India will retaliate with ‘double the force’ against any attack on its sovereignty – Modi

India will respond against aggressors who challenge its sovereignty with “double the force,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stated, noting that his government is not shy of taking “bold” steps to defend the country’s interests.

“The strength of our Army has always been for self-protection, and it will remain so in the future too,” the Prime Minister said during his speech at Police Commemoration Day, stressing that “the best technology is being made available to the Indian Army.”

Noting that while his government is committed to taking “big and bold” decisions, India has “never been greedy” to take someone else’s land, Modi stressed. But “whosoever poses a threat to Indian sovereignty will be answered with double the force,” the PM declared.

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© Reuters/ Vasily Fedosenko

“It is the duty of every Indian …to fight such forces, to defeat them, and to contribute to nation-building in their full capacity,” Modi said.

Under Modi’s government, India is looking to spend some $ 250 billion to modernize its military over the next decade. While outsourcing purchases of some of its new weapons, the country is also expanding the role of state and defense firms in the indigenous development of arms.

READ MORE: India clears way for $ 2.2bn Russian frigate deal – report

Besides importing defense equipment from Israel, France and the United States, India has been increasingly relying on Russian tech to modernize its military. Despite US threats of sanctions against New Delhi, this month India sealed a $ 5.4 billion deal with Moscow to purchase state of the art S-400 Triumf air-defense systems.

India is also reportedly discussing the possibility of procuring Russian T-14 Armata tanks to replace aging T-72 vehicles. New Delhi has also expressed interest in purchasing guided-missile frigates from Moscow and reportedly seeks to develop submarines with its traditional ally. Among other cooperation projects, India’s defense firms have been proposing a joint development of a next-generation fighter jet.

New Delhi’s defiance of the US with the S-400 deal made it a potential target of Washington’s sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATS). Asked about US reaction to New Delhi’s move, President Donald Trump said earlier this month it will come swiftly, but would not elaborate. “You’ll see,” he said. “Sooner than you think.”

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‘Unacceptable & disruptive’: Israel seeks talks as Jordan demands its farmland back after 25yr lease

Jordan has announced its intention to reclaim full sovereignty over farmland leased to Israel as part of the 1994 peace treaty. Calling such a change “unacceptable” after so many years, Israel has vowed to renegotiate the deal.

“We are practicing our full sovereignty on our land,” King Abdullah II said Sunday, announcing the Kingdom’s intention to opt out of parts of the peace treaty which permitted Israelis to use 405 hectares of their farmland. In an “era of regional turmoil,” the King stressed, “our priority in these regional circumstances is to protect our interests and do whatever is required for Jordan and the Jordanians.”

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994, part of which included handing over lands of Baqoura (Naharayim) and Ghumar (in the Arava region) to Tel Aviv for 25 years which Amman can claim back if it cancels the existing arrangement. The deadline for renewing the leases is set for October 25.

The head of Central Arava Regional Council expressed grave concern over the idea that farmland which they have got so used to will have to be returned to its owner. “The agricultural lands in the Tzofar enclave are significant to the security of the area, the state, the livelihood of the residents and agriculture in the central Arava,” Eyal Bloom noted, pointing out that if the land is reclaimed by its owner, 30 Israeli farms in the area would cease to exist.

“It is unacceptable that after so many years, there would be such a huge disruptive change,” Bloom emphasized.

READ MORE: Israel lifts 49-year blockage of Jordan River

The news, however, was well received in Jordan, with many officials praising the “historic” decision, “which serves the higher interests of Jordan.” The King’s announcement was prompted by mass public pressure and demands for the monarchy to reclaim their pastures. Taking to the streets Friday, Jordanian activists shouted in unison “The people want national honor” and “The story is about national sovereignty.”

In the meantime, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cautiously expressed hope that Jordanians will change their mind. He stressed that he will work with Jordan in an effort to try to renegotiate the land agreement which is automatically renewable unless either Tel Aviv or Amman give a year’s notice to terminate the deal.

READ MORE: Hundreds demand closure of Israeli embassy in Jordan after shooting of teenager

“We will go into negotiations with them on the option of extending the existing agreement,” Netanyahu said. Since Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab countries in the world that have a peace treaty with Israel, Netanyahu stressed that the Israeli-Jordanian treaty serves one of the “main anchors of regional stability.”

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MIT professor accuses Bellingcat’s Higgins of enabling ‘war criminals’ to walk free in Syria (VIDEO)

A debate between Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins and MIT Professor Theodore Postol on the alleged chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria in April 2017 got heated as the two accused each other of covering up war crimes.

The opponents met on the grounds of the Center for Investigative Journalism’s Conspiracy conference in London on Saturday, engaging in a bitter war of words. Not that anyone expected the meeting to be peaceful, given how Higgins earlier refused to meet the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and former scientific adviser for the Pentagon, simply calling him “an idiot.”

READ MORE: Bellingcat blogger slammed on Twitter for refusing to debate MIT professor on Syria claims

Excerpts from the debate have been posted on social media.“Ted, have you found anything useful in Eliot’s work?” the moderator of the debate asked. “No,” he replied shortly, sparking laughter from the audience.

Bellingcat’s chief was seemingly offended by such an evaluation, launching a bitter personal attack on Postol … only to be immediately returned the favor.

“I think that Ted’s work is a disgrace. It’s being used to deny war crimes,” Higgins stated boldly. “And I think it’s absolutely disgusting.”

“You fabricate the data and arguments. You are essentially causing people, who might have committed a war crime, to go free,” Postol replied in a calm manner of speech as opposed to Higgins’ agitated reaction.

The full video of the talk which includes both side’s technical assessment of the incident is not available as of yet. However, people who were present at the conference pointed out that “Eliot demonstrated that he had no real expertise — or any kind of real authority on the subject: not political, not scientific, not analytic or even personal.”

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White supremacist or fact-savvy threat to the establishment? Meet ‘Toronto’s next mayor’ Faith Goldy

She promised to “Make Canada Safe Again!” and stop Toronto turning into “a sharia safe space,” and in return Faith Goldy has been censured by rivals, blacklisted by major media outlets and dismissed in court. Is she a big deal?

Her stunt on Friday is emblematic of the 29-year-old’s role in the campaign – the plucky outsider unafraid to speak her mind, yet struggling to be heard. As the overwhelming favorite for Monday’s election, the center-right incumbent John Tory, read out a routine transport announcement to a gaggle of reporters and loyalists on the street, Goldy stood to the side shouting questions about the spike in the murder rate in Canada’s metropolis.

As the official ignored her, and “Tory! Tory!” chants rose to drown her out, she persisted, calling the candidate “a weak man who won’t fight his battles” and a “bad mayor.” Yet what must have seemed a clever guerilla pr stunt in the planning received no coverage at all in leading local media.

Polls suggest the same electoral fate awaits her. While Goldy will likely come third out of more than a dozen candidates, she is predicted to ballot in the low single digits. So any measure of success will be about battering down the walls, not raising the flag as “Toronto’s next mayor,” as Goldy proclaimed herself. The question is whether she has managed to breach even the first line of defense – to focus on a wider range of issues and to be taken seriously.

In Ford’s footsteps

On the surface, Canada appears primed for at least a facsimile of the political revolution south of its border.

READ MORE: Canada’s liberal image gets snared by $ 11.5bn Saudi arms deal

Its prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is an unashamedly globalist and neo-liberal center-leftist of the kind that has been punished by electorates throughout the Western world, while the opposition leader, the one-time boy wonder Andrew Scheer, is the sort of lip-service conservative against whom movements like the Tea Party formed.

Meanwhile, Toronto is best-placed to become the heart of any future political revolution. It is here that the late Rob Ford –truly a Trump before Trump if not a direct inspiration– whose personal vices made the US president’s look healthy, rose to become a beloved mayor before his crack-fueled downfall. His brother Doug is the recently-elected premier of the city’s province Ontario, and is at odds with both the leading mayoral candidates.

Yet no one would mistake Goldy for a Ford sibling. Young, thin, plump-lipped, she is suggestive of a model rather than a girl-next-door, not to mention a politician. But the born-and-bred Torontonian Catholic with Ukrainian-Greek roots  has two prestigious degrees, including one in public policy from the University of Toronto. Her entire career – previously as a reporter – has been dedicated to politics. Goldy is not a novelty candidate. A survey of her program of low taxes, pro-business legislation, toughness on crime and terrorism, and preservation of Canadian heritage, evokes standard-issue North American conservatives, not hot-headed mavericks.

Easy target

Yet not even her adversaries would claim she is being treated as just another right-wing candidate.

“Alt-right”, “far right”, “female Donald Trump”, “white nationalist”, “white supremacist”, “fascist”, “Nazi fellow traveler”, “neo-Nazi”, “Nazi”. Her name is rarely allowed in the media without one of these prefaces.

Goldie is not naïve, and some of it she has brought on herself. Slogans about the Islamist threat are one thing, but like many free speech advocates acting out against the political consensus (see Milo Yiannopoulos) she is intent on a reductio ad absurdum version of her rights: She will just say anything, however unpalatable to mainstream tastes, and will also wield her ability to speak plainly as a weapon to systematically provoke and grab attention.

This may have made her name as a polemicist and journalist, but she would have been careless to think that her past would not be used against her when she’d run for office. She vehemently denies the fascist description – her targets are cultural relativism that devalues European culture, and the embrace of multiculturalism. She gave an interview to a neo-Nazi Daily Stormer podcast (a move that cost Goldy her Rebel Media job) and went on another show to repeat the Fourteen Words, a slogan she knew is associated with the genuine far right, for a sort of free speech dare.

Guardians of the establishment rise

This has made it easy for her political opponents to engage in the generic Nazi name-calling and othering strategy that has been unrolled against every disruptive right-wing politician in recent years.

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© AFP / Lionel Bonaventure

A great surprise has been the strength of the establishment apparatus that has been levelled against her. In every avenue of her activity, obstacles have been created not just to delegitimize Goldy, but to make her campaign difficult, if not impossible.

Patreon, a major source of income for non-mainstream public actors, shut her out in May, while PayPal closed her account in July. Campaigners have attempted to no-platform her to deny her access to speaking venues, and organizers barred her from mayoral debates, claiming she did not fill out a form, something Goldy, who gatecrashed the debate anyway, denies.

Bell and Rogers, the two large media conglomerates dominating the landscape, have both accepted money to run her adverts, and then refused to run them, defending this as a business decision. Goldy has taken Bell to court, saying this was a violation of broadcasting laws that stipulate that companies that broadcast ads from one candidate must accept them from another. Having spent a self-reported $ 50,000 on a case in court, she had it dismissed by a judge who redirected her to a regulator. By the time any decision is announced, it will be moot.

After she posed for a photograph with Ford, a favorite recent political tactic of a denunciation ultimatum was employed. The premier would have to issue a groveling disavowal of Goldy, or otherwise be presumed a white supremacist himself, even if he never expressed such views. Ford took a leaf out of Donald Trump’s book in dealing with similar debate-framers and issued an ambiguous statement condemning “Faith Goldy or anyone else” engaged in “hate speech, anti-Semitism and racism.”

As the hours ticked down to the opening of the polling booths, Goldy was left to bemoan on her Twitter account – she still hasn’t been banned from there, at least – that Google had suspended her adverts. This sounded not like the weaponized martyrdom of the strong, but a genuine admission of powerlessness of a candidate who has been ground into obscure irrelevance.

Final battle?

On Monday night, Canada’s centrists may sleep soundly – when they wake up, the ramparts of their country’s establishment will still be intact.

Perhaps Goldy was not the right commander to spearhead the attack. Young, pretty, female, non-conformist, inexperienced – the electorate can accept one or two of these in their candidates, but more than that and they are not taken seriously, thick-rimmed glasses or not. For all their pronouncements about gender equality, it is the conservative young woman that appears as the most threatening source of nebulous malevolence in the minds of the bien-pensant bourgeoisie. From here Goldy can demonstrate tenacity that will mark her as a lifelong politician, growing older but more respected, as she toils in likely thankless opposition for years, waiting for a potential breakthrough. Or she can take the ostensibly easier path of media appearances, YouTube channels, and public speaking engagements.

Either way, the guardians of Canada’s political propriety need not worry about her – for now. But as they serve up their victory feast, will doubts prickle their minds? Was this a decisive victory, considering their advantages in numbers and equipment? Was it won fairly and with glory, according to the code of chivalry to which they ostensibly subscribe? And will the enemy return, perhaps more purposeful, stronger, and ready to fight by the new rules?

Igor Ogorodnev

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Germany can't sell arms to Saudi Arabia amid unanswered questions about Khashoggi's death – Merkel

The sale of arms to Saudi Arabia by Germany cannot take place under the current circumstances, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced, referencing the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Merkel’s statement comes just hours after Germany, the UK, and France issued a joint statement in which they said there is an “urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened” to the Washington Post journalist, adding that “hypotheses” proposed in the Saudi investigation must be backed up with facts.

First, we condemn this act in the strongest terms,” Merkel said.

Second, there is an urgent need to clarify what happened – we are far from this having been cleared up and those responsible held to account…as far as arms exports are concerned, those can’t take place in the current circumstances.

Germany has approved arms exports worth €416.4 million this year, the country’s Economy Ministry confirmed on Friday. That number makes Saudi Arabia its second-best arms customer, after Algeria, according to Deutsche Welle.

Khashoggi was last seen on October 2 when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. After weeks of denial, Riyadh later admitted that he died during a “fistfight” in the building, and authorities announced that 18 people had been detained. However, on Sunday the country’s foreign minister told Fox News that Riyadh does not know how Khashoggi was killed or where his body is.

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© AFP / Jim Watson

Following the journalist’s disappearance, Turkey said that he had been killed by a Saudi assassination squad. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Ankara will share the full truth of what happened on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Saudis don’t know how Khashoggi was killed, incident was ‘aberration, mistake’ – FM

Although Saudi Arabia claims that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was not behind Khashoggi’s death, his critics – including US Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) among others – have accused him of ordering the killing.

Khashoggi’s disappearance sparked a wave of global outrage, with governments demanding answers and media organizations dropping out of the upcoming high-profile Future Investment Initiative set to take place in Riyadh this month. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi also backed out of the event, along with US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Billionaire Richard Branson also suspended talks with Riyadh about a planned $ 1 billion investment into his space ventures.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump seems unlikely to make a statement similar to Merkel’s, as he has repeatedly stated since Khashoggi’s disappearance that he hopes the US can continue with its $ 450 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, stating that there are other ways to “punish” the country if it was behind the journalist’s death.

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Hundreds of migrants storm barrier between Spain and North Africa (VIDEOS)

One migrant died as around 200 stormed a fence separating Morocco from a Spanish enclave in North Africa on Sunday. Three others were injured during the push to cross into Spanish territory.

READ MORE: Is Merkel saving face? Controversial Germany-Spain deal on migrants comes into force

Video footage shared on social media shows people pouring over the fence and onto a road on the Spanish side of the border at Melilla. The group was reportedly taken to a local reception center for identification.

One man was treated by Spanish emergency services but died of suspected cardio-respiratory arrest.

A human rights activist and researcher with migrant and asylum seeker support group Walking Borders shared a video on Twitter showing groups of migrants gathering at the Center for the Temporary Stay of Immigrants (CETI) in Melilla. Helena Maleno Garzon says the footage was passed on to the organization by a partner group.

READ MORE: 300 migrants storm Spanish exclave of Ceuta, attack police with acid (VIDEO)

Over 6,000 migrants have crossed into Melilla and a second Spanish territory nearby, Ceuta, so far this year, according to UNHCR figures. More than 40,000 people have arrived on the Andalusian mainland by sea in 2018, with the majority traveling from Guinea, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Algeria, and Mali.

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‘Disastrous decision’: Berlin warns Trump against dismantling INF deal with Russia

President Donald Trump must think twice and carefully assess all consequences before finally tearing up the landmark nuclear disarmament agreement (INF) with Russia, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned on Sunday.

“We now urge the U.S. to consider the possible consequences,” Maas said in a statement, hailing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) as “an important pillar of our European security architecture.”

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Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan sign the INF treaty, December 8, 1987 © Reuters

The deal, banning short- and mid-range nuclear missiles and the means of their delivery, was struck in 1987 between then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The agreement has been since regarded as one of the pivotal moments which effectively ended the Cold War and rid Europe of the fear of a full-blown nuclear holocaust.

On Saturday, Trump announced his intention to terminate the treaty. He accused Russia of violating the agreement – something Moscow has repeatedly denied doing. Germany urged Russia to address the US’ concerns, but at the same time cautioned the White House against axing the decades-long deal.

Niels Annen, minister of state at the Federal Foreign Office, called Trump’s idea “devastating,” stressing that his own nation will remain committed to nuclear disarmament. The minister also called on other EU states to prevent mid-range missiles from reappearing on the continent.

Meanwhile, officials in Moscow warned that Washington’s withdrawal will put similar deals at risk and may sabotage the global non-proliferation system. Senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee in the lower house of the Russian Parliament, said that Trump’s allies can either follow his example and tilt the world closer to nuclear showdown, or choose a “common sense” approach and stand by the INF.

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MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko’s iconic striped sweater sells for $10.8K on eBay

The famous striped sweater worn by Russian heavyweight MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko has fetched almost $ 11,000 on eBay, with part of the money raised going to children’s charities.

The sweater has gained cult status in the MMA community since first making an appearance in 2009, with Emelianenko frequently sporting it at press events.

READ MORE: Bellator 208: Fedor Emelianenko TKO’s Chael Sonnen to reach Heavyweight Grand Prix final (VIDEO)

The beige garment, which features horizontal stripes of various colors, has even acquired its own nickname, “The Glorious Sweater of Absolute Victory.”

The iconic sweater was put up for auction before ‘The Last Emperor’s’ recent fight with Chael Sonnen at Bellator 208, and has now fetched $ 10,800 on eBay, with half of the proceeds going to the Make A Wish charity and a Russian fund.  

Fans appear to have taken to the unremarkable, somewhat fuddy item due to the stark contrast with the man inside it – with Emelianenko widely lauded as one of the most brutal fighters ever to grace MMA.

Last year, fight promotion Bellator even produced a spoof documentary video dedicated to the origin of the knitwear which riffed on its “magic.” 

Fans have also frequently donned the sweater in honor of the MMA legend. 

Emelianenko, who has a professional record of 38-5, has previously said he wore the sweater simply because he liked it, adding that he didn’t see what all the fuss was about.  

“I think they exaggerate this meaning a little bit,” the Russian heavyweight said last year. 

“I do pay attention to what I wear. I think the sweater is of very high quality, so I wear it for a long time. But I don’t think it has any significant meaning.”

READ MORE: ‘GOAT!’ Plaudits roll in for Emelianenko as he destroys Sonnen at Bellator 208

Emelianenko, 42, went on to defeat US fighter Sonnen at Bellator 208 via first-round TKO, in a dominant performance that saw him progress to the promotion’s Grand Prix Final against Ryan Bader in January. 

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UK’s plastics recycling industry accused of widespread fraud & pollution

The Environment Agency (EA) is investigating suspected widespread abuse and fraud within Britain’s plastics recycling industry. It will deal with complaints that firms and organized crime are abusing the system.

Data from the EA showed that six UK exporters of plastic waste have had their licenses suspended or cancelled in the last three months over concerns of high contamination rates.

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The EA said it was pursuing “several lines of enquiry,” including allegations that the waste was not recycled but was left to leak into rivers and oceans. The investigation will also look into UK firms accused of shipping contaminated waste when non-recyclable items are mixed in with recyclables items.

READ MORE: Carrying a plastic bag in Kenya could land you in prison

Britain sends about two-thirds of its plastic packaging waste abroad every year. It includes plastic bottles, yoghurt pots and other items. The export industry is reportedly worth £50 million ($ 65 million) per year.

“Waste crime damages lives, livelihoods and the environment,” said an EA spokesman. “We have a specialist central investigative team and dedicated staff up and down the country who tackle it. We take seriously all allegations of fraud and… will bring fraudsters and criminals to justice,” he told the BBC.

The enquiry followed China and Vietnam having stopped importing British plastic waste amid concerns of high contamination levels. Poland is also considering restrictions.

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‘I regret BBC has put me in this position’ – Scottish leader boycotts event over Steve Bannon

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pulled out of a BBC-sponsored event over controversial ex-WH chief strategist Steve Bannon. The broadcaster says that inviting representatives of various opinions is part of journalism.

Sturgeon was slated to appear at the opening reception of the annual News Xchange conference in November. The three-day Edinburgh event is organized by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and co-hosted by the BBC. Bannon, political strategist and prominent right-wing thinker, is scheduled to deliver remarks in a separate venue – in an event, moderated by BBC Scotland’s Sarah Smith.

“I will not be part of any process that risks legitimizing or normalizing far right, racist views,” Sturgeon wrote on Twitter on Saturday, confirming earlier reports that she will be ditching the event over Bannon.

“I regret that the BBC has put me and others in this position,” she added.

The politician further detailed how the broadcaster sent her an email explaining Bannon’s invitation by describing him as a “powerful and influential figure” within “an anti-elite movement.” Sturgeon disagreed with this characterization, claiming that many would rather call Bannon’s views “fascist.”

The BBC explained that the right-wing strategist was invited by the EBU but stressed that event’s main purpose is to “analyze the big issues” impacting the world, as opposed to endorsing any particular viewpoints.

“It is a function of what journalism is,” the broadcaster said in a statement.

The EBU also stood by Bannon’s ticket, saying that he is a “key influencer,” and having speakers like him is part of its journalistic mission.

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Steve Bannon at an event with National Front's leader Marine Le Pen. March 10, 2018. © Pascal Rossignol

Steve Bannon co-founded and ran Breitbart News, a right-wing publication often credited for helping Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential election. He later served as Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor.

In July, Bannon announced his next project – an NGO called ‘The Movement’ – tasked with assisting various European anti-establishment parties.

Opposing ‘open-doors’ migration policy and championing “economic nationalism,” Bannon gained fame by criticizing global elites. An ardent Brexit supporter, he insists that Europeans can achieve freedom and prosperity through standing up to EU bureaucrats.

The former Breitbart chief stated though, that he won’t work with “ethno-nationalist parties.” Nevertheless, some of his ideas are viewed as controversial and attract accusations of xenophobia. Liberal and left-minded figures often refuse to share a stage with him and threaten to boycott events he is attending.

Last month, New Yorker magazine disinvited Bannon from its festival following a revolt of other prospective guests, including actor Jim Carrey and filmmaker Judd Apatow. In his response, Bannon said that he is open to his opinions being challenged in public and agrees to debate them at any venue. He also slammed the New Yorker staff for caving to outside pressure.

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