Australian Labor Party’s “extreme abortion plans this election”

By Penny Hoffmann

According to Ten News Australia, the Australian Labor Party has recently pushed for uniformed pregnancy termination laws, and billions of dollars of Commonwealth cash could be withheld from the states in an attempt to make it easier for women to access publicly funded abortions.

According to The Guardian, “In March, Labor pledged to work towards full decriminalization of abortion, open a reproductive health clinic to offer terminations in Tasmania, and require public hospitals to provide termination services”.

ABC News reported that Federal Labor is promising commonwealth funding for a Tasmanian abortion clinic and is using commonwealth funding to pressure all states and territories to make abortions more readily available in public hospitals.

ABC News also stated that the Tasmanian Government has agreed with a women’s health centre to “provide low-cost abortions”:

“In November, the Government revealed it had come to an agreement with Hampton Park Women’s Health Centre to provide low-cost abortions.

“The state had been without a low-cost service for nearly a year, after the previous private provider pulled out of the state because of a lack of demand.

“Despite the November announcement, Hampton Park Women’s Health Centre still has not begun offering services in Tasmania because the earmarked Hobart building needs work before it will be suitable for the clinic.”

Jo Flanagan from Women’s Health Australia stated that it was a confusing process for Tasmanian women to get abortions and outlined what the women’s health centre wanted to change about it:

“Our main concern is that women get access to the service, whether it’s done by a Tasmanian doctor or a Victorian doctor is of less concern to us.

“But what we ideally would want from any provider is a clear map for GPs, [saying] ‘this is what you tell women, this is where they go, this is the number to ring’, and we don’t even have that at the moment.”

Queensland’s Labor government announced on July 16th 2018 that it would introduce laws that decriminalize abortion in Queensland.

Deputy Premier for QLD Jackie Trad, MP for Griffith Terri Butler and Labor candidate for Dickson Ali France featured in a group photo with other protesters that held up signs stating “Labor for Choice” and “My Body My Choice”:

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Both Jackie Trad and Terri Butler are members of Emily’s List, a political action committee based in the United States that advocates for pro-choice democratic females to enter into office:

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Cherish Life Queensland (CLQ) reportedly aims to “educate the community on life issues, advocate (lobby all levels of government on life and death issues) and resource the community”.

According to its website, the group, formerly known as “Queensland Right to Life”, began as a reaction to American life issues, and is the first pro-life group in Australia and has spread to other states.

CLQ claims that it is not politically aligned with any party; it reaches out to anyone who will or will not listen in an attempt to promote being pro-life.

The Guardian reported the following:

The executive director of Cherish Life, Teeshan Johnson, has advertised her support for the Liberal party with an “I stand with Scott [Morrison]” filter on her Facebook profile.

Cherish Life has posted speeches from Liberal senator Amanda Stoker on its Facebook page, and Liberal National party MP George Christensen has addressed events, including the March for Life in September.

The real question for this matter is whether Teeshan Johnson and Cherish Life supported the liberal party in those instances because the Liberal Party is more likely to be pro-life, or whether both supported the Liberal party in those instances because both support more of the Liberal Party’s works.

Aussie Liberal Party Candidate Kicked After “Extreme” Anti-Muslim Comment On Trump Post

Australian Federal police were asked to investigate the authenticity of social media posts reportedly made by now former Liberal party candidate Jessica Whelan in the comments section of a Donald Trump post.jess.PNG

Whelan denied she was behind the comments, saying her account was hacked and the content was digitally altered.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is popularly known as “Scomo”, issued the following statement to ABC news:

“The imagery that we have found that has been presented to us appears to have been doctored, and so what Jessica has done, this matter has been referred to the Australian Federal Police, and so that is a matter that will be… it is being referred i should say, to the police, and this is a matter that will be subject to an investigation.”

On May 3rd, News.com reported on Scomo’s “embarrassment” from backing Ms Whelan. Mr Morrison stated that the comments from her account do not represent the views of the Liberal party:

Journalist: Was the problem that her comments actually represent the views of some in the party. Her mistake was just putting it on social media?

PM: Her views were her views and they do not represent the views of the party I lead and they do not represent the views of the Liberal Party. These views were not disclosed to the Liberal Party at the time of her nomination, that was confirmed last night.

Journalist: They were aware yesterday?

PM: No, they weren’t, the information in front of us yesterday was not the information that we were able to receive overnight.

Journalist: Have you been lied to?

PM: Yes.

The Australian reports that the former Tasmanian candidate for Lyons has stated that she has received death threats toward her and her children from the social media scandal:

“I have been receiving threats to the level I could never have imagined. Phone calls, voicemails, messages and emails have made those close to me startled and afraid. These have included messages to kill my children and myself.

“It saddens me that people who put their hand up to represent the people of Australia are subjected to such vicious personal attacks from their opposition, born directly from their fear of losing.”

Whelan will run as an independent, though she will still be listed as a liberal party candidate on the ballot paper.

She has told The Examiner newspaper that “there’s a good chance” she will work with the Liberal party again:

“I have put in so much effort and I feel free of the Liberals to defend myself … If I’m elected, there’s a good chance I will work with the Liberal Party. I resigned because I knew I had to for the party, but I can now defend myself.”

Ms Whelan has stated that she does not want to be seen as a Pauline Hanson, meaning that Whelan likes multiculturalism in Australia.

Melbourne Labor party candidate Luke Creasey has also resigned after making offensive comments online, namely rape jokes, as well as lesbian and Catholic jokes.

“While I made those awful comments many years ago and they in no way reflect the views I hold today, I understand, especially as a member of the LGBTIQ community, that we need to be careful about what we share or like on social media.”

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The following is a meme that was shared on Mr Creasey’s Facebook account in 2012. The school he worked at as a food technology teacher has stated that he was not employed when he shared the content.

Labor Party opposition leader Bill Shorten said Creasey’s circumstances are different to those of Ms Whelan’s:

“This Jessica Whelan, she said what she believes now, and it reflects on what she believes now,” Mr Shorten said of the then-candidate for the Tasmanian seat of Lyons, who has since resigned.

“What our fellow said, he said it seven years ago, when he was 22, and he’s clearly regretted and apologised for it.”

By Penny Hoffmann

Manafort jailed until trial: His crimes and relation to the Trump campaign

Washington D.C., Justice System – After over a year, Special Council Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump administration influencing Trump’s victory in the 2016 U.S. election still persists, as former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was jailed on Friday for witness tampering.

Manafort had earlier pleaded not guilty to a plethora of charges against him, and after 12 counts of indictment since October 2017, he had been forced to wear an electronic monitoring device in home confinement in Virginia. He also pleaded not guilty to witness tampering, but the judge, Amy Berman Jackson, didn’t buy it and revoked his bail, which thereafter sent him to jail. ‘You’ve abused the trust placed in you,’ she told Manafort. He will likely stay in jail until a trial in Washington in September, but he also has another trial for similar charges in Virginia in July. None of the charges, however, involves the two months he was campaign manager for Trump.

The charges include mostly his relationship with former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russian political party Party of Regions, Kremlin-tied oligarchs, and money laundering. They were highly emphasized in the lawsuit (p. 14) by DNC against the Trump administration, Russia, and Wikileaks. Manafort worked for Yanukovich, Party of Regions and its successors between 2004-2015, and denied ever having worked for them when he testified in June 2017, but admitted eventually to having received $17.1 million by Yanukovich’s party between 2012-2014 and registered as a foreign agent. He’s also reported to have been up to $17 million in debt to Putin-tied oligarch Oleg Deripaska before joining the Trump campaign. A smoking gun for the DNC in Manafort, however, was his connection to Konstantin Kilimnik, a former Russian soldier believed to be a part of GRU, the Russian military intelligence, which is believed by the FBI to have had contact with Russian intelligence at the time of the 2016 election. The narrative here essentially is that Manafort received some information from Kilimnik, who received information from the Russian government and that the content of this information somehow adds up to a conspiracy. What could such information be? An alternative would be Manafort dealing some kind of quid pro quo with Kilimnik, receiving favors by the Russian government to increase the probability of Trump’s election victory. And how would they do that? Russian internet bots?

The theoretical relationship thus becomes something like this (based on the belief of Kilimnik being a part of the GRU, and the GRU having connections to the Kremlin, both of which must be true for there to be any potential collusion here):

manafortkilimnik

Therefore, using Manafort’s case provides a potential link between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, but without knowing what this information or favors were, it isn’t a strong enough case to prove collusion by itself. The lawsuit includes many other allegations, some of which provide better evidence than the Manafort case, but details about the nature of the relationship between Manafort and Kilimnik could both strengthen and weaken the case by the DNC, depending on what they find. Recall that he also only worked for the campaign in two months, resigning on August 2016, two months before the election, following a report of him possibly having received illegal payments by Yanukovych’s party, so that he managed to play a big part in the hypothetical conspiracy is dubious at best.

Even long after the election, Trump has now signified that he still cares about Manafort, as he never fails to tweet about whom he likes and dislikes.

Very unfair, he calls it, but Manafort hasn’t even been sentenced yet.

Manafort’s legal defense fund has argued that the Mueller investigation is partisan, and his lawyers claim that the evidence for witness tampering is minimal. Mueller’s team will keep trying to get Manafort to plead guilty and file a plea deal, but Manafort hasn’t been proven easy to budge. Former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin told Reuters that ‘Either he can double down in his resolve to fight it or it’s the last straw and it breaks his will and he decides to work out a plea bargain.’

Is there anything other than finance fraud and money laundering Manafort is guilty of? In the words of his daughter, ‘The money we have is blood money.’ If this is true, it could open a pandora’s box of theories of how he has attained all of it.

 

 

Presidential Election To Take Place In Venezuela, But Opposition Has No Chance

By Stefan M. Kløvning

Venezuela, Politics – After five years of Nicolás Maduro of the United Socialist Party (PSUV) ruling Venezuela by decree, the Venezuelans will vote again on Sunday for a new presidential election. Maduro is running for reelection, however, and currently has about 20% of the country’s support, according to polls by Datanalisis. His main contestants in the race are Henri Falcón and Javier Bertucci. Henri Falcón, leader of anti-Chavista party Progressive Advance, is currently in the lead with about 33%, whereas Bertucci is running as an independent with only 18%.

Maduro has repeatedly shown that he doesn’t care about for the democratic process. Last year he disqualified his opposition from running, infuriating the main parties Justice First, Popular Will, and Democratic Action. According to Reuters, his administration ironically later accused the opposition of not running solely because ‘it knows it will lose,’ and claimed the elections to be completely transparent. Furthermore, in an election last year determining who would ‘rewrite the nation’s Constitution and rule Venezuela with virtually unlimited authority until they finish their work’ – of a list of government allies, including Maduro’s wife – the vote was altered by at least a million votes according to Smartmatic, the software company responsible for setting up voting systems for the country. There are countless instances of such corruption occurring in the country, for instance with anti-Maduro neighborhoods getting a shortage of polling stations in a gubernatorial election in October, and thus being ‘robbed of votes’ according to opposition activists.

This has made many Venezuelans lose trust in the political system in the country, causing much of the opposition to plan to boycott the vote. According to Gallup, 75% of Venezuelans believe that corruption is widespread in the Venezuelan government. Venezuela is also rated 18/100 on corruption by Transparency International (where 0 is most corrupt). The Venezuelans are in a difficult situation, especially those suffering from the failure of the Socialist policies implemented there, but they seem to have preferred Chavéz over Maduro, with 58% approving of Chavéz, whereas Maduro only got 34%. This is a rather strange statistic as Maduro inherited a country on top of the world misery index from Chavéz in 2013. He somehow managed to literally make the country seven times worse, moving it from 79.4 to 573.4 on the misery index and becoming the 57th country to hyperinflate at the end of 2016. That statistic seems also to have doubled for the measurement of 2017. According to the opposition-controlled National Assembly, they’ve now reached nearly 14,000% in annual inflation. Maduro tries to solve the problem by printing more money, taking his country down the same road as Zimbabwe (which reached an incredible 79.8 billion percent month-over-month inflation rate in mid-November 2008 and as a result stopped printing money in 2009). How does he still manage to get support? He puts the blame on American sanctions.

To which degree, then, has American sanctions influenced the Venezuelan economy? There are four main pieces of American legislation that has instated sanctions on Venezuela under the rule of Maduro, two of which came after Trump entered the White House. The Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in May 28, 2014, which directed sanctions against officials involved in the mistreatment of protesters in Venezuela. Former President Obama also declared Venezuela a threat to its national security in 2015, and issued an executive order ‘aimed at persons involved in or responsible for the erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to anti-government protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of anti-government protestors, as well as the significant public corruption by senior government officials in Venezuela.’ The executive order states that the property and interest in property of the people described are blocked from the United States, and prohibits U.S. citizens from engaging in transactions with such individuals or entities. State.gov describes the executive order as not targetting the people or economy of the country, but only those matching the criteria mentioned above. It might be said that the government and economy is so packed with corruption and authoritarianism that the sanctions had such an effect, but it would still take much to argue that these sanctions alone are the reasons for Venezuela’s score on the world misery index has increased by a factor of seven within three years. After Trump took over as President, he has gotten quite a bad name among the Maduro administration after saying that he’s ‘not going to rule out a military option’ in confronting them for their human rights violations and deepening crisis. He has also passed two executive orders instating additional sanctions against the country, which further restricted Venezuela’s ability to make transactions with the U.S. and its citizens. That’s what they get back after giving him half a million dollars for his inauguration!

An exclusive report by Reuters released on Friday also revealed that more Venezuelan soldiers have rebelled and deserted in the run-up to the vote. ‘Some soldiers are planning how to flee the country or fretting about how to feed their families on a minimum salary of just $2 a day,’ they conclude from interviews with serving and former soldiers. They also found that hundreds had left the Venezuelan army last year and that the number of soldiers detained for treason, rebellion, and desertion has risen three-and-a-half times from the four first months in 2017 to the same period this year.

Does Maduro’s opposition stand any chance? Henri Falcón may be in the lead in the polls, but as explained above, the election results in Venezuela often become – to a big degree – more what the administration wants them to be rather than what the voters demand. As a former soldier in the army, Falcón stands as the main opposition against Maduro, observing that ‘The same thing is happening in the barracks as is happening in the slums: people are going hungry; they are suffering an overwhelming crisis.’ Falcón was once a Chavista and a member of the PSUV but has later turned critical to both Chavéz and the party, causing him to resign in 2010. TeleSUR claimed indirectly, however, that his resignation might also be linked to his being investigated on corruption charges the year before. They don’t mention any specifics about the investigation, but it might be linked to the Maduro administration using similar tactics as Frederic 3. applied in Denmark-Norway in 1660, ousting the disloyal on corruption charges (as everyone in the administration is more or less corrupt), and placing in more loyal members. Falcón created Progressive Advanced in 2012, which has gotten allies both from the leftist Movement Towards Socialism, right-wing Venezuelan Ecological Movement and the Christian Democrats (COPEI). A lot of support from COPEI has, however, moved over to the evangelical candidate Bertucci for this election. There doesn’t seem to be much hope for Bertucci in the election according to the polls. Falcón fares far better there, but it would be rather naïve to think that the Maduro administration will be shy on their tactics in gaining victory in this key election.