After numerous reports and lawsuits in Portland regarding un-badged and un-uniformed federal officers arresting, beating, and detaining people in unmarked vehicles, the Trump administration’s response is that they’re going to do it even more, and in more cities. Saying that his federal agents are doing a “fantastic job,” Trump has suggested that he will also deploy agents in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Milwaukee to do the same.
In one of those cities, the city prosecutor has already preemptively warned Trump’s police forces what he will do if they bring the same tactics to Philadelphia:
“My dad volunteered and served in World War II to fight fascism, like most of my uncles, so we would not have an American president brutalizing and kidnapping Americans for exercising their constitutional rights and trying to make America a better place, which is what patriots do,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner in a statement. “Anyone, including federal law enforcement, who unlawfully assaults and kidnaps people will face criminal charges from my office.”
Trump claims the federal intervention is needed due to excessive violence, particularly around federal statues and monuments. But legal experts have said the reported federal actions in Portland far exceed legal boundaries.
“[T]he use of a secret federal paramilitary force in Portland (and soon Chicago and likely other cities) is every bit the abuse of power that it appears to be,” legal scholar Elizabeth Goitein, of the Brennan Center for Justice, wrote on Twitter, noting that Trump’s claim of protecting federal property is pure pretext for his intent to have federal agents do the work of local police.
Trump’s dare to deploy additional troops to more cities will test the mettle of reformist prosecutors like Krasner, who has aggressively pursued police reforms and taken steps to eliminate what he calls unethical and unconstitutional police practices that Trump has said he’d like to see more of.
A clash between local and federal law enforcement over how to manage protesters in Philadelphia — if it comes to that — would be unprecedented.
The new 14-day temporary restraining order, which the Trump administration opposed, represents the first court order placing limits on the federal law enforcement action in Portland.
More than words are at work. Last week the Bank of England blocked Mr. Maduro from withdrawing $1.2 billion in gold reserves. On Friday the U.S. gave Mr. Guaidó control of Venezuelan government accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and other U.S.-insured banks... Venezuelans have made numerous attempts since 2002 to restore the liberties lost when Chávez used his majority backing to dissolve civil rights and a free press. But they were never able to persuade the military high command, infiltrated by Cuba, to break ranks with the dictator. If this time is different it’s because Mr. Maduro can no longer guarantee the interests of the top brass.
Mr. Guaidó is rumored to be backed by Venezuela’s military rank-and-file and midlevel officers. There are also reports that some commanders of detachments around the country no longer support Mr. Maduro.
The regime is unleashing repression and the international community wants to avoid more bloodshed. The U.S. has offered the military high command safe passage out of the country, and if international efforts to cut financial channels for the leadership are successful, many may find it an attractive option.
.. On Jan. 10 Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia FreelandwarnedMr. Maduro that he would not be recognized: “We call on him to immediately cede power to the democratically-elected National Assembly until new elections are held, which must include the participation of all political actors and follow the release of all political prisoners in Venezuela.”
.. Mr. Maduro says this is a U.S. conspiracy. But as a member of Canada’s Liberal Party and the lead negotiator of the bitter rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Ms. Freeland is hardly a Trump administration lackey.
The tyrant isn’t entirely alone. Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Hezbollah stand with him. Havana runs the counterintelligence network charged with controlling the Venezuelan armed forces and brownshirts. Reuters reported Friday that Russia has flown an unspecified number of paramilitary contractors into the country. A new asymmetric war can’t be ruled out.
Many of their members wore matching uniforms, marched in military-style formations, openly chanted white-supremacist slogans, and invited confrontation with counterprotesters and law enforcement. In some cases, their gear and maneuvers imitated those used by armies of the past, and their weapons, whether firearms or cruder instruments such as shields, bats, batons and flagpoles, were deployed in coordination to intimidate and signal that they were, as they put it, “ready to crack skulls.” The day’s fateful events culminated in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, for which one marcher has been charged with first-degree murder and two federal hate crimes.
.. Most states have constitutional language, criminal statutes or both barring unauthorized paramilitary activity. Every state except New York and Georgia has a constitutional provision, akin to Virginia’s, requiring that “in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” In other words, private armies are proscribed in 48 states. You can’t legally organize with others into battalions to fight those with whom you disagree.
.. 28 states have criminal statutes that prohibit individuals from forming rogue military units and parading or drilling publicly with firearms, while 25 states have criminal statutes that bar two or more people from engaging in “paramilitary” activity, including using firearms or other “techniques” capable of causing injury or death in a civil disorder.
.. By restricting paramilitary activity and the usurpation of military and police powers by private groups, the court orders sought by the lawsuit would restore the long-standing public-private equilibrium disrupted by those who descended on Charlottesville last August.
The unnamed woman is one of countless Iranians who say their savings have been wiped out by the collapse of fraudulent businesses and unlicensed credit institutions in recent years. Economists are now pointing to the abrupt closure of these poorly regulated institutions as laying the foundation for the unrest that struck Iran starting in late December.
.. “Banks are shutting down without any kind of notice, and it’s creating a huge political and economic backlash at a local level,” said Suzanne Maloney, senior fellow on Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution.
.. it seems to have tapped into a deep sense of alienation and frustration, that people aren’t just demonstrating for better working conditions or pay, but insisting on wholesale rejection of the system itself.”
.. the average budget of Iranian households declined by 15 percent from 2007 — when the U.N. Security Council adopted some of its toughest sanctions on Iran — to 2016.
.. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who was reelected to a second term in May, has carried out a program of fiscal austerity. It has brought down inflation but hurt job growth
.. Rouhani has also imposed what Salehi-Isfahani called “regressive policies,” such as raising energy prices while shrinking cash transfers that the poor use to pay for essential items.
.. Other new policies have favored businesses and the middle class, whose members predominantly reside in the capital, Tehran
.. Iran has seen a “divergence in living standards (measured by per capita expenditures) between Tehran on one side and the rest of the country on the other
.. The budget envisioned steep cuts for cash subsidies to the poor, while increasing fees for things like vehicle registration and traveling abroad.
.. Rouhani’s budget was also notable because it was the first time the government made public the funds allocated to Iran’s wealthy religious foundations — as well as its powerful military and paramilitary forces.
.. The disclosure of an $8 billion budget for the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s most influential security body, prompted sharp criticism from protesters who objected to government spending on Iranian involvement in regional wars, including in Iraq and Syria.
.. Religious foundations, many of which are tax exempt, also got a boost in the new budget, including, for example, a 20 percent increase for representatives of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, posted at Iran’s universities.
.. Rouhani sold the nuclear deal to Iranians as crucial for reviving the ailing economy. Iranians have been disappointed that growth has not been faster, including 74 percent who said in July that there had been no economic improvement as a result of the deal
The new authority, which hadn’t been previously disclosed, represents a significant departure from a cooperative approach that had become standard practice by the end of former President Barack Obama’s tenure: The CIA used drones and other intelligence resources to locate suspected terrorists and then the military conducted the actual strike... The Obama administration put the military in charge of pulling the trigger to promote transparency and accountability. The CIA, which operates under covert authorities, wasn’t required to disclose the number of suspected terrorists or civilian bystanders it killed in drone strikes... Mr. Trump’s action specifically applied to the CIA’s ability to operate in Syria, it means the agency eventually could become empowered under Mr. Trump to once again conduct covert strikes in other places where the U.S. is targeting militants in Yemen, Libya, Somalia and elsewhere... “The CIA should be a foreign intelligence gathering and analysis organization—not a paramilitary one.”.. Some members of Congress also resisted the effort to move drone operations into the sunlight... Members of the intelligence committees, for example, generally favor a paramilitary CIA role, and believe they are best positioned to conduct oversight of secret operations, while members of the armed services committees argue the military should control the mission... When it comes to vetting targets, the CIA uses a higher, or “near certainty,” standard, while the Defense Department relies on “reasonable certainty” in war zones, though it adheres to the higher standard when operating elsewhere.