Far right jockeys for power in new Austrian government

VIENNA (AFP) — Austria’s far right looked set Monday for a possible return to power in a coalition with conservative Sebastian Kurz, the world’s youngest leader-in-waiting, in a fresh triumph for European populists.

Such a rightward shift in the wealthy European Union member state would pose a fresh headache for Brussels as it struggles with Brexit and the rise of nationalists in Germany, Hungary, Poland and elsewhere.

The People’s Party (OeVP) — rebooted by Kurz as a more hardline “movement” — was projected to have won 31.7 percent of Sunday’s vote, with final results expected later this week.

In second place were the Social Democrats (SPOe) of incumbent Chancellor Christian Kern at 26.9 percent, closely followed by the eurosceptic Freedom Party (FPOe) at 26.0 percent.

Founded by ex-Nazis in the 1950s, the FPOe’s result is close to its all-time record of 26.8 percent in 1999 under then-leader Joerg Haider, and twice that of their allies the Alternative for Germany (AfD) last month.

Kurz, 31, forced the snap vote after becoming OeVP chief in May and ending the acrimonious decade-long coalition with the SPOe.

He attracted supporters in droves by depicting himself as a breath of fresh air, talking tough on immigration and vowing to slash taxes and red tape.

“With Kurz we have a new start for the country,” said Werner Schwab, 64, a gardener. “Although he is 31, he is an experienced, calm and disciplined person.”

President’s refusal right

Given Kurz’s thinly concealed dislike for Kern, another “grand coalition” of the two centrist parties that have long dominated is seen as unlikely — but not impossible.

This leaves the populist FPOe of Heinz-Christian Strache, 48, as Kurz’s most probable partner.

Media reports said the two parties were already engaged in intensive behind-the-scene talks, with the FPOe demanding key ministerial positions.

Another possibility, albeit remote, is a tie-up between the FPOe and the SPOe, whose campaign suffered a string of mishaps.

Kern said Monday he was open to talks but that the most likely government was between Kurz and Strache, given the “enormous overlaps in the programs.”

The ex-Greens leader, 73, said Sunday he could refuse certain ministers.Any new cabinet needs to be approved by President Alexander Van der Bellen who in December narrowly beat far-right candidate Norbert Hofer to the largely ceremonial post.

“It’s the right of the president to do so if he doesn’t trust a person for certain reasons,” Van der Bellen said.

Far-right ‘normalization’

The OeVP — in power nonstop for 30 years — and FPOe already governed together between 2000 and 2007, turning Austria into a pariah.

But there would not be the same backlash now owing to what experts say is the “normalization” of Europe’s far-right.

France’s National Front (FN) called Austria’s election “another welcome defeat” of the EU, in a statement Monday.

Like the FN, AfD, and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, the FPOe has stoked concerns about a record influx of migrants into Europe.

The party topped opinion polls until Kurz stole some of Strache’s thunder with his radical OeVP makeover.

As foreign minister, the rosy-cheeked Kurz claims credit for closing the Balkan migrant trail in 2016 that saw hundreds of thousands of refugees trek into western Europe.

“I promise I will fight for great change in this country,” Kurz told his supporters Sunday.

More EU tensions

Despite Kurz’s pro-EU pledge, observers say a right-wing alliance risks driving a wedge between Vienna and Brussels.

Vienna will hold the EU’s presidency in the second half of 2018, just when Brussels wants to conclude Brexit talks.

Kurz and his views on immigration and economic policy are “diametrically opposed” to those of France and Germany, according to Paris-based Austria expert Patrick Moreau.

The FPOe meanwhile wants EU sanctions on Moscow lifted and pushes for closer ties with eastern and central European countries.

But for EU Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn, an Austrian from Kurz’s party, the ballot “does not mean Austria is moving to the right.”

“It’s clear any government will have a very pro-European agenda because the main political parties are very much committed to the European Union,” he told reporters in Luxembourg.


Behold The Jews And The Power They Hold

Behold The Jews And The Power They Hold

I told them once
But they shall say it again
When you live on the flesh
It shall be the beginning of an end
Kikes will take you in
And they will spit you out
Behold the Jews
And the power they hold!

Hatred is a virtue laced with pleasure that becomes sweet
One of their many faces that they try to hide beneath
Jews will take you in
Jews will spit you out!
Behold the Jew
And the power that they hold!

In the new
Jews already knew
From our first battle
They already knew
To never let go
These words that they speak no more

Like a slash
To their face
They see it and know it is there
When my hatred shows
Its perfect face
Jews will be prepared to die!

Violence kills
Like bullets carried by my hands
The end of their time
Shall be a time to begin!

Kikes will take you in
And spit you out
Behold the Jews
And the power they hold!
Jews will build you up
In their way and tear you down


There’s enough wind energy over the oceans to power human civilization, scientists say

New research published on Monday finds there is so much wind energy potential over oceans that it could theoretically be used to generate “civilization scale power” — assuming, that is, that we are willing to cover enormous stretches of the sea with turbines, and can come up with ways to install and maintain them in often extreme ocean environments.

It’s very unlikely that we would ever build out open ocean turbines on anything like that scale — indeed, doing so could even alter the planet’s climate, the research finds. But the more modest message is that wind energy over the open oceans has large potential — reinforcing the idea that floating wind farms, over very deep waters, could be the next major step for wind energy technology.

“I would look at this as kind of a greenlight for that industry from a geophysical point of view,” said Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif. The study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Carnegie researcher Anna Possner, who worked in collaboration with Caldeira.

The study takes, as its outset, prior research that has found that there’s probably an upper  limit to the amount of energy that can be generated by a wind farm that’s located on land. The limit arises both because natural and human structures on land create friction that slows down the wind speed, but also because each individual wind turbine extracts some of the energy of the wind and transforms it into power that we can use — leaving less wind energy for other turbines to collect.

“If each turbine removes something like half the energy flowing through it, by the time you get to the second row, you’ve only got a quarter of the energy, and so on,” explained Caldeira.

The ocean is different. First, wind speeds can be as much as 70 percent higher than on land. But a bigger deal is what you might call wind replenishment. The new research found that over the mid-latitude oceans, storms regularly transfer powerful wind energy down to the surface from higher altitudes, meaning that the upper limit here for how much energy you can capture with turbines is considerably higher.

“Over land, the turbines are just sort of scraping the kinetic energy out of the lowest part of the atmosphere, whereas over the ocean, it’s depleting the kinetic energy out of most of the troposphere, or the lower part of the atmosphere,” said Caldeira.

The study compares a theoretical wind farm of nearly 2 million square kilometers located either over the U.S. (centered on Kansas) or in the open Atlantic. And it finds that covering much of the central U.S. with wind farms would still be insufficient to power the U.S. and China, which would require a generating capacity of some 7 terawatts annually (a terawatt is equivalent to a trillion watts).

But the North Atlantic could theoretically power those two countries and then some. The potential energy that can be extracted over the ocean, given the same area, is “at least three times as high.”

It would take an even larger, 3 million square kilometer wind installation over the ocean to provide humanity’s current power needs, or 18 terawatts, the study found. That’s an area even larger than Greenland.

Hence, the study concludes that “on an annual mean basis, the wind power available in the North Atlantic could be sufficient to power the world.”

But it’s critical to emphasize that these are purely theoretical calculations. They are thwarted by many practical factors, including the fact that the winds aren’t equally strong in all seasons, and that the technologies to capture their energy at such a scale, much less transfer it to shore, do not currently exist.

Oh, and then there’s another large problem: Modeling simulations performed in the study suggest that extracting this much wind energy from nature would have planetary-scale effects, including cooling down parts of the Arctic by as much as 13 degrees Celsius.

“Trying to get civilization scale power out of wind is a bit asking for trouble,” Caldeira said. But he said the climate effect would be smaller if the amount of energy being tapped was reduced down from these extremely high numbers, and if the wind farms were more spaced out across the globe.

“I think it lends itself to the idea that we’re going to want to use a portfolio of technologies, and not rely on this only,” said Caldeira.

Energy gurus have long said that among renewable sources, solar energy has the greatest potential to scale up and generate terawatt-scale power, enough to satisfy large parts of human energy demand. Caldeira doesn’t dispute that. But his study suggests that at least if open ocean wind becomes accessible someday, it may have considerable potential too.

Alexander Slocum, an MIT mechanical engineering professor who has focused on offshore wind and its potential, and who was not involved in the research, said he considered the paper a “very good study” and that it didn’t seem biased.

“The conclusion implied by the paper that open ocean wind energy farms can provide most of our energy needs is also supported history: as a technology gets becomes constrained (e.g., horse drawn carriages) or monopolized (OPEC), a motivation arises to look around for alternatives,” Slocum continued by email. “The automobile did it to horses, the U.S. did it to OPEC with fracking, and now renewables are doing it to the hydrocarbon industry.”

“The authors do acknowledge that considerable technical challenges come into play in actually harvesting energy from these far off-shore sites, but I appreciate their focus on the magnitude of the resource,” added Julie Lundquist, a wind energy researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “I hope this work will stimulate further interest in deep water wind energy.”

Underscoring the theoretical nature of the calculations, Lundquist added by email that “current and foreseeable wind turbine deployments both on- and off-shore are much smaller than would be required to reach the atmospheric energy limitations that this work and others are concerned with.”

The research points to a kind of third act for wind energy. On land, turbines are very well established and more are being installed every year. Offshore, meanwhile, coastal areas are now also seeing more and more turbine installations, but still in relatively shallow waters.

But to get out over the open ocean, where the sea is often well over a mile deep, is expected to require yet another technology — likely a floating turbine that extends above the water and sits atop some kind of very large submerged floating structure, accompanied by cables that anchor the entire turbine to the seafloor.

Experimentation with the technology is already happening: Statoil is moving to build a large floating wind farm off the coast of Scotland, which will be located in waters around 100 meters deep and have 15 megawatts (million watts) of electricity generating capacity. The turbines are 253 meters tall, but 78 meters of that length refers to the floating part below the sea surface.

“The things that we’re describing are likely not going to be economic today, but once you have an industry that’s starting in that direction, should provide incentive for that industry to develop,” said Caldeira.

The Power and Purpose of Freemasonry

By Eric Thomson (2002)

(compiled from two pieces)

Masonry was the first intelligence agency of the modern era. And it was an extrusion of the British Empire. Of this there is no doubt. The primary branches are the Scottish Rite (major) and York Rite (minor). The creator was John Dee. He was Queen Elizabeth’s court astronomer (astrologer), mathematician and European intelligence agent. He routinely signed his letters to her ‘007’. In his European travels Dee spent a lot of time with Rabbi Judah ben Lowe of Prague. As we study Masonry we see that it’s organized very similarly to the internationally dispersed yet defined Jewish communities.

The purpose of Masonry was to serve as a network of agents of influence and also to deliver trade intelligence. Just what the doctor ordered for a trading empire, ja? The ultimate in insider trading. In the Revolutionary Era it had a different common name. In America it was known as the “English Lodges”. This is what George Washington called it when a political scandal arose about his possible membership in it. The Americans of the Revolutionary Era were well-informed about this organization’s connections to the British Crown.

Masonry has a rigid territorial and hierarchical organization. The appearance of ‘irregularly constituted’ lodges, i.e. those not hooked into the network, is a constant concern to Masonry. This would not be a concern if this entity were only concerned with spreading its ostensible message of truth and brotherhood. A Masonic dismisses by rank, or degree. The lower rankers go out before the higher rankers, who stay a bit longer. In this we can see a perfect image of the CIA with its system of territorial sub-stations and compartmentalization. What we actually see in the CIA is an image of Masonry.

Dee’s real genius was in concealing the nature of this organization even from the vast majority of its membership. He did this with a smokescreen of religious and philosophical hooey. The overwhelming majority of Masons do not understand this aspect, nor do they ever advance beyond the 3d Degree, Master Mason. To them it’s a super back-scratching club. It’s ‘good for business’. Masons are sworn to brotherhood with each other, above their loyalties to the ‘profane ones’ of the community. That’s why Freddy the Master Mason has the badge on the back of his independent contractor’s truck. It’s ‘good for business’.

This is all bad enough, especially when local Freemason police warn their lodge brethren about an upcoming anti-pot operation and to keep their kids out of the way for a bit. Or when favoritism is shown in civil court proceedings. Or when the Lodge gets together to elect ‘their boy’ to the state house or senate.

The truly destructive aspect of this entity is when a total stranger appears in the community shaking the secret handshake. Masons are sworn to extend brotherhood to this unknown person with his unknown motives above their own neighbors and fellow local citizens. For a very long time, and probably now, British MI-6 maintained an operations section devoted exclusive to operating through ‘occult organizations’.

Now if patriotism and civic loyalty means anything in the real world, it starts next door and on your own street. Your community can have absolutely no Zionist Jews in it and you can still end up with all the effects.  That’s because you already have a nest of ‘mental Jews’ in it. No undemitted member of this entity has any place in our ranks.

My firsthand experience in Rhodesia put Freemasons at the forefront of the sellout of White interests. There were over 200 Freemasonic lodges in Bulawayo, Rhodesia’s second largest city, Salisbury (Harare) being the capital. The executives on Rhodesia Railways, for example, were all Freemasons, by their own admission. I worked in Railway Headquarters on my last civil service job in that unfortunate country. The entire White population of Rhodesia was under 250,000, so the percentage of Freemasons was high, indeed. The first hotel in Bulawayo was The Masonic Hotel.

In Mexico, I was informed by an attorney, who also ran for office as ruling party candidate, that all politicians had to be Freemasons to be elected. In Chile, 33° Freemason and Communist, President Allende, was supposedly killed by 33° Freemason and ‘fascist’ Pinochet in a coup d’etat. Argentina’s founders were Freemasons, several of whom were also jews, and the Argentine flag is replete with Freemasonic symbols.

While in Rhodesia, I met a former City of London policeman of the C.I.D., which would be a plainclothes detective in U.S. parlance. He’d had to resign because of a scandal involving City of London police who were members of a Freemasonic lodge which also included crooks as members, all of whom colluded in corruption, such as arranging burglaries and robberies for shares of loot. British writer, Knight, revealed this matter in his book on Freemasonry entitled “The Brotherhood”. After inviting Mr. Knight to testify at one of the Toronto thoughtcrime trials, as expert witness on Freemasons, I shortly learned that he’d died suddenly, at age 33. His successor went on to produce another book entitled “Inside the Brotherhood”, if I recall correctly.

Freemasonry wields lots of power and influence in countries of the ‘ former’ British Empire, including the U.S.A. and Canada. As a former member of the U.S. Forest Service, I was told that I must join The International Order of Foresters if I wanted to advance as a career Forest Service employee. The same applied to navigators in the U.S. merchant marine. In the Canadian Province of Ontario, I was reliably informed that no policeman can advance beyond the rank of sergeant, unless he joins the Freemasons. I know one good cop who refused, and he remains a sergeant. The courts are riddled with Freemasons and jews, so it is best to choose a female attorney, since they cannot be Freemasons. In my experience, they actually defended their clients in politically-charged cases, quite unlike the male attorneys who appeared all too co-operative with the Freemasonic prosecutors!

In the first Toronto thoughtcrime trial, Toronto policemen on active duty testified as expert witnesses on the subject of Freemasonry, and the judge upheld their refusal to answer questions put to them under cross-examination by Attorney Doug Christie. It was obvious that the Freemasonic oath took precedence over the oath stated by the testifying police officer “to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me, God!” The Freemasonic oath also took precedence over the oath to the queen. Thus, very little was learned about Freemasonry from the Freemasons’ “expert witness”, and the judge upheld his repeated refusals to answer questions on the topic. I began to feel as if the trial were being conducted in a lodge, rather than a public courtroom.

After World War II, the Norwegian patriot, Vidkun Quisling, was tried in the grand lodge in Oslo. The Freemasons won the war and the Norwegians lost, as was made very plain. Norway is no exception. Wherever Freemasons win, their country loses. Rhodesia’s demise was another Freemasonic ‘victory’. Freemasons are frontmen and minions of the ZOG.





“Why would a professor of Yiddish write about politics and power?” The question was posed on Tuesday night by Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz to Ruth Wisse, author of the best-selling book Jews and Power, the Hebrew edition of which should be released by the end of this year.

Wisse is a professor of Yiddish literature and of comparative literature at Harvard University, where Katz was a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism in 2012-13. Wisse had been one of his teachers.

Wisse saw nothing unusual in the question.

“Yiddish forces you to think about Jewish politics,” she said at Jerusalem’s Beit Avi Chai, citing how some 10 million people spoke Yiddish in 1939, and a short time afterward, “this world of Yiddish was extinguished.”

Wisse, 81, said she was greatly bothered growing up by the verse in the Passover Haggada that states: “In every generation they will rise up against us,” and she wondered why in all generations do people find Jews such a convenient political target.

She had never really found an answer.

“The puzzle is still with me,” she said.

What amazes her is that instead of being obsessed with this, the Jewish world simply accepts the recurring situation.

“We have not concentrated on politics,” she said. “How do Jews function politically in relation to other people?” The war against Jews, she said, is unilateral. “Most people think of warfare as a binary action.

There’s a winner and there’s a loser. Jews did not see war as a binary action. You were not defeated by Babylon, you did not meet God’s standards. They lost because they did not satisfy God’s requirements.”

In Wisse’s perception, “that makes you indestructible. You go into exile, but did Jews ever give up on returning to the Land of Israel?” she declared to a ripple of applause..

Other nations see Jews as a people that succeeds wherever it goes, she said. “It’s always entrepreneurial, but it never has the power to protect itself.”

Throughout history, she observed, Jews have been there to expel, to massacre and to expropriate from.

Wisse was critical of studies of antisemitism which, she said, are mostly statistics.

Although antisemitism stretches back to beyond the First Temple, Wisse said its modern form was created by emancipation, because Jews went into professions that were previously denied to them – and they excelled.

More than that, she noted, antisemitism has become a unifying political movement.

“All anti-liberal movements are attracted to antisemitism.”

Although fascism and communism are not doing too well on their own, what they have in common is antisemitism, which Wisse said is “the most powerful ideology of modern times.”

While she believes that the future of the State of Israel is in the hands of the citizens of Israel, she is convinced that neither Israel nor anyone else can solve the Arab problem. “The reason they’re against us is because they cannot accept the principle of coexistence,” she said.

When Katz tried to turn the conversation to American Jewry, Wisse said that “Israelis have come a long way. My worry is more for American Jewry.”

Then she paused for a moment and said that whatever his problems are at the moment, “[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is the leader of the free world.”

When the subject of BDS was raised by Katz, Wisse pointed out that it was nothing new.

“The boycott against Israel began in 1945. It’s one of the first things the Arab League adopted.” The idea at the time was to weaken Jewish industry in Palestine. Wisse is also convinced that the Arab world will never allow the Palestinians to have their own state – not that it would be very visible on the map if they did have a state.

Usually when speaking on this subject, she said, she has a large map of the Middle East on which one can hardly see Israel.

She did not have a very high opinion of Israel’s public diplomacy, which she said was always on the defense instead of being on the attack. In every synagogue, she said, there is a notice above the ark with the words “Know before whom you stand.” The same holds true when arguing with one’s enemies. “Know before whom you stand and attack, attack, attack.”

Asked about President Donald Trump, Wisse said she couldn’t comment because there had never been a president like him in the United States. When the election campaign first started and she and her husband and their Conservative friends sat around the Shabbat table evaluating candidates, “Trump’s name never came up – not even once.” All she would allow herself to say about the Trump administration was “I’m more optimistic than I would have been with Hillary Clinton.”

Despite Trump’s Unpopularity, Democrats Face Long Road Back Into Power

The political forecasting industry has turned into a seesaw over the Democrats’ future.

Nate Silver says Trump’s base has maxed out, lifting blue hopes. The Cook Report’s congressional editor David Wasserman counters that the GOP has locks on states, the House and Senate, deflating the prognosis. The Washington Post says not so fast, citing polls finding that Democrats are not losing any ground by embracing the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing, offering progressives new hope.

The forecasters and their data are not contradicting each other. They have different points of departure, big picture frames, fine-print arguments and historic contexts. But what is clear is that Democrats are in a very deep ditch, and while there are some signs of hope, their pathway back into national power is anything but assured.

The good news is pegged to the politics of the moment. As Silver observes, “Trump’s problem is that there aren’t many voters who could plausibly be persuaded to join the Trump train, at least not on short notice.” And no wonder! Beyond being endlessly offensive to blue America, he and Congress’ Republicans don’t know how to lead, coordinate and execute. Hence 58 percent of the country disapproves.

“It’s not like Republicans have begun impeachment proceedings or Sean Hannity has abandoned Trump,” Silver concludes. “But in his time as president so far, Trump has found more ways to lose supporters than to gain them.”

Silver’s pragmatism suggests Democrats have an opening. Indeed they do. The latest national poll by Quinnipiac University found, “if the 2018 Congressional elections were held today, voters say 52 – 38 percent, including 48 – 37 percent among independent voters, they would like the Democrats to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Indeed, a majority also wanted a Democratic Senate. “Voters say 53 – 39 percent, including 49 – 40 percent among independent voters, they would like to see the Democrats win control of the U.S. Senate,” Quinnipiac reported, saying the public believes that Democrats can do a better job on health care, concerns raised by the working class, and equal numbers believe each party can do a better job on taxes.

What’s the problem, then? These figures might reflect the nation’s voters as a whole, but they do not reflect the blue-red breakdowns among voters in state and federal electoral districts across the country. How steep a climb it is to actually win power is not conveyed in the latest emails and fundraising blasts from blue political committees aimed at party loyalists—such as the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (state races) or Democratic Governor’s Association (which just launched UnrigTheMap.com).

How steep is the climb? Well, depending where you look—state legislative majorities, governors, control of the U.S. House and Senate—it sadly spans from bad to worse.

When it comes to statehouses, 32 of the 50 states have trifectas, where one party controls both state legislative chambers and the governor’s office. This is why it accurately feels like Americans live in two separate countries—because, politically, we do. Twenty-six of these monopoly states are red. (West Virginia’s governor left the Dems last week.) Six—Rhode Island, Hawaii, Connecticut, Delaware, Oregon and California—are blue.

These red-state legislators are the tribe who created the political maps in 2011 giving the GOP its lock on statehouses and the U.S. House for this decade, as well as launched the lawsuits challenging Obamacare, climate change, abortion rights, LGBT equality, etc. They are not going away. Instead, they define 2018’s and 2020’s political landscape.

Start with the governors, where West Virginia’s Jim Justice jumped ship last week.

“Democrats, who at the beginning of the Obama presidency held 28 governorships, have seen their ranks dwindle to just 15,” wrote the Washington Post’s Dan Balz after Justice flipped. “At some point over the past decade, according to the Republican Governors Association, there has been a Republican governor in 46 of the 50 states,” he said. “Eight years ago, Democrats held the upper hand, controlling 17 states to nine for the Republicans.” That loss of seats means no one vetoes bad right-wing bills.

When it comes to Congress, the task is more than daunting. Why? Because those extreme gerrymandered maps, created by GOP monopoly legislatures in 2011, erased competitive districts and gave the GOP roughly 20 seats more than fair-minded contests would have yielded. That’s according to new analyses—from the Associated Press(22 more seats) to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law (16-17 seats).

As redistricting expert David Daley recently told AlterNet about 2018, “I see a really tight map. Democrats need to take back 24 seats and my challenge to people who say the Democrats can take back the House is, name those districts. And you better name more than just 24 because you’re not going to win all of them. Where are the 60 districts that can be targeted, in order to have a fighting chance of taking back half of them?”

What people need to understand about redistricting is GOP mapmakers segregated each party’s reliable voters. As the Supreme Court’s spring 2017 ruling on North Carolina’s congressional gerrymander noted, that state’s Republicans routinely won House seats with 56 percent of the vote, compared to Democrats routinely getting about 70 percent. The GOP ‘cracked’ and ‘packed’ that state’s reliable voters to get this result.

For Democrats to get a numerical majority in gerrymandered districts, they typically need between 56-to-58 percent of their reliable voting base to turn out. The GOP’s starting line advantage is before other voter suppression tactics shave off an additional two-to-three percent from Democrats, such as enacting stricter ID laws to get a regular ballot.

This is the political reality that’s on the ground in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, which, were it not the case, would make the U.S. House blue.

This is where and how Democrats are stuck. Yes, it’s good news that Trump’s popularity keeps falling and 58 percent of the nation thinks ill of his performance. That’s because federal midterm elections tend to reflect the public’s feelings about the party in power, wrote David Cook of the The Cook Political Report.

“It’s fashionable these days to say that Democrats have to stand for something if they’re going to win a House majority and break even in the Senate,” he wrote. “Balderdash. I have never seen a party win a midterm [federal] election on the issues; midterms are always a referendum on the party in power.”

But Democrats face multiple layers of bad luck in Congress, as Cook’s colleague David Wasserman noted in another recent piece.

“Even if Democrats were to win every single 2018 House and Senate race for seats representing places that Hillary Clinton won or that Trump won by less than 3 percentage points—a pretty good midterm by historical standards—they could still fall short of the House majority and lose five Senate seats,” Wasserman wrote, citing the gerrymanders as setting the stage for the House races, and plain old bad luck for the Senate side of the story. (Senate races are statewide and thus not susceptible to gerrymanders.)

“Democrats have been cursed by a terrible Senate map in 2018: They must defend 25 of their 48 seats, while Republicans must defend just eight of their 52,” he wrote. The long-term prognosis for Democratic control of the Senate is also pretty bleak, he explained.

“In the last few decades, Democrats have expanded their advantages in California and New York—states with huge urban centers that combined to give Clinton a 6 million vote edge, more than twice her national margin,” Wasserman wrote. “But those two states elect only 4 percent of the Senate. Meanwhile, Republicans have made huge advances in small rural states—think ArkansasNorth and South DakotaIowaLouisianaMontana and West Virginia—that wield disproportionate power in the upper chamber compared to their populations.”

Where does this leave Democrats in mid-2017? Many in the national political press, from the Post’s Balz to NPR, are saying the Republicans “have never been so dominant—or vulnerable.”

That assessment is a bit fanciful. When you are this far down, there’s nowhere to go but up. Winning a few state legislative or congressional seats is not taking back majority power. Being a few points ahead of the GOP in recent national polls isn’t enough of an edge to overcome the GOP’s 10-point starting-line advantage conveyed by their gerrymanders and voter suppression tactics in what should otherwise be purple states.

The country’s political divisions are vast, deep, historic and daunting. In short, while Trump might be losing support and struggling to build a border wall, Democrats are struggling to tear down political wall and structural advantage created by GOP this decade.

“The United States has split into two political nations,” wrote Richard E. Cohen for the Cook Political Report’s upcoming new edition of its Almanac of American Politics. “In each of those distinct coalitions, the majority Republican or Democratic Party separately controls at least two-thirds of the presidential Electoral Votes, the seats in Congress, and the governorships. That leaves the balance of power with roughly 20 percent of the states and voters… [where] the nation’s political control is determined. For the foreseeable future, significant shifts in the overwhelming numbers on each side seem unlikely.”




Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).

Sovereignty, Power and Money



By Eric Thomson (2001)

Meyer Amschel, the founder of the House of Rothschild, supposedly said, “Give me the power to coin and issue money and I care not who makes the laws!” When we gave the power to create money out of nothing to the jew-banksters of the Federal Reserve, we gave away our sovereignty. The fact that the jews are permitted to charge us interest on every dollar they allow us to print is monstrous in the annals of self-inflicted slavery. For the body politic, charging interest on our country’s currency is worse than an addiction, for a drug addict only pays for more of his drug. He does not pay more and more for the drugs he has already taken! Our addiction to credit, that is, borrowed money upon which interest is charged, is slavery, and like drug addiction, it is a form of slavery we have ourselves chosen.

“What is the difference between banking and counterfeiting?” I asked my economics professor, who was on the local Federal Reserve Board. He smiled and replied: “Bankers do not print money and counterfeiters do not charge interest.” “Banking sounds like a better racket than counterfeiting,” I commented. He just smiled and changed the subject.

Goods and services are what give value to money. Without productivity, money has no value, even if it be gold or silver. This truth is borne out by “Gold Rush prices” in California, such as $5 in gold for an egg, provided one was available. The misallocation of productivity into the acquisition of gold, silver and gems ruined the economies of the Spanish and Portuguese empires. Spain’s most prosperous time, in terms of gold and silver was its worst time in terms of poverty and inflation. When diamonds were discovered in Brazil, the ruler of the Portuguese empire, the Marquis de Pombal, asked “What manner of wealth was this, which drew the peasant from the land, the artisan from the forge and impoverished the people?”

“Money is power,” said an Ostensible White. “And the power to create money is sovereignty,” I added. I added to that the fact that no people on earth, except the jews, have the power to create money out of nothing. Hence, only the jews are sovereign, for all states and peoples depend upon them for their money supply and all are exploited by usury, that is, interest owed on that money to the jew-banksters. By controlling the supply of money, the jews also dictate policy on such matters as wars, immigration, propaganda, economic activities and the operations of government. It is all so open and so simple that only the Gentiles do not see it. It took Dorothy’s little dog to unmask the Wizard of Oz. Does it take me, Eric Thomson, to point out the obvious?

Without productivity, money has no value and no power at all. Without producers, there is no productivity. The White people of the world have consented to give their sovereignty to the jew banksters and their Zionist lackeys. We have thus traded our birthright for a sham and slavery. The jews have no power of themselves, for they are vampires who do not produce, but exploit the producers. The question is, why do we let them? Without our power and our productivity, the ZOG is both impoverished and impotent. Our enemies are only as strong as we, by our own consent and efforts, choose to make them.

By taking back our sovereignty from these tyrants and tricksters, we shall be able to use our power and productivity on our behalf, not our enemies’. By so doing, the Aryan can cast off the invisible chains of Zionist slavery and take over the tiller of his own destiny. If, for example, a bankster were to foreclose on one’s house, one could deprive him of his ill-gotten gains by turning the house into ashes, but why do that when we have the power to turn the bankster into ashes? Those who do not resist the ZOG collectively must suffer individually.

Starved of power, Gaza’s Palestinians buckle under an oppressive heatwave

Sami, a medical intern, is struggling to sleep. The same heatwave scorching Israel is also roasting the Gaza Strip, where temperatures have been soaring to 37°C (98°F). The heat in his room is overpowering, and the mosquitoes don’t help either. But due to an ongoing electricity crisis, he can’t cool himself off, or even plug in the device that wards off the biting insects.

“Sometimes I go around flipping on different sides of my bed for an hour before I can fall asleep. It’s humiliating,” said Sami, who opted to use an alias for fear of retaliation from authorities in Gaza.

In a series of interviews with The Times of Israel, residents of the Strip described the debilitating effects of the power crisis. It dictates their routine. It turns basic goods, services and actions into luxuries. The normal strategies for cooling off in the summer heat — including showers, swimming, air conditioning and electric fans — have all but disappeared. Even drinking water is an increasingly rare commodity.

Depending on what neighborhood one lives in, say the interviewees, the average Gazan enjoys either 4 to 6 or 2 to 3 hours of electricity a day. Residents have no idea when the power will come on, so when it does, they have to drop what they are doing and rush to complete tasks that require electricity.

A picture taken on June 13, 2017, shows Palestinian children at home reading books by candle light due to electricity shortages in Gaza City. (AFP/ THOMAS COEX)

“When the power comes, for 2 to 3 hours, you run like a madman to manage to recharge everything, pump water, shower, sleep, work, get online, cool down and breathe, all in 2 hours,” said Ali, a 30-year-old journalist who did not want to use his real name for fear of backlash.

The power can come on in the middle of a workday, or late at night when everyone is sleeping.

During the current power crisis, Ali added, “cold water becomes a luxury, a wish, a dream, a desire. No power means no fridge, means no cold water.”

Khaled, a father of three and a humanitarian worker, who asked that his real name not be used because he is not authorized to speak to the press, also complained about not being able to protect his family from the heat.

“My youngest child is 8-months-old. Last night, he couldn’t sleep, so we just kept fanning him. We used a piece of paper to fan his face, and the minute we stopped, he would wake up,” he said. “My wife goes to do the household things at odd times. You find her up very early in the morning turning on the washing machine because the power just came on. Her sleep schedule is entirely off.”

A Palestinian boy uses a plastic plate as a fan during a heatwave at al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on July 2, 2017. ( AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

The residents of Gaza have suffered electricity woes ever since the terrorist group Hamas wrested control of the territory from the Palestinian Authority in a violent coup in 2007. Since then, and up until a few months ago, Gazans received power in eight-hour intervals — eight hours on and eight hours off. That was enough, they said, to sustain a semblance of normalcy and keep the Strip’s infrastructure running.

Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on the Strip, which Jerusalem says is needed to keep out weaponry and materials that could be used for terror activities or in fighting against Israel. The border authority allows in humanitarian goods and also gives some Gazans permits to enter Israel for medical care.

The current crisis began when the Strip’s only power station shut down in April due to a lack of fuel. Hamas refused to buy more diesel from the PA, which is controlled by the rival Fatah faction, complaining taxes on the fuel were too high.

The crisis deepened when the PA, which has been footing the bill for a portion of Gaza’s electricity that is provided by Israel, decided to cut the payments by 35 percent — part of a series of measures meant to force Hamas to cede control of the Strip.

At the behest of the PA, Israel has been gradually reducing power to the Strip. As of Sunday, Israel has cut its supply to Gaza from 120 megawatts to 80. It says it will ramp the flow back up as soon as someone pays the bill.

On June 21, Egypt stepped in and began exporting diesel fuel to Gaza. That allowed Gaza’s power plant to start working again, providing an output of 70 megawatts, according to the Hamas-run Palestinian Energy and Natural resources Authority.

The Egyptian fuel, however, in addition only a temporary deal with Cairo, only serves to prevent all-out disaster. It doesn’t do much to lift power-starved Gazans out of their private suffering.

Suhair Zakkout, who works for the Red Cross, said the crisis can “really make every single minute of life a struggle.”

She described a case of a boy suffering from asthma who has to be rushed to the hospital up to five times a day.

When he’s hooked up to the nebulizer that helps him breathe, his mother “can easily” handle his care at home, Zakkout said. But without power, every time he has an attack they have to head to the hospital.

She also highlighted the fact that Gaza’s children, who are on summer vacation, have little to do with themselves. The beach is the usual summertime gathering spot, but now the authorities in Gaza have closed off large portions of it. Without electricity, the sewage treatment plants aren’t working properly, and raw waste is being pumped into the sea.

A Palestinian girl laughs while holding a jellyfish in one hand a block of foam in another, as she stands in the Mediterranean sea near al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on July 3, 2017. ( AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

For three days last week, Gaza celebrated the holiday of Eid al-Adha, generally a time when families gather and exchange gifts. But with elevators out of commission, the elderly and disabled were unable to visit with families who live in high-rise apartments, Zakkout said.

She compared the lack of the electricity to being sick. “You only realize how important the antibiotic is when you don’t have it.”

“But” she added, “the doctors here are the politicians.”

Gaza is a ‘sinking boat,’ and water is ‘neck-high’

On Monday, the United Nations gathered diplomats in its Jerusalem offices. The international agency made a plea for $25.2 million to “to stabilize the spiraling humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip” caused by the power crisis.

In a document presented in the meeting, the UN pinpointed three sectors that are quickly crumbling without electricity: water/sanitation, health and food.

The document said water reaches homes for a few hours just every 3-5 days. Desalination plants are functioning at only 15% of their capacity and more than 108 million liters of untreated sewage is flowing everyday into the Mediterranean. Without access to clean water, the UN said, 1.45 million people in Gaza are at risk of contracting waterborne diseases due to the consumption of unsafe water.

1.45 million people in Gaza are at risk of contracting waterborne diseases

Guislain Defurne, head of the delegation for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told The Times of Israel that “Gaza is like a sinking ship.”

“Water is reaching the neck of the passengers,” he said. “They can breathe, but water is still entering the ship. The people of Gaza can only be resilient for so long.”

The food industry is also being severely affected by the crisis.

Due the scarcity of water, irrigation costs are increasing 60 to 75 percent, Defurne said. Much food is also lost because refrigerating it is too expensive.

Supermarkets keep products fresh with the help of generators. But fueling the machines is expensive, and vendors are forced to raise their prices.

A Palestinian girl fills a jerrycan with water during a heatwave at al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on July 2, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

The UN said 1.2 million people in Gaza who were already facing food insecurity are now facing increased economic obstacles to eating.

As for who is responsible for the crisis, “most of the anger is directed at Hamas,” said Sami, the medical intern. He said the electricity crisis finds its way into nearly all conversations and that he hears “people repeatedly hating Hamas for this particular reason.”

Khaled, the humanitarian worker, said he understands the feeling of people in Israel who want to protect their children. But he argued Israeli policies were actually undermining their security.

Noting that around 50% of Gazans are under 18, he said, “What kind of generation in Gaza will Israel see in five or 10 years? Suffering from electricity cuts, from lack of water, from wars — the mindset of the youth will develop accordingly.

“People should be given their basic rights. I don’t see any link between Israel’s security and Gaza’s children not getting clean water. You have to break the cycle at some point,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment for this story. In the past Israeli authorities have argued that an internal Palestinian dispute between Hamas and the PA is behind the power crisis in Gaza, and that Israel is not a party to it. Both Israel and the PA charge that Hamas, which openly seeks the destruction of Israel, would have the money to supply Gaza’s power and water needs if it didn’t expend a large part of its resources on armament and preparation for future conflict with the Jewish state.





Power, for Vladimir Putin, has always been closely linked to terrorism. Back in 1999, as an unknown and untried prime minister, he first showed Russians his steely character after a series of unexplained bombings demolished four apartment buildings and killed more than 300 people. Putin, in his trademark brand of clipped tough-talk, announced that the those responsible would be “rubbed out, even if they’re in the outhouse,” and launched a renewed war against the breakaway republic of Chechnya. The resulting wave of approval, stoked by fear of terrorism, carried Putin to the presidency months later.

Eighteen years on and Putin has fulfilled his promise by rubbing out many thousands of extremists—with his army in Chechnya and all over the North Caucasus, via Federal Security Service assassins in Turkey and Yemen, and most recently from the air and by the hand of special forces in Syria. What’s more, he has expanded the definition of extremists to include not just Islamist militants but also Ukrainian filmmakers and gay activists who share digitally altered images of Putin in garish makeup on social media. Nonetheless, as the deadly bombing in St. Petersburg’s metro on April 2 showed, neither violence nor repression has put an end to terrorist attacks in Russia.

Post-Attack Playbook

Even as the 14 dead and at least 60 wounded were being stretchered out of the smoke-filled Technology Institute metro station and bomb disposal experts carefully defused an unexploded second device, the usual conspiracy theories began to circulate. Murderous jihadis, of course, were most people’s default assumption. The St. Petersburg news site Fontanka showed closed-circuit TV images of a bearded Muslim in a skull cap leaving the station, naming him as a prime suspect. He “looks like he stepped right out of a poster for…ISIS,” fulminated columnist Denis Korotkov. Ilyas Nikitin was indeed a Muslim from Bashkortostan—but also a law-abiding reserve army captain and Chechnya veteran on the Russian side. Hard-line patriots were quick to blame Ukrainians or supporters of Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who brought some 60,000 protesters onto the streets of scores of Russian cities the previous weekend to protest against government sleaze. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, social media was buzzing with unsubstantiated theories that the bombing was a false-flag attack organized by the Russian state as a pretext for a renewed assault on Ukraine.

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The Kremlin’s reaction was also one Russians have seen many times before. Putin appeared on television looking grim and promising a full investigation, as well as swift retribution for the guilty. Members of the Russian Duma railed against enemies inside and outside Russia. Large numbers of police with metal detectors and dogs appeared at stations, shopping malls and movie theaters across the country in a massive show of force to reassure the public. (There was a difference, though, from the response to the recent attacks in Europe—a glaring absence of international solidarity. No Russian flag was projected onto Berlin’s Reichstag, as Britain’s had been after an attack on Parliament in March. Tel Aviv was the only Western city to illuminate a public building in the Russian tricolor.)

Another part of the Kremlin’s post-attack playbook that was depressingly familiar was using the bombing as an excuse for a new round of crackdowns on dissent. Over the 18 years of Putin’s rule, every major terrorist outrage has been followed by a crackdown. In 2004, he scrapped direct elections of governors after Chechen militants massacred schoolchildren in Beslan; in 2010, after suicide attacks on the Moscow metro, he enacted legislation to control the internet; in 2013, when Moscow’s Domodedovo airport was bombed, he expanded the definition of extremism to include dissidents of every stripe, from environmentalists to historians.

04_21_Russia_03Police officers detain an opposition supporter during a rally in Vladivostok, Russia, on March 26. Alexei Navalny’s March 26 anti-corruption protests were the largest anti-government rallies Russia has seen since 2011-2012.YURI MALTSEV/REUTERS

A day after the latest attack, Yury Shvytkin, deputy chair of the Duma’s Defense Committee, proposed a moratorium on public protests. Such a move is necessary for public safety, he said, because terrorists time their attacks to “significant events and significant dates…. We should refrain from holding any planned rallies, especially now.” At the same time, authorities announced a series of “anti-terror rallies” across Russia. (Shvytkin didn’t explain how these would be less of a target for terrorists than opposition marches.) A government source told the Kommersant newspaper that the organizers of the Kremlin-backed anti-terrorist marches would be giving “special attention” to cities that had a large turnout for Navalny’s anti-corruption protests on March 26, the largest anti-government rallies Russia has seen since 2011-2012. Another lawmaker, Vitaly Milonov, is introducing legislation that would criminalize online calls for unsanctioned demonstrations and require all social media users to register their passport data with the police.

“No measures can be called excessive if they protect the lives of Russian citizens,” a senior member of Russia’s National Guard, a 250,000-strong force created by Putin last year for internal security, tells Newsweek . (The source, a former member of the State Duma, was not authorized to speak on the record.) “We are facing the same threat from terror as the rest of the civilized world, yet when we take steps to fight it, we are criticized…. This is pure hypocrisy,” the source says. In March, the National Guard created a dedicated cyber division to monitor social network sites and comb the internet for “extremist content” posted online. And last July, Moscow police chief Anatoly Yakunin told journalists that an 86 percent rise in “online extremism” in the capital had been recorded—and that combating extremism would be the Moscow police’s “highest priority.”

It’s not clear how added vigilance of social networks could have stopped Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, the 22-year-old suicide bomber who attacked the St. Petersburg metro. Russian authorities had not identified him as a security risk, and his page on VKontakte, the Russian version of Facebook, shows no obvious links to radical Islamism. The only violence depicted on his pages were videos about combat sports, such as street fighting and boxing, the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reported.

A native of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan, Dzhalilov was one of the millions of gastarbeiters (guest workers) who have flooded into Russia from the former Soviet empire in search of work. By 2011, he was granted Russian citizenship and moved to St. Petersburg, where he worked in a sushi bar and as a car mechanic alongside his father, also a naturalized Russian. According to the National Guard source, Dzhalilov dropped off the grid in 2015 and apparently became radicalized, though investigators have not established where. One important clue lies in the bomb he detonated. Packed into an empty fire extinguisher, the device may have used homemade explosives based on ammonium nitrate, an ingredient used in industrial fertilizer. The bomb’s core had nails and coins taped around it. Authorities discovered and defused another bomb hidden in a black men’s bag under a bench in St. Petersburg’s Ploshchad Vosstaniya metro station a few hours after the first. The devices “bear some similarities to devices used in Dagestan over the last five or six years,” says the source.

Connections to ISIS

Islamist rebels continue to fight Russian authorities in both Chechnya and neighboring Dagestan, despite the best efforts of Chechnya’s strongman president, Ramzan Kadyrov. He has won Putin’s support and lavish funding, and Kadyrov has been given a free hand to impose his brand of pro-Kremlin Sharia law by ruthlessly crushing insurgents, using methods that include, according to Human Rights Watch, torture and collective punishment of a suspect’s relatives. Nevertheless, as recently as March 24, six soldiers from the Russian National Guard were killed and three were injured during an overnight raid by authorities on the village of Stanitsa Naurskaya, on the northern edge of Chechnya.

The deeper problem for Russia is that the Islamists of the Caucasus are deeply entwined with the world’s most dangerous dynamo of terrorism, ISIS. Estimates of the numbers of Russian citizens fighting alongside ISIS in Syria and Iraq vary from 2,500 to 7,000, but it’s clear Russians are its largest non-Arab group of foreign fighters. Many were even helped by the Russian Federal Security Service to leave Russia and travel to Syria. A special report by Reutersin May 2016 revealed that authorities encouraged dozens of suspected Islamist militants to depart before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. “I was in hiding. I was part of an illegal armed group. I was armed,” Saadu Sharapudinov, one of six rebels identified in the investigation, told Reuters. He had been hiding in forests in the North Caucasus, he said, when FSB officers offered him immunity from prosecution, a new passport under a new name and a one-way plane ticket to Istanbul. Shortly after arriving in Turkey, Sharapudinov crossed into Syria and joined an Islamist group that would later pledge allegiance to the ISIS.

Exporting troublemakers worked in the short term. There were no attacks on the Sochi Olympics, despite it being just a few hours’ drive from Chechnya. And violence fell all over the troubled North Caucasus in the past few years. “The departure of Dagestani radicals in large numbers made the situation in the republic healthier,” Magomed Abdurashidov, of Dagestan’s anti-terrorist Commission of Makhachkala, told Reuters.

But the problem remained of what to do with these jihadis if and when they come home, now trained and battle-hardened by ISIS. Russian security officials frequently cite fighting terrorism as one of the main reasons for Putin’s decision to start bombing the forces in Syria fighting against President Bashar al-Assad in September 2015. “There are thousands of our citizens fighting there,” Nikolai Kovalev, head of the FSB from 1996 to 1998 and now a member of the Duma Security committee, told Newsweek in January. “It’s a matter of national security to make sure that they don’t bring that ideology back to Russia.” Leonid Kalashnikov, chairman of the Duma Committee on the Former Soviet Union, agreed: “We remember how many radicals came to fight in Chechnya from the Middle East. The region is right next to Central Asia. That is our underbelly. We have to be in [Syria] in order to prevent the contagion of terrorism from spreading.”

Putin’s bombing campaign did kill ISIS militants. How many isn’t clear. Ashton Carter, then the U.S. secretary of defense, told NBC in January that Russia had done “virtually zero” against ISIS in Syria. Days after Russian bombers began their campaign in Syria, Wilayat Sinai, a new ISIS affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that had been affiliated with Al-Qaeda, decided to attack a Russian target. Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, emir of ISIS in Syria and the group’s official spokesman, released an audio message on October 13 urging Islamic youth everywhere to “ignite jihad against the Russians and the Americans in their crusaders’ war against Muslims.” Wilayat Sinai was ready to answer the call. The group had infiltrated a recruit into Sharm el-Sheikh airport’s team of baggage handlers. In the early morning of October 31, 2015, the airport insider smuggled a soda can packed with explosives into the hold of a Russian charter plane bound for St. Petersburg, just below seats 31A and 30A, window seats occupied by 15-year-old Maria Ivleva and 77-year-old Natalia Bashakova. Twenty-two minutes after the Metrojet Airbus pushed back from its stand, the bomb detonated, killing all 224 on board. The Metrojet bombing remains ISIS’s deadliest attack to date.

04_21_Russia_02Russia’s President Vladimir Putin lays flowers in memory of the St. Petersburg metro explosion victims at Tekhnologichesky Institut station on April 3.MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/TASS/GETTY

Other groups inside Russia also heeded Adnani’s call. In June 2015, Amir Khamzat, one of the most wanted Islamist rebels in the North Caucasus, defected from a group previously linked to Al-Qaeda and pledged loyalty to ISIS. Today, two main Islamist groups vie for control of Russia’s homegrown rebels: the Caucasus Emirate, which is affiliated with the Nusra Front, and the Caucasus Governorate, an ISIS affiliate under the control of Dagestani Rustam Asilderov, also known as Abu Muhammad al-Kadarskii. They are united by a shared hatred of two things, Shiites and Putin’s Russia.

Whether ISIS, via its affiliates in the Caucasus or elsewhere, was behind the St. Petersburg attack remains to be proved. According to Kommersant, the FSB had arrested and questioned a Russian man with ties to ISIS, after he returned home from fighting in Syria, and he warned of an impending attack. The man was “low in the organization’s hierarchy and did not have a complete picture of the situation,” according to Kommersant ’s “trusted security source,” so the FSB was unable to take more concrete action.

Propaganda Demonizes Dissidents

The key question is whether this is a one-off attack or the start of a major campaign against Russian targets. And would a sustained terrorist campaign undermine Putin’s regime or strengthen it?

Putin has proved his ability to withstand terrorism. After the Metrojet bombing—a massive attack that would have sparked a major political crisis for any Western leader—he used his well-honed propaganda machine to whip up more public support for his Syria campaign, in the guise of protecting Russians. Putin has maneuvered himself into a position where any threat to Russia—whether it’s sanctions following his annexation of Crimea or the St. Petersburg bombing—becomes just another argument for why Russia needs a strong leader. What’s more, it makes his critics, such as the thousands of young people who turned up to protest corruption in March, not just dissidents but dangerous traitors, criticizing the president when their country is under threat. State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin called on lawmakers to defend Russians against Navalny and his vocal anti-corruption campaigns, referring to him as “the voice of the Western security services.”

At the same time, Russia’s diplomats have used the attacks to move the international conversation away from Ukraine and Moscow’s alleged meddling in Western elections to the shared problem of terrorism. The St. Petersburg bombing illustrated “the importance of stepping up joint efforts to combat this evil,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists.

Putin’s reputation was built on being tough on terrorism. Over the years, says Brian Whitmore, author of Radio Free Europe’s influential blog The Power Vertical, “power has been consolidated, dissent has been suppressed—and terrorism has continued.” And throughout it all, Russians keep looking to the Kremlin for protection.

The Trump Administration Is Giving Cops Unprecedented Power

The Donald Trump administration is off to a rocky start, with multiple damaging reports emerging from the White House alleging disorganization, incompetence and infighting—but that hasn’t stopped the new president from making good on his pledges to the country’s police officers. By branding himself the law-and-order candidate who would use his bully pulpit to take down criminals and fight crime, Trump earned himself the support of several police groups, most notably the Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police union, which boasts more than 330,000 members.

Trump has already met with several law enforcement groups to make it clear where his priorities lie. Recently, while speaking to the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association (and after whining about a federal judge ruling that blocked his Muslim ban), Trump launched into a speech about what he believes cops in this country care about: crime in cities populated with black people, Mexican drug cartels, undocumented immigrants, and his desire to build a wall along the Mexican border. During the speech he claimed that undocumented immigrants in gangs cause the problems in Chicago and that building a wall along our southern border would stop drugs from “pouring” into our country.

Two weeks after signing two orders on immigration, President Trump signed three orders on crime and law enforcement, including one that targeted transnational drug cartels. Although immigration and drug enforcement have their own federal agencies, many cops seemed eager to jump into the fray, setting the stage to begin rolling back modest gains made in holding police accountable.

One of President Trump’s first executive orders on immigration revived a program dubbed Secure Communities and promised to defund jurisdictions known as sanctuary cities that choose not to enforce federal immigration laws. (Notably, law enforcement officials would be exempt from losing funds.) Under Secure Communities, local authorities—like jail officials—would share fingerprints of the individuals arrested in their cities and towns with the FBI, who would then send the information along to the Department of Homeland Security to check if that person is eligible for deportation using Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s database. If ICE determines that the individual is eligible, the local authorities are instructed to hold that person in jail until ICE can transfer him or her to a detention center.

The federal government stated that the intent of the program was to target the most serious offenders, but the program was disbanded in 2014 after it led to widespread racial profiling of Latinos, arrests of people who committed low-level offenses, and people without criminal records. During the course of Secure Communities, multiple cities chose to opt out.

But despite widespread criticism of the program, some police officers are applauding its revival and the crackdown on sanctuary cities. The Fraternal Order of Police praised the administration’s actions, including the revocation of federal funds, alleging that communities are safer when local authorities comply with federal immigration officials.

While police unions appear eager to partner up with federal immigration officials, their relationship with the federal agency that handles investigations into police departments is much rockier. Ramping up Department of Justice investigations into police departments that violate the civil rights of the citizens they have sworn to protect is perhaps Obama’s greatest police reform achievement. Investigations usually end with court-ordered agreements dedicated to reform, sometimes called consent decrees. While these investigations are not a cure-all, it was a welcome change for many activists. But just days after the election, police departments started making noise about DOJ-mandated reforms.

The Cleveland Police Department entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice in 2015 after the DOJ issued a damning report on the police department the previous year; the head of the city’s police union, Steve Loomis, was not part of the agreement, but that hasn’t stopped him from inferring that Trump will help make changes to the consent decree. Loomis said that the Trump administration is “cognizant of the false narrative that’s out there and [will] be hesitant to make major decisions based on false narratives.” Days before the report was released, a white officer shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing with a toy gun in a park. No one was charged for his death.

But now the DOJ will be led by Jeff Sessions, the former Alabama attorney general and U.S. senator, who was deemed too racist to be a federal judge in 1986. The new attorney general voiced concerns about consent decrees at his Senate hearing for the position. Sessions seemed to play into the “few bad apples” rhetoric despite reports from Ferguson, Chicago and Baltimore pointing to the opposite. “These lawsuits undermine the respect for police officers,” he said, “and create an impression that the entire department is not doing their work consistent with fidelity to law and fairness.”

Since the inauguration, Americans across the country have taken to the streets to protest Donald Trump’s actions. While some law enforcement leaders want to see the Trump administration tackle mass incarceration and enhance community policing, many more cops are embracing the Trump era. The National Sheriffs’ Association and Major County Sheriffs’ Association released a joint statement after President Trump signed the three executive orders related to law enforcement. “We thank the President and welcome the nation’s re-awakening of support for law enforcement, the rule of law, and the need to protect our borders and enhance the nation’s criminal justice system.”

Cheering moves that enable cops to crack down on undocumented immigrants and alleged gang members but balking at the federal agency designed to rein in unaccountability signals deeper trouble up ahead.

Nathalie Baptiste is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. She is a former writing fellow at The American Prospect, has worked as a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus and has written for Inter Press Service. Follow her on Twitter: @nhbaptiste