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Lifelong US Republicans lead charge for Biden to oust Trump | USA News



For Nancy Shively, a teacher, life-long conservative, and 2016 Trump voter from state of Oklahoma, the last straw was the United States president’s response to the coronavirus. 

Despite casting her ballot for a Republican presidential candidate every election since she first voted in 1976, Shively, 63, has resolved to support Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the 2020 election. 

Organisers of a coordinated effort to appeal to disillusioned conservatives, lead by members and former members of the Republican Party, hope voters like Nancy will help to make the difference in the upcoming 2020 US presidential election. The Republican Party has long appealed to conservative voters and is one of two major parties – along with the liberal Democratic Party – that overwhelmingly dominate US politics. 

In 2016, a similar effort led by so-called “Never Trump” Republicans, who saw Trump as an existential threat to the country, fell short of ending his presidential bid.

“I knew Trump was a jerk and he was a misogynist, but like a lot of people that voted for him, I was hopeful that he would have people around him that would curb his impulses … but I really did not know the full extent of his pathology until the pandemic,” said Shively, a mother of four and grandmother of six. 

“I’m pro-life. It’s probably why I stayed in the Republican Party as long as I did,” she added. “But pro-life means all life, not just unborn children, and watching the way Trump has just mishandled the pandemic, and the deaths that have resulted, I care about those lives too.”

Nancy Shively, who has voted for a Republican in every United States presidential election cycle since 1976, plans to vote for Joe Biden [Al Jazeera]

Organisers of this election cycle’s conservative resistance against Trump hope to learn from 2016, when the coordinated effort largely fizzled after the primary, replaced by a handful of disparate Republican Party members and officials who vowed not to support the then-candidate. 

“This time there is a real organised campaign to stop him in the general election,” said Tim Miller, who has worked on Republican presidential campaigns and as the communications director for Our Principles PAC, one of two prominent conservative political action committees (PACs) that sought to end Trump’s 2016 White House bid.

“[In 2016] we had an organised campaign to stop him in the primary, but it was kind of too late and there was no real campaign within the party against him in the general election,” he said. 

Miller is currently the political director of Republican Voters Against Trump (RVAT), a group that has taken a distinct approach to reaching disillusioned Trump voters by using first-person accounts from other rank-and-file conservatives who have decided to vote against the president.

In more than 500 selfie videos collected by the group, including one uploaded by Shively, those voters tell their stories in hopes of building a “social support network” for Republicans who feel Trump has diverged from the ideals they feel American conservatism represents, Miller said. The videos are being used on social media and in a $10m ad campaign running –  or soon to run – in battleground states North Carolina, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow in the Governance Studies programme at the Brookings Institution, described the 2020 conservative strategy against Trump as “much more effective than it was four years ago” – especially when it comes to appealing to traditionally Republican demographics that have shown the most aversion to Trump, like suburban women. 

“The ‘Never Trumpers’, which were always the Republican establishment, are much more sophisticated this time around than they were last time,” she told Al Jazeera. “They are communicating to Trump voters and to Republican voters by not appealing to elites, but by using the voters’ own voices”.

Still, asking a life-long Republican to potentially support a Democrat is an exceptional request in a deeply-partisan country where political affiliation is often intertwined with identity, said Kristopher Purcell, co-chair of 43 Alumni for Biden, a group of over 200 former George W Bush campaign and administration personnel who are explicitly supporting Biden and his vice-presidential running mate Senator Kamala Harris and are targeting suburban voters in swing states. 

“People grow up in parties much like they grow up in a religion or grow up in a certain state, and they feel attached to that,” Purcell said. “For many people it’s a difficult bridge to cross”. 

“Part of what we’re doing is saying that it’s okay to [vote for Biden],” he added. “We’re an organisation who served a conservative Republican president, but we’re willing to go across the aisle and vote for the Democratic nominee because it is absolutely 100 percent in the best interest of the country”. 

‘Keep him on his back foot’

Taking a more antagonist approach in this election cycle’s conservative resistance is the Lincoln Project, a super PAC that has raised over $19m and attracted wealthy ‘Never Trump’ industry titans.

Their provocative ads are meant to specifically target Trump’s psyche, playing on his fast-finger Twitter posts to influence the news the president generates. 

That way, the president uses his time responding to Lincoln Project ads and not attacking Biden, said Reed Galen, who is a cofounder of the group and who worked under Senator John McCain and former President George W Bush before leaving the party.

The group’s ad campaigns have questioned Trump’s health, suggested his staff constantly talk behind his back, and placed the president’s statements alongside a laugh track.

One particularly grim ad, titled “Mourning in America”, is a dark riff on the famous Ronald Reagan campaign ad “Morning in America”. 

“What I think we’ve been able to do is keep him on his back foot. And so that he’s constantly trying to figure out how to respond, because we know he doesn’t respond well to ridicule and diminishment,” Galen told Al Jazeera. 

Lincoln Project ads are also not afraid to use an “edginess” and “iconography” that is more “martial in nature” than many Democratic ads, Galen noted – and that may resonate with conservatives used to Republican messaging. 

Future of the party

Underscoring the attempt to defeat Trump is a larger question over the future of the Republican Party, which like the Democratic Party, represents a wide umbrella encompassing many ideological strains. 

Trump’s 2016 win many ways highlighted that two major factions have been uneasily cohabiting for years within the Republican Party, said Thomas Patterson, a professor of government at Harvard Kennedy School. 

“If the Republican Party was a European party in a parliamentary system, it would be made of two parties,” said Patterson. “What you might call ‘Liberal Republicans ‘, who would be the marketplace Republicans – they are much more about business, deregulation, and free markets. Then you’d have to the right of them a much more populist, nativist, nation-first kind of party, which is what most of the base at the moment is – and [what] Trump represents.”

Church of Trump | Fault Lines

Even if Trump loses, his base will remain, Patterson added.  

That means whether in 2020 or 2024, the Republican Party is on track to face reckoning, said 43 Alumni for Biden’s Purcell – particularly as the overwhelmingly white and older Republican base faces a “demographic cliff” in a rapidly diversifying country. 

“There’s no one out there who genuinely knows what that future looks like,” said Purcell. “Right now, both [Democratic and Republican] parties are pretty well dominated by their bases, and their bases are both moving further and further to the fringes.”

But in the short term, Purcell added, the group is more concerned with preventing “another four years of chaos and corruption and disease and disunion” that he says the Trump administration has wrought. 

‘Hey, I’ll do it’

Shively said she shares the same goal, describing her discovery of Republican Voters Against Trump as a “revelation”. 

“I was like, wow, there are actual people who feel the same way as I do,” she recalled. “I was just astonished because Oklahoma is such a deeply red state, and there are so many Trump supporters here that, you know, you don’t really want to out yourself among your social group”.

When she noticed only one conservative from Oklahoma had uploaded a video to RVAT’s website, she said she felt a responsibility to act.

“It made me feel like, if there’s anybody else like me out there, and they need this to change their mind, then hey, I’ll do it,” Shively said. 

“So I sat down with my laptop, and I filmed my video,” she said. “I call it coming out of the political closet”. 

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FDC activists win Bank of Uganda pig case by simply keeping quiet




FDC activists Augustine Ojobile and Robert Mayanja

Buganda Road Magistrate’s court has acquitted two opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) activists Augustine Ojobile and Robert Mayanja of common nuisance charges.

FDC deputy chief administrative officer Ojobile and Mayanja have been acquitted by the grade one magistrate Fidelis Otwao on charges stemming from their protest held in November 2018 when they carried pig heads to the central police station (CPS) in Kampala protesting the rot in the Bank of Uganda that had reportedly resulted into the closure of a number of commercial banks in the country for many years.

According to them, corruption at the Central bank had been the sole ingredient for the closure of commercial banks in Uganda over the years because it reportedly mismanaged them and made erroneous decisions that led to their closure.

With fresh pig heads tied around their necks and stinking blood oozing across their white T-shirts, Mayanja and Ojobile walked through the streets of Kampala to the police in a protest that was spearheaded by their pressure group known as the Jobless Youth.

One pig head had a placard bearing the name of the former and late BOU governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile and the other of his former deputy Louis Kasekende.

The protest at CPS came a few days after another that was staged at the Central bank where two piglets were dumped bearing the name of Juma Kisaame (a Muslim), the former managing director of DFCU bank. 

As a result, the duo was arrested and taken to Buganda Road court on charges of common nuisance and the prosecution adduced evidence from five witnesses who included police officers and Muslims who were reportedly angered by the protest.

According to the witnesses, the actions of Mayanja and Ojobile were annoying to the people whose names were mentioned and tagged on pig heads, and the smell that was coming out of the fresh pig heads was most likely to result in injury to a considerable number of the public by affecting their health, and the protest affected businesses since some shops allegedly had to close to see what was happening outside due to their commotion.

But when Mayanja and Ojobile were asked to defend themselves over the allegations, the duo that didn’t have legal representation chose to keep quiet as their defense and let the court make its decision based on what the prosecution witnesses had testified to.

In a judgement read today Friday by Otwao, he indicated that the evidence from the prosecution witnesses is wanting because none of the people alleged to have been annoyed by the actions of the activists testified in the case or recorded a statement with police.

According to Otwao, the testimonies were based on what the witnesses were feeling as individuals and that there were no abusive statements on the pig heads that the prosecution had indicated which would cause annoyance, save for putting the names of people only. 

As such, the court has ruled that such testimonies cannot be relied on to convict a person because the prosecution has failed to prove that there was common injury, danger to the public or destruction of property.

Consequently, the magistrate has acquitted the duo and directed that each of them starts the process to seek a refund of the Shs 500,000 that each had paid to be released on bail.

The activists have welcomed the ruling saying that the court has recognized that the citizens have a right to protest peacefully.

The pig protests have been commonly used by activists who subscribe to this group known as the Jobless Brotherhood which has since rebranded to the “Alternative”.

In 2016, their members including Luta Ferdinand who is now facing trial in the court-martial on different charges, and Joseph Lukwago were arrested for dumping piglets at parliament protesting the Shs 200 million given to each MP for buying personal cars.

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Saudi Arabia executes 81 people in a single day | Death Penalty News




The death penalty applied for a range of charges in the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom’s modern history.

Saudi Arabia has executed 81 men over the past 24 hours, including seven Yemenis and one Syrian national, on charges including “allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations” and holding “deviant beliefs”, state news agency Saudi Press Agency said, in the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom in its modern history.

The number dwarfed the 67 executions reported in the kingdom in 2021 and the 27 in 2020.

“These individuals … were convicted of various crimes including murdering innocent men, women and children,” SPA said on Saturday, citing a statement from the interior ministry.

“Crimes committed by these individuals also include pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations, such as ISIS [ISIL], al-Qaeda and the Houthis,” it added.

Some travelled to conflict zones to join “terrorist organisations”, according to the SPA.

“The accused were provided with the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process,” it said.

“The kingdom will continue to take a strict and unwavering stance against terrorism and extremist ideologies that threaten the stability of the entire world,” the report added.

The men included 37 Saudi nationals who were found guilty in a single case for attempting to assassinate security officers and targeting police stations and convoys, the report added.

Saudi Arabia’s last mass execution was in January 2016, when the kingdom executed 47 people, including a prominent opposition Shia leader who had rallied demonstrations in the kingdom.

In 2019, the kingdom beheaded 37 Saudi citizens, most of them minority Shia, in a mass execution across the country for alleged “terrorism”-related crimes.

Saudi Arabia’s human rights records have been under increasing scrutiny from rights groups and Western allies since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

It has faced strong criticism of its restrictive laws on political and religious expression, and the implementation of the death penalty, including for defendants arrested when they were minors.

Saudi Arabia denies accusations of human rights abuses and says it protects its national security according to its laws.

SPA said the accused were provided with the right to a lawyer and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process.

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Nigerian student in Ukraine: 'Mummy we keep hearing bombs'




Hauwa’s son Suleiman is a Nigerian student in Sumy – she says the family are fearful and anxious.

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