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Recent Publications from New English Review Press
Islam Through the Looking Glass: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J. B. Kelly, Vol. 3
edited by S. B. Kelly
The Real Nature of Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
As Far As The Eye Can See
by Moshe Dann
Threats of Pain and Ruin
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum


















Saturday, 25 April 2015
Islamic State Price List for Captured Christian Women
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Newsmax:

A document published by ISIS reveals the prices the terrorist organization uses to sell Christian and Yazidi women and children abducted by the jihadists.

It shows not only that the younger they are, the higher their value, but also that the market for these women and children has apparently declined. The lower prices means less money is going to the radical Islamists known as the Mujahideen. Those who don't go along with the prices set by ISIS will be killed.

The subject heading of the Islamic State document obtained by some local media outlets reads, "Prices stipulated for the selling of spoils [women and children who have been abducted]."

It says that "the market for selling these spoils has declined precipitously." The tumbling market for the sales of the women and children has had an effect on Islamic State revenues and their ability to finance the operations of the Mujahideen, according to the document.

In order to benefit the Islamic State, "financial institutions must consider setting up controls and prices with regards to the prices at which these spoils are to be sold," and vows that anyone violating these controls and prices will be put to death, the document reads.

Here are the prices the Islamic State has set for Yazidi and Christian women and children, according to the document:
 

  • Women 40 to 50 years old are to be sold for 50,000 dinar, or $42 in U.S. dollars.

  • Yazidi and Christian women 30 to 40 years old are 75,000 dinar, or $63 in U.S. dollars.

  • Women 20 to 30 years old are 100,000 dinar ($85).

  • Women and children 10 to 20 years old are 150,000 dinar ($127).

  • Children ages 1 to 9 are 200,000 dinar ($169 in U.S. dollars).

The document stated that no one is allowed to buy more than three women or children from the list — with the exception of Turks, Syrians, and those from the Gulf states. They are permitted to buy more.
 

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Posted on 04/25/2015 6:00 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Friday, 24 April 2015
24 April 2015: The 100th Anniversary of the Jihad Genocide of the Armenian Christians and of Other Christian Communities - Assyrian, Pontic Greek - Within the Ottoman Empire
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A roundup of reports and historical testimony, here:

http://armeniangenocide100.org/en/

Still more, here: Andrew Bostom's "The Jihad Genocide of the Armenians", which refers to two of the most important accounts of the genocide, by the scholar Vahakn Dadrian, and by an earlier researcher, Reverend Kai Balakian (author of "Hai Koghota", Armenian Golgotha).

http://www.americanthinker.com/2005/04/the_jihad_genocide_of_the_arme.html

From that article - "Six thousand four hundred Armenian [Christian] children, young girls and women from Yozgad were decamped by their Turkish [Muslim] captors at a promontory some distance from the city.  Then (this is from Balakian's eyewitness account) "To save shell and powder, the gendarmerie commander-in-charge of this large convoy had gathered 10,000 to 20,000 Turkish [Muslim] peasants and other villagers, and armed with "hatchets, meat cleavers, saddler's knives, cudgels, axes, pickaxes, shovels", the latter attacked, and for some four to five hours mercilessly butchered the victims while crying "Oh God, Oh God" (Allah, Allah).

"In a moment of rare candour, this gendarmerie commander confided to the priest-author [i.e. Balakian], whom he did not expect to survive the mass murder, that after each massacre episode, he spread his little prayer rug and performed the namaz, the ritual of worship, centred on prayer, with a great sense of redemption in the service of Almighty Allah." [end quote].

And here, a brief account of the heroism of a small Armenian Christian community who fought back against their Muslim would-be mass-murderers: the story that inspired a Jewish researcher, Franz Werfel, to write the book "Forty Days of Musa Dagh" (1933).

http://www.armenian-genocide.org/musa_dagh.html

More about the book - and the utterly despicable Turkish Muslim attempts, spanning some eighty years, to bully and threaten and  generally manipulate western governments into 1/ suppressing the book and 2/ squelching its transformation into the blockbuster movie that it ought to have become, years ago.  The Turkish - and Kurdish and Arab - Muslims flatly and brazenly deny that what happened was a genocide and was evil; not only have they tried to suppress the story of Musa Dagh, they are still threatening and throwing tantrums should any Infidel political or religious leader dare to call the jihad mass-murder of the Armenian (and Assyrian and Greek) Christians what it was - genocide.

http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_direct_link.cfm/blog_id/43425

May the day soon come when, one after another,all our religious and political leaders may find the courage to defy Turkish Muslim bullying and nonsense and lies and call things by their right names.

In the meantime: may the memory of the martyrs never be forgotten; may the little nation of Armenia, miraculously existent in despite of everything, blossom and flourish and be blessed by the true and living God; and may the richness and beauty of traditional Armenian Christian culture become known to many.

Here is just one small sample of that Armenian Christian culture which was so very nearly annihilated by the murderous Nothing that is Islam.  A simple lullaby, "You are a plane tree", "Chinar es", which is surely one of the most beautiful songs ever created.

 

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Posted on 04/24/2015 6:48 PM by Christina McIntosh
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Friday, 24 April 2015
Sex Club Becomes Church to Sidestep Zoning Laws
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Nashville swingers club has undergone a conversion — it says it's now a church — in order to win city approval so it can open next to a Christian school.

The story began last fall, when a fixture in downtown Nashville called The Social Club sold its building and purchased a new one in a run-down office park several miles to the east.

The new building is geographically isolated at the end of a dead-end street, but it is near the back of Goodpasture Christian School, a large private school serving pre-school through high school children.

It might have been years before school officials and parents learned what was going on inside The Social Club — its website says it is "a private club for the enjoyment of both men and women ... to engage in any sexual activity" — if someone had not sent anonymous letters to the school president and the local councilwoman. Both say the person who tipped them off claimed to be a concerned club member, although they don't know that for sure.

Parents and religious leaders were called on to pack the Metro Nashville Council chambers to support a zoning change to prevent the club from opening. That's when the club, which had spent $750,000 on the building and begun renovations, suddenly transformed into a church.

The United Fellowship Center's plans are nearly identical to those of The Social Club but with some different labels. The dance floor has become the sanctuary. Two rooms labeled "dungeon" are now "choir" and "handbells." Forty-nine small, private rooms remain, but most of them have become prayer rooms.

Larry Roberts is the attorney for the club-turned-church. He previously vowed to take the city to court. Now, he says, it's the city that will have to sue.

"The ball is in Metro's court ... We've now gotten a permit to meet as a church, and a church is something that cannot be defined under the U.S. Constitution," he said.

It's time we did start to define religion and church - not by belief, but rather by what they do for (or to) society. Defining true religions for First Amendment purposes could be easily done in neutral language and religions and religious sects could be subject to a simple test.

  1. Is love, the progressive experience of God, encouraged?
  2. Are the fruits of the spirit, (truthfulness, joy, peace, loyalty, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance) encouraged?
  3. Is loving service to humanity, without prejudice, encouraged?
  4. Are hatred, selfishness, intolerance, intemperance, deceit and violence discouraged?
  5. Is violent coercion employed?

U.S. Courts would not be required to prove or disprove the validity of any set of religious beliefs [see U.S. v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1943)] but it can set standards on what true religion should do for mankind and judge the fitness of different religions to come under the protection of the First Amendment.

I don't think the sex club could possibly pass and remain a sex club. I doubt their ruse will work in any case.

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Posted on 04/24/2015 2:07 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Friday, 24 April 2015
Bin Laden allies suspected of Vatican plot
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From the Italian edition of The Local and The Telegraph

Italian police said on Friday they had dismantled an Islamist network they have linked to Osama bin Laden, one of Pakistan's deadliest attacks and, more loosely, a possible plot to bomb the Vatican.

A total of 18 people were ordered arrested following a six-year investigation that began with a probe into an illegal immigration racket allegedly run from the island of Sardinia. Only nine of the suspects had been detained by Friday afternoon.

Prosecutor Mauro Mura told a press conference in Cagliari, Sardinia that members of the network had been in contact with two potential suicide bombers who came to Italy in 2010 and discussed the possibility of attacking the Vatican, when Pope Benedict XVI was head of the Roman Catholic Church, 

Mario Carta, an officer in the DIGOS anti-terrorism unit that carried out the investigation, acknowledged there was no firm evidence of a conspiracy to kill the pope, only "strong suspicions" based on wiretapped conversations in which the suspects had spoken "in ironic terms" about the leader of the world's Catholics.

The extremist network may have been planning to launch a suicide bomber against the Vatican. Police intercepted telephone conversations between the suspects which gave “signals of some preparation for a possible attack” against the Holy See, he said.

In the wiretaps, the suspects discussed launching “a big jihad in Italy”, said Mario Carta,They also used the word “baba” – a possible reference to the Pope. 

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi played down the significance of the incident. "This concerns a 2010 scenario that didn't materialise. It has no relevance today and there is no reason for particular concern," he told reporters.

Pietro Paroli, who as Vatican secretary of state is the de facto prime minister of the tiny sovereign country, said: “We are all exposed and we are all afraid but the Pope is very tranquil in this, you just have to see him meeting people with great serenity. The biggest fear is that innocent people may be affected. But I don’t seem to perceive great concern in the Vatican, although of course you have to be careful.” 

The alleged key figures in the network were Khan Sultan Wali, a shopkeeper and long-term resident of Olbia, Sardinia and Zulkifal hafiz Mohammed, an imam who carried out missionary work in Brescia and Bergamo in northern Italy, according to sketchy details provided by prosecutors at a press conference. The arrest warrants accuse the suspects of belonging to "an organisation dedicated to transnational criminal activities inspired by Al-Qaeda and other radical organizations pursuing armed struggle against the West and insurrection against the current government of Pakistan."

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Posted on 04/24/2015 1:14 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 24 April 2015
The Imam Behind The Latest Plot In Italy
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Here.

He is Pakistani, and arrived in Italy six years ago.

He has no record of employment.

He has six children, and a wife, whom somehow were supported.

He owned his own dwelling.

He had time to gather funds, apparently, money spent on plots to attack the Western Infidels from within.

Among the targets: the Vatican.

He hates Infidels, and the West in which he has been allowed to settle, and to procreate, supported at every turn by Italian taxpayers, unaware or if aware, feeling hopeless about remedying this situation.

He teaches his children -- they are still small -- exactly what he believes. They are growing up in an atmosphere suffused with Islam. This can mean nothing good for the Italians among whom they have been allowed to live and obtain support.

It is the same all over Western Europe and North America, among the advanced countries, whose principles, laws, customs, understandings, are flatly contradicted by the tenets and teachings of Islam.

How and why has this been allowed to happen, and keep happening? Why is it not stopped? Where are the political figures who will state the truth, and protect us in our own countries, that is in our homes?

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Posted on 04/24/2015 10:37 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 24 April 2015
A Game of Chicken in the Gulf of Aden
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USS Theodore Roosevelt CVN-71 and USS Normandy (CG-60) Arabian Sea April 21, 2015

Source: Reuters/US Navy

On the morning of April 21, 2015,   newspapers and media reporters trumpeted a headline that the Saudis were ending their month long air campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen.  The halt reflected concerns of the Obama Administration over the deteriorating situation in Yemen and the increasing role of Iran. The operation, named “Decisive Resolve”, allegedly led by the Saudi coalition with US administration backing, had destroyed a missile base, armored vehicles, and planes held by Houthi forces. The Houthi militias were allegedly allied with Yemeni strongman and former president of Yemen for over thirty years, 73-year old Ali Abdullah Saleh.  Saleh, who has survived political isolation, sanctions, civil war, and assassin attempts, created an alliance with the Houthis, his former enemies, in a bid to return to power in Yemen. Latest reports indicate that Saleh has left Yemen, perhaps to join party members in discussions with Saudi Arabia and coalition members of the Gulf Cooperation Council about resolving the conflict.

Since the Saudi air strikes began on March 26, more than 1,000 civilians have been killed. The Saudis were seeking to restore the internationally-recognized and US-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who served as president of Yemen from February 2012 until January 2015, when he was forced to resign after Houthi rebels raided his home and put him under house arrest. He subsequently escaped and fled to Saudi Arabia just as the Kingdom-led coalition began an air campaign against Houthi rebels on March 26, 2015.

Only hours after the first announcement of the cessation of Saudi air strikes, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir appeared at an Embassy press conference to announce the resumption of limited air attacks.  The Ambassador told reporters:

The Houthis should be under no illusion that we will continue to use force in order to stop them from taking Yemen over by aggressive action. We are determined to protect the Yemeni people and counter any aggressive moves that the Houthis may undertake. When the Houthis or their allies make aggressive moves there will be a response. The decision to calm matters now rests entirely with them.

 In view of continued Houthi fighting in the central city of Taiz and against secessionist forces in Aden on the southern coast. This phase of the Saudi operation in Yemen was named “Renewal of Hope”, and was launched amid reports that the Houthis have surrounded the city of Aden on three sides.  In a later press conference on April 22nd, al-Jubeir said, "We will not allow them to take Yemen by force."

The Houthis quickly put out a statement seeking the lifting of Saudi air and naval operations, and offering to hold political talks under UN auspices.  The defiant Houthi threatened to invade Saudi Arabia if the bombing continues.

A flotilla of nine Iranian vessels, seven commercial vessels escorted by two Iranian frigates, exited the Persian Gulf slow steaming down the Sea of Arabia towards a rendezvous in the Gulf of Aden. Nine US vessels were already positioned there. Nevertheless, that group has been joined by the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), an aircraft carrier capable of carrying 90 F/A-18 fighter jets and helicopters. The Roosevelt was accompanied by the USS Normandy (CG-60), a guided-missile escort ship. They came from the Fifth Fleet base in Bahrain in the Gulf, presumably to shadow the Iranian flotilla.  

The Saudis, with the aid of Egyptian naval vessels, have established a virtual blockade of Yemen preventing deliveries of food, civilian goods, and weapons from Houthi ally, Iran.   The UN Security Council passed a resolution barring the supply of advanced missiles to Yemen.

Pentagon Chief Ashton Carter made his first comments on the dispatch of the US carrier and guided missile cruiser to the Arabian Sea while on a trip to California.  Carter told them that “he was not prepared to say whether the U.S. would be willing to forcibly stop and board one of the Iranian ships if it tries to cross into Yemen.”  Further, he said:

We have options. We're not at that point. We're at the point of trying to get the parties back to the table.

Still, he said the U.S. is making it clear to Iran that "obviously fanning the flames or contributing to it by any party is not welcome to us."

President Obama in an MSNBC interview said:

Right now, their ships are in international waters. What we've said to them is that if there are weapons delivered to factions within Yemen that could threaten navigation, that's a problem. And we're not sending them obscure messages -- we send them very direct messages about it.

On the other hand, senior defense and military officials told NBC News that American warships were prepared to intercept the convoy of Iranian ships, because they were suspected of carrying weapons to Houthi rebel forces in Yemen.

Several versions of their mission have already been floated by various government offices. The White House, Pentagon and State Department have issued statements to the effect the US carrier battle group is there to monitoring sea lanes. White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said, “the principle goal is to maintain freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in the Gulf of Aden and in the Red Sea”.

On the other hand, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren suggested that there could be a flight of refugees across the narrow Bab al Mandab that separates Yemen from the horn of Africa. The US naval vessels might be conveniently positioned to prevent a disaster similar to the one last weekend in the Mediterranean that witnessed over 700 people attempting to flee from war-torn Libya, drowned when the overloaded fishing boat capsized.

The stories may be inconsistent, but one thing is clear. If history is any measure, the Iranian flotilla is certain to be carrying weapons and supplies to aid the Houthi forces, not the humanitarian assistance they claim is to alleviate the Saudi and Egyptian blockade of Yemeni ports.  The US administration has been clear that the shadowing US naval forces have not been given orders to enable them to hail and board Iranian vessels. They are concerned that boarding the Iranian ships might create an incident that could threaten a successful outcome in the ongoing nuclear in which President Obama and  Secretary of State Kerry have invested so much effort. The negotiations the Administration appears committed to closing a deal offering so-called signing bonuses of $30 to 50 billion in release of oil revenues.

These statements by Pentagon and Administration spokespersons reflect the quandary in which the Administration now finds itself, and they can’t seem to get their story straight.  In the midst of problematic negotiations on a possible nuclear agreement with Iran, which the Administration appears to want to complete at all costs, the US is also allegedly backing Saudi Arabia with both intelligence and weapons in the fight against the Iran-backed Houthi.  The American position in this conflict is far from clear.

One possibility not mentioned in any of the media is the possibility that the American presence is neither to stop the Iranian ships, nor to board them, but to keep the other countries’ naval officers from boarding them. The purpose of this mission would be to maintain our nuclear negotiations with Iran moving forward without the suggestion of our threatening them in another theater.

The situation in the region is extremely complicated and America’s mission there is uncertain. While appearing to support the Saudi position, the US has also provided intelligence to the Houthi, ostensibly to ward off threat of a resurgent AQAP. And while appearing to be a deterrent to Iranian arms delivery to the Houthis, the massive American presence on the scene may be, in fact, a deterrent to other ships whose mission is to board the Iranian cargo ships should they approach the port in Aden.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is existentially concerned about Iranian expansion of its hegemony into Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, where Iranian Quds Force and Revolutionary Guard “consultants’ have been active in expanding their control. In Iraq, they have been training Shia militia in the war against the Islamic State.

In response to the Iranian threat, Saudi Arabia has undertaken action to subjugate the restive Shia majority in Bahrain, home port for the US Fifth Fleet, and in the oil rich Eastern Province with a large Shia population.  The Saudis are spending billions to complete security fences on its northern and Southern borders, and the Kingdom has reportedly mobilized 150,000 troops for possible action in Yemen.

The situation is the Arabian Sea is fluid. The latest reports indicate that despite the strong words from Iran, their ships have now turned around and are heading back toward the Strait of Hormuz. At this writing, they are reported to be heading east in the Arabian Sea, south of Salalah, Oman.

Failed US Policy    Less than a year ago, President Obama hailed Yemen as a foreign policy ‘success’ story in its drone campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But with the fall of Yemen’s capital Sana’a to Houthi forces and the flight of ousted President Hadi to Saudi Arabia, the vacuum in the country has been filled by open conflict between Sunni tribes loyal to AQAP, those units loyal to Hadi, and secessionist forces in Aden. America’s precipitous and humiliating departure from Yemen was more than proof that our policy had been anything but successful.

Effectively Yemen is a failed state.  When the mobs attacked it, the US Embassy closed in panic, leaving 4,000 American citizens stranded in a country that was rapidly falling into chaos and bloody fighting. The US special operations contingent decamped to Camp Lemonnier across the Bab al Mandab at AFRICOM headquarters in Djibouti.  The former US special ops Yemen bases were overrun and destroyed. Without local intelligence from within Yemen, the counterterrorism drone campaign against the AQAP was effectively been shut down. 

The current game of chicken on the high seas in the Gulf of Aden is a dangerous one, not the least because it is difficult to understand what the end game is supposed to be. The problem now is that the Iranian Ayatollah and his Revolutionary Guards commanders may relish such a confrontation with the US, Saudi and Egyptian naval contingents to see who would blink first in the game of chicken.  Some might consider the Iranian flotilla as a possible causus belli. After all the UN Security Council adopted a resolution barring the shipment of missiles into Yemen. 

The dangerous confrontation seems, for the moment, to be averted. Iran’s ships have turned back, perhaps temporarily. We don’t know why, or what their long range game plan may bring.

The irony the Administration found itself in over the looming confrontation in the Gulf of Aden was that the US might have had to rely on the Saudis and the Egyptians, both of whom America had supplied weapons to, but over whom the US now has little to no control.  The looming question is whether a satisfactory denouement with Iran would even be possible were Iran already a nuclear state.

That Iran is on the brink of acquiring nuclear weapons is no longer the question. All evidence points to this being the case, ongoing talks with P5+1 and the so-called 13 year ‘deal’ notwithstanding.  Latest reports say that Iran is on the ‘nuclear threshold’ with less than three months before it has full nuclear weapons capability. The Iranian nuclear threshold concerns the Saudis, Gulf Emirates, Egypt, and Israel. Israel has not been diffident in the past about intercepting and boarding commercial vessels carrying illicit cargoes of missiles from Iran supplying proxies Hamas and Hezbollah. 

In the game of chicken still being played out in the Arabian Sea, it remains to be seen whether the Obama Administration has the resolve to stare down this latest move by Iran, or is the President more than likely blink first?

Ilana Freedman is a veteran intelligence analyst, specializing in Islamic and related sources of terrorism and their impact on the Western world. Jerry Gordon is a Senior Editor at the New English Review

 

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Posted on 04/24/2015 10:13 AM by Jerry Gordon and Ilana Freedman
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Friday, 24 April 2015
For Saint George and Merrie England: A Belated Interlude in Honour of St George's Day
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In these dark times it seems like a good idea to take a little time out to reflect on Saint George, Patron Saint of England (as also of Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Greece, Portugal and Russia; he has an extensive portfolio), whose feast day was celebrated yesterday, 23rd April.  

Some background here:

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/uk/st-george-day

in which we discover that among other things a stone over the south door at Fordington records "a miraculous appearance of St George to lead crusaders into battle".

and here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_George's_Day_in_England

where we learn that in England traditional activities on Saint George's Day included: the wearing of a red rose; Morris Dancing; the Mummers' Play; brass bands; a hog roast; falconry displays, and medieval jousting, and in which we also learn that Sir Robert Baden Powell chose Saint George to watch over the Scouting movement.

His legend (I am drawing from the useful "timeanddate" link above) states that "he was born some time around the year 280 AD in what is now Turkey but was then part of the Eastern Roman Empire.  He was a soldier and rose up through the ranks of the Roman army, eventually becoming a personal guard to the Emperor Diocletian. He was executed for his Christian faith on April 23, 303 AD, and is buried in the town of Lod, in eretz Israel.

'St George is most widely known for slaying a dragon. According to legend, the only well in the town of Silene was guarded by a dragon.  In order to get water, the inhabitants of the town had to offer a human sacrifice every day to the dragon. The person to be sacrificed was chosen by lots. On the day that St George was visiting, a princess had been selected to be sacrificed.  However, he killed the dragon, saved the princess, and gave the people of Silene access to water.  In gratitude, they converted to Christianity. It is thought that the dragon represents a certain type of pagan belief that  included the sacrifice of human beings."

Hmm.  And such things are not merely a memory from the dark and distant past; I'm sure we can all think of a belief system now current and rampant that has been ritually murdering large numbers of human beings in many parts of the world, but most notably, of late, in Garissa in Kenya, in Syria, and in Libya...Perhaps there is a good reason why the veneration of Saint George became particularly prominent among western Christians, such as the English, around the time of the Crusades, when they went - however belatedly and haphazardly - to the aid of their Eastern brethren, assailed and oppressed by Islam.

And so to our interlude.

First, a clip of "Jerusalem", Parry's setting of the poem by William Blake, a hymn which was - it appears - popular for church services on St George's Day.   St George himself, as imagined by various artists, features in some of the accompanying artwork and photographs.

 

And secondly, G K Chesterton's "O God of Earth and Altar", written in 1915, but which reads as though it were written for today's Britain; especially the second verse, which runs, "From all that terror teaches/ From lies of tongue and pen/ from all the easy speeches/ that comfort cruel men/ From sale and profanation/ of honour and the sword/ From sleep, and from damnation/ deliver us, good Lord."

 

 

 

 

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Posted on 04/24/2015 7:30 AM by Christina McIntosh
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Friday, 24 April 2015
A Leaderless Europe
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Little noticed in the general mediocrity and ineptitude of recent Western national leadership is the trend in Western Europe to the irresponsible Left. Certainly, the victory of the eco-socialist Greek Syriza party (a catchment for all the discarded loopy Left) has been noticed, because of the anticipated implications if it leads Greece out of the eurozone and back to the drachma, which has never been a hard currency in its very long history. Though it has backtracked a little, it still promises to pay unaffordably generous social benefits by steadily inflating and devaluing the local currency, promoting Greece’s only generators of foreign currency: tourism, cement, and vegetables. A chicken game is in progress, between Syriza and a Europe now much better prepared than during the Greek-generated financial crisis of several years ago to deal with a Greek falling-out. There would be a hit to many of the European banks, but it seems to be clear that they could absorb the loss, though some degree of Central European Bank and national bank and treasury support might be needed. The Greek government, elected on a defiant and flamboyant platform of telling off the Euro-authorities for their requirement of continued austerity, has retreated from its election pledges less rapidly than remaining cash has run through its fingers. Europe appears to be ready to inflict the national equivalent of the Lehman Brothers abandonment, to make a point that not all insolvencies will be underwritten, and to show the rest of Europe that the succeeding anticipated collapse of the resumed Greek national currency is not the route for the other vulnerable economies in the eurozone to follow.

This entire scenario, which to some extent represents the lot of Portugal, Spain, and Italy, as well as Greece, came to pass because of a double confidence trick at the establishment of the Euro: German chancellor Helmut Kohl strongly believed that Germany needed to be in a cocoon of economic and military allies and was sincere in saying, “A European Germany and not a German Europe.” Not only did he mistrust Germany’s capacity to act responsibly as an autonomous Great Power, with some historical reason in post-Bismarck times; he was also prepared to have Germany’s pocket lightly picked in order to make the Mediterranean eurozone members beholden to Germany, and to ensure that the Euro had some elements retardant to high comparative value to facilitate the export of Germany’s world-leading engineered products at prices below where they would be if denominated in Deutschmarks. Successive German leaders have had to balance domestically between a German desire for a currency that is more competitive for exports than the country’s own currency would be, and the German voters’ irritation at financing the conspicuous refusal of most of their Mediterranean Euro-colleagues to be martyrs to the industrial work ethic.

Whatever perturbations the fall of Greece out of the Euro might generate, the German government apparently thinks it is worthwhile not only in foreign-exchange terms, but to keep a rod on the backs of the rest of Europe to follow the German lead in reducing the orgies of official Danegeld paid to unionized labor and the small farmer, to avoid recurrences of the terrible unrest in the working and agrarian classes that has caused such immense upheaval in the entire post-medieval history of Europe. It is a gamble, but probably a sensible one. Whether Greece drops out of the Euro, with the predicted unsettled domestic consequences, or scrambles onside by standing down from its governing party’s more clangorous electioneering promises, the reckoning is that the result will stabilize a consensus for prudent financing — if, perhaps, a less hair-shirted austerity than has obtained for the past several years – and, particularly, will help persuade laggards to follow Germany in creating more-flexible labor markets and a more pro-job-creation legal and industrial-relations climate.

Germany itself should have another two to three years before another general election, but it is hobbled by a grand coalition between the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, the only parties that have provided a federal chancellor in the country’s 66-year history as a federal republic. The SPD is chronically divided between its Reuter and Schumacher (or Schmidt and Brandt) wings of pro–Western Alliance and neutralist factions, which largely immobilizes Chancellor Merkel’s government. The other opposition parties with which she might be able to make a coalition — the anarchistic Bandits, the over-the-top German Greens, and the Left party (the detritus of the old East German Communists) — are completely unsuitable for association in government, and Chancellor Merkel must be praying (daughter of an East German Lutheran minister as she is) for a return of the pro-business Free Democrats, who have fallen under the cutoff of 5 percent of the total vote that parties must achieve to enter the Bundestag.

While the German government seems fairly stable, the status of some of Western Europe’s other governments is less clear. The United Kingdom will be going to the polls on May 7 and the result is very uncertain. In elections since 1935, Britain has generally given the Conservative or the Labour party a majority, as the first-past-the-post parliamentary-election system seats whoever leads in each of the country’s 650 constituencies, each of about 100,000 people, no matter how fragmented the vote is. (Voters decisively rejected a version of proportional voting, beloved of all splinter parties, three years ago. The proportional vote is the reason Germany and Israel never have a majority one-party government.) The country has had a Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition for the past five years, the first British peacetime coalition government since 1935. Its economic performance has been quite defensible, but the prime minister, David Cameron, generally conveys the impression of irresolution and righteous opportunism, advocating profound education and health-care reforms and then executing a 180-degree turn, waffling in all directions on European integration, striking an overconfident note on the Scottish-independence referendum and then seeming to panic even as the Unionists were victorious, being among the most grimly purposeful of all world leaders opposing an Iranian nuclear weapon before floundering off into the arms of President Obama and telephoning U.S. senators to urge their support of the president’s policy.

The polls now show the Conservatives and the Labour party, now led by the completely unfeasible Ed Miliband, neck-and-neck in the popular vote, which would generally give Labour the edge (because Cameron mismanaged post-census redistricting). But that truism may be debunked this year because of the apparently heavy move of the Scottish Labour voters to the Scottish Nationalists, even though they lost the independence referendum. Compensating for that and further dividing the electorate, the U.K. Independence party, which Cameron mistakenly and unjustly tried to smear as a ragtag of xenophobic skinheads, seems set to take about 15 percent of the vote, about two-thirds of that from the Conservatives. And the Liberal Democrats seem about to be rolled back to the handful of MPs that they have traditionally enjoyed from outlying districts such as the Scottish islands and parts of Wales. There are also normally some distinctive Northern Irish parties, and the whole picture looks now like the Conservatives will emerge as the largest party, but again about 25 or 30 MPs short of a majority and needing to scrounge among three or four smaller parties to sustain themselves.

In these circumstances, if the past is any guide, the Conservatives, whose leadership is entirely in the hands of the parliamentary party, and which have eased out or unceremoniously dumped every leader they have had since Stanley Baldwin in 1937, apart from those who resigned just before they could be removed, and including even the greatest prime ministers of the past 135 years, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher (albeit Mr. Churchill was 80 and had had a stroke), will give Cameron the order of the boot and replace him with a trans-factional leadership of the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and the flamboyant mayor of London, Boris Johnson. This tandem could probably win a couple of confidence votes, form an electoral alliance with the U.K. Independents, and return to the polls and likely emerge with a solid majority. The Western world will thus be spared the calamity of a government of the United Kingdom led by an unreconstructed, old-Left Labour party, a fate worse than François Hollande’s retrograde socialism has inflicted on stagnating France.

But the regression of the British Labour party is worrisome, as is the advance of the primitive Left elsewhere in Europe. In Ireland, the most successful of the economic-recovery stories of those Euro-countries that almost went to the wall in the past few years, Sinn Fein, the political force behind the lengthily terrorist Irish Republican Army, now wields the astonishing poll total of about 24 percent — not enough to win, but enough to raise absolute mayhem in the Irish parliament if, which has not been their habit in Northern Ireland, they take their seats there​. Europe is still sorting out the relaunch of the European project; federalism has stalled, the complacently assumed rise of Europe to rivalry with the United States has evaporated, despite the feebleness and failed foreign policy of the past 15 years in Washington, and there is no consensus about what to do, nor any serious leaders to provide one, nor any encouragement from Washington.

Obviously, Europe survives, and, despite abrasive posturing from the Kremlin, Russia is in no position to threaten Western Europe as it did throughout the Cold War. But the political vacuum in Washington, unprecedented since the 1920s, is fully mirrored in a confused and uneasy Europe, afflicted by declining population, economic inertia, and acute official mediocrity where just a few years ago Thatcher, Kohl, and even a cunning scoundrel like François Mitterrand led very effectively. Europe is waiting for Germany to behave responsibly as the Continent’s greatest power, a position it has held, when unified, since Bismarck assembled modern Germany in 1871, and Germany and Europe and the world are waiting for the end of the Obama torpor, without longing for the misplaced simplicities of his predecessor. Europe and the world are missing the firm leadership the United States gave, apart from the aberrant Jimmy Carter, from Franklin D. Roosevelt even unto Bill Clinton. And so far, Europe shows no disposition to fill the vacuum, as Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Schmidt, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, and even Pierre Trudeau did for Carter.

First published in National Review Online.

— Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom and Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full.

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Posted on 04/24/2015 6:03 AM by Conrad Black
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Friday, 24 April 2015
Police are facing criticism for failing to investigate allegations of widespread election fraud as the judge who sacked Britain’s first Muslim mayor warned of 'postal voting factories'
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The Metropolitan Police has come under fire for failing to do anything to address concerns about Rahman’s behaviour since he became leader of the council in 2008 and then the elected mayor two years later.

Instead it was left to four ordinary voters who picked up the case after it was dropped by the police to convince the courts of Rahman’s corruption.

On Thursday night senior Met commanders were locked in an urgent meeting to decide whether the findings of the Electoral Court warranted a full criminal investigation. (Of course they bl**dy do)

And with less than two weeks to go before Britain goes to the polls in the general election, the spectre of voting fraud was also raised when the Election Commissioner warned of “postal voting factories” where thousands of fake votes were being cast. 

In a damning ruling handed down by election judge Richard Mawrey QC, the court heard that such was the level of corruption that the 2014 mayoral election in Tower Hamlets was void and would have to be run again. The former mayor, who was not in court for the judgment, was ordered to pay £250,000 costs, with possible liability for far more.

Rahman’s demise came only after four ordinary Tower Hamlets voters risked personal ruin to bring the case. 

Andy Erlam, the leader of the petitioners, said that police and the Electoral Commission had been “useless” and had “done nothing” to bring Rahman to justice.

“Electoral fraud cases were brought to the attention of the police before the petition started but they didn’t take it seriously,” he said. “They were far too close to the mayor. It is quite wrong that individuals should have to risk bankruptcy. If we’d have lost, the costs would have been about £1 million, we would have lost everything.”

Mr Erlam said that police took bogus complaints by Rahman’s supporters against him seriously and at one point threatened him with being interviewed under caution. Meanwhile, he said, they did nothing to tackle the core allegations or the “serious intimidation” conducted against anti-Rahman witnesses in the case. Some such witnesses withdrew or changed their evidence as a result, he said.

In his landmark verdict, Mr Mawrey ruled that Rahman ran a “ruthless and dishonest” campaign and was guilty of “bribery, treating and undue influence,” “making false statements against another candidate” and “undue spiritual influence” – using religion to influence votes.

Rahman’s supporters registered or cast hundreds of fake postal votes, the judge ruled, and a handwriting expert gave evidence to the court that hundreds of ballot papers may have been completed by the same person. They also lied to voters that his main opponent, Labour’s John Biggs, was a racist and said that voting for Rahman was an “Islamic duty”. 

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Posted on 04/24/2015 2:37 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
Sid Ahmed Ghlam
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His plot to blow up a church or two in Paris was foiled, but only by chance -- he shot himself and called for aid, which led to all kinds of discoveries, including his being the likely murderer of Aurelie Chatelain. And more keep coming, including the revelation that he falsified documents to ensure his admittance to university. As Marine Le Pen notes, it was not effective police work, but an accident, that caused him to be apprehended.

A thread of stories, here.

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Posted on 04/23/2015 11:46 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
A Vote On The Efficacy Of Immigration Control In Europe
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Posted on 04/23/2015 11:40 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
Ivan Rioufol: Immigration, A Threat To Europe
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French politicians have famously called immigration "une chance pour l'Europe." Rioufol says that  immigration is not an "opportunity" for Europe, but rather a "menace," a threat. You know who's right.

Bloc-notes : l’immigration, une menace pour l’Europe

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L’immigration ? Le mot rend muet. L’embarras annonce la fin de la xénophile officielle. Jusqu’alors, évoquer le sujet obligeait, pour être convenable, à le présenter forcément comme une "chance". Ce cliché est encore servi par l’Union européenne (UE) et ses Commissaires, militants de l’universalisme et des frontières molles. Mais désormais, l’UE va devoir cogiter davantage pour répondre à la forte pression migratoire causée par les exodes maritimes qui se multiplient, dans le désordre libyen. Les observateurs confirment que l’État islamique est derrière ces flottilles de malheureux, utilisés pour déstabiliser in fine l’Europe ingénue. François Hollande a d’ailleurs qualifié de "terroristes" ceux qui affrètent ces embarcations, dont certaines sombrent en Méditerranée, cimetière des illusions entretenues par l’Union irresponsable. Voit-elle, au moins, les tragédies que produisent ses mirages ?
 
Un million de déshérités économiques sont prêts à tout, tout de suite, pour atteindre, depuis la Tripolitaine, ce qu’ils voient en face comme une terre d’accueil. Aussi l’ONU tient-elle des propos irréfléchis quand, réagissant à la noyade de 800 passagers d’un cargo, elle intime aux européens "de reconnaître le besoin en main-d’œuvre peu qualifiée et admettre que les réfugiés ont le droit de recevoir une protection". L’urgence est de dissuader ceux qui veulent forcer les portes. Pourtant, une flopée d’apparatchiks, qui conduisent l’Europe à leur guise, n’entendent rien des craintes des autochtones face à ces invasions pacifiques. Frontex, l’agence sensée contrôler les frontières européennes, suggère d’ouvrir de "nouvelles voies d’immigration légale". Mais l’UE ne peut se mettre, sans traîtrise, au service de visées djihadistes.
 
Le chantage de Daech, qui s’est dit prêt à lâcher sur des rafiots jusqu’à 700.000 crève-la-faim africains dans un scénario rejoignant Le Camp des Saints (Jean Raspail), devrait faire réfléchir les benêts.(La suite ici
 
Votre serviteur prend une semaine de vacances et vous laisse les clés du blog. Retour le lundi 4 mai. (At this point, even a week's vacation for Ivan Rioufol is cause for alarm).

 

 

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Posted on 04/23/2015 11:25 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
Obama Apologizes for Covert US Drone AQ Strike in Pakistan that Killed US and Italian Hostages
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Dr. Warren Weinstein US Development expert and Giovanni Lo Porto Italian aid worker

Killed in January 2015 US Drone attack

Source: AP and Facebook Page

The Wall Street Journal reported the disclosure of a classified drone attack on an Al Qaeda compound in January that mistakenly killed an American hostage, Dr. Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker, Giovanni Lo Porto.  An Al Qaeda senior operative, Ahmed Farouq who held dual US and Pakistan citizenship was the target of the attack in the controversial CIA covert operation.  Dr. Weinstein had been held since 2011.  The WSJ noted the reactions of the President, Italian Premier Renzi and Weinstein’s widow:

 The intelligence that underpinned the drone strike turned out to have been tragically incomplete, U.S. officials and lawmakers said Thursday.  

The deaths prompted President Barack Obama, who has expanded and redefined the use of U.S. drones, to take full responsibility.

“I profoundly regret what happened. On behalf of the United States government I offer our deepest apologies to their families,” he said at the White House.

But Mr. Weinstein’s family expressed disillusionment at the U.S. and Pakistani approach to his capture and imprisonment by al Qaeda.

“We were so hopeful that those in the U.S. and Pakistani governments with the power to take action and secure his release would have done everything possible to do so, and there are no words to do justice to the disappointment and heartbreak we are going through,” said Elaine Weinstein, the American hostage’s widow.

Mr. Obama said he spoke with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Mr. Weinstein’s family.

Mr. Obama knew about the deaths of the hostages when he met with Mr. Renzi in Washington last Friday but Mr. Obama didn’t tell him, a senior administration official said. Mr. Obama wanted to first develop a plan for sharing the news with the families and the public, the official said.

Mr. Renzi on Thursday expressed “deepest condolences” to the Lo Porto family, as well to the family of Mr. Weinstein. The Italian foreign ministry’s crisis unit immediately contacted Mr. Lo Porto’s family after Mr. Obama’s call.

However, the CIA drone strike that mistakenly killed the two hostages met the rules of engagement:

It was the first known instance in which the Central Intelligence Agency killed hostages in a drone strike. The deaths were a major blow to the spy agency, which conducts the attacks largely behind a cloak of secrecy.

The CIA used rules of engagement that allow drone strikes against suspected militants even if the agency isn’t sure who they are.

The White House has launched a review of the strike to see if changes are needed to the program to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Officials said the program hasn’t been curtailed so far in response.

But Mr. Obama said the initial U.S. assessment of the strike shows it was fully consistent with the guidelines under which his administration conducts such counterterrorism operations.

The CIA launched the strike that killed the hostages under the broad authorities given to the agency to target suspected al Qaeda targets in Pakistan, senior Obama administration officials said. Mr. Obama didn’t directly sign off on the strike beforehand, they said.

JM Berger, author of Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the name of Islam writes about the demise of three American Al Qaeda operatives:  Adam Gadahn, Jewish convert to Salafist Islam who headed AQ Central Media operation, Samir Kahn who fled North Carolina to join American born AQAP leader, Anwar al Awlaki in Yemen to edit Inspire Magazine  and Omar Hammami, a Daphne, Alabama native, born of a Baptist mother and Syrian Muslim engineer father,  who became an Al Shabaab media star and commander.

The title of Berger's Politico Magazine article, “Al Qaeda’s American Dream Ends”   is both a chronicle of the trio's exploits and circumstances about their demise.  As we learned today, Gadahn was killed in a separate drone attack by the CIA covert program. Kahn was also killed in a drone strike in Yemen, as was American-born AQAP leader, Sheik Anwar al-Awlaki.  The two hostages, American development expert Dr. Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto were killed in a US Drone strike under murky circumstances in January 2015 along with AQ leader Ahmed Farouq who had dual US and Pakistani citizenship.  Farouq was allegedly head of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS)

President Obama apologized and took responsibility as Commander in Chief for the failure of the mission to secure the freedom of the hostages, although the decision was delegated to others in the clandestine drone program. The error is reflective of the lack of intelligence assets, a product of reliance on drones to attack AQ leaders under approved rules of engagement. 

 Hammami was killed in an ambush by Al Shabaab in 2013 because he became increasingly critical of the leadership. Both Gadahn and Khan, as Berger points out, provided a template for the slick graphic/ video production and social media campaigns run by ISIS. The title of Berger's piece is somewhat misleading. While Gadahn, Kahn and Hammami were prominent American Jihadis, others, especially in the Muslim émigré communities in the US are taking their place as recruits for ISIS.  For AQ the American Dream may have ended. For ISIS it is only just beginning with few prospects for counterterrorism echelons in our government to create effective de-radicalization programs aimed at preventing these Americans from joining the thongs of tens of thousands from around the Muslim ummah to fight and die for the pure Islamic State. That is because the President refuses to recognize the attraction of Salafist Jihadist Islam at the core of Muslim terrorism.  Today revelations illustrate why the US has lost credibility in relying only on drone strikes to degrade AQ leadership rather than coordinating it with verifiable intelligence from assets in the field.   We understand completely the grief and frustration of the Weinstein and Lo Porto families who criticized both the US and Pakistani governments for not securing the freedom of their late loved ones languishing for years as AQ hostages.

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Posted on 04/23/2015 9:45 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
Three Musical Interludes, For Israel, At the Close of Their 67th Independence Day
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Ha Tikva (The Hope): The National Anthem of Israel

 

 

Ofra Haza, Yemeni Jewish singer, performing Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold)

 

 

And for all the House of Israel:

Numbers 6: 24-25, The Aaronic Blessing

 

"The LORD bless thee and keep thee; The LORD make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace". 

 

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Posted on 04/23/2015 6:47 PM by Christina McIntosh
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
‘Any politician who secures the Muslim vote is well on his way to being elected’
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I posted earlier today that Lutfur rahman (the Grand Vizier of Tower Hamlets) has been found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices.  The Times has some more details tonight. Also the London Evening Standard

His corrupt and illegal campaign has shown the ugly way Islamic identity politics took root in one of multicultural Britain’s many urban ethnic enclaves. Anyone who stood in the way of his ambition was bombarded with accusations of racism and Islamophobia. Almost everybody was cowed into obedience. 

He governed with the help of Bangladeshi councillors only, while his friendship with Hafiz Moulana Shamsul Hoque, the chairman of the local council of mosques, helped to consolidate his hold over the community. 

Mr Rahman gave grants to media organisations serving only the Bangladeshi community, and paid fees for broadcasts which promoted himself. The judge found this amounted to bribery. The mayor gave £100,000 in grants to ten Bangladeshi and Muslim lunch clubs which had not even requested grants, also amounting to a bribe. 

Any politician who “secures the Muslim vote”, as the judge said, is well on the way to being elected.

On the last Friday before the election, deliberately timed to coincide with the Muslim holy day, when the mosques would be full, 101 imams and scholars wrote a letter in the Bengali-language press demanding Mr Rahman’s re-election by local people as their religious duty.

The judge accepted that, by accusing a Muslim politician of exploiting his faith, he risked causing offence. “It may sound pompous,” the judge said, “to cite the old Latin fiat justitia ruat caelum (let justice be done though the heavens fall) but a court that works on any other principle and does so for fear of the consequences is betraying the trust that the public reposes in it.”

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has slammed a High Court judge's decision to void Lutfur Rahman's election, calling the Election Commissioner an "unelected bureaucrat". 

There was also extensive corruption and illegality surrounding the election of his supporters at the council elections. Rahman was banned from running again. His election agent and right-hand man Alibor Choudhary was also banned as a councillor with immediate effect.

Mr Livingstone, a long-time supporter of Rahman - who was thrown out of the Labour party in 2010 - criticised the decision. "If he broke a law why haven't the police arrested and charged him?" Mr Livingstone asked Iain Dale on LBC. "[He is an] unelected bureaucrat overturning the result of an election. I think this is very, very worrying.

"If he's done something wrong have him arrested. Put him on trial. I hope Lutfur will appeal because in all my dealings with him I've never seen anything dodgy."

In a statement this evening the Met (Metropolitan Police - London's Police Force Service) said: "We note the decision of the Election Commissioner and will now take time to fully consider the 200-page report.

"The MPS take allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice extremely seriously and will fully investigate any put to us. We would encourage anyone with concerns in this area to report the matter to their local police."

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Posted on 04/23/2015 5:07 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
Happy 67th Birthday Israel - Yom Ha’atzmaut – Independence Day 2015
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The Third Jewish Commonwealth was born on May 15, 1948 with its Declaration of Independence read by founding Prime Minister David Ben Gurion   in the midst of a raging war with five invading Arab Armies – see below.  67 years later after several wars, numerous terrorist attacks, Israel has defended itself, as perhaps the most powerful armed force in the Middle East.  The first nation to recognize  administratively  was the new  State of Israel was  the  United States  within 12 minutes  of the announcement  by President  Harry S. Truman . Ironically the next nation was Iran that had voted against the partition plan.  The Soviet Union became the first nation to recognize Israel dejure on May 17, 1948. The US followed on January 31, 1949 following Israel’s first election of its Knesset.  Israel was accepted as a member of the UN by a voted of the Security Council on March 4, 1949.   

Israel flourishes despite relations with the rest of the world that are currently problematic at the EU, UN and its bodies. Israel is surrounded by threats both near and far from Iran and its proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State on its borders. Yet, It is one of the happiest nation s ranked 8th in the latest Pew Research Center Global Attitudes Project.  It has more than 8.3 million in population including minority Muslims, Druze, Circassians and Christians. Its Jewish population currently over 6 million now exceeds that of the American Jewish Community.   Americans in poll after poll   consistently and overwhelmingly support Israel. This notwithstanding the thinly disguised attempts by the current Administration to isolate it because of disagreement over Iran’s nuclear program poised to achieve nuclear breakout in the P5+1 process.  Its economy, although fraught with problems is among the fastest growing members of the OECD, fueled in part by high technology ventures in what is referred to as “silicon wadi”, making Israel one of the premier start up nation attracting capital from around the world.

Watch this Happy Birthday Israel 2015 video produced by Nefesh b' Nefesh.  Kol Hakavod, Yom Huledet, Yisrael

 

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Posted on 04/23/2015 4:22 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
Threat to behead Newcastle UKIP parliamentary candidate probed by police
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From the Chronicle thanks to Mike

Police are investigating a threat to behead a UKIP election candidate after the 62-year-old reported a disturbing phone call.

David Robinson-Young, a 62-year-old barrister who hopes to be elected to represent the Newcastle East constituency ... described the man as an “irate” constituent who he says identified himself as a Muslim and angry with the Government. He said the man was initially calm but after some minutes began to shout and swear at which point the former policeman hung up.

Mr Robinson-Young said: “He said the Muslim community is really annoyed with the British government supporting bombing Muslim countries and that the community here just wants to get on with their family lives.” Mr Robinson-Young said the man swore at him before making the beheading threat.

Northumbria Police confirmed they had received a complaint and are investigating the matter.

Meanwhile, the UKIP campaign office in Northumberland’s Blyth has vandalised this week for the second time. Crosses and the word ‘No’ were daubed on to the shutters of the office.

Jonathan Arnott, North East UKIP MEP, said: “This is now the second time that anti-democracy protesters have vandalised our office in Blyth. Sadly some people don’t respect our fundamental British freedoms. This comes at a time when some of our candidates have received death threats, showing the ugly face of some of those who oppose our message of freedom, independence and democracy.

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Posted on 04/23/2015 12:10 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
A Monument to Tastelessness
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On a recent visit to New York City, I had the opportunity to walk around the exterior of the new Whitney Museum, built at a cost of $442 million. It is a monument of a kind: to the vanity, egotism, and aesthetic incompetence of celebrity architects such as Renzo Piano, and to the complete loss of judgment and taste of modern patrons.

If it were not a tragic lost opportunity (how often do architects have the chance to build an art gallery at such cost?), it would be comic. I asked the person with whom I was walking what he would think the building was for if he didn’t know. The façade—practically without windows—looked as if it could be the central torture chambers of the secret police, from which one half expects the screams of the tortured to emerge. Certainly, it was a façade for those with something to hide: perhaps appropriately so, given the state of so much modern art.

The building was a perfect place from which to commit suicide, with what looked like large diving boards emerging from the top of the building, leading straight to the ground far below. Looking up at them, one could almost hear in one’s mind’s ear the terrible sound of the bodies as they landed on the ground below. There were also some (for now) silvery industrial chimneys, leading presumably from the incinerators so necessary for the disposal of rubbishy art. The whole building lacked harmony, as if struck already by an earthquake and in a half-collapsed state; it’s a tribute to the imagination of the architect that something so expensive should be made to look so cheap. It is certain to be shabby within a decade.

Almost as interesting to me as the building itself was Michael Kimmelman's “criticism” of it in the New York Times. I have seldom read a piece of criticism in which the fundamental question was avoided in so pusillanimous a fashion, and in which the writer so delicately refrained from passing aesthetic judgment, presumably from fear of disagreement or appearing reactionary.

At no point did Kimmelman offer a clear indication of whether he considered the building good or bad, beautiful or ugly. Instead, he used locutions such as the following, compatible with any value judgment whatever: “It ratifies Chelsea;” “The museum becomes . . . an outdoor perch to see and be seen;” “Mr. Piano’s galleries borrow from the old downtown loft aesthetic;” “They’re nonprescriptive places . . . that may prove to be the ticket.”

Or, of course, “they may end up a headache.” “But it is a deft, serious achievement, a signal contribution to downtown and the city’s changing cultural landscape;” though, on the other hand, “The new museum isn’t a masterpiece.” But it’s an “eager neighbor;” and “it also exudes a genteel eccentricity that plays off the rationalism of Mr. Piano, and of Manhattan’s street grid.”

All this makes Buridan’s ass seem positively decisive. Kimmelman continues: “I’m reminded of the Pompidou Center in Paris, which Mr. Piano designed with Richard Rogers. The breakthrough there was not just the inside-out factory aesthetic but the development of a populist hangout . . . .” Not only does Kimmelman make the building sound like new, but unpleasant, cancer therapy, he also forgets that public executions were also “a populist [or is it popular?] hangout,” and probably would be still if carried out.

With architectural critics like this, no wonder celebrity architects get away with it.

First published in City Journal.

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Posted on 04/23/2015 8:03 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
US DOE Created Secret Tennessee Facility to Estimate Iranian Nuclear Breakout
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Y-12 National Security Complex Oak Ridge Tennessee.  Source:  National Nuclear Security Admin -Reuters.

Business Insider  published an assessment of a New York Times (NYT)  report on the US Department of Energy building a secret test facility in Tennessee to test out  the ability of Iran’s nuclear program to achieve nuclear breakout from their uranium enrichment  program,  The NYT report,  Atomic Labs Across the U.S. Race to Stop Iran  authored by David Sanger and William Broad, known for leaking Administration  information,  noted:

There inside a gleaming plant at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation were giant centrifuges — some surrendered more than a decade ago by Libya, others built since — that helped the scientists come up with what they told President Obama were the “best reasonable” estimates of Iran’s real-life ability to race for a weapon under different scenarios.

“We know a lot more about Iranian centrifuges than we would otherwise,” said a senior nuclear specialist familiar with the forested site and its covert operations.

The classified replica is but one part of an extensive crash program within the nation’s nine atomic laboratories — Oak Ridge, Los Alamos and Livermore among them — to block Iran’s nuclear progress. As the next round of talks begins on Wednesday in Vienna, the secretive effort remains a technological obsession for thousands of lab employees living the Manhattan Project in reverse. Instead of building a bomb, as their predecessors did in a race to end World War II, they are trying to stop one.

This Business Insider article demonstrates how the Department of Energy had used nuclear enrichment equipment surrendered by Gaddafi's Libya in 2004 to replicate the enrichment cascade hall at Natanz in Iran in an attempt to estimate the time to breakout. The fact that the New York Times disclosures underestimated what third party experts like David Albright’s Washington-DC - based Institute for Science and International Security (the good ISIS) and others had determined was the technical assessment that Iran's actual breakout time was less than three months is an indication of the incredible cupidity of the Administration that Iran couldn't obtain a nuclear device in less than one year a decade from conclusion of an agreement. The obvious move by Congress is hold hearings on this disclosure with qualified third party experts. The other implication is that Israeli PM Netanyahu may have had independent verification that the quantity of low enriched uranium could easily be converted into fissile material for a nuclear weapon, hence his argument that the Administration's negotiation stance using the Department of Energy simulations would lead to what he deemed a 'very bad deal" in the P5+1 negotiations with Iran. 

Note these excerpts

This "Manhattan Project in reverse" is situated on the grounds of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It uses placeholder centrifuges meant to represent Iranian equipment — an assembly that including centrifuges once belonging to Libya's disbanded nuclear program.

Scientists apparently proposed redesigns, centrifuge cascade configurations, limits on types of centrifuges, and other fixes that they believed would keep Iranian breakout at under a year. Eventually, they reached an equation that the Iranians could accept.

The Obama administration has premised its arguments for a nuclear deal with Iran on the claim that for a period of 10 years, limits imposed on the Islamic Republic would make it nearly impossible for the country to build a single nuclear weapon in less than a year without the international community learning about it and formulating a response.

The Times doesn't go into much detail as to what those fixes actually consist of, but reports that government scientists reached a high level of confidence that their formula could keep Iran at a one-year breakout.

For instance: "The question was whether a proposed design of Natanz [Iran's only uranium enrichment facility for the first 15 years of an envisioned nuclear deal] that allowed more than 6,000 centrifuges to spin would still accomplish the administration’s goal of keeping Iran at least a year away from acquiring enough enriched uranium to make a bomb," the Times article states. "The answer was yes."


But experts are skeptical:

 

In a report issued on April 11th and authored by a group of scientists that included physicist and former International Atomic Energy Agency expert David Albright, the Institute for Science and International Security noticed a curious aspect to the administration's breakout estimates: they didn't seem to take into account Iran's supply of 20% enriched uranium, fissile material has undergone around 90% of the revolutions needed to reach weapons-grade.

Iran oxidized half of its 20% stock (and down-blended the other half to a lower level of enrichment) under the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action signed between Iran and a group of 6 countries led by the US.

As the ISIS report explains, in leaving the oxidized 20% stocks out of its breakout estimate, the administration seems to believe that reconverting that 20% to a state where it can be further enriched and weaponized would be such a time-consuming, intensive, and obvious process that Iran's 20% stocks simple don't need to be factored into weaponization scenarios.

The ISIS report is skeptical. It says Iran could render its 20% stocks usable in just a few months and that it's hugely relevant to any breakout scenario.

"The near 20 percent LEU stock, unless largely eliminated or rendered unusable in a breakout, could be an important reserve in reducing the time to produce the first significant quantity of weapon-grade uranium (WGU) and rapidly producing a second significant quantity of WGU," the report states.

According the series of fact sheets released after the Lausanne, Switzerland nuclear talks concluded, Iran would be allowed to keep a stockpile of 300 kilograms of uranium enriched to 3.67% under a final deal. Even a small amount of uranium at 20% enrichment would far surpass this stockpile in weaponization potential: "a rule of thumb is that 50 kilograms of near 20 percent LEU hexafluoride (or about 33 kilograms uranium mass) is equivalent in terms of shortening breakout time to 500 kilograms of 3.5 percent LEU hexafluoride," the report says. 

And Iran has plenty of convertible 20% on hand — around 228 kilograms of uranium mass of near-20%, which would come out to 337 kilograms of near-20% if it were "converted back to hexaflouride form."

Much of the 20% is "in forms where the LEU could be recovered in a straightforward manner." But the report found no proof that the 20% had been included in the administration's breakout estimate, and concluded that "the US evaluation requires greater scrutiny."

Bloomberg confirms the ISIS report findings:

As Bloomberg reported on April 21, the administration only declassified its actual breakout estimate — which states that Iran is currently between 2 and 3 months away from building a single nuclear weapon, if it chose to do so — on April 1st, the day before the series of announcements that marked the conclusion of the Lausanne, Switzerland round of nuclear negotiations. Ali Khadery, a former advisor to US Central Command and the US official who spent the longest time in Iraq during the American military campaign in that country, suggested on Twitter that an approximate 2-3 month breakout estimate dated from as early as 2009.

Business Insider conclusion:

The New York Times article gives an idea of the scientific infrastructure the US is using to evaluate its breakout claims. It's now known that there are scientists using a mock-up of Iranian nuclear facilities to produce conditions for reaching a one-year breakout time.

The methods they're actually using for reaching those conclusions, and the relationship between the administration's public breakout claims and Iran's actual timetable under a final deal, both remain as vague as ever.


 

 

 

           


 

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Posted on 04/23/2015 7:25 AM by Jerry Gordon
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
Pope Francis Calls on Christians to Stand with Jews to Condemn Anti-Semitism
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Antoher good move by the Pope reported in the Christian Times:

Pope Francis called on Christians to stand united with Jews to defend themselves against discrimination and persecution.

The Pope made the call during a meeting with a 30-member delegation from the Conference of European Rabbis on Monday at the Vatican.

The highest leader of the Catholic Church cited the "troubling" anti-Semitic movements in Europe, in his address to rabbis who met with him in anticipation of the 50th anniversary in October of the "Nostra Aetate," the Second Vatican Council's declaration on relations with the Jews, Muslims and other religions.

"Anti-Semitic trends in Europe these days are troubling, as are certain acts of hatred and violence. Every Christian must be firm in deploring all forms of anti-Semitism, and in showing their solidarity with the Jewish people," said the Pope.

He also said the Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, is a reminder that persecution against followers of religions should be denounced.

"Recently we marked the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the concentration camp which has come to be synonymous with the great tragedy of the Shoah. The memory of what took place there, in the heart of Europe, is a warning to present and future generations," th Pope said.

Pope Francis also maintained that Jews and Christians are bound by duty to "preserve the religious sense" amid an increasingly secular and atheist society.

"Today, in Europe, it is more important than ever to emphasize the spiritual and religious dimension of human life," he said. "In a society increasingly marked by secularism and threatened by atheism, we run the risk of living as if God did not exist. People are often tempted to take the place of God, to consider themselves the criterion of all things, to control them, to use everything according to their own will."

"It is so important to remember, however, that our life is a gift from God, and that we must depend on him, confide in him, and turn towards him always," Pope Francis said. "Jews and Christians have the blessing but also the responsibility to help preserve the religious sense of the men and women of today, and that of our society, by our witness to the sanctity of God and human life. God is holy, and the life he has given is holy and inviolable."

The Pope also condemned persecution against the faithful in other regions. "Acts of hatred and violence against Christians and the faithful of other religions must likewise be condemned everywhere," he said.

The chief rabbi of Moscow and the president of the conference, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, said: "We express our deepest sympathy, prayers and support for the Christians in the Middle East."

The chief rabbi said the Jewish community values the Nostra Aetate's "rejection of every persecution against any man," its condemnation of "displays of anti-Semitism directed against Jews at any time and by anyone," as well as its recognition of the spiritual patrimony that Jews and Christians have.

Rabbi Goldschmidt expressed alarm at the rising secularism in Europe. "Who would have thought even 25 years ago that the East will become the defender of traditional religious values while the West has embraced a secularism which moves it away from its Judeo-Christian heritage," he said.

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Posted on 04/23/2015 6:57 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman guilty of corrupt and illegal practices over election
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From the Telegraph

Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman has been found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices by a judge, who concluded that he had breached rules governing elections.

Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey - who sat as a judge at the High Court - said the May 2014 east London mayoral election result was "void". Rahman has also been ordered to pay £250,000 in costs. 

Outlining his conclusions on Thursday, Mr Mawrey suggested that Mr Rahman, who was born in Bangladesh, had played "race" and "religious" cards.

Mr Mawrey said the conduct of Mr Rahman's supporters on polling day has caused "considerable disquiet" and that corrupt practices had "extensively prevailed". Mr Rahman had ignored or flouted laws, said the judge. 

Hopefully more later. I don't yet know whether there are any criminal charges that can now be considered, whether the election of May 2014 has to be re-run, what happens now at all. But it's good news. Maybe this will concentrate the minds of the Electoral Commission on the matter of the nationwide abuse of the postal vote. 

Update from the Telegraph at 5.30 BST
The May 2014 mayoral election will now be re-run and Rahman is barred from standing, the judge said. 

Mr Mawrey said Rahman had "driven a coach and horses" through local authority law and had been an “evasive winess”.. (and) the conduct of Mr Rahman's supporters on polling day had also caused "considerable disquiet"

"The evidence laid before this court, limited though it necessarily was to the issues raised in the petition, has disclosed an alarming state of affairs in Tower Hamlets. 

"This is not the consequence of the racial and religious mix of the population, (he has to say that of course - but while we have our faults electoral corruption is not an English trait) nor is it linked to any ascertainable pattern of social or other deprivation. It is the result of the ruthless ambition of one man."

He added: "The real losers in this case are the citizens of Tower Hamlets." 

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Posted on 04/23/2015 6:55 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
Census: Record 51 Million Immigrants in 8 years, will Account for 82% of U.S. Growth
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Washington Examiner:

Legal and illegal immigrants will hit a record high of 51 million in just eight years and eventually account for an astounding 82 percent of all population growth in America, according to new U.S. Census figures.

A report from the Center for Immigration Studies that analyzed the statistics said that by 2023, one in seven U.S. residents will be an immigrant, rising to one in five by 2060 when the immigrant population totals 78 million.

The report was provided to Secrets and released Wednesday evening.

The surge in immigrant population, both legal and illegal, threatens to slam into the presidential campaign as GOP candidates move to figure out what their position is and the president tries to use executive powers to exempt some 5 million illegals from deportation.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker disrupted the debate this week when he said that legal immigration also needs to be reformed to make sure Americans don't suffer by losing jobs to new citizens.

But even more, the CIS report said that the surge in mostly legal immigrants will have a huge impact on the nation and taxpayers.

"These numbers have important implications for workers, schools, infrastructure, congestion and the environment," said Steven Camarota, the center's director of research. "They also may have implications for our ability to successfully assimilate and integrate immigrants. Yet there has been almost no national debate about bringing in so many people legally each year, which is the primary factor driving these numbers."

Those numbers are likely to shake up Washington's political debate over the 12 million illegals in America, the expected 70,000 expected to pour over the border this year and the 4.4 million legal immigrants on a State Department waiting list who have relatives or jobs in the U.S.

A protest in California. AP Photo

A key senator steering the immigration debate, Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions, has warned that higher numbers of immigrants will hurt the middle class. In a letter to the New York Times Saturday, he wrote, "It defies reason to argue that the record admission of new foreign workers has no negative effect on the wages of American workers, including the wages of past immigrants hoping to climb into the middle class. Why would many of the largest business groups in the United States spend millions lobbying for the admission of more foreign workers if such policies did not cut labor costs?"

On Friday, key business leaders including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a group associated with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plan to pitch for more immigration. Their schedule is below.

The numbers, as seen in the highlights below, will also raise concerns that Washington is giving the keys to the nation to new immigrants:

• The immigrant population will grow four times faster than the native born population, reaching 15.8 percent, or 57 million, of the nation's population in 2030, 17.1 percent, or 65 million, in 2040, and 18.8 percent, or 78 million, in 2060.

• Net immigration this year will be 1.24 million; green cards about 1.1 million.

• Immigrants and their descendants "will account for the overwhelming share of population growth," said the Center in projecting growth. They will account for 75.5 percent from 2010-2050 and 82 percent from 2010-2060.

• Census Bureau projects that in 2023 the nation's immigrant population, legal and illegal, will reach 14.8 percent of the total U.S. population, the highest share ever recorded.

 

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Posted on 04/23/2015 6:44 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
Thibault De Montbrial: France Has Been At War Now For Several Years
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Here.

It's a war at the moment still of "low intensity" but of far greater intensity than the public knows, because there are many plots that have been foiled, and never come to light, and others that have been given less attention than they deserve -- French people, like others in the West, now note only the most spectacular.

He mentions here and there, about the "radicalisation" of Muslims in France but it is clear that he understands that the basis for the war being waged on France is not a mutant form of Islam, but Islam itself, now being grasped, and not rejected, but accepted, by Muslims who, more and more, are willing, once the full message of Islam is brought, and repeatedly, to their attention, to participate directly in Jihad using the instruments of qitaal (combat) and terrorism.

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Posted on 04/23/2015 6:41 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company
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New York Times:

The headline in Pravda trumpeted President Vladimir V. Putin’s latest coup, its nationalistic fervor recalling an era when the newspaper served as the official mouthpiece of the Kremlin: “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.”

The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.

But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one.

At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.

Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.

The New York Times’s examination of the Uranium One deal is based on dozens of interviews, as well as a review of public records and securities filings in Canada, Russia and the United States. Some of the connections between Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation were unearthed by Peter Schweizer, a former fellow at the right-leaning Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book “Clinton Cash.” Mr. Schweizer provided a preview of material in the book to The Times, which scrutinized his information and built upon it with its own reporting.

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Posted on 04/23/2015 5:29 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 23 April 2015
Illegal Migrants Into Europe, Taken At The Flood
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'Les entrées sont chaque jour plus importantes que les sorties. Sur l'année écoulée, les États de l'Union ont signifié 112.362 refus d'entrée aux migrants (-13 %). Ils ont également procédé à 157 324 renvois effectifs de clandestins (-2 %). Mathématiquement, le nombre de séjours illégaux grimpe. Il vient même de passer la barre historique des 400 000 détectés en douze mois (+21 %). Tandis que les demandes d'asile ont dépassé les 470 000 (+38 %), principalement répartis entre l'Allemagne, la Suède et, dans une moindre mesure, la France, qui accueille près de 70 000 demandeurs par an.

Close, then, for 2014, to half-a-million officially known to have entered and asked for asylum? . How many more have actually arrived, and simply disappeared, without asking for asyum? Arabs from Libya, Syria, Iraq, and practically everywhere, and black Africans from sub-Saharan lands. Many of them are not even literate in their own languages, seeing Europe simply as an eldorado. The fantastic sums that would need to be spent to make them minimally able to subsist on their own, or rather, the fantastic sums to be spent on health, education, housing, and then, too, on more police and on prisons for the many who end up there, the millions uncomprehending of what an advanced society requires, and the Muslims among them, Arab and African, a source of permanent hostility towards the native non-Muslims their laws and customs, and a source of permanent danger,, physical and civilisational, that does not stop, that grows and grows. And how many tens or hundreds of millions would come, if not stopped?

And if each of those half-million illegals who have formally asked for asylum -- forget all those who have snuck in and never had to ask -- were to come, how much would it cost the receiving states? If each cost, in health care and housing and education (and think of the size of the families of these people, and their rate of reproduction once in Europe, as compared to the Europeans), $30,000 a year in upkeep for the state, that would be -- let's do the math together -- $15 billion more -- in addition to the hundreds of billions being spent already on just the tens of millions of Muslims now in Europe, and breeding apparently unstoppably.

Those who bring them -- the "passeurs" -- are  all Muslims, eager to exploit the situation for gain: Arabs, Tunisians and Libyans, mainly, among the Arabs (but in the chain there are are "Palestinians" and Iraqis and Lebanese too) with some Turks as well.

Two articles from lefigaro.com, here and here.

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Posted on 04/23/2015 3:55 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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