‘Clock’ incident reflects US suspicion of Islam

(Deutsche Welle) In Texas, a 14-year-old Muslim student was briefly arrested at his school after he plugged in a ticking box he later described as a clock. Muslim rights activists say this is part of a series of discriminatory events.

An audience member at a Donald Trump rally in New Hampshire had a serious question for the leading Republican presidential candidate.

“We’ve got a problem in this country,” the middle-aged man said. “It’s called Muslims. You know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American. We have training camps growing where they want to kill us…when can we get rid of the them?”

Trump’s response: “We’re going to be looking at that and a lot of different things.”

The man’s comment – and Trump’s failure to confront it – was only the latest in a string of anti-Islamic incidents that have taken place across the United States in recent days.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Kim Davis, gay marriage, and the death of Christian privilege in America

Arrested for denying marriage licenses to gay couples, Kim Davis is now being championed by the Republican candidates as a hero. Her imprisonment signals the end of Christian privilege in the US. Spencer Kimball reports.

A gay couple, surrounded by media, stands at the counter in the county clerk’s office and asks to be served. They would like a marriage license. Two months earlier, the highest court in the United States had legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

But in this small county in the state of Kentucky, the clerk obeys laws different than those weighed by the Supreme Court. Kim Davis, an evangelical Christian, refuses to issue the marriage license. When asked by the couple under what authority, she responds: “God’s authority.”

Davis was ultimately found in contempt of court and arrested. Though now in jail, she’s still officially the county clerk in Rowan County. As an elected official, Davis can only be removed from office by the state legislature. She receives a salary of $80,000 (72,000 euros) a year from the taxpayer.

Bill Leonard is a Baptist minister and an expert on American religious life at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. According to Leonard, if Davis can’t fulfill the oath she took as county clerk to execute the laws of the land, she should resign.

“It’s fine for her to oppose this on the basis of liberty of conscience, a lot of people do that,” Leonard told DW. “But she’s contradicting the oath she took. She can’t have it both ways. She can’t keep making $80,000 a year and not fulfill her oath.”

Continue reading

Assertive Saudi King Salman visits Washington

King Salman is visiting Washington for the first time since ascending the Saudi throne. DW‘s US correspondent Spencer Kimball reports that the US faces a kingdom that has become very assertive in its foreign policy.

For decades, a simple quid-pro-quo formed the basis of US-Saudi relations. Riyadh provided the oil, Washington provided the security.

“It’s become infinitely more complicated than that,” James B. Smith, the American ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2009-2013, told DW.

On Friday, US President Barack Obama welcomes Saudi King Salman to Washington for the first time. Salman, 79, ascended the throne last January after his half-brother Abdullah passed away.

When the two leaders meet, President Obama will represent a nation that’s become increasingly self-reliant in energy production, while King Salman will represent a nation that’s become increasingly self-assertive in its foreign policy.

Last March, Riyadh launched a military intervention in neighboring Yemen after Houthi rebels drove the US-Saudi backed government from power. Though the US has provided intelligence and logistical support, Washington is largely on the sidelines, according to Smith. For the first time, Saudi Arabia is clearly in the driver’s seat.

“Traditionally they’ve operated in the shadows, using money or influence,” Smith, now president of C&M International, said of the Saudis. “The Yemen campaign indicates a much more muscular foreign policy. I don’t know if this is an aberration or a trend, it’s too early to tell.”

Continue reading

Iran showdown in Congress damages US credibility

(Deutsche Welle) The White House has secured enough support in the Senate to successfully veto a resolution that would “disapprove” of the Iran nuclear deal. But it’s a hollow victory. A presidential veto could damage US credibility.

The votes have been tallied. At least 34 US Senators will support the Iran nuclear deal and back President Barack Obama’s anticipated veto of a resolution that disapproves of the agreement. To put it simply, those in Congress who oppose the nuclear deal have been defeated – for now.

There’s a good chance that Congress will pass the disapproval resolution. After all, both the House of Representatives and the Senate are controlled by the Republican Party, which is bitterly opposed to the nuclear agreement. At least two leading Democrats, Senators Robert Menendez and Charles Schumer, are also opposed. They have until September 17 to vote on the resolution.

Should the disapproval resolution pass, President Obama would issue a veto. In order to override a presidential veto, opponents of the deal would then need two-thirds support in the House and the Senate. Senator Barbara Mikulski’s decision on Wednesday to support the nuclear agreement ensures that opponents will not have the 67 votes needed in the Senate to override the president’s veto.

According to Jeffrey Peake, many opponents of the Iran nuclear deal knew from the beginning that they would probably lose the showdown with the president. But the impending vote gives them the opportunity to state their opposition to the historic agreement on the record.

“They knew the writing was on the wall,” Peake, an expert on the role of Congress in American diplomacy, told DW. “It was pretty to clear to everyone involved that the veto would be sustained.”

“It allows them a vote where they can go home to their constituents and say, ‘I voted to oppose this deal. It’s on the record,'” Peake said. “They have capitulated basically, but it’s so convoluted and complicated that most observers and constituents aren’t going to see that.”

Continue reading

West wary of China WWII military parade

(Deutsche Welle) For the first time, China will commemorate the Allied victory in WWII with a military parade. The major Western leaders are not attending. Beijing accuses them of failing to recognize its role in winning the war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will be the only head of state from the old Allied powers to attend China’s commemoration on Thursday of their victory in World War Two.

The leaders of the United States, Great Britain and France will be conspicuously absent from the ceremony. London has dispatched Kenneth Clarke, a leading conservative politician who’s held numerous cabinet-level positions. Paris has sent Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Washington will be represented by its ambassador, Max Baucus.

This lukewarm response to China stands in stark contrast to how the West commemorates its own contribution to the war. The leader of every major Allied nation attended the 70th-anniversary commemoration of the landings at Normandy last year.

US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Queen of England, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and, of course, French President Francois Hollande were all present to honor the sacrifice of Western troops.

In a press conference in June, China’s deputy propaganda minister, Wang Shiming, criticized Western nations for lacking “an objective and just recognition of China’s position and role in the world anti-fascist war,” as Beijing refers to World War Two. According to British historian Rana Mitter, Chinese criticisms are largely accurate.

“Both in terms of sacrifice and achievement, China’s role during the war does need to be more acknowledged in the West,” Mitter, author of “Forgotten Ally: China’s WWII,” told DW. “In terms of what it did, 14 million Chinese or more were killed during the war. Nearly 100 million became refugees.”

Continue reading

Fact or fiction: Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932

Did US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders fail history when he said, “Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932?” The Washington Post thinks so, but historian Mark Roseman told DW that Sanders does have a point.

Senator Bernie Sanders was asked about his religion. How does it inform his politics? The US presidential candidate and self-proclaimed democratic socialist is Jewish. He responded by discussing the cautionary tale of Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.

“A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932,” Sanders said during an event organized by the Christian Science Monitor in June. “He won an election, and 50 million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including 6 million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important.”

This statement by Sanders was subsequently re-tweeted and posted across social media. The Washington Post, in response to one of its readers, published a fact-check article on Friday with the headline: “Why you shouldn’t re-tweet Sanders’s claim that ‘Hitler won an election in 1932.”

The Post reports that Sanders got his history wrong: “There was an election in 1932 – but Hitler lost.” The article focuses on the German presidential elections.

Deutsche Welle spoke with historian Mark Roseman, a professor of modern European and German history at Indiana University in Bloomington. According to Roseman, there were five German elections in 1932. And if you look at the national parliamentary elections, what Sanders said makes sense.

Continue reading

Could the Virginia TV shooting have been prevented?

The shooting of two journalists in Virginia raises issues of race, mental health and guns. Could the tragedy have been prevented by stricter gun control? Spencer Kimball reports from Chicago.

Vester Lee Flanagan, by his own admission, was a disturbed individual.

“Yeah I’m all f—– up in the head,” Flanagan, 41, wrote in a 23-page document that he faxed to broadcaster ABC after shooting dead two journalists on live television in Virginia on Wednesday.

A former reporter at the local news station WDBJ in Roanoke, Flanagan had been reprimanded by his superiors for “lashing out,” using “harsh language,” and having “aggressive body language” that made “co-workers feel threatened or uncomfortable.” He was told to seek medical help or risk termination. The internal memos detailing Flanagan’s issues at work were obtained and published by “The Guardian.”

In 2013, WDBJ fired Flanagan, who had gone by Bryce Williams on television. Police had to escort him off the premises because he refused to leave.

In the document faxed to ABC, Flanagan described his state of life and mind before shooting Alison Parker, 24, Adam Ward, 27, and ultimately killing himself. A gay black man, Flanagan claimed to have been a victim of racism and harassment. He filed a lawsuit against WDBJ over his dismissal, alleging discrimination. A judge dismissed the case in July.

But Flanagan pointed to the killing of nine black people in a Charleston church by white supremacist Dylann Roof last June as the “tipping point.”

“The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily…I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!”

A powder keg who was able to purchase a Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol, one who was inspired by the Virginia Tech and Columbine High School massacres.

“Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there,” Flanagan wrote, referring to the Virginia Tech shooter. “He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin.”

Continue reading