United States of America

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George Holding



  • Mar.14.2018: Rand Paul to oppose Gina Haspel as CIA director over her 'gleeful joy' at torture. News website ProPublica issued a retraction of a 2017 story about Gina Haspel. It had published a report that said Haspel oversaw the clandestine base where the al-Qaida suspect Abu Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding and other coercive interrogation methods; it also claimed that she gleefully mocked the prisoner's suffering. "Neither of these assertions is correct and we retract them," ProPublica acknowledged. "It is now clear that Haspel did not take charge of the base until after the interrogation of Zubaydah ended". Rand Paul said he would oppose Trump's nomination of Gina Haspel for director of the CIA, accusing her of having shown "joyful glee" during the torture of terrorism suspects. Paul also announced that he would try to block the president's nomination of the current CIA director, Mike Pompeo, to succeed Rex Tillerson as Secretary of state. The Guardian, David Smith

Steve Bannon

  • Links to Brexit, Nigel Farage, UKIP
  • Jul.17.2017: Inside the secret, strange, origins of Steve Bannon's Nationalist Fantasia. Bannon knit together Guénon, Evola, and his own racial-religious anxieties to cast his beliefs in historical context. “We are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.” Bannon’s response was to set populist, right-wing nationalism against it. Bannon described Trump as a “blunt instrument for us.” Vanity Fair, Joshua Green
  • Feb.08.2017: Steve Bannon Wants To Start World War III. His 2009 film, Generation Zero, shows a hellishly bleak vision of our past, present, and future, driven by a magical belief in historical determinism. Talking to his Breitbart colleague Thomas Williams, he made reference to “an expansionist Islam,” “an expansionist China,” and a “Judeo-Christian West on the retreat.” The Nation, Micah L. Sifry

Mike Pence

  • Jan.19.2018: In year of drama and chaos, Pence quietly advances conservative agenda. In the run-up to Trump’s decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, VP Mike Pence, a conservative Christian who had long advocated for the move, did something he does only selectively: speak up. As officials warned against the change, Pence made a forceful "closing argument" in favor of it, leading a group that included senior adviser Jared Kushner and US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, a senior administration official said.
    Pence helped persuade Trump to fulfill a campaign promise and upend long-standing US policy by declaring he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, over objections from Arab nations and many Western allies. In a year marked by chaos and infighting in Trump’s White House, Pence has been one of the most effective administration officials in advancing his own policy goals. As Pence has put his stamp on policy, he has strengthened his ties with conservative activists, donors and lawmakers - alliances that would serve him well should he decide to launch his own presidential bid in the future. Staunchly opposes abortion rights and passionately supports de-regulation of business and shrinking the size of govt. Reuters, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Jeff Mason

Donald Trump

  • 2018.01.19: Donald Trump and Theresa May to meet in Switzerland After cancelling UK visit, US president will discuss foreign policy at World Economic Forum. Downing Street and the White House confirmed that the pair would hold a bilateral session, which is likely to focus on foreign policy issues such as Syria and North Korea. May’s recent meetings with Trump have been at G7, G20 and the General Assembly of the United Nations UNGA, where the pair discussed the Syrian crisis, the fight against Islamic State and the threat from North Korea. The Guardian, Anushka Asthana
  • 2018.01.15: Boris Johnson: 'Let us have a grown-up conversation with our American friends' Foreign secretary stresses ‘crucial’ nature of UK-US relations in exclusive Guardian interview before flying out for North Korea talks. The Guardian, Heather Stewart, Anushka Asthana
  • 2017.06.04: Donald Trump berates London mayor over response to terror attacks President criticises Sadiq Khan and uses attack to justify travel ban before mayor’s spokesman calls tweet ‘ill-informed’ and deliberately out of context. The Guardian, Martin Pengelly
  • 2017.01.11: Trump cancels visit to Britain (Daily Mail). @Hendopolis

Paul Mamafort

  • Feb.24.2018: Former European leaders struggle to explain themselves after Mueller claims Paul Manafort paid them to lobby for Ukraine. Two former European leaders were shocked to find their names mentioned in the indictment documents. The money was paid during a period when former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was inching closer to Europe on several issues. However, he eventually changed course, and was ousted in a pro-Western revolution in Ukraine in 2014. Although the indictment documents did not name the leaders, the former Prime Minister of Italy Romano Prodi stated that he and former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer were the leaders mentioned. But Prodi said he was not aware that the funds Gusenbauer had paid him had come from Manafort, and were part of "normal private relations I had with him," and was "not any money from external sources". Gusenbauer did admit that he had been paid for working on behalf of Ukraine, but did not divulge by whom. According to filings made by Mercury Public Affairs, a political strategy group contracted by Manafort, the former chancellor had met with several members of Congress in 2013 to lobby for Ukraine. The Podesta Group, a Washington lobbying firm formerly run by the brother of the former chairman of the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign John Podesta, also reportedly "arranged meetings and media opportunities" for a group of visiting European leaders working on the Ukraine issue that included Prodi and Gusenbauer. Prodi has denied membership in this group, and stated that Gusenbauer headed it. Last year, Manafort and his former deputy Rick Gates had been indicted on 12 charges related to money laundering, tax fraud, failure to register as foreign agents, and conspiracy against the USA. But on Thursday, Gates and Manafort were handed a superseding indictment that replaced the original 12 charges with a fresh set of 35 charges related to tax and bank fraud. Mueller's indictment document alleges that Gates and Manafort set up offshore bank accounts that they then failed to disclose to the proper authorities, and laundered over $75m through these accounts. Friday's indictment was placed on top of these existing charges. Business Insider, Michael Kranz
  • Feb.24.2018: Trump election boss Paul Manafort ‘bought support in EU for Moscow ally’. Paul Manafort, was accused of covertly paying several former European politicians, known as the ""Hapsburg Group"", €2 million from offshore accounts in 2012 and 2013. In return they allegedly lobbied members of Congress and other US officials, pretending to be acting independently. The Times, Rhys Blakely

Mike Pompeo

  • Jan.12.2017: "This Evil Is All Around Us". Trump’s pick for the CIA, Mike Pompeo, sees foreign policy as a vehicle for holy war. Michelle Goldberg, The Slate.

Betsy DeVos

  • Dec.13.2016: Betsy DeVos and God's Plan for Schools Betsy DeVos stands at the intersection of two family fortunes that helped to build the Christian right. In 1983, her father, Edgar Prince, who made his money in the auto parts business, contributed to the creation of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as extremist because of its anti-LGBT language. Her father-in-law, Richard DeVos Sr., the co-founder of Amway, a company built on “multilevel marketing” or what critics call pyramid selling, has been funding groups and causes on the economic and religious right since the 1970s. At a 2001 gathering of conservative Christian philanthropists, she singled out education reform as a way to “advance God’s kingdom.” The family tradition continues, funding the religious right through a network of family foundations — among others, the couple’s own, as well as the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, on whose board Ms. DeVos has served along with her brother, Erik Prince, founder of the military contractor Blackwater. Ms. DeVos presents her plans as a way to improve public education and give families more choice. Vouchers are part of the program ... to completely privatise education. Linkback: Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation. Katherine Stewart, The New York Times.


Family Planning

  • Mar.14.2018: Under Trump, the lies of abstinence-only sex education are back. Letting an abstinence activist make decisions about federal family planning funds risks young people’s health and lives. Valerie Huber, a longtime abstinence-only activist turned Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) staffer, will be making decisions about federal family planning funds. Huber, who was suspended from her position at the Ohio Department of Health after a state ethics investigation in 2006, is founder of the National Abstinence Educators Association, which later became Ascend. The Trump administration plans to teach teenagers "fertility awareness methods" – otherwise known as the rhythm method – in lieu of birth control. The lies told by federally funded "educators" to students across the country ranged from inaccurate to astounding. Young people are taught they could be arrested for having premarital sex, and others are warned birth control pills would make them infertile. Students are told condoms could give them cancer. A widely-used textbook teaches that Aids is be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. Another said that a girl who has had sex is no longer "fresh". These classes don't stop at inaccurate health information – they also promote outdated gender roles. The Guardian, Jessica Valenti


  • Interesting Twitter thread in this topic here.
  • Mar.18.2018: Secretive religious charity run by top US housing officials raises questions. Johnson Joy, the chief information officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (Hud), is part of a Christian not-for-profit in Texas with Naved Jafry, who quit as a Hud adviser after inquiries about his professional history. Until this week the group, GJH Global Ministries, invited donations on its website. But it was not clear what work the group did and its mission statements and other information appeared to be copied from those of major churches. GJH was formed in 2014 but Stephen Austin, one of its directors, said in a brief interview: "We literally did nothing". Before being locked to visitors, one page of GJH’s site showed a photograph of Joy addressing a crowd of people holding Trump campaign placards and wearing red “Make America great again” hats. Another showed Joy posing with Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas. Not-for-profit organisations are barred under federal law from endorsing political candidates. Jon Swaine, The Guardian.
  • May.12.2017: Health Secretary Tom Price Recommends God as the Solution to the Opioid Crisis. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price visited West Virginia with rehydrated corpse Kellyanne Conway to talk with local leaders about the opioid epidemic that's ravaging the state. Asked about drug treatment options, Price touted faith-based programs while showing less support for medication-assisted programs in which addicts are weaned off heroin with other opioids like Suboxone and methadone. "Just pray the addiction away." Susan Rinkunas, Vice News.
  • Dec.08.2016: Evangelicals in Trump’s Cabinet: Choice of Pruitt alarms scientists, environmentalists. Pruitt, who is Oklahoma’s attorney general, is a climate-change denier. He is also an evangelical Christian. Pruitt was also the subject of a 2014 New York Times investigation of a “secretive alliance” between Republican attorneys general and the oil industry. Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, was more blunt. “Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires,” he said. Pruitt’s pick intensifies concern among science and education professionals about the impact Trump’s Cabinet picks — many of them evangelical Christians — could have on the environment, the advancement of science and teaching standards. Also of concern is the appointment of Betsy DeVos, another evangelical, to head the Department of Education. DeVos is a champion of school vouchers, a program to send public money to religious or private schools. Kimberly Winston, Religion News Service.

Human Rights