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German Chancellor Angela Merkel is having quite the day with current and former US presidents.

This morning she met with Barack Obama for breakfast and an event in front of thousands at the Brandenburg Gate, and with the rendezvous came a rhapsody of smiles and mutual affection.

“We can’t hide behind a wall,” Obama told the rapt audience, a none-too-subtle dig at his successor, in his first speaking appearance in Europe since he left office. The crowd lapped it up.

Tonight, Merkel is in Brussels meeting current US president—and handshake-refuser—Donald Trump at a NATO summit.

Two presidents, one day. How is it going? One clue can be read in their faces. Note, if you will, the sheer number and range of smiles shared between Merkel and Obama this morning.

Like this one, the “is-it-really-you, B?” smile:

Or this, the “we-were-so-good-together, remember?” smile:

The “I-know-you’ve-moved-on, but-our-old-jokes-were-better-than-others’-jokes” smile:

And then there was this elegant wave-of-the-hand smile; B.O. pleased as punch:

Nicole Kubelka/face to face via ZUMA Press

Meanwhile, in Brussels, early photos indicate a….very different rapport:

Merkel and Trump pictured during the unveiling ceremony of the new headquarters of NATO in Brussels, Wednesday.Benoit Doppagne/Belga via ZUMA Press

 

Source: Mother Jones

During a meeting with fellow NATO leaders in Brussels on Thursday, President Donald Trump appeared to shove Prime Minister Milo Dukanovic of Montenegro aside in order to position himself front and center for photographers.

The gesture was swiftly mocked on social media. Trump’s first visit to the Belgian capital, a city the president previously described as a “hellhole,” was already fraught with anxiety. Trump vowed to pull the United States out of NATO and repeatedly described the group as “obsolete” during the presidential campaign. Although he appeared to reverse course after meeting with the group’s secretary general in April, Trump’s commitment to NATO remained unsure.

Those apprehensions were reaffirmed Thursday: Shortly before appearing to push Dukanovic, Trump delivered a speech chastising NATO countries for failing to “meet their financial obligations”—a popular refrain from his campaign days. Keep a lookout for the faces of European leaders as Trump lectures them in the clip below:

Source: Mother Jones

President Donald Trump’s January executive orders on immigration worried advocates working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, who argued that their clients and other victims of crime would no longer be willing to seek help or cooperate with law enforcement. Their concerns were further justified when police departments in Los Angeles and Houston announced that Latinos in those cities were reporting sexual assaults at lower rates in the wake of hostile rhetoric and enforcement activity targeting undocumented immigrants. Now, a new survey provides the data that demonstrates a noticeable shift in immigrant survivors’ contacts with victim services providers in recent months.

“The results of this survey are troubling,” Cecilia Friedman Levin, senior policy counsel for ASISTA Immigration Assistance, said in a recent press call discussing the survey results. “It represents that there is uncertainty and distrust around the institutions that are supposed to provide [survivors] with protection and safety.”

The “2017 Advocate and Legal Service Survey Regarding Immigrant Survivors” was conducted last month by a coalition of national organizations focused on domestic violence and sexual assault. The sponsors included the Tahirih Justice Center, ASISTA, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. The groups collected responses from roughly 700 advocates and attorneys from 46 states and Washington, DC, asking them about the issues confronting immigrant survivors seeking services and information about specific incidents. They found that a majority of respondents are seeing an increase in fear among their immigrant clients, some of whom are fearful of even calling 911 or seeking medical assistance. Here are some of the highlights:

  • 62% of respondents—a group that includes both social and legal services providers—said they have seen an increase in immigration-related questions from survivors;
  • 78% of respondents said that survivors had expressed concerns about contacting police due to fears that it would open them up to deportation;
  • 75% said that survivors had expressed concerns about going to court for a matter related to their abuser, a concern that was likely exacerbated by the highly reported courthouse arrest of a domestic violence victim seeking a protective order against her abuser earlier this year;
  • 43% of respondents also said that the survivors they have worked with have dropped criminal or civil cases related to their abuse because they were fearful of potentially opening themselves up to enforcement.

Anecdotes from respondents also shed light on the increased level of fear among immigrant survivors. “Survivors have a lot of questions about how they can safety plan under the new administration,” the report says, adding that some victims now question if they should submit petitions for relief to the federal government. In another response, the survey report notes that a 16-year old survivor attempted suicide because she feared that her offender would report her family to federal enforcement officials.

In the months since the immigration executive orders were announced, there has been confusion about what protections were still in place for the vulnerable subset of survivors of domestic abuse. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has maintained that agency protections covering immigrant survivors and other victims of crime are still in place. But, in practice, the picture is quite different. The administration has largely overlooked these crime victims both in its statements on immigration and in the resources it has provided. Last month, the Department of Homeland Security launched a new office focused on crimes committed by immigrants and the president’s proposed 2018 budget promises to dedicate significant resources to immigration enforcement and crack down on sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to participate in aggressive targeting of undocumented immigrants. The shift in tone has already had an effect: Earlier this week, a Baltimore defense attorney was arrested after allegedly offering an immigrant rape victim $3,000 to not testify against her alleged assailant, telling the woman that she risked deportation should she appear in court.

Immigrant survivors can still qualify for protections under the Violence Against Women Act, a 1994 law protecting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. But the administration’s activity could further exacerbate survivors’ reluctance to seek assistance. “We’ve seen a lot of people reach out and ask specifically for what people can do outside of the legal system because they’re afraid of deportation, or they’re afraid of law enforcement and they’ve been hearing a lot about raids,” Qudsia Raja, policy director at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, told reporters. “We’re having to work with advocates on safety planning outside of legal recourse.”

Advocates are also concerned that legislation working its way through Congress would negatively impact survivors’ willingness to report. Of particular concern is the Davis-Oliver Act, a bill that would give state and local law enforcement the power to enforce federal immigration laws, impose harsher penalties on undocumented immigrants, and punish sanctuary cities. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) has argued that the bill is necessary to ensure public safety.

Those who actually work with immigrants disagree. They say public safety will suffer if harsh immigration policies are allowed to push immigrant survivors into the shadows. “The fear [among immigrant survivors] is still rampant,” Archi Pyati, chief of policy and programs at the Tahirih Justice Center, a group working with women and girls fleeing gender-based violence, told Mother Jones. “So long as the federal government continues down this road there are going to be immigrant women who are going to be hurt.”

Source: Mother Jones

(MPNFollowing the recent Daesh (ISIS)-linked terror attack in Manchester, England, United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May raised the country’s terror threat level to critical, the first time it has been raised to that level since 2007. However, the situation in the UK is dramatically different now than it was when the streets of London and Glasgow airport were the targets of foiled terrorist attacks in June 2007.

This is partially thanks to a once-secret contingency plan established by the UK government in 2015 known as “Operation Temperer.” The plan allows for up to 5,000 British troops to be deployed on the streets of their own country. Almost 1,000 soldiers have already been deployed in order to free up armed officers for counter-terrorism operations. As was reported in 2015, the operation would involve sending troops to guard key targets in major cities if Daesh or other terror groups launch multiple attacks on UK soil.

While the Manchester bombing seems to be an isolated incident thus far, May and others in the British government have warned repeatedly that another terror attack is “imminent.”

But the action being taken in the wake of the Manchester bombing is unique for another reason that stretches far beyond the country’s borders, as there is now an increased likelihood of the UK taking military action abroad – particularly in Syria, where the UK and its American ally have a mutual interest in pushing for regime change.

With the UK Parliament dissolved until after snap elections are held early next month, the executive branch of the UK government – led by May – could use the “Royal Prerogative” to take the UK to war in Syria over a potential terrorist threat. Indeed, it was parliament that blocked the UK government’s last attempt to carry out military intervention in Syria in 2013. But with the homeland now under threat from Daesh, May does have the ability to declare war were she and her cabinet to decide that it was necessary to protect the safety of UK citizens.

Indeed, members of May’s cabinet were already ratcheting up their push for UK intervention in Syria less than a month ago. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stated in late April that any requirement to obtain Parliament’s approval for Britain’s involvement in military action in Syria “would have to be tested.”

Johnson also stated that “it would be very difficult for us to say no” to taking military action against the Assad regime if they were asked to do so by the U.S. In addition, Michael Fallon, the UK defense secretary, refused to rule out “a nuclear first strike” against another nation were the UK to be under “exceptional threat.”

In September of last year, May staunchly defended the multi-billion dollar arms sales that the UK government had made to Saudi Arabia — a top financier and weapons provider of Daesh. May ironically argued that such sales “helped keep the streets of Britain safe.”

Watch Theresa May defend UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a top financier of ISIS — claiming it makes Britain’s streets safer:

If the “imminent” terror attack May has warned the UK about materializes before elections are held on June 8 and before parliament is reassembled, it would be much easier for the UK government to convince a panicked populace of the need for a new war abroad. Indeed, the suicide bomber in Manchester – though a British-Libyan national – is said to have “probably” traveled to Syria.

British media is also hyping the attack’s links to Syria, with The Sun stating: “Cowardly ISIS warlords  – hiding in Syria – have claimed responsibility for the gutless attack.”

For May, taking military action in Syria would be beneficial by both helping to ensure her electoral victory in June and fulfilling the country’s goal of destabilizing Syria.

With the Syrian government again making major gains against Daesh and Western-backed “moderate rebels,” the pro-intervention governments of the West may finally be ready to push for a ground invasion of Syria. The U.S. already has thousands of troops active in Syria, ostensibly for a potential assault on the Daesh stronghold of Raqqa – which also seems to be quickly approaching. Russia, Syria’s strongest ally, also seems to be aware that things are set to heat up soon, as they have deployed their own military personnel along the Syria-Jordan border.

By Whitney Webb / Republished with permission / MintPress News / Report a typo

Source: Anti Media Feed

(ANTIWAR.COMAccording to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, US coalition airstrikes attacked the village of al-Barouda on Tuesday, killing at least 16 civilians, including five children, and wounding a large number of others. Many of the wounded are gravely so, and the death toll is expected to rise.

Al-Barouda is 15 km west of the ISIS capital city of al-Raqqa, near the area where Kurdish YPG forces are attempting to “surround” the city. It does not, however, appear that there was any fighting around the time of the airstrikes, so it’s unclear why the village was attacked at all.

The slain were identified as mostly refugees from the Homs Province, people who had fled from the area around Sukhana, controlled by a different Islamist faction. The Pentagon has not issued a statement on the attack at all, let alone on the civilian deaths.

Nor are they likely to. The US rarely offers statements on incidents in which they kill civilians, mostly because they’ve made such an overt, concerted effort to massively underreport civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria, and bringing attention to individual incidents raises unwelcome questions about why those already confirmed incidents didn’t end up in the official reports on death tolls.

By Jason Ditz / Republished with permission / AntiWar.com / Report a typo

Source: Anti Media Feed


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Ekim Alptekin, a well-connected Turkish businessman at the center of one of the many scandals swirling around President Donald Trump and his White House, stood before a crowd of several hundred people in downtown Washington and sought to clear up a few things. “There’s been a lot of media attention on it,” he later told a reporter, “so I just wanted to address the issue.”

The “issue” in question was no small matter. Last year, Alptekin paid $530,000 to retired Lt. General Michael Flynn to lobby on behalf of Turkish interests. At the time, Flynn was a top adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, and after Trump’s shock victory, the president-elect rewarded Flynn with the job of national security adviser. But it later emerged that Flynn had failed to register as a foreign lobbyist for this work, as required by law, and that he was under federal investigation for his secret lobbying for Alptekin. (Flynn was fired in February, after only 22 days on the job, amid reports that he had communicated with the Russian ambassador and lied about it.)

So it was a bit awkward when Alptekin appeared in Washington this week for the 36th Annual Conference on US-Turkey Relations. (He chairs one of the conference’s two main organizers, the Turkey-US Business Council.) In a speech on Monday, Alptekin addressed the Flynn controversy directly. “As many of you have read in the media,” he said, “I hired the Flynn Intel Group in 2016 before the election with a mandate to help me understand where the Turkish-American relationship is and where it’s going and what the obstacles are to the relationship.” His willingness to confront such a thorny issue—legally and politically—caught some in attendance by surprise. Yet there was also a surreal quality to Alptekin’s remarks, if only for this reason: He delivered them at the Trump International Hotel, owned by the president himself.

International intrigue notwithstanding, the 36th Annual Conference on US-Turkey Relations was typical of the glitzy conventions and forums hosted in Washington. There were panels on e-commerce, NATO, and cybersecurity, all with the theme of encouraging greater cooperation between the governments and industries of the United States and Turkey. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and now a Zelig of Washington’s paid-speaking and overseas-junket circuit, spoke at a luncheon sponsored by several major Turkish conglomerates, where he poked fun at the president and plugged his forthcoming book, Understanding Trump.

For his part, Alptekin pointed out that the venue had been chosen well before Trump was elected president. In October 2016, the American-Turkish Council, a group devoted to building up business connections between the two countries (and the conference’s other organizer), booked the Trump hotel in downtown DC, a short walk from the White House. According to Alptekin, the Turkish interest groups had first toured the hotel even earlier, in 2015, before Trump had declared his candidacy. Howard Beasey, president of the American-Turkish Council, told NPR, “Unfortunately, in our contract with the hotel, there is no I-became-president-so-you-get-to-break-your-contract-with-us clause.”

And so it was that Alptekin, whose hiring of Flynn helped plunge the Trump White House into turmoil, spent several days this week roaming the marble lobbies and conference rooms of Trump’s DC hotel. He schmoozed with attendees, posed for photos, and sat for interviews with largely international news outlets, all the while surrounded by the name TRUMP.

Aside from his opening remarks, however, Alptekin had little to say about Flynn. He denied to ABC News that he and his company had represented the government of Turkey. (In his retroactive filing, Flynn noted that his work for Alptekin “could be construed to have principally benefitted the Republic of Turkey.”) Alptekin blamed the “highly politicized situation” in the United States for the “misunderstanding and misperceptions” around his company and hiring of Flynn.

There are many lingering questions about Alptekin’s role in the Flynn controversy: Why did Alptekin hire Flynn in the first place? Did Flynn tell Alptekin he wasn’t going to register as a foreign lobbyist? Had Alptekin ever spoken with Trump himself? If Alptekin were subpoenaed by Congress or law enforcement as part of the Flynn investigation, would he cooperate and provide documents? Alptekin addressed none of these. He refused to comment to ABC News when asked whether he had been questioned or served a subpoena as part of the Flynn investigation.

In the main lobby of the Trump hotel, I tracked down an assistant of Alptekin’s and asked for an interview. She said Alptekin was no longer giving interviews. At that moment, Alptekin stood a few feet away, speaking on camera with a small TV crew. After he finished, he and his entourage sped past me in the direction of the hotel’s ballrooms, presumably to rejoin the guests for a final panel on Turkey’s shipbuilding industry.

So it goes in Donald Trump’s Washington.

Source: Mother Jones

Alabama has been trying to put Thomas Arthur to death for more than 30 years. The 75-year-old inmate, who has consistently maintained his innocence for a 1982 murder, has had three trials and survived seven execution dates since 2001. On Thursday, Alabama will attempt to execute him again.

“I didn’t have anything to do with this,” he tells Mother Jones from the Holman Correctional Facility, where Alabama houses most of those on death row. “I gave ’em hair and spit and everything…and they found nothing.”

I spoke with Arthur the week he is scheduled to die. His lawyers arranged for a 30-minute phone conversation to give him a chance to tell his story, maybe for the last time. He spoke rapidly, stumbling over some sentences in a rich Southern accent that sometimes blurred the clarity of his words. But there was no lack of clarity in his reflections of what it has been like to be one of the first inmates sent to death row in Alabama—after the practice was reinstated after a 1976 landmark Supreme Court ruling—and to live there for 34 years. 

During that time, his health has deteriorated, and he has stood by while 58 other inmates were executed. Holman, like many of Alabama’s prisons, became overcrowded and crumbling and was the scene of a riot in 2016. He has watched the methods of execution change, from the electric chair to midazolam, a controversial drug that will be used on him, despite efforts his lawyers have made to convince the courts that given his heart condition, the drug might not be effective and would likely cause undue suffering. He has also had a lengthy education in the criminal justice system from three different trials and the seven times he believed he would die, only to have his execution postponed. At this point, Arthur still hopes for DNA evidence to prove his innocence. “If they just let [my lawyers] in a courtroom,” he says, “we wouldn’t be at this juncture.”

Arthur’s journey to death row began on February 1, 1982, when Troy Wicker was shot and killed in his bed in the northwest Alabama city of Muscle Shoals. On the day of the murder, his wife, Judy Wicker, told police that she came home after taking her children to school to find a black man in her home. She claimed that the intruder raped her, knocked her unconscious, and shot her husband. Police found bullets but no murder weapon. Wicker went to the hospital and her rape kit was subsequently lost.

Judy was a suburban mom and Arthur was a convicted criminal—he was serving time for having shot and killed his common-law wife’s sister in 1977. “When I took [her] life, alcohol was a factor,” he says. “I shouldn’t have shot that girl.” Arthur had been given a life sentence, but after just four years he was participating in a prison work-release program, where an inmate is let out of the prison facility during the day for employment and trusted to return to prison in the evening. That’s when Judy Wicker and Thomas Arthur began having an affair.

Police didn’t find Wicker’s description of the circumstances of her husband’s death credible and charged her with murder-for-hire. They also arrested Arthur and charged him with aggravated murder. At her 1982 trial, where Wicker testified that Arthur was not involved in the murder, she was given a life sentence. At a separate 1983 trial, prosecutors argued Arthur shot and killed Wicker for $10,000—part of the life insurance Wicker received upon her husband’s death. Despite his incriminating record, Arthur insisted he had nothing to do with this crime. Nonetheless, he was convicted, sentenced to death, and taken to Holman Correctional facility.

The Holman Correctional Facility is nearly 50 years old and located in rural Escambia County. On death row, the cells are tiny. “We’re, like, sandwiched in here,” Arthur says. “I live in a cell you can’t put a baboon in.” A heart condition prevents him from exercising or spending time in the yard like other death row inmates do. “I’m in here 24 hours a day. Been like that for 10 years.” He spends most of his days watching the news and daytime soap operas—Days of our Lives, for instance, and the Young and the Restless—on the TV that his lawyers bought for him in 2003. In its last session, the Alabama Legislature took up a bill to build up to four new state prisons by borrowing up to $800 million. “We got toilet water running down the walls all over death row,” Arthur claims. “They want to spend $800 million for new prisons when they could spend $200 [million] to fix the ones they already have!” he says incredulously.

Arthur was granted a retrial after his first conviction was overturned because details of his previous murder conviction were introduced in the trial. In 1986, while awaiting retrial, Arthur was held in a county jail. He escaped after shooting a jail official in the neck, but the guard survived. Arthur got as far as Knoxville, Tennessee, where FBI agents found him a month later after he robbed a bank. The following year, he was convicted and sentenced to death again.

His second conviction was overturned on appeal because in 1982 Arthur was interviewed by an investigator without an attorney present. He was granted yet another trial. According to Amnesty International, an international human rights organization that is against the death penalty, it was then that the prosecutor asked the state’s parole board if Judy Wicker could get an early release if she testified against Arthur. At the 1991 retrial, Wicker changed her story, implicating Arthur in the murder. She was paroled a year later, after serving just 10 years in prison.

In Furman v. Georgia, in 1972, the US Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that capital punishment was unconstitutional, halting executions nationwide. Four years later, the high court reversed course in Gregg v. Georgia and ruled that the death penalty was not cruel and unusual punishment.

The first time Alabama tried to put Arthur to death was in 2001, but he received a stay two days before the scheduled execution date so federal courts could hear challenges concerning the fact that he had no representation when his first execution date was set. This began a period of execution dates and stays of execution. After several legal challenges were dismissed, Alabama set another execution date for Arthur in September 2007. Once more he prepared himself to be executed, but he was spared when the state itself requested a 45-day reprieve in order to change its drug protocol for lethal injections. Around this time, various inmates had challenged lethal injection protocols in their states. A few months later, in December 2007, Arthur received another stay from the US Supreme Court because it was considering a challenge in Kentucky over a very similar lethal injection protocol. His fourth execution date was planned for 2008.

Then an inmate, Bobby Ray Gilbert, at another Alabama prison, confessed to the crime. Arthur filed a petition claiming innocence, and the execution was stayed so the court could hold a limited hearing. No physical evidence linked Gilbert to the crime, and the court concluded Gilbert was lying to protect Arthur. Prosecutors have long held that Troy Wicker’s killer wore a wig, but none of Arthur’s DNA was on that wig or on the clothes Judy Wicker wore on the day of the murder.  “I am totally innocent,” Arthur insists. “And DNA could prove it.”

Until 2002, Alabama used the electric chair to execute inmates. “You could smell them,” Arthur says about the inmates being executed. “You could actually smell the flesh burning.” His next two scheduled executions in 2012 and 2015 were stayed because of Arthur’s challenges to the state’s drug protocol, which included the sedative, pentobarbital. But then came the introduction of the controversial sedative midazolam for executions. After multiple states faced a shortage of lethal injection drugs, Alabama began using midazolam early last year with the execution of Christopher Brooks in January. Nearly a year later, in December 2016, the state executed Ronald Bert Smith Jr. After administering the drug, Smith reportedly struggled for breath, coughed, heaved and clenched his left fist for 13 minutes.

Arthur’s seventh execution date was scheduled for November 3, 2016. His case claiming the lethal injection protocol used by the state could cause excruciating pain was dismissed by the federal court. Despite the widespread acceptance that lethal injection is humane, there is no scientific research to prove it.

Under the 2015 Supreme Court case Glossip v. Gross, the usage of midazolam does not violate the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment and rules that states must have a ready and available alternative if one form of execution falls into that category.  In his appeal, Arthur proposed the use of firing squad. The court dismissed his case, saying that since Alabama law does not expressly allow firing squads, it was not a viable alternative.

That night, the Supreme Court granted a stay pending a review of his claims. But in February, it declined to hear his appeal. In an 18-page dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the use of midazolam could lead to “prolonged torture” of inmates. “Condemned prisoners, like Arthur, might find more dignity in an instantaneous death,” she wrote, “rather than prolonged torture on a medical gurney.”

In April, Arthur’s lawyers wrote to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey in hopes of getting further DNA testing. His counsel noted that more advanced technology was available and they would assume the costs of the test. Ivey turned down their request. A few weeks later, Arthur sent a handwritten note asking Ivey to spare his life. “Please do not let me die for a crime I did not commit,” he wrote.

The decades of confinement have taken a toll on him. “One time I was a halfway decent looking fellow,” he says with a laugh. “Now, I look like I’ve been hit by a truck.”

And now, as he faces his next and likely final execution date, Arthur says ruefully, “I laugh to keep from crying.” But he is troubled about the life he lost, how his four children never truly had a father, and how much he regrets not being there for them. “I want to publicly apologize in case they do kill me,” he says. “I want the public to know that I failed them as a father.” He also has no interest in the usual formalities accompanying executions in America. “I’m not going to the eat the last meal, which would come at taxpayer expense,” he says.

What is it like to face death so many times? “It’s the same thing every time,” he says with a sigh. “Everyone has a fear of dying…but the state of Alabama is going to—and I don’t use this word lightly—murder me for something I didn’t do.”

Source: Mother Jones

(ANTIMEDIA) South Carolina — Very quietly, South Carolina has just legalized the growth of industrial hemp. House Bill 3559, mixed in among a pile of legislation before the General Assembly, was signed into law in mid-May.

Lawmakers approved the pilot program to determine what kind of value farmers will get from their crops. After passing a State Law Enforcement Division background check, growers will be issued licenses that will allow them to cultivate the plant in-state.

Hemp growers must have a contracted buyer before they can proceed, and they also must work with a research university to help develop the South Carolina hemp market. This initial phase of the program — 20 licenses at 20 acres apiece — will expand to 50 at 50 after a year.

At that point, the program’s fate will be determined by the state’s agricultural department and the research universities working with the growers. David Verdin, a state senator, says South Carolina should have been allowing hemp cultivation a long time ago.

“We’re a little late into the game,” he told local media outlet The State.

Currently, 31 states allow for hemp production, either through their own legislation or under the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill. Hemp, contrary to a prevalent opinion, is not marijuana and has myriad industrial uses.

“Any agricultural crop we can cultivate here and make a profit for our farmers, we should try,” state senator Greg Hembree said.

Senator Verdin seems to agree. Highlighting his state’s rich history in the textile industry — one that was crushed by the federal government’s campaign against marijuana — he asked South Carolinians to try to envision a similar future ahead:

“It might just be a niche. But I believe there is a demonstrated marketplace globally. This very slow and heavy regulated approach will quickly evolve into a valuable industry. Imagine if we could actually make textiles in our textile mills again.”

Creative Commons / Anti-Media / Report a typo

Source: Anti Media Feed

(ANTIMEDIA) On condition of anonymity, a number of Israeli Defence Force (IDF) officers have reportedly made some stunning admissions about ISIS to POLITICO’s national security editor, Bryan Bender.

Bender documents the statement of one general who spoke openly:

“’I am not sure it will be easy to defeat ISIS, as you are claiming to do,’ Army Brig. Gen. Ram Yavne, the head of the IDF’s Strategic Division, told me in Tel Aviv, expressing a level of puzzlement shared by a number of other top commanders about the U.S. military obsession with a group that they do not consider a major strategic threat. [emphasis added]

According to one brigadier general, Iranian influence in neighboring Syria is significantly more worrisome to Israel than ISIS or any of the other Sunni Muslim groups. The statements come in the wake of ISIS terror attacks in Europe and most recently in Manchester, England.

“If I can be frank, the radical axis headed by Iran is more risky than the global jihad one,” the brigadier told Bender. “It is much more knowledgeable, stronger, with a bigger arsenal.”

In these IDF officers’ minds, the ideal strategy which runs in direct contrast to the current U.S.-led strategy would be for them to sit back and let all the groups fight each other. The only thing Israel or coalition countries should be concerned with should be containing the conflict as opposed to influencing it.

But, as Bender asks, does that mean the U.S. and its allies should allow ISIS to retain its caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq?

“Why not?” one officer responded. “When they asked the late [Israeli] Prime Minister Menachem Begin in the Iraq-Iran war in the 80s, who does Israel stand for, Iraq or Iran, he said ‘I wish luck to both parties. They can go at it, killing each other.’ The same thing is here. You have ISIS killing Al Qaeda by the thousands, Al Qaeda killing ISIS by the thousands. And they are both killing Hezbollah and Assad.”

In actuality, these parties are all killing civilians, but no one seems remotely concerned with this fact.

Funnily enough, this policy of sitting back and allowing ISIS to wreak havoc in Syria was not contrary to U.S. foreign policy under Barack Obama. Leaked audio of then-Secretary of State John Kerry revealed the Obama administration was watching ISIS grow and hoping its expansion would bring Syria’s president to the negotiating table. This plan was completely foiled when Russia formally intervened in 2015.

It speaks volumes that one of the most radical Islamist networks in the world apparently does not pose a threat to the Jewish state, even though we are constantly told that Muslims inherently hate Israelis simply because they are Jewish. How can it be that this radical jihadist group actually does the bidding of the Israeli state by countering Assad?

This admission comes not long after it was made public that ISIS once apologized to the IDF over a gun battle.

All that being said, the IDF officials also rightly identified the fact that America’s brutal air war in Iraq and Syria will only further radicalize the population and will do nothing to defeat ISIS’ ideology in the long run.

“ISIS is much like cancer,” one intelligence officer stated.

“It is easy to cut the tumors off. But how do you prevent the small cancer cells from expanding? I think the caliphate is already thinking, ‘OK, what are we going to do next?’ What was ISIS doing the minute the Americans and Iraqis went into Mosul? It started exploding everything up in Iraq – about 1,000 suicide attacks in a number of months. Raqqa is probably going to fall. The same thing will happen. All the cancerous cells throughout Syria…are going to do the same and start blowing things up.”

Creative Commons / Anti-Media / Report a typo

Source: Anti Media Feed