Saturday, November 19, 2016

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Video - Assad: US could become Syria’s ‘natural ally’ if it fights terrorism & Trump sticks to promises

Video - President Obama Holds a YLAI Town Hall

Video - President Obama Holds a Bilateral Meeting with President Xi of China

This Is Not Normal: POTUS-Elect Trump Spends $25 Million To Dodge Fraud Trial


While the news that Trump settled the Trump University fraud cases is great for the thousands of people he defrauded, the fact that the next President Of The United States had to spend millions to avoid a fraud trial speaks volumes about his lack of ethics.
While the news that Trump settled the Trump University fraud cases is great for the thousands of people he defrauded, the fact that the next President Of The United States had to spend millions to avoid a fraud trial speaks volumes about his lack of ethics.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a statement about Trump’s decision to settle:
In 2013, my office sued Donald Trump for swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of millions of dollars through a scheme known as Trump University. Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeal​s​ and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university. Today, that all changes. Today’s $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university.
I am pleased that under the terms of this settlement, every victim will receive restitution and that Donald Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws. The victims of Trump University have waited years for today’s result and I am pleased that their patience–and persistence–will be rewarded by this $25 million settlement.
The good news is that the thousands of Americans who Trump cheated finally got their money back. The bad news is that the only reason that they got their money back is that the fraudster will soon President Of The United States. One gets the sense that news organizations who interested in informing the American people are going to need to assign reporters to the daily of covering Trump and his administration’s corruption.
The American people should be horrified that the incoming president had to spend $25 million to avoid being tried for fraud.
The press has done so much already to normalize Trump’s corrupt behavior that many aren’t batting an eye over the settlement.
It bears repeating. This is not normal. Incoming presidents don’t usual have to settle fraud cases before they take the oath of office. There is something very wrong here, and if the media and the American people treat Trump like a regular president, they will live to regret it.

U.S.-backed Saudi forces committing war crimes in Yemen bombing campaign, experts say

The taxi driver happened to pass by just after a volley of airstrikes hit a highway in western Yemen. The driver, Mohammed al-Khal, stopped, took a wounded ice cream vendor into his car and rushed him to the nearest hospital.

But the warplanes were still hunting. Moments after al-Khal pulled up at the hospital in the town of Abs, hell was unleashed.

A missile struck just outside the hospital entrance, “like a ball of fire,” one witness said. Al-Khal, a father of eight, was incinerated in his car. The blast ripped through patients and family waiting in an outdoor reception area. Nineteen people were killed, along with two civilians killed on the highway.

The attack in August typified what has been a pattern in the nearly 2-year-old air campaign by Saudi Arabia and its allies against Yemen’s Shiite rebels, known as Houthis. Rights groups and U.N. officials say the U.S.-backed coalition has often either deliberately or recklessly depended on faulty intelligence, failed to distinguish between civilian and military targets and disregarded the likelihood of civilian casualties.

Experts say some of the strikes amount to war crimes.

“The Saudis have been committing war crimes in Yemen,” said Gabor Rona, a professor teaching the laws of war at Columbia University. He pointed to “indiscriminate targeting, that is, attacks in which the attacker makes no effort to distinguish between combatants and civilians.” And he warned that American personnel helping the coalition “may also be guilty of war crimes.”
Nearly 4,000 civilians have been killed since early 2015 and an estimated 60 percent of them died in airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition, the U.N. says. Around one in three strikes hit civilian targets, according to the Yemen Data Project, an independent group of researchers that has put together a database of more than 8,000 strikes.
In the Aug. 15 strikes in Abs, the original target was a small checkpoint manned by two rebel fighters on a highway far from any frontline. Of 21 people killed, none appears to have been a combatant. The two fighters escaped the initial missile, witnesses told The Associated Press, yet warplanes fired two more, spraying bystanders with shrapnel. It appears they then followed al-Khal’s Camry, believing it was carrying a fighter, and hit it with a fourth missile at the hospital entrance
Moreover, the hospital, which was run by the international humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders, was on the coalition’s own computerized list of sites that should not be targeted.
“Any way you look at it, it is a war crime,” Rona said.
Each strike that day was carried out with a Paveway guided missile system, built by an American company and sold to Saudi Arabia – a sign of how the United States has become mired in Yemen’s war. Washington and its allies have sold billions of dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia for the campaign, and the U.S. military has been providing it with intelligence, satellite imagery and logistical help.
Washington underlines that it does not make decisions on strikes, and it calls on the coalition to investigate any claims of violations. “U.S. security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check,” National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in October.
The coalition denies neglect, saying it does its utmost to avoid civilian casualties and noting the rebels often operate among civilians. Rights groups and the U.N. human rights office have also reported possible war crimes by the Houthi rebels, citing their shelling of civilian areas and basing their fighters in schools and other civilian locations.
“This is the fog of war,” the coalition’s spokesman, Saudi Gen. Ahmed al-Asiri, told The Associated Press when asked if there is a pattern of civilian deaths.
“In war, one plus one doesn’t equal two. In war, there are many changes taking place around the clock. In war, there are decisions that should be taken fast,” he said from the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
But critics say the American and international backing and lack of independent investigation have given Saudi Arabia and its allies a free rein.
“We believe that the coalition understood that … it has a green light to commit more massacres in Yemen,” said Abdel-Rashed al-Faqeh, the head of Muwatana, one of Yemen’s most prominent rights groups.
Saudi Arabia launched the coalition campaign in a bid to restore the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, after the Houthis overran the capital Sanaa and Yemen’s north. The Houthis are allied with troops loyal to Hadi’s predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted after a 2011 pro-democracy uprising.
Saudi Arabia, which calls the rebels a proxy of its regional rival, Iran, has backed an array of military units and fighters against the Houthis.
The war has devastated the country of 26 million. Around 3 million have been driven from their homes. The bombardment, fighting and a coalition blockade have fueled widespread hunger.
Warplanes have hit medical centers, schools, factories, infrastructure and roads, as well as markets, weddings and residential compounds. The Yemen Data Project documented nearly 60 strikes on medical facilities, though it says it does not track casualty figures because of how difficult it is to verify events on the ground.
The coalition, which says it investigates claims of civilian casualties, has made nine investigations public. In most cases it said the strikes were against a justified military target.
If any attack typified the rush to hit without regard for civilian casualties, it was the Oct. 8 attack on a funeral in Sanaa.
Warplanes fired two missiles at the funeral hall. More than 140 people were killed, more than 600 wounded, in one of the deadliest strikes of the campaign.
The funeral, which was for the father of a Houthi government minister, brought together numerous prominent figures from the rebel movement and Saleh’s circles. Several top military and security figures were killed, but the majority of dead were civilians.

How the Iranian-Saudi Proxy Struggle Tore Apart the Middle East


Behind much of the Middle East’s chaos — the wars in Syria and Yemen, the political upheaval in Iraq and Lebanon and Bahrain — there is another conflict.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are waging a struggle for dominance that has turned much of the Middle East into their battlefield. Rather than fighting directly, they wield and in that way worsen the region’s direst problems: dictatorship, militia violence and religious extremism.
The history of their rivalry tracks — and helps to explain — the Middle East’s disintegration, particularly the Sunni-Shiite sectarianism both powers have found useful to cultivate. It is a story in which the United States has been a supporting but constant player, most recently by backing the Saudi war in Yemen, which kills hundreds of civilians. These dynamics, scholars warn, point toward a future of civil wars, divided societies and unstable governments.
F. Gregory Gause III, an international relations scholar at Texas A & M University, struggled to name another region that had been torn apart in this way. Central Africa could be similar, he suggested, referring to the two decades of interrelated wars and genocides that, driven by meddling regional powers, killed five million. But in the Middle East, it is just getting started.
1979: A threatening revolution

Saudi Arabia, a young country pieced together only in the 1930s, has built its legitimacy on religion. By promoting its stewardship of the holy sites at Mecca and Medina, it could justify its royal family’s grip on power.
Iran’s revolution, in 1979, threatened that legitimacy. Iranians toppled their authoritarian government, installing Islamists who claimed to represent “a revolution for the entire Islamic world,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. The revolutionaries encouraged all Muslims, especially Saudis, to overthrow their rulers as well.
But because Iran is mostly Shiite, they “had the greatest influence with, and tended to reach out to, Shia groups,” Dr. Pollack said. Some Saudi Shiites, who make up about 10 percent of the population, protested in solidarity or even set up offices in Tehran — stoking Saudi fears of internal unrest and separatism. This was the opening shot in the sectarianization of their rivalry, which would encompass the whole region. “The Saudis have looked at Iran as a domestic threat from the get-go, from 1979,” Dr. Gause said. Seeing the threat as intolerable, they began looking for a way to strike back.
1980-88: The first proxy war
They found that way the next year, when Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Iran, hoping to seize oil-rich territory.
Saudi Arabia, Dr. Pollack said, “backed the Iraqis to the hilt because they want the Iranian revolution stopped.”
The war, over eight years of trench warfare and chemical weapons attacks, killed perhaps a million people. It set a pattern of Iranian-Saudi struggle through proxies, and of sucking in the United States, whose policy is to maintain access to the vast oil and gas reserves that lie between the rivals.
The conflict’s toll exhausted Iran’s zeal for sowing revolution abroad, but gave it a new mission: to overturn the Saudi-led, American-backed regional order that Tehran saw as an existential threat.
That sense of insecurity would later drive Iran’s meddling abroad, said Marc Lynch, a political scientist at George Washington University, and perhaps its missile and nuclear programs.
1989-2002: Setting up a powder keg
The 1990s provided a pause in the regional rivalry, but also set up the conditions that would allow it to later explode in such force.
Saudi Arabia, wishing to contain Iran’s reach to the region’s minority Shiite populations, sought to harden Sunni-Shiite rifts. Government programs promoted “anti-Shia incitement in schools, Islamic universities, and the media,” Toby Matthiesen, an Oxford University scholar, wrote in a brief for the Carnegie Endowment. These policies, Dr. Matthiesen warned, cultivated sectarian fears and sometimes violence that would later feed into the ideology of the Islamic State. In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, a Saudi ally. The United States, after expelling the Iraqis, established military bases in the region to defend its allies from Iraq. This further tilted the regional power balance against Iran, which saw the American forces as a threat.
Iraq’s humiliating defeat also spurred many of its citizens to rise up, particularly in poorer communities that happened to be Shiite Arab.
In response, Dr. Gause said, “Saddam’s regime became explicitly sectarian,” widening Sunni-Shiite divides to deter future uprisings. That allowed Iran, still worried about Iraq, to cultivate allies among Iraq’s increasingly disenfranchised Shiites, including militias that had risen up. Though it was not obvious at the time, Iraq had become a powder keg, one that would ignite when its government was toppled a decade later.
2003-04: The Iraqi vacuum opens
The 2003 American-led invasion, by toppling an Iraqi government that had been hostile to both Saudi Arabia and Iran, upended the region’s power balance. Iran, convinced that the United States and Saudi Arabia would install a pliant Iraqi government — and remembering the horrors they had inflicted on Iran in the 1980s — raced to fill the postwar vacuum. Its leverage with Shiite groups, which are Iraq’s largest demographic group, allowed it to influence Baghdad politics. Iran also wielded Shiite militias to control Iraqi streets and undermine the American-led occupation. But sectarian violence took on its own inevitable momentum, hastening the country’s slide into civil war. Saudi Arabia sought to match Iran’s reach but, after years of oppressing its own Shiite population, struggled to make inroads with those in Iraq. “The problem for the Saudis is that their natural allies in Iraq,” Dr. Gause said, referring to Sunni groups that were increasingly turning to jihadism, “wanted to kill them.” This was the first sign that Saudi Arabia’s strategy for containing Iran, by fostering sectarianism and aligning itself with the region’s Sunni majority, had backfired. As Sunni governments collapsed and Sunni militias turned to jihadism, Riyadh would be left with few reliable proxies. As their competition in Iraq heated up, Saudi Arabia and Iran sought to counterbalance each other through another weak state: Lebanon.
2005-10: A new kind of proxy war
Lebanon provided the perfect opening: a frail democracy recovering from civil war, with parties and lingering militias primarily organized by religion. Iran and Saudi Arabia exploited those dynamics, waging a new kind of proxy struggle “not on conventional military battlefields,” Dr. Gause said, but “within the domestic politics of weakened institutional structures.” Iran, for instance, supported Hezbollah, the Shiite militia and political movement, which it had earlier cultivated to use against Israel. Riyadh, in turn, funneled money to political allies such as the Sunni prime minister, Rafik Hariri. By competing along Lebanon’s religious lines, they helped drive the Lebanese government’s frequent breakdowns, as parties relied on foreign backers who wanted to oppose one another more than build a functioning state. With Iran promoting Hezbollah as the nation’s defender and Saudi Arabia backing the Lebanese military, neither had a full mandate, and Lebanon struggled to maintain order. As the foreign powers escalated their antagonism, Lebanon’s dysfunction spiraled into violence. In 2005, after Mr. Hariri called for the withdrawal of Iranian-backed Syrian troops, he was assassinated. (Hezbollah has long been suspected.) Another political crisis, in 2008, culminated with Hezbollah overpowering Sunni militias to seize much of Beirut. Saudi Arabia requested United States air cover, according to a WikiLeaks cable, for a Pan-Arab force to retake the city. Though the intervention never materialized, the episode was a dress rehearsal for the turmoil that would soon come to the wider region.
2011-14: The implosion
When the Arab Spring toppled governments across the Middle East, many of them Saudi allies, Riyadh feared that Iran would again fill the vacuums. So it rushed to close them, at times with force. It promised billions in aid to Jordan, Yemen, Egypt and others, often urging those governments to crack down. After pro-democracy protesters rose up in Bahrain, a Saudi ally whose Sunni king rules over a majority Shiite population, Saudi Arabia sent 1,200 troops. In Egypt, Saudi Arabia tacitly supported a 2013 military takeover, seeing the military as a more reliable ally than the elected Islamist government it replaced. As Libya fell into civil war, it backed a hard-line general who was driving to consolidate control. Though Iran has little influence in either country, Saudi Arabia’s fear of losing ground to Iran made it fight harder to retain influence wherever it could, analysts believe. Syria, an Iranian ally, reversed the usual dynamic. Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Sunni states steered money and arms to rebels, including Sunni Islamists. Iran intervened in turn, sending officers and later Hezbollah to fight on behalf of Syria’s government, whose leaders mostly follow a sect of Shiism.
Their interventions, civil war scholars say, helped lock Syria in the ever-worsening stalemate that has killed over 400,000.
2015-16: ‘What is wrong with you people?’
The United States has struggled to restore the region’s balance.
President Obama has urged Iran and Saudi Arabia “to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace,” he told The Atlantic. But Dr. Lynch called this plan for “a self-regulating equilibrium” between the Mideast powers “far-fetched.” The nuclear agreement with Iran, instead of calming Saudi nerves, hit on fears that “the United States wants to abandon them in order to ally with Iran,” Dr. Lynch said, calling the belief “crazy” but widespread. Mr. Pollack said he often heard Sunni Arab leaders express this as a metaphor.
“They would say, ‘What is wrong with you people? You have this good, loving, loyal wife in us, and this crazy mistress in Iran. You don’t understand how bad she is for you, and yet you endlessly run off to her the moment that she winks at you,’” he recounted.
The White House looked for other ways to reassure Saudi leaders, facilitating arms sales and overlooking Saudi actions in Egypt and Bahrain. Then came Yemen. A rebel group with loose ties to Iran ousted the Saudi-backed president, deepening Riyadh’s fears. Saudi Arabia launched a bombing campaign that inflicted horror on civilians but accomplished little else. The assault receives heavy American support, though the United States has few interests in Yemen other than counterterrorism and sometimes criticizes the campaign. In exchange, Riyadh acquiesced to the Iran deal and began to follow Washington’s lead on Syria. But the underlying proxy war remained.
A future of ‘failed and failing’ states
Asked when the Iran-Saudi struggle might cool, Mr. Pollack said he doubted that it would: “Where we’re headed with the Middle East is the current trend extrapolated, with more failed and failing governments.” In Yemen, this is already “reorganizing Yemeni society along sectarian lines and rearranging people’s relationships to one another on a non-nationalist basis,” Farea al-Muslimi, an analyst, wrote in a Carnegie Endowment paper, which cited similar trends across the region. Continued crises will risk sucking in the United States again, Mr. Lynch said, adding that no American president was likely to persuade Saudi Arabia or Iran to stay out of regional conflicts that it saw as potentially existential threats. President-elect Donald J. Trump will enter office having echoed Saudi Arabia’s view of the region.
Iran “took over Iraq,” he said at a rally in January. “They’re going to have Yemen. They’re going to have Syria. They’re going to have everything.”
Mentioning both the president-elect and Hillary Clinton, Dr. Gause said he doubted that any administration could reset the Middle East’s power struggles.
“I do not think that the fundamental problem of the region,” he said, “is something that either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton could do that much about.”

Trump has made some dangerous appointments

AMERICANS WHO hope that incoming President Donald Trump will not upend long-standing U.S. alliances or embrace counterterrorism policies that violate civil liberties and human rights have reason to be disturbed by his first national security appointments. The choices of retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn as national security adviser and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) as director of the CIA could presage a harsh and counterproductive U.S. approach to the Muslim world, a dangerous turn toward Russia and the reembrace of tactics for handling terrorism suspects that violate international law.
Mr. Flynn, a close adviser to Mr. Trump during his campaign, has considerable experience fighting al-Qaeda and other extremist networks in Iraq and Afghanistan. As head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, he is reported to have correctly warned that the terrorist threat was not diminishing in the years after the killing of Osama bin Laden. More recently, however, Mr. Flynn has attracted attention with his rhetorical assaults on Islam and Muslims. He has described Islam as not a religion but a “political ideology” that hides “behind what we call freedom of religion.” He once tweeted that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”
Mr. Pompeo, who has an impressive academic, military and business record, is known as one of the more fanatical purveyors of conspiracy theories about the 2011 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and Hillary Clinton’s alleged responsibility. He dissented from the Benghazi report prepared by his own Republican colleagues, which found no significant wrongdoing. More disturbingly, he has claimed that the U.S. government’s surveillance powers have been critically weakened by reforms designed to prevent abuses. He has called for the creation of a large database combining phone records with “publicly available financial and lifestyle information.”
Mr. Pompeo also has suggested that foreign terrorism suspects should be held for prolonged periods for interrogation by the military or CIA — a policy that would likely revive the Bush administration’s disastrous misuse of the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Mr. Trump has been vague about his plans for fighting the Islamic State and other extremists, but the appointments of Mr. Flynn and Mr. Pompeo suggest a turn toward policies that could deeply alienate U.S. Muslim allies, including Sunni states whose assistance is critically needed to forge political alternatives to the terrorists in Iraq and Syria. An administration that appears to demonize Islam will be welcomed by the recruiters for the Islamic State and al-Qaeda; so will one that returns to the human rights violations symbolized by Guantanamo.
The damage will be compounded if the new administration allies itself in Syria with Russia, as Mr. Flynn and Mr. Trump have advocated. Not only is Russia committing war crimes in its bombing of hospitals and other civilian targets, but also it is doing so in alliance with Iran and the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which only boosts the Islamic State.
Mr. Trump’s choice of Mr. Flynn also raises questions of temperament and conflict of interest. The general was reportedly not renewed in his DIA post because of bad management; since then he has accepted payment from the Russian propaganda network RT, and his consulting firm has lobbied for a businessman close to Turkey’s autocratic president. His arrival at the White House, and that of Mr. Pompeo at the CIA, could trigger the last thing the incoming president should want: an exodus of the seasoned and capable personnel needed to construct a workable foreign policy.

Jeff Sessions as Attorney General: An Insult to Justice

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan nominated Jeff Sessions, then a United States attorney from Alabama, to be a federal judge. The Republican-controlled Senate rejected Mr. Sessions out of concern, based on devastating testimony by former colleagues, that he was a racist.
Three decades later, Mr. Sessions, now a veteran Alabama senator, is on the verge of becoming the nation’s top law-enforcement official, after President-elect Donald Trump tapped him on Friday to be attorney general.
It would be nice to report that Mr. Sessions, who is now 69, has conscientiously worked to dispel the shadows that cost him the judgeship. Instead, the years since his last confirmation hearing reveal a pattern of dogged animus to civil rights and the progress of black Americans and immigrants.
Based on his record, we can form a fairly clear picture of what his Justice Department would look like:
For starters, forget about aggressive protection of civil rights, and of voting rights in particular. Mr. Sessions has called the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a “piece of intrusive legislation.” Under him, the department would most likely focus less on prosecutions of minority voter suppression and more on rooting out voter fraud, that hallowed conservative myth. As a federal prosecutor, Mr. Sessions brought voter-fraud charges against three civil rights workers trying to register black voters in rural Alabama. The prosecution turned up 14 allegedly doctored ballots out of 1.7 million cast, and the jury voted to acquit.
Forget, also, any federal criminal-justice reform, which was on the cusp of passage in Congress before Mr. Trump’s “law and order” campaign. Mr. Sessions strongly opposed bipartisan legislation to scale back the outrageously harsh sentences that filled federal prisons with low-level drug offenders. Instead, he called for more mandatory-minimum sentences and harsher punishments for drug crimes. The one bright spot was his working with Democrats to reduce the 100-to-1 disparity between punishments for crack and powder cocaine offenses.
But Mr. Sessions can do plenty of damage without any congressional action. As attorney general, he would set the guidelines prosecutors follow in deciding what cases and charges to bring. In 2013, Eric Holder Jr. ordered his prosecutors to avoid the most severe charges in low-level nonviolent drug cases, which has helped cut the number of absurdly long sentences for minor players. Mr. Sessions could reverse that with the stroke of a pen. He could just as easily reverse Mr. Holder’s decision not to interfere with state marijuana laws, likely ramping up prosecutions even as states continue to legalize the drug for medicinal or recreational use. “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” he said at a Senate hearing in April.
Mr. Sessions has been the Senate’s most ardent opponent of fixing the immigration system. In 2015 he proposed a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone re-entering the country illegally after being deported. That could increase the federal prison population by as much as 30 percent. As Mr. Trump’s chief law enforcer, he is likely to fully support efforts to enlist local law enforcement in a widening dragnet for people without papers. He also, during the campaign, endorsed the idea of a ban on Muslim immigrants.
Count Mr. Sessions, as well, among those Trump allies calling for a special prosecutor to continue investigating Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, a decision that, if he is attorney general, would be his to make.
Donald Trump ran a presidential campaign that stoked white racial resentment. His choice for attorney general — which, like his other early choices, has been praised by white supremacists — embodies that worldview. We expect today’s senators, like their predecessors in 1986, to examine Mr. Sessions’s views and record with bipartisan rigor. If they do, it is hard to imagine that they will endorse a man once rejected for a low-level judgeship to safeguard justice for all Americans as attorney general.

Millions sign petition demanding electoral college members vote for Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump

Rachael Revesz

The petition stated that Ms Clinton, who won the popular vote, could still win the election.

Millions of people have signed a petition to demand that the electoral college change their votes to Hillary Clinton.
At the time of writing, more than 4.3 million people are asking the electoral college across the US, which meets on 19 December in each state, to vote for the Democrat instead of Donald Trump.
The petition said Mr Trump was "unfit to serve" and that Ms Clinton should be president as she won at least one million votes than her rival in the popular vote.
"If they all vote the way their states voted, Donald Trump will win," the petition reads. 
"However, they can vote for Hillary Clinton if they choose. Even in states where that is not allowed, their vote would still be counted, they would simply pay a small fine – which we can be sure Clinton supporters will be glad to pay! We are calling on the Electors to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for Secretary Clinton."
Voters, in casting their ballots for either Mr Trump or Ms Clinton on 8 November, were in effect voting for electors, which are picked based on which party’s candidate wins the most votes in each state. The winner takes all in every state except Nebraska and Maine.
All electors meet in their respective states 41 days after the election to formally vote for the next president.

 There is no federal law which requires electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their states. 
A 1952 law from the supreme court ruled, however, that states could require their electors to pledge allegiance to the party’s presidential and vice presidential nominees from its national convention. Some states even set small fines to so-called "faithless electors" who do not vote for their party nominee.
Electors also tend to be actively involved in their party or campaign therefore would unlilkely change their vote.
Mr Trump previously said he would only accept the election result if he won, while Ms Clinton said his intention to challenge the democratic system was "horrifying".
There is no indication that Ms Clinton would accept the result if she won due to the electors changing allegiance.

    Video - 'Hamilton' stars give Mike Pence a message

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    Pakistan - The Military Alone Will Never Defeat Terrorism

    Ahmad Khan Rahami nearly became a household name. Instead, he will likely fade from memory.
    The 28-year old naturalized American citizen stands accused of placing four different bombs across New York and New Jersey. One of those devices exploded as intended on September 17, injuring 29 people. Another was placed nearby, possibly intended to injure people fleeing from the first explosion, but it did not go off. Another, discovered earlier that day in Ocean County, New Jersey, near the start of a charity run to benefit the U.S. Marine Corps, misfired, resulting in no injuries, but triggered memories of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and wounded 280. A fourth device was found in Elizabeth, New Jersey, near a train station and a busy pub.
    To say that America got lucky is an understatement.
    The Boston Marathon bombers used two bombs, and when the carnage was done the killers were still on the loose and able to kill again -- which they did three days later when they shot MIT police officer Sean Collier, kicking off events that led to the lockdown of parts of the Boston area while police hunted for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
    Rahami had four devices, in four locations. The police have questioned why Rahami picked the targets he did. Aside from perhaps the road race, none had symbolic significance, nor were the bombs particularly well positioned to cause mass casualties.
    “We don’t understand the target or the significance of it,” a police officer told The New York Times.
    “It’s by a pile of Dumpsters on a random sidewalk.”
    During the shootout after which he was detained, he shot two police officers, neither of whom was seriously injured. So far the investigation appears to indicate that Rahami operated alone.
    In other words, things could have been much worse.
    For all practical purposes, Rahami’s failures appear to be his own, not the result of law enforcement foiling his plots. He successfully placed the bombs without getting caught, but they were largely ineffective. The police apprehended him because he was sleeping in a doorway, in the open. He engaged in a shootout with police, but he was not in a fortified position when doing so, nor was he equipped with anything more powerful than a Glock 9mm handgun.
    The scary reality is that Rahami may not have been a very effective terrorist. He may not have been connected with a wider terrorist network. He may not have been fully committed to his cause. We still don’t know all the details, but we do know that Rahami is a test case for what law enforcement and counterterrorism officials fear the most.
    How do you stop someone like Rahami?
    Perhaps the most important answer is learning how someone like this starts down the road that leads them to terrorism in the first place.
    According to a New York Times investigation into Rahami’s life, here is what we know about him so far: He was born in Afghanistan in 1988 and he moved to the United States with his family at the age of 12 or 13. In 2005, he traveled to Karachi, Pakistan. Friends back home in New Jersey considered him to be a normal, Westernized young man, though there were clearly some problems -- namely struggles with his immigrant father and the fathering of a daughter with his high school girlfriend. According to those who knew him, his attitudes and behavior changed significantly after spending three months in Pakistan in 2011 and nearly a year in Quetta, near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, in 2014.
    Upon his return, Rahami’s friends said that he was noticeably different -- more stern, more distant.
    “He grew a beard and exchanged his typical wardrobe of T-shirts and sweatpants for traditional Muslim garb. He began to pray in the back of the store,” the Times reported.
    Unbeknown to them, their friend had gotten married in Pakistan. Representative Albio Sires, a New Jersey Democrat, said Mr. Rahami had contacted his office in 2014 for help bringing his pregnant wife over from Pakistan. The matter was complicated by the fact that the United States Embassy in Islamabad told her that she needed to wait until her baby was born for both of them to come, said Mr. Sires, who added that he did not know whether they eventually did.
    The Guardian reports that Rahami spent those three weeks in Pakistan in 2011 at the Kaan Kuwa Naqshbandi madrasah, a religious school with ties to the Afghan Taliban. Rahami’s father offers a slightly different story, saying that his son traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2013 and came back a changed person, which is why he informed the FBI that he was concerned that his son might have become a terrorist.
    Mohammed Rahami (third from left), the father of Ahmad Khan Rahami, talks with FBI investigators in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
    Mohammed Rahami (third from left), the father of Ahmad Khan Rahami, talks with FBI investigators in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
    The FBI conducted an “assessment” of Rahami, his father recanted his statements, and the investigation never led to any formal charges, nor was Rahami ever placed on the terrorist watch list. This matches a separate investigation by The New York Times that found 2013 to be the year of Rahami’s radical transformation from class clown to, ultimately, an accused terrorist.
    The investigation into Rahimi’s activity and overseas connections are ongoing, but clues from his writing give us insight into some of his thinking.
    When Rahami was taken into custody after being shot, police found a journal, penetrated by their bullets and soaked with his blood. Through the crimson filter, Rahami praises “Sheikh Amwar,” presumably a reference to Amwar al-Awlaki, the famous American cleric who started his ministry by preaching peace but who became one of militant Islamism’s most effective preachers. Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter who was an apostle of Awlaki’s, also gets a mention. Rahami’s journal speaks about how “Brother Osama bin Laden, offered you truce,” likely referring to an address made by the Al-Qaeda founder about how his terrorist organization would keep killing Westerners until all foreign powers pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Rahami writes: “You continue your slaughter against mujahedin be it in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sham, Palestine..." but the rest of the sentence cannot be read through the damage to the journal.
    The journal refers to “Brother Adnani,” Abu Muhammad al-Adnani al-Shami, the spokesman for the extremist group Islamic State (IS) and one of its most important leaders. Rahami mentioned the “Dawla” -- the State -- and his desire to travel to Sham, or greater Syria. Short of that, Rahami wrote the words “attack the kuffar (non-believers) in their backyard," which appears to be exactly what Rahami tried to do.
    Certainly, many people in the intelligence community are asking how Rahami slipped through the net. Surely, traveling to areas of Pakistan known for fostering militants, attending a pro-Taliban madrasah, and having a complaint filed to the FBI by one’s father should have put Rahami on the radar screen. Still, traveling to the Middle East is common, and the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, TIDE, more commonly known as the terrorist watch list, had 1.1 million names on it in 2013.
    Terrorists will slip through the cracks.
    Ultimately, the most effective method for stopping terrorists is perhaps to ensure that they never become terrorists in the first place by eliminating the conditions that breed violence and by destroying terrorist leaders who inspire or train others. The problem with this should be obvious for anyone looking at Rahami’s journal, however.
    Bin Laden, Awlaki, Adnani -- these men have already been killed by U.S. antiterrorism efforts. Nidal Hasan is in prison awaiting execution. The “Dawla” in “Sham” is slowly but steadily collapsing militarily, under heavy attack by the U.S. military, a coalition from across the region and the world, Kurdish ground troops, the Iraqi military, and now a Turkish ground offensive.
    Rahami is a reminder that while the military defeat of terrorism organizations is important, jihad cannot be defeated by bombs alone.

    Economic corridor - CPEC could turn Pakistan into China's 'client state'

    Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif has hailed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a harbinger of change for the region. But analyst Siegfried O. Wolf tells DW the project comes with a big price for Islamabad.
    On Sunday, November 13, Pakistan's top civilian and military leaders inaugurated a new international route which connects the country's renovated southwestern Gwadar port to the Chinese city of Kashgar as part of a joint multi-billion-dollar project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
    The first convoy of Chinese trucks carrying goods for sale abroad arrived in the South Asian country on Saturday, and the Pakistani authorities saw them off on Sunday.
    Last year, China announced CPEC worth $46 billion (41 billion euros). With the project, Beijing aims to expand its influence in Pakistan and across Central and South Asia in order to counter US and Indian influence. CPEC also includes plans to create road, rail and oil pipeline links to improve connectivity between China and the Middle East.
    Pakistan is grappling with an acute economic crisis. Experts say that CPEC can certainly stir the much-needed economic activity in the country.
    In his speech on Sunday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that CPEC would benefit some three billion people in the region.
    "The participants of the pilot convoy, who have made it to Gwadar, are the harbingers of development and progress, that this region is to see soon," Sharif told audience at the ceremony that included his country's powerful army chief Raheel Sharif and senior Chinese officials.
    "The Enemies of CPEC are enemies of Pakistan," Sharif said, vowing to provide security to all foreign investors.
    The security situation in Baluchistan, where Gwadar is located, is worsening, with "Islamic State" (IS) claiming two large-scale attacks in the past few weeks. On Saturday, the group attacked a Sufi shrine in the Lasbela district of the volatile Baluchistan province, killing at least 50 worshippers.
    The Baluch separatists strongly oppose CPEC, saying that the bigger Punjab province want to reap all the benefits while using their lands and resources to implement the project. Ignoring the concerns of the local communities and their leaders, Islamabad vowed to continue with CPEC at all costs. The military says that those opposing the economic corridor plan are against Pakistan's economic prosperity and are "traitors."
    Will CPEC prove to be a game changer for the Pakistani economy? How is the domestic opposition to the project and a deteriorating security situation complicating Islamabad's ambitions? In a DW interview, Siegfried O Wolf, a South Asia expert at the University of Heidelberg, who is currently researching CPEC and has written several scholarly papers on the issue, talks about some of the pressing questions related to the project.
    DW: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says the project would bring unprecedented progress to Pakistan and the region. Do you agree with his statement?
    Siegfried O Wolf: The CPEC project will open the way for Chinese investments in Pakistan. This is much needed as Pakistan is trying to reduce its dependence on the US support, which Pakistani authorities think could be further at stake when India-friendly US President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January.
    CPEC has the potential to boost the South Asian country's national economy but not all Pakistani provinces will profit from this economic "game changer." We see that provincial asymmetries related to infrastructure, energy projects and budget allocations are skewed in favor of the Punjab province, where the Pakistani civilian and military ruling classes hail from. Also, areas like Gilgit-Baltistan will be severely affected by the negative impacts of CPEC projects, particularly on the environment. Additionally, the economic corridor project will most likely lack regional connectivity. In other words, Pakistan's deteriorating relations with India and Afghanistan will hinder the reach and scope of the project.
    Pakistan Hafen Gwadar (picture-alliance/dpa)
    Rights groups accuse the military of committing grave human rights abuses in Baluchistan
    Security problems have mired CPEC with numerous militant attacks in Baluchistan and other parts of the country, but Beijing says it is confident the Pakistani military is in control. Can Islamabad ensure security for the project?
    CPEC's success depends largely on regional stability, security, and rule of law. Without these guarantees, Chinese companies will be hesitant to make more investments beyond the current agreements. Consequently, Pakistan is stepping up its security engagement regarding CPEC - the deployment of an increased number of troops along the CPEC route and new counter-terrorism policies accompanied by special laws to empower the military and its intelligence services are some examples.
    Despite the fact that the number of terrorist attacks in the country has dropped, terrorists are still able to carry out major attacks. There is a big question mark on Pakistan's ability to secure CPEC projects.
    Some analysts say that CPEC would benefit China more than Pakistan. Some even say it would turn Pakistan into china's "economic colony." What is your take on that?
    These new Chinese investments could boost Pakistan's economy but at the same time it will also create dependency. The CPEC projects come with a price. Besides infrastructural and economic linkages, Beijing is also aiming for security and political connectivity. Islamabad will be expected to align its political decision making with Beijing's approach towards South Asia and beyond. Subsequently, the argument that CPEC will turn Pakistan into China's client state will be strengthened.
    Karte China Pakistan geplanter Wirtschaftskorridor Gwadar - Kaschgar (DW)
    Last year, China and Pakistan signed deals related to energy and infrastructure projects worth $46 billion
    IS has claimed two attacks in Baluchistan in the past few weeks. Is the group expanding in the province? Will it be a problem for Pakistan's CPEC implementation?
    There is no doubt that IS activities are increasing in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. It definitely poses a serious challenge to CPEC. We must not forget that terrorist organizations like IS and al Qaeda are critical of China's handling of its Uighur Muslim population. There is a threat that these groups will identify CPEC projects as potential targets in their so-called "jihad against China."
    Much will depend on how Pakistan's security establishment deals with this new threat. With the impending decline of IS in Iraq, we should expect an influx of more jihadists not only in Syria but also in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
    Which countries in the region are opposing CPEC, and why?
    Every country in the region, including India and Afghanistan, is in favor of regional economic cooperation. However, the main problem with CPEC lies in the fact that China is trying to gain strategic and political leverage in Pakistan by increasing connectivity through economic linkages. The fact that CPEC is combined with a remarkable increase of security and defense cooperation between Islamabad and Beijing can be identified as an indicator that CPEC goes far beyond trade and economic collaboration. This has alarmed Indian policy makers.
    Bildergalerie Das Leben in Balochistan (Abdul Ghani Kakar)
    Gwadar lacks fundamental necessities of life like clean water
    Also, the fact that CPEC includes the disputed territory of Gilgit-Baltistan inside Pakistan will create further problems. The area is close to Kashmir, South Asia's major conflict zone. Getting strengthened by CPEC in those areas, some Pakistan-based terrorist groups could seek to destabilize India-administered Kashmir. This will have international repercussions.
    Siegfried O. Wolf is a researcher at the University of Heidelberg's South Asia Institute. He is also the director of research at the Brussels-based South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF).
    The interview was conducted by Shamil Shams.

    Pakistan - Punjab’s Local Government system undemocratic and anti-minorities

    Religious minorities voice exasperation over Punjab’s Local Government System terming it totally undemocratic and anti-minorities. In a joint press conference, Rwadari Tehreek, civil society, social, political and religious leadership of the minority communities expressed serious concerns in this regard.

    The Press Conference was held at Lahore Press Club on October 24, 2016. While addressing the Press Conference, Samson Salamat, (Chairman Rwadari Tehreek), Tariq Siraj Advocate (Chairman MMP), Samuel Pyara (President Bright Future Society), Tahir Naveed Chaudhary (Chairman, Pakistan Minorities Alliance), Rev. Emanuel S. Khokhar (Pastor Church of Pakistan), Jami Chandio (Scholar, and Political Analyst ) Farooq Tariq (Spokesperson AWP), Abdullah Malik (President Civil Society Network), and Sajid Christopher (President of Human Friends Organization) expressed deep reservations over the local government system in Punjab.

    Chairman Rwadari Tehreek Samson Salamat while addressing the Press Conference said: “We understand and strongly believe the importance of local government system for a successful democratic System, but by all means it should be according to the democratic norms and values and should be inclusive for the marginalized sections of the society.

    However it is very unfortunate and disturbing that the Punjab Local Government System has not been designed according to the spirit of the Constitution of Pakistan and the democratic norms and values because practically it gives more power to the powerful and weakens the already weak marginalized communities of our society, especially the religious minorities who are already discriminated on the basis of religion in many ways.”

    Samuel Pyara said: “This is very unfortunate, that under the Local Government System, in each union council, and other tiers of the local government system, so-called representatives of the minorities will be selected who will become the mouth piece of the political parties, rather than of their own communities.”

    Tahir Naveed Chaudhary of Pakistan Minorities Alliance said: “Politics of exclusion have added to the marginalization of the minority communities, and the Punjab’s Local Government System is the perfect example, and therefore the Government of Punjab is being urged to address the grievances of the religious minorities with regard to their political participation and representation.”

    Pakistan Bans All 11 Christian TV Stations, Arrests Cable Operators in Major Crackdown

    Pakistan's television regulatory body has banned all 11 Christian TV channels airing in the country and arrested at least six cable operators for defying the order, according to reports.

    The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, or PEMRA, does not grant landing rights for religious content, allowing the airing of Christian messages only for Christmas and Easter. However, the Christian channels had been operating for more than two and a half decades, just as numerous Islamic channels still do.

    PEMRA has now formally deemed the Christian channels illegal, and is cracking down on cable operators who are still airing the channels. At least six of them have been arrested, according to UCAnews.

    All the Christian channels, barring two, operated from outside Pakistan. Pakistan's oldest Christian satellite broadcaster, Isaac TV, and Catholic TV, run by the Lahore Archdiocese, have also been shut down.

    Father Morris Jalal, founder and executive director of Catholic TV, was quoted as saying, "What is the future of church media in Pakistan? It is a very difficult time for us. We were just trying to reach our own community who are generally ignored by other TV channels."

    Jalal also spoke to the U.K.'s Daily Express, saying, "As citizens, Christians have the right to practice their religion, but if they block you, it means not all citizens are equal. When someone bans the expression of faith, which is a fundamental right, there is persecution."

    Saleem Iqbal, director of Isaac TV, hopes that Christians in Pakistan will still be able to watch their content on the Internet. "We look at it like it is, we do not have the license. We can only ask people to continue to watch us online," he told "Many people are passionate about our channel, which is broadcast from Hong Kong. A ban on cable transmission will not stop us."

    The government's move comes as Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who was sentenced to death in 2010 on accusations of blasphemy, is awaiting her appeal.

    Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 on allegations of blasphemy after two co-workers accused her of insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. In July, Pakistan's Supreme Court set a date in October for the 51-year-old's final appeal hearing to determine whether she will be executed or not.

    One day in June 2009, she was picking berries with a group of Muslim women in the town of Sheikhupura in the Punjab province. The women got upset that she drank from the same water bowl as them. An argument ensued, and the women went to police and accused her of saying something along the lines of "My Christ died for me, what did Muhammad do for you?" She was promptly arrested.

    Pakistan is home to some 2.8 million Christians.