US Needs to Promote Democracy At Home!

About a week before the world witnessed the storming of the US Capitol by an angry mob on January 6, 2020, the US Congress allocated $15 million for "democracy programs" in Pakistan as part of its latest Coronavirus Relief Bill. Should charity start at home? Should America prioritize democracy at home? With 64% of Republicans supporting Trump's false claim of "stolen election", has pro-Trump extremism gone mainstream in GOP? How to deal with the fervent believers in QAnon conspiracy theories while promoting a fact-based democratic discourse? How can deep divisions in American society be healed? These questions are beginning to be raised after recent shocking events in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, the US government-funded think tanks such National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are very active in many developing countries, including Pakistan.  Cato institute says that what NED does "would otherwise be possible only through a CIA covert operation". NED's 2019 recipients include Balochistan rights activists, women and minority rights groups, media groups, data journalism,  digital rights, social justice, etc. All of these groups and the money they have received can be seen on National Endowment for Democracy's website

Storming of the US Capitol

Storming of US Capitol:

Egged on by the outgoing US President Donald J. Trump who lost the 2016 presidential election, the world saw an angry violent mob of tens of thousands attack Capitol Hill as the lawmakers met to certify the victory of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. This was a shocking development for many in the United States and abroad who look up to the United States to set an example of peaceful transfer of power. Violence on Capitol Hill resulted in the death of five Americans, including a protester and a policeman. It is now being characterized as an attempted bloody coup. 

Those involved in the Capitol Hill attack come from all walks of life, including off-duty police officers, firefighters, state lawmakers, teachers, municipal workers and at least one active-duty military officer. About 64% of Republicans support Trump's false claim of "stolen election". Some of them fervently believe the QAnon conspiracy theories claiming that Democrats are evil. They see Democrats as demonic pedophiles bent upon destroying the United States for their own selfish motives. The QAnon conspiracy theory appears to adapt itself to new events and personalities with time. It is a clear sign of deep and growing divisions in the American society. 

Democracy Abroad:

The recent allocation of $15 million for democracy in Pakistan is a small part of America's promotion of democracy abroad. There are also US government-funded think tanks and hundreds of non-government organizations (NGOs) tasked with promoting democracy abroad. 

The most audacious of the Washington DC think tanks promoting democracy abroad is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).  Cato institute says that what NED does "would otherwise be possible only through a CIA covert operation". NED website agrees with this description. Here's how NED describes its origins:

"In the aftermath of World War II, faced with threats to our democratic allies and without any mechanism to channel political assistance, U.S. policy makers resorted to covert means, secretly sending advisers, equipment, and funds to support newspapers and parties under siege in Europe. When it was revealed in the late 1960’s that some American PVO’s were receiving covert funding from the CIA to wage the battle of ideas at international forums, the Johnson Administration concluded that such funding should cease, recommending establishment of “a public-private mechanism” to fund overseas activities openly". 

NED Activities in Pakistan:
A few years ago when I attended my alma mater NED Engineering University's alumni convention in Washington DC area, I met dozens of people from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED think tank). Apparently, they were mostly Pakistani dissidents on the US government payroll who wanted to bring democracy to Pakistan. 
Since that alumni convention I have researched the NED think tank  and learned that it gives large amounts of money to a variety of NGOs operating in Pakistan. NED's 2019 recipients include Balochistan rights activists, minority rights groups, media groups, data journalism,  digital rights, social justice, etc. 
NGO-ization of Pakistan: 
Pakistan has seen more than 10-fold increase in the number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the country since 911. There is now one NGO per 2000 Pakistanis. A large slice of billions of dollars in US aid has been funneled through non-government organizations. This was particularly true after Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid bill in 2009 that tripled civilian aid to Pakistan from $500 million to $1.5 billion a year. KLB is long gone but the American money flow has continued to a large numbers of Pakistani NGOs. For example, US government-funded think tank NED's 2019 recipients include Balochistan rights activists, minority rights groups, media groups, data journalism,  digital rights, social justice, etc. 
Summary:
The US Congress allocated $15 million for "democracy programs" in Pakistan as part of its latest Coronavirus Relief Bill.  This happened about a week before an angry violent mob stormed the US Capitol.  It is now being characterized as an attempted bloody coup.  The shocking events of January 6, 2020 are raising serious questions: Should charity start at home? Should America prioritize democracy at home? How to deal with the fervent believers in QAnon conspiracy theories while promoting a fact-based democratic discourse?  How can deep divisions in American society be healed? Meanwhile, the US government-funded think tanks such National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are very active in many developing countries, including Pakistan.  Cato institute says that what NED does "would otherwise be possible only through a CIA covert operation". NED's 2019 recipients include Balochistan rights activists, women and minority rights groups, media groups, data journalism,  digital rights, social justice, etc. The name of these groups and the money paid out to them is listed on NED's website.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on January 12, 2021 at 9:22am

How White Evangelical #Christians Fused With #Trump Extremism. A potent mix of grievance and #religious fervor has turbocharged the support among Trump loyalists, many of whom describe themselves as participants in a kind of #holy #war. #CapitalHill https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/11/us/how-white-evangelical-christi...

Lindsay French, 40, an evangelical Christian from Texas, flew to Washington after she had received what she called a “burning bush” sign from God to participate following her pastor urging congregants to “stop the steal.”

“We are fighting good versus evil, dark versus light,” she said, declaring that she was rising up like Queen Esther, the biblical heroine who saved her people from death.
-------------

Before self-proclaimed members of the far-right group the Proud Boys marched toward the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, they stopped to kneel in the street and prayed in the name of Jesus.

The group, whose participants have espoused misogynistic and anti-immigrant views, prayed for God to bring “reformation and revival.” They gave thanks for “the wonderful nation we’ve all been blessed to be in.” They asked God for the restoration of their “value systems,” and for the “courage and strength to both represent you and represent our culture well.” And they invoked the divine protection for what was to come.

Then they rose. Their leader declared into a bullhorn that the media must “get the hell out of my way.” And then they moved toward the Capitol.

The presence of Christian rituals, symbols and language was unmistakable on Wednesday in Washington. There was a mock campaign banner, “Jesus 2020,” in blue and red; an “Armor of God” patch on a man’s fatigues; a white cross declaring “Trump won” in all capitals. All of this was interspersed with allusions to QAnon conspiracy theories, Confederate flags and anti-Semitic T-shirts



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Oren Orr, 31, an arborist from Robbinsville, N.C., where he goes to Santeetlah Baptist Church, rented a car to drive to Washington. He carried his American flag right up below the officers on the bleachers, and his wife had a Christian flag. Mr. Trump could be the last president to believe in Jesus, he said. (Mr. Biden speaks often about his lifelong Catholic faith, and unlike Mr. Trump, attends church services frequently.)

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Abigail Spaulding, a stay-at-home mother of 15 who traveled to the rally with friends from her church in South Carolina, broke down in tears as she spoke about her fears for her children under a Biden administration. She said her husband had explained to their children that when Mr. Biden is sworn in as president, “they can take the Bible and call it hate speech and throw it out.” And she had other worries about Mr. Biden, drawn from Facebook and Twitter — all of which were false.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 15, 2021 at 10:14am

t's still Trump's party

https://www.axios.com/trump-republicans-impeachment-support-10c11b1...


He lied about the election being fixed. He incited an attack that left five dead at the U.S Capitol. He got impeached. Twice. But polling indicates Republicans still have his back — and views — by vast majorities.

Why it matters: Anyone who thinks Trump is a politically dead man walking appears pointedly dead wrong.

Just look at the numbers:

Two-thirds of House Republicans voted to decertify the election results — in the hours after an insurrection.
93% of House Republicans voted against impeachment yesterday.
In an Axios-Ipsos poll taken Tuesday and yesterday:

64% of Republicans said they support Trump's recent behavior.
57% of Republicans said Trump should be the 2024 GOP candidate.
Only 17% think he should be removed from office.
House and Senate Republicans tell me they strongly believe Trump will remain a force in the party's 2022 and 2024 races — even if he were to be convicted in the forthcoming Senate trial, and barred from holding federal office himself.

One reason he may escape conviction is that some top Republicans believe that would make him a martyr and actually empower him. They'd rather let him fade away.
Fox News' Tucker Carlson said last night: "By impeaching the president during his final week in office, Congress will not succeed in discrediting Trump among Republican voters. In fact, it will enhance Donald Trump among Republican voters. Obviously!"
Between the lines: A majority of Republicans in the poll — 56% — consider themselves traditional Republicans; 36% call themselves Trump Republicans.

That's a formidable base for Trump, who also controls the $150 million+ he has raised for his super PAC since the election.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 17, 2021 at 11:58am

Opinion | Has #Trump pushed the #Republican Party to the breaking point? In the past eight presidential elections, the Republican candidate for president has won the popular vote only once — in 2004, in the wake of 9/11. #US #democracy #CapitolRiots https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/has-trump-pushed-the-republ...

The modern Republican Party has long harbored several factions that lived together uncomfortably — libertarians, evangelicals, states’ rights advocates and (let’s be frank) racists. They have been able to paper over the divides for decades. But in recent years, two factors have propelled the party into crisis. The first is that the Iraq War and the global financial crisis broke the back of the Republican establishment, opening the way for Trump, who appealed not to discredited party elites but to the base, with the help of raw cultural and racial rhetoric.

The second factor has been the increasing awareness of its leaders that it is really not a majority party. In the past eight presidential elections, the Republican candidate for president has won the popular vote only once — in 2004, in the wake of 9/11 and the early days of the Iraq War — a trend unprecedented in U.S. history.

Nonetheless, the electoral college and the Senate, along with gerrymandering and voter suppression, have enabled the party to win power without winning a majority. That has made it less responsive to the demands of the majority, national elites and the mainstream media. It has found a way to thrive by cultivating its own smaller ecosystem, creating its own facts, theories and heroes.

But that ecosystem is splintering. Fox News, central to the party’s ability to indoctrinate its base with myths, half-truths and falsehoods, is losing market share. (Disclosure: I host a weekly show on CNN.) The newcomers — Newsmax and One America News — are willing to enter a fantasy world where even Fox News will not go. Perhaps most important, the Republican base is shrinking, not by a huge amount but significantly. Partly, this is a matter of long-term demographics; partly, it is Trump. Polls suggest that Trump’s approval rating has now descended into the 30s, with about 50 percent of independents supporting his removal from office. Republicans in swing districts across the country may find themselves in an impossible situation: unable to get nominated unless they embrace Trump but unable to get elected if they do.

If these trends persist — a big “if” in a country where party loyalties remain very strong — we might see a dangerous dynamic. Some Republicans, both at the elite level as well as among ordinary voters, will defect from the party, unwilling to sign on to the Trump family cult. The rump Republican Party will become a minority party in more of the country. But it will be dominated by people who reject American democracy and are enamored of conspiracy theories, enraged by their powerlessness and increasingly willing to support extreme, even violent means to achieve their ends. In other words, the future Republicans in Congress may look a lot like the mob that stormed it last week.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 17, 2021 at 1:28pm

#CapitolHill Attack: From off-duty police to firefighters, state lawmakers, teachers, municipal workers and at least one active-duty military officer, dozens of public servants from across the #UnitedStates joined pro-#Trump protests that turned violent. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-protest-officials-insi...

As rioters scaled scaffolding outside the U.S. Capitol, Roxanne Mathai held up her cell phone to record the sea of supporters of President Donald Trump storming America’s bastion of democracy.


“We’re going in,” said the 46-year-old Texas jailer, “tear gas and all.”

Mathai, a jail lieutenant and 8-year veteran of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, approached the Capitol steps last Wednesday as rioters in front of her breached barricades.

Wearing a red, white and blue face mask with a Trump flag hanging from her back, she posed for selfies. “Not gonna lie,” said the mother of three on her Facebook page, “aside from my kids, this was, indeed, the best day of my life.”

The next morning, her boss reported her to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was seeking information on any participants in the Jan. 6 insurrection that left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Mathai also was placed on unpaid leave pending results of a separate investigation into her involvement.

“I was oblivious to everything,” including the violence, Mathai told Reuters on Tuesday. “I was watching everything as a spectator.” She said she was bound by a confidentiality order that prohibited further comment.

From off-duty police to firefighters, state lawmakers, teachers, municipal workers and at least one active-duty military officer, dozens of public servants from across the United States joined the protests in Washington that turned into a siege on the U.S. Capitol. The mob’s violent effort aimed to block Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s election as president.

Since returning home, many have confronted harsh criticism from angry constituents or employers - often because of their own posts on social media.

At least 50 elected officials and others in public sector jobs are facing internal inquiries or investigations that, in some cases, have resulted in temporary suspensions pending investigations, based on a Reuters examination of public statements, news reports and video footage.

At least two Capitol police officers have been suspended and more than a dozen others are under investigation for alleged dereliction of duty or aiding or abetting rioters.

For some public employees caught on video or social media rioting inside the Capitol, the consequences have been swift, including arrests and job termination. Two off-duty police officers from Virginia faced criminal charges Wednesday after posting a picture of themselves on Jan. 6 in front of the Capitol’s statue of John Stark and bragging about their behavior, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in the District of Columbia.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 20, 2021 at 1:15pm

#BidenSpeech: "The cry for survival comes from the planet itself, a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear. And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat" #terrorism https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2021/01/20/bide...

This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope of renewal and resolve through a crucible for the ages. America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge. Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.

We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed1.

From now, on this hallowed ground, where just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power, as we have for more than two centuries.

As we look ahead in our uniquely American way: restless, bold, optimistic, and set our sights on the nation we can be and we must be.

I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence2 here today. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. And I know, I know the resilience of our Constitution and the strength, the strength of our nation. As does President Carter, who I spoke with last night, who cannot be with us today, but whom we salute for his lifetime of service.

I’ve just taken the sacred oath each of those patriots have taken. The oath, first sworn by George Washington. But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us, on we the people who seek a more perfect union.

This is a great nation. We are good people. And over the centuries, through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we've come so far. But we still have far to go. We'll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities, much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.

Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now. A once-in-a-century virus that silently stalks the country. It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice, some 400 years in the making, moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.

The cry for survival comes from the planet itself, 3a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear. And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 22, 2021 at 6:54pm

Director of Amazon #India Drama "Tandav" Cuts Scenes Amid Outcry From #Hindu Nationalists.The creators of “Tandav” have been caught up in sweeping political/ social changes in India driven by a Hindu nationalist movement led by #Indian PM #Modi. #Tandav https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/22/business/india-amazon-tandav.htm...

The director of a big-budget Amazon web series has bowed to pressure from Hindu nationalists and cut several scenes that they had deemed offensive, demonstrating the sway of a powerful political movement that strives to reshape Indian society.

Ali Abbas Zafar, the director of “Tandav,” a gritty political drama, made the edits amid an intensifying outcry about the show and calls for a boycott.

Hindu nationalists, including members of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., have accused Mr. Zafar of insulting Hindu deities and stirring up animosity between Hindus and Muslims and between upper castes and lower castes.

Mr. Zafar said on Twitter on Tuesday that the show’s cast and crew had decided to “implement changes to address the concerns raised,” and since then, several scenes have been excised. But on Friday, some critics continued to drum up opposition, calling for Mr. Zafar to be put in jail.

The creators of “Tandav” have been caught up in the sweeping political and social changes in India driven by a Hindu nationalist movement. Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has shouldered aside significant opposition, the movement champions India as a Hindu nation that pushes other groups, including its significant Muslim minority, to the margins.

The pressure has extended into culture. In recent years, Hindu nationalists have heavily criticized Bollywood, the central Indian filmmaking industry, for depictions that run counter to their beliefs.


Among the cuts made to “Tandav” was a scene in which a university student is seen playing a cursing Lord Shiva, a Hindu god, on a stage. In another scene that was taken out, a fictionalized prime minister speaks derisively to a member of a lower caste.

But on Friday, Ram Kadam, a B.J.P. state lawmaker who had filed a criminal complaint against the show’s creators, said the edits were not enough.

“This is a fight against the type of people who hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus,” he said. “They must go behind bars.”

At least three criminal complaints have been filed, including one that accuses the show of promoting hatred between different religions, a serious crime in India. Already investigators in Uttar Pradesh State, run by one of Mr. Modi’s closest allies, have summoned Mr. Zafar to speak to them.

But the true reason for the complaints against “Tandav” may be that the show holds up a mirror uncomfortably close to Indian society and some of the problems blamed on Mr. Modi’s administration. In the opening episode, the show features protesting students and disgruntled farmers, echoing events that have taken place in recent months. (Mr. Zafar has said the show is a work of fiction.)

"Tandav” is just one of many recent productions that have provoked the ire of Hindu nationalists. A journalist filed a criminal complaint this week against the makers of “Mirzapur,” another Amazon web series and the name of a midsize town in northern India. The journalist said the series hurt religious and regional sentiments and defamed the town.

In recent months, similar pressure has been exerted on Netflix. Several of the platform’s productions have come under attack, including a show that featured a Hindu woman kissing a Muslim man, with a Hindu temple in the backdrop, which Hindus denounced as offensive to their beliefs. Hindu nationalists have tried to shut down interfaith marriages, and recent laws in several of India’s states have targeted interfaith couples.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 29, 2021 at 12:24pm

Republican Ties to Extremist Groups Are Under Scrutiny
A number of members of Congress have links to organizations and movements that played a role in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/29/us/republicans-trump-capitol-rio...

The video’s title was posed as a question, but it left little doubt about where the men who filmed it stood. They called it “The Coming Civil War?” and in its opening seconds, Jim Arroyo, who leads an Arizona chapter of Oath Keepers, a right-wing militia, declared that the conflict had already begun.

To back up his claim, Mr. Arroyo cited Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, one of the most far-right members of Congress. Mr. Gosar had paid a visit to the local Oath Keepers chapter a few years earlier, Mr. Arroyo recounted, and when asked if the United States was headed for a civil war, the congressman’s “response to the group was just flat out: ‘We’re in it. We just haven’t started shooting at each other yet.’”

Less than two months after the video was posted, members of the Oath Keepers were among those with links to extremist groups from around the country who took part in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, prompting new scrutiny of the links between members of Congress and an array of organizations and movements that espouse far-right beliefs.

Nearly 150 House Republicans supported President Donald J. Trump’s baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him. But Mr. Gosar and a handful of other Republican members of the House had deeper ties to extremist groups who pushed violent ideas and conspiracy theories and whose members were prominent among those who stormed the halls of Congress in an effort to stop certification of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

Their ranks include Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, who like Mr. Gosar was linked to the “Stop the Steal” campaign backing Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election’s outcome.

Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado has close connections to militia groups including the so-called Three Percenters, an extremist offshoot of the gun rights movement that had at least one member who entered the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory, whose adherents were among the most visible of those who stormed the building, and she appeared at a rally with militia groups.

Before being elected to Congress last year, Ms. Greene used social media in 2019 to endorse executing top Democrats and has suggested that the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., was a staged “false flag” attack. The liberal group Media Matters for America reported on Thursday that Ms. Greene also speculated on Facebook in 2018 that California wildfires might have been started by lasers from space, promoting a theory pushed by followers of QAnon.

Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida appeared last year at an event also attended by members of the Proud Boys, another extremist organization whose role in the Jan. 6 assault, like those of the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, is being investigated by the F.B.I.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 1, 2021 at 6:03pm

Sen McConnell on #GOP Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene:Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality. #Trump https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/01/us/politics/mitch-mcconnell-marj...
Senator Mitch McConnell said on Monday that the “loony lies and conspiracy theories” embraced by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene amounted to a “cancer” on the Republican Party, issuing what in effect was a scathing rebuke to the freshman House Republican from Georgia.

In a statement reported by The Hill, Mr. McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, never named Ms. Greene, but he referred to several of the outlandish and false conspiracy theories she has espoused and warned that such statements were damaging the party.

“Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality,” Mr. McConnell said. “This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”

House Republican leaders in the past week have been mostly silent as pressure mounted to respond to the cascade of Ms. Greene’s problematic social media posts and videos that have surfaced in the past week, in which she endorsed a seemingly endless array of conspiracy theories and violent behavior, including executing Democratic leaders. At the same time, they are weighing calls within their ranks by loyalists of former President Donald J. Trump to strip Representative Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican, of her leadership post as punishment for her vote to impeach Mr. Trump.

In a separate statement reported by CNN, Mr. McConnell weighed in on behalf of Ms. Cheney, who represents Wyoming’s sole congressional district, calling her “a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them.”

Mr. McConnell, who is said to believe that Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses, has made it clear he is open to voting to convict the former president for “incitement of insurrection,” although he voted with the vast majority of Republicans last week to dismiss the case as unconstitutional.

The twin statements by Mr. McConnell amounted to a rare step by the most powerful Republican in Washington to insert himself into an increasingly ugly intraparty feud.

They have intensified pressure on Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, who is to meet with Ms. Greene later this week amid calls from outside Republican groups and some members of his own party to revoke the Georgia freshman’s committee assignments. This leaves Mr. McCarthy on an uncomfortable middle ground after Ms. Greene over the weekend said she spoke with Mr. Trump and received his support, essentially framing any action Republican leaders might take against her as defying him by proxy.

Ms. Greene offered her own retort in response to Mr. McConnell on Twitter, saying “the real cancer” on the party was “weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 4, 2021 at 5:07pm

After days of public silence and private agonizing over what to do about Ms. Greene — who has endorsed the executions of top Democrats, suggested that school shootings were staged and said that a space laser controlled by Jewish financiers started a wildfire — the minority leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, issued a tortured statement that harshly denounced her past statements but then argued that she should face no consequences for them.

“Past comments from and endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene on school shootings, political violence, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference,” Mr. McCarthy said.

The contortions over what to do about Ms. Greene came days after Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the most powerful Republican in Washington, denounced her as a threat to his party and as more senators followed his lead.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/03/us/politics/kevin-mccarthy-marjo...

-----------------------

Recently, Greene met with a far-right British commentator, Katie Hopkins, who has described migrants as “cockroaches” and said she doesn’t care if they die. Greene told her, “I would love to trade you for some of our white people here that have no appreciation for our country.” She described the results of the 2018 midterms as “an Islamic invasion of our government.” Greene endorsed calls for the execution of prominent Democrats and agreed with Facebook posts claiming that the Parkland and Sandy Hook school shootings were hoaxes. She harassed one of the Parkland massacre’s young survivors.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/01/opinion/marjorie-taylor-greene-g...

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 12, 2021 at 10:06pm

#Pakistani government cracking down on international #NGOs. #Pakistan has recently upgraded its laws to ensure that the movement of funds follows legal channels and the money is used for the right purposes. https://p.dw.com/p/3pE3H?maca=en-Twitter-sharing

Rights groups and campaigners say the crackdown on civil society organizations and the government's attempts to silence rights activists are part of the authorities' broader plan to silence dissent.

"The way Khan's government banned several international NGOs and took measures to create problems for local NGOs is alarming. We have never experienced this situation before. The government also wants to control the media," Mohammad Tahseen, executive director of the South Asia Partnership Pakistan organization, told DW.

The government denies the suppression claims and argues that it is necessary to monitor NGOs' funding.

"Pakistan has recently upgraded its laws to ensure that the movement of funds follows legal channels and the money is used for the right purposes," Zafar Yab Khan, a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, told DW.

"Pakistan greatly values the work done by local and international NGOs and will always facilitate them. At the same time, it will be cognizant of its international obligations that require proper checks and balances for these organizations," he added.

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, says that there have long been conspiracy theories in Pakistan that International NGOs are "essentially a front for intelligence operations."

"In a country where foreign intelligence agencies, especially the CIA, have long made a mark, it's an easy narrative to sell. Many in Pakistan believe that Save the Children was involved in the CIA-sponsored fake vaccination campaign that helped track down Osama Bin Laden. Longstanding suspicion about foreign NGOs was heightened after the Bin Laden raid, and it has remained strong today," Kugelman told DW.

Rights activist Tahseen believes it is easier for the government to target NGOs than to work for the welfare of the citizens.

"There is no evidence that NGOs are working against the country. NGOs are actually performing a very important role to enhance human development, fundamental rights and social justice in Pakistan," he underlined.

Political analyst Qamar Cheema says there is a lack of trust between state authorities and civil society groups. "The state fears that these organizations might create national disorder. It hopes to manage the situation," he told DW.

Conservative groups, which have a big influence on the state apparatus, also allege that NGOs promote liberal values that go against the teachings of Islam.

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