12:27 GMT +317 December 2018
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    The Critical Hour

    Neo-Nazi James Fields Convicted of First-Degree Murder of Heather Heyer

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    Wilmer Leon
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    On this episode of The Critical Hour, Dr. Wilmer Leon is joined by Dr. Wes Bellamy, city councilor and former vice mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia; attorney Barbara Arnwine, president and founder of the Transformative Justice Coalition; and Alex Rubenstein, Sputnik News analyst and journalist.

    James Alex Fields Jr., who used a car to attack counterprotesters, is guilty of first-degree murder. The avowed supporter of neo-Nazi beliefs who took part in the violent and chaotic white supremacist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder for killing Heather Heyer by ramming his car through a crowd of counterprotesters. A jury of seven women and five men began deliberating this morning and took just over seven hours to reach its decision that Fields, 21, of Maumee, Ohio, acted with premeditation when he backed up his 2010 Dodge Challenger and then roared it down a narrow downtown street crowded with marchers, slamming into them and another car. Heyer, 32, was killed and 35 others injured, many grievously.

    Republicans have spent years warning us that voter fraud is rampant, despite having no evidence that this is the case — election fraud in the United States is in fact rare. President Donald Trump has warned us repeatedly about hordes of Mexicans and other illegals attacking this pillar of our democracy, and the GOP has put legislation into place in states across the country to make it harder to vote, arguing that it's necessary to protect the sanctity of elections. They take voter fraud seriously, they say. It's become one of their core issues. So, we would expect that faced with a rare case of potentially serious and pervasive electoral fraud, they would jump on it — insist on an investigation, figure out exactly what happened, punish wrongdoers and close whatever holes in the system led to the abuses. So, here's their chance. Allegations of flagrant absentee ballot fraud in a North Carolina district have thrown the Election Day results of one of the nation's last unresolved midterm congressional races into question. Will North Carolina do what's right?

    Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer, should receive a "substantial" prison term of roughly four years, despite his cooperation, federal prosecutors in New York said on Friday. Mr. Cohen, 52, is to be sentenced in Manhattan next week for two separate guilty pleas: one for campaign finance violations and financial crimes charged by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, and the other for lying to Congress in the Russia inquiry, filed by the Office of the Special Counsel in Washington. Prosecutors in Manhattan said the crimes Mr. Cohen had committed "marked a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life," and though he was seeking a reduced sentence for providing assistance to the government, he did not deserve much leniency. "He was motivated to do so by personal greed, and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends," the prosecutors said in a lengthy memo to the judge, William H. Pauley III.

    Mourners from across the nation gathered in Washington and Texas to pay their respects and celebrate the life of former president George H.W. Bush. He was America's 41st president. He was eulogized as a patriot, statesman, father, loyal friend, husband and grandfather.
    These can be complex discussions. Accuracy and context are very important to me. There's an interesting piece in The Nation: "George H.W. Bush, Icon of the WASP Establishment-and of Brutal US Repression in the Third World," by Greg Grandin. He says, "George Herbert Walker Bush represented a ruling class in decay. The single most important through-line in Bush's life is the way the extension of the national-security state, and easy recourse to political violence in the world's poorer, darker precincts, allowed Anglo-Saxon men like Bush to stem the decomposition and to sharpen their class and status consciousness." He voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He refused to cooperate with a special counsel. The Iran-Contra affair, in which the United States traded missiles for Americans hostages in Iran, and used the proceeds of those arms sales to fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua, did much to undermine the presidency of Ronald Reagan. He escalated the racist War on Drugs. In September 1989, in a televised address to the nation from the Oval Office, Bush held up a bag of crack cocaine, which he said had been "seized a few days ago in a park across the street from the White House… It could easily have been heroin or PCP." Bush cynically used the bag as a prop to call for a $1.5 billion increase in spending on the drug war, declaiming: "We need more prisons, more jails, more courts, more prosecutors." The result? Millions of Americans were incarcerated, hundreds of billions of dollars wasted. He gave us Clarence Thomas. Need I say more?

    Canadian authorities said Friday that the US government believes a senior executive of a Chinese telecom giant lied about her ties to a Hong Kong company that tried to circumvent trade sanctions against Iran. The revelation came during a bail hearing for Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, who was arrested in the Vancouver airport Saturday at the behest of US officials who seek her extradition to New York. At the G20 summit we were told that Trump and President Xi Jinping of China were on their way to a trade agreement, and a 90-day truce was called. Then China's response was different from the US response. While Xi and Trump are at dinner, Meng Wanzhou is being arrested. What's going on here? There is some question about who ordered arrest?

    There's a discussion that the US is headed into a recession. The impetus from the tax cuts and spending is waning. US lawmakers have brought General Motors GM CEO Mary Barra to Capitol Hill for a series of private meetings this week as the company comes under fire after announcing up to 14,000 job cuts. Barra isn't publicly testifying this week. She's meeting behind closed doors with several lawmakers representing regions that will be hit hard by the cuts. What's really behind these discussions?

    GUESTS:

    Alex Rubenstein — Sputnik News analyst and journalist.

    Barbara Arnwine — President and founder of Transformative Justice Coalition, internationally renowned for contributions on critical justice issues including the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the 2006 reauthorization of provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

    Wes Bellamy — Charlottesville city councilor, former vice mayor of Charlottesville

    Caleb Maupin — Journalist and political analyst who focuses his coverage on US foreign policy and the global system of monopoly capitalism and imperialism.

    We'd love to get your feedback at radio@sputniknews.com

    Tags:
    Trade Wars, Racism, Trump administration, Heather Heyer, George H. W. Bush, Charlottesville
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