The federal charge of “interfering with certain protective functions” levied against four members of the Embassy Protection Collective was formally dropped today in a hearing before Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell in US District Court. The four defendants are Adrienne Pine, David Paul, Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. They were arrested on May 16 2019 when federal police raided the Venezuelan Embassy in violation of the Vienna Convention, which requires host countries to protect embassies and restricts them from entering without permission from the sovereign government.
Judge Howell sentenced the Embassy Protective Collective to no jail time. After a jury refused to convict them in early February, resulting in a mistrial, the prosecutors offered to drop the federal charge and substitute one of most minor local misdemeanor charges in the DC Code, incommoding, basically causing a disturbance. The protectors were facing a potential year in jail and $100,000 fine each. They are now on six months of probation.
The four protectors were in the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington DC for over a month last spring with the permission of the elected, constitutional government of Venezuela, which is recognized by the United Nations and over 130 countries. The United States was attempting to overthrow the democratically elected Venezuelan government. When that failed, it took the unprecedented step of recognizing the then-president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as president and handing Venezuela’s assets in the United States over to him. All of this violates international law.
The president ordered an attack on protesters to clear the way for a photo op last night, and he also threatened to deploy the military on American soil:
When Trump had returned safely to the White House less than an hour later, the verdict seemed clear: The president had staged an elaborate photo op, using a Bible awkwardly held aloft as a prop and a historic church that has long welcomed presidents and their families as a backdrop.
In the process, protesters had been tear gassed and attacked, and Trump had taken a raging conflagration and doused it with accelerant.
“We long ago lost sight of normal, but this was a singularly immoral act,” said Brendan Buck, a longtime former Hill aide who is now a Republican operative. “The president used force against American citizens, not to protect property, but to soothe his own insecurities. We will all move on to the next outrage, but this was a true abuse of power and should not be forgotten.”
There is nothing more cringe than a political photo op, but when the President of the United States sends his Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff out onto the streets during political protests it becomes a bit unnerving, too.
The stagecraft started Monday afternoon with the president leaving the White House grounds with the two aforementioned cabinet officials, along with Attorney General Bob Barr, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and assorted White House staff, to the historic St. John’s Church, where he held up a bible. Demonstrators had set fire to the church and the basement had sustained damage the night before.
He finished the evening by addressing the nation, announcing he would be deploying federal troops “to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property,” he said. “We will end it now.” He said the military would exert “total domination” over the situation. Again, flash bangs could be heard and smell of tear gas in the air as protesters were dispersed just before the D.C. curfew.
The National Guard and Louisville PD broke up a gathering for violating curfew around 12:15 AM on June 1st. They opened fire on the crowd and killed local business owner David McAtee.
McAtee was loved by his community, ran a BBQ restaurant, and even fed local police for free. His sister told reporters the gathering was not related to the protests that caused the city to enact a curfew.
Tensions between India and China have been increasing over the last few weeks with a buildup of troops along a disputed border in eastern Ladakh. The buildup on the Chinese side appears to have been a response to Indian construction activity that is meant to make the remote area more easily accessible if there is a need to send reinforcements there. China is trying to discourage India from completing those construction projects, but there doesn’t appear to be anything more to the standoff than that at the moment. The standoff has gone mostly ignored here in the US, but it has prompted some knee-jerk calls to “stand with India,” as if this dispute had anything to do with us. We can get a hint from this of how U.S.-China rivalry will be used in the future to justify meddling in all sorts of disputes where there are no US interests at stake.
The American empire wanted to oust Muammar Gaddafi for decades. He remained in power as he carefully balanced interests in Libya’s complex tribal society and kept the military under control. Gaddafi was popular since he invested Libya’s oil wealth improving the lives of Libyans rather than in Western banks. Before its 2011 destruction, Libyans were the wealthiest in all of Africa. President Obama chose to destroy Libya despite meeting with Gaddafi after winning the Nobel Peace Prize. His Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the strongest advocate for this war crime. When later asked about Gaddafi’s death, she laughed and exclaimed: “We came, we saw, he died.”