Tense inauguration day in DC. Trump pardons Bannon, defends slavery in final hours. Pompeo officially declares Uighur “genocide” in China.
Tense day in Washington as Biden to be inaugurated
Downtown Washington DC remains on security lockdown ahead of today’s inauguration. Much of the city remains barricaded with high security fences surrounding key buildings.
Federal agents remain on high alert after monitoring some concerning online chatter about the inauguration. These included a number of threats against specific officials as well as discussions of how right-wing extremist groups could possibly circumvent the tight security.
12 guard troops dismissed after probe
Following an FBI probe of the 25,000 National Guard troops in Washington for the inauguration to ferret out any with extremist sympathies, 12 troops have been sent home for “questionable behavior”. Two of the guards made extremist statements or threats regarding the inauguration in posts or texts. The reason for the dismissal of the other 10 is unclear.
Stay classy- Trump pardons Bannon, defends slavery in final hours
As the sun is about to set on his presidency, Trump and his White House have not been idle. Trump issued over 140 pardons and commutations on his final day, including one for former advisor Steve Bannon. Bannon featured prominently in Trump’s first election campaign and in the early days of his administration and is credited with winning the right-wing fringe for Trump.
Bannon had been facing fraud charges over his “We Build the Wall” fundraiser. In total, the campaign bilked thousands of Trump supporters for a total of $25 million dollars. About $1 million of that found its way to Bannon and went towards paying his personal expenses. The campaign falsely claimed that the money was going to supplement the building of Trump’s Mexican border wall.
The White House also issued a “patriotic education” report from the 1776 commission on Martin Luther King Day. Among other things, the report made excuses for the institution of slavery and its role in the founding of America. The report argued that slavery should be viewed from “a much broader perspective” and that “the unfortunate fact is that the institution of slavery has been more the rule than the exception throughout human history”. It also downplays the repercussions of slavery that remain evident to this day. The report also distorted Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by falsely claiming that affirmative action policies were against everything King stood for.
Historians have drubbed numerous factual inaccuracies in the report, with one describing it as “historical whack-a-mole”. Civil rights groups such as the ACLU have also weighed in saying, “Donald Trump has always attempted to use a fictional version of the past to justify racist policies” and accusing the White House of pushing “a white supremacist version of our nation’s history”.
To quote Trump upon being shown a pair of child’s slave shackles by King’s niece Alveda on MLK day 2017: “That is really bad. That is really bad.”
Pompeo declares Uighur “genocide” in China
On his last day in office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a parting shot to Beijing, officially declaring China’s treatment of its Muslim Uighur minority a genocide.
Under international law, a formal declaration of genocide should compel action by the international community. A Congressional report last week stopped just short of declaring China’s oppression of Uighurs a genocide, instead saying it was “possibly genocide”.
The Trump administration has unleashed increasingly punishing measures on China in its final months. However, it has, up until now, stopped short of an official genocide declaration.
In his statement, Pompeo justified the designation, saying China’s Uighurs had suffered, “the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and freedom of movement”.
Significantly, Anthony Blinken, Joe Biden’s nomination to succeed Pompeo, says he agrees with the genocide designation.
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