Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Woman Arrested for Bringing Down Durham, N.C., Confederate Statue
BY JESSICA SCHLADEBECK
MEGAN CERULLO
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, August 16, 2017, 12:33 AM

A North Carolina Central University student was arrested Tuesday after she admitted to climbing and helping pull down a Confederate statue in Durham, N.C., WRAL-TV reported.

Takiyah Thompson, a member of the Workers World Party, used a ladder to scale the podium, climb the statue, and help pull it down.

Protesters chanted, “We love you,” as deputies into her into a police cruiser during the arrest. She faces felony and misdemeanor riot and disorderly conduct charges for the stunt.

Later, singer Solange Knowles hailed 22-year-old Thompson as her “new hero” before deleting her Twitter account.

Andrews in a statement Tuesday morning said he was relieved no one was injured as protesters toppled the Confederate Soldiers monument on Monday.

“Collectively, we decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority. As the sheriff, I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators nor will I ignore their criminal conduct,” he said.

He continued on to emphasize “racism and incivility” would not be allowed to continue in the county.

Protesters on Monday gathered outside the Durham County Courthouse. Several in the crowd climbed a ladder and used a yellow strap to pull down the Civil War monument, which they called a symbol of racism.

Boasting the inscription, “In memory of the boys who wore gray,” the Confederate Soldiers Monument in Durham County was dedicated in May 1924 and produced by the now-defunct McNeel Marble Company.

There are similar statues in Macon County, Ga., Alamance and Pasquotank counties in North Carolina as well outside government buildings in Arkansas and Virginia. The marble company, which was liquidated in 1965, is behind several other Confederate monuments across several Southern states.

Such statues have become points of controversy, capturing headlines in recent months as activist call for the removal of Confederate monuments on the grounds that they are symbols of hate and racism. They’ve received pushback from those who believe removing such monuments is an erasure of Southern history.

The incident in Durham County on Monday was in part sparked by the deadly white nationalist rally in Virginia over the weekend.

Thousands descended on the city of Charlottesville for a planned event scheduled Aug. 12 to protest the city council’s vote to remove a monument of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public area. The memorial in Emancipation Park — recently renamed from Lee Park — was the site of a similar protest in May.
A Confederate Statue Is Torn Down And People Are Asking This Question
By Trey Ware
Jezebel
Aug 15, 2017 @ 4:43 AM

Sheriff deputies recorded but did not intervene as protesters in Durham, NC, pulled down a monument to a Confederate soldier last night.

Protesters circled the statue and shouted, “No cops! No KKK! No fascist USA!!!” then climbed the statute, placed a yellow cord around the soldier, and yanked it to the ground.

The statue was then kicked as the protesters danced and shouted for joy.

Eva Panjwani of the Workers World Party said, “Tactics are changing…our strategy needs to change.”

According to the Herald Sun paper, other groups involved included the Triangle People’s Assembly, Industrial Workers of the World, Democratic Socialists of America, and antifa.

Meanwhile, in Hillsborough County, FL, a Confederate memorial on private ground was splashed with red paint, and in Atlanta, GA, protesters chanted anti-Trump slogans as they danced around and spray-painted the statute of a Confederate soldier.

In Gainesville, Fl the city removed the bronze “Old Joe” which has stood outside the county admin building since 1904, and in Baltimore, MD, Mayor Catherine Pugh announced she will remove all Confederate monuments in her city.

E mailers and callers to the show are now asking what’s next?

Caller Bob wonders, “Once every statute is remove, and we have no more history – what then will they demand?”

TG emailed to say he believes the ultimate goal is the Constitution. “I mean, how can we possibly follow a piece of paper with rules written by wealthy slave owners who were all white men.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Arrests Begin Following Durham Confederate Statue Toppling
Moments after a press conference demanding amnesty for protesters, sheriff’s deputies arrested Taqiyah Thompson, who placed a rope around a Confederate monument Monday night.

David A. Graham
The Atlantic

DURHAM, N.C.—Sheriff’s deputies have begun arresting protesters who tore down a monument to Confederate veterans in front of the old Durham County courthouse Monday night.

Taqiyah Thompson, who climbed a ladder and put a rope around the statue before a crowd tugged it off its base, was arrested by deputies around 4:45 p.m., immediately following a press conference at North Carolina Central University, in which she had defended her actions and others demanded amnesty for all involved. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office confirmed that deputies had begun executing warrants, but she did not immediately know how many.

“I did the right thing,” Thompson said during a Workers World Party press conference on the steps of a building at the historically black college. “Everyone who was there—the people did the right thing. The people will continue to keep making the right choices until every Confederate statue is gone, until white supremacy is gone. That statue is where it belongs. It needs to be in the garbage.”

Thompson was one of several speakers at the press conference. Loan Tran said the group was demanding amnesty for all those involved in the project, including that the sheriff’s office and district attorney drop all charges. They also wanted meetings with the county commission, and criticized Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, for his statement Monday night that summarily pulling down statues was the wrong way to deal with them.

“That statue glorifies the conditions that oppressed people live in and it had to go,” Thompson said.

Local officials have protested that they had no power to pull the statue down, even if they wanted to, citing a state law passed in 2015 that says no historical monuments can be permanently removed without permission from the state. But Tran said that excuse was unacceptable. She demanded that commissioners call for symbols to come down, and she said her group would work with them to discuss some ideas, though she didn’t say what.

The county’s response has been somewhat bifurcated. On the one hand, the county commission released a statement after the protest that condemned racism but neither mentioned the statue nor criticized its removal. Sheriff Mike Andrews, however, promised during a press conference earlier on Tuesday to bring felony charges against those who pulled the statue down. “Let me be clear, no one is getting away with what happened,” Andrews said.

Cooper, meanwhile, offered a more aggressive statement late Tuesday afternoon on Medium, demanding that the General Assembly repeal the law preventing removal of monuments.

“Cities, counties, and the state must have the authority and opportunity to make these decisions,” Cooper wrote. “Second, I’ve asked the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to determine the cost and logistics of removing Confederate monuments from state property as well as alternatives for their placement at museums or historical sites where they can be studied in context.”

Cooper also said legislators should reject a bill, currently under consideration, that would grant immunity to drivers who strike protesters in streets.

Even as the WWP was holding its press conference, a whisper went around organizers as word of raids by officers spread. Not long afterward, Thompson was taken into custody by deputies and bundled into an unmarked car. Officers said they had a warrant but did not display it.

Moments earlier, Thompson had been arguing that today’s police are agents of white supremacy—in a lineage with Confederate soldiers, and in an alliance with the Ku Klux Klan.

“The statue in Durham, North Carolina, said ‘to the boys who wore the gray,’” she said. “If we understand history, we know that those boys who wore the gray, today they wear blue, and they wear sheets over their heads.”

David A. Graham
DAVID A. GRAHAM is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers U.S. politics and global news.
Woman Charged With Felonies in Toppling of Confederate Statue in North Carolina, Sheriff Says
By Janell Ross and Alex Horton
Washington Post
August 15 at 10:20 PM

Protesters in Durham, N.C. toppled a statue called the Confederate Soldiers Monument on Aug. 14, as they chanted, "The people united shall never be defeated."

Durham County, N.C., officials said Tuesday they arrested a woman in connection with the vandalism and toppling of a Confederate statue in North Carolina.

A 22-year-old woman was charged with participation in a riot with property damaging exceeding $1,500 and inciting others to riot, which are felonies, Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews said. She was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of damage to property and disorderly conduct by injury to a statue, CNN reported.

Andrews also said his office expects to make at least one additional arrest, and search warrants are ongoing, the report said.

“I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators nor will I ignore their criminal conduct,” Andrews said in a written statement issued just after midnight Tuesday. “With the help of video captured at the scene, my investigators are working to identify those responsible for the removal and vandalism of the statue.”

Hours before, a crowd toppled a bronze Confederate soldier statue that stood in front of a county administrative building in downtown Durham as several dozen “anti-fascist” and community groups rallied. The groups gathered in Durham days after a Saturday rally in Charlottesville. At that gathering, James Alex Fields Jr., 20, allegedly drove a car into a crowd of protesters who had shown up to oppose a white supremacist gathering. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others were injured. Fields has been charged with second-degree murder, hit and run, and three counts of malicious wounding. A former teacher described Fields as a Nazi sympathizer.

Images from Durham show that during what organizers there billed as an “emergency protest,” or a response to events in Charlottesville, an individual climbed a silver ladder on Monday evening and affixed a yellow strap to the head and neck of a bronze Confederate soldier figure. The strap was then pulled, causing the statue to somersault and hit the ground. A mangled bronze mass remained. People in the crowd cheered as some kicked the statue, spit on it and yelled.

The statue of a uniformed and armed Confederate soldier stood atop an engraved pedestal that read, “In memory of ‘the boys who wore the gray.’ ” It was erected in 1924 and stood 15 feet tall, according to a memorial database. On one side of the granite pedestal is an image of a Confederate flag.

At the time the statue was put in place, black residents could not vote or safely express a public opinion about placing a Confederate memorial on public land, use the same public facilities as whites and Asian immigrants, and could not legally become citizens of the United States. Durham County is now home to a population that is nearly 57 percent black, Latino and Asian. The city of Durham is more diverse than the county, and its politics are generally left- leaning. Most public offices are held by Democrats.

Durham County Commissioners Chairwoman Wendy Jacobs told the News & Observer that she had already directed county staff to begin researching the statue, how it came to be placed on public property, and state laws governing monuments before the Monday night incident. Calls and emails to the county’s public information office were not returned Tuesday morning.

In 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly barred local governments from removing any “object of remembrance” situated on public property. However, Monday night’s events drew a measured response from the state’s chief executive.

“The racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable but there is a better way to remove these monuments,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said via Twitter on Monday evening.

Groups at the rally where the statue was pulled down included members of the Triangle People’s Assembly, Workers World Party, Industrial Workers of the World, Democratic Socialists of America and the anti-fascist movement, the Herald-Sun reported.

Janell Ross covers race along with the social and political implications of the nation's rapidly changing demographics. Janell's Emerging America beat is part of the Washington Post's National Desk.  Follow @janellross

Alex Horton is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post and a former Army infantryman.  Follow @AlexHortonTX
Mr. Trump Makes a Spectacle of Himself
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
New York Times
AUG. 15, 2017

Here is one thing we are reminded of over and over about President Trump: The man simply cannot help himself — especially when cornered. Given one more chance to forcefully condemn the neo-Nazis and white supremacists whose rally in Charlottesville, Va., ended in violence and a counterprotester’s death, Mr. Trump angrily insisted, as he had suggested on Saturday, that both sides were equally to blame — a false equivalency that not just his critics but also an increasing number of his supporters have urged him to abandon.

The setting was a bizarre and contentious press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan that was originally meant to be about infrastructure but quickly escalated into a shouting match about Charlottesville. Gone was the measured tone that the president’s aides had talked him into on Monday, when he said “racism is evil” and appeared to distance himself from his earlier claims about shared responsibility for the violence. In its place was a high-decibel defense of his original position, to which he added the claim that while there were “bad people” and “very fine people” on both sides, the “very, very violent” protesters on the “alt-left” who came “charging in without a permit” were at least as culpable as the neo-Nazi protesters.

In so doing, Mr. Trump took up many of the talking points of the white nationalists and far-right activists who have been complaining that the news media and the political establishment do not pay enough attention to leftists who call themselves anti-fascists. He also sympathized with the demonstrators’ demand — the announced reason for their rally — that Robert E. Lee’s statue in a Charlottesville park be saved. “Is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?” However deep their flaws, though, Washington and Jefferson are memorialized as heroes of American freedom, whereas Lee symbolizes violent division. It was hardly a surprise, then, that David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, tweeted to thank the president for his “honesty & courage” in denouncing “leftist terrorists.”

What is music to Mr. Duke’s ears is increasingly jarring to many conservatives, corporate executives and others who would be natural allies for a Republican president. Several business and labor leaders resigned from presidential advisory committees on Monday and Tuesday; Marco Rubio, a Trump-friendly senator, tweeted that the rally organizers were “100% to blame.”

Quick and unequivocal in his denunciations of anybody who dares to criticize him, be it Rosie O’Donnell or the executives leaving his advisory councils, Mr. Trump has repeatedly pulled his punches when it comes to white nationalists, alt-right activists and racists. During the presidential campaign last year, he disavowed Mr. Duke, who supported his candidacy, only under great pressure from other politicians and groups like the Anti-Defamation League.

Mr. Trump’s behavior has become distressingly unsurprising. His default position is retaliation; when threatened, he succumbs to bombast. Washington politicians had hoped the recent appointment of John Kelly, a retired Marine general, as his chief of staff would instill some discipline in his chaotic administration. With similar hopes, others are trying to get Mr. Trump to fire his resident provocateur, Stephen Bannon. But the root of the problem is not the personnel; it is the man at the top.
Are There White Nationalists in the White House?
By Louis Jacobson
PolitiFact
Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 at 4:47 p.m.

The "Unite the Right" march in Charlottesville has brought the issue of white nationalism to the top of the nation’s agenda -- specifically, whether white nationalists are part of the White House staff.

Remarks by liberal commentator Joy-Ann Reid on the Aug. 13 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press crystallized these questions. Reid, the host of MSNBC’s AM Joy, wondered whether Trump’s initial downplaying of white nationalists’ culpability stemmed from alt-right influence among his staff:

"Who's writing the talking points that he was looking down and reading from? He has people like Stephen Miller, claimed as a mentee by Richard Spencer, who is an avowed open white nationalist. He has Steve Bannon, who's been sort of allowed to … meld into … the normalcy of a governmental employee, but who ran Breitbart.com, which I reread today, the post that's still on their website, where they self-describe as the home of the alt-right.

"What is the alt-right? It is a dressed-up term for white nationalism. They call themselves white identitarianism. They say that the tribalism that's sort of inherent in the human spirit ought to be also applied to white people.

"That is who is in his government. Sebastian Gorka, who wore the medal of Vitézi Rend, a Nazi organization, being paid by the taxpayer, in the government of Donald Trump. The former Publius Decius blogger Michael Anton in the government.

"He is surrounded by these people. It isn't both sides. He's in the White House -- they're in the White House with him."

Fellow panelist Rich Lowry, who edits the conservative National Review, which has taken strong exception to Trump, pushed back.

"I want the alt-right to be as limited as possible -- I want it to go away and die -- but you aren't doing folks on my side any favors by defining it so widely that it includes Stephen Miller and Mike Anton," Lowry said on the show. "That's what they want. You're helping them by defining it so widely."

It’s important to note that Reid did not explicitly accuse any of the four individuals she named of being white nationalists or alt-right members per se. But she suggested that the four were sympathetic to people who do fall into that category.

We decided to take a closer look. Because of the complexities of this issue, and because some of the evidence is in dispute, we’re not applying a Truth-O-Meter rating to Reid’s comments.

First, we’ll look at the general question of defining the alt-right and white nationalism. Then we’ll look at the four specific individuals Reid cited, and weigh her evidence. The White House and Reid shared evidence that we have included in the analysis below.

What is white nationalism?

The boundaries, and degree of overlap, between the alt-right, white nationalists, and older white supremacist groups such as the KKK or neo-Nazis -- all of which had a presence in the Charlottesville march -- is debated territory.

Two anti-extremist groups, the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, offer similar definitions that differ somewhat in wording.

The ADL calls white nationalism "a term used by white supremacists as a euphemism for white supremacy," while the SPLC calls it the belief in "a white nation for and run by whites. White nationalists believe race and IQ are related and that black people are inherently inferior in IQ."

Meanwhile, SPLC calls the alt-right "a recent rebranding of white nationalism," while the ADL calls it "a loose network of people who promote white identity and reject mainstream conservatism in favor of politics that embrace implicit or explicit racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy."

The reality is that "there is no agreed-upon definition of the borders between these groups," said Joshua Green, author of Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, which delved into questions about the alt-right and Trump’s presidential campaign. "I think most people make their judgments in much the same way that Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart explained his definition of obscenity: ‘I know it when I see it.’ "

Thomas J. Main, a professor at Baruch College-CUNY and author of the forthcoming book Rise of the Alt-Right, said the defining characteristic of white nationalists is "anyone who boldly steps forward and says that all people are not created equal," particularly on the question of whose voice should be counted in the political sphere.

Often, the main differences between various categories "are matters of style and tactics," said Nicole Hemmer, a University of Virginia professor and author of Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics.

Neo-Nazis, for their part, typically rely on the imagery of Nazi Germany, while neo-Confederates focus instead on imagery of the Confederacy.

To Hemmer, one of the most notable aspects of the alt-right is that it "has largely emerged online," and that "the alt-right positions itself as a response to political correctness, arguing that the aggressive defense of white rights and men's rights is a byproduct of liberal identity politics."

When political scientist Carol Swain was researching her 2002 book, The New White Nationalism in America: Its Challenge to Integration, she noticed the beginnings of today’s alt-right.

"They were well-educated, and they did not espouse public violence in interviews and did not use racial epithets," said Swain, who is African-American and who has spoken out against political correctness on campus. "But they felt like there were racial double standards and they felt that white people were discriminated against."

Miller, a former aide to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. -- now Trump’s attorney general -- currently serves as senior adviser for policy in the White House and has periodically represented the administration on television. His key issue -- and Sessions’ -- has historically been immigration, namely tightening it.

In describing Miller, Reid has carefully chosen her words.

For starters, experts we checked with agreed that Richard Spencer, who heads a group called the National Policy Institute, is fairly categorized as a white nationalist.

Media outlets including Vanity Fair have noted that Spencer, at a 2016 alt-right conference, said, "To be white is to be a striver, a crusader, an explorer and a conqueror. We build, we produce, we go upward. And we recognize a central lie of American race relations. We don’t exploit other groups -- we don’t gain anything from their presence. They need us, and not the other way around. ... America was, until this past generation, a white country, designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us."

Reid is also correct that Miller was "claimed as a mentee" by Spencer.

According to Vanity Fair, Spencer says he became aware of Miller when both were at Duke University and was "impressed" with his communications ability.

"Being a few years older and in graduate school, Spencer says, he mentored Miller. ‘But I do think that Stephen probably would’ve ended up exactly more or less where he is today whether he had met me or not,’ he adds. ‘He is his own man. ... He is a strong American nationalist, you could say. Certainly not a white nationalist, but he is an American nationalist and a civic nationalist or a public nationalist."

However, Reid’s telling leaves out that Miller has aggressively disputed Spencer’s account. The Vanity Fair article added that Miller emailed Mother Jones in October 2016 that "I have absolutely no relationship with Mr. Spencer. I completely repudiate his views, and his claims are 100 percent false."

Green said Miller told him the same thing as he was researching his book on Bannon.

Bannon, a senior counselor to the president, did previously run Breitbart.com before joining the Trump presidential campaign. And he did tell Mother Jones, "We’re the platform for the alt-right," during an interview at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

But Reid incorrectly attributed that sentiment to an article on the Breitbart site, "An Establishment Conservative’s Guide To The Alt-Right," authored by Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos. That piece -- while controversial -- is a March 2016 taxonomy of the various corners of the movement, not a manifesto of Breitbart’s place in it.

Bannon has sought to offer a more nuanced definition of his views. In his book about Bannon, Green understood his term "platform" to mean a meeting place for a broad cross section of the right -- one that ranges from relatively mainstream to relatively fringe.

"Asked at the 2014 Vatican conference about the racist element found in many far-right parties, Bannon replied that ‘over time it all gets kind of washed out,’ " Green wrote. "He seemed to regard it as an unavoidable evil, a kind of way station on the path to populist triumph. ‘When you look at any kind of revolution -- and this is a revolution -- you always have some groups that are disparate,’ he’d said. ‘I think that will all burn away over time and you’ll see more of a mainstream center-right populist movement.’ "

Green said that Bannon (and Miller) "have made impassioned arguments to me that the policies they espouse, including the deportation of undocumented immigrants, would have beneficial effects for blacks and Hispanics." Bannon also denied that the alt-right is racist in his Mother Jones interview.

"He describes its ideology as ‘nationalist,’ though not necessarily white nationalist," the article said. "Likening its approach to that of European nationalist parties such as France’s National Front, he says, ‘If you look at the identity movements over there in Europe, I think a lot of (them) are really "Polish identity" or "German identity," not racial identity. It’s more identity toward a nation-state or their people as a nation.’ "

Gorka serves as deputy assistant to the president and also appears on television to represent the administration. But Gorka has attracted controversy for, among other things, wearing symbols of a successor group to Vitézi Rend, an honorary order that had originally been founded in 1920 by Miklós Horthy, a Hungarian ally of Adolf Hitler.

To say that Gorka "wore the medal of Vitézi Rend" is accurate. However, calling today’s incarnation of the group specifically "a Nazi organization" is in dispute.

Gorka’s father was jailed and sentenced to forced labor by Hungary’s Soviet-aligned government during the Cold War, and he later received an honor from the successor group for his anti-Communist activities. At times, Gorka has worn a medal of the group, including at Trump’s inauguration. Gorka has said the medal merely honors his father. (Gorka was born in London after his parents emigrated there.)

Reporting by the Jewish publication the Forward suggested that Gorka’s ties to the group went further -- that he had sworn a lifetime oath. The Forward also reported that from "2002 to 2007, while he was active in Hungarian politics and journalism … he had close ties then to Hungarian far-right circles, and has in the past chosen to work with openly racist and anti-Semitic groups and public figures."

Gorka has forcefully denied any sympathies for Nazism, and he took issue with the Forward’s reporting and inferences.

He told Tablet, another Jewish magazine, "I have never been a member of the Vitézi Rend. I have never taken an oath of loyalty to the Vitézi Rend. Since childhood, I have occasionally worn my father’s medal and used the ‘v.’ initial to honor his struggle against totalitarianism."

Gorka rejected an NBC investigation of the issue and said he had "completely distanced" himself from white supremacist and Nazi ideology groups.

‘The former Publius Decius blogger Michael Anton’ is on Trump’s staff
Anton is easily the least-known figure of the four Reid mentioned. He serves as director of strategic communications at the National Security Council.

After he joined the White House staff, it was revealed that Anton was the writer behind a series of opinion pieces that had been signed "Publius Decius Mus," named after a fallen consul in ancient Rome. They were considered a form of intellectual ballast for Trump at a time when few conservative academics were in his corner.

Portions of the Publius Decius Mus column titled "Toward a Sensible, Coherent Trumpism" do address themes common of the alt-right, including racial politics:

"In their hearts, nearly all ‘conservatives’ long for absolution on the charge of ‘racism.’ Like the atheist caricature of the devout husband guilt-wracked for coveting his own wife, the modern conservative believes the leftist lie that his natural affinity for people who look, think and speak like himself is shameful and illegitimate, to be internally repressed and publicly denied."

Later, the article says, "Yes, it is true that ‘all men are created equal.’ But Lincoln adds the crucial caveat: All men are not ‘equal in all respects’ (emphasis in the original). They are not ‘equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments or social capacity.’ People from different nations with different circumstances, histories, beliefs and traditions will — by definition — hold very different conceptions of good government, some irreconcilably opposed to our own."

So, Anton was Publius Decius Mus, as Reid said. But the significance of one’s anonymous blogging is open to debate.

Are any of these four officials white nationalists?

When we asked this question of several independent experts, they all agreed that none of the four were white nationalists themselves. However, several said that they had placed themselves uncomfortably close to white nationalists.

Aryeh Tuchman, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told PolitiFact "we would not consider" any of the four to be white nationalists.

George Hawley, a University of Alabama political scientist and author of the forthcoming book, Making Sense of the Alt-Right, said he "would probably not describe any high-ranking White House officials as white nationalists." He added, however, that "important members of the Trump administration can definitely be described as right-wing populists and nativists. These are ideological stances that deserve criticism, but white nationalism is a much more extreme ideology."

Bannon does try to "maintain the appearance that the particular entity he’s referring to is the nation, rather than a race," said Main of Baruch College. "Do I think that’s a tremendous improvement? Not really. But I think it’s a distinction that has to be made."

And Hemmer, the University of Virginia professor, said the term she would use is "white nationalist-adjacent. Their biographies and rhetoric signal to white nationalists that they have friends in the White House. Put another way, they're not Richard Spencers or David Dukes, but they make the Richard Spencers and David Dukes feel more comfortable with the administration."

Indeed, as the New York Times noted in December 2016, "While he does not consider either Mr. Trump or Mr. Bannon alt-right, Mr. Spencer has expressed hope that the press’s describing them as such will help his own group grow."
DOJ Demands Files On Anti-Trump Activists, And A Web Hosting Company Resists
August 15, 20179:10 PM ET
National Public Radio
LAUREL WAMSLEY

The Department of Justice has issued a warrant for a web hosting company to turn over all records related to the website of #DisruptJ20, a group that organized actions to disrupt President Trump's inauguration in January.

At the intersection where protections against unreasonable search and seizure meet the rights to free speech and association, there's now a web hosting company called DreamHost.

The California-based company is resisting a Department of Justice warrant that demands it hand over all files related to DisruptJ20.org, a website created by one of its customers to plan and announce actions intended to disrupt President Trump's inauguration.

After Inauguration Day protests in Washington, D.C. turned violent, 230 people were arrested and charged with felony rioting.

In gathering evidence for the nearly 200 still-open cases in D.C. court, the Justice Department issued a warrant that DreamHost says is so broad it would require handing over the logs of 1.3 million visits to the website.

The company called the warrant "a highly untargeted demand that chills free association and the right of free speech afforded by the Constitution. ... This is, in our opinion, a strong example of investigatory overreach and a clear abuse of government authority."

A week after the inauguration, DreamHost says the Justice Department asked it for records relating to the person who had registered the site - such as the person's physical and email addresses - and it complied.

But in July, the government issued a new warrant that asked for additional materials: "all files, databases, and database records" related to DisruptJ20's website, as prosecutors moved to seize all information "involving the individuals who participated, planed [sic], organized, or incited the January 20 riot."

DreamHost resisted providing the newly-requested information, citing concerns that the warrant was "overbroad" and may result in "overseizure."

But the Justice Department said DreamHost must provide the information regardless.

"DreamHost's opinion of the breadth of the warrant does not provide it with a basis for refusing to comply with the Court's search warrant and begin an immediate production," U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips wrote in a motion to the D.C. Superior Court, which will soon hold a hearing regarding the matter.

In its filing with the court, DreamHost says the warrant requires the company "to turn over every piece of information it has about every visitor to a website expressing political views concerning the current administration":

"This information includes the IP address for the visitor, the website pages viewed by the visitor, even a detailed description of software running in the visitor's computer. In essence, the Search Warrant not only aims to identify the political dissidents of the current administration, but attempts to identify and understand what content each of these dissidents viewed on the website. The Search Warrant also includes a demand that DreamHost disclose the content of all e-mail inquiries and comments submitted from numerous private e-mail accounts and prompted by the website, all through a single sweeping warrant."

The Justice Department told NPR it won't comment on the case aside from the court filings.

Is the government really asking for all those visitor logs?

"Yes, they definitely are," says Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney Mark Rumold. EFF advocates for internet privacy and free speech, and has advised DreamHost in its case.

Rumold tells NPR that when DreamHost first approached EFF about responding to the warrant, he guessed "that DOJ would realize how broad the warrant was, and say, oh you know, in fact we're not actually looking for IP logs for everyone who's ever visited the site," and would narrow its request accordingly.

But instead, the government insisted on DreamHost's compliance with the warrant as written.

"It always raises red flags when the government is trying to pry into the organization or the association of its political opponents," Rumold says. "That said, the DOJ has apparently demonstrated to a judge that there is probable cause to believe that something on this site is evidence of a crime." But, he says, the logs of everyone who ever visited the site, along with when and where they viewed it — "there's no way that that's all evidence of a crime."

"It's always troubling when the government seizes far more information than it could ever use," he says. "That's just generally a problem regardless of the investigation. I think what's particularly unique about this case is that the crime and the topic that is being investigated is a group of people who are politically opposed to the president."

For administrators of websites that involve political dissent or discussion, Rumold says best practices would dictate not keeping logs of visitor data.

And Legba Carrefour, who was one of the organizers for DisruptJ20, says the site's administrators didn't keep this data for DisruptJ20.org—DreamHost did.

"We would not keep records on who visits our website," Carrefour told NPR. "We don't want to know, and we don't care. But also I'm sure like half of those are probably cops," checking to see what the group had planned for the inauguration.

Carrefour said DisruptJ20 used what's called "the open organizing model": Instead of making plans in secret, they posted everything they intended to do right on their website. They held biweekly meetings to audiences of 200 or 300 people at a time, in places like church basements, which he assumes police attended. "We feel like open organizing is a better way to recruit people, and also sort of a more honest, forthright, and successful way of organizing mass mobilizations."

Carrefour said he was "surprised and impressed" that DreamHost is "going to the lengths they are to resist" the government's request.

DreamHost says its stance isn't a political one.

"This has become a political issue for many - but our interest in this case truly isn't that specific," DreamHost spokesman Brett Dunst wrote in an email to NPR. "We're completely content-agnostic in this. For DreamHost this is simply an over-broad request for records, and we feel obligated to contest it."

He said DreamHost keeps server logs in order to manage the sites of its 400,000-plus customers and identify issues like Distributed Denial of Service attacks.

"We only retain those logs for a very brief time," Dunst wrote. "The DOJ served us with a preservation notice immediately after the inauguration, which is why we still have access to that data in this case."

The Justice Department's demand for the logs has troubling implications, says Georgetown University law professor Paul Ohm, who formerly worked as an attorney in the Department of Justice's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.

"It's disturbing to me," Ohm tells NPR, "that with a single warrant, signed by a single judge — especially given the speech implications of this particular website — it's disturbing to me that that could be the single key that unlocks the political and speech habits of I-don't-know-how-many-people."

He estimated that 1.3 million visitor logs could represent thousands of people, or hundreds of thousands. And he said that the framers of the U.S. Constitution specifically wanted to avoid practices like British general warrants, which gave sweeping access to search any location with a single piece of paper.

"This smells like a general warrant," says Ohm. "I think the framers would recognize a single request to get the reading habits of tens of thousands of people to essentially be the closest thing we have in modern times to a general warrant."

Ohm says courts have often considered how rights against illegal search and seizure begin to overlap with free speech rights – and "this case is tailor-made to sit at that intersection."

"This site is about speech. It's about listening, which is also kind of a First Amendment right," he says. "It's about assembly. It's about petitioning the government. And so I think it's not going to be hard for the lawyers in this case to say this isn't just about policing and the limits of policing. This is about disruption of speech. And so for all those reasons, it really raises the stakes on this particular litigation and it means it's going to get a close look from the courts."
Arrests Begin Following Durham Confederate Statue Toppling
Moments after a press conference demanding amnesty for protesters, sheriff’s deputies arrested Taqiyah Thompson, who placed a rope around a Confederate monument Monday night.

David A. Graham
The Atlantic

DURHAM, N.C.—Sheriff’s deputies have begun arresting protesters who tore down a monument to Confederate veterans in front of the old Durham County courthouse Monday night.

Taqiyah Thompson, who climbed a ladder and put a rope around the statue before a crowd tugged it off its base, was arrested by deputies around 4:45 p.m., immediately following a press conference at North Carolina Central University, in which she had defended her actions and others demanded amnesty for all involved. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office confirmed that deputies had begun executing warrants, but she did not immediately know how many.

“I did the right thing,” Thompson said during a Workers World Party press conference on the steps of a building at the historically black college. “Everyone who was there—the people did the right thing. The people will continue to keep making the right choices until every Confederate statue is gone, until white supremacy is gone. That statue is where it belongs. It needs to be in the garbage.”

Thompson was one of several speakers at the press conference. Loan Tran said the group was demanding amnesty for all those involved in the project, including that the sheriff’s office and district attorney drop all charges. They also wanted meetings with the county commission, and criticized Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, for his statement Monday night that summarily pulling down statues was the wrong way to deal with them.

“That statue glorifies the conditions that oppressed people live in and it had to go,” Thompson said.

Local officials have protested that they had no power to pull the statue down, even if they wanted to, citing a state law passed in 2015 that says no historical monuments can be permanently removed without permission from the state. But Tran said that excuse was unacceptable. She demanded that commissioners call for symbols to come down, and she said her group would work with them to discuss some ideas, though she didn’t say what.

The county’s response has been somewhat bifurcated. On the one hand, the county commission released a statement after the protest that condemned racism but neither mentioned the statue nor criticized its removal. Sheriff Mike Andrews, however, promised during a press conference earlier on Tuesday to bring felony charges against those who pulled the statue down. “Let me be clear, no one is getting away with what happened,” Andrews said.

Cooper, meanwhile, offered a more aggressive statement late Tuesday afternoon on Medium, demanding that the General Assembly repeal the law preventing removal of monuments.

“Cities, counties, and the state must have the authority and opportunity to make these decisions,” Cooper wrote. “Second, I’ve asked the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to determine the cost and logistics of removing Confederate monuments from state property as well as alternatives for their placement at museums or historical sites where they can be studied in context.”

Cooper also said legislators should reject a bill, currently under consideration, that would grant immunity to drivers who strike protesters in streets.

Even as the WWP was holding its press conference, a whisper went around organizers as word of raids by officers spread. Not long afterward, Thompson was taken into custody by deputies and bundled into an unmarked car. Officers said they had a warrant but did not display it.

Moments earlier, Thompson had been arguing that today’s police are agents of white supremacy—in a lineage with Confederate soldiers, and in an alliance with the Ku Klux Klan.

“The statue in Durham, North Carolina, said ‘to the boys who wore the gray,’” she said. “If we understand history, we know that those boys who wore the gray, today they wear blue, and they wear sheets over their heads.”

David A. Graham
DAVID A. GRAHAM is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers U.S. politics and global news.
Donald Trump, from His Tower, Rages at “the Other Side” in Charlottesville
By Amy Davidson Sorkin
The New Yorker
9:23 P.M.

At a press briefing that was supposed to be about infrastructure, Trump tossed aside his previous condemnation of white nationalists like an ill-fitting suit.Photograph by Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

“Wait a minute, I’m not finished. I’m not finished, Fake News,” President Donald Trump said at a press conference, on Tuesday. He was using fake news as an epithet, directed at a reporter who had asked about Senator John McCain’s admonition about the wider influence of “alt-right” forces, which McCain had connected to the “Unite the Right” rally that, with its white-nationalist and neo-Nazi displays, had set off a weekend of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump began by asking if the reporter was talking about the same Senator McCain who had voted against his side on Obamacare, and then continued by asking, “What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? Let me ask you this: What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs, do they have any problem? I think they do.” This was a repeat of the first comment he had made, on Saturday, in reaction to Charlottesville, placing undifferentiated blame on “many sides,” never mind the swastikas. He had revised that, on Monday, with a grudgingly delivered statement of what ought to have been obvious: that white supremacy and Nazism are bad ideologies. Now, in a couple of lines, he had tossed that aside, like an ill-fitting suit. But, as he said, he wasn’t finished. Trump kept talking, in louder, uglier terms.

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that. But I’ll say that right now.” The bad group was the white nationalists; the “very violent” group was those who had come to object. In case anyone missed his point, he continued, “You had a group on the other side that came charging in—without a permit—and they were very, very violent.” Trump wasn’t putting the two sides on the same level; he was saying that the counter-protesters were worse.

His outrage at the counter-protesters’ lack of a permit stood out all the more, given that he had spent the beginning of the briefing, which was meant to be about infrastructure and was held in the lobby of Trump Tower, complaining about how permits slowed down him and other builders. He promised to do away with as many as he could. Not that he had ever been held back; he knew how to get the permits he needed. That was one of the instances in the press conference when his native narcissism caused him to ramble; another was when he began talking about how he’d heard that “the young woman”—Heather Heyer, age thirty-two—who was among the counter-protesters and was killed when someone drove a car into their ranks, was a fine person, and that the person charged with killing her had done something “horrible,” but he ended up just going on about how her mother had said “the nicest things” about him, Trump. The media, he said, didn’t appreciate his niceness. (Later, Trump acknowledged that he had not yet reached out to Heyer’s family.)

As this story has played out, what has been striking is how put upon the President has seemed to feel when asked to condemn neo-Nazis. At the press conference, he kept insisting that this was a matter of being responsible—all the facts weren’t in yet. All the facts still aren’t in, but the swastikas and the Confederate flags were out from the first moment. The only way Trump wouldn’t have seen them is if he didn’t want to or didn’t care, or perhaps he viewed them with political opportunism, emblems of a base to be catered to. All those explanations—that he is indifferent; that he is calculating—remain on the table. The press conference added another possibility: that his judgment is, and perhaps always will be, consumed by his own sense of resentment. When he realized that his statement on Monday had been found wanting, he tweeted, “Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the News Media will never be satisfied . . . truly bad people!” ‬

On Tuesday, that media wanted to know if Trump was, as one reporter put it, saying that the alt-left was “the same” as neo-Nazis. Trump erupted again. “I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups,” he said. “But not all of those people were neo-Nazis. Believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists. By any stretch.” He continued, “Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.” He said that if the press were honest—“which in many cases you’re not”—they would see it his way. And, he added, with a note of dismay, “This week it’s Robert E. Lee, and I notice that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? Ask yourself, where does it stop?”

One might note that Robert E. Lee took up arms against the United States government, the one that George Washington put his life on the line to build. It is true that our history is full of figures who are flawed, but endure. Lee, though, is not a symbol of our values whose life does not match the ideals he is purported to embody; he is a symbol of the betrayal of those ideals. He is our worse self. And if there is not a constant conversation challenging our idols—an effort to look for our better angels, to borrow Lincoln’s phrase—if statues never come down, or new ones stop going up, then we have, in some way, stopped trying to be a more perfect Union. The organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville had not gathered out of some architectural-preservationist urge: they were there for ideological reasons.

Trump acknowledged, again, that some of those people were bad, but he also said, again, “You also had people that were very fine people—on both sides . . . you had people in that group who were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.” Trump didn’t pause to ask why the statue of Robert E. Lee would be so very, very important, nor did he mention the other name: Emancipation Park. Instead, he had reduced a moral crossroads for the country to a question of naming rights. Standing in front of reporters, Trump came across as an angry man sheltered by a building bearing his own name in big, gold letters. But for how long? Tenants in some buildings have already asked to have the “Trump” taken off. Where would it stop? Would there, perhaps, never even be a statue of Donald J. Trump?

Amy Davidson Sorkin is a New Yorker staff writer. She is a regular Comment contributor for the magazine and writes a Web column, in which she covers war, sports, and everything in between.
Woman Charged in Toppling of Confederate Statue in NC
By Amanda Jackson and Ralph Ellis, CNN
3:26 PM ET, Tue August 15, 2017

Story highlights
Confederate statue toppled during Monday protest
Investigators will use video to find suspects, sheriff says

A woman has been arrested in connection with the toppling of a Confederate statue during a protest in Durham, North Carolina, authorities said Tuesday.

Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews said officers are executing search warrants and expect to make an additional arrest in the case.

"As the sheriff, I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators nor will I ignore their criminal conduct," Andrews said in a news release. "With the help of video captured at the scene, my investigators are working to identify those responsible for the removal and vandalism of the statue."

The sheriff's office said the 22-year-old woman was charged with two felonies, participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500 and inciting others to riot, and two misdemeanors, disorderly conduct by injury to a statue and damage to property.

The statue was pulled down during a protest in Durham to show solidarity with anti-racist activists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

From New York to Indiana to California, numerous demonstrations have been organized since Saturday, when Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville while counterprotesting a white nationalist rally. Many demonstrators connected with each other through public Facebook events.

As the group gathered at the old Durham County courthouse around the Confederate Soldiers Monument, one person climbed a ladder and tied a rope to the top of the statue as the crowd chanted, "We are the revolution."

Protesters pulled the rope and erupted in cheers as the statue fell onto the ground. Several people ran up to the mangled statue, kicking it and spitting on it.

The statue, dedicated in 1924, depicts a soldier holding a gun on top of a concrete pillar. The pillar is engraved, "In memory of the boys who wore gray."

Andrews said county leaders discussed safety measures for the protest and the potential risk of injury to protesters or police. "Collectively, we decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority," Andrews said.

Durham police said no arrests were made because the incident occurred on county property. CNN has reached out to county officials for a statement.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement Tuesday calling for the removal of more Confederate monuments.

"I don't pretend to know what it's like for a person of color to pass by one of these monuments and consider that those memorialized in stone and metal did not value my freedom or humanity," he said.

"Unlike an African-American father, I'll never have to explain to my daughters why there exists an exalted monument for those who wished to keep her and her ancestors in chains."

Cooper said the legislature should repeal a 2015 law that prevents the removal or relocation of monuments so local governments and the state will have the authority to decide.

A state agency has been asked to determine the costs of removing Confederate monuments from state property and find alternative spots for their placement, Cooper said.

Cooper said he will also urge the legislature to defeat a bill that grants immunity from liability to motorists who strike protesters.

On Monday in Gainesville, Florida, construction workers, approved by the county, removed a Confederate statue called "Old Joe." The statue sat outside the Alachua County Administration Building for over 100 years.

The statue, unveiled in 1909, depicts a soldier known as "Old Joe" standing with his gun in his hands.
For the past two years, Alachua County has been in the process of removing "Old Joe" and figuring out a place to relocate it.

"Back in May 2017, Alachua County Board of Commissioners made the decision, to remove the statue stating that they didn't think the current location in front of the Alachua County Administrative building wasn't an appropriate place for the statue since it's a busy public area," Mark Sexton, a county spokesperson, told CNN.

Finding an organization to take the monument held up the process of removal. Two organizations turned down the board's offer of receiving "Old Joe" before the United Daughters of the Confederacy agreed to relocate it.

CNN's Jeremy Grisham and Tina Burnside contributed to this report.
Muslim-Majority Guinea and Senegal Send Ambassadors to Israel as the World Stands Aghast
By Tazpit Press Service
August 9, 2017 , 11:30 am

President Reuven Rivlin with Guinea’s ambassador Amara Camara in Jerusalem on August 8, 2017. (President’s Official Residence)
By: Ilan Evyatar

Two Muslim majority African nations, Senegal and Guinea, established diplomatic representation in Israel for the first time Tuesday as Talla Fall, Senegal’s ambassador to Egypt and Amara Camara, Guinea’s ambassador to France, took up positions as non-resident ambassadors and presented their credentials to President Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin.

Ties between Israel and Guinea were cut in 1967 and renewed last year, while Israel downgraded its ties with Senegal after Dakar co-sponsored United Nations Resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlements in December 2016. Ties between the countries were restored and Israel returned its ambassador to Dakar in June after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Senegalese President Macky Sall on the sidelines of the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) summit in Liberia. Neither country had previously appointed an ambassador to Israel.

“Relations between us were cut off for a very long time, too long a time,” Camara said, adding that the West African nation was open for business with Israel. “Guinea wants to cooperate with Israel and in particular to become the gateway for Israel to reach the rest of Africa. ”

Rivlin told Camara that “Israel sees the future in Africa” and that “ties with Africa are of the utmost importance.”

The Senegalese non-resident ambassador Talla Fall, who will work out of Cairo, described himself as a true friend of Israel and said relations between the two countries were very good.

Netanyahu has invested heavily in relations with Africa, making three trips to the continent in the past year after 29 years in which a sitting Israeli prime minister had not visited the continent. Netanyahu hopes that in the long-term, the strengthening of ties with African nations will break the automatic Arab majority at the United Nations.

On Monday Netanyahu hosted the president of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé, in Jerusalem. The Togolese president wrote in the guest book at the prime minister’s residence: “I am dreaming of Israel’s return to Africa and Africa’s return to Israel.” Togo is a true friend of Israel!

Togo is due to host an Africa-Israel summit in October.

Read more at https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/92936/two-muslim-african-nations-establish-ties-send-ambassadors-jerusalem-first/#tFx4CAcujAwiyWPe.99
Africa-Israel Summit 'Justifies Colonialism, Apartheid'
The forthcoming summit is likely to increase Israel's influence in the UN and the African continent, Palestinians say.

In 2016, Netanyahu became the first Israeli leader to visit sub-Saharan Africa in almost three decades [File: Reuters]

byFarah Najjar
Online producer at Al Jazeera English.

A group of Palestinian activists, academics, and civil society organisations have launched a campaign to deter African nations from partaking in the upcoming Africa-Israel summit, slated to take place in Togo in October.

Several African countries, including South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Mauritania, have already decided to boycott the summit, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet leaders from more than 20 countries to rekindle a diplomatic and economic relationship. The summit will be the first of its kind.

Israel hosts anti-BDS UN summit

According to activist Razan Zuayter, a campaign organiser based in Jordan, the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad is seeking to point out to  African countries Israel's "dangerous" activities in the continent, such as its diamond trade, often illegally imported from Africa as revealed in a 2009 United Nations report, and its mistreatment of African minorities in Israel.

"If it [the summit] happens, we want a counter movement to emerge in Africa that can act in parallel to it," Zuayter told Al Jazeera.

The summit, scheduled for October 23, will have leaders from Africa and Israel discuss ways to enhance cooperation in the fields of technology, development and security.

In a letter addressed to African governments and their respective embassies, the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad organisation called for the boycott of the summit on the basis that establishing relations with an "apartheid state" and condoning its actions against the occupied Palestinian people comes in violation of various UN conventions.

"African countries which fought colonialism for decades and became free after a long suffering should never associate themselves with the only, longest and most brutal colonial project in the world today," the letter reads.

"In the name of justice and freedom and in the name of the African legacy of long struggle for freedom, we ask your country to disassociate from Israel's Apartheid regime."

Netanyahu previously pledged to strengthen ties with the continent and described his pledge as a "priority" at a regional security conference he attended in Liberia in June 2017.

"I believe in Africa, I believe in its potential- present and future. It is a continent on the rise," he said in his address to West African leaders.

Historically, African leaders did not have warm relationships with the State of Israel. Following the 1973 October War, sub-Saharan African countries severed ties with Israel. In 2016, Netanyahu became the first Israeli leader to visit sub-Saharan Africa in almost three decades.

The organisation, representing the Palestinian diaspora, is also working with civil society groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the ground to pressure participating governments into pulling out from the summit.

While these new friendships with Israel might bring certain African countries short-term benefits…they should beware of Israel's longer-term agenda, which may ultimately be detrimental to their own national interests.

Ayesha Kajee, South African political analyst

Salman Abu Sitta, Chairperson of the organisation, told Al Jazeera that these African countries have been "hard, determined fighters" in the battle against western colonialism.

"It [the summit] is a very sad regression; it is regrettable that they deny that history and became enemies of their history…to become aligned with the very epitome of racism and discrimination that is Israel," he said.

"Is Togo ready to send ships of slaves from Togo to Israel in annotation of their long history?" he added.

According to Abu Sitta, the main consequence of a renewed Africa-Israel relationship is losing what is now a "solid majority" in the UN General Assembly in favour of ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Traditionally, African nations have been supporters of the Palestinian cause when voting on resolutions concerning the right of return, the dismantlement of the Separation Wall, and ending the illegal settlement expansion project.

Out of 193 member states, there are 54 African states in the UN.

"If we lose them [African votes], it is very dangerous," Abu Sitta explained.

"Israel will have centres of influence in these countries, which will actively increase Israel's influence in the UN and in the African continent," he added, pointing out that the countries involved with organising the summit, including Togo, may have "private or monetary" motives for setting up the summit.

Al Jazeera reached out to the summit organisers for comment but received no reply in time for publication.

Similarly, Ghada Karmi, an academic and spokesperson for the organisation, told Al Jazeera that the campaign is significant in encouraging a discussion about Israeli "apartheid" policies and in raising awareness.

Israel, Karmi said, is determined to carry out the summit to reverse or abolish the pro-Arab policy of the African states. If the summit were successful, it would be "a milestone on the Israeli campaign", she explained.

"We have to ask what is Israel offering to the African countries - it seems to us that it is offering support for dictators," she said, which would aid governments in repressing "liberation movements". "This [campaign] should be done at the state level," said Karmi, describing the lack of government action as problematic.

"We have been reaching out to states to condemn this summit, not only African governments."

South African human rights activist and political analyst Ayesha Kajee, based in Johannesburg, told Al Jazeera that Israel has been on a mission to strengthen ties with Africa, even to the "extent of attempting to gain observer status at the African Union".

"While these new friendships with Israel might bring certain African countries short-term benefits…they should beware of Israel's longer-term agenda, which may ultimately be detrimental to their own national interests," she said.

During Netanyahu's visit to the continent in 2016, the Israeli government approved a $13m deal in development packages for African countries. The move was intended to symbolise the start of a closer economic relationship.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from the Occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Mustafa Barghouti, the former Palestinian information minister and general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative political party, said that Israel is taking advantage of its technological abilities and of its military and security services to carry out the summit.

"We started seeing changing trends in the UN with regards to the Palestinian cause," he said. "Loss of support could lead to dominance of the Israeli narrative about the Palestinian issue and about the situation today."

In addition to utilising support from the United States to establish a base in African countries, Barghouti said that this relationship is a chance for Israel to "market" their products and surveillance services, especially at a time where the activities of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement are proving effective in curbing Israel's economic success.

Naeem Jeenah, executive director of the Afro-Middle East Centre in Johannesburg, told Al Jazeera that a relationship with Israel would undermine African countries' sovereignty.

Through marketing their products and services, Israel seeks to penetrate into the security services of these countries, Jeenah explained.

"It is a problem when a foreign state takes over the security functions of another government…they [African governments] become dependent on the Israelis," he said.

Despite ongoing efforts to raise awareness, according to Jeenah, some 15 African countries are already in the "Israeli camp", and no amount of civil society can reverse that.

African countries who oppose Israeli policies have not been vocal, he says, but with more government pressure, countries "on the fence…could be influenced".
Donald Trump's Equivocation Emboldens Alt-right Terrorists in Charlottesville and Beyond
Christian Schneider, Opinion columnist
12:03 p.m. ET Aug. 15, 2017
USA Today

By planting a land mine in a small Virginia town, where an overwhelming majority voted for Clinton, they're spreading fear to other U.S. cities.

"Tonight, I'm asking for the vote of every single African-American citizen in this country who wants to see a better future," then-candidate Donald Trump bellowed to a cheering crowd in Michigan. "What the hell do you have to lose?"

Almost a year later to the day, now we have the answer.

As a recently emboldened white supremacist movement made its way through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, violence flared up in spots, culminating in 20-year old Ohio man James Alex Fields allegedly slamming his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters. One woman was killed and 19 others were injured in the attack.

More: The poor are better off without welfare. Ask Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

More: Donald Trump has a sickening fetish for cruelty

Shortly after the grisly car assault took place, observers rushed to label it an act of "domestic terrorism." But this is only half right.

Certainly, specific acts of violence constitute terrorism. But terror is also wrought by the mere threat of violence, carried out through so-called "peaceful" marches by white supremacists and their Nazi brethren. When the citronella-wielding bigots filed through the University of Virginia campus under the dark of Friday night, it was a notice to everyone living in a peaceful, progressive community — "we’re here, we're watching, and nobody is safe."

This is the very purpose of terrorism — a small minority gains power not only from random attacks, but the threat such attacks pose to peaceful citizens. It's how small groups of terrorists in foreign nations level the battlefield against the world's superpowers — the unexpectedness of what might happen is what grants them leverage. Randomness and surprise are their armies.

Obviously, the marches themselves don’t meet the legal definition of “terror;” if they remain peaceful, they must still be protected as free speech. But make no mistake about their aims — the white supremacy demonstrations like the one in Charlottesville are meant to intimidate people all over America. They intentionally harken back to the Klan rallies of yesteryear when such marches would end in cross burnings and lynchings.

African-Americans and Hispanics who already had cause to look over their shoulders now have to deal with an emboldened racist movement that is no longer ashamed enough to cover its members' faces in public. If you are a person of color working in an office building in Topeka, Kansas or Bangor, Maine, what assurances do you have that a member of the alt-right isn't sitting in a cubicle thirty feet from yours? (In the ongoing debate over "privilege," this seems to be the most legitimate; whites are largely spared the threat of random violence simply because of their color.)

This is domestic terrorism. Not just the acts of violence, but the threats of violence white supremacists are now planting in otherwise peaceful communities across America. By planting a land mine in Charlottesville, a city in which 80% of voters supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, they're leaving citizens in other towns wondering where else they might detonate.

And yet the events in Charlottesville unfolded, Americans got to see the president who once promised African-Americans a better future blind to terrorism that shares his skin tone. On Saturday, Trump notably decried "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides," which provided aid and comfort to the Nazis and white supremacists who thought they were the ones being oppressed. America's most famous racist, former KKK leader David Duke, said they were there to "fulfill the promises of Donald Trump," urging Trump on Twitter to remember that it was "White Americans that put you in the presidency."

As a child growing up in Charlottesville in the early 1980s, all I knew was cheerful bliss. I lived in a neighborhood where as a 9-year old, I walked a half mile home from school and nobody thought anything of it. I recall being stung by a bee behind Hollymead Elementary School, which remains my only unpleasant memory of living in such a stellar town.

This makes it even more heartbreaking to see the people of Charlottesville under siege by a small gang of fringe fear-mongers. America's greatest problem isn't insufficient presidential condemnations — absent Trump's victory, these reprobates would still be marching and spreading their lies online — but they clearly see an opening when the president more quickly criticizes his own allies than white supremacists. (Fortunately, in contrast to Trump, other national Republicans stepped up and strongly condemned the Nazis and other white supremacists by name.)

As Sufjan Stevens once sang, "Even in his heart the devil has to know the water level." But even after making more aggressive statements on Monday - which he immediately undermined by implying on Twitter that he had done so only under duress -  Trump's brain still seems to be drowning in an ocean of racist appeasement. Until he fully and consistently denounces the havoc wrought by his appalling supporters, he is actively working with America's enemies.

Christian Schneider is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors and a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where this piece was first published. Follow him on Twitter @Schneider_CM.

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @USATOpinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.
Protesters Could Be Charged for Bringing Down Durham, N.C., Confederate Statue
BY JESSICA SCHLADEBECK
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, August 15, 2017, 10:22 AM

Authorities in Durham, N.C., are working to identify those behind the “removal and vandalism” of a Confederate statue built by the same defunct company behind several other similar monuments across the south.

Sheriff Mike Andrews in a statement Tuesday morning said he was relieved no one was injured as protesters toppled the Confederate Soldiers monument on Monday.

“Collectively, we decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority. As the sheriff, I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators nor will I ignore their criminal conduct,” he said.

“With the help of video captured at the scene, my investigators are working to identify those responsible for the removal and vandalism of the statue.”

He continued on to emphasize “racism and incivility” would not be allowed to continue in the county.

Protesters on Monday gathered outside the Durham County Courthouse. Several in the crowd climbed a ladder and used a yellow strap to pull down the Civil War monument, which they called a symbol of racism.

Boasting the inscription, “In memory of the boys who wore gray,” the Confederate Soldiers Monument in Durham County was dedicated in May 1924 and produced by the now-defunct McNeel Marble Company.

Once based in Marietta, Ga., the marble company billed itself as “the largest monumental plant in the south,” according to Carol Morris Little’s “A Comprehensive Guide to Outdoor Sculpture in Texas.” There is also a Confederate Soldier statue in Georgetown, Texas, produced by the McNeel Marble Company in 1916.

There are similar statues in Macon County, Ga., Alamance and Pasquotank counties in North Carolina as well outside government buildings in Arkansas and Virginia. The marble company, which was liquidated in 1965, is behind several other Confederate monuments across several Southern states.

Such statues have become points of controversy, capturing headlines in recent months as activist call for the removal of Confederate monuments on the grounds that they are symbols of hate and racism. They’ve received pushback from those who believe removing such monuments is an erasure of Southern history.

The incident in Durham County on Monday was in part sparked by the deadly white nationalist rally in Virginia over the weekend.

Thousands descended on the city of Charlottesville for a planned event scheduled Aug. 12 to protest the city council’s vote to remove a monument of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public area. The memorial in Emancipation Park — recently renamed from Lee Park — was the site of a similar protest in May.
Sierra Leone President Says Needs ‘Urgent Support Now’ for Flood Victims as 270 Bodies Recovered 
FREETOWN (AFP) - President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone said Tuesday (Aug 15) that his country needed “urgent support now” for thousands of people affected by massive flooding and mudslides in the capital of one of the world’s poorest nations.

Addressing the media in the Regent hilltop community of Freetown, one of the areas hit hardest by a mudslide that has destroyed homes, Koroma fought back tears as he said the devastation “was overwhelming us”.

“Entire communities have been wiped out,” Koroma said at the disaster site, where heavy rains streaming down the hillside engulfed homes three or four stories high on Monday, many of them built illegally.

The Red Cross has said it was struggling to bring enough equipment to the site to excavate those buried deeply in the mud, but several bodies were extracted by available machinery at the site on Tuesday morning, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

Rescue workers pulled more bodies from destroyed houses and muddy pools in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown on Tuesday, where more than 300 people have died in flooding and mudslides.

But as officials spoke of entire communities washed away in mudslides, rescue efforts were hampered by a lack of equipment and the challenges posed the search and excavation work.

The government has promised relief to the more than 3,000 people left homeless, opening an emergency response centre in the hilltop community of Regent. Israel and Britain said they were sending aid as quickly as possible to the stricken west African city.

Registration centres to count the homeless opened across Freetown, a city of around one million people, while Interior Minister Paolo Conteh told Sierra Leone’s state broadcaster that thousands of people remained missing.

Red Cross spokesman Patrick Massaquoi told AFP on Monday that while the death toll was 312, this was expected to rise as his team assessed disaster areas in Freetown.  Another Red Cross official, Abu Bakarr Tarrawallie, put the death toll at 245 in an email to AFP on Tuesday, while local media and officials all gave different tolls.

“There is a challenge of expertise in search and excavation and inadequate machines to excavate the submerged houses,” Tarawallie told AFP. “Registration of affected people is ongoing now to ascertain total number of affected people later on.”

Survivors required “immediate” shelter, medical and food assistance, he added, and dozens of injured people were receiving treatment.  Abdul Nasir, programme coordinator for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), earlier said entire communities “seem to have been washed away and whatever is left is covered in mud”.

‘GRIPPED BY GRIEF’

Three days of torrential rain culminated on Monday in a mudslide in Regent, the worst-affected area, and caused massive flooding elsewhere in the city, one of the world’s wettest urban areas.

Makeshift settlements that clung to the hills and shores were swept away or torn apart.  The city’s drainage system was quickly overwhelmed, leaving stagnant water pooling in some areas while creating dangerous churning waterways down steep streets.

In an address to the nation on Monday, President Ernest Bai Koroma appealed for unity in a country still struggling with the legacy of Ebola and a long civil war.  “Our nation has once again been gripped by grief. Many of our compatriots have lost their lives, many more have been gravely injured and billions of leones’ worth of property destroyed,” he said.  “Every single family, every single ethnic group, every single region is either directly or indirectly affected by this disaster.”

Sierra Leone meteorological department issued no warning ahead of the torrential rains, which might have allowed for swifter evacuations from the disaster zones, AFP’s correspondent based in Freetown said.

Foreign governments meanwhile began mobilising aid to Freetown.  Israel’s foreign ministry said it would provide “assistance immediately and in every way possible” including clean water, medicines and blankets.

British International Development Secretary Priti Patel said she was “deeply saddened” by the devastation and the loss of life there.  London was “already working with the government of Sierra Leone to coordinate the rescue efforts and are ready to provide further assistance to those in need,” Patel added.

ANNUAL ORDEAL

The scale of the human cost was clear at the city’s main morgue at the Connaught Hospital, which was overwhelmed with bodies on Monday. Freetown residents spoke of their struggles to cope with the destruction and find their loved ones.

An AFP journalist saw several homes submerged in Regent village, a hilltop community, and corpses floating in the water in the Lumley West area of the city.

Deputy Information Minister Cornelius Deveaux confirmed on Monday that Koroma had declared a national emergency. He said his own boss, Information Minister Mohamed Bangura, was in hospital, having been injured in the flooding.

Hundreds of people had lost their lives and had properties damaged, said Deveaux, as he promised food and other assistance for the victims.  Freetown is hit each year by flooding during several months of rain, raising the risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera.

Flooding in the capital in 2015 killed 10 people and left thousands homeless.

Sierra Leone was one of the west African nations hit by an outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014 that left more than 4,000 people dead in the country, and it has struggled to revive its economy since the crisis.  The country ranked 179th out of 188 countries on the UNDP’s 2016 Human Development Index, a basket of data combining life expectancy, education and income and other factors. 
Sierra Leone Mudslide: President Koroma Calls for Urgent Help As Search Continues
More than 300 people are dead, thousands still missing and many more left homeless after mud engulfs houses near the capital, Freetown

Tuesday 15 August 2017 11.08 EDT
Guardian

Sierra Leone’s president has appealed for urgent help to support the thousands of people affected by a devastating mudslide on the outskirts of the country’s capital.

A national emergency has been called after the city suffered heavy flooding, thought to be the worst in Africa over the past two decades. Freetown’s mayor Sam Gibson said of 270 corpses had been recovered and were “being prepared for burial”. The country’s interior minister has reported that thousands of people are still missing.

At least a hundred houses were hit when a hillside in Regent, a mountainous town 15 miles east of Freetown, collapsed in the early hours of Monday morning.

Search and rescue efforts have continued throughout Tuesday, hampered by the country’s dangerous terrain and the sheer scale of the tragedy. The mudslide, which trapped residents while they were sleeping, is thought to have travelled for two miles.

Addressing the media, president Ernest Bai Koroma said the devastation “was overwhelming us”. “Entire communities have been wiped out,” Koroma said. “We need urgent support now.”

Linnea Van Wagenen, working for the UN in Sierra Leone, said: “We have the mountains and very steep hillsides. [It’s very hard to] access these areas, where it’s muddy, it’s slippery – there’s a risk of a second landslide. We’re not sure how this massive landslide has affected the ground around it.” She added that the chances of finding survivors on Tuesday was low.

The UN is using satellite data, radar imagery and drone mapping to assess which areas may be at risk of a second mudslide or further flooding. The country is not yet halfway through the rainy season, Van Wagenen said.

“Last year the heavy rains came in September, so we want to make sure we do analysis of communities that are at risk now and [see how we can] prevent the risk of something like this continuing to happen.”

Sierra Leone is prone to flooding, but it was not prepared for a disaster of this magnitude, said Daniel Byrne, monitoring and evaluation officer for Oxfam in Sierra Leone. “This particular emergency is unique because the total number of survivors is not that high compared with the people who have died. No one was expecting a situation like this. People are using their bare hands to remove bodies.”

Issatu Koroma, from Regent, is among the hundreds of people to have lost relatives and their homes in the mudslide. Both her son and nephew are missing, she said on Monday. “Everything is gone. We’ve lost everything – our house, everything. The mud came down with the water so fast and my son did not escape. We found him lying in the mud. He was just a boy. They took his body with the others to I don’t know where. God help Sierra Leone. Why are we cursed? What are we supposed to do now, with nothing?”

Abibatu Kamara, a mother of three who spent the night on her neighbours’ veranda, said so far any government response had been absent. “We have not received any food or blankets since the disaster occurred yesterday,” she told Agence France-Presse.

Many of the 3,000 people left homeless spent last night in neighbouring homes that had survived the tragedy. Others were taken to a nearby police station for shelter.

Ishmael Tarawali, head of the Office of National Security, said that burials of identified bodies will begin immediately. “The hospital mortuary is overwhelmed right now and it is really our only option,” he said. Body bags are being donated by charities and NGOs.

“We’re hoping to organise as well as we can to get every last person identified, but it’s a complicated process,” he said. In some cases entire families have been killed, and the condition of the bodies is also making it difficult to identify victims.

The Red Cross and the government have been moving bodies to a holding centre at Connaught hospital in Freetown.

Alex Carle, director of international programmes at the British Red Cross, said the death toll is likely to rise, adding: “The spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea following flooding is also a huge concern.” The city’s drainage system has been overloaded by the torrential rains, leaving stagnant water in some areas.

Sorie Bangura, whose family is safe, was among the residents helping the rescue operation on Monday. “We’ve been trying to dig people out all day but it’s no use – just not enough volunteers. Some houses are so buried it would take machinery to dig them up,” he said on Monday.

“There are dead everywhere and people don’t know where to go. There are only so many houses still standing, and we can’t take in everybody. What we need is help from the international community. People need shelter, clothes, anything. This is the rainy season and it might only get worse. There must be a way to stop this from happening but nobody seems to know how. I’m scared for my life because it could be my family next.”

Richard Miller, ActionAid’s humanitarian director, said he feared the situation could get worse.

“There are signs of continuing rainfall and hanging debris from the mudslide,” he said. “ActionAid is planning an immediate humanitarian response in the worst-hit areas. Thousands of people’s homes have been swept away and their businesses and crops destroyed.

“Our local aid workers in Sierra Leone are telling us that they are especially concerned for the welfare and safety of girls and women, who are the most vulnerable at this time. Many children have been made homeless and are in immediate need of shelter and protection,” he said.

According to Agence France-Presse, Sierra Leone’s meteorological department issued no warning ahead of the torrential rains, which might have allowed for swifter evacuations from the disaster zones.

Priti Patel, the international development secretary, said in a statement that the UK is ready to provide support. “We have pre-positioned vital aid supplies and helped prepare the country’s response to disasters. We are already working with the government of Sierra Leone to coordinate the rescue ‎efforts and are ready to provide further assistance to those in need.”