All posts tagged: Donald Trump

IMPORTANT: President Trump has no dog and CNN is ON IT

You know how CNN’s Brian Stelter has gotten into a habit of making fun of Fox News headlines? He really needs to give it a rest.

Earlier this week, The New York Times published an opinion piece by author Jennifer Weiner called, “What the President Doesn’t Get About Dogs.”

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Nevertheless, he persisted: CNN photog gets new pic of Trump golfing

Now that CNN has identified the owner of the white box truck that was used to block photographers from snapping a picture of President Trump on his golf course, photographer are free to snap pics of the president in action. Via CNN’s Peter Morris:

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Trump’s Retweets Promote Hate Group Founded by Immigrant-Hunting Criminal

When President Donald Trump retweeted anti-Muslim propaganda videos Monday morning, he was promoting Britain First, an extremist group whose founding members have stormed mosques, gone on immigrant-hunting patrols, and been accused of sexual assault.

Britain First is Trumps kind of hate group. Founded by an anti-Muslim, anti-abortion hardliner who quit a post in the British National Party over a sexual harassment allegation, Britain First leads invasions of mosques, and so-called Christian patrols during which members march the streets harassing Muslims. And now those same extremists are thanking Trump for the endorsement.

Jim Dowson, a former Calvinist minister who spent his early career attached to anti-Catholic campaigns, founded the group. Dowson is a former member of the Orange Order, a conservative group involved in violent anti-Catholic clashes in Northern Ireland. During his tenure with the group, Dowson reportedly organized a controversial flute band that produced songs celebrating Michael Stone, a Protestant militant who murdered three people and wounded over 60 others in an attack on a Catholic funeral in 1988.

Dowson is an anti-abortion extremist, and used a website to dox workers at sexual-health clinics, allegedly spurring his followers to harass them.

I think that's nonsense, Dowson told the Belfast Telegraph when asked whether he was inviting people to harass the health workers. You read the newspaper every day of the week, you get people's names and addresses.

After falling out of the Orange Order (atheists and boozers, he accused of the hardline Protestant group), Dowson took on an administrative role with the far-right British National Party. But that relationship also soured, after a BNP activist accused the ultra-religious Dowson of sexual misconduct.

The activist, Shelley Rose, accused Dowson of luring her to a hotel room after a BNP event.

"I decided it was safer to stay with him, as it was too late to get home, because he was a religious and family man and didn't think there would be a problem, Rose said, according to the Daily Record. "We both had on our nightclothes. I felt these clammy, sweaty hands crawling up my leg. He was kissing me. Then he got on top of me and I told him to stop.

Dowson stopped, but rather than apologize for the advance, he started to verbally abuse me and told me I was frigid, had emotional issues and was a wreck, Rose alleged. Dowson denied all Roses allegations, but quit the party, stating that he was done with politics.

Seven months later, he launched Britain First, an explicitly anti-Muslim group. He was arrested and charged for participating in an unlawful demonstration after a nationalist demonstration with Britain First in 2012, but left the group in 2014, claiming opposition to the groups marches on mosques

Dowson is also an avowed Trump fan. During the 2016 election, Dowson founded a network of pro-Trump websites that peddled lurid headlines and hoaxes tying Hillary Clinton to Satanism and pedophilia. Bombshell: Hillary Clintons Satanic Network Exposed, read one headline on Dowsons Patriot News Agency, a hoax site with an eagle logo and the motto built by patriots, for patriots.

Contrary to its motto, the Patriot News Agency was based in the U.K., and courted Russian viewers, the New York Times reported last year. The site nurtured a following on VKontakte, a Russian social media network, leading to questions over the sites potential collaboration with Russian interests. Dowson is also a vocal defender of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has spoken at the International Russian Conservative Forum, a gathering of the worlds far-right fringe personalities.

During a 2015 speech at the conference, Dowson projected a picture of Putin riding a bear shirtless. Obama and America, they are like females. They are feminized men, Dowson said, according to the Times. But you have been blessed by a man who is a man, and we envy that.

In his post-Britain First years, Dowson has also become involved in the Knights Templar International, an extreme anti-immigrant group, and last fall was filmed in a military uniform with militants from the Bulgarian National Movement, who patrol Bulgarias borders hunting immigrants with knives and bayonets.

We are on the Bulgarian Turkish border on patrol and looking for illegals. The dedication these guys have got is very impressive, Dowson says in the film. Today, the Knights Templar International brought along vests and ballistics and drones and night vision, stuff that these guys desperately need.

Meanwhile, Britain First other leaders have continued the groups anti-Muslim campaign at home. The group is currently headed by Paul Golding, reportedly a former member of the neo-Nazi group the National Front. Like Dowson, Golding is a former member of the far-right, anti-immigrant BNP. But unlike Dowson, who quit the party following the sexual harassment allegation, Golding was kicked out after he physically assaulted the groups only non-white member, a half-Turkish man, according to the Evening Standard.

Since taking up the helm at Britain First, Golding has led a campaign of harassment against Muslims and minorities in the U.K., resulting in his repeated arrest. In 2015, Golding was convicted of harassment and illegally wearing a political uniform, after he attempted to visit the home of a man allegedly involved in the 2005 London bombings. But due to a confusion in addresses, Golding harassed the mans sister-in-laws home. After harassing Muslims in a series of mosque invasions, Golding was banned from entering the religious sites, but was subsequently arrested for entering more mosques.

Golding and Britain First have taken to fundraising off his arrests, claiming the charges prove he is fighting powerful forces. On at least one occasion, Golding went as far as faking his arrest, claiming local police had raided his home with dogs. Police later clarified that Golding had showed up at a police station of his own volition, without a warrant for his arrest.

He and fellow Britain First leader Jayda Fransen were charged in September with a combined seven counts of religiously aggravated harassment for distributing anti-Muslim leaflets and posting illegally filmed footage of a trial.

Fransen has previously pleaded guilty to harassing a Muslim woman on one of Britain Firsts Christian patrols, where she verbally abused a woman wearing a headscarf.

Trump retweeted three of Fransens anti-Muslim videos Monday morning.

Hours after Trumps retweets, a spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May made a rare condemnation of Trumps actions, calling them wrong.

Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions, the spokesperson said. British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far-right, which is the antithesis of the values that this country representsdecency, tolerance and respect.

But Fransen, a fringe figure, was overjoyed at the new attention for her propaganda videos.


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My travels in white America a land of anxiety, division and pockets of pain

This summer, Gary Younge took a trip from Maine to Mississippi to find out what has brought the US to this point. From the forgotten poor to desperate addicts, their whiteness is all some of them have left and that makes fertile ground for the far right

Jeff Baxters enduring memory, from childhood, is the glow. Coming down over the hill overlooking the coke plant in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the molten iron would make itself known both as a vision and an aspiration. Its like the sun landed there, says Baxter, a burly, bearded retiree, who achieved his boyhood dream of becoming a steelworker.

Today, the plant, like the one Baxter worked in for 30 years, stands derelict a shell that represents a hollowing out not just of the local economy but of culture and hope as though someone extinguished Baxters sun and left the place in darkness. Buildings in the centre of town that were once testament to the industrial wealth produced here stand abandoned. More than 40% of the population now live below the poverty line; 9.1% are unemployed.

Cambria County, where Johnstown sits, was once a swing county. Al Gore won it in 2000; George W Bush took it in 2004; it went to Barack Obama in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 each time by fairly narrow margins. Last year, Donald Trump won it in a landslide.

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Gary Younge interviews Richard Spencer: ‘Africans have benefited from white supremacy’

Baxter, who once backed Obama, voted for Trump, the first time he had ever voted Republican. I liked [Obamas] message of hope, but he didnt bring any jobs in Trump said he was going to make America great. And I figured: Thats what we need. We need somebody like that to change it.

Over at the century-old Coney Island Lunch, this once-bustling institution famous for its chilli dogs and sundowners is virtually empty. A lot of people have left town, explains Peggy, who has been serving at the diner for nine years. There are no jobs. If youre going to have a life or a steady income, you know, you need to get out of here, because theres nothing here. I expect a lot of towns go this way. You know, when the steel mills died and the coal died. Its sad, its very sad.

Theres not many white Americans left. Theyre a dying breed a confederate flag on a Trump poster in North Carolina. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Across from the counter, Ted sits in a T-shirt emblazoned with a Native American in full headdress. He thinks white America is getting a rough deal and will soon be extinct. Theres not many white Americans left. Theyre a dying breed. Its going to be yellow-white Americans, African-American white Americans, you know what Im saying? The cultures are coming together, he says, with more than a hint of melancholy. Blending and blending, and pretty soon well just be one colour.

Ted also voted for Trump. I liked him on TV. I voted for him, alright, but it was because he was supposedly going to make America great, and whats he done so far? He hasnt done anything.

Two days after I spoke to Ted and Peggy, Coney Island Lunch closed down.

In the 12 years I reported from the US I saw no end of white journalists opine on black America. This summer, I took a trip through white America, driving from Maine (the whitest state) to Mississippi (the blackest), to flip the script. Talking only to white people, I attended a white supremacist conference, accompanied an emergency health worker who sought to revive people who had overdosed, and went to a comedy club in the French Quarter of New Orleans to see the Liberal Redneck perform. I was told the Ku Klux Klan were liberals (they werent), that Confederate general Robert E Lee didnt own slaves (he did) and that I could not be British because Im black (I am).

It was a few weeks before the disturbances in Charlottesville, when a mob of white supremacists, including neo-Nazis and Klansmen, converged on a college town in Virginia, terrorising protesters and leaving one dead and many injured. Just seven months after the US had bid farewell to its first black president, his successor said there were some very fine people marching with the neo-Nazis who chanted: Jews will not replace us. A poll shortly afterwards showed that almost half of white Americans thought they were under attack and one in three thought the country needs to do more to preserve its white European heritage.

Any reckoning with how the US got to this point, politically, demands some interrogation of how white America got to this place economically and culturally; that takes into account both their relative privilege and their huge pockets of pain.

White Americans make up a majority of the country. Compared with other races, they may enjoy an immense concentration of wealth and power. But these privileges are nonetheless underpinned by considerable anxiety. Their health is failing (white peoples life expectancy has stalled or dipped in recent years), their wages are stagnating (adjusting for inflation, they are just 10% higher now than they were 44 years ago) and class fluidity is drying up (the prospects of poor white Americans breaking through class barriers is worse now than it has been for a long time). Out-traded by China (in 2016 the trade deficit with the country was $347bn); soon to be outnumbered at home (within a generation white people will be a minority); and outmanoeuvred on the battlefields of the Arab world and beyond (neither of the wars launched in response to 9/11 have ended in victory), these vulnerabilities are felt at home and abroad. Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter protesters are in the streets over police brutality, football players are taking a knee and the movement to bring legal status to large numbers of undocumented people grows. White Americans feel more pessimistic about their future than any other group. Almost two-thirds of white working-class people think the country has changed for the worse since the 50s.

I covered the last presidential election from Muncie, Indiana, once seen as the archetypal US town thanks to the Middletown project, a sociological study first published in the 20s. Many of the white working-class areas on the south side of Muncie were similar to Johnstown. The head of Middletown Studies at the citys Ball State University, James Connolly, told me this was the area he had found most difficult when it came to finding contacts. Whereas African Americans in the north-east of the city had strong churches and campaigning organisations, he explained, the poorer white areas had few champions.

Nobody speaks up for the poor, said Jamie Walsh, a white working-class woman who grew up in Muncie,explaining Trumps appeal to those she grew up with on Muncies Southside. There is systemic racism, but black people have advocates. Poor white people dont. Theyre afraid. Theyre afraid that theyre stupid. They dont feel racist, they dont feel sexist, they dont want to offend people or say the wrong thing. But white privilege is like a blessing and a curse if youre poor. The whole idea pisses poor white people off because theyve never experienced it on a level that they understand.

You hear privilege, and you think money and opportunity, and they dont have it. I understand how it works but I dont think most people do. So when Trump says stuff, they can understand what hes saying and he speaks to them in a way other people dont. And then youve got people calling them stupid and deplorable. Well, how long do you think you can call people stupid and deplorable before they get mad?

Andrew Kieszulus If you are white and middle class, its much easier to remove the negative consequences of a use disorder. Photograph: Sugar Films Ltd

Increasingly, for many white Americans, their racial privilege resides not in positive benefits of work and security but in the sole fact that it could be worse they could be black or Latino. In other words, their whiteness is all they have left. In few areas is this clearer than the opioid epidemic, which is disproportionately affecting white America. Wander down Oxford Street, home to one of the main shelters in Portland, Maine, and you can see people, distraught, disoriented and desperate, openly struggling with their addiction long into the night.

In the past, we might go months and not have an overdose call, said paramedic Andrea Calvo, as we drove around Portland, Maine. And we had a day, not too long ago, when I think we did 14 overdoses the majority of people, certainly in this area in this state, probably in the country, are somehow affected by addiction issues. A member of her family struggles with addiction. She constantly worried that one day she would be called to assist her.

Andrew Kieszulas was a 22-year-old sports star from a middle-class family when his doctor first prescribed opioids for a back injury. With his thick neck perched on top of mountainous shoulders, he had the air of an all-American boy from an all-American family. But, behind the facade, things had started to go wrong. Very quickly, the prescription drugs were removed and I was left with an emotional addiction, a mental addiction and a very physical addiction to the opiates and, very quickly, I transitioned over to street drugs, he explained.

Kieszulas has had to struggle hard to remain sober these last five years. His achievements are his own. But he would be the first to tell you that being white helped. When black America was blighted by the crack epidemic, it was understood as a crisis of culture and treated as a problem of crime. African Americans were locked up in unprecedented numbers, leaving more Americans in prison than had been incarcerated in the Soviet gulags at its height and more African Americans in prison than had been enslaved in 1850.

If you are white and middle class, its much easier to remove the negative consequences of a use disorder, Kieszulas explained. Youre less likely to go to jail, less likely to have any kind of negative criminal consequence. I myself dont have a criminal record. I did some very interesting things to support my habit and to find relief. And transitioning out of that without a criminal record at all? I think it speaks for itself.

Thanks to contamination through needle sharing, the opioid epidemic is also turning into an HIV crisis, which is particularly acute in rural white areas. Of the most vulnerable 5% of counties at risk of an HIV outbreak, almost all voted for Trump.

In late October, Trump called it a public health emergency, while offering little in the way of new funding. When your privilege amounts to this amount of pain, no wonder you cant see it. But just because you cant see it, doesnt mean its not there.

Muncie, Indiana. Nobody speaks for the poor, says one resident. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

If theres one thing that 200 years of slavery and 100 years of segregation did for African Americans, it was to temper their investment in the myth that the US is a meritocracy. The notion that if you worked hard and kept your nose clean, you would get on was always stymied by the grim realities of racial barriers. America was never America to me, wrote the Harlem renaissance poet Langston Hughes in 1935s Let America Be America Again. Theres never been equality for me / Nor freedom in this homeland of the free.

But, for many white Americans, the expectation that each year would be better than the next and each generation healthier and wealthier provided the core for optimism. However, with those assumptions being eroded, the mood is now more reminiscent of a post-colonial country. People are looking back for a sense of hope. Ask Trump voters when they would like to go back to if they wanted to make America great again and they will give you a date. Jeff Baxter wants to go back to the glow of the 60s, Ted to the 80s, others to the 50s and beyond.

There are, of course, many white Americans looking forward, fighting for their place in a more equal and just, multiracial future. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, was killed while protesting against the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville when a car, allegedly driven by a neo-Nazi sympathiser, ploughed into the crowd. She wanted equality, her father, Mark Heyer, said. And in this issue of the day of her passing, she wanted to put down hate.

Her mother, Susan Bro, refused to take the presidents condolence call. Ive heard it said that the murder of my daughter was part of making America great, Bro added. The blood on the streets is that what made America great? Attacking innocent people with a vehicle is that what made America great?

When American Renaissance, a white supremacist group straining to put a veneer of intellectualism and respectability on its bigotry, came to Montgomery Bell state park near Nashville in the summer, they were met by a crowd of mostly white protesters, chanting: No Klan, no hate, no racists in our state.

One told me that Trumps election had shaken some white people out of their complacency. We were asleep at the wheel, she said. We can no longer find comfort in silence. We have to dig up all the courage we have, to take a stand for whats morally right. On the journey back to Nashville I stopped at a secondhand shop on the roadside, selling Confederate paraphernalia, owned by Nikki who had a complicated relationship to the stars and bars. Im a proud southerner, she said. But you and I both know the [American] civil wars basically about slavery, she told me. Thank God we lost, thank God but it doesnt mean that we still dont wanna honour our dead.

Trump did not create this anxiety nor this division. References to the civil war and the Klan illustrate for just how long white America has been riven by its sense of moral purpose and material privilege. What is new is that Trump has emboldened the bigots and channelled their thinking in a fashion not seen in modern times. A president who draws a moral equivalent between neo-Nazis and anti-fascist protesters, who baits black athletes and black journalists, brands Mexicans rapists and Muslims terrorists.

One of those to whom he has given confidence is Richard Spencer, the intellectually unimpressive, historically illiterate huckster who rallied the far right in Charlottesville. Spencer, who wants to create an ethno-state for white people, claims to have coined the term alt-right a sanitised word for the extreme right. In July last year, Trumps former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, boasted that his website Breitbart News was a platform for the alt-right.

When I encountered Spencer at Montgomery Bell park, he emerged carrying a glass of what smelled like bourbon and an entourage of adoring bigots soon surrounded me in the car park. More odious troll than eloquent polemicist, he claimed, among other things, that Africans had benefited from white supremacy and that, despite having been banned from 26 European countries, Europe would always be more his home than mine. If Africans had never existed, world history would be almost exactly the same as it is today, he claimed. Because we are the genius that drives it. Like a vulture preying on the anxiety, and with few alternatives on offer as much as people cited Trump as the problem, few offered Democrats as the solution he felt confident.

People are now aware of the term alt-right I dont think Trump shares the ideal of the ethno-state But he wouldnt have run the campaign that he ran if he didnt feel some sense of loss, that America has lost something, he said.

He felt he was gaining influence. This was one of the few accurate things he actually said. And by far the most chilling.

Angry, White and American is on Channel 4 at 10pm on Thursday 9 November

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