Reply To: Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019

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Kim Sanders-Fisher

It took an angry mob and five deaths for the US to finally realize the devastating impact of their dangerous tyrant Commander in Chief. They must now decisively deal harshly with Trump and his MAGA Cult to quell the global humiliation of being viewed as the ultimate corrupt ‘bannana republic!’ As Trump desperately hung onto power, Americans were already braced for the damaging death throes of his Presidency, and, despite pardoning criminals and murderers, he has left one poor soul languishing in Britain’s harshest jail. The Canary present the outrage over this latest cruel twist in the Assange extradition case, “Furious reaction as judge refuses Julian Assange bail” as, “Supporters of Julian Assange were met with force and arrests outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court today, as judge Vanessa Baraitser refused to grant Julian Assange bail. The Canary’s Pablo Navarrete spoke with Rebecca Vincent from Reporters Without Borders outside the court.” Just two days earlier there had at least been a glimmer of hope.

In the Canary Article entitled, “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange must be released after ‘inhumane’ bail refusal,” they report that, “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s hopes for freedom have been dashed after a judge refused him bail despite a decision to block his extradition to the United States. District judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected an application for Assange’s release with strict conditionals over concern he would abscond. It follows a decision that he should not be extradited to the US on mental health grounds due to the risk of suicide. Assange will have to remain in custody as the US government is appealing against Monday’s extradition ruling. Announcing her bail decision at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Baraitser said: ‘As a matter of fairness, the US must be allowed to challenge my decision and if Mr Assange absconds during this process they will lose the opportunity to do so. ‘Mr Assange still has a huge support network available to him should he again choose to go to ground’.”

On Twitter, many people expressed outrage at the decision. Canary journalist John McEvoy who’s been reporting on the case tweeted: ‘The decision not to grant bail to Julian Assange is callous and cruel. Not only is he a mental health risk, but he suffers from a chronic lung condition while Covid-19 is rampant in Belmarsh prison. Shame on the British legal system.’ Matt Kennard highlighted the need for a public inquiry: ‘We need a wide-ranging public inquiry into the British legal system’s handling of the Assange case. Nothing has been normal from 2010 onwards. From the CPS to Westminster Magistrates Court, we need the truth.’ And MP Richard Burgon demanded his release: ‘Julian Assange must be freed from prison today. It would be inhumane for him to be held in jail while the US again tries to extradite him for exposing war crimes.’ Meanwhile, outside the court, The Canary captured the reaction from Assange’s supporters.”

In stark contrast to this grotesque injustice the Byline Times Article entitled, “Trump Rewards Loyalists & War Criminals While Whistleblowers Are Hounded,” Steve Shaw looks at Donald Trump’s decision to grant freedom to his close allies, and the two people the President should consider pardoning instead. Shaw describes a brutal atrocity, “A sniper’s bullet tore through the windscreen of a car which had allegedly failed to stop. Moments later a launched grenade caused the vehicle to burst into flames. Then all hell broke loose. Gunfire hit almost 40 civilians, ending the lives of 17 people who were trying to flee. The gunfire came from American mercenaries, or “contractors” as they are commonly referred to, working for a private military firm known as Blackwater. Their convoy had been speeding to the scene of a car bomb which had exploded earlier that day. It had stopped at the intersection in Nisour Square, Baghdad, to halt the traffic so that they could pass. It resulted in a bloodbath.”

Shaw says that, “The 2007 incident deeply strained relations between the US and the Iraqi Governments and led to a series of investigations, including one by the FBI that concluded at least 14 people had been shot without cause. Seven years later, four employees of Blackwater were tried and convicted, one of murder, and the other three of manslaughter and firearms charges.
But their punishment was not to last long. At the end of December, all four were pardoned by outgoing President Donald Trump.
The decision was condemned by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Marta Hurtado, who said that it ‘contributes to impunity and has the effect of emboldening others to commit such crimes in the future’. A UN panel of experts later added that the pardons ‘violate US obligations under international law and more broadly undermine humanitarian law’. They went ahead anyway.”
The Blackwater pardons will encourage other mercenaries to function beyond the rules of engagement and commit war crimes.

Shaw reports that, “Two weeks earlier, Trump had been accused of pulling American troops from the war-torn east African country of Somalia in order to replace them with mercenaries run by Erik Prince, the former CEO of Blackwater. In unverified claims, New York Times columnist Marie Myung-Ok Lee, tweeted: ‘Trump is withdrawing troops from Somalia not because with his loss [of the 2020 US Presidential Election] he’s become a peacenik, it’s so he can monetise the last gasp of his presidency with private contractors like the odious Erik Prince’.” This is a growing trend for supposedly ‘civlized democracies’ to use mercenaries to distance their Governments from any accountability for war crimes and keep the Military Industrial Complex well oiled with expendable men of zero conscience working for cash and ‘kicks.’ The British are no exception, employing the so called, ‘Keenie Meenies’ to unleash brutal oppression on the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Mercenaries, paid by our Government, got away with committing war crimes!

Shaw says that, “Along with the mercenaries, Trump has also used his final days to let two of his most high-profile advisors, those linked to the investigation into Russian election interference, walk free. On 23 December, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and ex-advisor Roger Stone were both pardoned. Manafort, who said ‘words cannot fully convey how grateful’ he was for the pardon, was convicted in 2018 during an investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US Presidential Election. Meanwhile, Stone claims to have been the subject of a ‘Soviet-style show trial’ and was convicted of lying to Congress. Another man to walk free was Charles Kushner, father of Ivanka Trump’s husband Jared Kushner, who is also a White House advisor.”

Shaw highlights the gross injustice, “As these Trump loyalists are granted freedom, it is the people who have arguably acted most in the interests of the American public who have been left to suffer, most notably, WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange. Assange spent Christmas in a jail cell in Belmarsh Prison in the UK, counting down the days before a judge’s verdict on whether he should be extradited to America to face trial. His crime is exposing American war crimes during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including publishing the controversial video which he titled ‘Collateral Murder’. Taken from the cockpit of a US Apache helicopter in July 2007, this video shows an air crew slaughtering Iraqi civilians, including two journalists working for Reuters. In grainy black-and-white, it shows the gunship’s 30mm machine gun cutting down the men on the ground as the Apache gunners are repeatedly told to ‘keep shooting’.” The US doesn’t want anyone knowing the truth about such atrocities so Assange has been silenced.

Shaw reports that, “Assange is facing prosecution under the Espionage Act of 1917, marking the first time it has ever been used to prosecute a media organisation for publishing classified information. It would be a trial in which Assange would not be able to defend his actions using a defence of public interest. Reporters Without Borders has warned that it would ‘threaten the work of all journalists’. Daniel Ellsberg, who went on trial under the Espionage Act following the publication of the Pentagon Papers, wrote in 2014: ‘When I finally heard my lawyer ask the prearranged question in direct examination, why did you copy the Pentagon Papers? I was silenced before I could begin to answer. The Government prosecutor objected, irrelevant, and the judge sustained. My lawyer, exasperated, said he ‘had never heard of a case where a defendant was not permitted to tell the jury why he did what he did’. The judge responded, well, you’re hearing one now. And so it has been with every subsequent whistleblower under indictment’.”

Shaw reveals that, “The day before Trump pardoned the Blackwater employees, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, warned the President that not pardoning Assange would be the equivalent of ‘shooting the messenger’. ‘I visited Mr Assange in Belmarsh High Security Prison in London, with two independent medical doctors, and I can attest to the fact that his health has seriously deteriorated, to the point where his life is now in danger,’ Melzer wrote. ‘I ask you to pardon Mr Assange, because he is not, and has never been, an enemy of the American people. His organisation, WikiLeaks, fights secrecy and corruption throughout the world and, therefore, acts in the public interest both of the American people and of humanity as a whole.’ While a judge this week blocked Assange’s extradition on mental health grounds, saying that the US Government is incapable of preventing the whistleblower from attempting to take his own life, the Trump administration is expected to appeal the decision.”

Shaw reports that, “Further away, living in exile in Moscow, is another whistleblower that has not been afforded the same privileges as Trump’s mercenaries and convicted campaign allies. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden sacrificed his life in America to expose the illegal US and British surveillance apparatus created to spy on the public without their consent. Almost every revelation dropped by the Snowden files revealed that governments had acted illegally, yet he continues to face arrest and prosecution if he returns to the US. The people behind the mass surveillance, including former director of national intelligence James Clapper, who lied to Congress about the programme’s existence, have not faced any repercussions. Meanwhile, Mike Rogers, a former member of Congress who served as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee when Snowden exposed wrongdoing, has been allowed to write baseless claims about how pardoning Snowden would ‘embolden the enemies of America’.”

Shaw continues, “In an article for the US political publication The Hill, Rogers accuses Snowden of fleeing to Russia, yet Snowden only ended up in Russia because the US cancelled his passport as he was about to board a connecting flight. Rogers also says that Snowden is responsible for ‘releasing’ the classified documents taken from the National Security Agency, which is also false as Snowden has not personally published any of the material. He goes on to say that ‘if Snowden truly believes in his actions and that what he did was both patriotic and right, he is welcome to present his case in the American judicial system’. But, like Assange, he would be prosecuted under the Espionage Act and his intention, the public interest, would be seen as irrelevant.”

Shaw says, “Rumours have been abounding on social media about whether Trump will ultimately pardon Snowden or Assange, but the chances remain bleak. “Earlier in the year, the President said he would be willing to ‘take a look’ at a pardon for Snowden, yet it seems likely that this idea would be rebuffed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. While serving as director of the CIA in 2016, Pompeo publicly called for Snowden’s execution and urged the then President Barack Obama not to pardon him at the end of his term, calling the whistleblower a ‘liar and a criminal’ who deserves ‘prison rather than pardon’.” Trump is highly unpredictable, hurt, angry, and embarrassed by his humiliating election defeat, he could act out of spite. Trump might see pardoning Assange as the ultimate ‘fxxk you’ to the incoming administration, his parting salvo as he runs out of toys to throw out of his pram! It’s a long-shot…

Shaw warns us that, “Trump’s stance on Assange has been erratic. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he publicly praised him after WikiLeaks published a series of leaked emails which damaged Hillary Clinton’s chances at the polls. But, once elected, Trump claimed to ‘know nothing of WikiLeaks’ adding it is not his ‘thing’. Making matters more complicated, at the beginning of 2020, Assange’s barrister claimed that the former Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher had been sent by Trump to visit Assange in 2017, offering a pardon on the condition that Assange would say that the emails did not come from Russia. The motive was apparently to undermine allegations made of foreign interference in Trump’s campaign. However, Rohrabacher has denied the claim and Assange has continually refused to give any information on his sources.”

According to Shaw, “Most recently, Snowden has even sided with calls for Assange to be pardoned rather than himself. He tweeted: ‘Mr. President, if you grant only one act of clemency during your time in office, please: free Julian Assange. You alone can save his life.’ As Trump enters his final weeks in the White House, it is likely that he will pardon as many of his allies as possible. The New York Times has even reported that Trump has asked advisors whether he can preemptively pardon himself – and is even considering giving immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a lawsuit accusing him of attempting to kill a former Saudi intelligence official. In an interview with the Associated Press, senior US District Judge Robert Pratt of the Southern District of Iowa, said: ‘It’s not surprising that a criminal like Trump pardons other criminals… Apparently to get a pardon, one has to be either a Republican, a convicted child murderer or a turkey’.”

In the London Economic Article entitled, “Four dead following US Capitol riots,’ Jack Peat says, “The dead included a woman who was shot by US Capitol Police as well as three others who died in ‘medical emergencies’. Angry supporters of President Donald Trump have stormed the US Capitol in a chaotic protest aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power. The attack, which left four people dead, forced politicians to rush from the building and interrupted challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. President Trump issued a restrained call for peace well after the protests was under way but did not urge supporters to disperse. Earlier he had seemingly egged them on to march to Capitol Hill.” It was like the Tories Bullingdon Club with Trump assuring them that the grown-ups would pick up the tab for the damages!

Peat reports on, “Wednesday’s ordinarily mundane procedure of Congress certifying a new president was always going to be extraordinary, with Republican supporters of Mr Trump vowing to protest over the results of an election that they have baselessly insisted was reversed by fraud. But even the unusual deliberations, which included the Republican vice president and Senate majority leader defying Mr Trump’s demands, were quickly overtaken. In a raucous, out-of-control scene, protesters fought past police and breached the building, shouting and waving Trump and American flags as they marched through the halls. Police said four people died in the protests. Washington DC police chief Robert Contee said the dead included a woman who was shot by US Capitol Police, as well as three others who died in ‘medical emergencies’. Police said both law enforcement and protesters deployed chemical irritants during the hours-long occupation of the Capitol building before it was cleared by law enforcement.” Since this was posted a Police Officer has also died of injuries sustained in the violence.

Report on the chaotic scene Peat says, “The woman was shot as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol where police were armed on the other side. She was hospitalised with a gunshot wound and later died. DC police officials also said two pipe bombs were recovered, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee. The protesters abruptly interrupted the congressional proceedings in an eerie scene that featured official warnings directing people to duck under their seats for cover and put on gas masks after tear gas was used in the Capitol Rotunda. With the crowds showing no signs of abating, President Trump tweeted: ‘Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!’ Earlier, at his rally, he had urged supporters to march to the Capitol. Senators were being evacuated. Some House politicians tweeted they were sheltering in place in their offices.”

I note that in so many reports including this one there is an effort to downplay the criminality of these rioters; they were not docile demonstrators conducting a peaceful protest and if the crown had contained a different racial mix they would have encountered violent resistance from police and been labeled ‘domestic terrorists.’ Peat says, “‘Demonstrators’ “fought with Capitol Police and then forced their way into the building, not long after a huge rally near the White House during which Trump egged them on to march to Capitol Hill. Politicians had convened for an extraordinary joint session to confirm the Electoral College results. Though fellow Republicans were behind the challenge to Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College victory, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sought to lower tensions and argued against it. He warned the country ‘cannot keep drifting apart into two separate tribes’ with ‘separate facts.’ Mr McConnell declared: ‘The voters, the courts and the states all have spoken’.”

Peat notes that, “other Republicans, including House GOP leaders among Mr Trump’s allies were acting out the pleas of supporters at his huge Wednesday rally up Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House to ‘fight for Trump.’ ‘We have to fix this,’ said Rep Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the GOP whip. The last-gasp effort is all but certain to fail, defeated by bipartisan majorities in Congress prepared to accept the November results. Mr Biden is to be inaugurated on January 20. Still, Mr Trump vowed that he would ‘never concede’ and urged the massive crowd to march to the Capitol where hundreds had already gathered under tight security. ‘We will never give up,’ Mr Trump told his noontime rally. Vice President Mike Pence was closely watched as he stepped onto the dais to preside over the joint session in the House chamber. Mr Pence has a largely ceremonial role, opening the sealed envelopes from the states after they are carried in mahogany boxes used for the occasion, and reading the results aloud.”

Peat reports that Pence, “…was under growing pressure from Trump to overturn the will of the voters and tip the results in the president’s favour, despite having no legal power to affect the outcome. ‘Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!’ Mr Trump tweeted. But Mr Pence, in a statement shortly before presiding, defied Mr Trump, saying he could not claim ‘unilateral authority’ to reject the electoral votes that make Mr Biden president. As darkness began to set in, law enforcement officials worked their way toward the protesters, using percussion grenades to try to clear the area around the Capitol. Big clouds of tear gas were visible. Police in full riot gear moved down the steps, clashing with demonstrators. The Pentagon said about 1,100 District of Columbia National Guard members were being mobilised to help support law enforcement at the Capitol.”

The Skwawkbox Article entitled, “Video: here’s Boris Johnson calling for US death riot instigator Trump to receive… a Nobel Peace Prize,” it reminds us of “when Boris Johnson was sucking up to Donald Trump because he desperately needed a trade deal as a PR ‘victory’ in the midst of his Johnson’s interminable bungling? So abject was his grovelling that he even stood in front of the US Capitol Building, the scene of this week’s violent riots, and called for Trump – the instigator of the violent, deadly anti-democratic protests this week in Washington DC, and demanded a Nobel Peace Prize for the Orange one. Of course, Trump didn’t ‘fix’ North Korea or Iran and has done huge damage internationally with his US exceptionalism and arrogance. But even if he had, his actions throughout the presidential election and afterward make him more a criminal than a peace-maker. Johnson is a buffoon and everything he does ages badly at best. And he has equated himself with Trump in attitude, delusion and the appalling cost in lives and economic damage inflicted by his lethal, Trumpian handling of the coronavirus crisis. He is an embarrassment to this country.”

Skwawkbox say of Johnson, “he has equated himself with Trump in attitude, delusion and the appalling cost in lives and economic damage inflicted by his lethal, Trumpian handling of the coronavirus crisis. He is an embarrassment to this country.” In any other country the insurrection in the US Capitol would have been reported as a failed coup attempt; few dare to ‘call a spade a spade’ in condemnation of this dangerous attempt to thwart democracy. Can Trump be arrested and removed from office to face prosecution or impeachment for inciting this angry mob to storm the Capitol Building? This resulted in four deaths, but will he be charged with ‘Sedition’ less than two weeks before stepping down? I didn’t share Craig’s optimism that Assange would be released on bail, but then as a persecuted Whistleblower myself I have long since abandoned any faith in the Justice System either here or in the US. If Johnson and the Tories were Investigated and the Covert 2019 Election fraud exposed, I doubt they would ever face justice either! DO NOT MOVE ON!