Trump’s ‘mad dog’ war secretary keeps transgender people out

This 3 June 2017 video from the USA is called ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis Rolls Back Obama Era Decision To Let Transgender Individuals Serve in Military.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant today:

US Defense Secretary postpones admitting transgender recruits

A decision to allow transgender recruits to join the armed forces has been delayed by the US government for six months. …

In 2016, the then [Obama administration] Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that the ban on transgender persons in the army would be lifted. … Carter’s deadline for lifting the ban was 1 July [2017].

Last week, the defense department received a request from the commanders of the army, air force and navy to postpone the final decision on the admission of transgender people. … [Donald Trump‘s Secretary of War ‘Mad Dog’] Mattis has listened to this call with his delay of six months. Many Republicans in the US Congress are opposed to allowing transgender recruits. …

The American Military Partner Organization, a group dedicated to LGBTQ rights in the US army, is disappointed by Mattis‘s decision. It’s an unnecessary delay that causes transgender people to wait longer before they can be honest about their identity when they join. Human Rights Watch agrees.

Trump’s policy is clear: Civilian casualties don’t matter in the War on Terror. Multiple air strikes on cities and the use of white phosphorus – a probable war crime – guarantee a growing death toll. The Nation, June 21, 2017, by Phyllis Bennis.


Gray catbird sings in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

15 June 2017

Gray Catbird singing like a Mockingbird. Catbirds, Mockingbirds and Thrashers are all mimics although the Catbird is more typically heard making their cat-like mewing call.

French president Macron attacks democratic rights

This video says about itself:

One Year After Paris Attacks, France Moving Towards Permanent State of Emergency

17 November 2016

French human rights and civil liberties activist Yasser Louati says extreme measures of mass surveillance targeting Muslims are not effective in deterring terrorism.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant:

Macron‘s new anti-terrorist law causes protests: ‘Freedom of citizens is affected’

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations have protested against French president Macron‘s a new anti-terrorist law. Macron wants to cancel the state of emergency on 1 November, but wants to transfer parts of it to normal law. For example, the freedom of movement of a suspect can be restricted without prior permission from a judge.

By Peter Giesen July 2, 2017, 9:25 PM

‘An unacceptable transfusion of the state of emergency to ordinary law’, jurist Paul Cassia judged. “The freedom of citizens can be affected on the basis of simple suspicion.” …

These are people who can not be addressed by criminal law because there are insufficient elements justifying a judicial inquiry. …

However, according to Amnesty International, many people have been wrongly given house arrest. Since November 2015, this measure has been imposed on 612 people, of whom 66 still are on house arrest now. In no case anyone has been accused of terrorism, according to Amnesty.

However, spectacular misses have become known. Thus Halim Abdelmalek received house arrest because he was supposed to have taken photographs of Riss, the chief editor of Charlie Hebdo. In fact, he spoke in his phone after visiting his mother who lived in the same complex.

Because it is almost always Muslims who are the victims of such mistakes, too stringent anti-terrorism measures can be experienced as discriminatory, said Jacques Toubon, the défenseur de droits, a sort of ombudsman. Consequently, national cohesion is endangered, Toubon said. …

However, the CNCDH Human Rights Commission speaks of a “permanent state of emergency”.

French State of the Union: ‘monarchical theater play’?

President Macron will today pronounce a French variant of the US State of the Union. To this end he convened Congress in Versailles, the joint assembly of the National Assembly and the Senate. Macron has hinted that he wants to make this an annual tradition.

The convening of Congress is heavily criticized by the opposition, which believes that the French president is increasingly assuming monarchical pretensions. The radical left-wing La France Insoumise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon will boycott Congress. “I do not feel like going to Versailles to listen to the Sun King,” said MP François Ruffin.

The right-wing Republicans will come, but are very critical. “Congress must come together to debate constitutional reforms, not to improve the image of the president,” said Damien Abad.

The French State of the Union replaces the television interview with the president on July 14, a tradition established by Giscard d’Estaing in the 1970s. According to Macron‘s entourage, the president’s mindset is “too complex” for a question and answer game with a journalist. However, critics believe that he does not like critical questions and prefers a quasi-monarchical theater play amidst the splendor of Versailles.

The Versailles palace was built when France was an absolute monarchy, making it possible for the king to be away from critical people in the capital Paris.

American red squirrel antics

This video from the USA says about itself:

11 June 2017

Three Stooges style antics from these knuckleheads – two red squirrel brothers and a chipmunk eating breakfast. All is well until the chipmunk accidentally bumps heads and scares the red squirrel in the bowl who over reacts and when his brother comes over seemingly concerned and checking things out he gets slapped around. Pausing for just a second to ponder whether he should just let it slide – you can see the wheels turning – he makes the obvious choice and pounds his brother on the head. After a bit all is forgotten and it’s back to breakfast.

Japanese right-wing government loses local election

This video says about itself:

Japanese protest against Shinzo Abe‘s attempt to change constitution

21 May 2017

“What should be changed is not the Constitution but politics!” Young Japanese stage a protest against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s attempt to amend the pacifist Constitution.

From Reuters news agency:

Sun Jul 2, 2017 | 8:50am EDT

Japan PM’s party suffers historic defeat in Tokyo poll, popular governor wins big

By Linda Sieg | TOKYO

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s Liberal Democratic Party suffered an historic defeat in an election in the Japanese capital on Sunday, signaling trouble ahead for the premier, who has suffered from slumping support because of a favoritism scandal.

On the surface, the Tokyo Metropolitan assembly election was a referendum on Governor Yuriko Koike‘s year in office, but the dismal showing for Abe’s party is also a stinging rebuke of his 4-1/2-year-old administration.

Koike’s Tokyo Citizens First party and its allies were on track for between 73 to 85 seats in the 127-seat assembly, according to exit polls by NHK public TV.

Later vote counts showed the LDP was certain to post its worst-ever result, winning at most 37 seats compared with 57 before the election, NHK said, while Koike’s party and allies were assured a majority.

“We must recognize this as an historic defeat,” former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba was quoted by NHK as saying.

Shizo Abe’s present war … sorry, I should use the euphemism ‘defense’ minister, Tomomi Inada, is friends with the fuehrer of Japan’s neonazi party.

“Rather than a victory for Tokyo Citizens First, this is a defeat for the LDP,” said Ishiba, who is widely seen as an Abe rival within the ruling party. …

Past Tokyo elections have been bellwethers for national trends. A 2009 Tokyo poll in which the LDP won just 38 seats was followed by its defeat in a general election that year …

Koike, a media-savvy ex-defense minister and former LDP member, took office a year ago as the first female governor in the capital, defying the local LDP chapter to run and promising to reform governance of a megacity with a population of 13.7 million and an economy bigger than Holland’s. …

“We may discover that Japan is not all that different from Britain, France, and the U.S. in its ability to produce a big political surprise,” he said, referring to recent elections in those countries.

The LDP’s thrashing could also make it harder for Abe to pursue his cherished goal of revising the U.S.-drafted constitution’s pacifist Article 9 by 2020, a politically divisive agenda, said Sophia University professor Koichi Nakano.

“His prime motive to stay in power is his desire to revise the constitution, but once his popularity really starts to fall, that becomes very difficult to do,” Nakano said.

Abe‘s troubles center on concern he may have intervened to help Kake Gakuen (Kake Educational Institution), whose director, Kotaro Kake, is a friend, win approval for a veterinary school in a special economic zone.

The government has not granted such an approval in decades due to a perceived glut of veterinarians. Abe and his aides have denied doing Kake any favors.

Potentially more devastating is the impression among many voters that Abe and his inner circle have grown arrogant. …

Abe is expected to reshuffle his cabinet in coming months in an effort to repair his damaged ratings, a step often taken by beleaguered leaders but one that can backfire if novice ministers become embroiled in scandals or commit gaffes.

Among those many political insiders expect to be replaced is Defense Minister Tomomi Inada. Inada’s remark during the Tokyo campaign seeking voter support in the name of the Self-Defense Forces, as the military is known, came under heavy fire. By law, the military is required to be politically neutral.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to accelerate the revision of the country’s constitution at a faster than expected pace. During a speech on June 24, he proposed that his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) would submit proposed changes to lawmakers by the end of the year. At the top of the list of amendments is the alteration of Article 9, often referred to as the pacifist clause, in order to accelerate Japan’s remilitarization: here.

Japanese PM Abe’s support slides again before parliament appearance: here.