‘I made her, I can break her’: Williamson rallies Tory rebels in bid to up defense spending – report

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has not given up on squeezing the treasury for more defense spending, with reports suggesting he has at least 50 MPs willing to vote against the government if he fails to get his way.

The threat of a parliamentary putsch comes after reports in the Mail on Sunday that Williamson had threatened to bring down Prime Minister Theresa May’s government if he didn’t secure more funds for the MoD.

That number of willing Tory rebels could be as high as 70, one senior Conservative MP, and close ally of Williamson, told The Times, adding that they would be holding fire until MPs got a glimpse of the MoD’s snapshot of its defense spending plans, which is expected to be unveiled in the next two weeks.

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Bandages before bullets: The PM favours putting money into the NHS over extra defence funds © Osman Orsal/Reuters (L)/Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters (R)

According to the report, he had previously bragged to defense chiefs upon taking over the position last November that: “I made her – I can break her,” a reference to his former role as chief whip of the party.

Williamson is currently at loggerheads with the prime minister and treasury over funding for his department, which faces a potential £20.5 billion (US$ 27.1 billion) funding shortage for its current procurement and modernization plans.

A mini review of these modernization plans was expected to be agreed upon by the government already, ahead of being published in July, but this has now been rolled back to the early autumn.

Instead, “headline conclusions” of the modernizing plan will be unveiled by May at the upcoming NATO summit in Brussels, a meeting where it is expected that US President Donald Trump will pressure fellow members of the alliance to up their defense spending to at least two percent of GDP.

Williamson parroted Trump’s demands for European allies to take on greater financial responsibility for their defense in The Times last week, following news of a tense meeting with the prime minister and chancellor where he was told that no more additional funds would be made available for defense. Instead, May is favoring a £20.5 billion investment in the NHS.

According to the current MoD procurement plans, it needs an additional £2 billion per year for the next 10 years in order to keep up with current equipment procurement. But that figure is deemed too low as it would not have any room for embracing new technologies and modernizing ageing weaponry.

READ MORE: Massive defense spending hike is ‘only solution’ to tackle a ‘resurgent Russia’ – MP report

MPs from the Defence Select Committee have already given their backing to Williamson’s calls for more funds. A recent report published by the group recommend the upping of defense spending to three percent of GDP or £17 billion.

While it remains to be seen if the threat of bringing down the government – it has a majority of just 13 MPs – will see May release more funds to see her through to Brexit Day 2019, such a move could see Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn move into No. 10 and Nia Griffith MP take over from Williamson.

If elected into government, Labour have proposed radical changes to defense spending in the department such as halting the mass outsourcing of MoD contracts for the provision of services including housing, fire, and rescue to companies such as Capita.

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Russian Defense Minister calls for ‘symmetrical response’ to NATO activities near Western borders

An increase in NATO activities forces Russia to undertake symmetrical measures to negate the emerging threats, Sergey Shoigu said at the outside session of the Defense Ministry’s collegium.

The Russian minister noted that, in the first half of 2018, NATO conducted 13 large-scale military exercises involving over 40,000 servicemen and 2000 units of combat hardware near the bloc’s south-western borders.

Shoigu also told the Russian military command that when preparing a response to NATO’s unfriendly actions they should combine the operations aimed at strategic containment and boosting the combat preparedness of troops of the Southern Military District. However, the minister noted that a recent inspection at the district revealed that forces there were ready for any scenario involving confrontation with foreign opponents.

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Russian soldier with Igla manpad during the Clear Sky all-army contest © Vitaliy Timkiv

The minister emphasized that Russia was not increasing the strength of its military forces deployed on the “contact line” with the NATO bloc, but increased their combat ability through more intensive training and the introduction of new, more effective weapons.

At the same time Shoigu noted that, since 2015, the strength of NATO military groups stationed in the Baltic countries, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria increased from 2000 to 15000 people. This increase was conducted “on the background of the Baltic and Polish hysteria caused by imaginary plans of alleged Russian aggression,” he added.

As for the Crimean Republic which hosted Wednesday’s session of the Defense Ministry’s collegium, Shoigu emphasized that the Russian military group stationed on the peninsula “would not leave a single chance to any potential adversary who would risk making a claim on the originally Russian lands.” He also revealed that the Defense Ministry has created and is now perfecting a unique group that combines servicemen from various branches of the military.

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Italian troops of the NATO eFP battle group attend a joint exercise with the Latvian National Guard © Ints Kalnins

In late May, the chair of the Upper House of Russian Parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, reiterated the position that is currently shared by many Russian officials – that the image of a hostile Russia had been invented by NATO generals and Western spin doctors for internal purposes and has little to do with reality.

NATO is a relic from the bipolar period of history that by definition cannot survive without looking for opponents. Today they found this opponent in the so-called ‘Russian threat’ and I would like to emphasize that the so-called ‘hostile’ and ‘revisionist’ Russia is not an objective reality but purely internal project of the West itself through which the West is trying to solve its own internal problems,” Valentina Matviyenko said was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

In early June, Russian military forces conducted major exercises in the Crimea and in South Russia’s Krasnodar Region with participation of marines, anti-aircraft units, and about 100 helicopters. The war games were held at the time as Ukrainian Navy training which led to some parts of the Azov Sea being temporarily sealed off.

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RAF F-35s to land in UK next week as MoD defense spend review looms

It’s been announced that the first of the RAF’s ‘undetectable’ F-35 Lightning II aircraft will arrive in the UK early next week. Questions remain over whether the MoD will go for a reduced buy of the fifth-generation warplane.

According to reports, the first batch of four F-35s will touch down at RAF Marham in Norfolk and will be supported on their flight with several aerial refuelings from Voyager tanker aircraft.

Five more F-35s are expected to follow by the end of July, according to the UK Defence Journal.

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Are more Eurofighters the answer to the MoD's funding gap?  © Norsk Telegrambyra AS/Reuters

So far, 15 of the fighter’s B-variant – which allows for short take-offs and vertical landing of jets without using a conventional runway – have been delivered to the RAF from manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

By purchasing the F-35B, the aircraft will be capable of operating from the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

The aircraft, however, have been based at US Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina, while RAF and Royal Navy pilots and maintenance crew train with the fleet ahead of their transfer to the UK.

They will be flown by members of the newly reformed 617 Squadron, which flew and was immortalized by the Lancaster bombers that carried out the 1943 Dambusters mission

Speaking on the new Squadron, Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Just like those Lancasters which played such a vital role in the Second World War, the F-35B Lightning is based on great British design, operating with futuristic technology to adapt to an increasingly dangerous world.”

The 617 Squadron’s commanding officer, Wing Commander John Butcher, said: “I have the great privilege of leading a jointly manned Squadron made up of the best engineers, mission support personnel and pilots from the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.”

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A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft. © Axel Schmidt / Reuters

From July 2019, the training of pilots and crew on the F-35 will be carried out by 207 Squadron and will be based at RAF Marham.

However, while the MoD has already committed to purchasing 48 F-35Bs, with the intention of adding a further 138, there are concerns that funding may not allow for such an acquisition of the £100 million ($ 133 million) per unit plane.

Earlier this month, the Daily Telegraph made the claim that Williamson was considering a reduced buy of the F-35B, bulking up fleet numbers with the more affordable, and British-built, Eurofighter Typhoon.

A decision on the matter is expected to be revealed after the MoD publishes a long-awaited defense review in July, which promises to readjust the British armed forces spending as a funding hole that could reach as much as £20 billion ($ 26.5 billion) leaves the feasibility of such procurements in doubt.

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Defense Contractors Saw $10 Billion Stock Boost Following Syria Airstrikes

Since President Trump announced that he intended to bomb Syria, the stock values of some of the country’s top weapons manufacturers have soared, adding a collective $ 10 billion in market capitalization values over the course of just one week. With Trump delivering on his promise this weekend, the rally on Wall Street continues.

A barrage of 118 (or more) U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles rained down on Syria Friday night—Trump’s punishment for the alleged chemical weapons attack carried out by Bashar al-Assad’s government in Douma (for which the world is still awaiting hard evidence). Trump’s tweet on April 9 that he would be taking action against Syria launched the stock prices of some of America’s major defense suppliers into the skies, and they are still climbing.

For Raytheon (RTN), the company which manufactures the Tomahawk cruise missiles used against Syria, nearly $ 2.5 billion has been added to the company’s market value. Add together the gains from other top weapons makers Lockheed Martin (LMT), General Dynamics (GD), Boeing (BA), and Northrop Grumman (NOC), and it becomes apparent just how profitable a business war can be.

Lockheed Martin makes the tactical control system, another of the required components of the Tomahawk launch apparatus. General Dynamics, meanwhile, manufactures the missile’s firing system. Boeing builds the B-1 bombers used in the strikes as well as its own variety of cruise missiles, while Northrop Grumman produces radar systems and other bombers, like the B-2 Stealth.

The investor crowd was giddy about the money-making opportunities last week. On the stock tip blog “The Street” on Friday, trader Stephen Guilfoyle was recommending “4 Hot Defense Stocks for Syria,” telling his readers, “The world remains dangerous, and dangerous ‘toys’ are increasingly in demand.”

For the American people, the immediate cost of subsidizing the profits of war was at least $ 165 million—just for the Tomahawk missiles themselves, which cost the government $ 1.4 million each. This, of course, doesn’t account for the tens of millions of dollars or more that it cost to mobilize the equipment and forces necessary to carry out the air strikes.

Even though this round of strikes is being spun as a one-night affair, it is actually part of a sustained campaign in Syria and across the Middle East aimed at protecting U.S. dominance against the growth of Iranian and Russian influence. Almost exactly a year ago, there was a round of air strikes on Syria over another alleged chemical attack, and U.S. troops have been on the ground inside the country since late 2015.

With known war-hawks now holding prominent positions in the cabinet—including John Bolton as National Security Advisor, Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, and Gina Haspel as head of the CIA—the likelihood that this weekend’s missile strikes were a one-off event are next to nil. All three of these figures were connected with the disastrous war in Iraq under George W. Bush, which was justified by the need to eliminate Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction”—weapons which didn’t actually exist.

Meanwhile, the party on Wall Street carries on, with the promise of even brighter days ahead for defense contractors. Immediately following the bombing, Trump pledged “billions of fully approved dollars” in additional military spending on Saturday morning. Speaking of the U.S. military’s overwhelming power in the world, he continued, saying, “There won’t be anything, or anyone, even close!” That is exactly what this weekend’s air strikes were intended to tell the world

Top Photo | Raytheon CEO Tom Kennedy, left, former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, center, and Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson wait for the arrival of President Donald Trump in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, March 22, 2018. (AP/Evan Vucci)

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People’s World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People’s World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.


People’s World is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

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Cosby defense lawyers hitting back hard against accusers

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) – Bill Cosby’s defense lawyers will continue grilling his accusers when his sexual assault trial resumes on Thursday following withering treatment of three so far that featured tears, confessions of drug use and charges of self-promotion.

Actor and comedian, Bill Cosby, returns to the courtroom after lunch recess during the third day of the retrial of his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 11, 2018. Dominick Reuter/Pool via Reuters

Cosby, 80, the once beloved comic and television star whose appeal across generations and races lasted for decades, is standing for his second criminal trial on allegations of drugging and sexually assaulting a former friend and colleague, Andrea Constand, in 2004.

Some 50 other women have made similar accusations but their cases were too old to prosecute. Five of them are being permitted to tell the jury their stories now, in a retrial expected to last a month.

In the first trial, which ended in a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury, only one other accuser besides Constand was allowed to testify.

When Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill permitted five of them to bolster the prosecution case, it was a major setback for Cosby’s defense team, which is fighting back with aggressive cross-examination.

In three days of testimony so far, three of the women have told stories of being drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby in the 1980s, the decade when he became “America’s Dad” by playing the lovable Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.” Constand will likely tell a similar story of her 2004 encounter with Cosby.

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau, who represented Michael Jackson in his 2005 acquittal on child molestation charges, will resume his cross-examination of former bartender Janice Baker-Kinney.

On Wednesday Mesereau honed in on Baker-Kinney’s past drug use. Baker-Kinney readily admitted using drugs at times and that she was an alcoholic up until about age 38.

“I haven’t had a drink or drug in more than 20 years,” she said.

Baker-Kinney held firm against most of Mesereau’s questioning, though she choked up when speaking of her son’s depression after his father’s death.

Co-counsel Kathleen Bliss took on two other accusers, bringing one of them, aspiring actress Chelan Lasha, to tears for much of the session while grilling her about inconsistencies between her testimony and a statement she gave police.

Later, during a break in the action with the judge out of the courtroom, Lasha spontaneously burst into sobs and began gasping before recovering her composure.

Bliss also tried to skewer Heidi Thomas, an aspiring actress, about the potentially career-boosting publicity she received after coming forward with accusations against Cosby.

“OK,” Thomas admitted, “I had a lot of attention.”

Reporting by David DeKok; writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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Cosby attorneys to lay out comedian's sex-assault defense case

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) – Bill Cosby’s defense lawyers on Tuesday were set to make their opening statements in his retrial on sex assault charges, a case that is expected to include testimony from a woman who claims his accuser had mused about profiting from allegations against a famous man.

The 80-year-old entertainer, once best known as the wise and witty father in the TV hit “The Cosby Show,” is facing the same charges of sexually assaulting a friend in 2004 that he faced in a trial last year that ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict.

His defense will include new elements this time, after Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill said he would allow testimony from a friend of accuser Andrea Constand, a 44-year-old former administrator at Cosby’s alma mater, Temple University. The friend claims Constand once spoke of extracting money from celebrities by making such accusations.

About 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, sometimes after drugging them, in a string of alleged attacks dating back decades. All the accusations, apart from Constand’s, were too old to be the subject of criminal prosecution.

Cosby has denied wrongdoing, saying that any sexual contact he has had was consensual. If convicted of aggravated indecent assault, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

The new jury on Monday heard in prosecutors’ opening statements that Cosby had paid $ 3.38 million to a woman who accused him of sexual assault as part of a 2006 settlement of a civil lawsuit. That fact had not been revealed at Cosby’s first trial almost a year ago.

Both sides had wanted to divulge the settlement at trial, with prosecutors possibly seeking to portray it as an admission of guilt, while defense lawyers could argue that it bolstered their cases that Constand was seeking a big payout.

Cosby has changed lawyers for this trial, with his defense headed by Tom Mesereau, a Los Angeles attorney best known for successfully defending singer Michael Jackson at his 2005 child molestation trial.

Prosecutors will have a chance to call witnesses that were blocked from the first trial, including five more women who accuse Cosby of sex assault. Their testimony could bolster an argument that Cosby, who built a long career on a family-friendly style of comedy, was a serial predator who preyed on vulnerable women.

In Cosby’s last trial, prosecutors were allowed to call just one such witness.

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby departs after the first day of his sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jessica Kourkounis

Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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Reuters: Entertainment News

Cosby attorneys to lay out comedian's sex-assault defense case

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) – Bill Cosby’s defense lawyers on Tuesday were set to make their opening statements in his retrial on sex assault charges, a case that is expected to include testimony from a woman who claims his accuser had mused about profiting from allegations against a famous man.

The 80-year-old entertainer, once best known as the wise and witty father in the TV hit “The Cosby Show,” is facing the same charges of sexually assaulting a friend in 2004 that he faced in a trial last year that ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict.

His defense will include new elements this time, after Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill said he would allow testimony from a friend of accuser Andrea Constand, a 44-year-old former administrator at Cosby’s alma mater, Temple University. The friend claims Constand once spoke of extracting money from celebrities by making such accusations.

About 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, sometimes after drugging them, in a string of alleged attacks dating back decades. All the accusations, apart from Constand’s, were too old to be the subject of criminal prosecution.

Cosby has denied wrongdoing, saying that any sexual contact he has had was consensual. If convicted of aggravated indecent assault, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

The new jury on Monday heard in prosecutors’ opening statements that Cosby had paid $ 3.38 million to a woman who accused him of sexual assault as part of a 2006 settlement of a civil lawsuit. That fact had not been revealed at Cosby’s first trial almost a year ago.

Both sides had wanted to divulge the settlement at trial, with prosecutors possibly seeking to portray it as an admission of guilt, while defense lawyers could argue that it bolstered their cases that Constand was seeking a big payout.

Cosby has changed lawyers for this trial, with his defense headed by Tom Mesereau, a Los Angeles attorney best known for successfully defending singer Michael Jackson at his 2005 child molestation trial.

Prosecutors will have a chance to call witnesses that were blocked from the first trial, including five more women who accuse Cosby of sex assault. Their testimony could bolster an argument that Cosby, who built a long career on a family-friendly style of comedy, was a serial predator who preyed on vulnerable women.

In Cosby’s last trial, prosecutors were allowed to call just one such witness.

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby departs after the first day of his sexual assault retrial at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jessica Kourkounis

Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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In Defense of the Women’s Marches

How we assess the Women’s Marches speaks to who the left sees as its audience and how it engages them to advance the struggle. 

The massive outpouring of opposition to Donald Trump at this month’s Women’s Marches was a much-needed boost, with well over a million people hitting the streets in cities across the country.

A lot has happened since the first Women’s March — the harm that the Trump administration has inflicted, but also important shows of resistance. Not the least of those is the #MeToo campaign, and that was reflected in the big numbers who returned to the streets this year.

Online afterward, I saw friends and family members proudly talking about protests they took part in, large and small, all across the country.

They posted pictures of signs drawing attention to the concerns that face women every day, like sexual assault and reproductive rights. But there were also many other sides of the opposition to the Trump administration represented at the marches — immigrants rights, LGBT rights, Black Lives Matter, opposition to Islamophobia.

In some cases where march organizers excluded important issues — like Los Angeles, where one Palestinian group boycotted the event because actor Scarlett Johansson, a public opponent of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, was a featured speaker — the presence of these intersectional signs and slogans was an implicit or explicit challenge to the politics expressed from the front.

Through their posts, I saw people out protesting, marching with their co-workers, groups of students from high schools and colleges, friends and neighbors with their communities, all proud to be out together and showing solidarity against Trump.

Unfortunately, though, a minority of left voices expressed cynicism and ultra-leftism on social media.

For some, the massive size of the demonstrations was inconsequential compared to the march sponsors’ narrow theme of “March to the Polls” that aimed to contain anti-Trump resistance to a vote for Democrats in this November’s elections.

For others, the big problem of the Women’s Marches was how liberal they were — too many “white middle-class women” showed up, according to comments on social media.

It’s worth taking up these criticisms, even the most dismissive of them, since they have an impact on how those on the left view their audience and the kind of organizing we do.

***

The main organizers of the marches this year promoted the slogan “March to the Polls” with the goal of portraying the demonstrations as a step toward mobilizing a vote for Democratic Party candidates against Republicans in the November elections.

There were plenty of signs, both printed and homemade, reflecting this theme, and it’s true that many marchers carried them happily — because electing the Republicans out of power seems like a logical response to having Trump in the White House and a right-wing majority in Congress.

But elections weren’t the only issue that brought out those who marched. Probably more important to most participants was the immediate act of returning to the streets and showing concretely that there is a vast opposition to Trump and everything he stands for.

Among the chants that flowed through the marches, you were as likely to hear “Immigrants are welcome here” as “Donald Trump has got to go.” And, of course, #MeToo led to an even greater focus on challenging sexual harassment and assault, an issue that goes well beyond elections.

As for what political action to take next, for most marchers, the idea of voting out the Republicans mixes comfortably with other possibilities: protest, direct action and civil disobedience, boycotts, internet organizing, labor activism. Some marchers reflected the politics and worldview of Democrats like Hillary Clinton, while others were clearly more radical and open to socialist ideas, including a critique of the two-party system.

The point is that all of this was up for discussion — if you talked to people at the march.

A radical left tradition is being rebuilt in the U.S., and over the last few years, there have been important developments, including a growing interest in socialism that has been reflected in the growth of left-wing organizations.

But beyond this is a wide layer of people who are sick of the status quo and open to some kind of alternative — but who have yet to find it.

The growth in the number of people committed to radical and socialist politics is incredibly important, but this is just the beginning. Most of the people who will come around left politics in the future aren’t there yet — so their ideas will reflect the fact that U.S. politics is still dominated by the two major political parties, along with the labor, civil rights and liberal organizations committed to supporting the Democratic Party.

Bernie Sanders, the person largely credited with making socialism popular during the last election, has put forward a left-wing message that contrasts with the mainstream Democratic one in some ways. But in practical terms, he is trying to funnel supporters toward the Democratic Party above all else.

In this context, it’s no surprise that the organizers’ call to get out the vote would get a hearing at the Women’s Marches — but that was far from the only message.

***

It’s a pretty rare occurrence these days for liberal and labor organizations committed to a strategy of electing Democrats to call any kind of demonstration.

But as we can see from the Women’s Marches, when they do, a huge audience will respond, including many people who have been radicalized by the Trump era and are open to politics that go beyond those of the organizers.

When leftists insist that only protests and action organized around a radical, working-class agenda are worth taking seriously, they risk missing the audience for socialist politics among attendees of a protest that actually happened. They also miss out on the impact that large demonstrations, even ones dominated by liberal politics from the front, can have.

It may be hard to imagine for a younger generation, but there was a time when liberal women’s organizations called mass demonstrations when reproductive rights were under attack.

In 1989, when legal abortion hung in the balance during the George Bush Sr. administration, with the U.S. Supreme Court deliberating on the Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, the National Organization for Women (NOW) called on supporters to come to Washington — and half a million people showed up.

That made a difference in preserving the right to choose. The conservative justices who sided with maintaining legal abortion explicitly referenced in their opinion the general consensus that had developed on the issue — something symbolized most of all by the mass abortion rights marches.

When Bill Clinton took office, no such mass protests were called, since organizations like NOW thought they had a friend in the White House. And you could see the difference — as women’s right to choose was chipped away, state by state and procedure by procedure, organizations like NOW stood passively behind the Democratic president.

Socialists proudly attended those Bush Sr.-era protests and others called by liberal organizations in defense of women’s rights, bringing our own politics and demands with us — and we organized, unsuccessfully, to pressure NOW and other groups to participate in protest and activism in the Clinton era.

As for the message sent at the Women’s Marches last weekend, I’m with the activists who organized to attend, and who also made sure that their demands were heard — like the “Free Ahed Tamimi” contingent in New York City that saw the march as a place to build solidarity with the struggle of Palestinian women.

I’m also with the many socialists and radicals who recognized the march as an opportunity to talk to people not already convinced of left-wing politics — including why the Democrats can’t be relied on to fight for us, and thus why we should have an alternative strategy to marching to the polls.

Creating a space, during and after the march, to have discussions about what it will take to build the resistance requires that socialists have patience, but also a clear set of arguments to make. Whether we passed those tests this time around is an open question, but those whose cynicism kept them from even engaging with the Women’s Marches definitely didn’t.

***

Then there’s the criticism of how “white” and “middle class” the Women’s Marches were.

This was raised about the first Women’s Marches last year, along with the frustration for some that the demonstrations, while they represented the largest single day of protest in U.S. history, didn’t fully represent the issues faced by working people and the oppressed.

That’s an argument for working to make sure that our voices and issues are betterrepresented at demonstrations in the future. But there’s a difference between recognizing that there’s work to be done to create the most inclusive protests possible and condemning a whole demonstration for being made up of “white middle-class women.”

For one, many of the women who attended the marches — like the contingent of union teachers at the Chicago march — would be surprised that they were there to represent “bourgeois” concerns, far removed from the “real” task of building a working-class movement.

What’s more, the dismissal of the issues raised by women at the Women’s Marches as “middle class” suggests they have nothing to do with the more serious concerns of the working class struggle.

Actually, this is an argument that has circulated quite a bit since the #MeToo campaign began last fall, among critics on the left, but also on the right, who diminish the importance of women speaking out because the campaign started among actors in Hollywood.

The same thing happened after the Golden Globes awards this year, when famous actors attended wearing black to show their support for #MeToo, and Oprah Winfrey, among others, spoke out powerfully from the stage about sexual assault and harassment.

Actually, revolutionary socialists take the fight against women’s oppression seriously, no matter the class of the women affected. Furthermore, the fact that prominent women have spoken out against sexual assault helps create an opening for working-class women’s stories to be heard as well.

There’s no guarantee that this will happen — activists will have to work at it to make sure that the concerns of working-class women are central to the struggle, along with concrete demands that can make a difference in every woman’s life, like equal pay, reproductive freedom, and equal access to housing and child care.

But none of this will happen if we allow women who do stand up to be derided or told their concerns don’t matter. And it definitely won’t happen if the left takes a hands-off approach to massive events like the Women’s Marches.

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New 2018 Pentagon Defense Strategy: From the War on Terror to Predatory Economics

In this edition of a Different View with F William Engdahl he goes into the real issues on the new Pentagon Defense Strategy document that was widely missed by mainstream media, namely how the Pentagon is now making economic rivals into its main “enemy image,” and no longer focusing on the War on Terror. He discusses what in fact this means and how it represents a dangerous shift in US military priorities.

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Jeff Sessions’ Russia Testimony Cited in Defense of Cop Who Killed Walter Scott

In a pre-sentencing memo obtained by CBS News on Monday, lawyers for Michael Slager—the former South Carolina police officer who pleaded guilty in May to federal charges of using excessive force and violating the civil rights of the late Walter Scott—invoke the testimony of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who told congressional investigators he had poor recollections about his meetings with Russian contacts.

“The text below reflects the sworn testimony of Sessions in his opening remarks. The highlighted portions are particularly apropos to describe memory’s imperfections, and in fact, could have been spoken by Slager himself,” reads one section of the memo.

Slager’s murder trial, which resulted in a hung jury, was covered in depth by Michael Sokolove for Mother Jones. Sokolove got to know the families of the former North Charleston cop and his victim, Walter Scott, whom Slager shot five times in the back as he fled from a routine traffic stop in an incident that was caught on video and made national headlines.

Slager, Sokolove writes, claimed on the stand that he feared for his life—the standard police defense—even though the suspect was unarmed and fleeing:

“In my mind,” he said, “it was total fear.” Scott had grabbed his Taser, he insisted. (In the video, Scott is seen running away from Slager, without the Taser.) “I pulled my firearm and I pulled the trigger,” Slager testified. “I fired until the threat was stopped, like I’m trained to do.” … The adrenaline from the fight and the trauma of the shooting had impaired his recollections: “My mind,” he said, “was like spaghetti.”

Scott’s family, of course, wasn’t buying it. “He flat-out lied. He sat on the stand and lied. The whole world knows he lied,” said Walter’s younger brother, Rodney Scott.

In the memo, Slager’s lawyers argue otherwise, using Sessions as Exhibit A: “A failure to recall, or an inaccurate recollection, does not a liar make…. Like Sessions, Slager’s testimony has always been consistent with the memory he had at the time and he has responded to questions asked in the context of the Questions.”

In a followup post about the guilty plea, Sokolove wrote…

Slager was not under imminent threat. After the shooting, he appeared to plant evidence by retreating to where the scuffle had taken place to retrieve his Taser and then placing it beside Scott’s prone body. Slager described a different sequence of events in the hours after the shooting, but more recently he has testified that he has no memory at all of those interviews with investigators.

His memory loss could be viewed as a calculated strategy. Or, alternatively, as an indication of a defendant who was not in the best of mental states to withstand a new trial.

Slager’s sentencing is set for December 4. Prosecutors, citing the former officer’s dissembling and failure to accept full responsibility for what he did, are pushing for a punishment of life in prison. According to CBS News, legal experts predict he will most likely get 5 to 20 years.

Crime and Justice – Mother Jones