Posted on July 13, 2018 in Countdown

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Hilarious Diplomacy, NOT

Despite Trump’s immense unpopularity in the UK, conservative Prime Minister Theresa May opted to host him for a visit this week. And how did Trump reward May? He carried out what CNN termed an “astonishing political knifing of the British Prime Minister,” accusing her of ignoring his advice on Brexit and going “the opposite way,” thereby undermining the free trade agreement she hoped to strike with the U.S.  If that weren’t bad enough, Trump said it was “very sad” that Europe was welcoming millions of immigrants, and even took a dig at London’s Muslim mayor, accusing him of doing a bad job at preventing terrorism. Condemnation of Trump’s remarks came from across the British political spectrum, with some parliamentarians (correctly) calling him racist. Meanwhile, the snowflakes at Fox News were busy having a meltdown because the mayor of London allowed protesters to fly a balloon mocking Trump. They really like free speech there, don’t they?

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What Do You Think You’re Doing, NC?

Election Day is 117 days away, and politicians in North Carolina are using every second they have left to continue their assault on ballot access by passing a new law to expand early voting hours. Assault rights by expanding voting hours? Your confusion is warranted, but here’s the deal: the law requires early voting locations to be open for 12 hours each weekday, but they didn’t budget enough money to keep them open for that long, so that means early voting locations will actually be forced to shut down (sneaky). And, surprise, this new law will disproportionately affect historically disenfranchised communities as the number of early voting sites dwindles to match a limited budget. Over 60% of black North Carolinian voters cast ballots during early voting periods in recent Presidential election years, and most of the people who voted the Saturday prior to the election were black. So, surprise again, early voting on the Saturday before the election will be outlawed after 2018. We are exasperated with the ongoing campaign to implement anti-democracy policies in North Carolina, and across the country. We know you are, too, so we’ll end on a hopeful note: use our Advocacy Road Map and the Center for American Progress (CAP)’s new report on voter participation to find easy ways to advocate for democracy reforms in your community today.

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The Natural End of Our Discourse

When you look at the state of our politics, with all its hyper-partisan pettiness, it’s almost remarkable that our congressional hearings aren’t more embarrassing. But worry not, for an exceptionally embarrassing session was on display yesterday, when FBI Agent Peter Strzok came before the House Oversight and Judiciary committees to answer for accusations of anti-Trump bias during his involvement in the Russia scandal probe. There was lots of shouting and heckling, and Louie Gohmert went full Jerry Springer on him. Chairman Gowdy decided to interrogate the statistical validity of Strzok’s tongue-in-cheek statement that Trump ought to lose the election by 100 million votes to zero. But Strzok was defiant, saying that his anti-Trump text messages were driven by Trump’s “horrible, disgusting behavior” of demeaning the immigrant family of a fallen American soldier during the campaign, and that these personal “off the cuff” texts had no bearing on his work on the Russia probe. You can watch the full circus here.

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If Only This Happened In America

Should Israeli settlement products be boycotted? Duh! Because the moral case for such a boycott is obvious, one Senator after another stood before the legislature, delivering harsh words about Israel’s theft of Palestinian land, and insisted that the country cannot trade in goods that came about as a result of war crimes. But this was not America, of course. No, this was Ireland, where Senator (and Gibran Award-recipient) Frances Black brought “The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018” to the floor in defense of Palestinian rights, and succeeded in passing it despite government opposition. But even the minister speaking on behalf of the government, Simon Coveney, was careful to emphasize his understanding of the injustice Israel imposes on the Palestinians before offering strategic concerns about the right approach to help the Palestinians overcome that injustice. The whole debate was fascinating (especially if you’re used to our legislature’s terrible rhetoric on Palestine). Seriously, take a moment to watch it here (skip to the 4:37:10 mark).

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Gaza Stranglehold Deepens

As you know, the 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have endures years of appalling conditions, where 97% of drinking water is unfit for human consumption, and where unemployment among those under 30 is at a staggering 60%. Palestinians in Gaza are held in these conditions for no reason other than being Palestinian in Gaza. And because some of them are pesky and started sending arson kites over the border to draw attention to their imprisonment, Israel decided to engage in collective punishment against all the people of Gaza, closing the only cargo crossing into the area, further devastating an already-crippled economy. Now, we don’t want to play down the harm caused by these arson kites, but if Israel wants to stop them, here’s a more permanent solution they may want to consider: Free Gaza from the crippling blockade (you know, the root cause). But, of course, this requires Israeli leaders to see Palestinians as equal human beings who deserve freedom, and since the Netanyahu government is endless miles away from that prospect, we can expect things to continue getting worse, until the world holds Israel accountable.

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