Independence Trial: Most Important Testimonies April 23, 24, and 25

April 23, Day 34 of Trial 

 – Vice-President Pere Aragonès exercised his right to not testify, alleging that the Court number 13 of Barcelona was investigating him.

– Jordi Jané and former government secretary Joan Vidal told the court that the Catalan government’s aim was to hold an agreed referendum with Spain.

– Jané, Meritxell Ruiz, and Jordi Baiget, who also testified during the day 34 of trial, resigned from their posts three months before the October 1st independence referendum. They affirmed that their resignations were not connected to a potential unilateral vote, though growing tensions between the Spanish and Catalan administrations justified their resignations.

– David Badal, former responsible for government payments in 2017, denied that any payments were made to any printing company.

 

April 24, Day 35 of Trial 

– Former director general of the Catalan police, Albert Batlle, told the court that he resigned after jailed Joaquim Forn was appointed interior minister because he was “not comfortable” with how political events were “unfolding” in the run-up to the October 1st independence referendum.

– Joan Ignasi Elena, the former coordinator of the National Pact for the Referendum (PNR) told the court that the organization received no public money.

“The PNR was funded by private donations and the Catalan government was just one of the thousands of entities that joined,” said Joan Ignasi Elena

– Jordi Solé, MEP for ERC party on the September 20, 2017, Spanish police raids in Catalan government buildings: “It was not a tense situation. I saw neither any attacks nor threats.”

 

April 25, Day 36 of Trial

– Four witnesses, who were members of organizations overseeing the work of Diplocat, a public-private diplomatic body promoting Catalonia abroad, defended in court the “plurality” of the entity.

– Gerardo Pisarello, the deputy mayor of Barcelona, told the court that Diplocat always was plural regarding political issues, inviting both experts for and against Catalan self-determination to its conferences.

– Daniel García, a member of UGT, Spain’s largest trade union, explained that the organization “was neutral and let everybody explain their political position.”

– The director of the Barcelona Institute for International Studies (IBEI), Jacint Jordana, denied that Diplocat acted as an arm of the Catalan government.

– Former Catalan MP David Fernàndez (CUP) described the demonstrations during the October 1st independence referendum as “absolutely peaceful.”

If self-determination is a crime, I declare myself guilty and a repeat offender. And as long as it remains a crime, I’ll continue to disobey until it becomes a democratic right” — David Fernàndez

– Catalan MP Ruben Wagensberg (ERC) also defended the peaceful protests on September 20, 2017, against Spanish police raids  in Catalan government buildings: “Catalan citizens engaged in the greatest act of civil disobedience I’ve ever seen.”

Additional Information

On April 23, the day 34 of trial, sixty Portuguese politicians and intellectuals signed a manifesto under the title “For Democracy and Freedoms in Catalonia.” The manifesto calls for the “immediate release” of the Catalan political prisoners.

 

 

 

German Parliament President, Wolfgang Schäuble, asks Spain to de-escalate the conflict with Catalonia

German Parliament president, Wolfgang Schäuble, asked Spain on Friday to de-escalate the conflict with Catalonia.

“We have to shape globalization such that people don’t feel lost. To that end, the Spanish are advised to solve the problem in a way that the Catalans can live with,” he said.

Catalan president Puigdemont was detained and held in a German prison since last week. In response to requests that he be released, Schäuble said that his country has to respect the rules of the European Arrest Warrant.

“The decision over Puigdemont seems anything but trivial. Now it’s in the hands of the justice system, in which I have full confidence,” said Schäuble.

He also said that the German government won’t intervene in Puigdemont’s extradition case, arguing that there must be separation of powers between politics and the justice system.

Puigdemont has been in prison in Neumünster – in the north of Germany – since he was detained and taken into custody by German authorities last week, while traveling to Belgium to face his extradition case there. His German lawyer, Wolfgang Schomburg, had unsuccessfully called through the media for Merkel’s government to stop Puigdemont’s extradition.

Schomburg, one of today’s best German lawyers, believes that the German courts will reject the extradition request, but, if they don’t, he will take the case to the Constitutional Court.

A German government representative, Steffen Seibert, expressed his support for the Spanish government, arguing that this is an “internal matter” which must be resolved in accordance with the Spanish Constitution and laws.

On Saturday, Puigdemont sent his first message from prison:

“I won’t give up, and I won’t step aside when faced with the illegitimate actions of those who lost at the ballot box, nor when faced with the arbitrariness of those who are willing to pay the price of abandoning the rule of law and justice for the unity of the motherland.”

Talks to Form a New Government in Catalonia Restart

The negotiations halted on Wednesday due to disagreements about Puigdemont’s role in the new executive. While JxCat contends that Puigdemont must be able to control the Catalan government from Brussels, ERC argues that it would lead to a confrontation with the Spanish government that they want to prevent by any means. The rest of the negotiation topics are already very advanced.

Both parties agree on the creation of two governments: a provisional one in Belgium led by Puigdemont that is aimed at internationalizing the Catalan cause, and the another one in Barcelona led by someone else and aimed at starting a constituent process to create the new Catalan Constitution. In addition, ERC has proposed to implement measures to grow social support for independence, which would allow the new administration to take unilateral steps to confront Spain in the future.

 

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Trump: The U.S. Transition From Democracy to Authoritarianism

In Upper New York Bay there stands the colossal Statue of Liberty, a universal symbol of freedom. She is also the Mother of Immigrants, embodying hope and opportunity for those seeking a better life in America. She stirs the desire for liberty in people all over the world. She represents the United States itself. However… In the last few weeks, the flame of freedom from her torch has started to flicker.ocaso sol estatua libertad simbolismo.jpgIn just two weeks, President Trump’s unlawful decisions and his unprecedented pressures on judges to rule in his favour have shaken the fundamentals of U.S. Democracy. For many, this indicates that Trump has hidden plans to turn the U.S. authoritarian to gain power. However, it won’t be possible without dominating the Supreme Court.supreme-courtThe U.S. Supreme Court is the final court of appeal and final expositor of the Constitution of the United States. It marks the boundaries of authority between state and nation, state and state, and government and citizen. It has the jurisdiction to determine whether Trump’s decisions are unlawful or not.

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The Supreme Court is composed of nine membersfour of which are currently Republican, and the other four liberal. The recent nomination of Neil Gorsuch (a Republican) to sit on the Supreme Court has set off all alarms. His presidency would tilt the balance for Republicans, and it could help Trump to accumulate an absolute power.

President Trump’s crusade to dominate courts and judges from all over the U.S. started when Judge James Robart, of the Federal District Court in Seattle, issued a temporary restraining Trump’s executive order to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. In response, Trump increased his pressures on Judges until days before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a temporary suspension.Trump said:

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Another indication of the U.S. transition into an authoritarian state is so-called alternative facts. Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer suggested that the U.S. government could “sometimes disagree” with real facts presented by the Media.

“Sometimes we can disagree with the facts,” Sean Spicer said.

“Trump’s team is offering  alternative facts to media reports,”  Kellyanne Conway said.

Trump started his attacks against the mainstream media during the last presidential campaign. Back then, several outlets plotted with Clinton and his aides to help her to win the election. Trump is now using it to fabricate stories to convince citizens that the only honest information comes from government sources.

As if this was not enough, on February 1, Republicans voted successfully to change the Congress rules to elect nominees without Democrats. It happened days later; Trump suggested them to “go nuclear” if Democrats tried to halt any of his decisions. Trump added:

“If we end up with that gridlock, I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear,””Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was put up to that neglect,” he said of Gorsuch, a federal circuit court judge. “So I would say, it’s up to Mitch, but I would say go for it.”

As we can see, there are many indicators that Trump’s government has initiated the U.S. transition from democracy to authoritarianism. However, to dissipate doubts, one must compare Trump’s decisions with dictators from other countries. All authoritarian states share in common an underlying structure based in the re-centralization of power. The following list describes some basic structure of a dictatorship:

1.Little or no freedom of speech
2.No freedom to hold meetings without the approval of the government.
3.No freedom of movement-individuals needs documents/internal passports to move around inside the country.
4.No freedom to travel abroad.
5.No independent justice system.
6.Promote alternative facts and censor the Mainstream media.
7.Any opposition to the regime is punished.
8.Change rules of government’s institutions.

It is evident then that President Trump has already implemented several basic structures from the list to do a U-turn into an authoritarian state. He has started his crusade against the media, changed the rules of the Congress, attempted to end with the neutrality of the judicial system and violated the U.S. Constitution. However, while the flame of the freedom of the Statue of Liberty is still burning, there will be hope and citizens, union workers and organisations will have the last word…

President Trump: Persecution of Refugees, Muslims, and Reactions.

Since President Trump and his entourage of advisors started their personal crusade against Muslims from SYRIA, IRAQ, IRAN, LIBYA, SOMALIA, SUDAN and YEMEN, there have been hundreds of peaceful refugees detained at airports from all across the U.S. (including green card holders)

Trump’s executive order suspending the entry of refugees into the U.S. constitutes a violation of international law and numerous human rights. According to the Geneva agreement:

“The core principle is non refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law.”

As if that were not enough, Trump said in an interview:

“it has been “impossible, or at least very tough” for Syrian Christians to enter the United States.If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair — everybody was persecuted, in all fairness — but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.”

Such a statement implies a violation of the first amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom. However, President Trump said:

“This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”

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Since Trump signed the executive order, numerous elected republicans and democrats have also criticized Trump’s decision to persecute the Islamic community. So far, the elected republicans who have criticized the executive order are:

-Charlie Dent

-Jeff Flake

-Justin Amash

-Ben Sasse

-Susan Collins

-Barbara Comstock

-Rob Portman

-Orrin Hatch

-Dean Heller

-Brian Fitzpatrick

-Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

-Elise Stefanik

-Cory Gardner

-Will Hurd

-Leonard Lance

-Steve Stivers

-McCain

-Graham’s

McCain and Graham’s both released the following statement:

Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation.

It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump’s executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.

Such a hasty process risks harmful results. We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help. And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children.

Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improving our security.”

In response Trump tweeted:

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The Democratic party has announced numerous protests and legal challenges over Trump’s executive order:

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Democrats will introduce legislation to stop President Trump’s actions of temporarily banning refugees and arrivals from certain Muslim countries.

“This executive order was mean-spirited and un-American,”

“It must be reversed immediately,” said Schumer.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said House Democrats are exploring legal options.

Hillary Clinton, who is the main person responsible for the rise of Trump has also criticized Trump’s action. However, her resignation as presidential candidate during the last campaign would have facilitated another government.

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The international community has also criticised Trump’s executive order to persecute Muslims. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said:

It’s not the time to build walls between nations.” “They have forgotten that the Berlin Wall collapsed many years ago,” “Even if there are walls between nations, they must be removed.”

In response, Rohani banned American citizens from entering Iran until President Trump steps back in his decision.

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The reception of refugees fleeing the war, fleeing oppression, is part of our duties,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said.

In an unstable and uncertain world, turning inward would be a dead end,” Hollande said he told Mr Trump in their first phone conversation since the president took office last week.

Trudeau, in a tweet, said Canada would welcome those fleeing “persecution, terror and war. Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith.”

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Prime minister Theresa May, who is applying double standards with President Trump, decided to keep silent over the Muslim Ban by alleging that it is an American domestic issue. Her failure to condemn the persecution of refugees and Muslims has caused a wave of indignation in British society. In response, more than one million people have already signed a petition to demand that Theresa May cancels her invitation to Trump to visit the UK.

The leader of the major party of the opposition Jeremy Corbin said:

“President Trump’s executive order against refugees and Muslims should shock and appal us all. “Theresa May should have stood up for Britain and our values by condemning his actions. It should sadden our country that she chose not to. After Trump’s hideous actions and May’s weak failure to condemn them, it’s more important than ever for us to say to refugees seeking a place of safety, that they will always be welcome in Britain.”

So far the only ally who has supported the Muslim Ban has been Australia. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said:

I’m confident that the Australian government and the U.S. government will continue to support each other in ensuring that we can implement our strong immigration and border protection policies,” Ms Bishop said in Los Angeles.

The Australian government is working very closely with the administration and the US officials and we want to ensure that Australians continue to have access to the United States, as they have in the past, and people from the United States have access to Australia.”

Treasurer Scott Morrison also jumped to Mr Trump’s defence, reasoning that the newly-elected president was simply fulfilling an election promise.

In his first two weeks as president, Trump has:

1. Divided American society.

2.Violated international law.

3. Violated the first amendment of the U.S constitution.

4.Violated human rights of refugees and Muslims.

5. Made numerous enemies from all over the world.

6. Helped terrorist groups to recruit thousands of new members.

7. Endangered U.S. troops in the Middle East.

8. Endangered U.S. travellers.

Trump’s actions are already isolating the U.S. from the international community. Furthermore, the lack of critical thinking in society will make citizens from all over the world think that the vast majority of Americans approve Trump’s unethical policies. It will cause serious problems to millions of American travellers, who will be judged for something that they did not choose.

Fortunately, the protests against Trump’s executive order to persecute Islamic society shows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If Trump continues violating the law and American society continues holding mass protests, President Trump may then be impeached by the congress. If it ever happens, Pence who is politically smarter than Trump and is backed by most of Republicans elected would try to implement a catholic- evangelical system based on reforming the education system and denigrating women.

American society will have to be very attentive with the upcoming events. History shows that protests are useful, but unless something really shocking happens they will not have any real impact. In 2008, when the global financial crisis started, there were millions of citizens who held protests for years in countries such as Spain. However, the Spanish authoritarian government reacted by oppressing all the protesters without contemplations on a regular basis. Finally, this movement turned into a political organisation, which is strong, but was created too late. For that reason, if American society really wants to change the existing situation, aside from holding protests against the government, it should also create an alternative to replace the two major parties in the U.S.

The Republican and Democrat parties have been alternating the U.S. presidency for decades, which means that the corruption is already instilled in all layers of both organisations.

The upcoming turbulent times will determine whether global society can protect their human rights or not. Every single person from all over the world has the responsibility to resist any government attack against other human beings regardless of political and religious orientation.

Resisting against those who abolish human rights and violate the law on a regular basis is not bad, rather, it is everyone’s obligation for the sake of our children.

Be attentive, defend your neighbours, and never keep silent over injustices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Trump Has Started His Personal Crusade Against the Islamic Community and Refugees

Yesterday, President Trump started his personal crusade against the world’s Islamic community by signing an order for extreme vetting action to “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States.” The U.S. will now halt the entrance of refugees from SYRIA, IRAQ, IRAN, LIBYA, SOMALIA, SUDAN and YEMEN.

We want to ensure that we are not letting into our country the very threats that our soldiers are fighting overseas,” We’re going to have extreme vetting for people coming into our country and if we think there’s a problem, it’s not going to be so easy for people to come in anymore,”Trump said.

Numerous experts and the international community have warned Trump that this order does not represent American values.

It is a cruel measure that represents a stark departure from America’s core values,” former Secretary of State Madeline Albright said Thursday

We should not be excluding any religion or nationality from the U.S. refugee resettlement program,” said Michelle Brané, a director at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

Thousands of refugees who have been going through a strict process based on background checks and personal conditions for years will now have to choose another destination.

Earlier today, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and International Organisation for Migration called on the new President’s administration to continue offering asylum to people fleeing war and persecution, a right protected by international law.

The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater and the US resettlement program is one of the most important in the world,” the two agencies said in a joint statement.

The longstanding US policy of welcoming refugees has created a win-win situation: it has saved the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in the world who have in turn enriched and strengthened their new societies.”

In his inauguration speech, President Trump said:

“I want to unite the civilised world to fight and eradicate Islamic terrorism”

However, Trump’s decision will help terrorist organisations such as ISIS or Al-Qaeda to maintain their anti-western rhetoric and recruit thousands of new members from among the refugees to attack western countries. It might soon be catastrophic by causing thousand of deaths. President Trump also said:

“Starting today, the government has been returned to its citizens. You will tell politicians what to do.”

It was applauded by a large number of fanatics. However, Trump’s decision to refuse refugees from the Middle East was made against the opinion of the vast majority of Americans. They consider America a country of immigrants, which hosts and protects refugees from warring countries.

The ban of Muslims will also encourage racist organisations from the U.S. to persecute and denigrate refugees who are already settled in the U.S. Since Trump was elected president, there has been a great increase in racists actions against immigrants. These actions are often fueled by Trump and his advisors.

In this context, countries such as China or Russia will soon increase their influence in the world. It will soon leave the U.S. without any influence over important issues. Apparently, with Trump as president, the U.S. will be condemned to international isolation.

Although it is unthinkable, if Trump continues turning the U.S. into an authoritarian state, at some point, the international community might then decide to ban the admittance of American citizens into numerous countries. If that ever happens it would be devastating.

The criminalisation of refugees is absurd and hypocritical. The vast majority of them are fleeing war zones to be safe. They did not choose to be refugees. This status was imposed on them due to conflicts often started by the U.S. and its allies. They deserve more respect from the international community. They have already suffered a lot!

Terrorism should be eradicated from the world as soon as possible, but never by criminalising innocents. Yes, let’s unite to fight terrorism more efficiently, but never ever by persecuting innocents!

Let’s walk together!

By Josep

The Era of Trump

YESTERDAY, Donald Trump was sworn in as president of the U.S. in front of a mass of citizens hypnotised as if he were a god. President Trump was accompanied at all times by his family and his entourage of Goldman Sachs and pro-establishment advisors. Among the attendees, we could observe the more than despicable presence of both Mr. Bush and Ms. Clinton. The times when Bush conducted a massacre in the Middle East and Clinton funded terrorism via Saudi Arabia are still seared into our memories.

Mr. Trump did not defraud the mass of followers which was waiting for his inauguration speech. As in the last presidential campaign, Trump used a populist divisive rhetoric reminiscent of medieval times. In one of his first statements, Mr Trump said:

Today we are transferring power from Washington DC and giving it back to you, the people.”

For too long a small group has reaped the benefits, while the people lost.”

As a businessman, Mr. Trump dominates the art of manipulation; the previous statement has been used innumerable times by authoritarian regimes. Soon Mr. Trump stated his famous slogan:

“We are going to make America great again.”

He also stated:

America first”. “We assembled here today are issuing a new decree: from this day forward a new vision will rule our land. From this day onward, it’s going to be only America first.”

This was probably the most divisive statement on his speech. It is hard to know what he meant by that, but it should scare the international community. Behind this message, there was a warning to other nations that America will be as powerful as it was, including its military.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength,” Mr. Trump said.

With globalisation, it is hard to believe that the implementation of protectionist measures will improve the U.S. economy. In recent times, the countries which implemented similar policies, are now isolated and suffering numerous financial problems. Mr Trump suggested that patriotism will heal American divisions:

We will rediscover our loyalty to each other,” he said. “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.”

Another controversial point was when Trump called on the international community to eliminate ISIL. I think we all wish that all terrorist groups would disappear from our lives, including ISIL, which is a horrendous group. However, the last two American presidents have fueled terrorism in the Middle East, and Trump’s character makes us think that he will not distinguish civilians from terrorists, and as Bush did during his presidency, Trump may now commit genocide in the area.

The ceremony ended with the traditional parade from the Capitol to the White House, where Mr. Trump will live from today until the end of his presidency. Trump’s upcoming days will be especially busy if he wants to fulfil his promises.

List of promises of Trump for his first day as president:

1.Ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.

2.Begin rescinding Mr. Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

3.Begin working on an impenetrable physical wall on the southern border.He has said it is “the single first thing I’ll do”.

4.Learn the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas. Trump admitted to interviewer Hugh Hewitt that he didn’t know the difference, but “will know far more than you know within 24 hours after I get the job.”

5.Get rid of gun-free zones in schools and military bases. “My first day, it gets signed, okay? My first day.”

6.Move criminal illegal immigrants out of the country. “Day 1, my first hour in office, those people are gone,” he shouted at a rally in Arizona.

Apparently, Trump will not be able to quickly implement most of his promises since it is logistically impossible to fulfil some of them like sending back to their countries hundred of thousands of immigrants.

Unfortunately, Trump’s first act as president was signing to reverse the interest rate cut on FHA mortgages, which was helping thousands of Americans to pay their mortgages.It will cause numerous families an unbearable financial burden that may cause them to lose their homes.

A few hours earlier, Trump in his speech stated:

“America First,” “the government has been returned back to all the Americans,”

However, his first act as president was a burden to thousands of families from the working and middle class.We all knew that Trump is a populist who says what citizens want to listen to, but no one expected him to betray his own words within the first four hours. We will have to wait to see whether he implements some of his controversial measures or notHowever, he has already divided the country and the international community is scared.

I myself was born in a little town close to Barcelona (Spain), and when I was younger I had the great opportunity to stay in the U.S. (mainly in Seattle, New York, Washington and San Francisco) “for a long period of time.” It was a great experience and I learnt many things, made friends and shared my culture with others. However, the most impressive thing was millions of citizens who were born in different countries from all over the world living in harmony and teaching each other about their own cultures. Back then, America was tolerant, respectful, joyful and a great place to stay for a while. Unfortunately, It has already changed a lot since then, and now, the society is divided and the populism has grown to levels not seen since before the WWII and it is unacceptable. Often people think I am an alarmist. We can see that in those countries where populism has succeeded, the quality of life has been degraded.

It is not an issue about being a Republican, Democrat, Social Democrat, Liberal, Conservative or an anarchist anymore. It is all about the kind of society that we all want to build for future generations. Do we want a divided society where hatred is predominant, or do we want a society where people can coexist in harmony?

For now, let’s acknowledge that Trump is the president, and let’s wait to see his policies, but if he ever violates the law or constitution, then you will have the responsibility to protect your rights and the rights of your fellow citizens for the sake of your children and dignity!

Let’s all gather together to rebuild our global society and make this world a better place to live, in harmony and mutual respect. Let’s make “America, Europe and the rest of the world, great again”

Tolerance, integrity, harmony, critical thinking and education are the keys to building a better society! 

Let’s hope that someday all of the nations will respect each other and its citizens will be tolerant of each other.

Never give up! Stand up!

Note: (In some European countries, including Spain, the same phenomenon that has happened in the U.S. is starting to occur.)

By Josep.

The Dramatic Life of Refugees: Winter, Rejection, Crime, Radicalization, Terror and Death

THE BRUTAL WINTER is aggravating the situation of thousands of refugees (including children), who are living under extreme weather conditions along European borders. In Places like in Lesbos (Greece) and Belgrade (Serbia), the snow falls and the temperature is as low as 20-degrees celsius(-4°F).

Numerous European governments have offered shelter to an insufficient number of refugees (many of them children). UN’s and Medicines Sans Frontiers have criticised the European Union for not preparing properly for the life-threatening winter weather.

“Europe should stop making the lives of migrants and refugees more miserable,” a statement from Medicins Sans Frontieres read.

Saving lives must be a priority and we urge state authorities across Europe to do more to assist and protect refugees and migrants,” a UNHCR spokeswoman, Cecile

The UN is warning that an important number of refugees may soon die if the European Union does not assist them. Refugees often do not have the adequate clothing, food and shelter to withstand the low temperatures.

“Children are particularly prone to respiratory illnesses at a time like this. It’s about saving lives, not about red tape and keeping to bureaucratic arrangements,” Sarah Crowe, a spokeswoman for the UN children’s agency UNICEF told a UN briefing in Geneva. “The dire situation right now is Greece.”

As if that were not enough, refugees are suffering abuse by police agents and criminal gangs, including kidnappings, physical abuse, threats and extortion.

UN’s has reported 5 confirmed deaths since the start of the year, two Iraqi men and a young Somali woman in Bulgaria, and a 20-year-old Afghan man, who was crossing the Evros river between Turkey and Greece.

The UN has reiterated its call on the European Union to assist all refugees as soon as possible before it becomes a catastrophe.

“The UN Refugee Agency is today reiterating its call to accelerate the moving of asylum seekers from the Aegean islands to the Greek mainland,” Edwards said at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.”The need for better protection will become all the more acute this weekend when temperatures on the islands are expected to drop. We are worried,” said UNHCR spokesman, Adrian Edwards.

“We are worried,” Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for UNHCR said in Geneva.”Slowness in registration or identifying vulnerable individuals and, previously, a shortage of suitable spaces on the mainland have been factors delaying moves. Among other things this has contributed to serious overcrowding of facilities built for far fewer people, and increased protection risks,”

NGO’s and numerous international organisations are insisting that to refuse assistance to refugees is a violation of international law. Apparently, European countries are more interested in domestic affairs than in refugees. In countries like Germany, the growing social discontent against refugees has forced the government to debate whether to expel thousands of refugees or not.The decadence of Angela Merkel and the upcoming German presidential elections will influence the final decision. 

In many cases, the traditional and far-right media are contributing to the criminalisation of all the refugees coming from the Middle East. 

Brief Analysis of two cases:

1.BREITBART’S FALSE ARTICLE.

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ON JANUARY 3rd Virginia Hale, a journalist from Breitbart News, wrote the following false article:

“Revealed: 1,000-Man Mob Attack Police, Set Germany’s Oldest Church Alight on New Year’s Eve” 

“At New Year’s Eve celebrations in Dortmund, a mob of more than 1,000 men chanted ‘Allahu Akhbar’, launched fireworks at police, and set fire to a historic church,” Breitbart News reported.

Breitbart also claimed that a video posted by a Ruhr Nachrichten journalist showed them holding up a flag of al-Qaeda and Isis collaborators. In fact, the video shows the contrary, a man holding a flag widely flown by those opposing the current government.

The local newspaper, Ruhr Nachrichten, said that its online reporting on New Year’s Eve had been distorted by BreiBart to produce “fake news.”

The justice minister of Hesse state, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, said“the danger is that these stories spread with incredible speed and take on lives of their own.”

Tens of thousands clicked and shared the false Breitbart.com story with the headline,“Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany’s oldest church alight on New Year’s Eve”.

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Days later, Breitbart supposedly amended the article to make a few corrections.

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However, it decided to keep all the falsehoods spilt over Syrian refugees about terrorism. Since its creation, Breitbart has become the American newspaper, which most fabricates false stories.

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NOTE: The chief strategist and Senior Counsellor for the presidency of Donald Trump, Steve Bannonis the co-founder of Breitbart. Com. It suggests that he will use his new position to amplify fake stories to criminalise honest immigrants.

2.MODAMANI’S CASE.

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MONTHS AGO, the far right propaganda, like Noch.info, from Germany and other countries suggested that Angela Merkel had taken a selfie with a terrorist, “Anas Modamani, a Syrian refugee”,  The false claims soon spread on social media and went viral. 

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The 19-year-old was accused of terrorism and other criminal activities, including him being one of the perpetrators of the March bombings in Brussels, and was linked to the Christmas market attack in Berlin. The accusations were soon catalogued as false, but the people of social media refused to halt the spread of the false news related to his case, allowing many users to continue spreading it even in the present day.

On his part, Modamani has recently sued Facebook for not doing enough to stop the fake news and reestablished his honour.

Modamani Stated, “I was first linked to the attacks when my picture was circulated, claiming I was one of the Brussels attackers due to perceived resemblances between us,”

“When the claims started being circulated on social media, I was in Munich visiting friends.

“Some friends advised that I stay at home and avoid going out in public, which I did.

“Others encouraged me to go to the police and report what was being said about me.

“But I kind of just hoped it would go away on its own.”

“Facebook is doing a very poor job with fake news,”

“Not all fake news is illegal, but when it amounts to slander, as I believe this does, then it should be taken down.”

“Facebook has repeatedly refused to take the posts down, saying they do not violate the company’s rules,” Modamani’s lawyer said.

A Facebook representative said: “We received a takedown request from Mr Jun alleging that a specific item of content on our platform violates Mr Modamani’s right of personality.”

“Access to that reported content was quickly disabled, so we do not believe there is any basis for him to seek an injunction.”

Germany’s justice ministry is considering new policies to crack down on “fake news” by making Facebook and other social media companies criminally liable for failing to remove hate speech.

“Facebook should be treated as a media company rather than a technology company,” the justice minister said in November.

As in the previous case, some newspapers have amended the false articles, but Modamani’s honorability will never be fully restored.Thousands of people accused him of terrorism and spread it on the social media and not everyone who uses social media read newspapers, which means that there are still many people, who still think that he is a terrorist. Modami’s case shows the enormous influential capacity that social media has over people.

NOTE: The president-elect Donald Trump won the last U.S. elections thanks to several factors like the incompetence of Hillary Clinton. However, Trump would not have won the election without false news and the social media to spread them.

The cases of fake news mentioned in this article, represent a sample of hundreds of thousands that are spread everyday on social media. For many organisations, the main goal is to convince European citizens that refugees are terrorists and criminals. Unfortunately, there is a significant number of people, who already believe those falsehoods.

EUROPEANS POLITICAL LEADERS and citizens tend to forget that, during the WWII, thousands of Europeans fled to countries like Syria, Egypt and Palestine(the Middle East) seeking shelter. The refugee camps in the Middle East were operated by MERRA (Middle East Relief and Refugee Administration) 

246f8479-6675-478c-905c-615e9602d7cd.pngUS Army General Allen Gullion and Fred K. Hoehler, Director of the United Nation’s Division of Displaced Persons predicting the movement of European refugees of World War II.

Seventy years ago, the Middle Eastern community warmly welcomed hundreds of thousands of European refugees who needed shelter. Today, to the contrary, European countries are neglecting refugees from the Middle East, alleging security issues. They believed that some terrorists are camouflaged among refugees. However, the facts show that majority of the terrorist attacks in Western countries were perpetrated by locals, who radicalised themselves.

Experience from many conflict zones teaches us that the longer these refugees are left to languish in despair in camps, the more prone they become to radicalization.

In fact, these camps are often used by terrorist organisations to attract new members. Without them, terrorism might soon be defeated. The best way to fight terrorism is by assisting refugees. European society should not forget the assistance that the Middle East gave them in the past.

The different communities in the world should work together to better understand each other regardless of their political and religion orientations.

After all, we are all human beings.

By Josep.

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Freedom of the Press: Three Cases that Should Never Be Forgotten

EVERY YEAR , hundreds of journalists like Barret Brown, Serena Shim, or Anna Politkóvskaya are threatened, killed, tortured and prosecuted by terrorists and governments. It is important to remember and honour all of them, who once gave their life to expose and inform the public about the reality of government misconduct, which many times, is hidden, and distorted by government agencies.

The Freedom of the Press is a concern that affects all citizens regardless of location. It is a right that is registered in The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It states:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Article 19.

Brief Analysis of Serena Shim, Barret Brown and Anna Politkóvskaya cases.

-Case 1: Serena Shim.

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SERENA SHIM WAS an American war journalist for Press TV (Link Press TV).While covering the War in Syria, she was allegedly killed in a car crash by the Turkish government.

Shim’s death happened under strange circumstances. She was on her way back from Suruç (a rural area near the Syrian border) to her hotel with the driver and her camerawoman Judy Irish in a rental car, when the car collided with a cement mixer.

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Car Crash.

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Judy Irish.

SHIM SURVIVED the crash but died later of a heart attack in an undisclosed location. Camera woman Judy Irish was injured and sent to a hospital state in Suruç. For his part, the driver was initially arrested, though later he and the car suspiciously disappeared.

It is still unclear why Shim was sent to a different hospital, and why the driver and the car eventually disappeared. Shim’s death, happened two days after the Turkish government allegedly accused her of spying. 

In response to the accusations, Shim stated:

“probably due to some of the stories I have covered about Turkey’s stance on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants in Kobanê”

” I am a bit frightened by what MİT might use against me.”

Shim had reported the Turkish government was helping ISIS militants.They were smuggled into Syria on trucks wearing symbols of NGO’s.

THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT announced an investigation and later it was concluded that it was a simple car crash. For its part, the American government refused to hold an independent investigation of Shim’s death (an American citizen). It also rejected to comment on the case in several occasions.

The international community soon forgot the case, and her family is still waiting for an independent investigation to clarify Shim’s death. Nevertheless, her mother assumes that Shim was assassinated by the Turkish government as a consequence of her investigations. Unfortunately, Shim belongs to a long list of suspicious deaths of journalists in Turkey.

SHIM WAS ASSASSINATED because she was seeking truth and exposing it to the public. Before her death, Shim was conscious that the Turkish government was monitoring her movements and could take undetermined further actions to halt her investigations. Even so, she decided to remain loyal to her public by continuing her investigation related to the Turkish government‘s misconduct.

It is important not to forget Shim’s case until her death is clarified by conducting an independent investigation. The American government is supposed to support an independent investigation of the death of any American citizen. Until it happens, the journalistic community must continue to publicise Shim’s case to persuade the international community to take action against this assassination. Journalists like Shim risk their lives to bring the truth into citizen’s lives. Without them, the information manipulation would be absolute.

-Case 2: Barret Brown.

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BARRET BROWN  is an American journalist that has written several books and wrote for important outlets like the Guardian or the Vanity fair. In 2015, Brown was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges.

In 2009 Brown launched an investigation called Project PM from anonymous leaked information concerning the misconduct of the cyber-military-industry complex Stratfor.

On March 6, 2012, the FBI executed a warrant at his mother‘s house seeking evidence of alleged crimes related to his investigation about Stratfor.She was accused of hiding Brown’s laptops and was sentenced to 6 months of probation.

ON SEPTEMBER 12, 2012, Brown uploaded a video on youtube “threatening the agent of the FBI,” who charged his mother. A few hours later, Brown’s house was raided and later was indicted on 12 federal charges, including a fraud charge for spreading around the hyperlink to an IRC (Internet Relay Chat).

Later on, most of the charges were dropped off and replaced for three new:

1-transmitting a threat in interstate commerce.

2-for interfering with the execution of a search warrant.

3-accessory after the fact in the unauthorised access to a protected computer.

In 2015, Brown made an agreement and pleaded guilty to avoid 100 years of his sentence. 

Brown was finally sentenced to five years (By that time Brown had already served over two years in prison). As part of his sentence, Brown was also required to pay almost $900,000 to Stratfor.

AFTER HIS SENTENCE, Brown released a satirical statement that read in part:

 

“Good news! The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.”

Barrett wrote a column from jail for The Intercept for which, he won a National Magazine Award and a New York Press Club journalism award. (Link winner column and award)

During his time in prison, Brown was in solitary confinement on numerous occasions for no reason. Brown was released in advance on November, 29th 2016 due to his good conduct.

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Currently, Brown works for the DMagazine (Dallas). While living in a halfway house due to his probation time.

Brown’s case was very controversial. It was the first time that a journalist was charged for sharing a link on a website. Most investigative journalists share links, with secret information to share their investigations with other journalists to reach some conclusions.

Brown’s case should never be forgotten. He was unfairly prosecuted for investigating the misconduct of a private military complex. As in Shim’s case, Brown is an honest journalist, who was seeking truth to expose corporations and government misconduct to the public.

-Case 3. Anna Politkóvskaya 

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ANNA POLITKÓVSKAYA was a RussianAmerican journalist, writer and human rights activist. She received many awards for her publications, including Putin’s Russia Book. But on 7 October 2006, Politkovskaya’s was assassinated by the Russian government. 

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Anna Politkóvskaya centred her career on her opposition to the Chechen conflict and Vladimir Putin. She reported on numerous human rights abuses by the Russian army in Chechnya.In addition, she accused Putin and the Russian secret service FSB of intentionally degrading civil liberties in order to establish a Soviet-style dictatorship.

She once stated:


“Society has shown limitless apathy.… As the Chekists have become entrenched in power, we have let them see our fear, and thereby have only intensified their urge to treat us like cattle.
The KGB respects only the strong. The weak it devours. We of all people ought to know that.”

She also wrote:

“We are hurtling back into a Soviet abyss, into an information vacuum that spells death from our own ignorance. All we have left is the internet, where information is still freely available. For the rest, if you want to go on working as a journalist, it’s total servility to Putin. Otherwise, it can be death, the bullet, poison, or trial—whatever our special services, Putin’s guard dogs, see fit.”

“People often tell me that I am a pessimist, that I don’t believe in the strength of the Russian people, that I am obsessive in my opposition to Putin and see nothing beyond that,” she opens an essay titled Am I Afraid?, finishing it—and the book—with the words: “If anybody thinks they can take comfort from the ‘optimistic’ forecast, let them do so. It is certainly the easier way, but it is the death sentence for our grandchildren.”

IN SEPTEMBER 2004, Politkovskaya was poisoned while drinking a coffee on an aeroplane. While she was attempting to act as an intermediary in Beslan’s school, a hostage crisis erupted in the North Caucasus in early September 2004.

In 2005 while attending a conference on the freedom of the press in Vienna organised by Reporters Without Borders, she said:

“People sometimes pay with their lives for saying aloud what they think. In fact, one can even get killed for giving me information. I am not the only one in danger it.”

Even at that point, Politkovskaya had already been threatened and attacked numerous times.

ON OCTOBER 7, 2006, Politkovskaya was found assassinated in the elevator of her apartment. The police found three suspects for her murder:

Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov, and former Moscow police officer Sergei Khadzhikurban

In 2009, the lack of evidence forced a jury in Moscow to acquit them.

In 2012, the investigation was re-opened and in December the same year, and sentenced to 11 years in prison for the murder in a special bargain deal for providing evidence against those who ordered the killing. However, he did not name any people who hired him to commit the murder.

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Former police officer Dmitry Pavliutchenkov.

IN JUNE 2014, Makhmudov’s brothers, former officer Khadzhikurbanov, and Chechen underground leader Lom-Ali Gaitukaye were sentenced to prison for the murder, two them received life sentences. Politkovskaya’s family was certain that they played an important role in Politkovskaya’s murder, but that it was orchestrated by someone else in the government who needed to be further investigated.

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Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, Gunman Rustam Makhmudov and his two brothers.

The international community quickly assumed that Putin orchestrated Politkovskaya’s murder in order to halt her investigations about his cabinet. She was very influential in Russia and abroad, which was a dangerous combination for Putin. Politkovskaya belongs to a long list of journalists and political opponents, who have been murdered under strange circumstances during Putin’s presidency. 

Politkovskaya will be always remembered for her braveness as a journalist; she reported on Putin’s misconduct and the war crimes committed by the Russian army in Chechenia. 

Politkovskaya was fully aware that Putin might order her to be killed, but it did not stop her from seeking truth until her last breath. Her legacy will endure for many generations. It will encourage the next group of journalists to seek truth regardless o the political repercussions.

AS IT IS POSSIBLE TO DEDUCE from this article, criminals, governments and powerful actors tend to murder those, who are investigating, to discover some hidden information related to their misconduct. These three cases are the representation of a long list of honest journalists murdered and repressed by governments. 

Honest journalism is often the governments’ counterbalance. It exposes all sorts of political, corporate, and lobbying misconduct of citizens. Who then have the opportunity to evaluate and decide whether they take action to change it or not.

It is important to encourage the new generations of journalists to assume more risks in order to seek truth like their predecessors once did. It is not always easy to be an honest journalist, but it is comforting to know that one’s work is contributing to transforming society for the better.

Journalists should never be afraid of seeking the truth because it is their role. Honest journalism and danger are many times together, to seek the truth implies to take some risks that may end in death. However, it should not discourage anyone, the rest of society is more important than just one individual.

Without honest journalism, it is impossible to know what is real or not. There will be always journalists, who will seek truth and reveal the government’s misconduct, but civil society will be responsible for their protection.

The three cases exposed in this article should never be forgotten. By remembering them and many others, society will keep alive the spirit of fighting to achieve more transparency, justice and rights to transform this world into a better place to live in.

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

Racism Is Not the Solution to Your Problems

The rise of fascism, represented by the anti-immigration political party and the lack of critical thinking in our society, is making people adopt racists positions. In many cases, it coincides with the destruction of the middle class and global impoverishment, which is usually accompanied by feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. In this context of degradation, anti-immigration organisations successfully deliver false promises of rescuing citizens from their existing poverty, to take back what belongs to them. For that to happen, they attribute high unemployment, criminality and terrorism with immigration.

Many times antiimmigration organisations count on the inestimable help of the mainstream media, which, without even realising, serves as a medium to spread their message. Donald Trump is the personification of anti-immigration sentiment that the media excessively focuses on, which helps them achieve their goals. In this case, the media informed negative things related to his past misconduct, but the excessive coverage made people think that they were being manipulated.

Let’s now scrutinise some of the anti-immigration claims to better understand whether their arguments are valid or not:

1. Immigration and crimes:

Anti-immigration organisations are regularly linking crimes to immigration. However, the available reports depict that in western countries, immigrants are less likely to be criminals than natural citizens.

In Germany, where the arrival of refugees has been massive, the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) announced in 2016 that crimes committed in 2015 by refugees stood at the same level as those committed by native Germans.

Government report Police Crime Statistics 2015.

https://www.bka.de/EN/CurrentInformation/PoliceCrimeStatistics/2015/pcs2015.html?nn=39580

(The statistics of 2016 have not been published yet. However, different sources suggest that the next reporting could be manipulated by the government to justify the expulsion of refugees, the same year that Germany will hold presidential elections, and because Merkel is losing popularity. I will inform you about the real report and any case of evidence of manipulation by increasing the immigration criminality, I will show it here)

“The majority (of refugees) do not come here with the intention of committing crimes. They come to Germany to find protection and peace.”

Immigrants have always been a convenient scapegoat,” – Walter A. Ewing, a senior researcher at the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit group in Washington.

As we can see, the anti-immigration theories are unsubstantiated by government reports.Although I am focusing on Germany because it has experienced the mass arrival of immigration, this tendency is similar in the rest of western countries.

2. Immigration and jobs:

Despite the general opinion that immigrants steal our jobs, immigration has a positive impact on a country’s  economy. It happens because of several factors:

  • 1. In many European countries, the education and health systems are semi-free, as the population is getting older, the cost of maintenance of the systems is increasing while the tax collection to maintain it is decreasing. In such a scenario,  immigration helps to replace the ageing working population and this increases the needed contribution to maintaining this “free system.”
  • Note: In the U.S. there is no a free educational or health system, the government allege that it would supposedly lead to an increase in taxes. However, the reduction of the annual military investment would allow the government to implement a free educational and health system to enable people to have equal opportunities.
  • 2. Immigrants are always willing to do those important jobs related to the cleaning, construction, agriculture etc. sectors that locals are not. It is clear then that without immigration there would be a lack of services that in the end would provoke the collapse of the system.

3. Immigration and rape reports:

There is a general concern that the entrance of refugees into western countries will increase the raping cases.However, so far there is no clear evidence that that may happen. It is mainly caused by the mainstream media that sometimes misleads citizens by distorting the reality. For example, the mass-raping case during the New Year’s Eve 2015:

The mainstream media reported without verifying it that the German government announced that hundreds of immigrants (refugees) mass-raped women in Colonia. For that to happen, supposedly, hundreds of refugees would have gathered in the downtown of Colonia to mass-rape women. However, later it was found that the immigrants were mostly from North Africa (not refugees) and that anti-immigration organisations organised it to spread fear into society.

4. Terrorism:

Anti-immigration organisations are trying to criminalise all refugees and immigrants by  suggesting that all of them are terrorists. Unfortunately, there are millions of citizens who believe these falsehoods.

No one neglects the fact that from all the refugees waiting to enter into western countries, there are some hidden terrorists, but they are just a few, and the majority of refugees, who have already been living under hard conditions for years, cannot wait to receive international aid anymore.

International terrorism is a threat to our society, and the international community should find the way to eliminate it. Nevertheless, it is important to note that most of the terrorists who committed terrorist attacks in western countries were locals.

By supporting racist positions, our society is losing its common sense. The existing financial, security, employment and political problems do not come from the immigration. These problems are usually originated by governments, anti-immigration, and financial institutions, which for years have been undermining the confidence that citizens once had on them.

Anti-immigration organisations are benefiting from the existing chaos due to a lack of critical thinking in our society.And unless the mainstream media stops boosting them, racism will increase to levels never seen before in history. 

Immigration is necessary and positive in many aspects of our lives. Without it, as mentioned earlier, the system would collapse, and the citizens would suffer. It is important to remember that immigrants are human beings like you and me. Life brings many changes, and anyone may become an immigrant overnight. Even racist and intolerant people, if forced to migrate, would expect respect from others.

There is a lot of work to needed to be done with all those who support anti-immigration positions. The arguments on anti-immigration are baseless, and there is no clear evidence to support what they say. However, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and if our society can teach them to think critically, then there will be some hope to halt the global rise of fascism.

Understanding, compassion, tolerance, and critical thinking are the solutions to many problems.

Do not forget to vote: