American Dark Money Funds Europe’s Far Right/Populist Politicians


Pier Marco Tacca/Getty

❝ Five years ago, Matteo Salvini stripped and posed half-naked for a series of “sexy” photos that were auctioned on eBay…Today, Salvini’s party has transformed itself into one of the most prominent nationalist movements in Europe (now known only as Lega). Salvini himself has become Italy’s interior minister and the country’s most recognizable politician…

❝ Along with Marine le Pen in France, leader of the National Front (now rebranded as the National Rally party), Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, and others, Salvini is leading a startling resurgence of Europe’s far right…Holding up a rosary, kissing a crucifix, and thanking the “Immaculate Heart of Mary,” he proclaimed it time to “save” Europe’s “Judeo-Christian roots.”…

These movements did not emerge overnight, nor will they fade anytime soon. Since mid-2016, together with colleagues at openDemocracy, we have tracked the growth of Europe’s nativist movements, from the Brexit campaign, to Orbán’s increasing stranglehold on the levers of power in Hungary, to cross-border networks seeking to block or roll back women’s and LGBTQI rights. Their strategy begins by influencing elections, courts, education, and healthcare systems, as well as policymakers and public opinion, and ends by taking power.

RTFA. Not quite up to the beerhall putschists of the 1930’s. The mindset is the same. Lots of the money comes from “the land of the free, the home of the brave”. Trumpkins.

Austrian government falls as rightwing party boss caught trying to sell contracts

❝ The far-right Freedom Party’s Heinz-Christian Strache resigned as vice chancellor and party leader after the video was released by two German news organizations. He acknowledged that the video was “catastrophic” but denied breaking the law.

Chancellor Kurz, a conservative who formed a coalition with the Freedom Party a year and a half ago, said the apparent video sting, in which Strache discusses contracts in return for financial or political favors, was the last straw in the relationship…

❝ “These are shameful images and no one should be ashamed for Austria,” he said of the video. “We need in this sense to rebuild confidence anew. This rebuilding can in this case only happen with a snap election.”

Last we heard, Trump was asking the DOJ if he can pardon crooks in Austria.

How does it feel to live in Turkey right now?


Ozan Köse/AFP/Getty

❝ Turkey, once held up as an exemplar of secular democracy in the Muslim world, is now the world’s biggest prison for journalists. Since he came to power in 2014, president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slowly tightened his grip on freedom of expression, choking his critics.

❝ Editors of national newspapers now face life sentences for working “against the state”. People have been arrested for Facebook posts criticising the government and last week over 4,400 public servants were sacked in an act branded by critics as a witchhunt targeting the political opposition.

❝ Meanwhile Erdoğan has maintained cordial diplomatic relations with global leaders including Donald Trump, Theresa May and Vladimir Putin, and hopes to extend his constitutional powers with a referendum on 16 April.

This short GUARDIAN article ends with a question needing to be directed at a nation getting ready to decide on the transition from autocratic leadership to fascist control. The editors elicit comments from residents of Turkey about how life has been changing. And includes special methods to guarantee anonymity. Which I recommend to our readers in Turkey.

Something to think about, eh?

White House Censors Press — Denies Briefing Access to New York Times, Politico, CNN

Trump’s view of a “Free Press”

❝ White House press secretary Sean Spicer excluded several major news outlets, including the New York Times and CNN, from an untelevised media briefing on Friday, hours after President Donald Trump assailed coverage of his administration.

❝ The White House invited members of the so-called press pool to attend the briefing, including representatives from the Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg News, Agence France-Presse and Hearst, which is serving as the daily representative for newspaper outlets. The White House then handpicked additional outlets to participate, including NBC News, CBS News, and ABC News — as well as conservative outlets like the Washington Times, America One, and Breitbart News Network.

Notably excluded were the New York Times, CNN, Politico, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed News and the BBC. Bloomberg News only learned that some outlets had been excluded moments before the briefing began. The Associated Press was invited but declined to participate, citing the exclusion of other organizations…

❝ Bloomberg editor in chief John Micklethwait said in a statement: “I don’t believe that the White House’s decision to exclude major news organizations is in the best interest of keeping the public informed, so in the future we will not participate in exclusionary briefings of the sort that happened today.”…

❝ Spicer holds a televised news briefing on most weekdays when the president isn’t traveling, but on Thursday evening, when it issued its daily guidance, the White House said Spicer would instead “gaggle” on Friday. The term is jargon for less formal briefings, usually held in Spicer’s office or aboard Air Force One, that aren’t televised…

Shortly before the gaggle, the White House asked news organizations to register for an “expanded pool” of reporters that would be admitted to cover it. The group granted access included all of the members of the so-called “protective pool” of journalists that routinely covers the president’s activities, including Bloomberg.

The New York Times and other outlets were turned away at the door to Spicer’s office.

❝ “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said in a statement. “We strongly protest the exclusion of the New York Times and the other news organizations.”

The previous record-holder as Republican crook – Richard Nixon – never went this far in trying to suppress the First Amendment. He fought with those who eventually uncovered all of his administration’s corruption and called the Press “his” enemy”. Trump takes the next step towards fascist rule by calling a Free Press an “enemy of the people”. The sort of declarative you would expect from someone who fears democracy, transparency.

I expect many voices to be raised from conservative to liberal, libertarian to progressive. It will be an interesting exercise picking out Republicans who claim to be constitutionalists – who will also stoop to bow before their leader and support his denial of access to news media.

Wonder what the civilized world thinks of Trump’s so-called leadership?


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On Twitter, this morning, I bumped into a discussion led by a well-meaning Liberal on “how can we convince Trump acolytes to come to their senses?” Which is why I stopped worrying about being a Liberal approximately in 1956.

How about fighting for honest democracy in this country? Overcome criminal gerrymandering and the raft of illicit laws passed by Republican gangsters which prevent everyone from having a chance to vote. Let the Trump chumps keep their Tea Party, cigarettes and Hummers. And let the rest of us have a realistic shot at an equal opportunity to vote.