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“No Need to Build The Donald’s Wall, It’s Built”

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TODD MILLER, toddmemomiller[at]gmail.com, @memomiller
Miller, author of Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Homeland Security, just wrote the piece “No Need to Build The Donald’s Wall, It’s Built,” for TomDispatch.com.

The piece states: “Donald Trump’s United States doesn’t await his presidency. It’s already laid out before us, and one place it’s happening every single day is in Tucson, only seven blocks from my house.” The piece tells the story of Ignacio Sarabia, who tells the judge that he was trying to visit his infant son, who is about to have heart surgery and is a U.S. citizen.

Writes Miller: “Twenty-one years before Trump’s wall-building promise (and seven years before the 9/11 attacks), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began to replace the chain link fence that separated Nogales, Sonora, in Mexico from Nogales, Arizona, in the United States with a wall built of rusty landing mats from the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars. … In 1994, the threat wasn’t ‘terrorism.’ In part, the call for more hardened, militarized borders came in response, among other things, to a never-ending drug war. It also came from U.S. officials who anticipated the displacement of millions of Mexicans after the implementation of the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which, ironically, was aimed at eliminating barriers to trade and investment across North America. …

“Over the next 20 years, that border apparatus would expand exponentially in terms of personnel, resources, and geographic reach, but the central strategy of the 1990s (labeled ‘Prevention Through Deterrence’) remained the same. The ever-increasing border policing and militarization funneled desperate migrants into remote locations like the Arizona desert where temperatures can soar to 120 degrees in the summer heat. … More than 6,000 remains [of dead people] have been found in the desert borderlands of the United States. Hundreds of families continue to search for disappeared loved ones. …

“Although wall construction began during Bill Clinton’s administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) built most of the approximately 700 miles of fencing after the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed. At the time, Senator Hillary Clinton voted in favor of that Republican-introduced bill, along with 26 other Democrats. ‘I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in,’ she commented at one 2015 campaign event, ‘and I do think you have to control your borders.’ …

“If the comprehensive immigration reform that Hillary Clinton pledges to introduce as president is based on the already existing bipartisan Senate package, as has been indicated, then this corporate-enforcement landscape will be significantly bolstered and reinforced. There will be 19,000 more Border Patrol agents in roving patrols throughout ‘border enforcement jurisdictions’ that extend up to 100 miles inland. More F-150 trucks and all-terrain vehicles will rumble through and, at times, tear up the desert. There will be more Blackhawk helicopters, flying low, their propellers dusting groups of scattering migrants, many of them already lost in the vast, parched desert. …

“On the surface, there are important differences between Clinton’s and Trump’s immigration platforms. Trump’s wildly xenophobic comments and declarations are well known, and Clinton claims that she will, among other things, fight for family unity for those forcibly separated by deportation and enact ‘humane’ immigration enforcement. Yet deep down, the policies of the two candidates are far more similar than they might at first appear.”

Miller’s past pieces include “Why Is an Israeli Defense Contractor Building a ‘Virtual Wall’ in the Arizona Desert?” for The Nation.

 

Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”

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FELICIA KORNBLUH, fkornbluh[atgmail.com, @vtfeminist
GWENDOLYN MINK, [available for a limited number of interviews] wendymink[at]gmail.com, @wendymink
Mink and Kornbluh are the authors of the forthcoming Ensuring Poverty: The History and Politics of Welfare Reform. They just wrote the piece “Time to End ‘Welfare as We Know It,'” which states: “Today, August 22, 2016, is the twentieth anniversary of the day President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which replaced the income safety net for poor single mothers and their children with temporary, disciplinary, punitive relief. While this so-called reform of welfare did reduce the welfare rolls, it did not stanch the poverty of single mothers or improve the well-being of their children. The failure of 1990s welfare reform to enhance economic security and opportunity is reason to dedicate this anniversary to rethinking and revising our national approach to poverty.

“It is time to end this version of ‘welfare as we know it’ by creating a system of income support that makes the dignity and equality of low income mothers a preeminent policy value, while respecting and supporting the role of caregiving in family well-being.

“Future policy should restore income support for low-income caregivers by renovating welfare policy in a way that restores the right of each caregiving parent to figure out her own balance between family work and wage work. We need not catalog here the numerous and familiar ways the key features of 1990s welfare reform — work requirements, time limits, family sanctions, fertility control pressures, and marriage promotion — suppress the economic empowerment and wellbeing of low-income single-mother families.

“The outsized rate of single mother poverty (nearly 40% in 2014) commands attention and warrants a transformation of welfare policy. Certainly such gendered economic proposals as have been embraced by Democrats — paid family leave, a higher minimum wage, equal pay, accessible child care — will aid lower income Americans, especially women. But labor market policies alone will not attenuate the economic precariousness of single mothers whose caregiving work in their own families is neither supported nor valued by the market or in politics.

“It would be a shame if the progressive energies unleashed in the 2016 election cycle landed us in the same old masculinist, middle-class rut of tying family wellbeing to the conditions of breadwinning alone. Democrats must pay attention not only to grievously poor wages and the lack of family-friendly employer policies. Care-conscious labor market policies need to be matched by care-conscious family policies that give economic support and credit to the care work performed disproportionately, though not only, by mothers.

“One bright spot in the Democratic conversation in 2016 has been both Clinton’s and Sanders’ unabashed support for imputing economic value to family caregiving in the algebra of social security benefits calculations: both candidates want to credit workers who take time out of the labor market to care for a child or sick adult so that they are not punished for, as Clinton puts it, ‘taking on the vital role of caregiver.’ This powerful acknowledgement of the irreducible importance of family care work should smooth the way to future policies that build upon the principle that poor mothers (and fathers) care, too.

“Looking forward, we call upon Democrats to pledge themselves to broaden both the feminism and the economic egalitarianism that were championed this primary season by stipulating an agenda to mitigate and reduce poverty. Centering a poverty agenda on the multiple inequalities endured by the worst-off women — poor single mothers, disproportionately of color — would start the process of undoing the damages wrought by the 1996 welfare law. It would also avoid the pitfalls of economic universalism that proceeds as though gender does not matter.”

Mink is the author of Welfare’s End, The Wages of Motherhood, and many other books and articles. Kornbluh is author of The Battle for Welfare Rights and many articles. Both were members of the Women’s Committee of One Hundred, a feminist mobilization for welfare justice.

Clinton Foundation’s Cynical Move

ClintonNPR reports: “Bill Clinton, Big Money To Leave Foundation If Hillary Clinton Is Elected.”

KEN SILVERSTEIN, [greater availability Saturday, Monday, and thereafter] 
ken.silverstein[at]gmail.com,
@kensilverstein1
Available for a very limited number of interviews Friday, Silverstein is a Washington, D.C. based investigative reporter. He wrote the piece “Shaky Foundations: The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends” for Harper’s Magazine. He just launched Washington Babylon, which features “shockingly true stories and political sleaze.” He is also a columnist for the New York Observer and a contributing editor to VICE.

Silverstein said today: “This move by the Clinton Foundation is an acknowledgement that they shouldn’t have done it in the first place. Further, it’s outrageous that they are saying they won’t take foreign money — if Hillary Clinton wins. So, they will keep taking it if she loses — perhaps to facilitate Chelsea Clinton’s political career?

“This is clearly a totally cynical political move. If Hillary Clinton wins, which seems incredibly likely now, the Clinton Foundation would have served its purpose. It helped portray them as do-gooders while they used it to solidify their corrupt brand of politics on the country and enriched their cronies.”

Silverstein has reported: “It is beyond dispute that former President Clinton has been directly involved in helping foundation donors and his personal cronies get rich. Even worse, it is beyond dispute that these very same donors and the Clintons’ political allies have won the focused attention of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton when she served as Secretary of State. Democrats and Clinton apologists will write these accusations off as conspiracy mongering and right-wing propaganda, but it’s an open secret to anyone remotely familiar with accounting and regulatory requirements for charities that the financial records are deliberately misleading. …

“[A] Canadian charity called the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership — which is run by one of Bill Clinton’s close friends, Frank Giustra — has been moving significant sums of money into the Clinton Foundation’s flagship in New York. There’s no way for the public to know precisely how much total money the CGEP has taken in over the years — or how much it has forwarded on to the Clinton Foundation — because, unlike in the United States, under Canadian non-profit law charities don’t need to report donors to tax authorities. Earlier this year, after being severely criticized by the Canadian press, the CGEP released the names of 24 of its donors, but more than 1,000 are still unknown. (CGEP wrote in an email that “going forward [it] will publicly disclose all future donors.”) …

“One money-laundering expert and former intelligence officer based in the Middle East — who had access to the foundation’s confidential banking information — told me that members of the royal family in Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, have donated money to the CGEP that has then been sluiced through to the Clinton Foundation. He told me that the CGEP has received money from corrupt officials in South Africa during the former regime of Jacob Zuma and from senior officials in Equatorial Guinea, one of the most brutal and crooked dictatorships in the world. ‘Equatorial Guinea doesn’t give to the Clinton Foundation in New York because it’s too embarrassing,’ he said. ‘They give the money anonymously in Canada and that buys them political protection in the United States. The Clinton Foundation is a professionally structured money-laundering operation.'”

How “Non-Opinion” Polls and Debate Commission Marginalize Independents

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SAM HUSSEINI, sam[at]votepact.org, @votepact
Husseini is the founder of VotePact.org, which encourages disenchanted Democrats and disenchanted Republicans to pair up and each vote for the candidates they genuinely want. He just wrote the piece “How Presidential ‘Non-Opinion’ Polls Drive Down Third Party Numbers and Facilitate Debate Exclusion,” which states: “This week, the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced what polls it will utilize in excluding candidates from its debates.

“The CPD says candidates like the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein must get 15 percent in polls conducted by ‘five national public opinion polling organizations’ — ABC/Washington Post, CBS/New York Times, CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News, and NBC/Wall Street Journal.

“Not only — as several have correctly argued — is the 15 percent threshold arbitrary and exclusionary, but these polls don’t actually ask voter preferences at all.

“They all ask ‘If the presidential election were being held today for whom would you vote?’ or some minor variation of that.

“Who you want or prefer and what you would do in the voting booth may be very different things. These ‘public opinion polls’ don’t actually measure opinion — they are a non-opinion polls. They ask a false hypothetical regarding a future action.

“A better public opinion question would be: ‘Who do you want to be president?’ or ‘Who would you prefer to be president?’ or ‘Who is your first choice to be president?’

“By contrast, the question that the CPD relies on from these media organizations — if held today, who would you vote for — is a tactical question. As has become increasingly clear, there are many people who would like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein to be president. However, many who fear Trump or Clinton are currently planning on voting for Clinton or Trump. …

“This is more egregious since the CPD has basically asked for the ‘who do you want/prefer to be president’ question to be used. When some suggested alternative criteria for inclusion in presidential debates, like if a majority wanted another candidate to be in the debates, the heads of the CPD rejected the effort. … Paul Kirk, the then-co-chair of the CPD (now co-chairman emeritus) and former head of the Democratic National Committee, said: ‘It’s a matter of entertainment vs. the serious question of who would you prefer to be president of the United States.’

“So for the Commission on Presidential Debates to fulfill the very criteria it has set for itself, the ‘serious question’ of ‘who would you prefer to be president’ needs to be the polling question used as the basis for inclusion in any debates that group sponsors.”

Husseini’s past pieces include: “#BernieAndBoom,” and “A Path out of the Reversible Straitjacket of the Political Duopoly.” He is also communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Trump, Clinton and Islamophobia

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said in a speech in Ohio on Monday: “In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today. I call it extreme vetting. … That is why one of my first actions as president will be to establish a commission on radical Islam … to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.”

ARUN KUNDNANI, arun[at]kundnani.org@ArunKundnani
Kundnani is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror and a lecturer at New York University. He said in an interview with The Real News: “What Trump is doing is really making much more explicit and overt with his rhetoric what is actually already by and large there in policy terms. I mean, talking about spotting the warning signs of radicalization — since 9/11 every law enforcement agency, immigration authorities, and so forth have been given training and so forth. In a very bogus — I mean, there is very little substance to these methodologies for spotting radicalization. But nevertheless they’re out there. They’ve been implemented for years. …

“After 9/11, we deported hundreds of thousands of people simply because they’re Muslim. We already put every mosque in the United States under surveillance simply for being a mosque. That atmosphere is already there.”

Kundnani recently wrote the piece “Why Hillary’s Neoconservative Foreign Policy Will Make The Problem of Islamophobia Worse,” which states: “It seems clear that Clinton will continue her war-mongering foreign policy if she is elected. She will almost certainly increase military action in Syria. Around 600 civilians have already been killed by coalition bombing over the last two years, including 163 children. With Clinton in the White House, many more civilians will be killed by the U.S. military in the Middle East, while the root causes of conflict will go unaddressed. Policy will be more aligned with the Netanyahu right-wing in Israel than it has been over the last eight years. Clinton personally intervened to ensure no criticisms of Israel were heard at the Democratic Party convention.

“The neoconservative Robert Kagan said of Clinton in 2014: ‘I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy. … If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue, it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.’ In other words, she will pursue a neoconservative foreign policy dressed up in the liberal vocabulary of humanitarian intervention. Little wonder that neoconservatives like Kagan have turned to support her instead of Trump, and as actively as possible — Kagan recently hosted a fundraiser for Clinton in Washington DC. …

“If the United States follows [Clinton’s] lead, acceptance of Muslims may be dependent on whether they seem as patriotic as the Khans. Those who dissent or criticize the U.S. government or Israel will continue to be treated as suspicious and disloyal. Viewed from this angle, Clinton’s embrace of patriotic Muslims like the Khans seems less about liberal principles and more about creating a PR image to deflect criticisms of U.S. foreign policy. That’s not treating Muslims as fellow citizens; it’s treating them as pawns on a geopolitical chessboard. Such positive images of Muslims may help stop Trump but they can also be used to strengthen the structures of anti-Muslim racism in domestic and foreign policy.”

The Solution for Aetna

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The Dallas Morning News reports: “Aetna is the latest health insurance provider to say it will stop offering plans on the Affordable Care Act’s health exchange marketplace next year.

“But even as federal officials maintain that there will be many affordable coverage options for most consumers, some rural Texas counties are more likely to feel the impact of dwindling options. …

“When for-profit insurers compete, there’s no way to guarantee everyone will get services, added Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, cofounder of Physicians for a National Health Program.

“‘It doesn’t work financially,’ said Woolhandler, whose group has long supported a single-payer system. ‘What you need is a situation like “Medicare for all” where there is no cherry-picking,’ she said.

“In the meantime, competitors can pull out of markets they deem unprofitable, leaving only one company standing.

“‘That’s not an option… it’s take it or leave it,’ says Woolhandler.”

Available for interviews:

STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER, M.D., himmelhandler[at]comcast.net,@pnhp
Dr. Woolhandler is the co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, She is a professor at City University of New York at Hunter College who sees patients in the South Bronx.

She said today: “Aetna and other insurance giants will only sell coverage to patients on whom they can make a profit. This is why we need to evict the insurance companies, and a enact non-profit, single-payer, Medicare-for-all program.”

The “Fraud” of Bipartisan Debates

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JEFF COHEN, jcohen[at]ithaca.edu, @Roots_Action
Cohen is co-founder of the online activism group RootsAction.org, which just launched a petition to open up the presidential debates to include four candidates. Cohen also founded the media watch group FAIR in 1986.

He just wrote the piece “TV Networks Should Open Up the Presidential Debates,” which states: “If ten major TV networks got together and decided to nationally televise a presidential debate restricted to Republican nominee Donald Trump and right-leaning Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, while barring other candidates including Democrat Hillary Clinton, it would be recognized as an act of media bias or exclusion.

“But what if the televised debates this fall are restricted to just Trump and Clinton? That, too, needs to be recognized as an intentional act of media exclusion. …

“Beginning in 1988, major TV networks granted journalistic control over the debates to a private organization with no official status: the Commission on Presidential Debates. The CPD is often called ‘nonpartisan.’ That’s absurdly inaccurate. ‘Bipartisan’ is the right adjective, as it has always carried out the joint will of the Republican and Democratic parties. (See George Farah’s meticulously reported book, No Debate.)

“The commission grew out of a deal cut in the 1980s by GOP and Democratic leaders. Today, even though the U.S. public largely distrusts the presidential candidates of the two major parties, TV networks seem willing to allow them to again dictate the terms of debate, including who gets to participate.”

Cohen gives a brief history of how the heads of the Democratic and Republican parties wrestled control of the presidential debates from the League of Women Voters, which had been independently organizing presidential debates; Cohen notes: “In 1988, with the CPD taking control of the debates on behalf of the two major parties, the League of Women Voters announced its withdrawal from any debate sponsorship ‘because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.'” Cohen is currently director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College.

PETE TUCKER, Pete[at]TheFightBack.org, @thefightback
Tucker is an independent D.C.-based journalist who writes at TheFightBack.org. He has recently written a series of pieces on presidential debates, including “How Presidential Debates Became ‘a Fraud on the American Voter ” and “How Third Parties Are Kept Out Of Presidential Debates“.

Beyond the Olympics: A “Crucial Time in Brazil”

"Stop the coup in Brazil. Get out Temer” in Portuguese

“Stop the coup in Brazil. Get out Temer” in Portuguese

The New York Times is reporting protests against Brazil’s Interim President, Michel Temer, at the Olympic Games.

MARIA LUISA MENDONCA,
[Currently in the U.S.],
marialuisam222[at]gmail.com

    Mendonça is director of Brazil’s Network for Social Justice and Human Rights. She is also a professor in the International Relations department at the University of Rio de Janeiro and the editor of the book Human Rights in Brazil.

    She said today: “As we see international attention to the Olympics in Brazil, it’s important to understand that the country is facing a parliamentary coup against President Dilma Rousseff, who was reelected in October of 2014, when the majority of Brazilians voted in favor of progressive policies that included increasing investments in education, health care, housing and other anti-poverty programs. Shortly after her reelection, some members of the opposition party started to question the election results and accused her of manipulating the state budget in order to pay for social programs. This argument was used to justify the impeachment process in Congress, although Rousseff is not accused of corruption.The financial mechanisms she used in the federal budget were also used by her predecessors, and if the same criteria were applied, 16 state governments would have to be impeached as well. A recent investigation by the Federal Prosecutor’s office concluded that President Rousseff was not personally responsible for the budget deficit, therefore confirming that this financial mechanism cannot be considered a crime. At the same time, the majority of Congress members who favor the impeachment face serious accusations of corruption.

    “Although the impeachment process has not been concluded and President Rousseff was only temporarily suspended, the interim president, Michel Temer, has been acting as if the elected president would not return to office, which undermines her right to fully defend her case. Only a few hours after taking power, Temer appointed a new cabinet composed only by white men. At least one third of the new ministers are currently under investigations of corruption. He also eliminated important institutions, such as the Ministries of Culture, of Women, of Human Rights and Racial Equality, of Agriculture Development, among others.

    “The interim government is implementing policies that were rejected by the majority of Brazilian voters — cutting investments in social programs, including education, housing and health care, which have been essential to economic growth, political stability and social mobility in Brazil. Another major concern is the proposed changes in labor laws that would violate workers’ rights. Undermining democracy in Brazil would have a negative impact for the whole Hemisphere.”

Note: In the U.S., this Congressional letter to Secretary of State Kerry has 43 signatures: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Brazil%20Letter%20Final%20PDF_0.pd

Report: “Failing to Address the Status Quo Will Drive the Racial Wealth Divide for Centuries to Come”

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A new report on the nation’s growing racial wealth divide was released on Monday by the Institute for Policy Studies, editors of www.inequality.org, and Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED).

DEDRICK ASANTE-MUHAMMAD, dasantemuhammad@CFED.org @DedrickM
CHUCK COLLINS chuckcollins7@me.com
Muhammad is the director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at the Corporation for Enterprise Development and the author of “African-American Economic Inequality: A Twenty-First Century Challenge” within What It’s Worth: Strengthening the Financial Future of Families, Communities and the Nation. Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and long-time inequality activist.

The report is called The Ever-Growing Gap: Failing to Address the Status Quo Will Drive the Racial Wealth Divide for Centuries to Come . The report release coincides with the 2nd anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, MO. police officer, which spawned the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for racial justice across all segments of society. Here’s a summary of key findings within the report:

 

  • “If current federal wealth-building policies remain in place, it will take the average African-American family 228 years to amass the same amount of wealth that white families have today and it will take Latino families 84 years to reach that goal.

 

  • “By 2043, when households of color will constitute a majority of the U.S. population, the racial wealth divide between white households and African- American and Latino households will have doubled from about $500,000 in 2013 to $1 million.

 

  • “The Forbes 400 will see their average wealth skyrocket to $48 billion by 2043—more than eight times the amount they hold today. During that same period, the average wealth for white families will increase by 84% to $1.2 million compared to $165,000 for Latino families (69% growth) and $108,000 for African-American households (27% growth).”

CFED and IPS call for a range of reforms to address the problem, including fixing an “upside down” tax system that currently doles out more than half a trillion dollars annually to help primarily wealthy households get wealthier, while providing almost nothing to lower-income households.

U.S. Bombing Libya May Destabilize Tunisia

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VIJAY PRASHAD,
Vijay.Prashad[at]trincoll.edu,
@vijayprashad
Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter.

See Prashad’s article It’s Bombs Away for the USA in Libya,” on AlterNet.

“The United States returned to aerial bomb Libya. The target is Islamic State (IS) positions in the north-central city of Sirte. IS has held Sirte and its surrounding areas since last year. Sirte is the birthplace of Muammar Qaddafi, who was also killed there. After the fall of the Qaddafi government, this central Libyan town languished. …”

“Will the airstrikes actually degrade and destroy the Islamic State? It is not merely the Islamic State that is Libya’s problem. Airstrikes such as this will only move these fighters to other locations — to Tunisia, for instance, or to Benghazi. They will continue to be a serious problem in North Africa. Indeed, if they return to Tunisia, they will bring great peril to that country, which has only just seen its head of government lose a vote of no-confidence. In March, the Tunisian town of Ben Guerdane, on the Libyan border, saw virulent clashes between IS and the Tunisian army.”

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