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Top Republicans Rub Shoulders With Extremists In Secretive Rightwing Groups

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Top Republicans rub shoulders with extremists in secretive rightwing group, leak reveals

A leaked document has revealed the membership list of the secretive Council for National Policy (CNP), showing how it provides opportunities for elite Republicans, wealthy entrepreneurs, media proprietors and pillars of the US conservative movement to rub shoulders with anti-abortion and anti-Islamic extremists.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors rightwing hate groups, describes the CNP as “a shadowy and intensely secretive group [which] has operated behind the scenes” in its efforts to “build the conservative movement”.

The leaked membership list dates from September last year, and reveals the 40-year-old CNP put influential Trump administration figures alongside leaders of organizations that have been categorized as hate groups.

The group was founded in 1981 by activists influential in the Christian right, including Tim LaHaye, Howard Phillips and Paul Weyrich, who had also been involved in founding and leading the Moral Majority. Initially they were seeking to maximize their influence on the new Reagan administration. In subsequent years, CNP meetings have played host to presidential aspirants like George W Bush and 1999 and Mitt Romney in 2007, and sitting presidents including Donald Trump in 2020.

In videos obtained by the Washington Post in 2020, the CNP executive committee chairman, Bill Walton, told attendees of the upcoming election: “This is a spiritual battle we are in. This is good versus evil.”

The CNP is so secretive, according to reports, that its members are instructed not to reveal their affiliation or even name the group.

Heidi Beirich, of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, said in an email that “this new CNP list makes clear that the group still serves as a key venue where mainstream conservatives and extremists mix”, adding that CNP “clearly remains a critical nexus for mainstreaming extremism from the far right into conservative circles”.

The document – which reveals email addresses and phone numbers for most members – shows that the CNP includes members of SPLC-listed hate groups.

They include leaders of organizations listed as anti-Muslim hate groups, including:

  • Frank Gaffney, founder and executive chairman of the Center for Security Policy (CSP)
  • Brigitte Gabriel, founder and chairman of Act For America (AFA)

They also include several founders or leaders of groups listed anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups, such as:

  • Michael P Farris, president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)
  • Brad Dacus, founder and president of the Pacific Justice Institute
  • Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council
  • Matthew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel
  • Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association

Also, there are members of organizations listed as anti-immigrant hate groups, including James and Amapola Hansberger, co-founders of Legal Immigrants For America (Lifa).

Additionally, the list includes members of groups that have been accused of extremist positions on abortion. They include Margaret H Hartshorn, chair of the board of Heartbeat International, which has reportedly spread misinformation worldwide to pregnant women.

Several high-profile figures associated with the Trump administration, or conspiracy-minded characters in Trump’s orbit, are also on the list, such as Jerome R Corsi, who has written conspiracy-minded books about John Kerry, Barack Obama and the September 11 attacks. Corsi is listed as a member of CNP’s board of governors.

Along with these representatives of extremist positions, the CNP rolls include members of ostensibly more mainstream conservative groups, and representatives of major American corporations. Other still come from the Republican party, a network of rightwing activist organizations, and the companies and foundations that back them.

A newcomer to the group since a previous version of the member list was exposed is Charlie Kirk, founder and president of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a conservative youth organization.

Although TPUSA works hard to make inroads into mainstream culture with stunts and on-campus events, Kirk has recently staked out more hard-right positions, saying recently that Democratic immigration policies were aimed at “diminishing and decreasing white demographics in America”, a day after Tucker Carlson ventilated racist “great replacement” conspiracy theories on his Fox News program.

The CNP is so secretive, reports say, that members are told not to reveal their affiliation or name the group

Conservative movement heavyweights in the group include Lisa B Nelson, chief executive of the American Legislative Exchange Council; Eugene Mayer, president of the Federalist Society; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Return; Daniel Schneider, executive director of the American Conservative Union, which organizes the CPac conference; and L Brent Bozell III, the founder of the Media Research Center and a member of the Bozell and Buckley dynasties of conservative activists.

Other members include pillars of the Republican political establishment, including former GOP congressional majority leader, Tom DeLay; former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker; Reagan administration attorney general Edwin Meese III; and former RNC chair and Trump White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Their number also includes sitting congressmen such as Barry Loudermilk and influential operatives like David Trulio, who was the senior adviser and chief of staff to the under-secretary of defense in the Trump administration.

The member list also includes representatives of major US corporations, such as Marc Johansen, vice-president for the satellites and intelligence program for Boeing; Jeffrey Coors, of the Coors brewing family, who have extensively sponsored conservative groups; Lee Roy Mitchell, the founder and chairman of the board for movie chain owner Cinemark Holdings; Steve Forbes, the founder and chief executive of the Forbes business media empire; and Scott Brown, a senior vice-president at Morgan Stanley.

Other members of the group represent organizations that operate under a veil of secrecy, with conservative “dark money” organizations well represented.

One member, Lawson Bader, is the president of Donor’s Trust and Donors Capital Fund, non-profits that disguise the identities of their own donors, and whose largesse to rightwing causes has seen them described as “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement”.

Another member, Richard Graber, is the president and chief executive of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. The Bradley foundation has long bankrolled conservative movement causes, including Donors Trust, and has reportedly also sponsored widespread efforts to discredit the election of Joe Biden in 2020.

Conservative media figures are also on the list: Neil Patel, co-founder and publisher of the Daily Caller; Larry Beasley, chief executive of the rightwing newspaper the Washington Times; and Floyd Brown, the founder of the Arizona-based Western Journal and founder of the Citizens United Pac.

Pro-gun groups are also represented, with NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre and Gun Owners of America founder Tim Macy each listed as members.

The 220-page document – which includes a statement of principles and an indication of members’ policy interests alongside a complete member list – was leaked and provided to journalists via transparency organization, Distributed Denial of Secrets.

Emma Best from that group said in a messenger chat that CNP was “a secretive forum for ultra-wealthy and elite conservatives to strategize and form long-term plans that have national and international impact”. Therefore, she said, “any opportunity to shine a light on their members, activities and interests is clearly in the public interest”.

The Guardian repeatedly requested comment from CNP staff, including Executive Director Brad McEwen, and other groups mentioned in this story but received no immediate response.

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UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage

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UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage

The head of the United Nations warned Friday that the world faces “catastrophe” because of the growing shortage of food around the globe.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has added to the disruptions caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality to produce an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” already affecting hundreds of millions of people.

“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” he said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries gathered in Berlin. “And 2023 could be even worse.”

Guterres noted that harvests across Asia, Africa and the Americas will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertilizer and energy prices.

“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage,” he said. “No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”

Guterres said U.N. negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food, including via the Black Sea, and let Russia bring food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions.

He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilize global food markets.

The Berlin meeting’s host, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said Moscow’s claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was “completely untenable.”

Russia exported as much wheat in May and June this year as in the same months of 2021, Baerbock said.

She echoed Guterres’ comments that several factors underlie the growing hunger crisis around the world.

“But it was Russia’s war of attack against Ukraine that turned a wave into a tsunami,” Baerbock said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russia has no excuse for holding back vital goods from world markets.

“The sanctions that we’ve imposed on Russia collectively and with many other countries exempt food, exempt food products, exempt fertilizers, exempt insurers, exempt shippers,” he said.

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Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom

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Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom

Local and federal highways in the North-west have become vulnerable as bandits continue to ambush and abduct travellers.

The gunmen who abducted 29 people returning to Zamfara State from Sokoto State where they had gone to attend the wedding of colleagues have released them after the payment of an unspecified ransom.

The victims, who were mostly dealers of mobile phones and phone accessories at Bebeji Communication Market (Bebeji Plaza) in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State were abducted in Sokoto 13 days ago.

Secretary of the GSM Dealers Association in the state, Ashiru Zurmi, confirmed the release of the victims but didn’t give details.

One of the victims reportedly died in captivity.

Though the amount paid as ransom to secure the release of the hostages has not been revealed, Abdullahi Lawal, whose brother was among those abducted, said their relatives were asked to make donations. He said his family raised N33,000 while the phone sellers’ association “provided the remaining money.”

“Every family was told to gather N400,000 while the members of the plaza and their colleagues in the state provided the remaining money. Some family members were able to raise the money in full, but we couldn’t. I took the money to the plaza and I was told that they were still negotiating with the bandits” he said.

He said he didn’t know how much was given to the bandits “but I’m happy that my brother is okay,” he said.

From N5m to N700,000

A phone accessories seller, Sharhabilu Muhammad, told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone that the officials of the phone dealers association negotiated with the bandits to reduce the ransom they originally demanded to release the captives.

“You know that the initial money they said was N5m for each of the captives but our officials kept negotiating with them (bandits) until they reduced the money to N700k,” he said.

When asked about the person who reportedly died in captivity, Mr Muhammed said his identity has not been revealed.

“We don’t know because even the bandits didn’t tell but we’ll surely find out when they (captives) arrive at Gusau tonight,” he added.

The police command spokesman, Mohammed Shehu, didn’t respond to calls and SMS sent to him on the development.

Backstory

PREMIUM TIMES reported that the wedding guests were abducted when bandits opened fire on the two buses they were travelling in a few kilometres after Bimasa in the Dogon Awo junction, Sokoto State.

They were returning from Tambuwal town in Sokoto State where they had attended the wedding of a colleague, Jamil Umar.

The captives were travelling on a Toyota Coaster bus belonging to the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC and another bus owned by Gusau Local Government.

The bandits had demanded a ransom of N145 million to release the 29 hostages.

Bandits have been terrorising North-west states and a part of North-central Nigeria, killing and displacing hundreds of people and rustling domestic animals.

Travelling on federal and local highways is becoming dangerous as bandits block roads, abduct and kill motorists.

Major federal highways including Abuja-Kaduna, Gusau-Sokoto-Birnin Kebbi, and Birnin Gwari-Kaduna have become travellers’ nightmares with attacks and abduction or killing of travellers becoming a daily occurrence.

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Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances

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Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances

A motion seeking the intervention of the House of Representatives in the conflict between the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, and Justices of the Supreme Court, over issues bordering on welfare and working conditions suffered a setback on Thursday.

While the House called for a general review of salaries and allowances of all political office holders and public servants, the members were divided over which committees should handle the task.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, had moved a motion to seek the intervention of the chamber in the crisis rocking the apex court and better welfare package for judicial officers across the courts.

Luke, who moved the motion titled, ‘Need to Address the Deteriorating Working Conditions of Judicial Officers,’ prayed the House to urge the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission to upwardly review the remuneration of judicial officers in line with present economic realities.

The lawmaker prayed the House to urge the Federal Government to increase the budgetary allocation of the judiciary for the upcoming fiscal year and provide special intervention funds for the development of the arm

He further prayed the House to mandate the Committee on Judiciary to ensure compliance and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

While the lawmakers were making amendments to the prayers, the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, called for an upward review of the welfare package of all public office holders.

Wase, who stated that he appreciated the memo from the Justices to the CJN, noted that only the RMAFC had the responsibility to review remuneration of government officials.

The Deputy Speaker made reference to a part of the motion that read, ‘The remuneration of judicial officers was last reviewed in 2008 by the RMAFC when the official exchange rate was N117.74 to $1, whereas the naira has considerably depreciated.’

Wase partly said, “I think this particular element does not affect just judicial officers, maybe because they cried out now. I don’t think it is right that we have to wait every time until people write letters of complaints and there is protest before we begin to do the right thing.”

Rephrasing Wase’s proposed amendment, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said: “The DSP’s amendment is that we should not isolate the Judiciary and all those enumerated constitutional bodies and public office holders. They should be reviewed; a comprehensive review based on all the things that Hon Luke said – the exchange rates and this and that.”

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