39 minutes ago by
Talks to renegotiate the terms of the NAFTA agreement began on a grim note. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke not only of the trade agreement’s benefits, but also of its shortcomings, saying that “for countless Americans, this agreement has failed,” a reference to the hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs that have left the U.S. since the initial agreement was signed more than twenty years ago. For workers, his words may have been encouraging. For U.S. agriculture, however, decisions made at the NAFTA talks have the potential to radically change an industry accounting for more than $130 billion in exports. “American agriculture is virtually always a winner when trade agreements remove barriers to U.S. crops and livestock exports,” says Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, the largest farmers organization in the nation. On Wednesday, agriculture organizations representing the U.S., Mexico, and Canada sent letters to government officials in each of the three countries urging them to modernize, rather than dismantle, the trade agreement. The joint letter expressed an “eagerness” to work to improve agricultural trade in North America by expanding on the gains already achieved under the existing NAFTA agreement. “Agriculture in each NAFTA country would suffer greatly from disruptions to the trading relationships that have developed over the last 23 years,” the letter read. “With the productivity of agriculture growing faster than domestic demand, Canadian, Mexican and U.S. farmers and ranchers rely on export markets to sustain prices and revenues.” Foreign export markets are essential for American farmers. According to the USDA, exports account for more than 20 percent of the volume of U.S. agricultural production. Agriculture is considered a reliable trade surplus sector and exports for the 2016 fiscal year totaled slightly less than $130 billion. Canada is the leading export destination for agricultural products. More than $20 billion, or 15.7 percent of American agricultural exports cross the northern border. Mexico is the third-largest trading partner, with more trade in the sector than the entire European Union. Agriculture is increasingly an interconnected industry. Leaders of trade groups in all three countries are stressing the need to renew the agreement to both align sanitary measures between the countries and to make cross-border trade easier. “NAFTA has boosted the incomes of millions of farmers and has facilitated the development of profitable export markets,” said Ron Bonnett, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. NAFTA is even more important to protect since Trump announced that the U.S. was pulling out of the Trans Pacific Partnership earlier this year. That decision stung the agriculture industry, which now faces punishing tariffs for many export markets. However, the goal of free and fair trade is not universally shared. Certain sectors of American agriculture, including milk and sugar, are protected by tariffs. Others, such as various types of produce, have struggled to compete with foreign competition. Winter fruit and vegetable growers in Florida have cut the acres they plant in tomatoes by 25 percent since NAFTA was first signed, while growers in Mexico have increased production by 230 percent. On the other side of the country, grain producers in North Dakota argue that Canadian laws regarding weed contamination in grain make it all but impossible for them to sell to elevators in Saskatchewan. Maintaining cross border trade in both crops and animal products that is free of pathogens is a particular concern for the agriculture industry and will likely be a major topic of discussion this week. This issue effects both livestock and grain sellers. In 2003, a cow brought from Canada into the U.S. later tested positive for mad cow disease and several countries including Mexico and Japan temporarily closed their borders to American beef. As a result, the agricultural industry is not entirely united behind NAFTA. Many think that the agreement lowered prices, leading to the decline of the family farm and the rise of corporate agriculture. “NAFTA established a set of trade parameters that have benefited corporate America at the expense of rural American communities and economies,” said National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson. “For decades, farming and rural communities across the country have suffered lost jobs, lowered wages, and fleeting economic liberty as a result of our nation’s free trade agenda,” said Johnson, who urged the administration to preserve domestic authority over agriculture policy and to support policies that kept prices higher and kept smaller farmers more sustainable. Although American agriculture trade has expanded since NAFTA was first signed, the number of farms in the U.S. has steadily declined. Critics of the policy point out that 20 percent of farms are currently operating 70 percent of U.S. farmland and that between 2013 and 2016, 42,000 farms ceased operations. How much of this can be credited to NAFTA no one can really say, but increased foreign competition makes an easy scapegoat. As the talks continue, industry groups and farmers will be watching the details closely. For America’s farmers, the details of the NAFTA agreement are anything but in the weeds. source Read More: What's at stake as Nafta talks begin? Trump administration unveils goals in renegotiating NAFTA Nafta Flashpoints: Issues to Watch as the Talks Unfold

1 hour ago by
This weekend's white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia devolved into a bloody, hate-filled event that claimed the life of one counter-protester and injured several others. Politicians and activists quickly denounced white supremacy in the wake of the brutality driven by "alt-right" demonstrators. President Donald Trump, on the other hand, blamed the violence in Charlottesville on "many sides." Among those alleged "sides" is the antifa movement, made up of leftist activists fighting against authoritarian regimes. But what exactly is it? Here's everything you need to know about antifa, because conservatives are spreading false messages. When Trump first addressed the violence in Charlottesville on Saturday, he failed to call out white nationalism and neo-Nazism by name. This lack of specificity drew rightful ire from lawmakers and the public alike; by blaming "many sides," the president also accused anti-fascist counter-protesters of playing a role in a deliberate act of violence committed by a white nationalist. According to the New York Times, the harsh criticism caused Trump to clarify his remarks in a terse press conference in which he doubled down on his "many sides" position. Specifically, in a heated argument with a journalist, Trump blamed the "alt-left," a made-up term to describe the antifa movement and, more broadly, anti-Trump activists. Conservatives tend to use "alt-left" to conjure up images of a radical progressive movement that's against American ideals. But that's furthest from the truth. Antifa Activists Fight Against A Fascism Regime The mission is right there in the name: Antifa stands for antifascism. Antifa activists want to dismantle or disrupt radical authoritarian regimes that seek to oppress populations and suppress resistance through violence. Although antifa has a long political history, the American faction of the movement has seen a sharp rise in recent years, particularly in the days since Trump was elected to office. Mic has put together a succinct timeline of antifa activism that has taken place within the last few months. Antifa Traces Its Roots Back To 1930s Germany People may treat antifa as a new movement, but that's erasing the movement's history. According to Jacobin, antifa was born out of Germany's socialist labor movement. It started taking shape during the early years of Hitler's rise, but began to swell after World War II. And antifa ideology wasn't isolated to Germany: In 1947, the then-U.S. War Department rereleased the antifascist short film, Don't Be A Sucker. It's a 17-minute public service announcement warning Americans to not give into racism and prejudice, lest they want the United States to turn into Nazi Germany. A clip of the film circulated over the weekend, drawing parallels to the white nationalist-driven violence in Charlottesville and, more broadly, the rise of Trump's America. Antifa Is Not Equal To White Nationalism Or Neo-Nazism Trump's "alt-left" comment attempted to equate antifa with white nationalism and, within that, American neo-Nazism. But that's a logical fallacy that political pundits theorize is influenced by White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who has been lauded by white nationalist leader David Duke. As the Atlantic reported, antifa, unlike white nationalism or neo-Nazism, doesn't believe that one race or religion is superior above all else. Nor do antifa activists believe in a totalitarian one-party government — an important facet of conservative, white nationalist ideology. There's an argument to be made about tactics, but it's important to remember that antifa is and has always been a reaction to an oppressive, violent system that propagates and celebrates genocide and slavery. So don't let conservatives' indiscriminate use of the term fool you: Antifa is the antithesis to white nationalism and Nazism, not its equivalent. Antifa Activists Are Not "More Dangerous" Than White Nationalists Direct action has been a cornerstone of antifa ideology. That means, as antifa organizer Scott Crow told CNN, activists "go where they (right-wingers) go." That means if white nationalists are organizing a rally, as they had in Charlottesville, you could expect to see antifa members show up to counter-protest. Crow continued, And so we go to cause conflict, to shut them down where they are, because we don't believe that Nazis or fascists of any stripe should have a mouthpiece. That counter-protesting sometimes includes property damage and destruction. What antifa disruption does not include is barreling your car into a crowd of people exercising their First Amendment right. But that's exactly what white nationalist James Fields Jr. of Ohio allegedly did in Charlottesville; Fields has been charged, among other counts, with second degree murder in the death of Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal who was killed in the attack. (Romper reached out to Fields' attorney, Charles Weber, but has yet to hear back.) You also have white nationalist sympathizers  Jeremy Joseph Christian, James Harris Jackson, and Sean Urbanski, all of whom have been indicted on charges of killing people in what have been considered hate-filled attacks. Then there's the matter of basic tenets: Antifa activists believe in stopping or tearing down dictatorships and oppressive, anti-democratic systems. White nationalists and neo-Nazis, on the other hand, believe in one superior race, one superior religion that rules above all. America, if you remember, literally helped fight a war against the latter. source Read More: Drawing Equivalencies Between Fascists and Anti-Fascists Is Not Just Wrong—It’s Dangerous Antifascists Have Become the Most Reasonable People in America Anti-fascism

3 hours ago by
A white nationalist rally that turned violent in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday brought renewed attention to dozens of Confederate monuments around the country. Many government officials have called to remove statues, markers and other monuments that celebrate controversial Civil War era figures from public grounds. Email monuments@nytimes.com if you find new information about the removal of Confederate monuments. Baltimore Four monuments removed The mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh, ordered the removal of four monuments to the era of the Confederacy, saying it was in the interest of public safety after the violence in Charlottesville. The statues were taken down before dawn on Wednesday. Durham, N.C. Confederate soldier monument toppled by protesters Protesters pulled down a statue of a Confederate soldier in front of the Durham County Courthouse in Durham, N.C., on Monday. The statue, which had stood since 1924, was protected by a special law and state police have arrested four protesters since its removal. Gainesville, Fla. Monument to Confederate soldiers removed A local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy paid for the removal of a monument to Confederate soldiers that stood in front of Alachua County Administration Building in downtown Gainesville for 113 years. The monument, known locally as “Old Joe,” was moved to a private cemetery outside the city, according to The Gainesville Sun. New Orleans Four monuments removed New Orleans removed four monuments dedicated to the Confederacy and opponents of Reconstruction in April. City workers who took them down wore flak jackets, helmets and masks and were guarded by police because of concerns about their safety. Annapolis, Md. Calls for removal of Roger B. Taney statue The governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, called for a statue of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney to be removed from the statehouse grounds in Annapolis. Justice Taney was the chief author of the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which ruled that African-Americans, both enslaved and free, could not be American citizens. Charlottesville, Va. Proposal to remove monument to Gen. Robert E. Lee Violence erupted on Saturday at a far-right protest against the proposed removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general, from Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Va. Thirty-four people were injured in clashes and one person was killed when a Nazi sympathizer plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, the authorities said. The statue has not been removed. Jacksonville, Fla. Proposal to remove multiple Confederate monuments The president of Jacksonville City Council, Anna Lopez Brosche, called for all Confederate monuments to be moved from city property to a museum. The most prominent Confederate memorial in Jacksonville is a statue of a Confederate soldier that sits atop a towering pillar in Hemming Park. Lexington, Ky. Two Confederate monuments slated for removal On Tuesday, the City Council in Lexington, Ky., unanimously approved a proposal to remove two Confederate statues from the city’s historic courthouse. The mayor, Jim Gray, has 30 days to propose a new location for the statues, whose removal must be approved by the Kentucky Military Heritage Commission. Washington, D.C. Proposal to remove Confederate statues from U.S. Capitol building, park Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey tweeted late Wednesday that he plans on introducing a bill to remove Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol building. There are at least 12 Confederate statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection of the Capitol building. D.C. officials have called on the National Park Service to remove a statute of Albert Pike, a Confederate general, from a park.   More locations Austin, Tex. » Statue of Jefferson Davis moved in August 2015 from pedestal in outdoor campus grounds to American history center on campus Brooklyn » Two plaques honoring Robert E. Lee removed Los Angeles » Marker for Confederate veterans removed Louisville, Ky. » Statue of Confederate soldier removed in Nov. 2016 Montreal (Canada) » Plaque honoring Jefferson Davis removed Orlando » Statue of Confederate soldier moved from a public park to a cemetery in June San Diego » Plaque honoring Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, removed St. Louis » Confederate Memorial removed from public park in June St. Petersburg, Fla. » Plaque honoring Stonewall Jackson removed Dallas » Multiple monuments under consideration for removal Helena, Mt. » Proposal to remove a Confederate memorial from a city park Memphis » Statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest considered for removal Nashville » Protests over Nathan Bedford Forrest bust in the state Capitol Pensacola, Fla. » Calls to remove Confederate statue from a city square San Antonio » Proposal to remove monument to Confederate soldiers Stone Mountain, Ga. » Calls to remove faces of three Confederate generals in stone carving Tampa, Fla. » Confederate statue outside county courthouse considered for removal The Bronx » Plans to remove busts of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson source      

Yesterday, 8:49 am by
People across the USA have reacted to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., this week with rallies and protests, many of them standing up against hate speech.  Whether it’s the women’s rights, Black Lives Matter, health care or views for and against President Trump, protesters and counter-protesters across the country are gearing up in the coming months to voice their stances. Here’s a list of protests happening across the country in the coming weeks. Protests against hate speech From Colorado Springs to Daytona Beach, protesters will join rank with thousands of others who have already participated in marches against racism. The demonstrations aim to take a stand against hate and show solidarity with protesters who participated in a deadly counter-protest of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Aug. 20. Solidarity with Charlottesville: Not in our town Daytona Beach, Florida: Aug. 18. United Against Hate - Say no to racism Manchester, Iowa: Aug. 17. Candlelight rally to protest violence and racism Boston, Massachusetts: Aug. 19. Stand for solidarity Burton, Michigan: Aug. 18. Rise against racism rally in solidarity with Charlottesville New York, New York: Aug. 18. Anti-racism protest Millersburg, Ohio: Aug. 27. Anti-racism and anti-nazi rally Asbury Park, New Jersey: Aug. 20. Stand against hate-- a rally for the victims of Charlottesville Boston, Massachusetts: Aug. 19. Fight Supremacy! Boston counter-protest and resistance rally Protests against Trump A Salt Lake City, Utah, protest will call for Trump to cease threatening the North Korean leadership and possibly provoking a nuclear strike on Guam. “The unstable president of the United States Donald Trump has called for using nuclear weapons against North Korea — a small, poor nation of just a few million people, but a nation that is nevertheless politically important,” the event page reads. The protest will start at the Wallace Bennett Federal Building on Aug. 19 and is hosted by the Utah Anti-War Committee. Anti-Trump protests are nothing new. Since Election Day, demonstrations against the new commander in chief are common, molding to whatever new controversy pops up. Upcoming Trump protests include outrage over Trump’s rhetoric on the nuclear threat in North Korea, Russian interference in the 2016 election and just general discomfort with the president calling their state home.   Washington D.C.: Sept. 16. Protect American Democracy from Russian interference Jersey City, New Jersey: Aug. 19. Get Outta Jersey: Trump eviction notice rally Buffalo, New York: Sept. 5. Rally against the Trump-WalMart Agenda Olympia, Washington: Aug. 28. Feet to the fire rally a.k.a the remove Trump now rally Washington D.C.: Sept. 16. Protest Russian Interference Free speech rallies Two right-wing Free Speech rallies — and counter protests — are planned in the upcoming months. In a sequel to the Boston Free Speech rally, a second event will kick off Aug. 19 in Boston Common. In San Francisco, Patriot Prayer, which is often labeled as a white supremacist group, will gather on the beach on Aug. 26.   Rallies to support Trump In what’s promising to be the “Mother of all Rallies,” a D.C. movement will gather in the National Mall on Sept. 16 to show support for Trump. The rally is calling for one million participants to gather and send a “shock-wave message” to the world. “This is about America First. This is about protecting and supporting President Donald Trump, protecting our Constitution, and protecting our flag and all that it stands for,” the event page reads. While Trump’s approval rating has been slipping, his base continues to stand behind him. Topeka, Kansas: Aug. 19. Standing with Trump Rally Collegedale, Tennessee: Sept. 9. ACT for America: America First Trump Rally March for women's rights  To mark the anniversary of the historic amendment that granted women the right to vote, the Indivisible March hopes to promote Women’s Equality Day on Aug. 26. Groups across the country are expected to participate, including rallies in Georgia, California, Indiana, Nevada, Utah, Minnesota and more. Police reform, health care, and equality Here’s a list of other notable protests: Lincoln, Nebraska: Aug. 18. March for intelligent healthcare Olympia, Washington: Aug. 19. Single payer rally Los Angeles, California: Aug. 26. Nevertheless, we persist rally and activist festival Los Angeles, California: Sept. 23. Better together march and rally Washington D.C.: Oct. 1. Lawyers march on Washington Davenport, Iowa: Aug. 16. No hate — rally against the National Alliance New York, New York: Aug. 24. Rally for the right to know Albuquerque, New Mexico: Aug. 18. Millions for prisoners Springfield, Missouri: Aug. 26. Protest for women’s equality source

August 15, 2017 by
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph J. Lhota’s decision to skip the City Council’s MTA oversight hearing Aug. 8 was disrespectful and a missed opportunity for him to make his case for more city aid directly to the body that controls the pursestrings, according to Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. The lead MTA witness at the Council hearing was Managing Director Ronnie Hakim. It was a standing-room-only affair with a significant news-media presence. Amid Bickering Over Who Pays For Subway Fixes, Speaker Chides Lhota ‘Not Giving Us Our Due’ “You saw how many Council Members reacted to him not being here,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said in response to a question from this newspaper at a press conference the next day. “It is not giving deference or recognition to the role we play as a body in negotiating the budget for the City of New York.” She continued, “There is a request here for an additional contribution. We take our job seriously in terms of asking questions, analyzing and studying in terms of the plan.” Last month Mr. Lhota rolled out an $836-million short-term plan aimed at confronting the increasing unreliability of MTA subway service. The MTA Chairman is pushing for the city to split the cost, which includes the hiring of an additional 2,700 people to improve signal, track and subway-car maintenance, with the state. JOSEPH J. LHOTA: Call his no-show a low blow.   The MTA insisted Mr. Lhota meant no disrespect. “As Managing Director of the MTA, and the most recent President of New York City Transit, Ronnie Hakim has an intricate understanding of the subways, works closely with Chairman Lhota, runs MTA operations day-to-day, and responded substantially to questions about improving the New York City Subway System, which was the topic of the hearing,” it said in a statement. “The MTA is committed to being responsive and transparent with the public, and that’s exactly what happened at today’s hearing—no disrespect was intended whatsoever.” ‘Heard Loud and Clear’ Ms. Hakim told the Council that MTA brass had “heard loud and clear” from customers that its efforts so far to improve the agency’s performance were “inadequate.” “We’ve established a new need and that new need is to respond to what we consider this emergency situation we find ourselves in,” Ms. Hakim said. During the three-hour hearing, members zeroed in on past “state raids” on MTA revenue, as well as the authority’s poor track record for fiscal management. The agency has been plagued by significant project cost overruns and massive borrowing. In 2015, a report from the Straphangers’ Campaign found that the agency had over $34 billion in debt, more than that of several nations. The cost of servicing that debt cost the agency in excess of $2.2 billion annually, 17 percent of the agency’s operating budget. Mayor de Blasio first raised the issue of what he calculates as a $456-million state raid on MTA revenue since 2011 in response to Mr. Lhota’s request that the city split the cost of his $836-million reset proposal. He argued that merely returning that money to MTA coffers would cover the city’s portion of the request. Council Member Vanessa Gibson, a former member of the State Assembly, pressed the MTA panel for an accounting of that money. MTA Budget Director Doug Johnson explained that the money had not been siphoned off, but rather shifted to the MTA’s capital plan. Taking the Long View RONNIE HAKIM: Responding to ‘emergency'   But Ms. Mark-Viverito and her Council colleagues were focused on looking ahead and finding a long-term solution to mass transit’s needs that did not rely on ever-escalating fares and borrowing. She wanted the MTA panel to explain why the Second Avenue Subway cost $2.3 billion per mile to construct when “the cost of building subway tunnels in other cities is between $200 million and $1 billion per mile.” The MTA panel responded that New York City’s building environment was uniquely complex and could not be equated with smaller communities. The de Blasio administration was represented at the hearing by Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Dean Fuleihan, the Budget Director. Both expressed concerns that the state and the MTA still had not identified a long-term funding mechanism for the agency including a recurring revenue stream for the annual $300 million needed to cover the 2,700 new positions Mr. Lhota’s emergency plan creates. It was that inability of the MTA panel to provide such answers that most concerned Council Members. “So I believe everyone should have a seat at the table,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the Transportation Committee. “We should put together a plan so everyone can contribute, so we can raise $27 billion in the next 10 years so that the MTA can have all the resources they need, but at the same time the MTA can come back to us and explain to us what plan they have to better control their costs and how their leadership can raise their own revenue.” Delays Having Impact In preparation for the hearing, Mr. Rodriguez and Bronx Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz went on a two-day listening tour to survey subway riders citywide about their complaints.         YDANIS RODRIGUEZ: Get everyone a seat. Among 2,000 they spoke to, three-quarters complained they had been late for work, school or medical appointments due to subway delays. In addition to chronic delays, the most common complaints they heard were that stations were overcrowded and dirty. The lack of reliable access for the disabled was also frequently flagged. “We have elevators that frequently don’t work,” Dr. Lee Goldman, dean of New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, told reporters at the 168th St. station, the New York Times reported. “Every day, hundreds of people come here for medical care…people with disabilities, mothers with babies—this subway station is an embarrassment.” Earlier this month, the Mayor, in full re-election mode, suggested as part of an ongoing mass-transit funding strategy imposing a half-point income-tax hike on the city’s wealthiest 32,000 earners that he estimated would raise between $700 and $800 mil­lion annually. Specifically, the plan targets married couples with annual incomes in excess of $1 million and individuals who make more than $500,000. “Rather than sending the bill to working families and subway and bus riders already feeling the pressure of rising fares and bad service, we are asking the wealthiest in our city to chip in a little extra to help move our transit system into the 21st century,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. His proposal prompted the release of another installment of attack ads from Transport Workers Union Local 100, which has aligned itself with Governor Cuomo and Mr. Lhota’s call for the city to fund half of the short-term fix plan. The union campaign accused the Mayor of playing politics and “sitting on a $4-billion surplus while (subway) riders suffer.” The Mayor maintains the surplus is an essential hedge against President Trump’s budget proposal and fellow Republicans’ control of Congress. source

August 13, 2017 by
The same techniques and some of the same players blamed for Brexit and Trump are now doing their thing in Africa, where fair elections have been the exception rather than the rule. Kenya’s election has come off without major disturbances, and on Friday evening Nairobi time, the nation’s Independent Electoral Board and Boundaries Commission declared a winner in the country’s presidential race. Uhuru Kenyatta, the incumbent, secured 54.2 percent of the vote. All the same, a number of election-cycle oddities go unexplained—including the novel involvement of foreign big-data and PR consultancies who’ve played significant roles in electoral upsets in both the U.S. and U.K. Tuesday, election day, the seafront here in Lamu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was deserted. Shops and schools were closed. In the town square a long line of men–including red-cloaked Maasai–stood chatting quietly. Women waited in a separate queue, noticeably shorter than the men’s. Countrywide, more than 15 million voters, or 78 percent of Kenyans registered, cast their ballots for the presidency, governors, members of parliament, senators, members of county assemblies, and county women representatives. While all seemed calm in the campaign’s closing days, tensions had run high. Two previous elections were blighted by violence amid accusations that they had been rigged; in 2007, a disputed vote pushed Kenya into a bloodbath that left at least 1,200 people dead and 300,000 displaced. Memories of cars burning in the streets are never far from Kenyans’ minds. Analysts were also worried about the Islamist group Al Shabaab, which had threatened to disrupt the elections. The government deployed more than 150,000 security personnel, including wildlife rangers, to protect 41,000 polling stations. This year’s election was a continuation of the long-running feud between the Kenyatta and Odinga families. Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s first president following British colonial rule, was seeking to retain his position. His opponent, Raila Odinga, also the son of a leader of the independence struggle and former prime minister, had run for president three times and lost. As Odinga is 72, this year's election likely marked his final bid for Kenya’s presidency. In this race President Kenyatta ran his pro-business campaign on a record of pushing forward major infrastructure projects, such as the Standard Gauge railway, rural electrification, a massive Indian Ocean port and logistics hub—these and other global-scale development projects in East Africa largely funded by Chinese interests. Odinga casts himself as defender of the poor and oppressed, and is an abrasive critic of fraud and corruption. The day after the elections, all seemed okay. Aside from isolated incidents of shootings by police—two protestors in poor neighborhoods of the capital and of Kisumu, in Western Kenya—there were no reports of major violence. On day two following the vote Kenyatta was reported holding a comfortable lead with above 54 percent of the vote, Odinga trailing, with about 45 percent. These figures were provided by the Independent Electoral Board and Boundaries Commission. Then Odinga contested the outcome, calling it “a complete fraud” and “fake results” that resulted from hacking that commandeered the entire electoral network and manipulated the results. Shortly before today’s announcement of the results, the opposition doubled down on its objections. Odinga’s campaign announced that it “will not be party” to the outcome—and campaign officials refused to sign off on the election papers. While the election’s outcome seems to most clear-cut, more mysterious is what was going on in this campaign for the country’s presidency before the vote and behind the scenes—including psy-ops and big-data manipulations reminiscent of resent elections in the West: Weeks before the vote, a Twitter account with the handle @TheRealRaila tweeted “Liar Raila [Odinga] represents corruption, violence, and tribalism while Uhuru stands for unity, peace, and progression.” A month ago @TheRealRaila posted a video called “Raila 20/20,” a look into a post-apocalyptic Kenya three years into an Odinga presidency. The video’s images were cartoonish and grim: martial law, collapsed infrastructure, aid organizations forced to leave, no clean water, women giving birth in the streets, Al-Shabaab attacks all over the country. Next, a man armed with a machete broke into the country estate of the vice president, William Ruto, wounding a guard. The siege ended after 18 hours, although the intentions and fate of the intruder remain unclear. Then there was the curious case of the document leaked from Kenya Defense Forces. On July 28, opposition candidate Odinga revealed a set of plans, apparently leaked by sources within the KDF, and asserted that these documents revealed a plot by the military–”Operation Dumisha Utulivu”–to subvert the electoral process. The documents were verified by a KDF spokesperson as authentic, then, weirdly, Kenyatta’s staff backtracked, saying they were “quoted out of context.” The leaked papers, provided to The Daily Beast by a former KDF officer, show secret meetings between President Kenyatta and KDF regarding possible operations targeting Nairobi hotspots such as slums. The plan includes liaising with “RF”–regime-friendly–employees of Kenya’s largest power company and its largest communications provider, Safaricom, to arrange power shut-offs and severing of mobile communications. The documents also list tools and weapons used in election-related operations: 120 tear gas canisters, close signal frequency jammers, power-line termination tools, stun guns and chainsaws. A former senior U.S. Defense official long based in Kenya told The Daily Beast, “This looks like normal [crowd control] operational planning. I don’t see anything here that supports a ‘subvert’ hypothesis.” In actions to curb civil unrest, he said, chainsaws are standard equipment, at times used to clear trees felled for roadblocks, but on an inventory they can look very sinister. The same day that Odinga made his allegations, a top election official in charge of voting technology disappeared. The body of Christopher Chege Msando,was found a day later, disposed of in a forest outside the capital. It showed clear evidence of torture, including the severing of the victim’s hands. As the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission’s acting Information and Communications Advisor, Msando had key knowledge of passwords and information components to be used for recording and transmitting results of the election. The word on the street today, and one must take it for what it is worth, is that Msando’s digital “passwords” were in fact biometric—his fingerprints would gain access to the electoral data. In his statement disputing the election’s outcome as a fraud, Odinga specifically cited hackers drawing on information and data access extracted from Msando before his murder. Then, just four days before the election, an American consultant monitoring vote fraud for the opposition was deported. John Aristotle Phillips, CEO of Washington-based political technology firm Aristotle International Inc., and an advisor to the Odinga campaign, said that on Monday unidentified and armed Kenyans broke into his apartment, handcuffed him, and threw him in the back of a sedan. He said he was driven around for hours in the murky streets of Nairobi, and compelled to watch videos depicting scenes with torture. His colleague Andreas Katsouris was also abducted and put in a separate car. Both were driven to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, and told that they were being deported because they lacked the correct visas. Phillips later told the Wall Street Journal that when his captors began asking him what he knew about hacking he feared a fate similar to Msando’s. While this rash of bizarre occurrences did fuel speculation, rumor, online conspiracy theories and "fake news" items that were consumed voraciously by Kenya's tech-savvy population, it’s hard to say how much influence, if any, these late-campaign events had on the vote. No doubt trying to influence the vote was the incumbent government’s strategy advisor, the “big data” firm Cambridge Analytica (CA) owned by American billionaire Robert Mercer. CA is the outfit that is supposed to have helped engineer last year’s big electoral shocks, the Brexit vote in the U.K. and the Trump victory in the United States. In his 2013 campaign Kenyatta hired Cambridge Analytica to correlate online data via 47,000 on-the-ground surveys in order to compose a profile of the Kenyan electorate. Armed with those data Kenyatta’s campaign devised a strategy for this year, based on voters’ top concerns—jobs and tribal violence. CA also is reported in the Kenyan press to have been working closely with a team from the British-based PR firm BTP Advisers to help re-elect Kenyatta. BTP’s appointment in 2013 to help the current government retain office followed closely on an indictment of Kenyatta by the International Criminal Court, for the post-election violence in 2007. The foreign companies’ participation in Kenya’s election this year has incited all manner of new speculation. Mark Pursey, CEO of BTP, told The Daily Beast that reports of his company shaping Kenyatta’s 2017 re-election campaign are “fake.” “We declined. The 2013 campaign was fraught with tension due to the President’s case with the International Criminal Court,” said Pursey, referring to the charges brought against Kenyatta. Pursey takes credit for that case being withdrawn. “It was entirely built on sand; there was little evidence to begin with.” He said he could not be credited for the “Raila 20/20” video, which he described as “stupid” and “pathetic”: “An election campaign is a marketing campaign. If you are going to deconstruct the opposition you have to make it credible.” The video’s content echoes slogans heard and seen in the anti-Clinton campaigns of 2016. In any case, the Twitter feed carrying “Raila 20/20” drew scant traffic— a little over 400 followers, and nearly nothing in the way of likes or retweets. Maybe this is a promising sign that voters in Kenya have already gotten savvy about such misleading online content and election chicanery. Kenyans, with ample historical motivation to be cynical about politics,may be more on their guard about such stuff than Americans and Brits. Mohamed Bwana, like most of his neighbors here on the Swahili coast is Muslim, and voted for Kenyatta because the president had kept his promise to put money in the county bursary for scholarships, without which Bwana could never afford to put his kids through school. At least one voter was clear-thinking, spin-immune, non-tribal, and cynicism free. source Read More: Kenya election: 24 people killed since vote Kenya opposition leader vows to 'remove' Kenyatta government Kenya deports US expert who was supporting opposition candidate days before election John Kerry says Kenya's vote system appears "strong" amid fraud claims

August 13, 2017 by
Following the violence that unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia at a series of white supremacist rallies on Friday evening and Saturday morning, President Donald Trump hosted a press conference from Bedminster, New Jersey. However, his statement sent a clear message not with strong rhetoric, but rather by omission. Throughout the evening and morning of rallies and counter-protests, violence between the white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and members of the alt-right and folks who gathered to drown out the hateful speech. On Saturday, a car drove into a group of the anti-racist contingent, resulting in one fatality. Two more people—both Virginia State troopers—were killed in a helicopter crash southwest of the city while aiding law enforcement efforts. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. As of Sunday morning, at least 34 people were reported injured: 19 from the terrorist attack, and 15 others in "incidents associated with the scheduled rally," according to CNN. However, when the president stepped up to the mic on Saturday afternoon, he didn't characterize the violence in Virginia as domestic terrorism, nor did he place blame on the white nationalists spewing hate speech at the rallies. Instead, he said: "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides." Trump repeated that last part for emphasis. "It's been going on for a long time in our country, he continued. "Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time." But those two words—"many sides"—stuck; and with them, President Trump ignited an even stronger reaction than he did with his radio silence in the hours immediately after the rallies in Charlottesville turned violent. After the Bedminster press conference, people took to social media to share their confusion and disbelief at this characterization, and the president's failure to explicitly call out the white supremacists, alt-right, and neo-Nazis.       By taking the care to reiterate that "many sides" were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, president Trump put the white supremacists and anti-racists on the same level of culpability. When asked for clarification, a White House official confirmed to CNN that, no, we hadn't misheard POTUS: Trump was "condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides," the spokesperson said. "There was violence between protesters and counterprotesters today." Terrorism and white supremacy are not partisan matters—or, at the very least, they shouldn't be treated as such. And members of both political parties recognized that an ideology rooted in evil and hatred has no place in society.     Others accused Trump of being a white nationalist himself—hence his hesitation to call out who instigated the violence in Charlottesville by name.                             Others were more direct about what Trump's statement implicitly communicated: by emphasizing "many sides," Trump was victim-blaming—or taking the side of the nationalists.                                                                                             Trump later pivoted, releasing a follow-up statement that was confusingly self-congratulatory (and filled with hyperbole): "Our country is doing very well in so many ways. We have record—just absolute record employment. We have unemployment, the lowest it's been in almost 17 years. We have companies pouring into our country. Foxconn and car companies, and so many others, they're coming back to our country. We're renegotiating trade deals to make them great for our country and great for the American worker. We have so many incredible things happening in our country. So when I watch Charlottesville, to me it's very, very sad." Governor McAuliffe, meanwhile, took a vastly different approach when addressing folks Saturday evening; he delivered a speech that explicitly blasted the supremacists and neo-Nazis inviting violence in his state."You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot," McAuliffe said, before adding: "We are stronger than you," he said. "You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here." Former President Barack Obama also had something to add to the conversation: He reminded us of a quote from Nelson Mandela.                                                     source Read Moire: Unite the Right, the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, explained Driver in custody after car rams into crowd following Virginia white nationalist rally White Nationalist Rally Picked Charlottesville For a Reason, Virginia Town Has Long History KKK Activity And Racism Torch-wielding white nationalists march at U.Va. The Largest Fascist Rally in Recent Memory Is Expected This Week -- Can the Left Unite Against It?

August 12, 2017 by
Hundreds of protesters descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday for a “Unite the Right” rally: a belated coming-out party for an emboldened white nationalist movement in the United States. The rally was dispersed by police minutes after its scheduled start at noon, after clashes between rallygoers and counter-protesters, and after a torchlit pre-rally march Friday night descended into violence. But activity is ongoing, with some rallygoers engaging in a march instead. It was perhaps a predictable culmination to the event — which has been a prime example of the difficulty of disentangling defenses of “free speech” from efforts to prevent violence, and the fine line between the self-described alt-right movement and more widely recognized forms of white nationalism. Self-described “pro-white” activist Jason Kessler organized the rally to protest the planned removal of a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville. Kessler is affiliated with the alt-right movement that uses internet trolling tactics to argue against diversity and “identity politics” — part of a broader cultural backlash that helped elect Donald Trump. But the rally quickly attracted other more traditional groups of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan. The involvement of hate groups and the threat of violence led the city of Charlottesville to attempt to marginalize the rally for “hate speech,” but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) defended the demonstrators’ rights. The combination of rallygoers spoiling for a fight, and counter-protestors determined to convey that the rallygoers’ ideology was not welcome in America, allowed the violence to overshadow the speech — and eventually prevent the rally from going forward as planned. Plans to remove a Confederate statue have made Charlottesville a hot spot for right-wing activism Charlottesville, like many cities in the South, still has public spaces and monuments celebrating heroes of the Confederacy — many of which weren’t erected until the 20th century, as the civil rights movement began to pick up steam and Jim Crow laws started to come under attack. In the wake of the 2015 massacre of several worshipers at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston by a white supremacist, there’s been a renewed push to remove some of these Confederate monuments and rename streets and squares honoring the Confederacy. But where those campaigns have succeeded, there’s often been a backlash from conservatives concerned about attempts to erase history, Southerners who consider the Confederacy part of their “heritage,” and outright white nationalists. In Charlottesville, advocates targeted a statue of Robert E. Lee in a park called Lee Square — City Council members pointed out that Lee had no connection to Charlottesville, implying that commemorating him was just an indirect way to celebrate the Confederacy, while a high-school student collected 600 signatures on a Change.org petition to rename the statue. (A counter-petition collected 2,000 signatures.) In February, the city council voted to sell the statue and rename the park Emancipation Park. (The statue is still in place.) The decision made the city a target for right-wing activism and shows of strength — and for activists keen to stand up to them and demonstrate that such ideas weren’t welcome. The Ku Klux Klan held a rally in Charlottesville in July, which was dwarfed by a massive counter-protest. Meanwhile, Charlottesville resident Jason Kessler — a pro-white activist and a member of the Proud Boys, a loose collective of pro-Trump alt-rightists — put together the Unite the Right rally for Saturday, to be held at what event posters still call Lee Park. Speakers include some of the alt-right personalities who have flirted most openly with white nationalism, including Baked Alaska, an internet provocateur who was once the tour manager for fellow internet provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, as well as self-identified white nationalists like Richard Spencer. Political researcher Spencer Sunshine of the firm Political Research Associates told the Guardian’s Jason Wilson that while the rally was originally intended to attract a broad coalition of right-wing groups, it had become “increasingly Nazified” — with some primarily anti-government “patriot” groups refusing to sign on, and explicitly fascist groups like the National Socialist Movement getting on board instead. And many supporters and attendees of the rally certainly had no problem using Nazi tropes to promote it, as this “fan art” poster shows: According to the Charlottesville police affidavit put out before the rally, planned attendees included the Klan; the militia movement (a right-wing movement that gained traction in the 1990s, whose members include the activists who took over a federal nature reserve in early 2016); the “3%”, a right-wing anti-government movement; the Alt-Knights, an alt-right “fight club”; and others. The Nazification of the alt-right The arc of the Unite the Right rally — from an ostensible attempt to bring a broad coalition of conservative groups together to protest the controversial removal of a statue, to a “Nazified” rally for “the pro-white movement in America” — mirrors what’s been happening to the alt-right as a whole. The movement’s leaders have become increasingly willing to dabble in white-nationalist rhetoric and tropes, while attempting to avoid direct accusations of being themselves white nationalists. The rise of the alt-right is one face of a broader backlash against “identity politics” and “political correctness,” which have left some white Americans feeling that they’re losing ground to nonwhites — or that America is losing its identity — and that political, economic, and media elites are either uninterested in defending their heritage or actively trying to eradicate it. Among some younger, more internet-savvy people, hatred of “political correctness” has paired neatly with online troll culture, in which pushing boundaries and offending people is seen as harmless at worst and a show of cleverness at best. In 2015 and 2016, the alt-right was an inescapable online presence, with some of its members crediting the movement’s “meme magic” with the unexpected popularity of Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primary and, later, the general election. With Trump’s election, some of its leaders have become more seriously engaged in politics, via pro-Trump organizations like the Proud Boys and the Alt-Knights. Like Trump himself, alt-right leaders didn’t start out by explicitly aligning themselves with the sort of right-wing groups and movements that almost everyone in 2017 America is willing to agree are racist — like the Nazis or the Ku Klux Klan. But racist rhetoric has become a hallmark of the movement, from the use of “cuck” to deride anti-alt-right conservatives to Twitter harassment of Jewish journalists by photoshopping them into images of Nazi gas chambers. That crosses the line into ideologies that most Americans agree are taboo. People may believe that Donald Trump supporters aren’t necessarily racists, but they are willing to agree that members of the Klan and Nazis are racists. Indeed, it’s a contrast with those groups that allows some people to draw the line between “real racism” and liberals “crying wolf” about racism. (This is true outside the alt-right as well — just look at pro-Trump commentator Jeffrey Lord, fired by CNN this week after tweeting “Sieg heil!” in what he claims was a joke.) Many public figures and politicians on the left, center, and center-right have argued that the alt-right is defined by these actions — among many on the left, the term “alt-right” itself is an unacceptable euphemism that legitimizes an ideology that would be considered unacceptable if it were simply called white nationalism. Progressive writer Lindy West wrote in 2016 that the term “alt-right” was “an attempt to rebrand warmed-over Reconstruction-era white supremacy as a cool, new (and harmless!) internet fad.” Instead of responding by deliberately distancing themselves from white nationalism, though, leaders of the alt-right have deliberately blurred the distinction. They’ve adopted memes and hand gestures (like the “okay” symbol) as an inside joke, because people outside the movement have mistaken them for white nationalist symbols. The attitude tends to be that if “the left” is going to see them as Nazis, they might as well encourage that conception. But there are plenty of people whose Naziism isn’t ironic at all. And at an event like the Unite the Right rally, it’s impossible to tell the difference between someone who’s wearing a swastika pin or giving a Nazi salute “ironically” and someone who’s doing it in earnest. The people who claim they’re doing it “ironically” don’t appear to have any problem with that confusion. The line between “protected speech” and violent street fighting is getting very blurry As the movement behind the Unite the Right rally has become so closely intertwined with groups universally condemned as racist, the response to the rally has started to treat it as inherently illegitimate — as an attack on the rights of people of color, LGBTQ Americans, non-Christians, and immigrants to live and worship safely in the United States. AirBnb shut down accounts of users who were seeking accommodations in Charlottesville for the rally, citing its “Community Commitment”: “those who are members of the Airbnb community accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age." And local governments have taken the initiative to shut down right-wing demonstrations before they happen — forcing them into the tricky position of deciding the line between protected free speech activity and physical violence waiting to happen. In Portland in June, the city government attempted to revoke a permit for a pro-Trump “free speech” rally, but didn’t succeed — then dispersed the rally and a counter-protest when they descended into violence. In Charlottesville, the city government attempted to move the Unite the Right rally out of downtown; the ACLU helped defend the rally, and a judge’s injunction Friday night allowed the original plan to remain in place. (Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, meanwhile, urged both would-be rallygoers and would-be counter-protesters to stay away from downtown Charlottesville Saturday.) The problem is that while the law sees a clear distinction between speech and action when it comes to violence — a peaceful Nazi rally is protected by the First Amendment — many of the people attending do not. The recent right-wing resurgence has fed a rise in an American “antifa” (short for “anti-fascist”) movement, dedicated to violent resistance of ideologies that it sees as inherently violent (or, in simpler terms, dedicated to punching Nazis). While the counter-protesters to Saturday’s Unite the Right rally planned peaceful resistance, some were prepared for self-defense; local activist Emily Gorecenski told the Guardian that she was carrying a gun because “The second amendment is one of the few civil rights I have left as a trans woman.” And many rally participants, for their part, were more than willing to beat up counter-protesters — as was demonstrated during a related march Friday night on the campus of the University of Virginia, which devolved into a brawl when marchers assaulted counter-protesters around a statue of Thomas Jefferson. After stepping in somewhat belatedly on Friday, police officers took an aggressive stand Saturday to prevent the rally from going forward as planned. Both the city of Charlottesville and the state of Virginia declared states of emergency Saturday, minutes before the scheduled start time of the rally (but after clashes had already begun). Shortly before noon, police assembled at the rally site and declared the assembly “unlawful” before the rally actually began, then moved immediately to disperse the crowd. But it’s too late to keep the Unite the Right rally from becoming violent; to some, its concept was inherently violent, and few appear invested in stopping physical violence from erupting in its wake. source Read More: The Hidden Meaning of Trump's Charlottesville Remarks "Why we voted for Donald Trump": David Duke explains the white supremacist Charlottesville protests

August 12, 2017 by
The driver of a car that plowed into a crowd of demonstrators after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia Saturday has been arrested, as city officials report that one person has died and 19 are injured following the incident. White nationalist and other attendees clashed with those who arrived to oppose the demonstration, which began with a torch-wielding group marching through the city Friday evening and was intended to culminate in an event entitled "Unite the Right," set to begin at noon on Saturday. People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2017. However, the event was shut down by authorities in the early afternoon. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in the city and police ordered the crowds to disperse. Video taken in the afternoon after the demonstration was shut down shows crowds walking down a downtown Charlottesville street as several cars move slowly along the same avenue. Abruptly, a gray Dodge Challenger rams into the back of another vehicle, slamming one or more cars ahead of it amid the crowd of protesters. The driver then rapidly reverses away from the scene. Warning: The video contains graphic images. It was not immediately clear whether the driver of the vehicle acted intentionally. Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer tweeted Saturday afternoon that "a life has been lost," a fact that was later confirmed by the University of Virginia Health System, which reported that 20 patients were brought to UVA Medical Center and that 19 were being "assessed and treated." Charlottesville has become a flashpoint for white nationalists following a City Council vote in February to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park formerly called Lee Park. The park was renamed Emancipation Park in June. President Donald Trump addressed the situation during remarks Saturday afternoon. He did not specifically address that a death had occurred amid the demonstrations, but denounced the "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides." source Read More: James Alex Fields, Jr. : 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know After one person killed at white nationalist rally in Virginia, Trump blames 'many sides' 1 dead, 19 injured as car hits crowd after a 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville; driver in custody White Nationalist Rally Picked Charlottesville For a Reason, Virginia Town Has Long History KKK Activity And Racism Republicans and Democrats in North Carolina are locked in a battle over which party inherits the shame of Jim Crow  

August 12, 2017 by
The Lost History of an American Coup D’État By the time the fire started, Alexander Manly had vanished. That didn’t stop the mob of 400 people who’d reached his newsroom from making good on their promise. The crowd, led by a former congressman, had given the editor-in-chief an ultimatum: Destroy your newspaper and leave town forever, or we will wreck it for you. They burned The Daily Record to the ground. It was the morning of November 10, 1898, in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the fire was the beginning of an assault that took place seven blocks east of the Cape Fear River, about 10 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. By sundown, Manly’s newspaper had been torched, as many as 60 people had been murdered, and the local government that was elected two days prior had been overthrown and replaced by white supremacists. For all the violent moments in United States history, the mob’s gruesome attack was unique: It was the only coup d’état ever to take place on American soil.   What happened that day was nearly lost to history. For decades, the perpetrators were cast as heroes in American history textbooks. The black victims were wrongly described as instigators. It took nearly a century for the truth of what had really happened to begin to creep back into public awareness. Today, the old site of The Daily Record is a nondescript church parking lot—an ordinary-looking square of matted grass on a tree-lined street in historic Wilmington. The Wilmington Journal, a successor of sorts to the old Daily Record, stands in a white clapboard house across the street. But there’s no evidence of what happened there in 1898. Conservatives in North Carolina don’t often bring up the Wilmington Massacre. Even many of those North Carolinians who are now aware of it are still reluctant to talk about it. Those who do sometimes stumble over words like “insurrection” and “riot”—loaded terms, and imprecise ones. Not only was it a coup, though, the massacre was arguably the nadir of post-slavery racial politics. That’s why it was so shocking when, on Monday, the state’s GOP executive director, Dallas Woodhouse, openly acknowledged the massacre on Twitter. In response to a tweet from the North Carolina Democratic Party about the Voting Rights Act, Woodhouse criticized what he saw as hypocrisy. “The events of Nov. 10, 1898 were a result of the long-range campaign strategy by Democratic Party leaders to regain political control of Wilmington,” he wrote, “at that time (the) state’s most populous city – and North Carolina in the name of white supremacy.” Men gather outside the charred remains of The Daily Record after the 1898 massacre “This history was totally hidden from white children. And that was deliberate.” Woodhouse may have been more interested in gaining political points than actually probing a painful memory in North Carolinian history. (He didn’t respond to a request for an interview.) But Woodhouse’s version is actually much closer to the truth of what transpired than many other accounts. A capsule biography of Alfred Moore Waddell—the former member of Congress who led the massacre—from the website of the Cape Fear Historical Institute in Wilmington exemplifies what some students were long taught: The Democrats and most white citizens of the State feared a return to the corrupt and financially devastating rule of Republicans as had been experienced during reconstruction in the late 1860s. Waddell led white Wilmingtonians in their effort to shut down a racially inflammatory black newspaper, and then became mayor of Wilmington after the unpopular Republican regime had resigned. As mayor, ‘Waddell quickly restored sobriety and peace, demonstrating his capacity to act with courage in critical times.’ He continued in this office until 1905, leading a responsible and honest government. That passage was written by Bernhard Thuersam, who is a former chair both of the Cape Fear Museum board, and of the state chapter of the League of the South. While Thuersam’s account diverges sharply from the documentary record, it is instructive in one regard: Thuersam clearly identifies 19th-century Republicans as liberals or “radicals,” and in his writing often identifies 19th-century Democrats simply as “Conservatives.” According to the historian David S. Cecelski, presenting Waddell as a righteous campaigner for “sobriety and peace” was standard in Wilmington until the 1990s. “I grew up in a small town in eastern North Carolina 90 miles from Wilmington,” Cecelski says. “I had a book in my middle-school classroom that listed the 12 greatest North Carolinians ever. It included the Wright brothers, Virginia Dare, and then it included three of the people who were the leaders of the white supremacy campaign.” “For something like Wilmington in 1898,” Cecelski continues, “it’s hard to describe the level of indoctrination. In the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, they bragged about [the coup]. After that, they backed off but it stayed in the history books and they talked about it as an unfortunate but necessary event.” In fact, part of how historians have pieced together the real story of the Wilmington massacre is by looking back at newspaper archives—from towns all across North Carolina, not just Wilmington—where similar violence was coordinated that day. “They burned down black newspapers all over the state,” Cecelski says. “They shut down entry to the city from blacks and Republicans... It’s important not to forget that this was a planned thing. This wasn’t two people getting in a fight in a street corner and sparking underlying racial tensions or something like that.” But state officials solidified their grip on power by promoting that very fiction: They originally called the 1898 incident the “Wilmington Race Riot,” with the implication that the event was instigated by a riot from blacks and quelled by Waddell’s fighters. After open celebration of white supremacist violence lost favor, a sort of bland sanitizing of history dominated recollections. That lasted until around the time of the centennial of the massacre, in 1998, when scholars and the descendants of the Wilmington black community that had been nearly destroyed in 1898 began to push for recognition of what really happened. The state’s acknowledgement of its 70-year reign of white supremacy during the “Solid South” period followed the same pattern. Men like Charles B. Aycock, an agitator of the Wilmington riots who three years later was elected governor on a platform of white supremacy, were revered in the state until recently—and, in some cases, still are. Glenda Gilmore, a North Carolina native and a professor of history at Yale, refers to the whitewashed period as a “a 50-year black hole of information.” According to Gilmore, the bloody history of white supremacy was largely unacknowledged in the state’s educational system. “Someone like me, I had never heard the word ‘lynching’ until I was 21,” she says. “This history was totally hidden from white children. And that was deliberate.” But now that history is being uncovered and spread. Aycock’s legacy has been reconsidered, and the collection of buildings and landmarks named after him in the state has dwindled. The Wilmington Massacre is widely acknowledged as a coup and as a foundational moment in creating a white-supremacist state. North Carolina Republicans have helped uncover that history as well, although some of their acknowledgments of the legacy of white supremacy have come with partisan strings attached. In 2007, back when he was a first-term state General Assembly representative, Senator Thom Tillis blocked a state resolution formally apologizing for the massacre. He’d supported the nonpartisan resolution with the caveat that it include an amendment from him that “would have acknowledged the historical fact that the white Republican government joined with black citizens to oppose the rioters.” When that amendment failed, the resolution died with it. Nationally, conservatives have often taken a similar tack; embracing long-suppressed bits of historical knowledge about the full scope of white supremacy, so long as they can use them to attack Democrats. The conservative American Civil Rights Union, which is run by members of President Donald Trump’s voter-fraud commission, released a report in 2014 on “The Truth About Jim Crow.” While the report is a cogent and relatively unglossed look at an era in which “we proved ourselves to be as capable of committing great evil as any nation on earth,” the titular “truth” appears not to be the legacy of the era, but “that a great American political party is capable of subordinating the good of the nation and of humanity to its own selfish interest.” Of course, this kind of weaponization of history is most effective if the Republican and Democratic parties are viewed as unbroken ideological identities dating back to the days of Abraham Lincoln. North Carolina’s own history obliterates that view. Like the rest of the South, the state experienced mass party realignment after the 1960s civil-rights movement, when southern whites began to abandon the Democratic Party. Former Senator Jesse Helms, another Carolinian folk hero whose legacy is the subject of an ongoing controversy, was central to that realignment. Born and raised a Democrat in the Solid South, Helms switched parties in 1970, two years before his first Senate run. In 1974, Helms remarked of his decision: The party veered so far to the left nationally, and was taken over by the people whom I'd describe as substantially left of center in North Carolina. And I think I felt, as many other Democrats felt and feel, that really I had no real faith in the party. But I didn't do anything about it. Changing parties, changing party registration, is like moving from a church. But President Nixon's speech at Kansas State, I think it was, persuaded me that maybe the Republican party in North Carolina and in the nation had a chance to restore the two party system. After the New Deal, the Supreme Court’s desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board in 1954, and the civil-rights movement, Helms shepherded white conservatives of the Solid South to the Republican Party, but continued the old Democratic Party’s hard line against civil-rights reforms. And his legacy still reverberates within the North Carolina GOP that he helped build. Partisanship didn’t quite move along the exact same ideological lines in the past, and both parties’ histories indicate a push and pull between North and South, social conservatism and liberalism, economic orientations, populism and authoritarianism, big government and states’ rights, and races. And across those spectra, politicians of all stripes have contributed to enduring racial inequalities. But white social conservatism was undoubtedly the driving force of Democratic white-supremacist regimes in the South, and its reaction to the loss of the hegemony is part of what precipitated the rise of the modern Republican Party. Whether he intends it or not, Woodhouse’s acknowledgement of the Wilmington massacre is also acknowledgment of how that hegemony was created, and that the political movement to which he belongs can trace its roots back to the murder of black citizens and the violent overthrow of a government they elected. Lost in the fire that destroyed The Daily Record were the lives of black citizens and the spirit of a thriving black community, and also the most promising effort in the South to build racial solidarity. In wielding the memory of the massacre in an attack against the Democrats, Woodhouse runs the risk of implicating his own party in those losses. But history serves higher purposes than blame. It can be employed in understanding the remnants of that white-supremacist regime today, and learning how to truly defeat the ills of Jim Crow. In honoring the past and the victims of Wilmington, history places the responsibility of racial equality at the feet of all political parties, and all Americans. source