Michael Cohen case shines light on Sean Hannity’s property empire

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Fox News host who said Trump’s fixer ‘knows real estate’ has a portfolio that includes support from Department of Housing and Urban Development, a fact he did not mention when interviewing secretary Ben Carson last year

When Sean Hannity was named in court this week as a client of Donald Trump’s embattled legal fixer Michael Cohen, the Fox News host insisted their discussions had been limited to the subject of buying property.

“I’ve said many times on my radio show: I hate the stock market, I prefer real estate. Michael knows real estate,” Hannity said on television, a few hours after the dramatic hearing in Manhattan, where Cohen is under criminal investigation.

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Portraits of Drummer Boy John Clem, Who Was 12 Years Old When He Became a Civil War Hero

Johnny Clem was a soldier in the service of the United States for most of his life. He was born on August 13, 1851, in Newark, Ohio. His actual name was John Joseph Klem.

When President Abraham Lincoln in May 1861 issued the call for volunteers to serve in the Union army for a three year term, one of those who tried to answer was Ohio resident John Clem. Not yet 10 years old, Clem’s service was refused by the newly formed 3rd Ohio. Undeterred, Clem later tried to join the 22nd Michigan, where his persistence won over the unit’s officers. They agreed to let him follow the regiment, adopting him as a mascot and unofficial drummer boy. The officers also chipped in to pay his monthly salary of $13 before he finally was allowed to officially enlist in 1863.

Clem became a national celebrity for his actions at Chickamauga. Armed with a musket sawed down for him to carry, Clem joined the 22nd Michigan in the defense of Horseshoe Ridge on the afternoon of September 20. As the Confederate forces surrounded the unit, a Confederate colonel spotted Clem and shouted either “I think the best thing a mite of a chap like you can do is drop that gun” or called him a “damned little Yankee devil,” according to various sources. Rather than surrender, Clem shot the colonel and successfully made his way back to Union lines. For his actions, Clem was promoted to sergeant, the youngest soldier ever to become a noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army, and became known as the “Drummer Boy of Chickamauga.”

Clem’s legend grew following the battle, although some stories may be apocryphal. One holds that his drum was destroyed at the Battle of Shiloh, earning him the nickname “Johnny Shiloh” and serving as inspiration for the song, “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh.” However, the 22nd Michigan, Clem’s unit, was not mustered until the summer after the Battle of Shiloh, making it unlikely Clem saw action in the battle with that regiment.

Clem went on to fight at Perryville, Murfreesboro, Kennesaw and Atlanta, where he was wounded twice. Clem was discharged from the Army in 1864 at age 13, but sought to rejoin the military in 1870. Nominated to West Point by President Ulysses S. Grant, Clem failed the entrance exam several times before Grant appointed him a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Clem enjoyed a successful second military career, rising to the rank of colonel and assistant quartermaster general by 1906. He retired on the eve of U.S. entry into World War I with the rank of major general, the last Civil War veteran to actively serve in the U.S. Army. Clem died on May 13, 1937 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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US drops “Occupied Territories” term in new document

The reality of the right’s being politically correct – PC

PNN/ Bethlehem/

On Saturday, the US State Department has released a new document that dropped the term “occupied” in a report referring to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights.

Previous US Human Rights Practices reports had a section on “Israel and the Occupied Territories. However, this year’s document refers instead to “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank, and Gaza.”

The change comes after US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, last December asked the State Department to stop calling the West Bank occupied, which would make a noted departure in US policy.

In response, Palestinian Foreign Minister Dr. Riyad al-Maliki that the abolition of the US State of the term “occupied territories” and its replacement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will not change the reality and the legal status of the Palestinian territories.

Al-Maliki told Voice of Palestine radio on Sunday morning that Friedman’s attempts to bring down the term occupied territories indicates that the US has completely lost its credibility, and showing  full bias to the occupation and settlements.

To his part, Israeli minister of army, Avigdor Lieberman hailed the decision, saying  “The lie of the occupied Palestinian territories is being exposed.”

“They say that if you repeat a lie enough, it eventually becomes the truth, but the truth will always be stronger,” Liberman tweeted. “The announcement by the US state department is proof of that.”

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and Golan Heights following the six day war in 1967. Since then, the majority of the West Bank has been under Israeli military and civil control. In 2005, Hamas took control of the Gaza strip, which falls now under Israeli siege.

Oops PM Modi, Rape is, and Always Has Been, Political. That Ship Has Sailed Already

By Sharanya Gopinathan

Narendra Modi in London. Photo courtesy Narendra Modi Facebook

Speaking at Central Hall, Westminster in London on 18 April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was much more voluble on the subject of rape than he has been in recent times on Indian soil, despite calls over the last two weeks demanding a meaningful statement from him on the political reactions to the Kathua and Unnao rapes.

Whilst speaking at an “unscripted” public meeting called Bharat ki Baat, Sabke Saath (if we roll our eyes any harder they may fall out and re-surface halfway across the world) Modi revealed the secret of his “fitness” — consuming two kilogrammes of criticism daily (har har har ya Modi). Among other random things (like parents should ask their sons where they are going when they go out, presumably to stop them when they announce their intention to rape?), he also made a very telling statement that had everything to do with the times.

He said that “rape is rape, be it now or earlier”, and that rape shouldn’t be politicised.

Photo courtesy International Chalu Union via Facebook

It’s clear that Modi’s talking about the Kathua and Unnao rapes and the unique reactions to them because that’s all anyone’s been talking about over the last few weeks.

Unlike the December 2012 Delhi gangrape, the reason these two cases blew up in the media just now was not their horror, the unfairness, the minority status of the victims, or anything else. The Kathua gangrape and murder took place three months ago in January 2018 while the Unnao case took place way back in June 2017. It didn’t take us all these months for the horror to sink in or anything: the massive public outpouring of disbelief and rage right now is a reaction to the uniquely political reactions these rapes spawned.

India’s “rape problem” is often a lot like the USA’s “gun problem”. After every school or mass shooting in the US, politicians there act as if an inexplicable force of nature has swept through the area, a tsunami that can merit no tangible response or solution other than morosely chanting thoughts and prayers. When politicians say, “Don’t politicise the incident,” they’re neatly washing their hands of any responsibility for perpetuating the laws, the patterns, and the systems that allow for gun violence to happen, and of the expectation that politicians will do something meaningful about it.

This is pretty similar to how politicians usually deal with rape in India: like a tsunami that no one can reasonably account for, rape cases have swept through the nation. But you see, in the cases of Kathua and Unnao, we suddenly had BJP politicians praising, congratulating and supporting the tsunami: the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh clearly did everything in his power to stop or delay the arrest of MLA Kuldeep Sengar, even conferring with him privately in his office the day the victim’s father was murdered in police custody.

Several sitting BJP ministers publicly spoke out in favour of Sengar, while the prime minister maintained an admirable silence on the issue until after the accused had finally been arrested with great difficulty (making Modi’s late-Lateef statement that the culprits would be punished totally redundant, non-controversial and fairly obvious).

Narendra Modi and an artfully placed lotus. Photo courtesy Narendra Modi via Flickr

Kathua famously saw month-long protests invoking nationalism and the national flag, held in support of the alleged rapists with two sitting BJP ministers in attendance. After they were asked to step down from their posts, they told reporters that they had been told to attend the protest by party higher-ups. One of the police officers investigating the case also told reporters that the supporters of the rapists appealed to her caste and religious identity, and those of the victim and accused, to convince her not to pursue the case adequately.

Photo courtesy Ashutosh Mishra

So, the reason the public is performing the taandav on these rapes is not because of how deeply we registered the horror, but actually because no one could believe that a political party, particularly the Hindu nationalist one in power at the Centre, was doing so much to appreciate, protect and harbour rapists based on their religion and political affiliation. This was not a case that was politicised by the public. It was the various politicians and their supporters who politicised the case in the first place.

That being said, what does it mean not to politicise rape? Can rape ever be apolitical, and what are we trying to achieve by saying that it isn’t and shouldn’t be?

It’s not just about the 1960s second-wave feminist rallying cry that the personal is political (a phrase about which Gloria Steinem once said that any one person claiming authorship to would be like someone claiming responsibility for World War II).

Rape is inherently political because, as feminists riding across the waves starting with Susan Brownmiller in her 1975 work Against Our Will, have been saying over and over, rape is not about sex, but about power. It’s inequalities between the sexes, between religions, castes, classes and within families and social structures that create the situations in which rape can occur. And one academic (and when you think about it, really utterly logical) understanding of politics is that it is simply the exercise of power.

It’s also various manifestations of these forms of power that allow for rapists to get away with what they do, or, that make the path of different rapists different from each other. Jyoti Singh’s rapists, for example, were swiftly hanged thanks to a decision by a speedily formed special court; the chief minister of Kerala actually once made a thinly-veiled statement in support of Malayalam actor Dileep when his name started to (correctly) crop up in reports around the abduction of a Malayalam actor in February 2017; and the rape and abduction case against Swami Chinmayanand has been withdrawn by Yogi Adityanath’s government in Uttar Pradesh. Clearly aware of where the tides could change from, the victim in the last case has written to the President to raise objections against this move by Adityanath. Rape and the treatment of rapists are clearly both about power and politics.

Power, or the sorting of society on the basis of it, is also why some rape victims are treated entirely differently from others. Many people say that the December 2012 Delhi rape case struck a chord with a country because the victim was a young Hindu woman. The reaction (or lack thereof) to the rape and murder of the Dalit student Delta from Rajasthan, in comparison, does give you reasons to think this may be true. It speaks volumes that the Kathua rape and murder case victim, an eight-year-old Muslim girl who hadn’t yet lost her milk teeth and didn’t know the difference between right and left, wasn’t the “perfect” rape victim in the public imagination. If the rape of an eight-year-old girl (who was chosen as a victim by Hindu men in order to drive the rest of her Muslim nomadic tribe out of the area) can prove contentious to many, and it did prove so only because of her religion and that of her rapists, you can be sure that rape and the reactions it breeds are about power and power differentials too.

The Kathua rape and murder case, of course, isn’t the only time rape has been used overtly as a coercive or political tool. Far from it: people from any war zone across the world, and within our own country, like the states in which the notorious AFSPA is in place, will tell you that rape has always been a political tool, wielded with impunity by those in power to lay claim over the bodies of the women they’ve conquered.

It’s one of the terrifying aspects of Islamic State’s actions in West Asia and its beliefs about Yazidi women, it’s also the whole premise of the randomly controversial movie Padmaavatand the name for the act in its specificity is “wartime sexual violence”. It’s expected (and proven) that rape shoots up in militarised zones where power is perhaps the most unequal and skewed, and, is the reason why we read about UN Peacekeepers committing mass rapes in the conflict zones they’re deployed in.

So, when we are asking for rapes not to be politicised, what are we getting at, what are we trying to achieve with this noble-sounding objective? Power and politics (is there even a real difference between the two?) are inherent to a comprehensive understanding of rape, from what allows it, to the way the victim and perpetrator are treated afterwards. While the reactions to the Kathua and Unnao rape cases have been quite uniquely political, thanks to the actions of several members of BJP and right-wing groups linked to it, perhaps, we’re missing the bigger picture here when we think rapes shouldn’t be politicised. Rapes are already political, and it’s up to us to engage with it in terms that will actually address this at the root.

Co-published with Firstpost.

The post Oops PM Modi, Rape is, and Always Has Been, Political. That Ship Has Sailed Already appeared first on The Ladies Finger.

Ten Signs Putin and His Russia have Serious Problems

Paul Goble
            Staunton, April 21 – Vladimir Putin and his country are in far deeper trouble than the Moscow media he controls or than the Western media which all too often relies on what the Putin outlets say and views his standing and that of his country almost exclusively as a derivative of what the West does or doesn’t do.
But in the last 48 hours alone, ten stories have appeared which suggest neither he nor his country is doing as well as many would have it, either out of a misplaced sense that Russia’s nuclear arsenal trumps everything – forgetting that it didn’t save the USSR – or the problematic conviction that the West needs an interlocutor or a threat.
These ten things do not mean that Putin is about to be ousted or the Russian Federation collapse. Both he and it have important reserves, but rather these are offered as a corrective to the all too common narrative that Putin is a miracle worker and his country is what he likes to present it, a worthy successor to the Soviet Union. Neither of these things is true.
Here are the ten:
1.      Putin is losing support at home and abroad. A VTsIOM poll finds that fewer than 50 percent of Russians now trust him and, for the first time since 2013, Time magazine has not included him in its list of the 100 most influential people in the world (wciom.ru/news/ratings/doverie_politikam/ and meduza.io/news/2018/04/20/putin-vpervye-za-pyat-let-ne-popal-v-spisok-samyh-vliyatelnyh-lyudey-mira-po-versii-time).
2.      One part of the Russian government is trying to ban the Telegram messenger service while other parts are purchasing VPNs and other technology in order to do an end run around Kremlin policy, thus giving the Kremlin one of its clearest defeats in a long time (snob.ru/selected/entry/136678and nv.ua/opinion/yakovina/stolknovenie-s-telehoj-2465568.html).
3.      Senior officials in Tatarstan and some other non-Russian republics are directly attacking Vladimir Putin’s language policies and thus Putin personally, something that they had avoided doing in the recent past out of fear how he might respond (iarex.ru/news/57280.html).
4.      Russian officials concede that 68 percent of the medicines Russians use are imported and that in most cases there is no domestic alternative. If those drugs do not continue to flow into the country, many Russians will die (forum-msk.org/material/news/14567249.html).
5.      Russian space industry analysts say that 70 percent of the electronics in Russian satellites is imported and again there are no obvious domestic alternatives (charter97.org/ru/news/2018/4/20/287083/).
6.      The only factory in Russia that produces armored personnel carriers for the military and security forces has just gone bankrupt, an indication along with delays in the refitting of ships and the production of new ones of severe problems in the defense industry and in the government’s ability to finance any significant military buildup (newsland.com/community/129/content/ne-vpisalsia-v-rynok-edinstvennogo-v-rossii-proizvoditelia-bmp-poprosili-obankrotit/6308512).
7.      The Russian economy has so many bottlenecks that any strain leads to significant problems. Moscow officials have just announced that the World Cup this summer will affect when residents of the Russian capital will get hot water in their residences (snob.ru/selected/entry/136682).
8.      Russian prosecutors and siloviki are so desperate to improve their statistics about fighting extremism that they are searching about for anything that they can plausibly or even implausibly suggest constitutes that “crime.” Among their targets this week: An Omsk man was charged with extremism for daring to criticize the sad state of roads in his region (newsland.com/community/7149/content/zhitelnitsu-omskoi-oblasti-obvinili-v-ekstremizme-za-zhalobu-na-plokhie-dorogi/6308189).
9.      With Russians across the country protesting against improper handling of garbage, Russia was stung this week by an international ranking which showed that Russia ranks first among all former Soviet republics in per capita air contamination. Even Putin has mentioned that there are some cities in the Urals where it is not safe to breathe (fergananews.com/news/29576).
10.  And Forbes reports that Russia now has a significantly smaller GDP than the single US state of Texas does (newsland.com/community/8211/content/u-kogo-bolshe-ekonomika-u-tekhasa-ili-u-rossii/6306913).