Study reveals high use of ‘party drugs’

Australia’s high consumption of illegal designer drugs has been revealed in an international study which collected wastewater over the New Year period.

The study collected samples in eight countries, checking for new psychoactive substances, drugs designed to mimic the effects of established illicit drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and LSD.

The samples, which were shipped to Adelaide for analysis by the University of South Australia, revealed 16 different substances including the synthetic opioid, acetyl fentanyl and mephedrone, often referred to as drone, M-CAT, White Magic or meow meow.

Other substances included N-ethylpentylone, recently detected at music festivals in Australia, and a new substance called eutylone, known to be incorrectly sold as MDMA.

High doses of eutylone have been linked to intense and particularly dangerous side effects.

Of the countries involved, Australia, New Zealand, China, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Norway and the United States, Australia was found to have the second-highest use, behind only the Netherlands.

Norway was the only country to show no signs of the new “party drugs”.

UniSA analytical chemist Richard Bade says among all the substances detected, mephedrone was found only in Australia and New Zealand.

The study also revealed a 20-fold spike in the use of the drug in NZ on New Year’s Eve.

“It is a very powerful drug that produces effects similar to those of cocaine and MDMA and is popular among ecstasy and stimulant users,” Dr Bade said.

He said what made the new designer drugs so dangerous was that they were originally sold as legal alternatives to conventional illicit drugs.

He said this suggested they were safe when there was very little information about their toxicity.

“Governments soon intervened after hospitalisations and fatalities were linked to these class of drugs with some countries enforcing blanket bans,” Dr Bade said.

“However, despite these bans, new psychoactive substances are still synthesised, transported and consumed across the world, often with fatal consequences.”

It was hoped the wastewater samples would help complement hospital, legal and forensic data, along with global surveys, to identify which designer drugs were the most dangerous.

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The Censorship Party – WSJ


Getty Images/iStockphoto

Imagine if a pair of

Donald Trump’s

allies in Congress had sent a letter to cable company CEOs in 2017 blasting CNN and other progressive media outlets and asking why their content is still broadcast. Then imagine that a GOP-run committee in Congress staged a hearing on the societal menace of fake news and the need for government and business to rein in the hostile press.

The media would have treated that as a five-alarm political fire, an existential threat to a free press, the First Amendment and political norms, and a step toward authoritarian rule. “Democracy dies in darkness,” and all that. Yet that’s exactly what Democrats in Congress did this week, targeting conservative media outlets, but the media reaction has been silence or approval.

On Monday Democrats

Anna Eshoo


Jerry McNerney

sent letters pressing 12 cable and tech CEOs to drop contracts with right-of-center media outlets including Fox News. Two days later the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing about “disinformation and extremism” in conservative media. The only notable extremism on display was the majority party’s appetite for regulating and policing the free press.

Rep. Mike Doyle, chair of the subcommittee on communications and technology, declared in opening remarks that “it is the responsibility of this subcommittee to hold these institutions”—meaning press outlets he doesn’t like—“to a higher standard.” He said later that “more free speech just isn’t winning the day over the kind of speech that we’re concerned about.”

Democrats chose witnesses to lay the rhetorical foundation for press restrictions. One was Kristin Urquiza, whose father died of coronavirus and who spoke at the Democratic convention against Donald Trump. She said “the media didn’t pull the trigger” in her father’s death, “but they drove the getaway car,” because he watched and listened to news that downplayed the virus.

Rep. Eshoo bristled at Republican concerns about government officials investigating broadcast media with the aim of deplatforming disfavored networks. “I call them lies,” she said of the content described by Ms. Urquiza. “I don’t know what you call them. You call that the open market, something that’s competitive?” Rep. Marc Veasey said he saw a tension between “the freedom of speech versus other peoples’ safety.”


Rep. Frank Pallone

generously conceded that the First Amendment protects speech that is “controversial” but distinguished “misinformation that causes public harm.” Apparently Mr. Pallone wants someone, perhaps the government, to determine what constitutes public harm and when speech causes it. Would two years of false Democratic narratives about Russian collusion with Mr. Trump qualify as public harm? How about apologias for riots in the streets last summer?

Progressives seem to believe that they are in a position to dictate the terms of what is acceptable speech in a more controlled media environment. As committee witness Emily Bell of Columbia Journalism School put it, “there has to be a will among the political elite and the media elite and the technology elite to actually do the right thing, as it were.” That means tightening speech restrictions. To borrow another progressive cliche, this is a dog whistle for tech companies and other businesses to censor or block conservatives if government can’t.

This thinking is dangerous at any time, but especially so now as the Democratic Party runs both Congress and the executive branch with the power to punish companies that don’t oblige. The danger is worse since most of the media are abdicating their role as defenders of the free press because they aren’t the political targets. The First Amendment dies in media darkness.

Potomac Watch: “Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, Newsmax and OANN…? If so, why?” Democrats ask a dozen cable, satellite and broadband providers. Image: Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the February 26, 2021, print edition.

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Scotland – The feud within the Scottish National Party | Britain

ALEX SALMOND and his successor, Nicola Sturgeon, turned the Scottish National Party from a fringe cause into a ruthless election-winner that reduced the Scottish Labour Party to a rump and in a referendum in 2014 came close to fulfilling its aim of breaking up the United Kingdom. It may yet succeed: independence leads in the polls. If it fails, the feud in which it is now locked may be partly to blame.

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On February 22nd, Mr Salmond’s evidence to a committee of lawmakers was published. In it, he claimed that Ms Sturgeon’s inner circle ran a “deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort” to damage his reputation “even to the extent of having me imprisoned”. Ms Sturgeon, he says, misled the Scottish Parliament and broke the ministerial code, which would be grounds for resignation. She calls it a conspiracy theory.

In January 2018, in the wake of #MeToo movement, the Scottish government received two complaints of sexual misconduct against Mr Salmond, dating back to his tenure as First Minister. It upheld them. Mr Salmond sued and in January 2019 won. The judge called the probe “tainted with apparent bias”.

Later that month, police charged Mr Salmond with 14 offences against ten women, including attempted rape and sexual assault. In his trial, the court heard that there was an informal policy of not letting women civil servants work in his residence alone at night; his defence portrayed him as a “tactile, touchy-feely” man who in a “victims’ world” had been branded a criminal. He was acquitted.

He is now seeking revenge. A committee of the Scottish Parliament is investigating how Ms Sturgeon’s government handled complaints, and an inquiry by James Hamilton, a lawyer, is examining whether she breached the ministerial code.

The #MeToo movement has exposed flaws in every organisation it has touched. In the SNP’s case, the closeness of those who have dedicated themselves to independence makes the feuding especially vicious. Mr Salmond served as leader for a total of 20 years. Ms Sturgeon, his deputy for a decade, first met him as a teenage volunteer. Peter Murrell, her husband, whom Mr Salmond identifies as a major plotter, was his bag carrier and is now the party’s chief executive. Such intimacy, once an SNP strength, has become a liability: dirt accumulates and resentments brew. The battle deepens policy rifts, over trans rights and when to hold a second referendum.

The charge that Ms Sturgeon knew more about Mr Salmond than she admits has stuck, because she is so dominant in her party and takes personal control of so much government business. “This government has been very much a centraliser. Under Nicola Sturgeon, the cabinet just rubber-stamps things,” says James Mitchell, professor of public policy at the University of Edinburgh. A Sturgeon loyalist blames a dearth of talent. “It’s the same under Nicola as it was under Alex—a very small group of the smartest people run the show and, you know what? We’ve won a lot of elections that way.”

The Scottish civil service has emerged looking weak. Leslie Evans, the permanent secretary, has apologised for the first botched probe. She and Ms Sturgeon are accused of pushing on with the subsequent doomed legal action. Lawmakers have found her evidence evasive and forgetful. The impression is of a machine that lacked the grip to handle complaints, and in which party and government business were too easily blurred.

The Scottish Parliament has also been embarrassed. The committee inquiry, chaired by an SNP lawmaker, has been chaotic: appearances by Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon have been repeatedly delayed amid tussles over evidence. Having published Mr Salmond’s accusations against Ms Sturgeon’s circle, the committee retracted and redacted his statement at the request of the public prosecutor.

Farce feeds conspiracism, which is rampant among nationalists. Mr Salmond’s case is that the internal probe was not merely bungled by officials determined to rise to the challenge of the #MeToo moment, but that it was a state hit-job. His backers speak of “dark forces” and MI5. The women concerned have been identified and hounded online. Rape Crisis Scotland, a charity, says the fracas may discourage women from making complaints against powerful men.

Ms Sturgeon will survive. She has no clear successor. An SNP hand reckons support for independence would drop by ten points if she went. But the party will be damaged. In May’s elections, she will seek a mandate for a second independence referendum, and ask Scots to believe her government is ready for divorce negotiations of remarkable complexity with the British government. It is a lot to ask.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Feuding nationalists”

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Now the Centre Party is needed

It is pretty common for The Centre Party to be the target of malicious comments in “Etelän media”, the media in southern Finland. The party is antediluvian, an anomaly, a special interest party that always betrays, and a treacherous negotiator that introduces last-minute proposal that favor them, to force the other’s hand. Already twenty years ago, it was said that The Centre Party was past its prime, but the party still managed to hold the fort.

Presently the antagonists unfortunately seem to be correct. The poll ratings are plummeting, and it could turn out to be a disastrous municipality election. The Finns Party are predicted to overtake the role of The Centre Party in many municipalities. Instead of celebrating the downfall of the old Centre Party, the other parties and political commentators should take a minute to think.

What does it mean for our national politics if The Centre Party is banished to fourth or fifth place in the party hierarchy? That would cause The Finns Party to take on a key position, regardless of if they become largest or second largest. This would, in turn, lead to complications in formation of future governments; when The Centre Party is not strong enough to secure a middle-block based on the so called red-soil (punamulta) alternative, with The Centre Party and SDP as foundation.

This, in turn, could lead to The National Coalition party having to choose between SDP and The Finns Party, which would probably cause a hard divide between the conservative right and liberal fractions within the party. If the Green League will suffice as adhesive depends on its future strength.

Why does The Centre Party seem to lose grip of their old voters? The process began during Sipilä’s business-minded cabinet, and was bolstered when the party joined today’s cabinet, despite their loss in the election. According to Paavo Väyrynen, the decline was due to the “city liberals” having taken control of the party. He probably labels anyone who does not share his opinions on the EU, the euro, and government-participation, as suspect “liberals”.

Perhaps the Centre Party has not fully realized the gravity of the powerlessness felt by rural people due to the quick urbanization? It awoke too late, when The Finns Party already spread their poison: ´The Centre Party has abandoned the countryside, are ruling together with The Green League, no wolf-hunting, and the fuel tax will be increased`. It is not until now that a new program for a living, decentralized and spacious country with flexible settling rights and advantageous online connections is developed.

If the Finns Party successfully latch on to The Centre Party’s traditional voter-areas, it would also be a loss for democracy. This populist party continues to question the legitimacy of the political system and would replace a party that has deep roots in the history of Finnish democracy. In a way, history repeats itself; backwoods communism (korpikommunismi) also spread false promises of salvation in the poorest rural areas after the war.

Without a serious and influential party of the countryside, close to a million Finnish people could lose trust in our democracy if the Finland they know is impoverished; if the countryside-school, police, and service disappears.

I have often criticized the politics of The Centre Party, but that does not mean that I do not see the importance of it. It is not needed in coastal areas. In these surroundings, I am hopeful that voters are immune to all forms of political conmanship.

Pär Stenbäck


Pär Stenbäck is a former Finnish politician who has been an MP, Minister of Education, and of Foreign Affairs in the years before 1985. For a period of twenty years, he held leading positions in the Red Cross movement, among these as Secretary-General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Geneva). He is a founding member of ICG and the European Cultural Parliament ECP. He received the honorary title as Minister in 1999. Today he is chairing the New Foreign Policy Society in Finland (NUPS) since 2017. He contributes regularly to news media. 


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Craig Kelly resigns from Liberal Party

Mr Morrison told reporters he learned of Mr Kelly’s decision “at the same time he announced it to the party room”.

The Prime Minister said he had set out some “very clear standards” a fortnight ago following Mr Kelly’s public clash with Labor MP Tanya Plibersek over treatments for COVID-19.

Mr Kelly later issued a public statement saying he had agreed to support the government’s vaccine rollout.

“He no longer felt that he could meet those commitments, but I can tell you, my standards don’t change,” Mr Morrison said. “He’s made his decision today and by his own explanation, he has said that his actions were slowing the government down and he believed the best way for him to proceed was to remove himself from the party room.”

Sources in the party room said Mr Kelly was “very kind and generous” to Mr Morrison in his comments when he quit the party.


Mr Kelly said had resigned with a “heavy heart” but needed to speak out about health authorities and their refusal to support “hydroxychloroquine” as a treatment for the coronavirus.

“The Ivermectin issue, the issue of speaking out on these COVID treatments is my main reason for making the decision that I have,” Mr Kelly told the ABC on Tuesday afternoon.

“I want to be able to speak out fearlessly and frankly about those.”

He said he would continue to criticise sections of the government, including the national COVID-19 taskforce because he believed “they are the true villains in this piece” for not looking at all the evidence.

His defection to sit as an independent reduces the government number of seats to 76 in the 151-seat House of Representatives, which means Mr Morrison will need at least one of the crossbench to guarantee support on the floor.

Mr Morrison dismissed the suggestion the stunning move would affect the government’s legislative agenda.

“The government will continue to function, as it has successfully,” he said. “As the government has led Australia through the worst situation we’ve seen since the Second World War, we will continue to do so undistracted.”

Mr Kelly’s move to the crossbench has the potential to embolden rebel Nationals MP who are seeking on amendments to an energy bill, which would expand the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s remit to coal, nuclear and carbon capture and storage.

He had been under pressure from Liberals not to cross the floor. As of his resignation, there are 61 Liberals, 16 Nationals, 68 Labor MPs, one Green, one Katter’s Australia Party MP, one Centre Alliance MP and four independents, including Mr Kelly.

Since the Coalition formed government Mr Kelly has been one of its most prolific media performers and was an outspoken critic of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull over energy policy.

He won first won the seat of Hughes in 2010 after the retirement of Danna Vale and both Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison have been forced to intervene to save him from preselection challenges.

He further infuriated colleagues last week when he was asked by technology website Gizmodo about how he came across disproven and unproven COVID-19 treatments. During the interview he said about nine months ago someone sent him a YouTube video of a doctor who said he had information for the President of the United States about a successful therapy option.

“Before I posted it, I checked the credibility of it. He had this long Jewish beard. He a looked a bit … I looked him up to see that he was on the up and I satisfied myself. So I posted it to Facebook,” he said.

It was also revealed by The Guardian earlier this week a staffer who is currently under investigation for alleged inappropriate behaviour towards women is still working in Mr Kelly’s office, despite being the subject of an apprehended violence order.

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KCR tells party to canvass 18 lakh jobs he created

Hyderabad: The ruling TRS has decided to take up an aggressive campaign on the jobs created during its reign to counter the opposition parties in the upcoming graduate MLC elections for two seats, according to TRS chief and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao on Monday.

“The ‘18 lakh jobs created in the last six years’ will be the main poll plank of TRS to attract and seek votes of graduates and youth in these elections”, Rao said.


The party supremo instructed his two MLC candidates – Surabhi Vani Devi and P. Rajeshwar Reddy – to counter the criticism of the opposition parties that the TRS government had failed to create many jobs for youth in the last six years, by aggressively bringing this out during their poll campaigns.

According to sources, CM Chandrashekar Rao gave a detailed account of TRS government’s achievements in providing jobs to youth. As per the CM’s presentation, 1.31 lakh jobs were provided in the government sector, 2.11 lakh jobs created in the IT/ ITES sector and 14.59 lakh jobs were provided in the private sector, due to the faster approvals given to industries under the TS-iPASS since he assumed office more than six-and-a-half years ago.


The TRS government has decided to distribute pamphlets, put up banners and other harness public display mechanisms. Besides the two candidates, senior party leaders and cadre were told to strive hard to highlight the 18 lakh jobs provided by the TRS government. They were asked to distribute these pamphlets, particularly among graduate voters, in educational institutions and hold debates on the issue at several platforms.

In the ongoing MLC elections, all the Opposition parties are targeting TRS on the issue of lack of jobs to students and youth in Telangana.


Opposition parties argue that the ‘tagline’ of Telangana statehood agitation was “jobs, funds and water”. Students and youth had sacrificed their lives and careers to fight for Telangana statehood, with a hope of getting jobs, once the statehood was achieved.

They argue that the TRS government had failed to fulfil their aspirations by failing miserably in filling lakhs of vacancies in government departments. However, the TRS government rubbishes these claims and has gathered data from all sectors to prove how many jobs they had provided so far.


The data gathered, say TRS sources, claims that 1.31 lakh vacancies were filled in various government departments since 2014, of which 32,000 vacancies were filled in police department, 35,000 were recruited through TSPSC, 9,350 panchayat secretary posts and 350 jobs in universities, 5,500 driver and conductor posts in TSRTC, besides 9,000 posts in the electricity department.

In addition to these, services of 24,000 artisan posts in the electricity department had also been regularised by the TRS government.

Mr Rao asked party leaders and cadre to extensively campaign about the state government’s readiness to issue job notifications to fill over 50,000 posts in February but due to the poll code, it could not be done. This will be issued immediately after poll code ends in March, he advised them.


A senior leader told Deccan Chronicle, “the TRS government has not only filled vacancies in the public sector but has also created lakhs of jobs in the private sector by attracting investments through its industry-friendly policies. About 2.11 youth got jobs in the IT sector. In all, 14,000 new industries came to the state through TS-iPASS, which created 14.59 lakh jobs in the private sector, a major chunk of which was bagged by Telangana locals. We challenge the opposition parties to prove this wrong. We will not seek votes if they prove us wrong.”


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PM Modi asks party leaders to educate farmers, build grassroots support for new laws

The farmers’ agitation and the forthcoming Assembly polls in five states dominated the discourse at the one-day BJP conclave of national office-bearers on Sunday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed the cadre to spread the word from the grassroots level up about the benefits that will accrue to farmers from the three farm laws and other good governance measures.

With the farmers’ protest showing no sign of ending soon, the BJP meeting dedicated most of its political resolution to how the farm laws will help farmers at all stages – from the production of the crop, to storage and farmers getting the right price for their crop. The party has decided to launch a 15-day campaign to reach out to farmers on the three laws and educate them about its benefits.

The campaign will also “expose the false propaganda” of the Congress-led Opposition on the issue. The conclave, the first such exercise where leaders were physically present since the Covid pandemic began in March 2020, also discussed the broad strategy for the poll-bound states of West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. Those incharge of these states presented reports on the prospects and the challenges facing the party in the April-May elections. Other than the national office-bearers, the BJP state unit presidents, state general secretaries (organisation), and leaders appointed as incharge and co-incharge of states also attended the meeting.

Speaking at the inaugural session, Modi said BJP does not work with the sole aim of winning elections and coming to power but also with the mission of bringing all-round development of the country. He said the party should increase its political presence with this motto in mind. He enumerated various measures like the Goods and Services Tax, the farm laws and the Covid fightback which have helped the country. Modi underlined that a “positive atmosphere” for development prevails in the country and this will help the economy grow and bring in investment.

BJP passed a political resolution which laid emphasis on the farm laws, the way the Covid pandemic was handled by the Modi government and the great job done by our scientists in developing two vaccines. The resolution congratulated Modi for not only saving lives but also taking care of the poor and the migrants through PM Garib Kalyan plan, providing free ration to 80 crore people, direct benefit transfer, and reforms in the labour laws. The resolution also emphasised that the TMC dispensation in West Bengal which is “undemocratic, oppressive and practices appeasement politics” has to be thrown out in the elections. BJP vice-president Mukul Roy later presented a report on the challenges facing the party in the state and the road ahead towards achieving victory in the polls.

Earlier, in his speech, the Prime Minister had praised the work of the party in West Bengal, saying a lot has been achieved but more needs to be done to win the state. BJP also expressed confidence of retaining Assam and is hopeful of coming to power in Puducherry. In Tamil Nadu, the party is pinning its hopes on alliance partner AIADMK to improve its seat tally while in Kerala it is working on emerging as the third pole after the Congress and the Left.

Delivering the valedictory address, BJP chief JP Nadda announced that the party will launch a 15-day campaign to reach out to farmers from the block and district level up to the states on the farm laws. The BJP members will meet farmers and strengthen Farmer Produce Organisations (FPOs) aimed at supporting them. The cadre will also talk to tribal communities on efforts initiated to improve their livelihood through the Van Dhan scheme. The party cadre has also been directed to inform people about efforts being made to make India Aatmanirbhar (self-reliant).

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COVID-19: Lockdown party host answers door to police in dressing gown… and fake eyelashes | UK News

A woman hosting a party in breach of coronavirus rules answered the door to police in her dressing gown – only to be caught out by her earrings and fake eyelashes.

Bodycam video footage shows officers knock on the door of the property in Kings Norton, Birmingham at 12.30am on Friday.

They were called to the scene after reports that a house party inside was being live streamed on social media, West Midlands Police said.

A woman is seen answering the door in a white dressing gown after turning out all the lights and turning the music down.

Despite trying to pretend nothing is happening, one officer asks her: “Do you usually wear earrings to bed?”

Another jokes: “Do you always sleep in tights?”

After pointing out she was also wearing fake eyelashes, the officers entered the property to find at least 14 people inside.

“Hello everyone, home time, unless you want a COVID fine,” one is heard saying in the clip.

Officers found at least 14 people inside the property in Kings Norton, Birmingham. Pic: West Midlands Police

Some guests were allowed to leave the property as they agreed to go home, but three were arrested after two officers were assaulted.

Attending illegal gatherings during the coronavirus lockdown carries a fine of between £200 and £10,000.

In separate footage from the Erdington area of Birmingham the same evening, bodycam video shows officers breaking up a party of more than 50 people.

Pic: West Midlands Police
Another party in the Erdington area of Birmingham had more than 50 guests inside. Pic: West Midlands Police

They were called to the scene after reports came in of several people arriving in taxis.

When they went inside they found the room had been soundproofed and was kitted out with a DJ, alcohol and Class A drugs.

Around 50 people were fined and the suspected organiser was arrested after refusing to give their details.

Pic: West Midlands Police
Police also found Class A drugs at the premises in Erdington. Pic: West Midlands Police

They now face a £10,000 fine.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd said: “Our officers don’t get any enjoyment out of spoiling people’s fun. They are simply trying to keep people safe and reduce the spread of the virus.

“Where one person might be asymptomatic with the virus, the next might become seriously ill or worse.

Pic: West Midlands Police
Officers found the room had been soundproofed. Pic: West Midlands Police

“People who go to these events need to know that they could be spreading the disease without knowing it, or even picking it up while they are out and then bringing it home to loved ones.

“These breaches are likely to prolong the duration of this pandemic for everyone.”

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Mitch McConnell Vs Trump: the fight for the Republican Party begins

When it comes to the mid-term elections McConnell will go up against Trump

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GOP Will Be in ‘Permanent Minority’ if Party Doesn’t Break From Trump

Sunday in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment acquittal, former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) discussed the GOP’s identity with Trump no longer in office.

Flake, now a CNN analyst, warned the GOP would remain in a “permanent minority” if it continues to follow Trump. He doubled down on his belief that there is “no future with Trumpism.”

“It simply has to [move on from Trump],” Flake advised on “CNN Newsroom.” “We have no choice. We’re headed down a demographic cul-de-sac if we don’t.”

“There’s really no future with Trumpism,” he added. “So, we’ve got to move on. It’s difficult because the president’s base is still there, but we have to move on.”

Host Pam Brown asked, “And what if you don’t? What if it just is the party of Trump?”

“Well, we’ll just continue to lose seats,” Flake replied. “We’ll continue to be, frankly, in a permanent minority if we continue this. So we have to. We should want to as well. I mean, look at what has happened since the last election. The president lost the election, then used every lever at his disposal to hang on … to the White House. And we saw what resulted on January 6.”

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent

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