Below is my column in USA Today on the prosecution of three state and local officials in the Flint, Michigan water scandal. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has promised more (and higher ranking) defendants in the coming weeks. However, as discussed in this column, these cases are not as straightforward as the pictures of bottles of Flint water juxtaposed against clean water. While there are strong elements to some of the charges, the prosecution is not nearly as easily or obvious as has been suggested in the media, in my view.
We have previously discussed the bizarre situation of two candidates (Trump and Clinton) with historic negative polling numbers emerge as the frontrunners for the general election. Six out of ten voters say that they are unwilling to vote for either Trump or Clinton. Now a new poll shows that over half of American voters believe that the primary system is “rigged” and more than two-thirds want a new system for electing their leaders. What is remarkable is how detached the system appears from the voters. The GOP primary is advancing a candidate with high exceptionally negatives for the general election. In the meantime, the public is in open revolt of the “establishment” so the Democratic leadership has lined up to guarantee the selection of the candidate who is the ultimate establishment figure. Now one-fourth of voters are saying that they will stay at home rather than vote for either of the frontrunners.
As Western leaders like Angela Merkel cave into the authoritarian demands of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in crushing free speech, journalists and cartoonists are fighting back. After a Dutch journalist was arrested in Turkey this weekend for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the most-read newspaper in the Netherlands threw down the gauntlet and published a front-page editorial cartoon that shows Erdogan as an ape crushing Europe’s free speech. Since Erdogan demands the prosecution of journalists even outside of Turkey who insult him, the publication could force another confrontation with the aspiring dictator. In the meantime, the West (including the United States) continue to prop up Erdogan as he destroys secular government in Turkey, arrests journalists, and denies the most basic forms of free speech.
Our close ally in Turkey this week is continuing his comprehensive attack on free speech and free exercise. A Dutch journalist, Ebru Umar, a well-known atheist and feminist journalist, is the latest victim of the crackdown by Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan was recently given a boost to his scorched earth campaign by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to first apologize to him for a comedian making fun of him in Germany but also approved a prosecution of the comedian . As Merkel abandoned any semblance of free speech in Germany to appease Erdoğan, the authoritarian leader set out to punish Western journalists in his own country who dared to criticize him. Umar recently wrote a piece critical of Erdoğan for the Dutch daily Metro, extracts of which she then tweeted. Her last tweet chillingly said “Police at the door. No joke.”
The Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights is a respected organization established by intellectuals who seek to protect human rights in the Kingdom and the creation of both democratic and legal institutions that guarantee such rights. Not surprising, the Saudi government has treated such ideas as terroristic threats and has jailed many of its members. The latest is one of the founders Issa al-Hamid who was convicted of inciting people to breach public order, insulting the judiciary, defaming the kingdom’s senior religious clerics and establishing an unlicensed organization. Our close ally in the Middle East has once again shown how it stands in direct opposition to the most basic rights of free speech and free exercise. Rather than actually move its laws and government out of the Middle Ages, the Kingdom has hired a variety of top firms, including leading establishment figures like Tony Podesta, to improve its reputation with the American public (particularly with the expected release of the long withheld 9-11 reports pages that reportedly implicate Saudi officials in the attack.
At times Saudi Arabia and its medieval Sharia system seems a bad parody of itself. That is the case with this video of a leading Saudi family therapist inexplicably sitting on a chair in the middle of the forest discussing calmly the Islamically correct way of beating your wife. What is even more unnerving is this guy, Khaled Al-Saqaby, is not only viewed as sane and learned but is probably viewed as a moderate on the subject.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
German Chancellor Angela Merkel keeps digging herself deeper with her latest statement regarding her government’s prosecution of satirist Jan Böhmermann at the behest of Turkish President. Now, the chancellor expresses her regrets for offering support to President Erdoğan at the expense of her countryman, claiming it was a “mistake”.