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Jahanshah Javid

Age: 56 |

Birth City: آبادان |

Joined on October 02, 2012

Call the police

Cartoon by Michael Ramirez

Black men arrested at Philadelphia Starbucks feared for their lives 

The Guardian: Two black men arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks said they were just waiting for a business meeting – and a week later still wonder how that could have escalated into a police encounter that left them fearing for their lives.

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson spoke to the Associated Press in their first interview since video of their 12 April arrests went viral.

Robinson said he thought about his loved ones and how the afternoon had taken such a turn as he was taken to jail. Nelson wondered if he would make it home alive.

“Anytime I’m encountered by cops, I can honestly say it’s a thought that runs through my mind,” Nelson said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

The arrests, recorded on a white customer’s cellphone video, galvanized people around the country who saw the exchange as an example of racism.

The men have met with the CEO of Starbucks and are pushing for meaningful change so what happened to them does not happen to anyone else.

Police this week released a recording of the call from the Starbucks employee that led to the arrest. In it, a woman is heard saying the men refused to “make a purchase or leave”.

Starbucks has promised to shut all 8,000 company-owned stores across the US on 29 May to train employees about unconscious bias.

Nelson initially brushed it off when the Starbucks manager told him he couldn’t use the restroom because he wasn’t a paying customer.

He thought nothing of it when he and Robinson, his business partner, were approached at their table and were asked if they needed help. The 23-year-old entrepreneurs declined, explaining they were just waiting for a business meeting.

A few minutes later, they hardly noticed when the police walked into the coffee shop until officers started walking in their direction.

“That’s when we knew she called the police on us,” Nelson said.

Nelson and Robinson, black men who became best friends in the fourth grade, were taken in handcuffs from the Starbucks in Philadelphia’s tony Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, where Robinson has been a customer since he was 15 >>>

Syria Showdown

Cartoon by Amos Biderman

This Is Not a Drill: Syria Showdown Could Spark Israeli-Iranian and U.S.-Russian Clashes 

Haaretz: This is not a drill, as Prime Minister Netanyahu made clear to his cabinet colleagues on Wednesday. The situation in Israel’s north is tense and explosive. After seven years of horrid civil war, Syria is turning into a confrontation zone between Israel and Iran, on the regional level, and Russia and the West, on the global level. The expected American retaliation for the chemical weapon attack carried out last weekend at Douma can start a chain reaction that could lead to escalation, if not conflagration.

Russia’s tone has changed. Moscow has uncharacteristically and harshly chastised Israel for its bombing of the suspected Iranian installation in Syria’s T-4 air base near Palmyra. The Kremlin has unusually and pointedly warned the United States not to carry out a punitive raid against its client Syria, explicitly threatening to intercept U.S. missiles.

Such challenges, even if only meant as bluster, can easily turn into self-fulfilling ultimatums that obligate Vladimir Putin to act.

Iran hopes to capitalize on the newfound Russian bellicosity. Just as a diplomatic deal between Washington and Moscow on Syria’s future would necessarily include severe limitations on the Iranian presence in Syria, tensions if not open hostility between the two powers could provide a cover for Iran to accelerate its efforts to entrench its forces and militias wherever possible. Putin’s natural inclination to rein in Iranian activities in Syria could be offset by his wish to poke Washington in the eye in response to a possible U.S. strike on Syria. And Tehran, one assumes, would be delighted to provoke an Israeli-Russian confrontation.

Israel, for its part, has stated and restated that Iranian expansion into Syria is a red line that should not be crossed. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel would act against Iranian infringements, as it reportedly has in the bombing of T-4, “no matter what the price.” Netanyahu is certainly wary of exacerbating tensions with Moscow but is unlikely to back away from his defense minister’s threats. And in a faceoff between Putin and Donald Trump, Netanyahu will no doubt side with the latter and thus potentially infuriate the former. Future Israeli incursions into Syria could very well meet a far more dangerous Russian response.

Syrian President Assad should be the last person interested in turning Syria into a battleground for outside powers. He is about to emerge victorious from a deadly 7-year challenge that was supposed to finish him off, and to start rebuilding his country and reconsolidating his grip on power. Then again, Assad may no longer be the restrained and calculating leader he was thought to be before he managed to turn the tables on his formidable adversaries. His alleged decision to launch a major chemical attack, which he must have known would lead to international outrage - in a region that was about to fall to his forces anyway - may indicate that Assad’s triumph has gone to his head.

Turkey is its own basket case. Ankara detests Assad and is also opposed to Iranian expansion, but its overriding interest is to contain and control rebellious Kurds in northern Syria and western Iraq. To this end, Turkish leader Tayip Erdogan has cultivated ties to Putin, despite their apparently conflicting objectives and interests in Syria. If hostilities break out, Turkey could find itself caught in the crossfire, even if it is simply trying to sit on the fence while whacking the Kurds when no one is looking.

Which brings us to the known unknown, Donald Trump, the joker in the pack. His statements and tweets leave no doubt that the U.S. intends to strike Syria very soon, with or without allies. Trump and his advisers certainly view the nerve gas attack at Douma as a direct challenge and provocation to the United States that mandates a forceful response. Suspicious minds in Washington are also concerned, however, that Trump might use the cover of tensions with Syria, Iran and Russia to carry out his long sought goal of dismissing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a wish made doubly fervent by the recent FBI raid on the offices of his lawyer and confidant, Michael Cohen. Trump’s flippant and arrogant Wednesday morning challenge to Moscow – “Get ready Russia, because [the missiles] will be coming, nice and new and “smart!””| - does not inspire confidence in the ability of the leader of the Western world to navigate the treacherous minefield awaiting him with discretion and cool-headedness >>>

The End

Cartoon by Glenn McCoy

How Syria’s Death Toll Is Lost in the Fog of War

The New York Times: In seven years, the casualties of Syria’s civil war have grown from the first handful of protesters shot by government forces to hundreds of thousands of dead.

But as the war has dragged on, growing more diffuse and complex, many international monitoring groups have essentially stopped counting.

Even the United Nations, which released regular reports on the death toll during the first years of the war, gave its last estimate in 2016 — when it relied on 2014 data, in part — and said that it was virtually impossible to verify how many had died.

At that time, a United Nations official said 400,000 people had been killed.

But so many of the biggest moments of the war have happened since then. In the past two years, the government of President Bashar al-Assad, with Russia’s help, laid siege to residential areas of Aleppo, once the country’s second-largest city, and several other areas controlled by opposition groups, leveling entire neighborhoods. Last weekend, dozens of people died in a suspected chemical attack on a Damascus suburb.

American-led forces bombed the Islamic State in large patches of eastern Syria, in strikes believed to have left thousands dead. And dozens of armed groups, including fighters backed by Iran, have continued to clash, creating a humanitarian catastrophe that the world is struggling to measure.

Historically, these numbers matter, experts say, because they can have a direct impact on policy, accountability and a global sense of urgency. The legacy of the Holocaust has become inextricably linked with the figure of six million Jews killed in Europe. The staggering death toll of the Rwandan genocide — one million Tutsis killed in 100 days — is seared into the framework of that nation’s reconciliation process.

Without a clear tally of the deaths, advocates worry that the conflict will simply grind on indefinitely, without a concerted international effort to end it.

“We know from conflicts around the world that we can’t have any sustainable peace if we don’t have accountability,” said Anna Nolan, director of The Syria Campaign, a human rights advocacy group. “The most critical thing to understand in that situation is who is being killed and who is doing that killing, and without that information we can’t expect the people involved in resolving this conflict to come to the right decisions.”

Meanwhile, local monitoring groups keep the best estimates they can.

Fadel Abdul Ghany, the founder of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, said there were “tens of incidents daily” that raise the death toll, and that monitoring was needed to one day hold perpetrators accountable for potential war crimes.

Despite the challenges of access and verification, he sees value in the assessment his group makes, even though he knows they are not perfect.

“This work, what we are doing, we are doing this mainly for our people, for our community, for history itself,” Mr. Ghany said. “So we are recording these reports in order to say, on this day, in 2018, these people have been killed and because of this, and in this area.”

He believes figures will be vital if peace comes to his country in establishing transitional justice >>>


Cartoon by Clay Bennett

This was not just any search warrant

The Washington Post: When your lawyers need lawyers, it’s usually a bad sign. When your lawyers have their offices and homes raided, it’s a really bad sign. News that federal investigators on Monday took the extraordinary step of executing a search warrant at the legal office of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, indicates that Cohen is suddenly in serious legal jeopardy of his own. And although the investigation is not directly related to the Mueller probe, it’s yet another example of the legal walls closing in on one of the people closest to Trump — someone who may have a wealth of information about the president’s own conduct.

The FBI executed the search warrants at Cohen’s New York office and his home and hotel room. The warrants were obtained by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. According to a statement from Cohen’s attorney, prosecutors informed him their investigation is, “in part,” based on a referral from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The first thing to note about this striking development is that the warrant was not obtained by Mueller himself. Whatever the subject matter of this particular investigation, it apparently falls outside of Mueller’s jurisdiction and thus resulted in his referral to the New York prosecutors. So we know the potential crimes that led to the search today do not directly relate to Mueller’s inquiry into any conspiracy with Russians to influence the election or related crimes such as obstruction of the special counsel’s investigation.

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, is under federal investigation. The Washington Post’s Tom Hamburger explains what you need to know. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

We also know that a search warrant, unlike a grand jury subpoena, requires prosecutors to go before a federal judge to demonstrate probable cause that a crime has been committed and evidence of that crime can be found in the premises to be searched. Before approving a search of a lawyer’s office, a judge would want to be satisfied that there was some substance behind the prosecutors’ allegations. This is not just some prosecutorial fishing expedition; it bears the imprimatur of a federal judge.

We don’t know for certain the nature of the Southern District’s investigation. The potential crime outside of Mueller’s jurisdiction to which Cohen has been linked most directly relates to the $130,000 payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels just days before the presidential election. If Cohen made that payment himself or facilitated the payment from another individual or company, it could be deemed an illegal contribution to Trump’s campaign. There could be other alleged offenses, such as tax or bank fraud violations, surrounding any such payments as well. Or there could be other non-Stormy-Daniels-related allegations about Cohen’s conduct that have not yet surfaced publicly.

This was not just any search warrant; that the raid took place at a lawyer’s office further highlights the seriousness of the investigation. Searches of an attorney’s office are extremely rare and are not favored, due to their potential to impinge on the attorney-client relationship. Prosecutors must jump through multiple hoops to get such a warrant approved, both within their own office and at the criminal division of Main Justice. (Notably, this would likely have included approval by Trump’s own guy, the new interim U.S. attorney for the Southern District, Geoffrey S. Berman, who was just appointed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions this past January.)

Prosecutors are also required to consider less intrusive alternatives to a search warrant, such as a subpoena, if practical. Approval of a search warrant suggests prosecutors were able to demonstrate not only the gravity of the potential case but also the risk that evidence might be destroyed or otherwise go missing if they pursued a less aggressive option >>>

Chemical Assad

Cartoon by Bob Gorrell

Douma inhabitants prepare to leave after deadly chemical attack

The Guardian: Rebel fighters and civilians have begun preparing to leave the besieged town of Douma near the Syrian capital of Damascus after a chemical weapons attack over the weekend killed dozens and drew worldwide condemnation.

Buses expected to transport local rebels and residents to their forced exile in northern Syria began arriving in the early hours of Monday, after negotiators announced a deal had been reached in the immediate aftermath of the suspected toxic gas attack, which killed at least 42 people.

“I am leaving tomorrow, God willing, because our mission has ended,” said a paramedic who treated the chemical attack victims. “I am saying thank God that the mass killings are over, but I am saddened that I will leave my land and my people, possibly never to return. But I will leave knowing that I gave everything I could until the end.

“I will take the memories of my home that was bombed and some photographs. All I will carry is two suitcases, but in my mind and my memory is so much of what we lived through.”

Douma is home to more than 100,000 civilians, according to UN estimates. It is the largest town in eastern Ghouta, a region that was once the breadbasket of the Damascus region but has been besieged for years by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Tens of thousands of people have already fled other parts of Ghouta after a two-month bombardment that has killed nearly 2,000, and other rebel groups have agreed to surrender deals that allow their exile to northern Syria.

A similar deal for Douma had foundered in recent days over the insistence of the local rebel group, Jaish al-Islam, that it wanted to stay in the city.

But after the alleged chemical attack, which followed an intense bombardment that began on Friday and appeared aimed at forcing a deal, negotiators said they had reached an agreement that would allow the exile of fighters and those who wish to leave from among the civilians.

Under the terms of the deal, those who choose to stay behind are supposed to be protected by Russia from prosecution and will reconcile with the Assad regime, and will not be called upon to do mandatory military service for six months. Russian military police are supposed to deploy in Douma to act as a guarantor of the agreement.

Civilians and fighters are expected to be transported to Jarablus, a town near the Turkish border that is controlled by Ankara-backed rebel fighters who reclaimed it from Islamic State last year. Similar forced displacement deals have taken place all over Syria.

“I am now spending my last farewell moments with my city, Douma, and I am leaving it hoping to return one day,” said an activist who planned to leave on Tuesday aboard the buses. “The bombing and destruction that we lived through for seven years has been concluded. All the masks have fallen. We only left to save those who remained from the women and children >>>


Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Oklahoma education is not OK

The Messenger: While lawmakers in Oklahoma have prioritized everything from prisons to oil over education, teachers and students have suffered. They’ve had enough. Some have quit, some have moved, and some are choosing to fight to make their profession, and the lives of the kids, better. Everything takes money, and what better thing to spend money on than the future of your state? >>>

Trump Wall

Cartoon by Marian Kamensky

'If our countries were safe, we wouldn't leave': the harsh reality of Mexico's migrant caravan 

As Donald Trump decries an ‘invasion’ and sends troops to the border, David Agren speaks to Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence

The Guardian: A Central American man taking part in the ‘Migrant Via Crucis’ caravan, which travels the length of Mexico to the US and often raises awareness of the plight of migrants. Photograph: Victoria Razo/AFP/Getty Images

Swaying on a swing in a park teeming with Central American migrants in southern Mexico, Henry Juárez hardly looks like an invader ready to rush the US border – and certainly not an enemy the national guard forces being sent to the southern frontier by Donald Trump would have trouble stopping.

A slight 16-year-old with copper streaks in his hair wearing a singlet, sandals and baggy pants, he hit the perilous road through Mexico last month after seven gangbangers burst into his home in El Salvador, put a pistol in his face and threatened to kill him and his family if he didn’t make an extortion payment of $100 (£71).

“I was going to stay in my own country. I had a good job,” said Juárez, who had worked for a company installing utility poles. “But they were asking me for money that I didn’t have.”

Juárez was among the more than 1,000 Central Americans trying to reach the United States in the annual “Stations of the Cross Caravan”. The caravan travels the length of Mexico and often raises awareness of the plight of migrants, who flee poverty and violence in some of the most murderous countries in the world and are robbed, kidnapped and raped on their perilous paths through the country.

But the caravan become controversial this year after conservative media in the US called it an “invasion”. Trump deemed it a threat to American national security and announced plans to send the national guard to protect the US border.

This year’s caravan stalled after a spate of Trump tweets in the dilapidated railway town of Matías Romero on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, some 650km southeast of Mexico City and thousands of kilometres more from its final destination of Tijuana, while organizers and Mexican immigration officials started talking.

Many of the migrants arrived penniless in a public park. They walked, hitchhiked, stole rides atop freight trains and climbed aboard empty lories after setting out from the Guatemala border in search of safety or a better lot in life.

Juárez didn’t eat for days and wore out a pair of sneakers on the 425km trek through southern Mexico. He started peddling single cigarettes – five packs a day, he boasts – to finance his trip.

He had heard of Trump’s tweets, but didn’t seem impressed, quipping: “This cabrón [bastard] says he’s going to kill all the migrants with nuclear weapons. He’s loco.”

Trump originally demanded Mexico stop the caravan, while decrying lax immigration enforcement south of the border, even though Mexico annually detains and deports tens of thousands of Central Americans.

On Thursday, he claimed victory, tweeting: “The caravan is largely broken up thanks to the strong immigration laws of Mexico and their willingness to use them so as not to cause a giant scene at our Border.” He added: “Because of the Trump Administrations actions, Border crossings are at a still UNACCEPTABLE 46 year low. Stop drugs!”

As with many of Trump’s tweets, the facts remain uncertain.

Some observers suspect the president’s tweets were timed to have an impact on his administration’s negotiations with Mexico and Canada over the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) – especially as Mexico seems anxious to do a deal prior to its 1 July presidential election >>>

Not a target

Cartoon by A.F. Branco

Witness in Mueller Inquiry Who Advises U.A.E. Ruler Also Has Ties to Russia

The New York Times: A witness who is cooperating in the special counsel investigation, George Nader, has connections to both the Persian Gulf states and Russia and may have information that links two important strands of the inquiry together, interviews and records show.

Mr. Nader’s ties to the United Arab Emirates are well documented — he is an adviser to its leader — but the extent of his links to Russia had not been previously disclosed.

Mr. Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, has a catalog of international connections that paved the way for numerous meetings with White House officials that have drawn the attention of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. For example, Mr. Nader used his longstanding ties to Kirill Dmitriev, the manager of a state-run Russian investment fund, to help set up a meeting in the Seychelles between Mr. Dmitriev and a Trump adviser days before Donald J. Trump took office.

Separately, investigators have asked witnesses about a meeting Mr. Nader attended in 2017 with a New York hedge fund manager, where he was joined by Jared Kushner and Stephen K. Bannon, who at the time were both senior advisers to Mr. Trump.

The investigative trail even led Mr. Mueller’s team to stop an Australian entrepreneur with ties to the U.A.E. after he landed at a Washington-area airport, according to people briefed on the matter. The investigators questioned the entrepreneur about Mr. Nader, including Mr. Nader’s relationship with Russia and his contacts with Mr. Trump’s advisers, as well as the movement of money from the U.A.E. into the United States.

Mr. Nader has received at least partial immunity for his cooperation, and it appears unlikely that Mr. Mueller is trying to build a case against him. Instead, it is common for prosecutors to interview as many people as possible to corroborate the testimony of a key witness like Mr. Nader.

Mr. Nader’s dealings with Russia date at least to 2012, when he helped broker a controversial $4.2 billion deal for the government of Iraq to buy Russian weapons. At the time, he was an informal adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq, and he accompanied Mr. Maliki to Moscow in September 2012 to sign the arms deal at a meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Mr. Nader’s role in the deal was earlier reported by Al-Monitor.

The deal was canceled shortly after because of concerns about corruption, and a spokesman for the prime minister said it would be renegotiated.

Earlier that year, Mr. Nader also attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, an invitation-only conference organized by senior officials close to Mr. Putin that Russia presents as its answer to the World Economic Forum held annually in Davos, Switzerland. Mr. Nader is on a list of participants from 2012. Representatives of the St. Petersburg forum did not respond to inquiries about his attendance in subsequent years.

Since then, according to people familiar with his travels, Mr. Nader has returned frequently to Russia on behalf of the Emirati government. He even had his picture taken with Mr. Putin, according to one person who has seen the photograph, although it is unclear when the picture was taken.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, the de facto ruler of the U.A.E., is a close ally of the United States and a frequent visitor to the White House. He has also visited Moscow and met with Mr. Putin several times in recent years. One person briefed on the matter said Mr. Nader had accompanied the crown prince to Moscow on numerous occasions.

Last year, days before Mr. Trump took office, Mr. Nader helped set up a meeting at a Seychelles resort between Mr. Dmitriev, Emirati officials and Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater Worldwide and an adviser to Mr. Trump’s transition team. The meeting, at the bar of a Four Seasons Hotel overlooking the Indian Ocean, was brokered in part to explore the possibility of a back channel for discussions between the Trump administration and the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Such contacts are at the heart of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, and his investigators have repeatedly used aggressive tactics to press witnesses. About four weeks ago, F.B.I. agents working with Mr. Mueller’s team stopped a Russian oligarch at a New York-area airport, questioned him about his dealings with Mr. Trump and seized his electronics, according to a person familiar with the matter, which was first reported by CNN.

Mr. Mueller’s investigators have asked multiple witnesses about the Seychelles meeting, part of a broader line of inquiry surrounding contacts between Emirati advisers and Trump administration officials. They have also pressed for details about a meeting Mr. Nader attended in New York in early 2017 with Mr. Kushner and Mr. Bannon with the hedge fund manager Richard Gerson, a friend of Mr. Kushner’s and the founder of Falcon Edge Capital.

Mr. Mueller’s particular interest in that meeting is unclear, although Mr. Gerson has had business dealings with the court of the U.A.E.’s Prince Mohammed. Mr. Gerson has developed relations with several senior Emirati officials over the years, including with Prince Mohammed himself, and he has often sought investments from Emirati state funds >>>

China’s Retaliation

Cartoon by Tom Curry

China’s trade retaliation rattles global markets

Financial Times: China’s planned retaliation to the string of tariffs imposed by the US hit global markets on Wednesday, knocking everything from German stocks to soyabeans, as the spectre of a trade war intensified.

Wall Street is poised to open sharply lower after Beijing announced it will impose tariffs on 106 US products ranging from soyabeans to cars. China’s move came less than 24 hours after the Trump administration said it would levy tariffs on 1,300 Chinese-made goods.

Just weeks after the stock market cheered Mr Trump for cutting corporate taxes, investors are quickly trying to calibrate how significant a threat the deterioration in US-China relations poses to the global economy. Analysts say it is one factor that has brought volatility back to a stock market that was unusually becalmed in 2017.

“A sharp initial sell-off in the industries most exposed to these products notwithstanding, investors will digest the news with more nuanced reaction as the measures evolve,” said Tai Hui, chief market strategist for Asia Pacific, JPMorgan Asset Management. “The largest concern remains whether this trade tension could further escalate.”

Shortly after the announcement on China’s CCTV, Germany’s Xetra Dax index — often viewed as a proxy for global trade because of its heavy weighting of exporters — fell more than 1.5 per cent. Beijing’s threat to impose tariffs on US automobiles sent the Euro Stoxx 600 Auto&Parts index down 1 per cent, with Milan-listed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles falling as much as 2.4 per cent.

After staging a bounce on Tuesday, futures suggest the equity market will fall on Wednesday with the S&P 500 poised to open 1.4 per cent lower and the Dow Jones Industrial Average set for a 1.8 per cent decline. Aeroplane maker Boeing was among the steepest fallers, with futures pointing to a 5 per cent tumble.

Away from equity markets, soyabeans were one of the most sharply affected as traders reacted to the surprise decision to target the soft commodity. The US farming sector relies heavily on soyabean sales to China — they account for almost 60 per cent of US agricultural exports to the country. Soyabeans fell as much as 4 per cent to below $10 a bushel, while corn declined more than 3 per cent and wheat slipped 2 per cent.

Emerging market currencies were also unsettled as investors shunned risk. South Africa’s rand and Turkey’s lira fell about 0.7 per cent apiece against the dollar. There was also pressure on Russia’s rouble and Mexico’s peso.

The oil price was also swept up in the wider fears about what deepening trade tension mean for global growth. Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell $1.15 a barrel to $66.97 while US marker West Texas Intermediate declined $1.13 a barrel to $62.39.

Although the immediate reaction on Wednesday was fearful, investors and analysts said significant questions remained over whether China and the US will follow through with the decision to impose tariffs.

“History suggests negotiation is likely to follow, which would provide some much needed short-term relief to investors and allow them to focus back on economic and corporate fundamentals, which are still in decent shape,” said Mr Hui of JPMorgan Asset Management. “This Sino-US trade tension could go through several rounds in coming years.”

Beijing’s decision to impose tariffs on soyabeans is likely to hit Chinese buyers and consumers who will ultimately pay more for pork and chicken >>>

Antisemitism row

Cartoon by Peter Brookes

Pressure on UK Labor Party leader as antisemitism row continues

The Independent: Labour has denied that thousands of members quitting the party is a response Jeremy Corbyn's response to the Salisbury nerve agent attack and his handling of antisemitism in the party.

A leaked report suggests 17,000 people have left the party since the start of the year - amounting to three per cent of the total membership.

Hundreds have resigned over the crisis engulfing the party and many more have not renewed their direct debits, according to internal figures seen by The Times.

However, Labour sources insisted the drop was not related to Mr Corbyn's recent controversies. The party gives members six months to pay membership arrears, meaning the majority of those whose subscriptions lapsed in the last few months actually stopped paying fees last year.

They said the leaked data does not include last week, when the latest row about antisemitism in Labour erupted, and is in keeping with other equivalent periods.

A spokesperson said: "Labour's membership is well over half a million and in fine health. The latest data has been misrepresented in this story.”

Labour's membership reached a peak of 570,000 after the general election but now appears to be falling.

According to the leaked report, no region in England reported a rise in party members since the start of 2018. London lost 3,500 members in the last three months, and the North West reported a fall of 2,000.

Meanwhile the Corbyn-supporting campaign group Momentum has claimed that it added 600 members in the past week.

The latest row erupted after it emerged Mr Corbyn had previously objected to the removal of an east London mural that depicted wealthy Jews playing Monopoly on the backs of workers.

Facing mounting criticism over his response, the Labour leader admitted there were "pockets" of antisemitism in the party and apologised for the "pain and hurt" caused to Jewish people >>>