underneath all this frenzy is just one question: will NATO stay in one piece when war comes against iran?

Trump backs armed gun-rights rally in Richmond, Virginia
Barry Grey, WSWS, Jan 21 2020

On Monday, for the second time in three days, Trump tweeted support as thousands of gun-rights activists, many of them carrying semi-automatic weapons, descended on Virginia’s capital, Richmond. The protest was to denounce mild gun control measures moving through the Demagog-controlled state legislature. According to Virginia’s public safety secretary, some 6,000 protesters passed through airport-style checkpoints to listen to an hour of speeches within the fenced-off State Capitol grounds, where Governor Ralph Northam had imposed a ban on guns and other weapons under a state of emergency he declared last Wednesday. Thousands more people, many wearing camouflage and bullet-proof vests and carrying military-grade weapons, rallied in the streets of Richmond just beyond the secured Capitol grounds. News reports estimated the total turnout in the tens of thousands. Demonstrators chanted “We will not comply!” and circulated petitions demanding the ouster of Northam. Over 100 localities in Virginia have declared themselves to be “Second Amendment sanctuaries.” Officials in these “sanctuaries” have pledged not to enforce any gun control measures passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Northam. The crowd outside the secured perimeter on Monday included a number of armed militia groups that mobilized in force for the event. Northam, a Demagog, had cited “credible intelligence” that neo-Nazis were planning to join the pro-gun rally and incite something similar to the Aug 2017 “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, Virginia, following which Trump declared that the far-right marchers included “very fine people.” Last Thursday, one day after Northam’s state of emergency declaration, federal authorities announced the arrest of three members of “The Base” who were heavily armed and allegedly planning to carry out a violent provocation at the Richmond rally. The following day, they announced the arrest of at least three more members. That day, Trump tweeted full support for the impending right-wing rally, writing:

Just before the scheduled start of the rally on Monday, the day of the annual MLK holiday and the eve of the substantive start of his Senate impeachment trial, Trump retweeted his full support, declaring:

These interventions are part of Trump’s response to impeachment and his strategy for the 2020 elections and beyond. He is relying not only on his legal defense in the Senate trial, but is deliberately inciting violence against his political opponents and seeking to instigate the growth of a fascist movement in the US. In a series of campaign speeches and Twitter posts, he has labeled the Democrats as far-left radicals and “socialists” and denounced them as traitors. He has stepped up this fascistic agitation since his order to assassinate Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani earlier this month. This agitation is having a predictable impact. Over the weekend, Lee Carter, a Demagog state legislator and a member of the DSA, announced that he was going to an “undisclosed location” to work on Monday instead of the Capitol building, because he and his family had received multiple death threats. In the event, the rally on Monday, though right-wing and pro-Trump, did not have the openly neo-Nazi character of Charlottesville. Under conditions of a heavy police presence including the deployment of snipers on rooftops and a ban in airspace near the Capitol, the crowd dispersed quickly after speeches by Thug state politicians, prominent gun-rights spoxes and some local sheriffs. Over the weekend, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a pro-gun control group, canceled its annual vigil and lobbying day, scheduled to begin later in the day on Monday, out of fear of violent attack at the hands of militia elements and fascists. No violence or arrests were reported at the rally. The police, generally sympathetic to the demonstrators, gave them free rein to parade around with their assault rifles and other gear.

The fact that the event went off peacefully does not diminish the threat to the working class and to democratic rights represented by the mobilization of politically confused far-right elements on the basis of militarism, extreme individualism and national chauvinism. One incident that highlighted the politically sinister character of the event was Alex Jones driving an armored vehicle toward Capitol Square in the run-up to the rally. The juxtaposition of the Richmond rally and the Senate impeachment trial of Trump underscores the absence of any democratic content in the Demagogs’ impeachment drive. Over the weekend, the Demagog House managers who will serve as prosecutors during the proceedings released their brief against Trump. It reiterates the charge that Trump betrayed the country and undermined Pindo natsec by temporarily withholding $391m in military aid to Ukraine, then used the withheld arms package as leverage to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce a corruption investigation into Biden’s son Hunter in an attempt to secure Ukrainian interference in the 2020 elections against Joe Biden, a repeat of the supposed conspiracy between Trump and Putin against Hillary Clinton in 2016. The Demagogs are not seeking to remove Trump from office, or at least rein him in in the Senate, over his very real attacks on democratic rights, his promotion of fascist violence, his illegal assassination of a high-ranking Iranian official, his destruction of the right to asylum and persecution of immigrants, his unconstitutional appropriation of Pentagon funds to build his border wall with Mexico, or his repeated threats to remain in office regardless the outcome of either the impeachment trial or the 2020 vote, but over foreign policy differences centering on his ostensible “softness” toward Russia, specifically because he is seen to be disrupting long-standing plans to use Ukraine as a staging ground for war against Moscow. In its brief in response to the Demagogs, Trump’s defense team asserts the authoritarian conception of the “unitary executive,” to essentially argue that the president is not subject to any form of control by Congress or the courts.

Biden campaign warns media not to spread ‘debunked’ claims about his activities in Ukraine or else
RT.com, Jan 20 2020

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has issued a warning to the media, cautioning journalists against spreading what he called “debunked” theories about his role in having a Ukrainian prosecutor removed from office. In the memo first reported by NBC News, Biden accuses Trump of “spreading a malicious and conclusively debunked conspiracy theory” that he engaged in wrongdoing when he pressured Ukraine to fire then-Prosecutor Viktor Shokin. Biden has previously bragged about his role in having Shokin fired, even admitting on camera that he presented an ultimatum to Ukrainian authorities threatening to withhold a billion-dollar loan guarantee unless the prosecutor was given the boot. It emerged later that Biden’s own son Hunter sat on the board of the Burisma energy company, which Shokin had been investigating for corruption. The memo, described as “unusual” by NBC News, demands:

Any media organization referencing, reporting on, or repeating (such claims) must state clearly and unambiguously that they have been discredited and debunked by authoritative sources.

The memo instructs journalists that it is “not sufficient” to say allegations are “unsubstantiated,” they must tell readers there is a mountain of evidence which debunks them, it says. Any journalists or media organizations failing to adhere to Biden’s standards in their reporting on his and his families’ activities in Ukraine are accused of “malpractice.”

The memo comes as Republicans call for Hunter Biden to testify during Donald Trump’s impending Senate impeachment trial. Trump was impeached last month by the US House Representatives for “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” relating to the alleged claim that he withheld aid from Ukraine in an effort to force an investigation into Biden’s involvement with Burisma and his role in Shokin’s firing.

However, even if Biden’s claim that he was not motivated by his son’s position on Burisma’s board when he insisted on Shokin’s sacking is true, he has already publicly admitted to threatening to withhold money from Ukraine unless authorities did his bidding, which somewhat ironically is exactly what Democrats impeached Trump for last month. One campaign that did not get Biden’s memo is that of Bernie Sanders, which has earned criticism from the left for calling Biden “corrupt” in an attack ad. Among the critics was liberal economist Paul Krugman.

Trump’s trial in the Senate is set to kick off this week and has been dismissed by his legal team as a “highly partisan and reckless obsession” engineered by Democrats who want him thrown out of office.

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