EU Far-Right Condemnation Not Quite All-Right
January 8, 2021
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“Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they’ve always made me glad.” — Malcolm X
“In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the People.” — Eugene V. Debs
EU Far-Right Condemnation Not Quite All-Right
(Thierry Monasse via Getty Images)
Wednesday’s violence at the US Capitol Building was greeted with widespread condemnation, including by a handful of center and far-right European politicians, although they stopped short of pinning any blame on President Trump.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, head of the center-right People’s Party, said he was “shocked” by the violence, as did the hard-right opposition leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, Geert Wilders. Italy’s ultra-conservative League Party leader, Matteo Salvini, and President Trump’s longtime British ally, Nigel Farage, also denounced the pro-Trump insurrectionists.
France’s far-right National Rally party leader, Marine Le Pen, said Trump “must condemn what happened,” but expressed concern that the president’s Twitter and Facebook accounts had been temporarily suspended. Slovenia’s nationalist prime minister Janez Jansa, who had congratulated Trump in November for “winning” the vote against Biden even before the final results were reported, denounced the mayhem as well.
“All should be very troubled by the violence taking place in Washington D.C.,” Jansa tweeted. “Democracy presupposes peaceful protest, but violence and death threats — from Left or Right — are ALWAYS wrong.” The comment was notable for invoking the same false equivalency as Trump used following the deadly “Unite the Right” anti-Semitic white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, when the president said there were “good people on both sides.”
Other populist leaders like Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary and President Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia remained silent.
Pompeo Will Only Stand For ONE Assault On Democracy This Week
(Miguel Candela via Getty Images)
- Following Hong Kong’s arrest of 53 pro-democracy advocates this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that he was “appalled” by the arrest of an American citizen as part of Wednesday’s crackdown, adding: “The United States will not tolerate the arbitrary detention or harassment of US citizens.”
- Pompeo called the clampdown an “outrage and a reminder of the Chinese Communist Party’s contempt for its own people and the rule of law,” and promised to send the US ambassador to the UN on a visit to Taiwan. The secretary also warned the US will “consider sanctions and other restrictions on any and all individuals and entities involved in executing this assault on the Hong Kong people.”
- A spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry said Pompeo’s comments represented a serious interference in the country’s internal affairs. (Al Jazeera)
On Trade Deal, U.S. Wants To Backpedal, But EU And China Have All The Bikes
- The recently signed, sealed, and delivered trade deal between the EU and China was seven years in the making. A lot happened in the interim. Now, on the verge of a change in American leadership, coupled with a newly aggressive China seen as a strategic rival to the US, some analysts and US officials are questioning whether the deal was a diplomatic and political mistake.
- “For the trans-Atlantic relationship, it’s a slap in the face,” said China scholar Philippe Le Corre, especially after Europeans in mid-November called on the incoming Biden administration to work with Europe on a joint approach to China.
- Le Corre believes the damage is already done, even before Biden takes office, regardless of whether the pact is ultimately ratified by the European parliament. (NYT)
Additional World News
- China draws comparison between storming of U.S. Capitol, HK protests (Reuters)
- UAE says travel, trade with Qatar may resume within a week (Al Jazeera)
- How world cities are reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic (WaPo, $). TL;DR: wear a mask, everywhere.
- Quebec to enter full lockdown as Covid cases spiral (Guardian)
- Japan Declares State of Emergency in Tokyo as Covid Cases Rise (NYT, $)
- Why the search for the real origin of the coronavirus is a global concern (WaPo, $). The question is driving scientists batty.
- After Quick Vaccine Success, Israel Faces New Virus Woes (NYT, $)
- Chinese censorship for US WeChat users pushes some in favor of banning the app (WaPo, $)
- ‘Complete mess’: Ghana army steps in to quell parliament clash (Al Jazeera). They may have replicated American democracy too exactly.
- Global heating could stabilize if net zero emissions achieved, scientists say (Guardian)
White House Officials Jumping Ship… After It Hit The Iceberg
- After Wednesday’s violence at the Capitol Building, and with less than two weeks to go in Trump’s presidency, some administration officials are racing each other to the “Exit” sign. Elaine Chao, transportation secretary and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was the first cabinet official to announce her resignation on Thursday, citing “the traumatic and entirely avoidable event” as a reason for her departure.
- Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former acting chief of staff and current special US envoy to Northern Ireland, called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday night to inform him of his decision to leave his post, saying: “I can’t do it. I can’t stay.” Mulvaney told Pompeo he hadn’t “sign[ed] up for what you saw,” adding that in his view, Trump was “not the same as he was eight months ago.”
- Others out the door include the First Lady’s Chief of Staff, Stephanie Grisham; White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews; White House Social Secretary Anna Cristina Niceta; Matthew Pottinger, deputy to National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien; Tyler Goodspeed, chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers; and Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. (Yahoo News)
Facebook Finally Flips The Switch On President’s Prominent Propaganda Platform
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday that in light of Wednesday’s riots, President Trump has been indefinitely banned from the social media platform. It’s the most aggressive penalty any social media company has imposed on the president over his entire term, a period in which Trump repeatedly peddled lies and conspiracy theories, attacked critics, and spread divisive rhetoric online.
- In failing to act sooner, Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet-owned YouTube faced sharp criticism from people saying the actions were simply politically expedient, and that the companies should have done more to stop Trump from provoking the violence. Hillary Clinton’s former Communications Director, Jennifer Palmieri, drily tweeted: “It has not escaped my attention that the day social media companies decided there actually IS more they could do to police Trump’s destructive behavior was the same day that they learned Democrats would chair all the Congressional committees that oversee them.”
- There are still alternative social platforms like Parler, where Trump supporters continue to make violent threats. One expert said without consistent application of rules to other media manipulators and disinformers, “this is going to keep happening.” (WaPo, $)
Additional USA News
- States Also See Protests — And Angry Responses — To D.C. Violence (NPR)
- 6 senators — and 121 House Republicans — are still objecting to the election results (Vox)
- U.S. Disaster Costs Doubled in 2020, Reflecting Costs of Climate Change (NYT, $). Turns out global warming affects more than just the gas bill.
- Woman shot and killed in storming of US Capitol named as Ashli Babbitt (Guardian)
- How a Pro-Trump Mob Stormed the U.S. Capitol (NYT, $). Like a SportsCenter play breakdown, but much more frightening.
- Storming The Capitol Didn’t Change The Election, Some Trump Backers Realize (NPR)
- DoJ confirms email accounts breached by SolarWinds hackers (Guardian)
- The 25th Amendment could remove Trump from power more quickly than impeachment, experts say (WaPo, $)
- West Virginia GOP Lawmaker Was Part Of Insurrection At The Capitol (NPR)
Cow-culators Are Optional For This Exam
- On February 25, India will hold a nationwide online “cow science” exam. The hour long exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions in Hindi, English and 12 regional languages. It’s open to children and adults, as well as foreigners.
- The endeavor is the latest push by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to promote and protect the animal considered sacred by a large section of the Hindu majority. “Certificates will be given to all. Successful meritorious candidates will be given prizes and certificates,” said the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying on Wednesday.
- A spokesperson for the National Cow Commission (RKA) — the cow protection agency created by Modi’s administration — said people need to learn about the true economic and scientific value of cows. To assist, the RKA released study materials which include information on different cow breeds, and discussions of the theory that slaughtering animals causes earthquakes. (Al Jazeera)
- Inside the C.I.A., She Became a Spy for Planet Earth (NYT, $)
- Why Deaf interpreters are a crucial tool during the pandemic (Guardian)
- WhatsApp gives users an ultimatum: Share data with Facebook or stop using the app (ArsTechnica)
- At Risk of Extinction, Black-Footed Ferrets Get Experimental COVID Vaccine (ArsTechnica). It turns out that cuteness, not risk level, is most important when trying to get a vaccine.
- Game maker Roblox’s value rockets seven-fold during pandemic (BBC)
- How the WNBA helped the Democrats take control of the US Senate (Guardian)
- Amazon’s custom T-shirt service and the future of body photos (WaPo, $). Bodies: the final data frontier.
- What can we learn from the lunar pandemic that never was? (Aeon)
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