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America's most important political battle – CNN

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America's most important political battle – CNN


The battle is visible in skirmishes big and small across the country. Moments like when Rep. Liz Cheney and nine of her GOP colleagues voted to impeach Donald Trump in January, acknowledging his role in inciting the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Or when Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a conservative Republican, vetoed a bill that would have restricted how doctors can work with transgender patients. Or when Republicans in Georgia stood firm in rejecting Trump’s relentless pressure to overturn the election in their state.
Republicans are locked in battle about what kind of a party they will be: one that stands for conservative values and seeks to craft legislation in support of those ideals, or one that will continue drifting to the extremes, breathing life into lies that rile up the base while undercutting faith in the country’s democracy.
So far, it’s very clear which side is winning, and the potential consequences for the country are ominous.
A new poll from Reuters/Ipsos found that 60% of Republicans believe the Big Lie, the false claim that Trump won the election. And, nearly half of all Republicans believe the latest outgrowth from the Big Lie, the New Lie — Trump’s claim that instead of the deadly violence by his supporters on January 6, the day Congress was certifying Biden’s winning vote count, the rioters were “hugging and kissing” the cops in what was nothing but a peaceful protest. Unless it was violent, in which case it was the work of leftist agitators.
It’s easy to become accustomed and blasé about this new reality. But we should stop to think about what it means: One of the two governing parties in the United States is controlled by people promoting the delegitimization of America’s duly elected president, people who are endorsing or refusing to rectify dangerous lies.
The phenomenon risks making political violence more acceptable. Although most Americans blame the former president for the deadly events at the Capitol, according to an ABC poll, a majority of Republicans think Trump did nothing wrong.
It wasn’t very long ago that the country had two reality-based, generally centrist parties. Democrats and Republicans, with different philosophies, debated the merits of their ideas, in search of a workable compromise.
But then, bit by bit, the GOP started veering in a different direction. By the time Trump became president, the maximalist, nativist, conspiracy-driven, scandal-manufacturing, hate-stoking wing was already ascendant, propelled by the engines of Fox News and other far-right provocateurs. Trump’s victory was the coup that toppled the old GOP and turned it into the extremist MAGA machine.
Many of Trump’s former critics, people like Senators Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, who had all lambasted him in the past, now praise him with unselfconscious abandon.
The party’s unraveling will be described in unsparing detail in a memoir by the former Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who has been offering tantalizing glimpses.
In an article in Politico, Boehner dissects the rise of the lunatic fringe, tracing it back to the start of Fox News and its quest for ratings. By 2010, he says, the new class of Republican lawmakers were beholden to Fox and had little interest in compromising. Ronald Reagan, he says, had said getting 80 or 90% of what you want is a victory. Now they wanted 100% or nothing. In fact, Boehner writes, by 2013 “they didn’t really want legislative victories. They wanted wedge issues and conspiracies and crusades.”
Notice, this is not about doing what’s good for the country. “The chaos caucus,” Boehner said, “had built up their own power base thanks to fawning right-wing media and outrage-driven fundraising cash.”
This is self-serving politics taken to the extreme, seeking not to legislate but to enrage and fundraise. Boehner names Sen. Ted Cruz in the Politico piece as “the head lunatic leading the way.”
But that was before Trump, who broke through every guardrail of decency, and took most of the party with him.
Every day the GOP sounds less committed to democracy — see the new voter-suppression laws in Georgia and elsewhere popping up. Every day, the leaders who once stood up for democracy and basic truth sound less interested in either.
And yet, the fight is not over. More than a few Republicans are still willing to speak out. This is not about Republicans deciding if they are conservative or moderate, it’s about deciding if the party will respect the truth, democracy, and some manner of principle other than what is good for Trump and those seeking favor with him.
We’ve seen flashes of courage from conservative Republicans, like Rep. Liz Cheney and moderate ones like Sen. Mitt Romney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger. And at the state level, we saw Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other Republican election officials hold firm despite Trump’s verbal slings and arrows.
Other political battles may seem more interesting, more urgent, maybe more entertaining. But when it comes to America’s future, this one matters most. American democracy will struggle to survive if one of its two parties turns its back on reality and stops believing in democracy.

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Green Party in turmoil, leader resists calls to step down

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Green Party in turmoil, leader resists calls to step down

Canada‘s Green Party was increasingly mired in an internal dispute over its position on Israel on Tuesday, and a news report said the bloc would hold a vote next month on whether to oust its leader, Annamie Paul, who was elected just eight months ago.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC) reported that the Greens had triggered a process that could remove Paul, the first black person to head a mainstream Canadian party, beginning with a vote next month.

A Green Party spokesperson declined to comment on the report, but said the party’s “federal council” would meet later on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, Paul, 48, rejected calls from the Quebec wing of the party for her to resign after a member of parliament left the Greens due to the Israel controversy.

“I believe that I have been given a strong mandate. I believe that I have been given the instructions to work on behalf of Canadians for a green recovery,” Paul said at a news conference in Ottawa.

Paul herself is not a member of parliament. The Greens – who champion the environment and the fight against climate change – had only three legislators in the 338-seat House of Commons and one, Jenica Atwin, abandoned the party last week to join the governing Liberals.

Atwin has said that her exit was in large part due to a dispute over the party’s stance on Israel. Atwin on Twitter has criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, while a senior adviser to Paul, Noah Zatzman, has posted on Facebook that some unspecified Green members of parliament are anti-Semitic.

The party’s executive committee voted last week not to renew Zatzman’s contract, local media reported. Paul converted to Judaism some two decades ago after she married a Jewish man.

While the Greens are the smallest faction in parliament, they perform well in British Colombia and hold two seats there. The current turmoil may favor their rivals ahead of a national election that senior Liberals say could be just a few months away.

The Greens would win about 6.7% of the vote nationally if a vote were held now, according to an average of recent polls aggregated by the CBC.

 

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Julie Gordon; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Hope, anger and defiance greet birth of Israel’s new government

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Hope, anger and defiance greet birth of Israel’s new government

Following are reactions to the new government in Israel, led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER

“We’ll be back, soon.”

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

“On behalf of the American people, I congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and all the members of the new Israeli cabinet. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations.”

NABIL ABU RUDEINEH, SPOKESMAN FOR PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS

“This is an internal Israeli affair. Our position has always been clear, what we want is a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.”

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER VIA TWITTER

“On behalf of the UK, I offer my congratulations to

@naftalibennett and @yairlapid on forming a new government in Israel. As we emerge from COVID-19, this is an exciting time for the UK and Israel to continue working together to advance peace and prosperity for all.”

TOR WENNESLAND, U.N. MIDDLE EAST PEACE ENVOY VIA TWITTER

“I look forward to working with the Government to advance the ultimate goal of a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

CHARLES MICHEL, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT VIA TWITTER

“Congratulations to Prime Minister @naftalibennett and to Alternate PM & MFA @yairlapid for the swearing in of the new Israeli government. Looking forward to strengthen the partnership for common prosperity and towards lasting regional peace & stability.”

FAWZI BARHOUM, HAMAS SPOKESMAN

“Regardless of the shape of the government in Israel, it will not alter the way we look at the Zionist entity. It is an occupation and a colonial entity, which we should resist by force to get our rights back.”

BENNY GANTZ, ISRAELI DEFENCE MINISTER

“With all due respect, Israel is not a widower. Israel’s security was never dependent on one man. And it will never be dependent on one man.”

CHUCK SCHUMER, U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER

“So, there’s a new Administration in Israel. And we are hopeful that we can now begin serious negotiations for a two-state solution. I am urging the Biden Administration to do all it can to bring the parties together and help achieve a two-state solution where each side can live side by side in peace.”

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA

“Congratulations on the formation of a new Israeli government, Prime Minister @NaftaliBennett and Alternate Prime Minister @YairLapid. Together, let’s explore ways to further strengthen the relationship between Canada and Israel.”

MANSOUR ABBAS, ARAB MEMBER OF NEW ISRAELI GOVERNMENT

“We are aware that this step has a lot of risks and hardships that we cannot deny, but the opportunity for us is also big: to change the equation and the balance of power in the Knesset and in the upcoming government.”

DAPHNA KILION, ISRAELI IN JERUSALEM

“I think it’s very exciting for Israel to have a new beginning and I’m hopeful that the new government will take them in the right direction.”

EREZ GOLDMAN, ISRAELI IN JERUSALEM

“It’s a sad day today, it’s not a legitimate government. It’s pretty sad that almost 86 (out of 120 seats) in the parliament, the Knesset, belong to the right-wing and they sold their soul and ideology and their beliefs to the extreme left-wing just for one purpose – hatred of Netanyahu and to become a prime minister.”

SEBASTIAN KURZ, CHANCELLOR OF AUSTRIA, VIA TWITTER

“Congratulations to PM @naftalibennett and alternate PM @yairlapid for forming a government. I look forward to working with you. Austria is committed to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and will continue to stand by Israel’s side.”

(Reporting by Stephen Farrell; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Daniel Wallis and Lisa Shumaker)

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Boris Johnson hails Biden as ‘a big breath of fresh air’

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Boris Johnson hails Biden as ‘a big breath of fresh air’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday as “a big breath of fresh air”, and praised his determination to work with allies on important global issues ranging from climate change and COVID-19 to security.

Johnson did not draw an explicit parallel between Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump after talks with the Democratic president in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay on the eve of a summit of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies.

But his comments made clear Biden had taken a much more multilateral approach to talks than Trump, whose vision of the world at times shocked, angered and bewildered many of Washington’s European allies.

“It’s a big breath of fresh air,” Johnson said of a meeting that lasted about an hour and 20 minutes.

“It was a long, long, good session. We covered a huge range of subjects,” he said. “It’s new, it’s interesting and we’re working very hard together.”

The two leaders appeared relaxed as they admired the view across the Atlantic alongside their wives, with Jill Biden wearing a jacket embroidered with the word “LOVE”.

“It’s a beautiful beginning,” she said.

Though Johnson said the talks were “great”, Biden brought grave concerns about a row between Britain and the European Union which he said could threaten peace in the British region of Northern Ireland, which following Britain’s departure from the EU is on the United Kingdom’s frontier with the bloc as it borders EU member state Ireland.

The two leaders did not have a joint briefing after the meeting: Johnson spoke to British media while Biden made a speech about a U.S. plan to donate half a billion vaccines to poorer countries.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Biden, who is proud of his Irish heritage, was keen to prevent difficult negotiations between Brussels and London undermining a 1998 U.S.-brokered peace deal known as the Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of bloodshed in Northern Ireland.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Britain that Biden had a “rock-solid belief” in the peace deal and that any steps that imperilled the accord would not be welcomed.

Yael Lempert, the top U.S. diplomat in Britain, issued London with a demarche – a formal diplomatic reprimand – for “inflaming” tensions, the Times newspaper reported.

Johnson sought to play down the differences with Washington.

“There’s complete harmony on the need to keep going, find solutions, and make sure we uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement,” said Johnson, one of the leaders of the 2016 campaign to leave the EU.

Asked if Biden had made his alarm about the situation in Northern Ireland very clear, he said: “No he didn’t.

“America, the United States, Washington, the UK, plus the European Union have one thing we absolutely all want to do,” Johnson said. “And that is to uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, and make sure we keep the balance of the peace process going. That is absolutely common ground.”

The 1998 peace deal largely brought an end to the “Troubles” – three decades of conflict between Irish Catholic nationalist militants and pro-British Protestant “loyalist” paramilitaries in which 3,600 people were killed.

Britain’s exit from the EU has strained the peace in Northern Ireland. The 27-nation bloc wants to protect its markets but a border in the Irish Sea cuts off the British province from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Although Britain formally left the EU in 2020, the two sides are still trading threats over the Brexit deal after London unilaterally delayed the implementation of the Northern Irish clauses of the deal.

Johnson’s Downing Street office said he and Biden agreed that both Britain and the EU “had a responsibility to work together and to find pragmatic solutions to allow unencumbered trade” between Northern Ireland, Britain and Ireland.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Andrea Shalal, Padraic Halpin, John Chalmers; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Giles Elgood, Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Mark Potter and Timothy Heritage)

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