Sunday, December 4, 2016

Music Video - Katy Perry - Roar

Video - President Obama -Kennedy Center Honors Reception

May urged to pressure Bahrain regime on human rights

British Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to pressure the government of Bahrain over resorting to crackdown to silence the voice of dissent in the Persian Gulf tiny nation, when she visits leaders of the country  along with other regional Arab states.
Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, called on the premier Sunday to raise concerns about the human rights situation in Bahrain as she attends a meeting of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council.
"If your government is serious about its commitment to encouraging reform and dialogue, you should use this influence to press the government of Bahrain to put an immediate stop to this repression," May was told in a statement.
The premier, meanwhile, released a statement, commenting about the harsh crackdown in the country, where most of the population are Shia Muslims.
She said the only way to solve the problem is to engage "with these countries and working with them to encourage and support their plans for reform.”
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country on February 14, 2011. The protesters demand that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the regime’s crackdown.
Besides giving the security forces carte blanche in their treatment of protesters, the regime has also been using the legal channels at its disposal to muzzle dissent.
Leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman are set to have dinner with May on Tuesday.
"There is so much we can do together - whether it is helping one another to prevent terrorist attacks, [Persian] Gulf investment regenerating cities across the UK or British businesses helping [Persian] Gulf countries to achieve their long-term vision of reform," said the UK premier, tasked with quitting the European Union following a June referendum.
"As the United Kingdom leaves the EU, I am determined to forge a bold, confident future for ourselves in the world," she added.
Britain voted to exit the EU in a referendum on June 23 after 43 years of membership. The vote called 'Brexit' stirred up political turmoil and sent economic shockwaves through Britain as well as global financial markets.

Crushing free speech in Turkey

Turkey last week rose to No. 1 in the world — when it comes to journalists the government has in jail.
It even tops the People’s Republic of China, which has 18 times the population.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Turkish ruler ruler Recep Tayyip Erdogan has imprisoned at least 120 media folks in the wake of the July coup attempt, on top of his purges of the military and judiciary, as well as the universities, police forces and classrooms.
Of course, Turkey has made No. 1 before, back when Erdogan was prime minister. (He’s now officially “president,” but “absolute tyrant-in-chief” is more accurate.)
Since he first took over as premier in 2003, Erdogan has launched more than 2,000 prosecutions of people who’ve offended him — from students playing darts with his photo as the board to a guy behind a social-media post comparing Erdogan to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “small, slimy creature” Gollum.
For years, Erdogan has routinely squelched speech by shutting down social media and the Internet when he has deemed it appropriate. And Twitter’s Transparency Report shows that Turkey’s also No. 1 when it comes to demands for the removal of “offensive” posts, accounting for 15,000 of the 20,000 accounts fingered this year.
Even the few newspapers free of direct government control fear to criticize the dictator; Istanbul’s Cumhuriyet is practically the last holdout. In The Washington Post last month, Cumhuriyet journalist Asli Aydintasbas noted:
“As I write these lines, citizens cannot communicate to organize demonstrations — Twitter is down in Turkey, Facebook is unreachable, and social-media applications such as WhatsApp remain blocked. The social-media crackdown is an entirely unnecessary measure; who would go out and risk arrest when there is an emergency rule and a formal ban on protests? Protests happen in free and semi-free societies — or when people have the feeling that they have a change to make an impact.”
Aydintasbas writes that Turkey “is a shell of itself.” She might as well say: a democracy no more.

WAHABI IGNORANCE - When a Saudi woman daring not to wear a hijab leads to calls for her beheading

Today it was reported that a Saudi women who posted a picture of herself on social media in public without wearing a hijab faced outrage on social media, including calls for her execution. One man memorably declared: “Kill her and throw her corpse to the dogs.”

To the surprise of the some, Saudi Arabia – which has been bombing Yemen for 18 months, including one incident where the country’s fighters bombed a funeral, and which has arguably the worst record on women’s rights in the world – was recently re-elected to the Human Rights Council, the United Nations’ premier human rights body. There was, predictably, an outcry.
Governing women’s clothing, whether on the beaches of Cannes or the streets of Riyadh, is a violation we should all stand against. And clearly people in the Islamic world believe this as ardently as atheists in the West. This year, men in Iran wore headscarves in solidarity with their wives who are forced cover their hair in public places. The campaign against the enforced hijab in Iran has seen women defying morality police in public and even shaving their hair. If men in Saudi Arabia campaigned in similar numbers and joined the fight, perhaps we’d see a change in the Middle East’s political landscape.
Steps have been made, however small, of late to extend women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. In August this year, the kingdom’s passport office suspended a programme that notified a woman’s “male guardian” (usually her husband) if she wished to travel outside the kingdom. Furthermore, a Saudi prince and business magnate, Alwaleed bin Talal, added his voice to the debate over women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, urging it to abandon its driving ban for women. In an unprecedented move, he stated that preventing women from driving is an "issue of rights similar to the one that forbade them from receiving an education.”
In addition, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, a prominent member of the Saudi Committee of Senior Scholars, said this year that there is no legitimate reason to ban women from driving under Islamic law. Across the Arab world, and in Saudi Arabia, female Islamic scholars and activists have been pushing for interpretations of Sharia law that consider women and men as equals before God.
Nevertheless, it’s now time for the International community to put pressure on the Saudi regime. It is scandalous that we are complicit in human rights violations perpetrated by a kingdom that continues to behead people for breaking their laws. Indeed, it was reported in January that Saudi’s beheadings had reached their highest level in two decades.

    Our deafening silence in the face of multiple human rights violence in Saudi has gone on for too long. Our Government has put business, arms and trades deals before human rights, casually expecting the country to catch up with it in terms of equality. But when a woman appearing without a hijab on social media provokes calls for her to be killed and eaten by dogs, perhaps it’s time we took our fingers out of our ears and started listening.

    US: Suspend Saudi Arms Sales

    (Washington, DC) – The United States should immediately halt arms sales to Saudi Arabiafollowing numerous unlawful coalition attacks in Yemen, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to President Barack Obama. The review announced by the US government following the October 8, 2016 bombing of a crowded funeral hall should examine alleged unlawful airstrikes in which US forces may have taken part and its findings should be released publicly before Obama leaves office.
    “While coalition forces bomb homes, schools, hospitals and funerals in Yemen, the United States continues to allow shipments of billions of dollars of arms to Saudi Arabia,” said Sarah Margon, Washington director at Human Rights Watch. “President Obama has one final chance to change US policy on Saudi Arabia and Yemen for the better by stopping weapons’ transfers immediately and reviewing possible participation of US forces in the coalition’s many unlawful airstrikes.”
    Since March 2015, at least 4,125 civilians have been killed and 7,207 wounded in Yemen, the majority by Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Houthis and their allies, including forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, have also been implicated in numerous serious violations of the laws of war.
    Human Rights Watch has documented 58 apparently unlawful coalition airstrikes, and 16 attacks involving internationally banned cluster munitions. The coalition used US-manufactured weapons in 21 of these apparently unlawful attacks, including two of the deadlier strikes – the March 15 attack on Mastaba market, which killed at least 97 civilians, and the October 8 attack on the funeral service in Sanaa, which killed at least 100 people and wounded more than 500. Both appear to amount to war crimes.
    The repeated use of US-manufactured munitions in unlawful attacks in Yemen could make the US complicit for future transfers of arms to Saudi forces. As Congressman Ted Lieu said in a recent letter, referring to the conviction in an international court of the former Liberian president for abetting war crimes in Sierra Leone, “The Charles Taylor case precedent puts US officials at risk of being implicated in aiding and abetting war crimes in Yemen.”
    Immediately following the October 8 funeral strike, the US National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price announced the US had “initiated an immediate review of our already significantly reduced support” to the coalition. The US, a party to the conflict, has not been forthcoming about whether its forces provided aerial refueling, tactical intelligence or otherwise participated during unlawful coalition attacks, and should examine these questions during the ongoing review.
    “By halting this transfer during his final months in office, President Obama could make a real difference in the lives of Yemeni people and show Riyadh there are consequences for committing war crimes,” Margon said.

    China - Talk to Trump, punish Tsai administration

    US President-elect Donald Trump's spokesperson Kellyanne Conway came to Trump's defense over the issue of his phone call with Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen, telling CNN that he is "fully briefed and fully knowledgeable about these issues." Meanwhile, Tsai's spokesperson Alex Huang told NBC News that "Maintaining good relations with the United States is as important as maintaining good relations across the Taiwan Straits."

    The Trump-Tsai phone call has rocked and confounded the world. All US mainstream media have pointed out that the Taiwan question is among the most sensitive issues in East Asia, and any mishandling of it could lead to war. Trump's jaw-dropping move has raised many doubts about whether it is in line with the US' long-term interests.

    It seems that Trump is still taking advantage of his perceived fickleness and unpredictability to make some choppy waves in the Taiwan Straits to see if he can gain some bargaining chips before he is sworn in.

    The US is losing its competitive advantage against China, to say nothing of acquiring new leverage. Trump might be looking for some opportunities by making waves. However, he has zero diplomatic experience and is unaware of the repercussions of shaking up Sino-US relations.

    It is certain that Trump doesn't want a showdown with China, because it is not his ambition, and neither was it included in his promise to the electorate. He puts out feelers to sound China out and chalk up some petty benefits.

    China should understand Trump has two faces. On the one hand, he is bluffing and unpredictable, and on the other, he has no plan to overturn international relationships, and will focus on US internal affairs to "make America great again." China should become skillful and tactful in dealing with the Trump government.

    China has solemnly protested about Trump's recklessness, and it should do more. It is inappropriate to target Trump since he is still a president-elect. China can punish the Tsai administration, as a way to convey a message to Trump. The Chinese mainland can let Taiwan lose one or two diplomatic allies as a punishment as well as a warning. The mainland can also strengthen its military deployment based on Anti-Secession Law against Taiwan in case of its independence.

    At worst, Trump might retaliate by raising political and even military tensions with China, which could give the US leverage to force China to concede more economic benefits. China shouldn't let the US gain extra economic advantages by unfair means.

    China's response to Trump's instigation of the Taiwan question should be a lesson for him. However, despite these tit-for-tat measures, it is best to engage in constructive conversations with him. China must note that dealing with Trump requires multiple instruments in many aspects. We need to be clear-minded.

    Italy’s Referendum - The Nail In The Coffin For The EU -PM Resigns

    Matteo Renzi was roundly defeated in a referendum to change Italy’s constitution, marking a major victory for anti-establishment and rightwing parties and plunging the eurozone’s third largest economy into political chaos.
    The prime minister conceded defeat in an emotional speech at his residence, Palazzo Chigi, and said he would submit his resignation to Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, on Monday afternoon.
    “My experience in government ends here … I did all I could to bring this to victory,” Renzi said. “If you fight for an idea, you cannot lose.”
    It was a not an unexpected defeat but it was nevertheless a humiliating one, with about 60% of Italians voting against the proposed reforms, which would have made sweeping changes to Italy’s constitution and parliamentary system. Pointing to the high voter turnout – about 68% of eligible voters cast ballots in the referendum – Renzi said the vote represented a “feast of democracy”.
    The outcome was a major victory for the populist Five Star Movement, which led opposition to the reform, and the xenophobic Northern League. The parties are not traditional allies but locked arms to take on Renzi in the hope – now realised – of driving him out of office. Weeks ago both party leaders, Beppe Grillo and Matteo Salvini, were exuberant in the face of Donald Trump’s victory in the US, with Grillo claiming it represented a big “fuck you” to the political establishment.
    Indeed, just moments after the exit polls established that Renzi was heading to an embarrassing loss, Salvini took to Twitter to heap praise on Marine Le Pen, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, and “La Lega”, as the Northern League is known.
    The victory for no could have profound consequences for Italy and will probably rattle European and global markets because of concerns about the country’s economic future and evident support of populist and Eurosceptic parties. It may also prompt worries about plans by a consortium of banks to rescue Banca Monte dei Paschi of Siena, as some investors said they feared that a victory for no could destabilise the banking sector.
    The result will be seen as a clear rejection by voters of establishment politics in favour of populist and anti-immigrant forces, much as the UK’s vote in June to leave the European Union and the election last month of Donald Trump in the US were. But that could be an oversimplification of the results. Many voters interviewed by the Guardian in the weeks leading up to the vote – including those who said they were to the left of Renzi and not supporters of Grillo or Salvini – expressed concern about the proposed changes to the constitution. The proposed reforms, in effect, neutered the senate and would have given much more power to Renzi and future prime ministers.
    The prime minister, who started his political career as the mayor of Florence and was the youngest prime minister when he assumed office in 2014, made constitutional reform a central plank of his premiership and argued for months that the changes would make Italy more stable and likely to adopt tough-but-needed economic and labour policies.
    But the prime minister did not overcome the steep decline in his own popularity and the mistrust of voters who were disappointed that he could not or did not do more to improve the economy and cut unemployment. For many the plebiscite ultimately became a vote of no confidence in the premier. Renzi’s personality – jovial but verging on arrogance – made him seem far removed from the worries of ordinary Italians, some said.
    Strong voter turnout in pockets of northern Italy, especially Lombardy and Veneto, where the Northern League has high levels of support, suggests voters may also have been sending the government a message on the immigration crisis. Renzi has always defended his government’s position on the moral necessity of rescuing thousands of migrants on the Mediterranean, even as he has said that Italy could not cope with the issue without more help from Europe.
    Renzi’s decision to step down – as he said he would – means it will fall to President Mattarella to try to cobble together a new government with the agreement of the country’s largest parties, including Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia. The immediate task facing the current government – with or without Renzi – will be to pass a change in the electoral law that will make it far more difficult for either the Five Star Movement or the Northern League to win strong majorities in the parliament in the next election. While Berlusconi was vehemently opposed to the referendum and Renzi, the former premier has a vested interest in making sure those electoral reforms are passed and could align himself with the Democratic party to ensure that it happens, just as he has in the past.
    Pier Carlo Padoan, the current finance minister, has been touted as a possible replacement for Renzi, as has Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini. But the young guns of the Five Star Movement, including Luigi di Maio, have made clear that they will call for a swift election even before the electoral law is changed, creating intense pressure for the Mattarella.
    While some see the potential rise of either the Five Star Movement or the Northern League – which are both anti-EU – as a sign that Italy could try to pull out of the eurozone, some analysts have downplayed that possibility. An exit from the euro would be exceedingly complicated and – while Euroscepticism is clearly on the rise – there is no clear political consensus to leave the single currency.
    Andrea Liberati, an M5S official in Umbria, said the populist party’s biggest objection to the reform was that it would give Renzi more power. Indeed, another top M5S member had called the authors of the reform the “serial killers” of Italy’s future.
    “The Five Star Movement has stayed close to the people, we hear their voice. It’s as if the current governors all live in grand palaces – they don’t listen any more,” said Liberati.
    In Orvieto, dual Italian-American national Steve Brenner, who owns a hotel in Rome, said he voted no because he did not believe the proposed changes to the constitution would deliver a more efficient or smaller government. “The biggest problem for me in Italy is a lack of faith in government,” Brenner said. “That undermines everything and it’s what makes governments unstable. To increase faith in government, we don’t need a constitutional reform. We need the government to show they are public servants, there for the betterment of all, not just for their own comfort and greed.”

    Putin: attempts for uni-polar world fail, balance in the world restores

    The attempts to establish a one-polar world order have failed, and the balance on the international arena restores, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with a weekly program on the NTV channel.

    "The situation is changing," he said. "I think, it is not a secret now, everyone can see many our counterparts prefer using norms of the international law, as the balance int he world is restoring gradually."

    "The attempts to establish the uni-polar world have failed," the president said. "We now live in a different dimension."

    "We, I mean Russia, always followed the understanding that while protecting own national interests we should respect interests of others," he said. "This is how we shall develop our relations with all our counterparts."

    Putin continue by saying, in the modern world people "listen to those, whose voice is loud enough to be heard."

    "But if this is a minor element in the international relations, then, of course, a good face is possible, but the game anyway won’t be good towards those who are not considered sufficiently big partners," he said.

    The Arab Spring

    The Arab Spring and its negative consequences for the region were possible after the world’s key countries refused to observe norms of the international law to satisfy their geopolitical interests, Vladimir Putin said.

    The president said, Academician Yevgeny Primakov (politician, diplomat, was prime minister 1998-1999) had warned about possible ruining consequences from the Arab Spring - a wave of protests which rolled across the Arab World in 2011 and cased coups in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, the civil wars in Libya and Syria, mass disorders in Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, Oman and other countries.

    "Using his knowledge about the region, and especially about the Middle East, using the experience and intuition, he could foresee a lot and he foresaw negative consequences from the upcoming Arab Spring," Putin said about Primakov. "No doubt, if his opinion was considered back then, this development of the situation might have not happened."
    Putin continued, saying at that time Russia’s opportunities to influence the situation were limited.

    "We could not influence directly and practically development of events, or our opportunities to influence those events were rather limited," he said. "Especially since key players on the international arena preferred already not to observe norms of the international law, but preferred to follow their own geopolitical interests and those were cornerstones of their practical activities on the international arena.".


    Fidel Castro's Legacy and the Hypocrisy of His Detractors

    Byy © REUTERS/ Oswaldo Rivas
    John Wight

    Fidel Castro's death, at 90, has sparked a fierce debate in the West over his legacy. I specifically mention the West as elsewhere there is no debate: Castro is lauded as one of history's great emancipators, a man who led a revolution that succeeded in throwing off the yoke of US imperialism.

    But in the West the liberal commentariat has united as one in denouncing Castro as an evil tyrant and torturer who ruled Cuba for over five decades with an iron fist, quashing the human rights of the Cuban people, who in the wake of his death can now look forward to the future safe in the knowledge that freedom and democracy beckons.

    When we talk about Castro's critics, it is worth pointing out that we are talking here people who live in societies where poverty has been unofficially criminalized and the poor demonized, despised, and abandoned to a fate of destitution and despair.

    We are talking, in the main, the kind of men and women who walk or drive past the ever-growing army of homeless who colonize the streets of towns and cities throughout the West, casualties of a neoliberal economic system that is the real tyrant in our world, without batting an eyelid. In other words, we are talking people whose condemnation of Fidel Castro is suffused with hypocrisy, the kind that is common among those who have imbibed the received truths of empire. The most fundamental of those truths is that the West has been divinely ordained with the task of colonizing a Third World — culturally, economically, and geopolitically — that consists of peoples of lower cultures, civilizations and human worth.The metric by which Castro's legacy should be judged is the transformation of Cuba as a result of the revolution he led and inspired. And in this regard one salient fact shines forth more than any other — namely that the only place in the world where you will find homeless Cuban children today is Miami.

    Let us take a moment to examine in detail the legacy of the "tyrant" Fidel Castro:

    Cuba is today the only country in the Americas where child malnourishment does not exit (UNICEF).

    Cuba has the lowest child mortality rate in the Americas (UNICEF). 

    130,000 students have graduated from medical school in Cuba since 1961 

    Cuba has eliminated homelessness (Knoema) 54% of Cuba's national budget is used for social services.

     Cuba has the best education system in Latin America Cuba has sent hundreds of doctors and nurses on medical missions across the Third World .

    Cuba was the first country to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV (World Health Organization)
       If only the Haitian people or the people of the Dominican Republic had such a tyrant ruling their countries. 

    If only the poor in the US and UK had such a tyrant at the head of their respective governments. 

    When it comes to the accusation that homosexuals were persecuted in Cuba after the revolution, there is no doubt that LGBT rights were non-existent in Cuba in the sixties and for most of the seventies, just as they were non existent throughout much of the world.

    Homosexuality, for example, was decriminalized in Cuba in 1979, which compares favorably to Scotland and Northern Ireland in the UK, where it was decriminalized in 1980 and 1982 respectively. Moreover, same-sex sexual activity was only made legal across the entire United States in 2003. It is also worth bearing in mind that homosexuality today is criminalized in Saudi Arabia — a close UK and US ally and a society in which women are treated as chattel and people are routinely beheaded — where it is punishable by death.

    The fact is that the existence of homophobia in Cuba predated Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution by around five centuries. It was entrenched as part of the cultural values of Cuban society, indeed the cultural values throughout the Americas, courtesy of the Catholic Church. Fidel Castro was a product of those values and to his credit later renounced them, awakening to the justice of LGBT rights. Today his own niece, Mariela Castro, plays an active role in the Cuban LGBT community, leading the country's annual gay pride parade in Havana last year.As for torture, meanwhile, the only place on the island of Cuba where this can be found is at the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

    The key point to be borne in mind when it comes to Cuba and its state of development is that countries and societies do not exist on blank sheets of paper. In the Third World their development cannot be divorced from a real life struggle against the huge obstacles placed in their way by histories of colonialism, neo-colonialism, and imperialism, responsible for retarding their progress in service to the exploitation of their human and natural resources. The legitimacy of the Cuban Revolution lies in its survival in the face of the aforementioned US blockade, designed to starve the country to its knees for daring to refuse to be slaves of global capital. To understand what that would look like all we need do is cast our eyes over to the aforementioned Haiti or Dominican Republic, countries of comparable size located in the same region. Compared to them Cuba stands as a beacon of dignity, social and economic justice, and sustainable development. The lack of political rights in Cuba throughout Castro's lifetime is directly attributable to the US embargo and threat of invasion and subversion by the most destructive superpower the world has ever known, whose record in destroying Third World countries is inarguable. Numerous acts of US-sponsored terrorism have been committed against Cuba and the Cuban people over the years, yet the lack of invective being directed at Washington stands in contrast to the amount unleashed against Castro and his legacy. Funny that.

    Fidel Castro was no dictator. On the contrary, he dedicated his life to resisting Washington's dictatorship of the Third World. As a result of the Cuban Revolution the right to be homeless, illiterate, and to go without healthcare no longer exists in Cuba. In their place have come the most fundamental human rights of all — the right to be educated, to healthcare that is free at the point of need, and the right to live with dignity and pride in being the citizen of a small island that has stood over decades as a beacon of justice in an ocean of injustice. This, in truth, is the reason 'they' despise him. And this, in truth, is why millions of Cubans will come out and pay tribute to his life and legacy on the day of his funeral. For them he will forever be 'El Comandante'.

    Read more:

    Music Video -Beyoncé - All Night

    Standing Rock Protest: Amnesty International condemn 'excessive' force used by police


    Amnesty International has urged Barack Obama to halt the construction of a controversial oil pipeline in North Dakota, and condemned possible instances of “excessive use of force” against largely peaceful protesters.

    Days after authorities in the state were criticised for using water cannons against protesters in sub-zero temperatures, the human rights group wrote to the president to allege an “over-militarized” response by police at Standing Rock.
    “Amnesty International urges you to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and ensure that the human rights of indigenous people and others opposed to the pipeline are respected, protected and fulfilled - including their right to peaceful protest and assembly,” the group said.
    The group said it was concerned about what it had witnessed at the protest site (Amnesty International)
    “We have sent four human rights observer teams to Standing Rock and have documented an over-militarisation of law enforcement in response to largely peaceful protests and possible instances of excessive use of force.”
    Protesters have for months been demonstrating against the construction of the North Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,200-mile, four-state project designed to carry oil from western North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux, whose reservation lies near the pipeline route, have opposed a proposal for the $3.8bn project to pass under the Missouri River at a point close to their homes. They argue that with 470,000 barrels of crude oil passing beneath the river every day, a leak would contaminate their drinking water supply.
    Amnesty’s letter to Mr Obama followed a previous request to the US Justice Department that it review the way local police are treating protesters, whose demonstrations have been largely peaceful.
    Writing on Medium, Zeke Johnson of Amnesty’s Individuals at Risk Programme, said he had visited the protest site four times. “What I’ve seen there and on video has deeply concerned me. Non-violent Indigenous People opposed to the Dakota Access pipeline have been met with over-militarised policing and excessive, disproportionate and unnecessary military force,” he said.
    “People exercising their human rights to assemble, pray and speak out have been brutally arrested, shot with rubber bullets, drenched in tear gas, and sprayed with water in freezing temperatures.” 
    On Sunday, in a sign of possible compromise between protesters and North Dakota officials, state authorities said they would move from a key bridge near the main protest camp, if demonstrators agreed to certain conditions. 
    The Associated Press said the Morton County Sheriff's Office said it had made the offer after discussions with military veterans who have travelled to the site to build shelters for protesters. “The question was asked if we would consider pulling back from the Backwater Bridge,” said Sheriff Paul Laney.  “And the answer is yes. We want this to de-escalate.”
    Authorities will move from the north end of the Backwater Bridge by 4pm on Sunday, they said, if protesters stayed south of the bridge in the Oceti Sakowin camp, where thousands are camped out. Authorities also asked protesters not to remove barriers on the bridge, which they have said was damaged in the late October conflict that led to several people being hurt, including a serious arm injury.
    Hundreds of veterans are due to gather on Sunday at the reservation, then go to the main camp.
    Veterans Stand for Standing Rock spokeswoman Ashleigh Jennifer Parker told AP  the group’s mission was “to go and ask and offer if we can help and support the tribes that are already there”.

    Trump Plans To Keep Jobs In America By Bribing Giant Corporations

    By Robert Reich
    Last Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump triumphantly celebrated Carrier’s decision to reverse its plan to close a furnace plant and move jobs to Mexico. Some 800 jobs will remain in Indianapolis.
    “Corporate America is going to have to understand that we have to take care of our workers,” Trump told The New York Times. “The free market has been sorting it out and America’s been losing,” Vice President-elect Michael Pence added, as Trump interjected, “Every time, every time.”
    So what’s the Trump alternative to the free market? Bribe giant corporations to keep jobs in America. 
    Carrier’s move to Mexico would have saved the company $65 million a year in wages. Trump promised bigger benefits. The state of Indiana will throw in $7 million, but that’s just the start. 
    Carrier’s parent company, United Technology, has military contracts that just last year generated $6.8 billion of its $57 billion in revenue – creating a yuge Trump card that makes $65 million look like peanuts. If Trump comes through with the military buildup he’s promising, United Technologies could reap a bonanza. You can bet that figured into the deal.  
    In addition, United Technologies has more than $6 billion parked abroad where tax rates are low. It will make a bundle if Trump follows through with a plan to allow global corporations to bring that money home and pay a rock-bottom tax rate.
    In other words, Trump will get corporate America to take care of “our workers” by bribing them with government contracts, tax cuts, and relief from regulations. The art of the deal is to Increase corporate profits, and assume that corporations will reciprocate with good American jobs. 
    It’s “trickle-down” economics dressed in populist garb.
    But it won’t work. As long Wall Street continues to push corporations to maximize shareholder returns, American workers will continue to lose good-paying jobs to foreign workers or to homegrown robots. 
    Payrolls are the biggest single cost on most companies’ balance sheets, so cutting jobs and wages will continue to be the easiest way to boost profits and share prices.
    If Donald Trump were serious about reviving good jobs in America, he’d give workers more bargaining power by strengthening trade unions, upgrading lifelong education and training, and simultaneously making it harder for Wall Street to demand that companies shed workers. 
    This was the way the American economy functioned from the end of World War II through the early 1980s, when jobs and paychecks rose in tandem with corporate profits. Large corporations weren’t just responsible to their shareholders; they were also responsible to their workers. 
    They treated workers as assets to be developed – retraining them with higher skills as the companies moved to higher value-added production, or for new jobs as the companies expanded – and resorting to layoffs only as a last resort.  
    But starting in the 1980s, workers became costs to be cut. Corporate raiders mounted hostile takeovers – using high-yield junk bonds, leveraged buyouts, and proxy fights to gain control of companies – and then squeezed payrolls to get higher profits. They busted unions, outsourced jobs abroad, and installed automated equipment. 
    American manufacturing employment peaked in 1979 at nearly 20 million jobs. Since then, about 8 million of those jobs have been lost to cheaper foreign labor or to automation.
    Trump won’t change these economic fundamentals. How do I know? Because his cabinet choices for key economic posts were among the ring leaders in the changes I’m talking about. 
    Steven Mnuckin, his Treasury pick, is a former Goldman Sachs partner who made billions over the past decades buying up companies and slashing payrolls. Wilbur L. Ross Jr., Trump’s pick for Commerce Secretary, made his billions using bankruptcy to protect wealthy owners while leaving workers and communities holding the bag. (Example in point: the collapse of Trump’s casino empire.)
    These men exemplify the financialization of the American economy that’s focused only on high profits and rising share prices, and shafted American workers. 
    Trickle-down economics dressed in populist garb is still trickle-down economics.

    Watch the 'Saturday Night Live' skit that Donald Trump criticized

    President-elect Donald Trump frequently complained during the campaign about the portrayal of him on "Saturday Night Live," and his dim view of the show carried over last night into the transition.