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Trump may be too close to the Alt-Right to condemn it

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I have a Bacon number of 3. This means I worked on a movie with a girl who acted in a film with a guy who appeared in “Footloose” with Kevin Bacon. It’s frankly ridiculous how happy this makes me.

Anyone can find a connection to almost anyone on the globe in just a few short steps. These connections more often reflect happenstance acquaintance than intimate friendship, but the connection exists nonetheless. And humans thrive on even minor ties.

For instance, I’ve (briefly) met sports legends Tony Hawk, Luc Robitaille, and Bill Walton. Even though my interactions with each were momentary and insignificant — they certainly wouldn’t remember me — I’ve felt a personal connection to them ever since. Whether it be Robitaille’s cameo in “D2: The Mighty Ducks” or Hawk’s appearance on an episode of “Last Man Standing,” I always experience the rush of that “I know him!” kind of feeling. It makes you feel like you’re connected to that movie or T.V. show too. You might even say it breeds a type of loyalty.

Bonds like these can establish loyalty in all spheres, and in politics especially, that can be hazardous if not treated with caution. So if somebody seems to have particular difficulty in distancing themselves from an obviously unacceptable group or ideology, you might want to ask yourself, “What’s the connection?”

You probably already know what I’m talking about: Donald Trump’s failure to call out white supremacists, the KKK, and (most importantly, I think) the Alt-Right by name in his statement on Charlottesville on Saturday. The remarks we so vague that The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, posted shortly afterward: “He loves us all. … No condemnation at all. … God bless him.”

On Monday, Trump finally decried “the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups” as “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” This is a start, but there’s one group noticeably absent from his denouncement: the Alt-Right, major players in the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. The Alt-Right has nothing to do with conservatism, contrary to many news reports, but is a disgusting, racist, and evil organization built on the pillars of fascistic white supremacy. So why can’t Trump condemn it? Because he’s too close to it.

Trump has an Alt-Right number of 1.

What’s the connection? White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon. Bannon is the CEO of Breibart News, the outlet he dubbed “the platform for the Alt-Right.” Ben Shapiro has stated, “I have no evidence that Bannon’s a racist or that he’s an anti-Semite. … With that said, as I wrote at The Washington Post in August, Bannon has openly embraced the racist and anti-Semitic alt-right,” which Shapiro equates to “appeasement of anti-Semitism” at the very least.

In short, Bannon’s no good, and Trump knows it. But he still won’t do anything about it — or even say anything about it, which is normally all does anyway.

For months, Trump has refused to confirm whether he still has confidence in his strategist, yet Bannon stays. Trump now reportedly suspects Bannon of releasing the infamous White House leaks, and although legendary former Communications Director Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci has reassured us that Trump “knows what he’s going to do with Steve Bannon,” there’s been no news of shaken relations or even Trump’s tweet-typical criticism. The Mooch further attributed Trump’s lackluster Charlottesville statement to Bannon’s influence: “You also got this sort of Bannon-bart influence in there, which I think is a snag on the president.”

That snag on the president remains, and it doesn’t appears to be going anywhere. To be clear, that doesn’t mean that Trump supports the Alt-Right or believes in its cause. But a condemnation of the Alt-Right would constitute a de facto denouncement of the man who gave it a voice. For whatever reason, Trump doesn’t seem willing to do that; his connection and apparent loyalty to Bannon are too strong.

For now, Steve Bannon appears untouchable. And unfortunately, ipso facto, the same goes for the Alt-Right.

Richie Angel is a Co-Editor in Chief of The New Guards. Follow him and The New Guards on Twitter, and check out The New Guards on Facebook.

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In plea deal, Russian woman admits to being a secret agent

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In plea deal, Russian woman admits to being a secret agent

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Russian woman accused of being a secret agent admitted Thursday that she conspired to infiltrate the American gun-rights movement to gather intelligence on conservative political groups as Donald Trump rose to power.

Maria Butina, 30, agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

The case, which is separate from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has offered insight into how Moscow seeks to influence American policy.

Prosecutors say Butina and her Russian patron, Alexander Torshin, used their contacts in the National Rifle Association to pursue back channels to American conservatives during that campaign, when Republican Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Court documents detail how Butina saw the Republican Party as prime for Russian influence and courted conservatives through networking and contacts with the NRA. She posed for photos with prominent Republicans, including former presidential candidates, and snagged a picture with Donald Trump Jr. at a 2016 NRA dinner.

Butina’s case, brought by federal prosecutors in Washington, comes amid a broader push by the Justice Department to enforce U.S. laws governing foreign agents, including those accused of working for Russia.

As part of her deal, Butina pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent and she agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Prosecutors say it is “very likely” she will be deported from the U.S. after her sentence is completed. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, though the defense noted Thursday that federal sentencing guidelines recommend no time to six months. She has been jailed since her arrest in July.

According to her plea agreement, Butina’s work was directed by Torshin, a former longtime member of the Russian parliament who until recently was an official in Russia’s central bank. He is now under sanction by the Treasury Department for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Butina, dressed in green jail scrubs with her red hair pulled into a long ponytail, acknowledged she “sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics.” She admitted that her boyfriend, conservative political operative Paul Erickson, helped her as she tried to use his ties with the NRA to set up the back channels. Erickson, who is referred to as “U.S. Person 1″ in court papers, has not been charged. His attorney said he is a good American who “has done nothing to harm our country and never would.”

In a 2015 proposal she crafted with Erickson’s help, Butina argued it was unlikely Russia would be able to exert influence using official channels and, as an alternative, suggested using back channel communications to build relationships with Republicans, according to court papers.

Pushing her travel to the U.S. and her work with the NRA as selling points, Butina argued that she had already “laid the groundwork for an unofficial channel of communication with the next U.S. administration.” She asked for $125,000 from an unnamed Russian billionaire to attend conferences in the U.S. and meet with people who she thought may have influence with the Republican Party and sent the proposal to Torshin. He responded by telling her the proposal would “be supported, at least in part,” according to court documents.

Torshin also asked Butina to help justify him attending a national NRA meeting in 2016 and Butina encouraged his attendance “partly because of the opportunity to meet political candidates,” according to her plea agreement. In addition to attending numerous NRA events, Butina also organized “friendship dinners” in Washington with influential political figures.

In their filings, prosecutors have said federal agents found Butina had contact information for people suspected of working for Russia’s Federal Security Services, or FSB, the successor intelligence agency to the KGB. Inside her home, they found notes referring to a potential job offer from the FSB, according to the documents.

Investigators recovered several emails and Twitter message conversations in which Butina referred to the need to keep her work secret and, in one instance, said it should be “incognito.” Prosecutors said Butina had contact with Russian intelligence officials and that the FBI photographed her dining with a diplomat suspected of being a Russian intelligence agent.

Butina’s lawyer, Robert Driscoll, had previously decried the charges against her as “overblown” and said prosecutors criminalized her mundane networking opportunities. He said Butina was a student interested in American politics and wanted to see a better relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

On Thursday, prosecutors also appeared to have backed off their assertion that Butina’s attendance at American University was little more than a cover to enter the U.S. In their filing, prosecutors said “all available evidence” indicated she had a genuine interest in a graduate school education.

Butina had mounted an aggressive defense and tried to have the charges against her tossed. But for several weeks, Butina’s lawyers and federal prosecutors had indicated in court papers that they were working toward a resolution in the case.

After Butina’s plea, a senior Russian lawmaker said he was convinced that Butina had caved and was pressured to confess. Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the State Duma’s foreign affairs committee, told Russian news agencies that the charges against Butina had been trumped up and that she fell victim to what he called “political inquisition.”

“They broke her down. Anyone would break down in circumstances like that,” he said, referring to Butina’s time in prison, which included being held in administrative segregation.

Butina told the judge on Thursday that she was pleading guilty of her own volition and was not pressured, threatened or coerced.

___

Associated Press writer Chad Day contributed to this report.

___

Read the plea agreement: http://apne.ws/qHA37wM

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Immigration

Will Trump suspend the Constitution to build his wall?

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Will Trump suspend the Constitution to build his wall

What do martial law, illegal immigration, and using the military as a national police force have in common with Barack Obama and Donald Trump? Possibly more than you realize.

After years of failing to fix the illegal immigration problem and Obama’s abuse of executive orders, there were conspiracy theories being spread by people like Alex Jones at InfoWars.com that Obama was laying the groundwork to declare martial law and cancel the 2016 election.

Of course, that never happened, although I sometimes wish it had (just kidding, no letters please). But with the obvious assault on our Constitutionally protected, God-given rights increasing with every passing day, and with Trump’s ignorance of the Constitution, we need to ask ourselves if something like that could still happen.

Trump convinced America to vote for him in 2016 based on his promise to build a “big beautiful wall” on our southern border and have Mexico pay for it. Yet, after two years, no such wall exists, and Mexico has let Trump know in no uncertain terms they have no intention of financing one.

As a result, all of the problems associated with illegal immigration not only still exist, but they’ve gotten worse. On top of that, Trump is busy gearing up for another four years as president … or more.

Trump has often joked about being president beyond the Constitutionally allowed eight years, but recent comments about his border wall would seem to indicate that he’s not all that concerned about any limitations placed on him by the Constitution he once called “archaic.”

On Tuesday, Trump bragged about the success he was having with the wall even though it doesn’t exist while issuing this threat. “If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build … the Wall.”

In essence, Trump is saying that he will play the role of dictator by ignoring Congress and using the military to force his will, a threat he also made earlier this year.

Such an action would turn the military into a national police force, but it would also require some manipulation of the Constitution. Trump can’t simply shift Border Security funds from the Department of Homeland Security to the military without Congress, unless he declares a national emergency.

Such a declaration would suspend the limits placed on the president by the Constitution and allow him to use the military as he sees fit without Congressional approval such as he did when he sent thousands of troops to the border to deal with the migrant caravan in October.

In a survey released in the summer of 2017, a majority (52%) of respondents supported the idea of postponing the 2020 election if Trump needed to declare a national emergency to deal with the immigration problem.

It looks like Trump might just take them up on the offer.

Originally posted on StridentConservative.com.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook.

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Shooting near West Bank settlement kills at least 2 Israelis

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Shooting near West Bank settlement kills at least 2 Israelis

JERUSALEM (AP) — A shooting attack near a West Bank settlement on Thursday killed at least two Israelis and critically wounded another two, Israel’s rescue service said.

The deaths extend a violent week that began with a shooting outside a West Bank settlement on Sunday, resulting in the death of a baby who was delivered prematurely following the weekend attack, and continued with the killing of two Palestinians wanted in that and another attack on Israelis in the West Bank.

Eli Bin, the head of Israel’s Magen David Adom service, told Israeli Army Radio that two people were killed in the shooting, which occurred at a location about a ten-minute drive south from the place of Sunday’s attack. Their identities were not immediately known.

A later statement from the service said paramedics arrived at a bus stop to find four “youngsters” with gunshot wounds.

Israeli media reported that a passing car opened fire outside the settlement, but it was not clear if the gunmen had fled the scene or were stopped. The Israeli military had no additional information.

While the West Bank experiences occasional deadly violence, often between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters, much of the Israeli-Palestinian violence in recent months has been limited to the Gaza Strip, where some 175 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in border protests.

“In recent days, we definitely feel like the situation (in the West Bank) is getting worse,” Shalom Galil, a paramedic who assisted at the scene of the shooting, told Israeli Army Radio.

The shooting comes hours after Israeli security forces tracked down and killed a Palestinian accused of killing two Israelis.

Israeli police said Ashraf Naalweh was found armed near the West Bank city of Nablus and was killed during an arrest raid.

Israel accuses Naalweh of shooting to death two Israelis and wounding another at an attack on a West Bank industrial zone in October. He fled the scene and Israeli forces have been searching for him since.

“Israel’s long arm will reach anyone who harms Israeli citizens,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Police said it had made a number of arrests in its attempt to hunt down Naalweh and suspected he was planning on carrying out another attack.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces killed Salah Barghouti, a Palestinian suspect wanted in the drive-by shooting earlier this week at a West Bank bus stop.

In Sunday night’s attack, assailants in a Palestinian vehicle opened fire at a bus stop outside a West Bank settlement, wounding seven people, including a 21-year-old pregnant woman, before speeding away.

The militant Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip said that both Barghouti and Naalweh were its members but stopped short of claiming responsibility for the attacks the two carried out.

“The flame of resistance in the (West) Bank will remain alive until the occupation is defeated on all our land,” Hamas said.

Also Thursday, police said an assailant stabbed two officers in Jerusalem’s Old City, wounding them lightly. The officers opened fire on the attacker and he was killed, spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Police identified the man as a 26-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank. It released security camera footage that shows the man lunging toward the officers and appearing to stab them.

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