The status of the second presidential debate between President Trump and Joe Biden was cast into doubt Thursday after the commission that organizes the event said it would be held virtually to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
The Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the second debate scheduled for October 15 in Miami would instead feature virtual appearances by the two candidates, a change the president quickly dismissed as “not acceptable,” kicking off a dizzying day of back-and-forth statements between the campaigns that put the status of future debates in jeopardy.
“I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo earlier in the morning. “You sit behind a computer and do a debate, it’s ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want.”
Mr. Trump’s decision to forgo the event led the Biden campaign to back out as well, with deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield urging the commission to reschedule the town hall for the following week. Bedingfield said the campaign was prepared to accept the new format, but would now “find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly” on the day of the debate. Hours later, ABC News announced it would be conducting a town hall event with Biden on October 15, moderated by George Stephanopoulos.
Bill Stepien, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager who also recently tested positive for the virus, confirmed the president’s decision after his Fox Business interview. “We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead,” he said in a statement. In a second statement, Stepien agreed that the second debate should be moved to October 22, and the third to October 29.
“We agree that this should happen on October 22, and accordingly, the third debate should then be shifted back one week to October 29,” Stepien said.
But the Biden campaign rejected Stepien’s proposal to push the third and final debate back, with Bedingfield issuing yet another statement saying, “Donald Trump doesn’t make the debate schedule; the Debate Commission does.”
“Trump’s erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing,” she said. “We look forward to participating in the final debate, scheduled for October 22, which already is tied for the latest debate date in 40 years. Donald Trump can show up, or he can decline again. That’s his choice.”
Then, on Thursday evening the Trump campaign released another statement calling for the second debate to go forward as planned on October 15. It pointed to the statement of Mr. Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, anticipating the president would be healthy enough to resume public events on Saturday, 10 days after his initial COVID diagnosis. Noting that Saturday is five days before the debate was originally scheduled, the campaign’s statement argued, “There is therefore no medical reason why the Commission on Presidential Debates should shift the debate to a virtual setting, postpone it, or otherwise alter it in any way.”
“[T]he CPD must reverse course and let the debate proceed,” the campaign argued.
The commission rejected this proposal, according to the Associated Press, which reported Thursday night, “The chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates says it is not reconsidering shifting the second debate from virtual back to in-person, despite a request from President Donald Trump’s team.”
In its unexpected announcement early Thursday morning, the nonpartisan debate commission said the second debate would “take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations.” The change was made “in order to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate,” the group said.
Just after the commission’s statement, Biden’s campaign said he would participate, with Bedingfield saying the former vice president “looks forward to speaking directly to the American people and comparing his plan for bringing the country together.” But Biden himself told reporters he didn’t know what he would do if the president doesn’t participate, before the campaign announced he would also back out.
“I don’t know what the president is going to do. He changes his mind every second,” Biden said on the tarmac before boarding a plane in Wilmington, Delaware. “For me to comment on that now would be irresponsible. I think that if I can follow the commission’s recommendations — if he goes off and has a rally, I’ll — I don’t know what I’ll do.”‘
Mr. Trump told Fox Business that the commission had not informed the campaign of their decision to alter the format of the debate before announcing it publicly. A source familiar with the ongoing debate negotiations told CBS News that the commission did not consult either campaign before making the move, saying the commission “decided this unilaterally.”
The president tested positive for the coronavirus and began experiencing symptoms a week ago, on October 1, according to White House physician Sean Conley. As of Wednesday, the president had been symptom free for more than 24 hours, according to Conley.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends those who become “severely ill” from COVID-19 — including those who require hospitalization and supplemental oxygen, both of which are true for the president — to avoid being around others for at least 10 days after symptoms first appeared, and possibly up to 20 days. The CDC says patients should consult their doctor to see if that period could be shortened if and when they begin testing negative for the virus. The White House doctor has not said whether the president continues to test positive.
Mr. Trump told Fox Business he remains on dexamethasone, a potent steroid, as he recovers from COVID-19.
The first debate between the two candidates last week was a chaotic affair, featuring frequent interruptions by the president that prompted the debate commission to consider new rules allowing the moderator to enforce time limits. The second debate was set to be moderated by Steve Scully of C-SPAN.
The US and Israel: The dog versus the wagging tail
The US and Israel: The dog versus the wagging tail. By: Khalid Amayreh.
It is an open secret that the United States has been the only country in the world that can prevent Israel from carrying out a holocaust against the Palestinians. Otherwise, the Zionist entity has absolutely no qualms against a full or partial extermination of the Palestinian people. Indeed, the very concept of “Ashmada” (annihilation or extermination) is well-established in the Talmudic literature.
Openly-Nazi Rabbis at the helm of power in Israel
Several years ago, a Rabbi by the name of Dov Lior, who holds a Judeo-Nazi ideology advocating the extermination of Palestinian civilians, co-authored a hair-raising book titled “Torat ha’Melekh” (the “Torah of the King”). In the book, he pointed out that there was no such a thing as “enemy civilians” during time of conflict.
“The law of our Torah is to have mercy on our soldiers and to save them.
This is the real moral behind Israel’s Torah and we must not feel guilty due to foreign morals,” he was quoted as saying by the Hebrew newspaper Ma’ariv in 2004.
“A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail.”
Lior is not a marginal figure in the Zionist religious establishment.
According to the late rabbi Menachem Froman, Lior “is considered among the most learned sages of the Torah in Israel..”
Another Rabbi, David Batzri, told followers that “it is impossible to mix the pure with the impure. They (the Arabs) are a blight, a devil, a disaster. The Arabs are donkeys, and we have to ask ourselves why God didn’t create them to walk on all four. Well, the answer is that they are needed to build and clean. They don’t have any place in our schools.”
In May 2007, Mordechai Elyahu, a former Chief Rabbi of Israel, issued an edict that would permit the Israeli army to murder hundreds of thousands of Palestinians .
“If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand. And if they don’t stop after 1,000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000. Even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.”
Interestingly, these and like-minded rabbis are the actual rulers in Israel today, especially following the formation of the latest government, headed by Benyamin Netanyahu.
How the US sought to restrain Israeli bellicosity
Successive U.S. administrations have always sought to restrain Israel’s genocidal propensity, hoping that the Zionist state would not embark on wholesale genocidal massacres of Palestinians.
Normally, the US would give Israel state-of-the-art of the American technology of death. For example, Israel usually receives some of the latest and most lethal war systems before NATO members and in some cases before the US armed forces themselves. Thanks to this policy, the Israeli air-force is now only second to the US air-force.
Thus, the Israeli air-force can easily defeat the Royal British air-force, the French air-force, the Russian air-force, and the Chinese air-force.
The US consistently calculated that by aggrandizing the Israeli army, especially its air-force, the Jewish state would adopt relatively moderate policies in the region and be more willing to reach peace agreements with the Palestinians.
However, to the chagrin of the Americans, the political-military establishment in Israel, emboldened by its military might, became ever more extremist, recalcitrant and inflexible as far as the prospects of peace were concerned. Not only that, the Israeli leadership became more disobedient and even more contemptuous of the American government.
Some Israeli political and religious leaders even gasconaded about the tight Jewish domination of the American government, Congress and the two main political parties.
There have been two main consequences of this de facto Israeli defiance of its former master and guardian-ally.
First, the US. Leverage on Israel has never been as low and ineffective as it is today. This is despite America’s unfaltering strategic commitment to Israel’s security and military superiority (qualitative edge) overall Arab-Muslim nations combined).
In fact, one wouldn’t exaggerate much by arguing that within the frame of the American-Israeli alliance, Israel, not the U.S., now constitutes the centre of gravity.
This observation is vindicated by recent developments following the formation of the most openly-fascist government in Israel’s history, which has effectively scrapped all alleged shared values between the two countries. Thus statements by American officials voicing a modicum of US reservation over the new fascist dawn in Israel have been quite restrained, parsimonious, reluctant, and somewhat bashful.
Second, Israeli officials, including Benyamin Netanyahu, and broader Likud circles have been quite defiant and contemptuous of American officials, such as President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who reiterated U.S commitment to the two-state solution strategy.
Netanyahu retorted to Biden, saying “Israel doesn’t occupy foreign land.” A pro-Netanyahu writer advised the Americans “to take care of their crumbling democracy before lecturing Israel on occupied territories. More contemptuous is likely to be used by people like Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich in reference to the Americans.
Who is the dog and who is the wagging tail?
The dog versus the wagging tail analogy is used to describe a situation in which a powerful entity like the US is being controlled by someone that is much less important or powerful like Israel. Today, the tail is entrenched in the driver’s seat like never before. The Wagging tail is the State of Israel, and the dog is, or should be, the United States of America. Small, isolated, dependent Israel no more dictates to the imperialist U.S. giant than a tail wags a dog.
In the past, Israel bullied the governments of the US to abandon erstwhile US policy vis-à-vis Jewish settlements in the West Bank. In the 1970s, for example, the US viewed the settlements as illegal and contravening the rule of international law. Eventually, however, the US came to view these criminal facts as mere “controversial” and incompatible with the aspiration for peace.”
Now, with the likes of Ben Gvir and Smotrich at the helm of power in Israel, it is more likely that the fascist clique in the Jewish state will eventually pull American leaders off to the Judeo-Nazi home-turf, not the other way around.
American leaders, whether Trump or Biden, simply lack the moral immunity to tell Netanyahu, who is merely Ben-Gvir’s and Smotrich’s public relations officer, “enough is enough”! These two words would be sufficient to put an end to the political career of any American president. (end)
Thousands of US Immigrant Workers Forced Into Modern Slavery
While, on the one end, thousands of immigrant workers are forced into modern slavery, migrant politics is once again taking center stage in the United States.
Last Thursday, two buses carrying immigrants and asylum seekers arrived near the residence of vice president Kamla Harris. Texas governor Greg Abbott said that the state of Texas “will continue to send migrants” until the white house comes up with strict policies to secure the border.
Since April, Texas has sent over 7,000 migrants to New York and Washington, DC. Not long before, Florida’s governor sent over 50 undocumented migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
Politicians are, once again, inconsiderately using immigrant men, women, and children as political pawns. But nobody is talking about the suffering and exploitation these immigrants, even with a work visa, are facing.
The Reality of Immigrant Workers: The Operation Blooming Onion
Immigrant exploitation is nothing new in the US. The roots of forced labor — an ugly legacy of slavery — still run deep in the US labor market.
One live example is the recent crackdown in the field of southern Georgia, where 24 people were named in a federal indictment accused of Moder-Day-Slavery. For over three years, the 24 prosecutors trafficked migrant workers from Central America and Mexico and subjected them to horrendous working conditions on the farms in Georgia.
On further investigation, the authorities found that the culprits were a part of a transactional criminal organization that has been trafficking immigrant workers since 2015.
The victims were forced to live in cramped, dirty trailers with raw sewage leaking into the trailers, threatened with separation, and detained in a work comp surrounded by a work fence. And this is only a small fraction of thousands of suffering through immigrant exploitation under modern-day slavery.
The Ugly Face of Forced Labor & Modern Slavery in the US
For most natives of developing and under-developed nations, landing a job in the US is a dream come true. The same was true for Jayson, a construction worker in the Philippines, when his boss offered him a handsomely paying job in the states. But it soon became a nightmare.
Not long after he arrived in the US on a P-1 visa for athletes (as recommended by his recruiter), he realized that he was not here as a worker but as a trafficked laborer.
In the name of safekeeping, the recruiter took Jayson’s passport and asked him to pay $12,000 for a work Visa. Unaware of his rights and visa policies, he worked for the trafficker for nine months (in awful working conditions at a low wage of $400/month) until he was rescued by the FBI.
What’s worst? Jayson is not alone. Lured by the salary, status, and potentially bright future, thousands of temporary migrant workers fall into the trap of forced labor in the US every year.
The Exploitation of Immigrant Workers in the US
Immigrants from other nations make up a sizeable portion of the forced (enslaved) labor victims in the United States. Most exploited victims suffer because they don’t understand or speak English, nor do they know their rights or the laws.
They decide to immigrate to the United States in the expectation of finding more chances and a better life, putting complete faith in their traffickers, like Jayson, only to find themselves trapped in an unstoppable circle of coercion.
Most immigrants caught in the forced labor trafficking chains come to the United States via student or work (H2A) visa programs. This is where the traffickers exploit the victim’s vulnerabilities, especially when their immigrants are entirely dependent on the exploiters for their basic needs.
The Unfair Power Imbalance
According to recent estimates by State Department, 14,500 to 17,500 immigrants are trafficked into the US every year. But experts believe that the real numbers are much higher since the data on human trafficking are immensely challenging to collect.
As per the Human Rights Center at the University of California, about 10,000 forced laborers are working as slave workers in the US at any given time.
Plus, for the victims who want to take the legal route, the process is complex, arduous, and lengthy. Moreover, the majority of cases are often left unresolved. A recent report by ABC news shows how even skilled immigrant workers suffer from immigrant exploitation and workplace sexual harassment.
All this makes one thing very clear: Immigrant workers are abused, and even after 150 years of slavery abolition, the US is still struggling to eradicate modern slavery.
The Call for Better Visa and Immigrant Protection Policies
In a letter to the government, 18 grassroots legal centers from all over the nation demand essential legislative reforms, such as criminalizing wage theft, enabling migrant workers to take legal action against exploitative employers, and widening the Fair Entitlements Guarantee to every worker, including those with temporary work visas.
But, still, the requests for more robust regulation to prevent the exploitation of immigrants are yet to be addressed.
The US and Israel are Weaponizing Iran Protests
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently blamed the US and Israel for the ongoing widespread protests in Iran. He said that the riots had been “engineered” by Iran’s arch-enemies and their allies.
The statement came after Israel and the US governments lent their support to the protests.
The US government said that it was “appalled” by the violent response to the protests. President Joe Biden expressed grave concern about reports of the “intensifying violent crackdown on peaceful protesters”. According to him, those protesters were calling for “just and universal principles”. He added that the US “stands with Iranian women” who were “inspiring the world with their bravery”. The US also hit Iran with more sanctions. Iran’s interior and communications ministers and several law enforcement leaders were targeted for sanctions.
Israel has been running a propaganda campaign on its official social media handles. The official handles shared several videos showing Israeli women standing up with Iranian women.
Widespread protests in Iran were provoked after the tragic death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. The protests are led by women. Some men are also standing up to the women and their demands.
The supreme leader’s statement has the backing of history. Those who are unaware of Iran’s history, the US intervention in countries like Afghanistan to save women and Israel’s purple-washing in Palestine, might dismiss Ayatollah’s statement. They might think that the Ayatollah is looking for a reason to suppress protests and justify the violent repression.
However, there is more truth to the statement than meets the eye.
Iran’s Experience with the US and Israel
When we read about Iran’s recent history, for some reason it always starts with the Islamic Revolution of 1979. However, this author believes that Iran’s recent history should always begin from 1953.
In 1953, the United States and Britain launched a joint operation through the CIA and MI6 to overthrow the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Mosaddegh had tried to nationalize oil companies and reclaim Iran’s oil from the British.
Further, one year after the Islamic Revolution, a CIA agent sneaked into Iran and took out six American diplomats who were staying in the Canadian embassy after the hostage crisis.
There have also been recent operations by Israel inside Iran. Israel’s Mossad assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020. Mossad carried out the assassination using A. I. and remote control. Additionally, Mossad has killed 5 and wounded one Iranian nuclear scientist in several attacks since Iran began trying to acquire a nuclear bomb.
Also Read: Is Iran really the enemy?
Weaponizing Feminist Movements
The West and Israel claim to stand up for women’s rights around the world. However, they have done more damage to these movements than anyone else by weaponizing the feminist movements.
One of the reasons given by the US to invade Afghanistan was to save the women of Afghanistan. The then-First Lady Laura Bush delivered a speech in 2001 in which she justified the invasion of Afghanistan to protect the women of Afghanistan from the brutal oppression of women.
Israel has also co-opted feminist struggles in order to justify the Zionist movement. It claims to rescue Palestinian women from the evil men of Palestine. It grabs the gender equality slogan to divert attention from its human rights abuses in Palestine.
However, when it comes to women like Shireen Abu Akleh whom Israel kills for doing their duty, Israel conveniently parts its way with feminism.
Right now, what we are seeing in Iran is no different from Afghanistan or Palestine. Israel’s government and its women are standing with women because they hate Iran. They do not care about Iran’s women. It is just that they want Iran to perish from the earth.
Similarly, the US does not care about women’s struggle in Iran. The US does not allow its female citizens the right to choose when it comes to abortion.
It is also interesting that neither the US nor Israel stands up for the feminist activists of Saudi Arabia who are languishing in jails for small acts of defiance. The US never sanctioned Saudi rulers for oppressing women.
Perhaps Israel and the US have this wishful thinking that somehow they could use this uprising to oust the current regime in Iran.
Iran’s previous president Hassan Rouhani had given more leeway to women in Iran. There was a gradual change happening in Iran. However, Mahsa Amini’s death led to an uprising that has now been hijacked by Iran’s enemies. As a result, Iran seems to consider the current uprising a national security issue.
The West and Israel should leave Muslim women for themselves. They should not be in the job of rescuing Muslim women. It would be more helpful if they do not selectively stand with Muslims of a particular country. They turn feminist movements into national security issues and hence do a disservice to the feminist struggles.
This article deals with only one aspect of the current uprising in Iran. Other aspects have been covered elsewhere.
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