision to not pay this coupon,” said Blitzer. “There was nothing like that said in the restructuring presentation. The creditor committee remains open to discussions of its views and analysis of various issues, but negotiations could begin only after the various preconditions are in place.”

The bondholders have said talks should be held off until an audit of the state companies, which New York-based risk analysis firm Kroll is conducting, is published and a new IMF aid package is in place.

The IMF will “continue to engage with the government to overcome the number of challenges that they face,” spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters in Washington Thursday.

While there’s still a chance that Mozambique will pay the coupon to avoid credit rating downgrades, it will probably decide not to, according to New York-based Teneo Intelligence.

“The crisis has become so entrenched that absent improved political resolve, Mozambique remains likely to drift into default,” Teneo’s Senior Vice President Anne Fruhauf said. “The assumption is that because the crisis is so bad already it won’t matter much. But that’s a mistaken assumption. There will be ratings actions, the currency may take a hit, the bonds will fall.”
South African Ombudsman Pushes Bank to Repay Apartheid-era Loan
Barclays-owned Absa says public protector’s report contains ‘inaccuracies’

Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the new South African public protector, says in a preliminary report that a central bank loan was unconstituitional © Reuters

JANUARY 13, 2017
by Joseph Cotterill
Financial Times

Absa, the South African lender owned by Barclays, has been pushed by a government ombudsman to pay back an allegedly corrupt apartheid-era bailout in a sign of the growing political fallout for banks from scandals rocking the ruling African National Congress.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the new South African public protector, recommended Absa repay R2.25bn ($166m) after concluding in a preliminary report that central bank lending to a bank it took over 25 years ago was unconstitutional, the Johannesburg-based Mail & Guardian newspaper reported on Friday.

Absa, which said in a statement that the public protector’s preliminary report contained “several factual and legal inaccuracies” and “perpetuates an incorrect view” that it had unduly benefited from the loans, has until next month to respond to the claims.

But the report, which reopens claims over the extent of corruption during white-minority rule that ended in 1994, will raise fears that South Africa’s banks are becoming political targets as a power struggle within the ruling African National Congress intensifies ahead of a contest this year to succeed President Jacob Zuma as leader.

Absa was among a group of South African banks that cut ties last year to companies owned by the Guptas, a business family accused of using its friendship with Mr Zuma and his relatives to influence ministerial appointments and win public contracts.

Standard Bank, the country’s largest lender, said in December that it had come under “unprecedented” political pressure to re-establish ties.

The Guptas and Mr Zuma have denied the allegations. Allies of Mr Zuma’s have countered the claims by accusing “white monopoly capital” of undermining the government.

Mr Zuma’s presidency has been dogged by scandal and alleged corruption. Critics have accused ANC factions of fighting for control of institutions, including the country’s Treasury.

According to people familiar with the matter, both the Treasury and South African Reserve Bank — and their alleged failings in the bailout — are also an area of focus in Ms Mkhwebane’s draft report.

Bankorp, a politically connected lender damaged by a financial crisis, received a “lifeboat” loan from the Reserve Bank in 1985.

Absa bought Bankorp in 1992, repaying the loans three years later. Since the ANC took power in 1994, allegations have circulated that the loans were at unduly favourable rates and subsidised Bankorp’s investors.

In 2000, a report led by a South African judge found that the Bankorp bailout was “seriously flawed” but did not improperly benefit Absa shareholders.

Andile Mngxitama of the Black Land Foundation, which has campaigned for the public protector to investigate an alleged R26bn in apartheid-era corruption, said: “There has been a problem of protecting white capital and powerful families.”

Mr Mngxitama, who has defended the Guptas in the past, added that there is a “political narrative that wants white capital to continue to loot with impunity”.

Barclays is seeking to reduce its stake in Absa to below 50 per cent as part of its planned exit from operations in Africa.
Twitter Calls for Release of South African Photojournalist Kidnapped in Syria
January 15th, 2017 - 10:44 GMT
Albabwaba

Journalists in Syria are some of the most vulnerable in the world, facing a notably high risk of death and kidnappings. The latest victim of the trade is South African photojournalist, Shiraaz Mohamed, who was working in Syria among local and international journalists to document the conflict.

Mohamed was reportedly kidnapped in Syria five days ago, while travelling from a hospital to the Turkish border. Currently, South African-based relief organisation, Gift of the Givers, is working to ensure Mohamed’s safe release.

According to Eyewitness News, Imtiaz Sooliman from the organization says the kidnappers alleged that they represent several groups inside Syria.

“They asked if he was a foreigner, to which they said yes; they asked if he has a passport, they said yes; they asked if he is Muslim, they said yes. They then blindfolded our two drivers and drove the car with Shiraz to another place about an hour away. At that point they stopped, got out of the car, and told the two drivers ‘you may leave’.”

“Although it’s a very tense situation, we all have to keep calm to try to find out who has him. We don’t understand why he is captured, but we know that the people in Syria respect us and they love us for what we have done there.”

South Africans have taken to Twitter to call for his release, with #ReleaseShiraazMohamed being utilized.

The Comittee to Protect Journalist also joined in on the call to release Mohamed. In a statement on Twitter, CPJ MENA coordinate, Sherif Mansour, condemned the kidnapping:

"[Mohamed's] job is aimed for the world to take notice and stop the suffering of the Syrian people. Those who hold him must release him immediately and ensure his safe return to his family."

Syria is among the deadliest countries for press members to work in. In 2016 alone, 14 journalists were killed there, out of a total of 48 across the world, according to New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

AM 
South African Photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed Kidnapped
Shiraaz Mohamed taken by unidentified armed men near Turkey border while on assignment for Gift of the Givers charity.

Shiraaz Mohamed from Johannesburg has been been missing in Syria since 10 January.

A South African photojournalist has been kidnapped in northern Syria while working for aid group Gift of the Givers, the charity said.

Shiraaz Mohamed, from Johannesburg, was taken by unidentified armed men on Tuesday as he tried to leave the country with other members of the group through the border with Turkey.

Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of Gift of the Givers, said Mohamed, 38, was taken to an unknown location after being stopped on the road near the border by the men.

They removed Mohamed from the car at gunpoint after questioning the other members about his identity.

They were then blindfolded and driven to a different location before being told that Mohamed would be questioned due to an unknown "misunderstanding", and would return within two days.

His whereabouts are unknown.

Sooliman said South Africa's Department of International Relations has been informed of the kidnapping, adding that Gift of the Givers has an idea who the perpetrators are but that the information cannot be revealed.

Gift of the Givers is a disaster relief organisation mainly active on the African continent, but it is also well-established in northern Syria where it provides medical services and other aid.

Members of the group are working together on the ground to gain information on Mohamed's location and condition.

Mohamed arrived in Syria on 4 January after planning the trip for months, and photographed in and around the Gift of the Givers hospitals.

He was meant to have left the country on Tuesday, aided by the charity's members.

On 9 January Mohamed texted his family to say that there was a chance he might be detained before leaving the country.

In a statement to Jacaranda FM, a South African radio station, his family said they were "devastated at the news of his disappearance.

"Shiraaz's passion for his pictures and for people led him into a distinguished career as an international photographer of note … Last year, he travelled to 12 countries. He flew to Nepal to cover the earthquakes on a solo trip knowing that he may not return, but did it anyway for the love of photography," the statement read.

Source: Al Jazeera News
SACP Threatens Legal Action Over Tshabalala's SABC Claims
14 January 2017, 3:12pm
ANA Reporter

Former SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala testified at a parliamentary inquiry into the affairs of the broadcaster. File picture: Paballo Thekiso/Independent Media
Johannesburg – The South African Communist Party on Saturday threatened legal action against former SABC board chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala for making baseless allegations against the party to a parliamentary committee.

The SACP dismissed "with contempt the baseless allegation of interference levelled against the party" by Tshabalala on Friday before the parliamentary ad hoc committee investigating the governance decay and consequent collapse of good governance at the SABC, the SACP said in a statement.

"Ellen Tshabalala made the allegation, which she failed to substantiate, while she was under oath. The SACP strictly reserves its rights in law and will take her head-on legally. The disgraced former chairperson of the SABC who has lost due credibility still did not see any problem with lying.

"It is very clear that she fabricated the allegation because she harbours a grudge against the SACP. The SACP has played a resolute role and remains consistent in exposing and campaigning against corporate capture at the SABC, including the transfer of the public broadcaster's archives and associated programming influence or control to a private company MultiChoice, a subsidiary of Naspers, a colonial-era mouthpiece of the Broederbond, an ideological vanguard organisation of apartheid," it said.

"As the champion of democratic media transformation, and in this regard through its campaign to save the SABC from the governance decay that had been destroying the public broadcaster, the SACP had played a widely recognised decisive role publicly challenging Tshabalala to produce copies of the qualifications that she claimed to have obtained from the University of South Africa (Unisa) or failing which to resign or be removed for misinterpretation of facts leading to her appointment to the SABC board and to the position of chairwoman. In her CV that she submitted for her appointment, Tshabalala claimed that she graduated from Unisa with a BCom degree and a postgraduate diploma in labour relations."

President Jacob Zuma repeated the claim in his statement announcing her appointment "on merit" including the qualifications.

It however emerged in a letter by Unisa responding to a media inquiry under the Promotion of Access to Information Act that according to the university's records no qualification was awarded to Tshabalala. This was not the first time.

According to media reports in 2011 Mercedes Benz had requested confirmation of her qualifications from Unisa when she applied for a job at the company and the university informed an intermediary that she failed to attain the qualifications she claimed, the SACP said.

Tshabalala's failure to produce proof of the qualifications and public campaigning by, among others the SACP, calling for an inquiry into her claims culminated in Parliament's communications portfolio committee initiating the inquiry. She was subsequently found guilty of misconduct.

"The committee found that she lied to Parliament about her qualifications and that she further lied in a sworn affidavit that she submitted to Parliament in lieu of her academic records claiming that she lost her qualification certificates.

In response she claimed that there was a political agenda behind the finding.

Meanwhile, she continuously failed to produce proof for the qualifications – until now. A case of fraud must actually be brought against her in this regard.

"Ellen Tshabalala never bothered to mention any of these facts on Friday when asked why she resigned from the SABC. Instead she blamed the media for the so-called negative reports about her and repeated her unfounded allegation that there were political leaders who did not want her to be appointed to the SABC board. She further stated that the then chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee Joyce Moloi-Moropa, who is the national treasurer of the SACP, refused to give her attention when she approached her about the allegation on not having qualifications. The SACP congratulates Joyce Moloi-Moropa for doing the right thing. She refused to offer political interference," the SACP said.

Tshabalala suggested to the ad hoc committee that it was wrong for Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande to comment publicly about the process of digital migration.

Nzimande was the general secretary of the SACP and in terms of party's constitution it was his duty to publicly represent the party's decisions and express its perspectives.

The party's and the general secretary's rights to freedom of expression were provided for and protected in the country's Constitution. Exercising the rights by commenting publicly on the affairs of the SABC – the public broadcaster – and the country's communications policy, including digital migration, did not constitute political interference.

"The SACP will continue to publicly expose wrongdoing at the SABC and elsewhere at any of our public institutions, entities, and across our economy without any fear or favour," the statement said.

African News Agency
Trump-Lewis Feud Could Be Harbinger of New Round of Hyper-partisanship
President-elect Donald Trump launched a Twitter attack against civil right icon, John Lewis, after the Georgia congressman called Trump's win "illegitimate" due to Russian interference with U.S. elections. (Reuters)

By Abby Phillip
Washington Post
January 14 at 8:39 PM

A public feud between Donald Trump and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) seemed to jettison any lingering hopes that the inauguration would temporarily ease partisanship in Washington and instead threatened to widen the rift between the two parties.

Lewis’s assertion that Trump is not a “legitimate president” and his announcement that he would skip Friday’s inaugural ceremony prompted the president-elect to sharply criticize the civil rights leader Saturday morning.

“Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results,” Trump wrote in two tweets. “All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!”

Late Saturday evening, Trump continued to hammer Lewis in a third tweet. “Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!” Trump wrote.

How a week of Trump tweets stoked anxiety, moved markets and altered plans

Trump’s comments were all the more charged as they came at the start of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend and were seen as dismissive of Lewis’s work in the civil right movement, a time when he was subjected to arrest and assault. Adding to the racial overtones is the disparagement of Lewis’s district, which is majority black, as “crime infested.”

The incident has left Democrats and Republicans bracing themselves for yet another showdown between the president and his political opponents — one that threatens to usher in a new era of the kind of crippling hyper-partisanship that often characterized the eight years of the Obama administration.

David Axelrod, former senior strategist and aide to President Obama, called Lewis “as genuine and decent a person as you’ll find,” but he worried that Democrats risk adopting an originally Republican playbook in their dealings with Trump and that it won’t advance the party’s interests.

“The question is how much can a democracy take of cycle after cycle of one side claiming illegitimacy,” Axelrod said. “I as much as anybody else appreciate the anger because I was there when we basically faced a Republican blockade, even on things that Republicans had supported in the past. I saw how destructive that was and how difficult that was.”

“If you care about our democracy, how do you proceed now? Do you pay him back in kind?” Axelrod asked.

Voicing the anger and disappointment of many Democrats in Congress and beyond, Lewis said in an interview with NBC News’s “Meet the Press” that was published Friday that he does not believe Trump is a legitimate president, citing the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia intervened in the election to bolster Trump.

“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected, and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” Lewis said.

The comments prompted anger from Republicans — even those who do not support Trump — who said that Democrats are disregarding their own breathless warnings during the campaign about the risks of failing to accept the election results.

“We listened to Democrats for the last two months of the campaign say that any suggestion that the elections weren’t legitimate and the results wouldn’t be accepted is dangerous and unpatriotic,” said Doug Heye, a Republican strategist. “Now those same people are trying to delegitimize Trump and say that he shouldn’t be elected president.”

Interim Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile called Trump’s comments an “attack on a living legend and a civil rights hero.”

“I say that John Lewis took action. He took action marching from Selma to Montgomery,” she said at a Democratic Party meeting in Phoenix.

At least a dozen Democratic lawmakers have joined Lewis, saying that they plan to skip Trump’s swearing-in. And on Twitter on Saturday, many of them jumped to the congressman’s defense.

Few Republican lawmakers weighed in. Two, Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Rep. Kevin Yoder (Kan.), tweeted support for Lewis even as they urged him to attend the inauguration. One other, Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), urged Trump in a pointed tweet to “just stop.”

The Lewis tweets capped a week of Twitter flurries by the president-elect in which he went after what he viewed as insults from various people or entities, including Clinton, CNN, the intelligence community, BuzzFeed News and Meryl Streep.

“His fundamental rule is that if you come after me in any way, I’ll come after you,” Axelrod noted. “He thinks he can bully people into cooperation. My experience has been that can drive people further away and make it harder.

“There are some things that he’s talking about wanting to do that he’s going to need Democratic votes for.”

David Weigel in Phoenix contributed to this report.

Abby Phillip is a national political reporter covering the White House for The Washington Post. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com.  Follow @abbydphillip
Philadelphia Teachers Encouraging Week of Lessons on Black Lives Matter Movement 
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Saturday, January 14, 2017, 11:54 AM

PHILADELPHIA — A teachers' organization in Philadelphia is encouraging teachers to wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts and buttons and provide lessons on the movement every day for one week.

The Caucus of Working Educators, a faction of the teachers union, is developing lessons plans and curriculum ideas for teachers of grades from kindergarten through high school for the week of Jan. 23. The plans, distilled from the movement's 13 guiding principles, such as embracing diversity and globalism, will be available online , organizers said Friday.

"The vast majority of students that we serve are black, and it's important to affirm the lives of our students," said co-organizer Charlie McGeehan, who is white and teaches high school humanities at The U School, where students work on solving real-world problems.

The organizers said more and more educators are signing on every day, but they don't have an exact number of participating teachers.

"We had 500 buttons and shirts and distributed those and ordered more," McGeehan said.

Amy Roat, who teaches English as a Second Language at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, said the idea is to engage students in current events and help them learn about other people. Most of her students are Latino, Asian and Arab-American.

"We are a school that is very inclusive and we talk about a lot of good, juicy stuff," she said. "Black Lives Matter functions with 13 principles that I think are good and healthy for kids to learn about."

She said she hasn't heard any complaints or gotten any blowback from teachers, principals or parents.

Walmart to pull 'Black Lives Matter' shirt after police complaint
Roat, who is white, said they planned the curriculum for a week after Martin Luther King Day, to build off the momentum of marches, protest and actions.

Talk of developing the curriculum got started in October, after a school district in Seattle had a "Black Lives Matter at School" day, McGeehan said.

"We were inspired," he said.

A school district spokesman didn't comment directly on the caucus's plans but said the district provides regular avenues for students to learn and express themselves.

A spokesman for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the main teachers union, said it couldn't comment on the plans because it wasn't a union-sponsored activity.

The Black Lives Matter movement largely emerged in 2014 after several high-profile killings of unarmed black men and boys by police officers. It has since evolved from its social media presence and protests in multiple cities to a national platform with a policy agenda that also addresses issues including mass incarceration, and systemic inequality against African-Americans.

For McGeehan, he plans to incorporate the materials during his 40-minute advisory period, and can see ways it could come up in English and social studies classes.

"We want to show the complexity and diversity of the Black Lives Matter movement," he said.
Chicago Immigration Rally Has Message for Trump: We're Here to Stay
 People from a dozen organizations and communities gathered to rally for immigrant and refugee rights Jan. 14, 2017, at Chicago Teachers Union headquarters on Chicago's Near West Side. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)

Sam Roe Contact Reporter
Chicago Tribune

Student Cindy Agustin fears her parents will be deported and she'll never see them again.

Nareman Taha worries the government will create a Muslim registry to track people of her faith.

Teacher Jaime Serrano is concerned about his second-grade students, some of whom are anxious they will be separated from their families.

"It's heartbreaking," he said. "They are really scared."

Anxiety about the future — and resolve to change it — brought more than 1,000 people together Saturday for a Chicago rally against President-elect Donald Trump's hard-line immigration proposals.

Protesters chanted "no justice, no peace," waved signs reading "We Are Here to Stay," and cheered community, faith and labor leaders who called for unity and action.

The rally, held at the Chicago Teachers Union headquarters on the Near West Side, coincided with similar protests in dozens of other U.S. cities Saturday, six days before Trump is to be inaugurated.

During his campaign for the White House, Trump adopted strict positions on immigration, including building "a big, fat beautiful wall" at the U.S.-Mexican border. But he also sent mixed messages, and now many people wonder exactly what he will do as president.

"I mean, that's the issue with Trump, right? He's completely unpredictable," Chicago rally organizer Lawrence Benito said in an interview prior before the event. "He says one thing and then he walks it back. I don't know what to expect."

Immigration activists, Benito said, will watch Trump's first 100 days in office closely.

"We're going to be prepared — for what we can anticipate — for the fight to come," said Benito, head of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the rally's lead organization.

Agustin, a 27-year-old graduate student at the University of Chicago, said in an interview she is an immigrant from Mexico living in the U.S. without legal permission and worries that she won't be able to renew her work permit and find a job upon graduation.

Worse, she said, is the possibility her parents will be deported, leaving her with the agonizing decision between going to Mexico with them or staying in the U.S. and not seeing them again. "If I leave the country, I would not be able to come back."

Serrano, who teaches kindergarten through second grade in Chicago Public Schools, said many children of Mexican origin fear being separated from their parents.

"I had a little girl say she cried all night long after she heard Trump wanted to deport Mexican immigrants," he said.

Taha, co-founder of Arab American Family Services, said in some ways, Muslims are under more stress now than after 9/11, when many were viewed with suspicion.

Many young Muslims, she said, didn't experience 9/11, and for older Muslims, Trump's victory "is bringing back that trauma experience — that you are different, that you're not one of us."

"But we want to message him: We are here to stay," she said.

During the rally, organizers announced the details of a platform they are sending to local, state and federal lawmakers. It calls on officials to oppose, among other things, mass deportations, a Muslim registry and private immigrant detention centers.

The platform also accuses the incoming administration of having "already explicitly communicated its intent to commit violence upon undocumented immigrants, refugees, Muslims, LGBTQ individuals, low-income families, those who lack health care access, the elderly, and many more."

Erica Rangel, an organizer with Enlace Chicago, which aids residents of Little Village, said immigrants are willing to stay involved and take action.

"People are passionate about the issue," she said. "It's something that touches them very deeply, something they live with on a daily basis."

sroe@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @SamRoe

Saturday, January 14, 2017

President in Bamako for France-Africa Summit
January 13, 2017
From Felex Share in Bamako, Mali
Zimbabwe Herald

President Mugabe has today joined other African Heads of State and Government gathered here for the 27th edition of the France-Africa Summit.

The summit is aimed at strengthening ties between France and African countries.

This is the second time Mali is hosting the event, having first done so in 2005.

The two-day summit — themed “Partnership, Peace and Emergence”— begins today with Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting to adopt resolutions for onward presentation to the Heads of State and Government.

The Ministers’ meeting will be followed by a banquet hosted by Malian leader President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita for the Presidents.

Reports indicate that the summit agenda will hinge on peace and security, terrorism, migration, cyber-crime, human and drug trafficking, among other issues affecting France and the African continent.

President Keita and French leader Francois Hollande are expected to co-chair the official opening of the summit tomorrow.

The summit will also draw representatives from the European Union, African Union, United Nations, African Development Bank, World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

African First Ladies are also expected to hold a side meeting tomorrow looking at “positive aspects of our cultures and traditions which favour promoting the sexual health of teenagers”.

For Zimbabwe, it is the fifth time President Mugabe will be attending the France-Africa Summit having made his first presence at the 1994 gathering in Paris.

Zimbabwe did not attend the 2007, 2010 and 2013 summits, rejecting the invitations from Paris as they came with unjustified conditions.

The invitations, whose conditions President Mugabe strongly disapproved, came at the height of the stand-off between the Zimbabwe and most European countries.

The stand-off followed Britain’s internationalisation of her bilateral dispute with Zimbabwe after the latter embarked on a land reform programme that benefited the majority of black people.

The EU then imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 at the behest of Britain, a move that subsequently affected the southern African nation’s relations with France.

Paris, which pursued a policy of assimilation as opposed to the separate development espoused by British colonialism, is now keen to strengthen relations with African countries, including Zimbabwe.

To mend its relations with Zimbabwe, Paris has started warming up to Zimbabwe’s vast investment opportunities and has made several investments in the past few years.

In 2014, the French Development Agency extended facilities to two local banks worth $20 million in support of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

That same year, top French seed company, Limagrain forged a strategic partnership with Seed Co Limited, a move which has improved the operations of Zimbabwe’s biggest seed producer.

Another French yeast manufacturing company, Lesaffre Group partnered local entity Anchor Yeast and formed Lesaffre Zimbabwe in a deal worth millions of dollars.

In addition, another French telecommunications company, Sofrecom, has been working with Zimbabwe’s state-owned fixed line operator TelOne to improve competitiveness.

President Mugabe is also returning to Mali having been there in 2015 as African Union chairperson when he oversaw a major peace deal between the Malian government and Tuareg-led rebels.

President Keita reciprocated with a three-day State visit to Harare a month later and the two countries agreed to strengthen their ties in various economic sectors.
Rebellion in Tunisia on Anniversary of Ben Ali Overthrow
Unemployed protesters shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the government provide them with job opportunities, as Tunisia marks the sixth anniversary of Tunisia's 2011 revolution, in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Amine Ben Aziza

By Tarek Amara | TUNIS

Hundreds of protesters demanding jobs clashed with police in several Tunisian towns on Saturday, blocking the route of visiting President Beji Caid Essebsi in one region, on the sixth anniversary of the country's revolution.

Local residents said protests that erupted in the southern town of Ben Guerdane had spread over the weekend to several other areas such as Sidi Bouzid, Meknassi and Gafsa, where Essebsi visited to mark the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Six years after that revolt, Tunisia is hailed as a model of democratic transition, but rural central and southern regions remain flashpoints for rioting in marginalized towns where many young Tunisians see little economic opportunity or progress.

In Gafsa, angry youths protested against Essebsi's visit, throwing stones and blocking the road. Local media and residents said the president's convoy was forced to change its route before he left by air.

In Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the Tunisian revolution sparked by the death of a street vendor protesting against official corruption and abuses, hundreds demonstrated in front of the local governorate, making the same demands as six years ago.

"We raised the same slogans as 2011 ... work is our right ... no fear, and the street belongs to the people," Attia Athmouni, a local resident told Reuters.

In Meknassi, police arrested some protesters late on Friday. But the protests continued in Meknassi and Manzel Bouziane on Saturday.

The presidency said that Essebsi announced development projects which will provide more job opportunities in Gafsa, the heart of the country's state-run phosphate business, whose exports have also been disrupted by protests over jobs.

After a day of calm following a visit by a delegation of ministers to Ben Guerdane, near the Libyan border, protesters clashed again on Saturday with police, local residents said.

Since the 2011 uprising, Tunisia has mostly avoided the political violence that has plagued much of the Arab world. The North African country emerged as a symbol of peaceful democratic change with free elections, a new constitution and compromise between Islamist and secular rivals.

But economic progress, a central demand of many Tunisians, has failed to match the country's political advances. In rural southern and central regions, where farming remains one of the few sources of income, tensions often flare over the lack of jobs and economic opportunities.

(Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Andrew Bolton)
Angola’s Ailing Health System Has a New Illness to Deal With—the Zika Virus
Lynsey Chutel
January 11, 2017
Quartz Africa

Just as it seemed the Zika virus was under control around the world, Angolan health officials confirmed on Jan. 9 the country’s first two cases of the disease.

Africa’s largest oil producer is already struggling to overcome a cholera outbreak that has infected 106 people and killed six. Last year, an outbreak of yellow fever, also a mosquito-borne virus, left at least 400 people dead, with the government only declaring an end to the epidemic in December.

These outbreaks have exposed and exacerbated the weak state of the country’s poor public healthcare system, despite years of prosperity thanks to an oil boom.

One Zika patient is a French tourist who has since returned home. The head of Angola’s department of hygiene, Eusebio Manuel, said the tourist left Angola after being diagnosed with the virus. However the World Health Organization said in its December Zika situation report that a conclusive diagnosis hadn’t yet been given, as the tourist’s yellow fever vaccination could present similar symptoms.

The other patient, more worryingly, is a resident in the capital Luanda. That case was registered on Dec. 26, and Angola’s National Directorate of Health has since put the country under epidemiological surveillance, with health officials monitoring any new cases, according to local media reports (link in Portuguese).

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ government last year imposed a series of budget cuts which affected healthcare, waste collection and water and sanitation services, partly in response to a fall in oil prices. This has made the country more vulnerable to the spread of communicable diseases.

The Zika virus was first discovered in Africa in 1947, but the continent was spared from a recent outbreak, which mainly affected central and South America (pdf). The only African states to register Zika infections during the 2015 to 2016 outbreak were Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, with one case each (pdf). The World Health Organization (WHO) declared that Zika was no longer considered a global threat last November.

The Zika virus shows mild symptoms in adult sufferers. However, its worst effects can be passed on through some pregnancies, causing microcephaly—characterized by babies with exceptionally small heads and other birth defects. The 2016 outbreak is believed to have led to 2,300 cases of microcephaly in 28 countries, most of them in Brazil.
SACP Position on ANC Succession
12 January 2017

The South African Communist Party (SACP) has noted with concern various media reports suggesting that the Party has openly endorsed the Deputy President of the African National Congress (ANC) Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa for ANC President.

The SACP has not endorsed any individual leader`s name for the leadership of the ANC. The media would have reported accurately in this regard should they have taken steps to contact the SACP or even read the Party`s last Augmented Central Committee statement released on 16 December 2016. The SACP openly presented its position on ANC succession in no uncertain terms thus:

"Rather than simply focusing on names of those who should be elected as ANC President, other office bearers and National Executive Committee members, there has to be a consideration of the criteria for effective leadership. A key consideration would be the capacity of a leader and leadership collective to avoid being factionalist and unite the ANC, the Alliance and the historical support base of our liberation struggle... The Augmented Central Committee expressed its concern that for a 105-year old liberation movement it is unacceptable that the ANC does not have a clear policy on leadership succession, and urges that it develops such a policy and implements it as soon as possible."

The SACP will contribute to the debate on the principles and leadership qualities required to take not only the ANC but also our shared national democratic revolution forward and lead our Alliance successfully. The Communist Party reiterates its policy position that it will nevertheless leave the election of ANC leadership to ANC members within the framework of ANC rules and processes.

ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY: THE SACP

FOR GENERAL ENQUIRIES ON SACP STATEMENTS

CONTACT:

ALEX MOHUBETSWANE MASHILO: NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS
SKYPE: MASHILOAM
MOBILE: +27 76 316 9816
OFFICE: +2711 339 3621/2
TWITTER: SACP1921
FACEBOOK PAGE: SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY
SACP USTREAM TV CHANNEL: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/sacp-tv

- See more at: http://www.sacp.org.za/main.php?ID=5849#sthash.oc8V7Ix0.dpuf
ANC Statement on Maimane's Junket to Israel
12 January 2017

The ANC notes the anger and joins fellow South Africans in condemning the visit by the DA's Mmusi Maimane to Israel and to Israel's Prime Minister.

The ANC together with other progressive organizations and forces are not surprised by the DA's visit to Israel and to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At a time when the world is increasingly standing up against Israel's illegal settlements, including the United Nations Security Council, it is a pity that the DA is endorsing the Israeli regime instead of condemning its violations of international law.

The allegations that the Democratic Alliance is funded and controlled by Apartheid Israel sympathisers seems to be true.

We also warn the DA not to mislead the public by suggesting that our government and our party share the same position as the DA on Palestine. The ANC not only supports a just a fair solution but we also have for for several years attended, actively supported and organized international solidarity campaigns with the people of Palestine. We, unlike the DA call out Israel for its racism against African refugees, we condemn Israel's Apartheid policies and its violations of international law including building of illegal settlements and the inhumane Gaza siege.

Much like the DA wants the black majority to vote for them, they remain on the wrong side of history, choosing the oppressors and not the oppressed. The DA seeks the votes of the communities and activists who support Palestine and human rights. However, the DA and its new leader cannot break away from the values of their handlers and their funders. It is clear that the DA will never stand with Palestine and equally the DA will not stand with working class majority on issues like land, economy, labour rights and minimum wage.

The DA has been completely unwilling  to challenge the Israeli government on its continued abuse of human rights and has never acted in solidarity with the Palestinian even during the height of Israel's barbaric attacks on the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip the DA did not organize a single protest, let alone issue a statement condemning Israel's criminal behavior.

This year in our January 8th Statement, the ANC reaffirmed its support for the Palestinian struggle in line with our long standing principle of progressive internationalism. The ANC will remind the DA that during Apartheid the National Party government and its lobby organizations also organized trips for leaders from other countries to come and wine and dine here in Pretoria, Sun City and else where. While the ANC is opposed to these propaganda trips to Israel the DA seems to be happily colluding with the Israeli lobby and Israeli Government on these trips.

The DA continues its blind support of the Israeli government and its abhorrent policies, worse still, they have constantly attempted to downplay and mislead the public on this. We challenge the DA, if their policy is the same as the ANC as they claim then, quite simply, do they then also agree that Israel is practicing forms of Apartheid against the indigenous Palestinian people as our most senior ANC leaders have attested to?

The recent political junket to Taiwan by Mayor of Tshwane also falls in this category - it is no coincidence that the DA has embarked on a disruptive anti progressive diplomatic trips aimed to undermine the Republic of South Africa and its standing in the community of nations, the non-aligned movement and other multilateral institutions.

These disruptions are politically coordinated and aim to sabotage governments work, cause harm to South Africa's economic diplomacy especially with the South nations and halt progress made in promotion of South Africa's economy and job creation efforts.

The DA has once again let down our masses and betrayed the solidarity that Comrades Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo built with the Palestinian people. Without a doubt, they would be turning in their graves.

The ANC fully supports our Governments position of discouraging relations with Israels until Israel abides to international law and the peace process. With the backing of the majority of South Africans, the ANC will ensure government implementation of strict measures against countries violating international law and human rights abuses.

Issued by the African National Congress

Enquiries
Zizi Kodwa 0823304910
National Spokesperson
Khusela Sangoni 0728545707
National Communications Manage
DA ‘Trying to Bring Back Apartheid by Forging Ties With Israel’
Citizen reporter

Mmusi Maimane shakes hands with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu. Picture: Mtshatshalazisi/Twitter

The pro-Palestinian solidarity group says the DA claims to support a peaceful solution in the Middle East but is utterly silent on Israel’s apartheid policies.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is trying to take South Africa back to its dark days of apartheid by forging relations with countries like Israel that supported the oppressive regime, so says pro-Palestinian solidarity group Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS).

Reacting to DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s trip to the Jewish state and Palestine this week – in defiance of President Jacob Zuma’s recent call for citizens to refrain from travelling to Israel – BDS condemned Maimane’s private visit, saying it “speaks volumes” about the party’s respect for human rights.

“It speaks volumes that the DA is trying to take us back to apartheid days by forging relations with countries like Israel and other regimes that backed apartheid,” BDS spokesperson Kwara Kekana said in a statement.

The human rights group said during its discussions with members of parliament in December last year, DA MPs were at the forefront of opposing any forms of boycott against Israel.

“The DA claims to support a peaceful solution but are utterly silent on Israel’s apartheid policies, Israel’s apartheid wall, the political prisoners’ situation, including the over 400 child prisoners, the continued construction of the illegal settlements and the expansion of the settlement industry.”

The official opposition told The Citizen on Thursday that fostering peace was part of what Maimane was in the region to achieve, saying they were looking to bring the “two parties together instead of inflaming tensions between them”.

However, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) wasn’t impressed with Maimane’s visit either. The party’s spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa, said the trip confirmed its suspicion that the DA supported the policies of Israel, and undermined its stated support for self-determination for the Palestinian people.

“At a time when the world is increasingly standing up against Israel’s illegal settlements, including the United Nations Security Council, it is a pity that the DA is endorsing the Israeli regime instead of condemning its violations of international law,” he said.

Kodwa challenged the DA to denounce Israel publicly for inflicting “apartheid” on the Palestinian people, in order to prove that it indeed held the same views as the ANC.

The DA’s official position on the Palestine-Israel question is that it supports a two-state solution and peaceful coexistence with Jerusalem as the shared capital. It has also described visits to the region by party leaders as fact-finding missions.

At the weekend during the ANC’s 105th anniversary celebrations in Soweto, Zuma reiterated the party’s support for the Palestinian demand for self-determination and discouraged South Africans from travelling to Israel.
The Deep State GOES TO WAR With Trump
Glenn Greenwald
Saturday, January 14, 2017, 8:03
Reprinted from the 4th Media, Beijing

In January, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.

The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decadelong escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.

This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”

Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry and damaging those behaviors might be.

The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There are a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combating those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.

But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive.

Empowering the very entities that have produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit over the last six decades is desperation of the worst kind. Demanding that evidence-free, anonymous assertions be instantly venerated as Truth — despite emanating from the very precincts designed to propagandize and lie — is an assault on journalism, democracy, and basic human rationality.

And casually branding domestic adversaries who refuse to go along as traitors and disloyal foreign operatives is morally bankrupt and certain to backfire on those doing it.

Beyond all that, there is no bigger favor that Trump opponents can do for him than attacking him with such lowly, shabby, obvious shams, recruiting large media outlets to lead the way.

When it comes time to expose actual Trump corruption and criminality, who is going to believe the people and institutions who have demonstrated they are willing to endorse any assertions no matter how factually baseless, who deploy any journalistic tactic no matter how unreliable and removed from basic means of ensuring accuracy?

All of these toxic ingredients were on full display yesterday as the Deep State unleashed its tawdriest and most aggressive assault yet on Trump: vesting credibility in and then causing the public disclosure of a completely unvetted and unverified document, compiled by a paid, anonymous operative while he was working for both GOP and Democratic opponents of Trump, accusing Trump of a wide range of crimes, corrupt acts and salacious private conduct.

The reaction to all of this illustrates that while the Trump presidency poses grave dangers, so, too, do those who are increasingly unhinged in their flailing, slapdash, and destructive attempts to undermine it.

For months, the CIA, with unprecedented clarity, overtly threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and sought to defeat Donald Trump. In August, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell announced his endorsement of Clinton in the New York Times and claimed that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

The CIA and NSA director under George W. Bush, Gen. Michael Hayden, also endorsed Clinton, and went to the Washington Post to warn, in the week before the election, that “Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin,” adding that Trump is “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”

It is not hard to understand why the CIA preferred Clinton over Trump. Clinton was critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s proxy war in Syria and was eager to expand that war, while Trump denounced it. Clinton clearly wanted a harder line than Obama took against the CIA’s long-standing foes in Moscow, while Trump wanted improved relations and greater cooperation.

In general, Clinton defended and intended to extend the decades-long international military order on which the CIA and Pentagon’s preeminence depends, while Trump — through a still-uncertain mix of instability and extremist conviction — posed a threat to it.

Whatever one’s views are on those debates, it is the democratic framework — the presidential election, the confirmation process, congressional leaders, judicial proceedings, citizen activism and protest, civil disobedience — that should determine how they are resolved. All of those policy disputes were debated out in the open; the public heard them; and Trump won. Nobody should crave the rule of Deep State overlords.

Yet craving Deep State rule is exactly what prominent Democratic operatives and media figures are doing. Any doubt about that is now dispelled. Just last week, Chuck Schumer issued a warning to Trump, telling Rachel Maddow that Trump was being “really dumb” by challenging the unelected intelligence community because of all the ways they possess to destroy those who dare to stand up to them:

Chuck Schumer on Trump’s tweet hitting intel community: “He’s being really dumb to do this.”https://t.co/MOcU8ruOPK

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 4, 2017

And last night, many Democrats openly embraced and celebrated what was, so plainly, an attempt by the Deep State to sabotage an elected official who had defied it: ironically, its own form of blackmail.

Back in October, a political operative and former employee of the British intelligence agency MI6 was being paid by Democrats to dig up dirt on Trump (before that, he was paid by anti-Trump Republicans). He tried to convince countless media outlets to publish a long memo he had written filled with explosive accusations about Trump’s treason, business corruption and sexual escapades, with the overarching theme that Trump was in servitude to Moscow because they were blackmailing and bribing him.

Despite how many had it, no media outlets published it. That was because these were anonymous claims unaccompanied by any evidence at all, and even in this more permissive new media environment, nobody was willing to be journalistically associated with it.

As the New York Times’ Executive Editor Dean Baquet put it last night, he would not publish these “totally unsubstantiated” allegations because “we, like others, investigated the allegations and haven’t corroborated them, and we felt we’re not in the business of publishing things we can’t stand by.”

The closest this operative got to success was convincing Mother Jones’s David Corn to publish an October 31 article reporting that “a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country” claims that “he provided the [FBI] with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump.”

Deep-state

But because this was just an anonymous claim unaccompanied by any evidence or any specifics (which Corn withheld), it made very little impact. All of that changed yesterday. Why?

What changed was the intelligence community’s resolution to cause this all to become public and to be viewed as credible. In December, John McCain provided a copy of this report to the FBI and demanded they take it seriously.

At some point last week, the chiefs of the intelligence agencies decided to declare that this ex-British intelligence operative was “credible” enough that his allegations warranted briefing both Trump and Obama about them, thus stamping some sort of vague, indirect, and deniable official approval on these accusations.

Someone — by all appearances, numerous officials — then went to CNN to tell them they had done this, causing CNN to go on-air and, in the gravest of tones, announce the “Breaking News” that “the nation’s top intelligence officials” briefed Obama and Trump that Russia had compiled information that “compromised President-elect Trump.”

CNN refused to specify what these allegations were on the ground that they could not “verify” them. But with this document in the hands of multiple media outlets, it was only a matter of time — a small amount of time — before someone would step up and publish the whole thing. Buzzfeed quickly obliged, airing all of the unvetted, anonymous claims about Trump.

Its editor-in-chief Ben Smith published a memo explaining that decision, saying that—- although there “is serious reason to doubt the allegations” — Buzzfeed in general “errs on the side of publication” and “Americans can make up their own minds about the allegations.” Publishing this document predictably produced massive traffic (and thus profit) for the site, with millions of people viewing the article and presumably reading the “dossier.”

One can certainly object to Buzzfeed’s decision and, as the New York Times notes this morning, many journalists are doing so. It’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario where it’s justifiable for a news outlet to publish a totally anonymous, unverified, unvetted document filled with scurrilous and inflammatory allegations about which its own editor-in-chief says there “is serious reason to doubt the allegations,” on the ground that they want to leave it to the public to decide whether to believe it.

But even if one believes there is no such case where that is justified, yesterday’s circumstances presented the most compelling scenario possible for doing this. Once CNN strongly hinted at these allegations, it left it to the public imagination to conjure up the dirt Russia allegedly had to blackmail and control Trump.

By publishing these accusations, BuzzFeed ended that speculation. More importantly, it allowed everyone to see how dubious this document is, one the CIA and CNN had elevated into some sort of grave national security threat.

Almost immediately after it was published, the farcical nature of the “dossier” manifested. Not only was its author anonymous, but he was paid by Democrats (and, before that, by Trump’s GOP adversaries) to dig up dirt on Trump. Worse, he himself cited no evidence of any kind, but instead relied on a string of other anonymous people in Russia he claims told him these things. Worse still, the document was filled with amateur errors.

While many of the claims are inherently unverified, some can be confirmed. One such claim — that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen secretly traveled to Prague in August to meet with Russian officials — was strongly denied by Cohen, who insisted he had never been to Prague in his life (Prague is the same place that foreign intelligence officials claimed, in 2001, was the site of a nonexistent meeting between Iraqi officials and 9/11 hijackers, which contributed to 70% of Americans believing, as late as the fall of 2003, that Saddam personally planned the 9/11 attack).

This morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that “the FBI has found no evidence that [Cohen] traveled to the Czech Republic.”

None of this stopped Democratic operatives and prominent media figures from treating these totally unverified and unvetted allegations as grave revelations. From Vox’s Zach Beauchamp:

Good god pic.twitter.com/BiGqkiobA1

— Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp) January 10, 2017

Look, don’t take anything in this dossier as gospel. But it’s definitely evidence in favor of some pretty extraordinary claims.

— Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp) January 10, 2017

BuzzFeed’s Borzou Daraghai posted a long series of tweets discussing the profound consequences of these revelations, only occasionally remembering to insert the rather important journalistic caveat “if true” in his meditations:

Whoa ????. So guessing the press conference tomorrow is off. https://t.co/e4iNrNKgrhpic.twitter.com/VEa44PeICe

— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) January 11, 2017

Stunning and believable narrative in leaked docs describing alleged rift in Kremlin over meddling in US elections https://t.co/e4iNrNKgrh pic.twitter.com/qY2TuSM5Fc

— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) January 11, 2017

According to raw intel file, Kremlin info ops regarded Trump, @DrJillStein, LaRouche and @GenFlynnall potential assets in war vs Clinton pic.twitter.com/3fxTcqUIUL

— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) January 11, 2017

Bombshell if true: Trump lawyer @MichaelCohen212 & Kremlin reps allegedly held clandestine August meeting in Prague https://t.co/e4iNrO1RiP pic.twitter.com/7FBZjJyXMq

— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) January 11, 2017

Meanwhile, liberal commentator Rebecca Solnit declared this to be a “smoking gun” that proves Trump’s “treason,” while Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas sounded the same theme:

With CNN confirming that intelligence chiefs consider this report credible, it’s about time to start using the word “treason”

— Markos Moulitsas (@markos) January 11, 2017

While some Democrats sounded notes of caution — party loyalist Josh Marshall commendably urged: “I would say in reviewing raw, extremely raw ‘intel’, people should retain their skepticism even if they rightly think Trump is the worst” — the overwhelming reaction was the same as all the other instances where the CIA and its allies released unverified claims about Trump and Russia: instant embrace of the evidence-free assertions as Truth, combined with proclamations that it demonstrated Trump’s status as a traitor (with anyone expressing skepticism designated a Kremlin agent or stooge).

There is a real danger here that this maneuver can harshly backfire, to the great benefit of Trump and to the great detriment of those who want to oppose him.

If any of the significant claims in this “dossier” turn out to be provably false — such as Cohen’s trip to Prague — many people will conclude, with Trump’s encouragement, that large media outlets (CNN and BuzzFeed) and anti-Trump factions inside the government (CIA) are deploying “Fake News” to destroy him. In the eyes of many people, that will forever discredit — render impotent — future journalistic exposés that are based on actual, corroborated wrongdoing.

Beyond that, the threat posed by submitting ourselves to the CIA and empowering it to reign supreme outside of the democratic process is — as Eisenhower warned — an even more severe danger. The threat of being ruled by unaccountable and unelected entities is self-evident and grave.

That’s especially true when the entity behind which so many are rallying is one with a long and deliberate history of lying, propaganda, war crimes, torture, and the worst atrocities imaginable.

All of the claims about Russia’s interference in U.S. elections and ties to Trump should be fully investigated by a credible body, and the evidence publicly disclosed to the fullest extent possible.

As my colleague Sam Biddle argued last week after disclosure of the farcical intelligence community report on Russia hacking — one which even Putin’s foes mocked as a bad joke — the utter lack of evidence for these allegations means “we need an independent, resolute inquiry.”

But until then, assertions that are unaccompanied by evidence and disseminated anonymously should be treated with the utmost skepticism — not lavished with convenience-driven gullibility.

Most important of all, the legitimate and effective tactics for opposing Trump are being utterly drowned by these irrational, desperate, ad hoc crusades that have no cogent strategy and make his opponents appear increasingly devoid of reason and gravity. Right now, Trump’s opponents are behaving as media critic Adam Johnson described: as ideological jelly fish, floating around aimlessly and lost, desperately latching on to whatever barge randomly passes by.

There are solutions to Trump. They involve reasoned strategizing and patient focus on issues people actually care about. Whatever those solutions are, venerating the intelligence community, begging for its intervention, and equating their dark and dirty assertions as Truth are most certainly not among them. Doing that cannot possibly achieve any good, and is already doing much harm.

Glenn Greenwald is one of three co-founding editors of The Intercept. He is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, No Place to Hide, is about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world.

https://theintercept.com/2017/01/11/the-deep-state-goes-to-war-with-president-elect-using-unverified-claims-as-dems-cheer/
Washington Post Columnist Launch Attacks on Credibility of United States President-elect Trump
Stop obsessing over ‘secrets’ about Trump and Russia. What we already know is bad enough.

By Anne Applebaum Columnist
Washington Post
January 13 at 5:54 PM

PANW Editor's Note: This is a copy of the second document released by high-level intelligence agencies in the U.S. seeking to apportion blame on Russian media outlets and their influence on the 2016 presidential elections:
https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf

We now have not one but two “secret” dossiers on the Russian campaign to support Donald Trump. One of them is an unverified and probably unverifiable 35-page collection of rumors and gossip put together by a former British spy. Dumped on the Internet by BuzzFeed, the report is filled with small mistakes and some puzzles (for instance: how could salacious Russian “ kompromat ,” or compromising material, be used to blackmail someone as shameless as Trump?) and mixes the plausible with the implausible without giving real answers.

The other is the declassified version of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence report on Russia’s role in the U.S. election campaign. Carefully hedged and printed on official stationery, it sticks almost entirely to information that was already in public domain, including straight-faced analysis of programs broadcast on RT, the Russian state propaganda channel, which are available to anybody who owns a television.

Both of these reports are in the news because they contain “secrets.” But they add very little to what we already know about Trump’s strange relationship with Russia. The MI6 dossier is tantalizing but cannot be proven; the DNI report is banal. Instead of wasting more time on these documents, maybe we ought instead to abandon our obsession with “secrets” and “spies” and look at what is sitting in front of us. Here, for the record, once again, are things we already know about Trump and Russia, and they aren’t remotely secret:

●Trump’s real estate empire relies, though we don’t know how much, on Russian money. Trump says he never invested in Russia or got loans from Russia. But he did get investment from Russia. In 2008, his son said that Russian investment was “pouring in” to Trump properties. Even before that, Trump had a whole series of partners and investors linked to post-Soviet oligarchs and even Russian organized crime. Has Trump concealed his tax returns for this reason?

●Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, spent many years working on behalf of the thuggish Russian-backed Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, who eventually fled his own country. Manafort maintains links to pro-Russian groups in Ukraine. His name appeared on a list of people who took large chunks of cash from Yanukovych. He hasn’t gone away — in fact, he has lived in Trump Tower. There is no secret about his Russian connections. On the contrary, they define him.

●Last summer, Trump operatives at the convention changed the Republican Party platform to soften the language on Ukraine. There was no explanation for this change, one of the few substantive changes made to the entire party platform. Was this a signal, from Manafort or Trump, that the candidate was on Vladi­mir Putin’s side?

●Throughout the campaign, Trump repeated slogans and conspiracy theories — “Obama invented ISIS,” “Hillary will start World War III” — lifted from Sputnik, the Russian propaganda website. Was this just Trump campaign chief Stephen K. Bannon borrowing ideas, or Manafort using tactics he perfected in Ukraine? Or was there deliberate linkage?

●Finally, and most important: Trump is willing to risk serious conflict with China, to destroy U.S. relations with Mexico, to dismiss America’s closest allies in Europe and to downgrade NATO, our most important military alliance. But he has repeated many times his admiration for Russia and its president. In 2013 he told MSNBC, “I do have a relationship” with Putin, who is “probably very interested in what you and I are saying today” and will “be seeing it in some form.” In 2014 he bragged that Putin had sent him a “beautiful present” and claimed — apparently untruthfully — to have spoken to him as well. Nothing that Putin has done since — invade Ukraine, murder journalists, jail opponents — has induced Trump to change his mind.

To that list, we can now add the fact that Russia hacked material from the Clinton campaign, fed it to WikiLeaks and passed it on through their bot and troll network, which transformed it into hysterical slogans. Eventually, our intelligence agencies may learn more about that process, but at this point it doesn’t matter.

Information doesn’t have to be secret to be shocking. Trump doesn’t have to be a Manchurian candidate who has been hypnotized or recruited by foreign intelligence. It’s enough that he has direct and indirect links to a profoundly corrupt and violent foreign dictator, whose policies he admires, whose advisers he shares and whose slogans he uses. That’s kompromat enough for me.

Anne Applebaum writes a biweekly foreign affairs column for The Washington Post.  Follow @anneapplebaum
Intelligence Committee Will Investigate Possible Russia-Trump Links
The Senate panel could use subpoenas to secure testimony from Obama officials and the Trump team.

By ELANA SCHOR
Politico.com
01/13/17 06:39 PM EST

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said late Friday that his committee will investigate possible contacts between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, reversing himself one day after telling reporters that the issue would be outside of his panel’s ongoing probe into Moscow’s election-disruption efforts.

Burr and the intelligence panel’s top Democrat, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, said in a joint statement that the committee's probe would touch on "intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns" as well as Russian cyberattacks and other election meddling outlined in an intelligence report released last week.

The committee will use “subpoenas if necessary” to secure testimony from Obama administration officials as well as Trump’s team, Burr and Warner said.

The bipartisan Senate announcement came hours after several House Democrats aired their frustrations with FBI Director James Comey following a classified briefing on Russian election disruption. The Democrats were livid that Comey refused to confirm whether he is conducting an inquiry into potential Trump ties to Russia — a question that he publicly declined to answer earlier this week.

Burr said late Thursday that he did not plan to touch on possible contacts between Trump emissaries and Russia, asserting that the issue likely falls under the FBI's purview. "We don't have anything to do with political campaigns," the Republican said.

But Warner had said during a Tuesday committee hearing that he wanted the probe to touch on possible contacts between Moscow or its emissaries and political campaigns, putting the two senators potentially at odds. Warner told reporters late Thursday that his view hadn't changed, meaning that the Friday joint announcement effectively brought Burr around to the Democrat's perspective.

The Senate move also creates a split with the House, where intelligence panel chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told POLITICO earlier on Friday that Congress should not be investigating any possible contacts between Russia and the Trump camp.

"House committees don't go operational like that, that I know of," said Nunes, who is a member of Trump's transition team. "It's a law enforcement issue."

A Nunes spokesman said late Friday that the Senate's decision had not changed the House chairman's view.

The joint announcement from Burr and Warner commits the Senate intelligence panel not only to probing possible Trump-Russia ties, but also to releasing "both classified and unclassified reports" that will include its conclusions and holding some open hearings. However, "the bulk of the committee's business" during the investigation will be tackled in private, the senators said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) "have made it clear they expect any investigation into Russia’s involvement in our nation’s elections to be conducted in a bipartisan manner," Burr and Warner said.

Warner added in his own statement that although the intelligence panel is "clearly best positioned" to tackle a wide-ranging Russia investigation, he would not rule out supporting legislation "to empower whoever can do it right" if the committee runs into difficulties. The Virginian is among a group of Democrats who have yet to endorse a proposal from senior members of their party for a select committee that would look at Russia's election cyberattacks and cybersecurity in general.

Republicans in the House have taken a different tack, focusing on what they say are egregious leaks of Trump-related material to the media.

Nunes is one of several Republicans who have called for intelligence officials to probe those leaks, following the publication of an unverified 35-page "dossier" that alleges Russia had amassed compromising information about the president-elect. Trump himself raised the prospect that intelligence officials had leaked the document in a Wednesday news conference, saying "it would be a tremendous blot on their record."

But for Democrats still smarting from evidence that Russia interfered in the election in an effort to boost Trump's prospects, the Senate investigation may not be enough to assuage their anger over Comey's decision to stay quiet on the FBI's plans, particularly after the FBI director reopened his investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails just days before the election.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who chaired the Democratic National Committee when Russians first gained access to its network in 2015, said in a statement after the House's Friday briefing that Comey "must clarify for the American people, the agency’s policies for investigating and alerting those who are hacked by foreign governments."

Heather Caygle contributed to this report.