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15-11-2017, 01:54 AM (This post was last modified: 15-11-2017 01:58 AM by Szuchow.)
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
(14-11-2017 11:24 PM)Kaneda Wrote:  
(14-11-2017 10:33 PM)Szuchow Wrote:   American Jewish Committee decries hateful demonstrators on Poland’s Independence Day

Men and women wearing face-masks chanted, "Pure Poland, white Poland" and "Clean blood, lucid mind," as well as "Sieg Heil" and "Ku Klux Klan."

AJC is urging the Polish government to speak out clearly against rising hatred inspired by the country’s far right. The call to action comes after a large demonstration filled with neo-Nazi and white supremacist rhetoric that took place in Warsaw on Saturday, the country’s Independence Day.

Szuchow, if you don't mind me asking, have you been seeing the makings of a growing White Nationalist subculture in your neck of the woods these last few years? I haven't heard to much hubbub in the U.S. but admittedly I don't get out much.

I don't mind. I wouldn't speak about white nationalists though as whiteness isn't much stressed. It's national part that matters and religious one, at least in declarations.

Real growth of such group could be dated back to Poland entering EU, or PiS first period of rule, though one has to remember that nationalism was never eradicated here, even pre '89 regime change.

Now with PiS in charge yet again we see real growth of xenophobic nationalism, hatred toward refugees and Other, which is cultivated by gov who try to dress it in clothes of patriotism.

All in all violence may be fringe but allegedly Poles would preffer leaving EU than admitting refugees (if you google that phrase relevant article should appear). And given how positive EU membership is this attitude is worrying.

ETA: Whoever tried to PM me, my inbox is now clean.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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15-11-2017, 03:59 AM
Everything Else - Global News Tracker
Found relevant article - https://visegradpost.com/en/2017/07/12/p...mmigrants/

Adding to previous post - polish nationalism seems to be connected with catholicism. Allegedly one can't be a "True Pole" without being catholic; good Pole should also despise Germans and Russians.

There is also issue of Smolensk catastrophe which "Truest Poles" see as conspiracy. It nicely ties itself to Poland martyr complex and feeling of being eternal, blameless victim; nationalists here think that it is time to "rise from knees".

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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15-11-2017, 07:58 PM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
Texas High School Students ‘Stand Up to Atheists.’ Zero Atheists Care.


If you read about the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) latest warning to a Texas high school, you most likely thought nothing of it, since it seems pretty clear-cut. LaPoynor High School in Larue, Texas, received a letter from FFRF demanding they take down the Christian flag that the school has been flying alongside the Texas and US flags on school grounds. The flag was apparently raised as part of the annual See You at the Pole event, a national student-led (at least it’s supposed to be) event where kids pray together at the school’s flagpole. We see these types of complaints all the time, especially in Southern states, where they wear their Christianity on their chests and think the Founding Fathers all had Bibles in their back pockets. I guess that’s what happens when you change all the history textbooks in an effort to rewrite the formation of the US as some kind of Christian homeland.

After the school district shared the complaint with the local community, the “persecuted” Christians began coming out of the woodwork, arranging protests, speaking out, and asking the school district to fight back. Three students at the school even strapped Christian flags to their pickup trucks (because, duh) and parked them in the school parking lot in an effort to stand up to the rotten atheists at FFRF.

News flash: We don’t care.

Over the weekend, Master of Ignorance, Todd Starnes, wrote about the event like it was some kind of holy war victory. In his article, he showed a photo of the three trucks parked in a line with their flags on the back. Here’s how he described it:

"…students at the high school have taken matters into their own hands — they’ve decided to stand up to the atheists. Several youngsters purchased Christian flags and mounted the banners on their pickup trucks. It was quite a scene in the high school parking lot — a convoy of trucks adorned with the Christian flag — waving in the Texas breeze.

Wait, what? Three. Three students bought flags and attached them to their trucks. Not “several” and certainly not a “convoy.” What a dishonest moron Todd Starnes is.

“But Kevin, just because there are only three in the photo doesn’t mean there weren’t more you don’t see here.”

Nope, there were three. If there were more, they’d be in the photo to show solidarity. Also, this:

[Image: fb_flag.jpg]


But aside from Starnes’s habitually disingenuous reporting, atheists and others who support the separation of church and state don’t give a damn what you attach to your personal vehicle. Through the years, Christians have conflated church-state separation with anti-Christian policymaking. That’s just not the case. Separation advocates just want equal treatment. Either everyone gets a seat at the table in the public square or no one does. That’s it. If the government flies the flag of one religion, they have to fly them all or don’t fly any. It’s not about hating religion or being anti-Christian. It’s about the law and equal treatment.

So kids, fly whatever flag you want on your trucks. No one cares. You have every right to display your belief in fairy tales on your own vehicle. You’re not making a statement by doing so, and you’re not standing up to atheists. It does make your truck look pretty stupid though.

Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularvoic...MSCZ8p8.99
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16-11-2017, 10:30 AM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
At U.N. Climate Conference, Treading Lightly Around the Americans

By LISA FRIEDMAN and BRAD PLUMER- The New York Times, NOV. 15, 2017

BONN, Germany — If world leaders are angry at the United States for rejecting the Paris climate change agreement, few at United Nations climate talks here are openly showing it.

Delegates from the largest industrial countries to the smallest island states are tiptoeing around the single largest topic of discussion here — the American retreat from leadership on climate change and the Trump administration’s moves to undermine domestic global warming policy and international climate diplomacy.

President Emmanuel Macron of France on Wednesday challenged Europe to “replace America” in financing the United Nations climate change science body, though he did not directly criticize President Trump’s decision to eliminate American contributions to it. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, praised a coalition of American governors and mayors who, in contrast to the White House stance, are still working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Leaders of other nations, from the island of Nauru to landlocked Niger, barely alluded in public remarks to the new posture of the United States, historically the world’s largest emitter of planet-warming gases and now the only country to reject a global solution to climate change.

Achim Steiner, the administrator of the United Nations Development Program, said openly criticizing the Trump administration on climate change would be pointless.

“What is to be gained?” he asked. “The reaction to the U.S. decision was loud and clear from every world leader, so to then go on and on is very unproductive.”

Diplomats are pulling their punches behind the scenes, too. In private negotiating sessions, career State Department staffers have been making headway on technical issues to strengthen the Paris accord. A White House official said none of the American delegates has faced open antagonism.

“We’ve got the best negotiating team in the world. I think that everyone recognizes that here,” said the official, George David Banks, a senior energy adviser to President Trump. “That is one of the reasons other delegations are very supportive of making sure the U.S. delegation is as involved as possible.”

Not everyone is treating the United States with kid gloves, of course. Environmental activists denounced the Trump administration’s planned withdrawal from the Paris agreement at every turn. Mr. Banks on Tuesday found himself cornered by Kumi Naidoo, a South African human rights activist and former executive director of Greenpeace, who told him that “U.S. policies are killing our people.”

But observers agree that most delegates are trying to remain respectful of their American counterparts, whatever private misgivings they may harbor. Many members of the State Department team of career diplomats here are familiar players in these negotiations and are continuing to pursue longstanding objectives, like greater transparency on emissions cuts from developing countries.

Others see pragmatism at work. Mr. Trump, after all, cannot officially pull out of the Paris agreement until 2020. He has also held out the possibility that America might stay in the accord if it can negotiate new, though still undefined, terms.

“There’s this eternal hope that the world will change and the U.S. will come back into the fold, and we’re not allowed to disturb that hope,” said Ian Fry, lead negotiator for the Pacific Ocean island of Tuvalu.

Most, however, said that countries are moving on without the United States and have little interest in relitigating Mr. Trump’s Paris decision.

“The world just doesn’t have time to wait for the United States to decide what it’s doing,” Catherine McKenna, Canada’s environment minister, said. “We’re moving on.”

Yet the loss of American diplomatic heft here is also evident. The Trump administration brought just 48 people to the talks in Bonn, far fewer than in previous years. China, by contrast, registered 81 people for the conference, and Canada 161.

There also is the question of who is in charge. Under President Obama, the climate envoy Todd D. Stern had clear authority to speak for the White House on all negotiating positions. The current State Department official slated to lead the talks, Thomas A. Shannon Jr., canceled at the last minute because of a family emergency, leaving the negotiations largely in the hands of lower-ranking colleagues. Mr. Banks, the White House aide, is here, but he refers most questions to the State Department, which in turn has said it will not be holding any public briefings.

The lack of White House engagement has shifted the dynamics of climate negotiations, diplomats said. Miguel Arias Cañete, Europe’s commissioner for climate change issues, noted the Obama administration was “very active” in engaging China on climate change.

Now, Mr. Cañete said, Europe, along with Canada, has taken over the role of engaging China. “For sure the E.U. would prefer a very active United States here, but we are doing our best without them.”

Mr. Banks said he believed the rest of the world understood that America was indispensable in the climate negotiations regardless of whether it was a party to the Paris agreement.

“Here’s the truth,” he said. “When it gets tough, we stand up to China. We can’t expect the E.U. and others to do that.”

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16-11-2017, 10:41 AM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
Lewinsky Is Not Why Clinton Should Have Resigned
by Ian Welsh - 15 November 2017

I don’t usually write about subjects I disagree with Matt Yglesias on, but this piece on how Bill Clinton should have resigned over Lewinsky is sickening.

It’s not that Clinton’s actions with Lewinsky weren’t awful, it is the moral and ethical vacuum required to think that’s the issue over which he should have resigned.

Clinton gutted welfare. I guarantee that killed a lot of people and hurt way more. Clinton pushed the three strikes laws hard, which hit black communities brutally, locking people up for years for a third strike for things like stealing a bicycle. Bill Clinton engaged in punitive sanctions against Iraq which hit basic medicine, killing and hurting a lot of people. Bill Clinton pushed for the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and signed it; this was one of the causes of the 2008 financial collapse and, thus, killed and hurt a lot people.

What happened to Lewinsky was sad, gross, and wrong. But it came nowhere near the harm Clinton did with other actions.

This inability to think at scale haunts us when dealing with powerful people. What matters most is by far and away what they do as policy. One intern and a cigar is a tragedy, to paraphrase Stalin, but thousands of deaths and people locked up for decades is a statistic.

Oh, there are arguments against this: That killing and impoverishing people is the role of the US president, but that screwing around with interns isn’t, basically.


I actually can see the case. Some things are over the lines. Rape, for example. Or torture. But war causes both, and Bush, Jr. served out his terms, as did Obama. Heck, by some accounts Bush, rather closely supervised some of the torture in Guantanamo and enjoyed doing so.

The bottom line is that we choose our leaders in part because they are functional sociopaths–able to do great evil and sleep at night. We shouldn’t choose them that way, but for a variety of reasons, we do.

But to be concerned about one abuse of position (which was consensual, however) and not about all the vast harm Clinton did to people even more powerless than Lewinsky, to say that’s where you draw the line rather than at, say, welfare reform—I don’t know, it sticks in my craw.

About the only good argument is that people who abuse power in that manner shouldn’t be allowed near power. I agree. But by the time Lewinsky occurred, Clinton had already shown he was willing to hurt the weak and poor at scale.

It’s the statistics that matter. The individual cases only can warn you about the statistics that might follow, and they aren’t always so accurately predictive. (FDR had an affair with his principal secretary. It didn’t make him a bad President and if he’d stepped down it would have been disastrous.)

I wonder if we evolved killer apes are capable of running large civilizations in anything close to an effective and beneficial fashion. The evidence coming in is looking grim.
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16-11-2017, 07:56 PM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker

Alice Speri at The Intercept - November 16, 2017, 10:22 a.m.

"This summer, the House of Representatives allocated $1.6 billion to start the wall’s construction — and Trump has promised to shut down the government to secure funding for the rest. “Believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he said in August. Last month, the House Homeland Security Committee approved a border security bill that includes $10 billion for the wall.

Despite Trump’s repeated claims, that money will come from taxpayers’ pockets, not Mexico. But whatever the final price tag, Wall Street is ready to cash in. While details on the other bidders are harder to get, scrutiny of Sterling’s shareholders reveals that investors across the political spectrum are betting on the wall.

Private equity firm BlackRock — headed by longtime Democrat donor Larry Fink — is the largest investor in Sterling, owning nearly 8 percent of its stock as of November 1. Between March and June of this year, as Sterling prepared to bid on the prototype contract, BlackRock increased its investment in the company by 195 percent. Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase, whose CEO Jamie Dimon has spoken critically of Trump’s immigration policies, invested in Sterling for the first time over that period.

“What a coincidence,” said Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. “If you look at the investments in this particular company, you see how there is a very clear, intentional positioning to benefit from the building of the wall and by extension, from the policies that criminalize and punish immigrant families and cause tremendous amounts of suffering.”"

"BUT INVESTORS IN Sterling — and Trump’s immigration policies — also include some who have sought to publicly distance themselves from the president and his anti-immigrant positions.

Fink, BlackRock’s chair and CEO, had staked high hopes on a Hillary Clinton victory. Since the election, Fink has sent mixed messages about his views of Trump, saying that the president’s economic policies represented a “bucket list of things we’d like to see done” — but adding, “You can’t take personality out of the debate.”
Despite reservations he might have had about Trump’s “personality,” Fink was one of several executives who rushed to advise him on economic policy by joining the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

In August, Trump abruptly disbanded the forum and a parallel Manufacturing Jobs Initiative after several members of the latter resigned in protest of his response to the racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fink was late to criticize Trump over his remarks and did not publicly declare his intention to resign from the advisory group until the president announced its dissolution.

Neither did Dimon, JPMorgan’s CEO and another longtime Democrat donor who had joined Trump’s economic forum.
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16-11-2017, 08:14 PM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker

Alleen Brown, Will Parrish, Alice Speri at The Intercept - November 15, 2017, 10:34 a.m.

"THE PRIVATE SECURITY firm TigerSwan, hired by Energy Transfer Partners to protect the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, was paid to gather information for what would become a sprawling conspiracy lawsuit accusing environmentalist groups of inciting the anti-pipeline protests in an effort to increase donations, three former TigerSwan contractors told The Intercept.

For months, a conference room wall at TigerSwan’s Apex, North Carolina, headquarters was covered with a web-like map of funding nodes the firm believed it had uncovered — linking billionaire backers to nonprofit organizations to pipeline opponents protesting at Standing Rock. It was a “showpiece” for board members and ETP executives, according to a former TigerSwan contractor — part of a project that had little to do with the pipeline’s physical security.

In August, the law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, Donald Trump’s personal attorney for more than a decade, filed a 187-page racketeering complaint against Greenpeace, Earth First, and the divestment group BankTrack in the U.S. District Court of North Dakota, seeking $300 million in damages on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners. The NoDAPL movement, the suit claims, was driven by “a network of putative not-for-profits and rogue eco-terrorist groups who employ patterns of criminal activity and campaigns of misinformation to target legitimate companies and industries with fabricated environmental claims.”

“It was as if the entire campaign came in a box. And of course it did,” the suit alleges. “Its objective was not to protect the environment or Native Americans but to produce as sensational and public a dispute as possible, and to use that publicity and emotion to drive fundraising.”

Among the nonprofit network’s alleged crimes: “perpetrating acts of terrorism under the U.S. Patriot Act, including destruction of an energy facility, destruction of hazardous liquid pipeline facility, arson and bombing of government property risking or causing injury or death.”

“We felt compelled to file the lawsuit against Greenpeace and others because we want the truth to come out about the illegal actions that took place in North Dakota and the funding of these actions,” ETP spokesperson Vicki Granado told The Intercept. “In many cases, the only way the truth comes out is through the legal process.”

The case was filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, passed in 1970 to prosecute organized crime — primarily the mob. Greenpeace says it amounts to a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP, designed to curtail free speech through expensive, time-consuming litigation.

“It grossly distorts the law and facts at Standing Rock,” said Greenpeace general counsel Tom Wetterer. “We’ll win the lawsuit, but it’s not really what this is about for ETP. What they’re really trying to do is silence future protests and advocacy work against the company and other corporations.”

“[The lawsuit] had some major racist overtones. They were basically saying that we were not intelligent enough to know for ourselves what the possibilities were in case the pipeline were to leak. They were basically saying we were manipulated,” said Linda Black Elk, a member of the Catawba Nation who lives on the Standing Rock reservation and organized against the pipeline months before the protests began. “I think the whole purpose of it is to scare tribes from further activism when it comes to the fossil fuel industries and to scare these green groups to keep them from supporting us in those future fights.”"
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16-11-2017, 08:26 PM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker

Lee Fang at The Intercept - November 14, 2017, 11:10 a.m.

MASS SHOOTINGS HAVE in recent years been followed by a predictable cycle: Politicians raise the potential for gun control policies, and gun industry-funded groups respond by exaggerating the reach of gun control, sending people into a gun-buying frenzy. Every mass shooting is effectively transformed into an opportunity for profit.

But following the October 1 mass murder in Las Vegas, which took the lives of 58 people and left 546 others injured, that cycle seems to have broken. And gun companies and their investors have noticed.

Sturm, Ruger & Company, one of the largest gun manufacturers in America, had its most recent earnings call on November 1. On the call, Rommel Dionisio, an analyst with Aegis Capital, asked if the gun industry had reaped any additional sales from the “incidents in Las Vegas.” Specifically, he asked whether an increase in gun purchasing comparable to “demand spikes after San Bernardino and Orlando a year ago” had occurred.

Christopher Killoy, chief executive of Sturm Ruger, said the Las Vegas shooting was “obviously a very tragic event,” but his sales team had not noted “any impact.”

Listen to the exchange here:

A similar conversation took place on the November 9 earnings call for Compass Diversified Holdings, a firm that owns a firearms accessory company. One analyst asked Compass partner Elias Sabo if “fairly significant firearms incidents recently” have had “an effect on demand.”

Sabo said that the firm has not seen a spike in sales. In the past, Sabo noted, “There was a different tone being discussed surrounding gun control, and that doesn’t appear to be the case right now.” He added: “I don’t think that our country has become desensitized to these types of incidents, but perhaps they have, which would be pretty stunning. But I think it’s more likely attributable to the lack of discussion surrounding change in gun laws, which I think really spurred a lot of demand post the incidents that you reference.”

Listen to the exchange here:

During former President Barack Obama’s time in office, Democrats proposed more than 100 gun control measures, many of which were debated in direct response to mass shootings. Those proposals were often followed by statements from the National Rifle Association, which responded by exaggerating the reach of gun control, claiming that heightened background checks or limits on high-powered rifles would lead to gun confiscation and social unrest.

Congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump signaled quickly after the Las Vegas massacre that they would not take up significant gun control laws. While some Democratic lawmakers have called for reform, their minority status in Washington, D.C., sharply reduces the probability for legislative success.

As The Intercept has reported, the gun industry has long boasted that its role in politics and its response to mass shootings has boosted profits. “The gun business was very much accelerated based on what happened after the election and then the tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook,” Ed Stack, chief executive of Dick’s Sporting Goods, a major gun retailer, boasted at a Goldman Sachs conference in 2014. Smith & Wesson executive James Debney, speaking at the Roth Capital Partners conference in 2013, noted that “the tragedy in Newtown and the legislative landscape” resulted in sales that were “significantly up.” The “fear and uncertainty that there might be increased gun control,” he added, “drove many new people to buy firearms for the first time.”

After the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the NRA issued a stern statement opposing new regulations on firearms. The NRA, notably, is firmly ingrained into the business model of gun companies. Smith & Wesson, on its earnings call last year, disclosed a “$1 million contribution to the NRA” political fund as a quarterly operating expense for the firm. In other words, gun companies count donations to the NRA as essential payments just as critical as paying staff and other expenses.
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16-11-2017, 08:38 PM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
Deadly flash floods cause 'biblical damage' in Athens

Roads are turned into torrents of mud and debris, homes and businesses are deluged and bad weather is forecast to continue

Helena Smith in Athens - The Guardian

Wednesday 15 November 2017 12.55 EST

Flash floods on the outskirts of Athens have killed at least 15 people, injured dozens more and caused “biblical damage”, with authorities ordering flags to fly at half-mast on Thursday after downpours turned roads into torrents of mud and debris.

“Cars are stuck in mud in hills where it is raining hard, homes have been flooded and people are missing,” said Nikos Toskas, the minister for public order and citizen protection. “The death toll may rise,” he told the Guardian. “The bad weather is forecast to continue until the weekend.”

Toskas, who toured several of the affected areas on Wednesday, described scenes of catastrophe. A section of the highway between Athens and Corinth had caved in, businesses had been inundated and power lines had gone down as the floods hit. “They’ve affected a very large region in some of the poorest parts of Athens,” Toskas said.

The flooding followed heavy rain overnight. As roads turned into rivers of mud, cars were carried away and tossed into piles,and walls from yards and small buildings collapsed. Deluged with debris and rubble, some streets became impassable.

Twelve of the people killed – four women and eight men – were found in or near Mandra, a small town on the western outskirts of Athens that was hardest hit by the flood. The bodies of two more men were recovered from the sea. It was thought likely both had been swept into the bay at Eleusina, 11 miles from Athens’ city centre.

The state-run TV channel ERT reported that all the victims were between 45 and 70 years old. Among the dead were a hunter and a truck driver found in the cabin of his vehicle.

Authorities said at least 10 people had been taken to hospital with hypothermia, and call centres were overwhelmed with appeals for help. Many of the calls were from people trapped in cars, trucks and buses. Firefighters registered around 340 calls for help to pump water from flooded buildings.

“What we are seeing is unprecedented,” said Ioannis Vasilliou, vice-prefect of western Attica. “Huge amounts of water are raging through [the streets of] Mandra … we have to stop the gush [of water].”

Speculation was rife on Wednesday that illegal construction over streams and riverbeds had contributed to the ferocity of the torrents.

Schools in the suburbs of Mandra, Nea Peramos and Megara were closed as authorities called a state of emergency and the fire department appealed to the public to avoid travelling to the area unless necessary. “Everything is lost. The disaster is biblical,” the mayor of Mandra Yianna Krikouki told state-run TV.

Further storms are predicted to hit parts of the Greek capital and western Greece in the coming days.

The prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, said he was “deeply saddened” by the loss of life.
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16-11-2017, 08:52 PM
RE: Everything Else - Global News Tracker
Cambodia top court dissolves main opposition CNRP party

Cambodia's Supreme Court has dissolved the country's main opposition party, leaving the government with no significant competitor ahead of elections next year.

BBC News - 16 November 2017

The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) is accused of plotting to topple the government - charges it denies, and describes as politically motivated.
More than 100 party members are now banned from politics for five years.
Cambodia's Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has ruled for 32 years.
The one-time commander in Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge has long been accused of using the courts and security forces to intimidate opponents and crush dissent, but has for years allowed some measure of political opposition to his Cambodian People's Party.

The CNRP made unexpectedly strong gains in the 2013 elections, and had been set to fiercely contest next year's polls, which Hun Sen says will go ahead.
The ruling was made in response to a government complaint, and all of the CNRP's elected politicians will now lose their positions, including 55 seats in the 123-seat National Assembly.

Senior CNRP politician Mu Sochua, who has fled the country along with dozens of other MPs, told the BBC that the decision marked "the end of true democracy in Cambodia".
She called for sanctions, adding: "The international community cannot let democracy die in Cambodia by refusing to see that its has been dealing with a dictator for the past three decades."

The president of the Supreme Court - Judge Dith Munty - is a senior member of the ruling party.
In announcing his decision he said that the CNRP had effectively confessed to the charges of plotting a revolution by not sending any lawyers to the trial.
The CNRP had argued the verdict was predetermined.

Ending the nightmare of war and revolution in Cambodia, and rebuilding civil society and a democratic political system, was one of the first great projects of the post Cold War era.

Freedom of expression and political choice were conditions built into the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement, and in the constitution two years later. The country has had regular and rowdily contested elections ever since, although through a skilful blend of populism and intimidation Hun Sen has managed to remain in power since 1985.

Now he has engineered the dissolution of the CNRP, the only real opposition party. The democracy Cambodians were promised in 1991, which has survived a rough and corrupt political culture since then, has been dealt a terminal blow.

In the past, dependence on US and European aid was a restraining influence on Hun Sen. But investment and loans from China have grown to offer an alternative source of funding for the Cambodian economy, and China does not express any concern about democracy there. This is a good time for the wily Cambodian leader to extinguish threats to his long hold on power, and get away with it.

The International Commission of Jurists said Judge Munty's role in the case "made a mockery of fair justice", while Amnesty International said the Cambodian judiciary was being used "as a political tool to silence dissent".

The Phnom Penh Post newspaper reported that a government lawyer argued in court that the opposition had tried to topple the government "in order to grab power, like in Yugoslavia, Serbia and Tunisia".

Senior government figures have long warned of a US-backed "colour revolution" in Cambodia, alleging links between independent NGOs, US-linked media outlets and the CNRP.

The US ambassador to Cambodia has called the accusations "absurd".

The prime minister had earlier called on CNRP lawmakers to defect to his own party ahead of the ruling. He also said he was sure the party would be dissolved.

The ruling comes after a prolonged crackdown on critics and dissent. In September, CNRP leader Kem Sokha was arrested and accused of conspiring with the US to overthrow the government. He was charged with treason.

Several US-backed media outlets and organisations have also recently been shut down or kicked out of the country.

In September, one of Cambodia's last independent newspapers, the Cambodia Daily, was forced to close after the government ordered it to pay a huge tax bill.

In 2015, then CNRP leader Sam Rainsy fled to France to escape arrest for a defamation conviction. Both him and Kem Sokha are among those banned from politics for five years.
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