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Duterte hits back at Catholic Church after clerics tried to undermine drug war

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s newfound support for homosexual marriage is a move which could politically checkmate a perennial opponent.

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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has apparently switched his position on the issue of homosexual marriage, in a move which is a clear challenge to the power of the Catholic Church, whose leaders have opposed Duterte from the moment he took office.

Duterte has been known to have very poor relations with the Catholic Church as clerics have spoken out in opposition to Duterte’s war on drugs and related violent drug criminals.

From the point of view of a secular leader, the drug war has been instrumental in helping to reduce crime, cutting off an important funding source for terrorists like the ISIS affiliated Maute group, as well as helping to make Philippines a safer place for international investors, including those from China and Russia.

Philippines masters the art of “win-win” at APEC summit in a geo-economic triumph for Duterte

A recent report from the US media outlet Forbes, whose editorial line has often been critical of Duterte, could not help but praise economic successes achieved in Philippines due to Duterte’s reforms.

The Forbes article stated,

“The Philippines economy grew at an annual 6.9% in the September quarter of 2017, the strongest growth since the third quarter 2016. That’s slightly above China’s third quarter annual growth, which grew 6.8% in the third quarter of 2017, that country’s weakest pace of expansion since the fourth quarter of 2016.

For 2017, the Philippines economy is expected to advance between 6.5 to 7.5%, and occupy the position of the world’s 10th fastest growing economy, according to the World Bank.

GDP Annual Growth Rate in Philippines averaged 3.72 percent from 1982 until 2017, reaching an all-time high of 12.40% in the fourth quarter of 1988 and a record low of -11.10 percent in the first quarter of 1985, according to Tradingeconomics.com.

While growing faster, the Philippines economy has also been getting better. The trade deficit narrowed to USD 1.91 billion in September of 2017 from USD 2.02 billion in the same month a year earlier. Non-performing loans dropped down to 1.8%, as business access to bank lending improved. And the debt-to-GDP ratio edged lower, while that ratio, for other Asian countries including China, soared.

The Philippines’ economy has been helped by a stable macroeconomic environment, tax reforms, market liberalization, brisk infrastructure spending, and a revival in the global economy.

Equity markets have yet to take notice. The iShares MSCI Philippines Index rose 0.44% well below that of China and Vietnam”.

The Duterte Revolution: The President of Philippines considers further reforms

As part of creating a wider political, social and economic revolution in Philippines, many of the old guard have been at odds with Duterte and this includes many prominent figures in the Catholic Church in Philippines.

While Duterte’s revolution has not been one that has involved Constitutional reforms, as many still hope for, Duterte’s accomplishments remain seismic in terms of turning around the geo-political fortunes of the country and creating an atmosphere that will create increased prosperity for generations to come, as Duterte has embraced the prospect of forming an integral part of China’s One Belt–One Road trade and commerce superhighway.

President Duterte’s South China Sea agreements represent the new model for cooperation in South East Asia

In spite of his sustained popularity, the Catholic Church has been a prominent critic and Duterte has not hidden his anger. He has furthermore, blown the whistle on corruption within the religious body.

In January of this year Duterte said about the Catholic Church,

“I challenge you now. I challenge the Catholic Church. You are full of shit. You all smell bad, corruption and all”.

The President also stated,

“You criticise the police, you criticise me. For what? You have the money. You are all crazy … when we were making confessions to you, we were being molested. They are touching us. What is your moral ascendancy, religion? What is the meaning of it?”

In the above speech and in a further speech in June of this year, Duterte also accused religious officials of graft, accepting bribes and individually reprehensible behaviour among leading clerics. 

Today, Duterte effectively put Catholic Church officials on notice in saying the following before a rally in his home city of Davao,

“I said I am for [same] sex marriage if that is the trend of the modern times,” adding, “If that will add to your happiness, I am for it.

Why impose a morality that is no longer working and almost passed. So I am with you”.

Duterte’s shift in position on this issue should be viewed in the wider trend of nations whose governments seek to exercise independence vis-a-vis the Catholic Church and other religious bodies.

In Ireland, the relaxation of laws involving Catholic red-lines such as medical abortion, homosexual relations, as well as divorce and marriage laws, was seen as ushering in an age where a country that was once among the poorest in western Europe, experienced a large scale economic boom.

Today, in Saudi Arabia, Muhammad bin Salman is attempting to diminish the power of influential Wahhabi clerics in an effort to realise the economic reforms he is pushing for as part of his Vision 2030 initiative.

Going back further in history, English King Henry VIII’s creation of his own Protestant Church of England in order to obtain a divorce, was seen as an implicit step that ushered in the English Renaissance whose leading literary figure was Shakespeare.

What all of this shows is that leaders and governments that wish to embark on wide ranging reforms which are often viewed with scepticism or outright opposition from figures within the traditional religious establishment, often must cross various “moral red lines” drawn by clerics, in order to assert their political authority.

In societies where religious institutions and political institutions work under the guise of a reciprocal relationship, such matters are less pronounced. This is true of most Orthodox countries where national co-equal Patriarchs form the highest authority of a single Orthodox church. This is contrasted with the ecclesiastical organisation of the Catholic Church, where the penultimate authority over all Catholics lies in Rome.

Likewise, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Shi’a clerics form an important advisory role in government, but these clerics are local Iranian citizens who do not answer to any formal body outside of the country.

The local-versus international model is of course not a guarantee of lessening schisms between religious and political leaders.

The Saudi model while internal, is essentially a parallel system between local Wahhabi clerics and the local monarchy. While typically, the Saudi monarchy and Wahhabi clerics have acted in ways which are mutually acceptable to one another, in the case of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, a clear clash of interests is taking place and like contemporary Irish leaders and Duterte today, Salman is promising to enact “moderate Islam” in order to weaken the power of clerics over Saudi politics, thus threatening to break a centuries old alliance.

Saudi Crown Price Mohammad bin Salman calls for “moderate Islam” in the Wahhabi Kingdom

President Duterte is therefore following a long trend of asserting personal secular authority by offering concessions to groups whose goals are opposed by a powerful religious institution which is at odds with the political leader in question.

In this sense, Duterte has taken a page out of the books of many successful leaders who want their country to regain independence from antagonistic clerical bodies. Hence, there is nothing revelatory about Duterte’s statement, it is essentially an attempt to assert his authority in a way that if seen through at a legislative level, might make the Catholic Church regret opposing Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.

In short, because the Catholic Church crossed Duterte’s red line, he is now going to cross a major red line of the Catholic Church. By saying that such a move is within the thinking of “modern” trends, it is clear that Duterte sees his overall platform as that which is best suited for a brighter future for Philippines, while that of the Catholic Church is something which represents a past which Duterte is rapidly changing.

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Why did Trump recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory?

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the reasons behind US President Trump’s sudden recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Following Trump’s statements as US President, acting Israeli Foreign Minister is saying that Trump will make it official and sign an executive order to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Syrian border territory on Monday.

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Via DW

Israel says White House officials are preparing an official document to codify support for Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights, which will be signed by US President Donald Trump on Monday.

The signing of the decree will be witnessed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during talks with Trump at the White House, Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz (pictured), said in a Tweet.

“Tomorrow, President Trump, in the presence of PM Netanyahu, will sign a decree recognizing Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan. Israel-US ties are closer than ever,” Katz said.

Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war, subsequently annexing it in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Trump’s tweet annoys allies

Trump broke with decades of US Middle East policy when he posted a Tweet on Thursday that said it was time to accept Israel’s widely-contested claim to the border territory.

The decision has been criticized by many US allies — Germany, Britain, France and the EU have all said they still consider the Golan Heights to be “occupied” by Israel.

Syria and other states in the region said the recognition, if confirmed, would violate international law.

Netanyahu has long pushed for Washington’s endorsement, and many analysts see Trump’s comments as a campaign gift ahead of Israel’s April 9 election.

In 2017, Trump drew condemnation throughout the Middle East when he recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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Russia Gives US Red Line On Venezuela

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

Moscow’s interlocutor, Sergei Ryabkov, is known to not mince his words, having earlier castigated Washington for seeking global military domination. He calls a spade a spade, and presumably a criminal a criminal.

The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia.

The fact that Washington’s efforts to overthrow the elected President Nicolas Maduro have so far floundered, might suggest that the Americans are intensifying their campaign to destabilize the country, with the objective of installing US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido. He declared himself “acting president” in January with Washington’s imprimatur.

Given that the nationwide power blackouts seem to have failed in fomenting a revolt by the civilian population or the military against Maduro, the next option tempting Washington could be the military one.

It seems significant that Washington has recently evacuated its last remaining diplomats from the South American country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the evacuation by saying that having US personnel on the ground “was limiting” Washington’s scope for action. Also, American Airlines reportedly cancelled all its services to Venezuela in the past week. Again, suggesting that the US was considering a military intervention, either directly with its troops or covertly by weaponizing local proxies. The latter certainly falls under Abrams’ purview.

After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly: “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.

For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand. “No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.

“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

The arrogance of the Americans is staggering. Abrams seems, according to US reporting, to have flown to Rome with the expectation of working out with Ryabkov a “transition” or “compromise” on who gets the “title of president” of Venezuela.

That’s what he no doubt meant when he said after the meeting “there was not a meeting of minds”, but rather he got “a better understanding” of Russia’s position.

Washington’s gambit is a replay of Syria. During the eight-year war in that country, the US continually proffered the demand of a “political transition” which at the end would see President Bashar al Assad standing down. By contrast, Russia’s unflinching position on Syria has always been that it’s not up to any external power to decide Syria’s politics. It is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people to determine independently.

Nearly three years after Russia intervened militarily in Syria to salvage the Arab country from a US-backed covert war for regime change, the American side has manifestly given up on its erstwhile imperious demands for “political transition”. The principle of Syrian sovereignty has prevailed, in large part because of Russia’s trenchant defense of its Arab ally.

Likewise, Washington, in its incorrigible arrogance, is getting another lesson from Russia – this time in its own presumed “back yard” of Latin America.

It’s not a question of Russia being inveigled by Washington’s regime-change schemers about who should be president of Venezuela and “how we can manage a transition”. Moscow has reiterated countless times that the legitimate president of Venezuela is Nicolas Maduro whom the people voted for last year by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair election – albeit boycotted by the US-orchestrated opposition.

The framework Washington is attempting to set up of choosing between their desired “interim president” and incumbent Maduro is an entirely spurious one. It is not even worthy to be discussed because it is a gross violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Who is Washington to even dare try to impose its false choice?

On Venezuela, Russia is having to remind the criminal American rulers – again – about international law and respect for national sovereignty, as Moscow earlier did with regard to Syria.

And in case Washington gets into a huff and tries the military option, Moscow this week told regime-change henchman Abrams that that’s a red line. If Washington has any sense of rationale left, it will know from its Syria fiasco that Russia has Venezuela’s back covered.

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

Now, the desperate Americans could still try more sabotage, cyber or financial. But their options are limited, contrary to what Trump thinks.

How the days of American imperialist swagger are numbered. There was a time when it could rampage all over Latin America. Not any more, evidently. Thanks in part to Russia’s global standing and military power.

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With RussiaGate Over Where’s Hillary?

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain. She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


During most of the RussiaGate investigation against Donald Trump I kept saying that all roads lead to Hillary Clinton.

Anyone with three working brain cells knew this, including ‘Miss’ Maddow, whose tears of disappointment are particularly delicious.

Robert Mueller’s investigation was designed from the beginning to create something out of nothing. It did this admirably.

It was so effective it paralyzed the country for more than two years, just like Europe has been held hostage by Brexit. And all of this because, in the end, the elites I call The Davos Crowd refused to accept that the people no longer believed their lies about the benefits of their neoliberal, globalist agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the Presidency was to be their apotheosis along with the Brexit vote. These were meant to lay to rest, once and for all time, the vaguely libertarian notion that people should rule themselves and not be ruled by philosopher kings in some distant land.

Hillary’s failure was enormous. And the RussiaGate gambit to destroy Trump served a laundry list of purposes to cover it:

  1. Undermine his legitimacy before he even takes office.
  2. Accuse him of what Hillary actually did: collude with Russians and Ukrainians to effect the outcome of the election
  3. Paralyze Trump on his foreign policy desires to scale back the Empire
  4. Give aid and comfort to hurting progressives and radicalize them further undermining our political system
  5. Polarize the electorate over the false choice of Trump’s guilt.
  6. Paralyze the Dept. of Justice and Congress so that they would not uncover the massive corruption in the intelligence agencies in the U.S. and the U.K.
  7. Isolate Trump and take away every ally or potential ally he could have by turning them against him through prosecutor overreach.

Hillary should have been thrown to the wolves after she failed. When you fail the people she failed and cost them the money she cost them, you lose more than just your funding. What this tells you is that she has so much dirt on everyone involved, once this thing started everyone went along with it lest she burn them down as well.

Burnin’ Down da House

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain

She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

And she was willing to tear it down to keep him from having it no matter how much damage it would do. She’s worse than the Joker from The Dark Knight.

Because while the Joker is unfathomable to someone with a conscience there’s little stopping us from excising him from the community completely., even though Batman refuses.

Hillary hates us for who we are and what we won’t give her. And that animus drove her to blackmail the world while putting on the face of its savior.

And that’s what makes what comes next so obvious to me. RussiaGate was never a sustainable narrative. It was ludicrous from the beginning. And now that it has ended with a whimper there are a lot of angry, confused and scared people out there.

Mueller thought all he had to do was lean on corrupt people and threaten them with everything. They would turn on Trump. He would resign in disgrace from the public outcry.

It didn’t work. In the end Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone all held their ground or perjured themselves into the whole thing falling apart.

Andrew Weissman’s resignation last month was your tell there was nothing. Mueller would pursue this to the limit of his personal reputation and no further.

Just like so many other politicians.

Vote Your Pocketbook

With respect to Brexit I’ve been convinced that it would come down to reputations.

Would the British MP’s vote against their own personal best interests to do the bidding of the EU?

Would Theresa May eventually realize her historical reputation would be destroyed if she caves to Brussels and betrays Brexit in the end?

Always bet on the fecklessness of politicians. They will always act selfishly when put to the test. While leading RussiaGate, Mueller was always headed here if he couldn’t get someone to betray Trump.

And now his report is in. There are no new indictments. And by doing so he is saving his reputation for the future. And that is your biggest tell that HIllary’s blackmail is now worthless.

They don’t fear her anymore because RussiaGate outed her as the architect. Anything else she has is irrelevant in the face of trying to oust a sitting president from power.

The progressives that were convinced of Trump’s treason are bereft; their false hope stripped away like standing in front of a sandblaster. They will be raw, angry and looking for blood after they get over their denial.

Everyone else who was blackmailed into going along with this lunacy will begin cutting deals to save their skins. The outrage over this will not end. Trump will be President when he stands for re-election.

The Wolves Beckon

The Democrats do not have a chance against him as of right now. When he was caving on everything back in December it looked like he was done. That there was enough meat on the RussiaGate bones to make Nancy Pelosi brave.

Then she backed off on impeachment talk. Oops.

But the Democrats have a sincere problem. Their candidates have no solutions other than to embrace the crazy and go full Bolshevik. That is not a winning position.

Trump will kill them on ‘socialism.’

The Deep State and The Davos Crowd stand revealed and reviled.

If they don’t do something dramatic then the anger from the rest of the country will also be palpable come election time. Justice is not done simply by saying, “No evidence of collusion.”

It’s clear that RussiaGate is a failure of monumental proportions. Heads will have to roll. But who will be willing to fall on their sword at this point?

Comey? No. McCabe? No.

There is only one answer. And Obama’s people are still in place to protect him. I said last fall that “Hillary would indict herself.” And I meant it. Eventually her blackmail and drive to burn it all down led to this moment.

The circumstances are different than I expected back then, Trump didn’t win the mid-terms. But the end result was always the same. If there is no collusion, if RussiaGate is a scam, then all roads lead back to Hillary as the sacrificial lamb.

Because the bigger project, the erection of a transnational superstate, is bigger than any one person. Hillary is expendable.

Lies are expensive to maintain. The truth is cheap to defend. Think of the billions in opportunity costs associated with this. Once the costs rise above the benefits, change happens fast.

If there is any hope of salvaging the center of this country for the Democrats, the ones that voted against Hillary in 2016, then there is no reason anymore not to indict Hillary as the architect of RussiaGate.

We all know it’s the truth. So, the cheapest way out of this mess for them is to give the MAGApedes what they want, Hillary.

And hope that is enough bread and circuses to distract from the real storm ahead of us.

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