Over half of people in democracies feel freedoms overly curbed in COVID crisis -survey

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BRUSSELS — Fifty-eight percent of people living in the world’s democracies are satisfied with the response of their government to the COVID-19 pandemic though over half believe their freedoms have been overly restricted, a survey published on Wednesday found.

The survey of over 50,000 people from 53 countries also found that a little more than half feel their nation is democratic but many view economic inequality and the power of big tech companies as threats to democracy.

Though the majority of respondents approve of how their governments had responded to the pandemic, 53 percent feel their personal freedoms have been excessively curbed by lockdowns, according to the survey.

“We now need to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering more democracy and freedom to people,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Chair of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, which along with AI-powered brand tracking firm Latana conducted the survey.

Some 64% of those questioned regarded economic inequality as the single biggest threat to democracy around the world. Respondents in the United States were most concerned with Big Tech companies’ impact on democracy.

Almost half of those surveyed globally worried about the United States threatening their democracy, while 38% feared Chinese influence and some 27% were wary of that of Russia.

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With the election of President Joe Biden, the perception of U.S. influence on democracy globally has improved from Donald Trump’s administration. However, in Europe, Russia and China, U.S. influence is still mainly perceived as negative.

Overall, 62% of respondents thought social media had a positive impact on democracy in their country. The global figure included 76% in Venezuela and 72% in Hong Kong where social media were used to organize protests and then banned. The U.S. reading stood at only 41%.

Most of the 53 countries included in the survey were multi-party democracies, with others including China, Venezuela, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia. (Reporting by Marine Strauss Editing by Mark Heinrich)



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How the 1956 Suez Crisis Changed the World—and Nearly Ended It

Here’s What You Need To Remember: For old-fashioned nineteenth-century imperialism, Suez was the last gasp.

The war began with an imperialist invasion to seize the Suez Canal. It ended with the Soviet Union threatening to nuke Britain, France, and Israel.

The 1956 British and French attack on Suez, and the parallel 1956 Israel-Egypt War, have to be among the strangest conflicts in history. The cast of characters includes two fading empires reluctant to admit their decline, a charismatic Arab dictator, a paranoid Jewish state, a semi-fake war and a superpower with nuclear weapons.

The crisis began over who just owned the Suez Canal, gateway between Europe and Asia. In July 1956, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser announced he would nationalize the canal, which was controlled still by European shareholders even after Egypt achieved independence from Britain (the same situation would later apply to the United States and the Panama Canal). Nasser’s decision was prompted by the cutoff of American funding for the massive Aswan Dam, after Nasser had signed a huge arms deal with the Soviet bloc.

Nasser’s response was simple: if the Americans and British wouldn’t subsidize the Aswan Dam, then Egypt would nationalize the Suez Canal and use the toll revenues to build the dam itself. Unfortunately, he forgot a basic rule of history: there is nothing more dangerous than a declining empire.

Or two empires. In 1956, the sun had already set on the British and French imperiums, even if they couldn’t admit it to themselves. Battered and bankrupted by World War II, these former great powers were still coming to grips with the new reality of becoming supporting actors on a global stage dominated by America and Russia.

But for Britain, the Suez Canal was a symbol of imperial prestige, as well as a lifeline to its bases in the Middle East and Persian Gulf. For the French, the issue was less about the canal and more about Nasser, whom they accused of arming Algerian rebels fighting for independence from France. British prime minister Anthony Eden alluded to Munich, as if taking down Nasser would make up for not stopping Hitler in 1938.

Meanwhile, the Arab-Israeli conflict smoldered as it always does. After Israel’s victory in the 1948 War of Independence, Egypt sponsored Palestinian terrorist attacks from Sinai into Israel, to which Israel swiftly retaliated. The Israelis were convinced that another war was inevitable with Egypt, and they were eager to stop Egypt’s blockade of the Straits of Tiran, which kept Israeli ships from exiting the Red Sea to trade with Africa and Asia.

France, Britain and Israel eventually hatched a plan—the Protocol of Sèvres—breathtaking in its cynicism. First, Israel would invade the Egyptian-held Sinai Peninsula. Then, ostensibly to protect the Suez Canal, Britain and France would issue an ultimatum for Israel and Egypt to withdraw from the Canal Zone. When Egypt predictably refused, Anglo-French forces would invade and take over the canal. Nasser would be humiliated and overthrown, European control over the Suez Canal restored, and the good old days of nineteenth-century imperialism would be restored.

The war kicked off on October 29, 1956, with Israel’s Operation Kadesh, the brainchild of Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan. With typical ingenuity, Israeli P-51 Mustangs flew low over the Sinai to cut telephone wires with their propellers, severing Egyptian military communications. At the same time, Israeli paratroopers dropped on the strategic Mitla Pass through the Sinai mountains. Other paratroopers, led by Col. Ariel Sharon, raced across the desert to link up with them, as did other Israeli infantry and tank columns. Despite occasionally fierce fighting, Israel controlled the Sinai within a few days.

This gave Britain and France an excuse to issue their ultimatum. When Egypt ignored it, Operation Musketeer (Opération Mousquetaire to the French) commenced. A better name would have been Operation Mouseketeer, because the whole operation was Mickey Mouse. As pointed out by President Eisenhower, who knew more than most about planning invasions, the Anglo-French didn’t have a lot of troops compared to D-Day and other World War II landings. Some eighty thousand troops were involved, as well as more than two hundred warships (including five British and two French aircraft carriers) and hundreds of aircraft. While some of the British troops were unenthusiastic conscripts who couldn’t figure out why they were going to Egypt, the landings were spearheaded by elite British and French paratroopers and commandos.

After the Egyptian Air Force was destroyed in the opening hours of the invasion, paratroopers dropped on the Canal Zone, backed by Royal Marines coming in on amphibious landing craft. Troop-carrying helicopters from British carriers also conducted the world’s first ship-based helicopter assault.

Like the Israelis, the Anglo-French forces faced numerous but poorly trained and led Egyptian troops. Despite sporadic street fighting and sniper attacks—Nasser handed out guns to Egyptian civilians—the invasion was never really in doubt. The British suffered about a hundred casualties (compared to about four thousand at D-Day), the French lost about fifty men, and the Israelis around 1,100. Combined Egyptian losses to the dual invasions were on the order of eight thousand or so.

Militarily, the Anglo-Franco-Israeli plan was a success. Politically, it was a disaster. Antiwar protests erupted in Britain from a public that was in no mood to die for the empire. Others were shocked by the sheet deceit and manipulation of the operation.

However, what really mattered was the reaction of the superpowers. Soviet premier Nikolai Bulganin warned that the Soviet Union was ready to fire nuclear-armed ballistic missiles at Britain, France, and Israel unless those nations withdrew. This, too, was a deception: the Soviet Union’s ICBM force was mostly propaganda at this time. Not to mention hypocritical, given that just a month before, Soviet tanks had brutally suppressed Hungarian rebels in Budapest.

Equally shocking was the reaction of the United States. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles threatened economic sanctions against Israel if it failed to withdraw from the Sinai. It also threatened Britain’s oil supply (Saudi Arabia did embargo Britain and France) and considered selling off British bonds, which would have devastated the British economy. A UN resolution, spurred by the United States, called for a ceasefire and withdrawal of foreign forces.

The damage to the West was immense. U.S.-British relations were damaged, and Soviet prestige enhanced. Eden resigned as prime minister, while the British resigned themselves to no longer acting as an imperial power. The West Germans noted that the Soviets had threatened to attack Western Europe, and the United States had not protested. Israel grudgingly withdrew, and began preparing for the next war (which would come in 1967). Instead of being overthrown, Nasser became the hero of the Arab world; his comeuppance would also come in 1967.

Leaders such as Saddam Hussein and Muammar el-Qaddafi have left a bad taste in the mouth when it comes to Arab strongmen. And yet in this case, it’s hard not to sympathize a little with Nasser. Ultimately, the Suez Canal is Egyptian territory.

There have been other Western invasions since 1956, notably Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011. But for old-fashioned nineteenth-century imperialism, Suez was the last gap.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

This first piece appeared several years ago and is being reposted due to reader interest.





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Psaki Blames Trump for Border Crisis, Says Biden is Cleaning Up the Mess and “Taking the Challenge Head On” (VIDEO)




Psaki Blames Trump for Border Crisis, Says Biden is Cleaning Up the Mess and “Taking the Challenge Head On” (VIDEO)


















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Kamala Claims Border Crisis Caused by ‘Lack of Climate Resilience’ in Central America – The First TV

Vice President Kamala Harris continued to deflect criticism of the Biden administration’s disastrous border policies this week; claiming the migrant surge is caused by a “lack of climate resilience” in Central America.

“We want to help,” said Harris. “We want to help people find hope at home. We’re focused on addressing the root causes of migration… There are the long-standing issues, the root causes. I’m thinking of corruption, violence, and poverty… The lack of climate adaptation and climate resilience.”

Watch Harris above.





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MS-13 Gang Members Are Exploiting The Border Crisis To Sneak Into The United States

Amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the Southern border, members of various gangs, including the violent criminal gang MS-13, are crossing into the U.S. illegally in migrant caravans.

On Friday, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Chief Matthew Hudak said border officials apprehended five gang members in Laredo, Texas.

5 gang members in 7 days! #Laredo Sector #USBP agents arrested a total of 5 gang members in the last week, including an #ms13 & two 18th Street gang members,” he tweeted. “They attempt to evade arrest by exploiting the influx of migrants attempting to enter our country. #bordersecurity.”

One of the individuals arrested is a member of MS-13, and two others are members of the 18th Street gang, a criminal drug trafficking group with as many as 50,000 members in Mexico and Central America.

A month ago, California Border Patrol agents arrested an MS-13 gang member from El Salvador. The 28-year-old crossed the border illegally with five other men. An MS-13 gang member received a life sentence without parole in Texas on Monday for the murder of a 16-year-old in 2016.

172,000 migrants crossed the border in March and 5,700 unaccompanied minors were found in Border Patrol stations at the height of the surge in March. Vice President Kamala Harris announced in April that the U.S. will send an additional $310 million to Central America, as migrants continually flood the border.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador blamed Biden for the surge, noting that the president is incentivizing migrants with immigration policies.

“Expectations were created that with the government of President Biden there would be a better treatment of migrants. And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so,” Obrador said at a press conference.

Obrador’s characterization is contrary to that of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who blamed the Trump administration for the surge after Biden repealed Trump’s Remain in Mexico.

James Carafano, a national security expert at The Heritage Foundation, told The Federalist that criminals will look for every way possible to exploit Biden’s open border policies.

“There is a synergistic relationship between the cartels and the transnational gangs who often cooperate collaborate on a range of criminal activity. Gang presence in the U.S is particularly important as gangs build a network of nodes that facilitate criminal activity throughout the U.S. and Canada,” he said. “Illegal immigrants are often the target victim of gang activity, making the open border policies of the administration a double human rights catastrophe.”

Partnered with American University, the Department of Justice released a report in October 2020 outlining its efforts to root out MS-13 gang members. The DOJ noted that it has prosecuted over 700 members.

Given the Biden administration’s lack of border protection, it remains to be seen how many more will need to be brought to justice after crossing the border.





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Biden Tries to Blame Border Crisis on ‘Staffing’ Issues from Trump Administration – The First TV

Bill O’Reilly called-out the Biden Administration Monday after the President blamed his escalating border crisis on “staffing” issues; asking why the media never calls out Joe Biden for his misstatements.

“A month ago, we had thousands of young kids in custody in places they shouldn’t be. We’ve cut that down dramatically!” claimed Biden.

“Oh, so now the reason we have a flood of migrants into the USA isn’t because of Biden’s executive order, it’s that they were understaffed,” said O’Reilly.

“Why didn’t the interview challenge that assertion?” pressed O’Reilly.

Watch O’Reilly above.





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Jen Psaki Starts Press Briefing With Major Whopper About the Border Crisis, Here Are the Actual Facts – RedState

Saying White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a whopper during a press briefing is the equivalent of a “dog bites man” report, but the more egregious ones still need to be called out for the record, especially considering the predictably inconsistent, unreliable, highly biased nature of the various official media “fact-checking” units out there.

On more than one occasion, Psaki has straight-up lied about various elements of the Biden border crisis, most notably about the fact that there even is a crisis. The gaslighting has simply been off the charts with this administration on this issue, and they should not be allowed to get away with it.

As per the norm, it happened earlier today during the daily press briefing. Psaki started things off by declaring that the rush of migrants to the border started under the Trump administration, and claimed the Biden administration was working hard to solve the problem Trump allegedly “exacerbated.” Here’s what she said:

“I wanted to provide a brief update on the situation at our Southern border. After four years of an immigration system rooted in destructive and chaotic policies, President Biden is taking the challenge head-on and is building a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system. That’s our objective. After coming into office, our administration immediately jumped into action to address the influx of migrants at the border, something that began during and was exacerbated by the Trump administration…”

Watch the masterful gaslighting performance below:

Except no. Even the Biden apologists at the Washington Post acknowledge that the surge numbers at the border this year were at the “highest levels in at least 15 years”:

Preliminary enforcement data for March confirms what border officials have been saying for weeks: The number of migrants crossing into the United States has skyrocketed to the highest levels in at least 15 years, and record numbers of teenagers and children arriving without parents have overwhelmed the government’s ability to care for them.

[…]

Last month, CBP took in more than 18,800 unaccompanied minors, a 99 percent increase from February and a figure far above the previous one-month high of 11,861 in May 2019. The jump in the number of migrants arriving as part of family groups was even steeper last month, soaring to more than 53,000, up from 19,246 in February and 7,294 in January, the preliminary figures show.

Though the Biden administration has tried to claim that the influx is part of a “seasonal” change, that’s not true, either, as the Post also noted last month and as the USA Today also pointed out in a similar report:

Last month, in a news briefing, Biden attributed the increase of migrants as part of a cyclical rise of migrants who come to the United States in early spring. But this year’s number of migrants coming to the United States is much higher than in 2019, when the country saw its last surge.

What caused the rapid rise? A number of things, chief among them the knowledge of what then-presidential candidate Joe Biden said on the campaign trail about welcoming a surge of migrants at the border. Flashback:

As further proof, there have also been a number of interviews done with illegal immigrants at the border who have pointed to Biden’s prior comments about welcoming migrants to the United States.

As I’ve said before, it’s just an insult to the intelligence of the American people at this point for the administration to continue to play word and blame games with what’s happening at the border. It’s an obvious attempt at trying to avoid taking responsibility for the fact that the open borders declarations Biden made during his presidential campaign and his rollback of Trump border policies have been directly responsible for the surge in illegal immigration and the crisis we’re watching unfold on the Texas/Mexico border and elsewhere.

Democrats cannot have it both ways on this issue. Saying Trump’s policies made migrants feel unwelcomed and too scared to try and cross the border and then turning around and saying the influx started under Trump does not make sense.

This is a crisis of Biden’s own making, and no amount of dodging, weaving, and spinning like a top from Psaki or any other official in this administration is going to change that very inconvenient fact.

Related: Jen Psaki Gives up the Game When Asked About Biden’s Failure to Keep ‘Unity, Bipartisanship’ Promises





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Cricket-IPL indefinitely suspended due to COVID-19 crisis in India

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NEW DELHI — The Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament has been indefinitely suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis in the country, the IPL said on Tuesday.

The organizing Indian cricket board (BCCI) and the IPL governing council took the decision at an emergency meeting.

“These are difficult times, especially in India, and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” the IPL said in a statement.

“The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021.”

The eight-team IPL, with an estimated brand value of $6.8 billion, is the richest Twenty20 league and attracts many of the best players from around the world to cricket-crazy India.

Monday’s match in Ahmedabad had to be rescheduled after two Kolkata Knight Riders players tested positive for COVID-19 and two non-playing members of the Chennai Super Kings franchise contracted the virus in Delhi.

India’s tally of coronavirus infections surged past 20 million on Tuesday, following 357,229 new cases over the last 24 hours, as the country battles a second wave of the disease.

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Media reports earlier said the BCCI was considering shifting the remaining 31 matches of the eight-team tournament to Mumbai, which has three stadiums in and around the city, after coronavirus bubble breaches in Ahmedabad and Delhi.

Although the tournament was being played in a bio-secure bubble without spectators, the league faced fierce social media criticism for continuing in the midst of the pandemic.

Australian players Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson cut short their IPL stints to return home last week.

Australia has since banned all arrivals from India until May 15 and the country’s cricket board declined to comment when asked for its plans to bring back their players.

Before the league was suspended, the Australian Cricketers’ Association said it would talk to the Australian government about the players’ travel plans. (Additional reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; editing by Ed Osmond)



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Poll: Vast Majority Of Voters Consider Border Situation A ‘Crisis’

The vast majority of American voters consider the increasing number of migrants arriving at the southern border a “crisis,” according to a recent poll.

A Harvard CAPS-Harris poll shared with The Hill on Monday found that 80% of respondents said the current situation at the border is “a crisis that needs to be addressed immediately,” while just 20% said it was “something that can be dealt with by the immigration system we have currently.”

A majority of voters also said unaccompanied minors who crossed the southern border were being kept in humane conditions. Among those polled, 54% of respondents said detained migrant children have been treated humanely, though 46% said they have been treated inhumanely.

The Harvard CAPS-Harris poll surveyed 1,872 registered voters between April 27-29, according to The Hill.

The number of migrants encountered at the southern border has surged during the Biden administration, increasing from 12,000 migrants in January to 170,000 in March, according to Customs and Border Protection. At least 18,000 unaccompanied minors were encountered in March. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Migrants Crossing The Rio Grande Valley All Say The Same Things)

National Border Patrol Council spokesman Chris Cabrera told the Daily Caller News Foundation in late March that temporary migration detention facilities have become overcrowded and lack the facilities to hold the growing number of migrants. Videos of the facilities showed migrants sleeping on floor mats and shelves stocked with clothing and food.

The Biden administration has faced scrutiny for not acknowledging the border situation as a “crisis.” President Joe Biden said in an interview with NBC News host Craig Melvin last week that his administration has “gotten control” of the situation.

Biden also blamed former President Donald Trump during the interview, stating that the “failure to have a real transition” led immigration agencies to be “understaffed considerably” when he took office in January.





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Border Crisis: Migrant Children in Houston Schools Raising Costs

The kids tend to show up in Garrett Reed’s classroom in shock.

Many have never been to a big city like Houston before. But now they’re here, in the United States, in Reed’s Wisdom High School classroom, with its smart boards and online learning hub. A school administrator hands each kid a laptop. Many haven’t used a computer before.

None of them speak English. Many don’t even speak Spanish, but rather K’iche’ or maybe Mam, indigenous Mayan languages from the Guatemalan hinterlands.

Many of the kids have just made the dangerous journey to the U.S. through Mexico, enduring a gauntlet of crime filled





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