Monday, 25 July 2016
The genius of Donald Trump

by Conrad Black

Even in the week that he is nominated by the Republican party for the presidency of the United States, intelligent people fail in droves to understand what Donald Trump has accomplished. It was disappointing to read the editorial in this newspaper on Tuesday that “a Trump presidency would be a descent into the uncertainties of anger, bitterness, and division … a recipe for disaster.” This is a widespread view, but it is bunk. It reminds me of Tom Wicker’s prediction in The New York Times the Sunday before the inauguration of Richard Nixon in 1969, that the president-elect would “blow up the world,” and by Scotty Reston in the same newspaper about 12 years later that Ronald Reagan would be a complete failure who would ride back to California like a disillusioned cowboy after his first term. As the world knows, but may have forgotten, Nixon ended school segregation and the draft and the endless riots and the skyjackings and the assassinations, reduced the crime rate, founded the Environmental Protection Agency, opened relations with China and a peace process in the Middle East, extracted the U.S. from Vietnam while retaining a non-communist government in Saigon, and signed the greatest arms control agreement in world history with the U.S.S.R. while re-establishing American nuclear superiority, and was re-elected by 18 million votes. The subsequent Watergate nonsense, tawdry though it was, doesn’t alter the fact that his was one of the most successful presidential terms in U.S. history. It is probably better remembered that Reagan produced America’s greatest economic boom of the 20th century and bloodlessly won the Cold War, and was re-elected by 15 million votes.

I don’t predict the same level of success for Donald Trump, but such a performance is more likely than the triumph of bigotry, discord and international conflict that the Post editorial, in the prevailing conventional wisdom, foresees. These parrots of gloom should be celebrating the fact that one of the only moderates among the Republican candidates won. Senator Ted Cruz pitched his campaign to the Bible-thumping corn-cobbers with M16 rifles in the rear windows of their pickup trucks and announced that God had told him to run. Trump and Sanders are the only candidates who favour universal health care, and Trump, contrary to a great deal of unfounded over-reactive comment about him, never said anything remotely antagonistic about women, gays, African-Americans or Latinos who came to the U.S. legally.

What the world has witnessed, but has not recognized it yet, has been a campaign of genius. No one in history has come from an apolitical background to take over complete control of one of the great American political parties. World-historic generals, Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower, were recruited by party grandees. Newspaper publisher Horace Greeley for the Democrats (1872), and utilities executive and lawyer Wendell Willkie for the Republicans (1940), were nominated, but they won narrowly, did not take over the party organization or put the party elders to flight, and had no chance of winning (against Grant and Franklin D. Roosevelt). The Trump candidacy was greeted with howls of derision — the cognoscenti conducted a Bataan Death March retreat. Trump couldn’t get more than 20, 30, 40 per cent, would be trashed at the convention, would splinter the party, would be waxed by Mrs. Clinton (who has had problems enough coming in ahead of a campy Vermont socialist and avoiding an indictment).

As Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio observed as he left the race, having been bombed by almost a million votes in his home state by Trump (who, remember, had no “ground game”), “There was a tsunami coming that no one except Mr. Trump saw.” These earthshaking lamentations for those identified in both parties with the failures of the past 20 years are completely implausible. Trump didn’t give us the immense housing bubble and terrible financial crisis, over a decade of war in the Middle East well conducted by the military but leading to colossal strategic and humanitarian disasters, the doubling in seven years of the $9 trillion of national debt accumulated in the previous 233 years of American independence, and an endless sequence of foreign policy humiliations: disappearing red lines, a nuclear sell-out to Iran, and unprecedented cheek from the penurious Russian mountebank Putin, allowed to pretend he has the force of Stalin.

These wailing commentators should be asking why the powers that be of both parties didn’t lift a finger while 12 million illegals flooded into the country, and why the authors of these fiascos, after 60 years of triumph over the Great Depression, Nazism, Japanese imperialism and international communism, suddenly became an elite of idiots who could not run a two-car funeral, apart from the expertise and courage of the armed forces, mis-deployed though they were. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton can’t utter the phrase “Islamist extremism,” the president called the Fort Hood shooting by a jihadist “workplace violence,” and told the joint chiefs of staff that the greatest danger facing America is climate change. What sclerosis has taken hold that the great achievements and generally high level of competence of 10 administrations, five of each party, (FDR to Bush senior), suddenly was warped into this nightmare of serial self-inflicted blunderbuss wounds, causing great collateral damage in the world?

Donald Trump saw it and none of those who governed and legislated for a living did (apart from, to a degree and through such rose-tinted glasses his vision is blurred, Bernie Sanders). The country has tried changing parties in the White House and the Congress (Tom Foley to Newt Gingrich, who is not “odious” as the Tuesday NP editorial claimed, merely flakey, to Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, and now the more promising Paul Ryan). By any normal criteria, the whole governing elite should be sent packing, bag and baggage, foot, horse and guns. The commentariat should be celebrating the fact that Donald did the necessary to round up the Archie Bunker vote, and it is little wonder that it is now almost half the people, but is a moderate in all policy areas except illegal or hostile immigration and unequal trade deals; and that Hillary has managed to drive off the loopy left. If we were now witnessing a contest between Sanders and Cruz, there really could be an impending catastrophe.

Now that Trump is the nominee, having come from the political wilderness and paid for his own campaign, he will drastically scale back the stylistic infelicities (which are as disagreeable to me as to most serious people, but are just part of his shtick). He is not ideological and will make the system work — he is, as he never tires of telling us, a deal-maker. In foreign policy, he will be neither trigger-happy like George W., nor an other-worldly pacifist like Obama. He will spend a billion dollars of the Republican party’s money reminding the country that legally and ethically, Hillary is carrying more dead weight cargo than the Queen Mary. He and Hillary will now both campaign toward the centre, but whoever wins, this is the last stand of moderation. One more debacle like the past four or five presidential terms, and the animals will be released. The paint-ball parks, the shooting ranges, and the teeming ghettos (scores of millions of Americans unnoticed by Norman Rockwell, Grandma Moses and Walt Disney) will not be gulled again by a limousine liberal in a neon pantsuit or a pseudo-blue-collar billionaire.

The U.S. and the world could do much worse and the media, whom Donald has rightly taken to the woodshed to the general delight of the public, should stop wringing its hands and report more perceptively and equably this performance of great virtuosity in the greatest circus of all, which has caught them all with unclean hands and their pants down. Vulgar, corrupt, banal and half-mad though it is, America remains magnificent in a way, and absorbs the world’s attention; we’re all still watching.

First published in the National Post.

Posted on 07/25/2016 4:50 AM by Conrad Black
Monday, 25 July 2016
Ansbach explosion: Syrian asylum seeker killed by own bomb at German bar

Methinks the German authorities doth protest too much. Ali Sonboli doesn't seem to have been motivated by jihad; his murders may have been a school spree killing but afterschool. However what about his Afghan friend who was arrested yesterday? How deep was he involved and what was his motive if he was aware and helping? The machete murderer yesterday started with his own wife but why should a domestic row also end with bystanders nearly killed?

Why have a bomb in a backpack just to commit suicide because you are worried about your own asylum application? Or can't get into a music festival? And then detonate it regardless of the others who might be killed near you? No, sorry, that was is a suicide attack and that is also the personal opinion of  Joachim Herrmann the Bavarian interior minister. It is very lucky that only the bomber was killed. From the Telegraph

A suicide bomber who blew himself up after being turned away from a music festival in southern Germany was a Syrian man who had been denied asylum, according to Bavarian authorities.

The 27-year-old killed himself and injured 12 others when he detonated an explosive device after being denied entry to the event in Ansbach because he didn't have a ticket, the Bavarian interior minister said. "We don't know if this man planned on suicide or if he had the intention of killing others," Joachim Herrmann said..."Unfortunately, this is a terrible new attack which will surely increase people's anxiety," 

He said that the contents of a backpack that the man was carrying would have been sufficient to kill and injure many more people. Mr Herrmann said that the attacker, who came to Germany two years ago but had his asylum claim rejected after a year, had tried to kill himself twice in the past and had spent time in a psychiatric clinic.

(He) told Germany’s DPA, that he personally considers the bombing in Ansbach to have been the work of an Islamist suicide bomber. "My personal opinion is that, unfortunately I think, it is very obvious that there has been a real Islamist suicide attack here,"

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office in Ansbach said the attacker's motive wasn't clear. "If there is an Islamist link or not is purely speculation at this point," said the spokesman, Michael Schrotberger. 

Deputy police chief Roman Fertinger said there were "indications" that pieces of metal had been added to the explosive device. Which is a sure indication that it wasn't a personal suicide attempt. On Sunday night police said they suspected that the man who had died in the explosion was the attacker. Police added that the suspect has lived in Ansbach since July 2, 2015 and had a “criminal” history.


Posted on 07/25/2016 1:23 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 24 July 2016
Syrian Refugee in Germany Kills Woman with Machete, Wounds Two Others


BERLIN — Police say a Syrian asylum-seeker killed a woman with a machete and wounded two others outside a bus station in the southwestern German city of Reutlingen before being arrested.

Police spokesman Bjoern Reusch said in a statement Sunday that witnesses said the 21-year-old man, who was known to police, was having an argument with the woman before attacking her about 4:30 p.m. Police say the motive behind the attack is still not clear.

The attack comes as Germany is on edge following a rampage at a Munich mall on Friday night in which nine people were killed, and an ax attack on a train a week ago that left five wounded in southern Germany.

Posted on 07/24/2016 12:30 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 24 July 2016
ISIS Targeting Christians in America

ISIS is now publishing church directories they have hacked on the Internet. Could your church membership roll end up on an ISIS kill list? Make no mistake about it, ISIS plans to kill every Jew and Christian they can get their hands on. We have got to take this threat seriously. Despite what the President states, ISIS is not the JV teams.

How An Entire Church Ended Up On An ISIS Kill List

Posted on 07/24/2016 7:14 AM by John Constantine
Sunday, 24 July 2016
No More Munichs

by Michael Curtis

Munich is not a name that conjures up pleasant memories for political shrewdness. On September 30, 1938 the Munich Agreement was signed and the appeasement policies of the Western democracies allowed Nazi Germany to annex parts of Czechoslovakia, and to take actions leading to World War II. This diplomatic blunder can now be considered a tragedy of European and world history and a warning to the present policy makers in the consequences of refusal to fight against an evil force.

Evil appeared again in Munich with the shooting on July 22, 2016 outside a McDonald’s Restaurant in the city in which nine people were killed and more than 20 others wounded by a lone 18 year old gunman using a 9mm pistol and 300 rounds of ammunition who then killed himself.

The gunman, Aloi Souboly, of Iranian ancestry, was German born and raised, and had dual citizenship. He is said by officials to have been deranged and obsessed with both the idea of mass shootings and with violent computer games. Though there is apparently no link of him to any Islamist terrorist organization, an eyewitness to the events said he had shouted two phrases “I am German,” and “Allahu Akbar” before he shot at children.

An incidental reminder of past inhumanity in the city is that the site of the shootings is close to the place where Palestinian terrorists massacred 11 Israeli athletes during the summer Olympics in 1972.

Like other European countries Germany, that has accepted 800,000 asylum seekers from the Middle East, has not been immune from other terrorist violence. This Munich shooting took place took place only four days after a refugee, an Afghan teenager, attacked people with a hatchet and knife on July 18, 2016 on a train near Wurzburg, Germany, injuring five people. His attack was waged in the name of ISIS. On December 31, 2015, migrants and asylum seekers were responsible for mass sexual assaults and thefts in Cologne.

Belgium has been the scene of terrorist attacks on March 22, 2016 in Brussels when 32 people were killed and more than 300 injured in suicide bombings at the airport and metro stations; and on May 24, 2014 when a gunman killed four at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

France, of course, has suffered the most heavily from Islamist attacks. The most well known are the murder of three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi by a gunman in Toulouse in March 2012; the murders by terrorists claiming allegiance to ISIS of 17 at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo , the satirical magazine, and at the kosher supermarket in Paris on January 7-9, 2015 in Paris; the massacre by ISIS operatives of 130 killed and hundreds of wounded in multiple attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015; the stabbing to death of a police captain and his wife in their home in a suburb of Paris on June 13, 2016; and the massacre by a terrorist who had accepted Islamist extremism of 84 people and wounding hundreds others by driving a truck along the promenade in Nice on Bastille Day, July 14.

This recital of the horrors committed by Islamist terrorists and those linked in some way to ISIS is required in the light of the intellectual and political horrors committed by a member of the British House of Lords, Baroness (Jenny) Tonge, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party for which she was an MP in the House of Commons from 1997 to 2005, and is now a life peer.

Lady Tonge has become, not simply controversial but notorious for her relentless vituperations against the State of Israel, using the highest institutions in the country as her forum.  Some of these fulminations can be illustrated.

In 2006 Tonge remarked, “The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a grip of our party (Lib Dem).” The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, was unusually critical: “her language was “irresponsible and inappropriate.” In spite of this reprimand she persisted with a justification, like so many other virulent critics of Israel, that she was not anti-Semitic. She explained she had only commented on “the Israeli lobby in politics.”

Nevertheless, Tonge went far beyond the supposed “lobby,” whatever or whoever that was. On January 2009 in the House of Lords she asked about war crimes being committed in Gaza. She called for the immediate establishment by the UN Security Council of an independent fact-finding commission to Palestine to Palestine to investigate all breaches of international law.

Of course she already knew the answer. At a left wing rally in London on January 19, 2009 she declared, “It is a disgusting, obscene, outrage what is going on in Gaza.” She looked forward to a full trade embargo and boycotting everything Israeli. Naturally, she took no heed of the Amnesty Report that criticized the war crimes of Hamas.

Even more disgusting, she made comments about the Israeli IDF in what can be considered a mixture of a form of historic blood libel accusations and stereotypes of the greed of Jews. She wanted to disprove a negative. Tonge said on February 11, 2010 that Israel, the country that had responded very quickly to the emergency in Haiti, should set up an inquiry to disprove allegations that its medical teams, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association, in Haiti harvested organs of the earthquake victims for use in transplants.

Tonge forgot to say that the “allegations” had only been made on Al Manar, the Lebanese TY station linked to Hezbollah, and were published by the Palestine Telegraph, the online journal based in Gaza and on which Tonge is a patron.

Lady Tonge has made no secret of her views, often insensitive and bizarre. In a visit to the Gaza Strip in 2003 she compared the conditions for Palestinians there to the conditions Jews suffered in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. She dramatically announced she would consider becoming a bomber if she were a Palestinian.

What is disconcerting today in the midst of Islamist terrorism all over the globe is her explanation for terrorism. The House of Lords on July 21, 2016 was debating the living conditions of Palestinian children. Tonge’s contribution was, “The treatment of the Palestinians by Israel is a major cause of the rise of extreme Islamism and Daesh (ISIS).” Israel, she said, “is creating a generation of terrorists who will have a justified grudge against Israel and the countries that support her,”

Tonge of course, whether or not she is anti-Semitic, is a lost cause to reasonable and objective discussion of the Middle East in general or to Israeli actions in particular. Two specific things are distressing. One is the use she has made of British parliamentary institutions, not to make genuine criticisms of real, specific Israeli actions but to formulate unending, relentless, and misleading accusations or insinuations.

Even worse is that her remarks prevent, not only any peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, but also any reasonable appraisal of the peril to civilization of Islamist terrorism or proposals for any practical response to it. She has disgraced herself by insulting the hundreds of victims of terrorism, almost all Islamist, in Paris, London, Brussels, Cologne, Copenhagen, Toulouse, Wurzburg, Nice and Munich.

Posted on 07/24/2016 5:37 AM by Michael Curtis
Sunday, 24 July 2016
What ISIS Does in Interrogation

From The Sun:

THIS disturbing picture shows the gruesome bone-cracking instrument known as the ‘Flying Carpet’ which depraved ISIS militants use to torture their victims.

The extremist thugs strap their prisoners to a metal or wooden board, which has hinges in the middle, enabling the ends to be brought together – bending the spine of the hostage.

Dissident group ‘Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently’ revealed the stomach-churning practice which can lead to the spine and ribs snapping.

The underground movement has uncovered sickening details of the excruciating cartilage-crunching torments meted out to prisoners in the terror group’s jails in Syria and Iraq.

Another method is called the ‘shabeh’ or ‘ghost’ which involves an inmate being hung by his hands above the floor for days at a time.

The group said: “The prisoner often loses his ability to move his hands – dislocating his joints.

“It can also cause damage to the brachial plexus, which are the nerves that control arm and hand moment, usually resulting in permanent disability.”

Another torture method popular with the depraved death cult is electric shock which they use to interrogate victims often frying their victims alive.

The group added: “Electric shock often leads to death, caused by damage to heart muscle or electric burns.”

Brainwashed Islamic extremists are also well known for keeping their terrifying prisoners in tiny closets and drowning them in cages.

But aside from the violent physical torture, ISIS bullies also use psychological techniques to torment their hostages.

This comes after The Sun revealed news of a step by step guide produced by ISIS, to encourage lone wolfs to attack at the Rio Olympics. 

One man who escaped an ISIS hell-hole revealed: “The ISIS prison wardens would speak continuously of the coming retribution. ISIS men would enter, place knives on our necks, and threaten to kill us.

“An ISIS member would occasionally enter carrying a prisoner’s amputated head, promising the others a similar fate.”

And a former inmate, accused of selling weapons to ISIS enemies, revealed the horror prisoners suffered at the hands of terror group.

Abu Alnour, who was freed after managing to pay a £33,000 ransom, told Syrian human rights group ‘Sound and Picture’ how one prisoner was driven to the brink of insanity by his warped captures.

He said: “I do not want to talk about the beating, the electric shocks and the daily insults, I would rather talk about the young Abdullah who went crazy inside the prison.

“He was accused of being a former FSA fighter, and he had the biggest share of torture within our group, which consisted of 13 prisoners in a less than eight-square-metre-sized cell.

“One night we woke up and his voice was screaming. We later knew that some of ISIS members entered into the room and put severed head next to him and woke him up and when he saw the head he lost his mind. “

Posted on 07/24/2016 5:23 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 23 July 2016
Saturday Country Jamboree: Ray Price

I was fortunate to meet Ray Price and his steel player, Jimmy Day in 1999 just before Day's death. Here they are in their heyday.

Posted on 07/23/2016 3:52 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 23 July 2016
Flowers to Stifle the Screams

{Author’s adaptation of the original French version}

by Nidra Poller

Paris 19 July 2016

It may not be crafted by the media that encourage it, it’s not the fault of the kind souls that pour out their hearts in flowers and candles at each mass murder, but together they compose a distressing symbolic discourse.

How many flowers would it take to stifle the screams of a child in his stroller targeted by a man at the wheel of a 19-ton truck? “Même pas peur [not even scared],” is the slogan of the improvised memorials but we saw terrified people running in all directions when the truck attacked on the Promenade des Anglais. They hid in restaurants and ducked under the waters of the sea. Unverified whispers say some of the victims were crushed in the stampede.

Backtracking on the promised termination of the state of emergency the president hastily vowed to extend it as mournful Parisians trekked back to Place de la République, to lay flowers and peace & love messages at the feet of the Marianne statue sullied with hateful graffiti after three months of occupation by the Nuits Debout.

This softly floral reaction is not engineered by the media but it is blessed to the exclusion of more sober more combative emotions. A motorcyclist tried to stop the massacre with his bare hands. It’s not a rumor, it’s a fact attested by authentic video footage of the man hanging on to the door of the murderous truck. Did anyone try to identify this hero killed in battle? Or still alive? Would they even want to contemplate his courage, congratulate him posthumously for his gesture? [update July 21: the hero did go public with an account of his exploit]. At the other extremity and at the very bottom of the scale of human qualities crouches the recipient of a text message sent just before the attack: “Bring more weapons.”  

So which is it? Did Bouhlel have one or several accomplices, or was his plan to fool the police into thinking the truck atrocity was the first event in a multiple-stage massacre? A 13th of November for the sunny South.

In fact, suspected accomplices are currently detained. Newscasters dutifully convey the information… with words as gentle as a rose petal, as if the truth could startle a tender congregation immersed in tears and compassion. For once, authorities state the naked radical Islamic truth of the atrocity, but commentators prefer to focus on the killer’s psychological problem, as if Daesh soldiers passed tough exams like cadets at St. Cyr Military Academy. They recite ad nauseam the rosary of signs of non-compliance, as if the fact that Bouhlel didn’t go to the mosque could resuscitate the dead. Or acquit Islam. Pitiful ignorance! Don’t they know that totalitarian movements always enlist thugs? Bouhlel was not a good Muslim, they repeat, citing pork, alcohol, sex, and salsa.

Sharia, dear colleagues, is at the top of the Islamic pyramid. Genocidal hatred is transmitted from those religious heights at cybersonic speed. All sorts of tools can be used to do the dirty work of jihad: a knife, a truck, a Kalashnikov. All kinds of candidates are fit for the job: the truly observant, the falsely miscreant, from idiots to college graduates. They don’t have to study the Koran before going into action. Transmission by osmosis makes them tick.

How could authorities have nipped this Bouhlel in the bud, before he committed a massacre? It all happened so fast! So? What about the others, the most unambiguously flagged, the most closely observed, the most blatantly dangerous? Haven’t they already or will they not soon go into action? The truck, in this case, was an arm by destination. The one who drove it with monstrous cruelty, too.

Count the white floral bouquets placed all along the assassin’s route but don’t forget to count the number of Islamically bearded truck drivers and deliverymen going up and down the roads of our cities and countryside.

My writing fingers, pricked by the thorns of these grieving flowers, bleed for us. Because we are the target of a war of conquest that is called jihad. And we are portrayed as pathetic victims with nothing but blind love to respond to the violence aimed at us one by one and all together.

Posted on 07/23/2016 2:29 PM by Nidra Poller
Saturday, 23 July 2016
Sunni Suicide Attack on Shi'a Demonstration in Kabul, 61 Dead

.The Sunni-Shi'a conflict spreads into Afghanistan. USA Today:

KABUL, Afghanistan - An explosion struck a large demonstration march in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Saturday, causing multiple casualties, according to officials and witnesses.

The marchers were ethnic Hazaras demanding that a major regional electric power line be routed through their impoverished home province. Most Hazaras are Shiite Muslims but most Afghans are Sunni.

Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said police were working to confirm how many blasts had taken place and how many people were killed and injured.

“We can’t yet identify what sort of blast it was or how many people have been affected,” he said. “We are right now in a very difficult situation.”

Eyewitness Ramin Anwari described seeing up to eight bodies in the Demazang area, where protesters were preparing to set up a camp after a four-hour march. He had no further details.

One of the march organizers Laila Mohammadi said she arrived at the scene soon after the blast and saw “many dead and wounded people.”

Footage on Afghan television and photographs posted on social media showed a scene of carnage, with numerous bodies and body parts spread across the square.

Angry demonstrations sealed some of the area around the square, and prevented police and other security forces from entering. Some threw stones at security forces.

President Ashraf Ghani released a statement condemning the blast. “Peaceful demonstrations are the right of every citizen of Afghanistan and the government will do everything it can to provide them with security,” Ghani said.

His spokesman, Haroon Chakhansuri said Ghani would appear on live television later in the day.

Amnesty International issue a statement saying the “horrific attack” on the Hazara demonstration “demonstrates the utter disregard that armed groups have for human life.”

“Such attacks are a reminder that the conflict in Afghanistan is not winding down, as some believe, but escalating, with consequences for the human rights situation in the country that should alarm us all,” it quoted Champa Patel, Amnesty’s South Asia director, as saying.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast. The Taliban have been waging a vicious insurgency against the Kabul government for 15 years, since their regime was overthrown by the U.S. invasion in 2001.

Violence had been feared at what was the second demonstration by Hazaras over the power line issue. The last one in May attracted tens of thousands of people, also shutting down the central business district.

The May march was attended by Hazara political leaders, who were notable by their absence on Saturday.

At the height of the march, demonstrators chanted slogans against President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, shouted “death to discrimination” and “all Afghans are equal.”

The so-called TUTAP line is backed by the Asian Development Bank with involvement of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The original plan routed the line through Bamiyan province, in the central highlands, where most of the country’s Hazaras live.

That route was changed in 2013 by the previous Afghan government. Leaders of the marches have said that the rerouting was evidence of bias against the Hazara community, which accounts for up to 15 percent of Afghanistan’s estimated 30 million-strong population.

They are considered the poorest of the country’s ethnic groups, and often complain of discrimination. Bamiyan is poverty stricken, though it is largely peaceful and has potential as a tourist destination.

Afghanistan is desperately short of power, with less than 40 percent of the population connected to the national grid, according to the World Bank. Almost 75 percent of electricity is imported.

Posted on 07/23/2016 8:39 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 23 July 2016
Munich gunman dead - 18 year old of dual Iranian/German heritage.

From the London Evening Standard

Authorities in Munich have said they believe the gunman who killed nine people in a Munich shopping centre was a German-Iranian teenager who acted alone.  Three victims remain in a critical condition in hospital.

Officers said the motive of the 18-year-old is still “totally unclear” and he was reportedly unknown to police prior to the shooting. The gunman, thought to have lived in the German city for two years, killed teenagers and injured children before committing suicide. His conversation from the rooftops with a bystander indicate a motiviation other than international jihad. 

Some witnesses describe hearing him yelling anti-foreigner insults before opening fire outside the McDonald's restaurant, near to the mall. In a later conversation with a witness, recorded on a mobile phone, the attacker said he was a German citizen.      

Other media reported that the gunman had been bullied for "several years" and was seeking revenge.

US intelligence officials said initial reports from their German counterparts indicated no apparent link between the suspect and Islamic State or other militant groups.

Two others who fled the area quickly were investigated but had "nothing to do with the incident".

Police are currently searching the family home.


Posted on 07/23/2016 3:23 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 22 July 2016
Multiple deaths at shooting rampage in German shopping mall:
From Reuters, the Telegraph and the German eiditon of The Local. Early reports were that the incident was concluded and that there was one death. However it is on-going and TV reports say there may be a second incident.

Gunmen went on a shooting rampage in a shopping mall in the southern German city of Munich on Friday, killing many people, police said.

Authorities were evacuating people from the Olympia mall but many others were hiding inside.

A Munich police spokeswoman said multiple people were killed or wounded. "We believe we are dealing with a shooting rampage," the spokeswoman said. More than one gunman was believed to be involved and no one had been arrested, she said.

NTV television reported that German police special forces had arrived at the scene.

Police seem to confirm several attackers saying "we don't know at this stage where the attackers are. Please be careful and don't go outside."

Police in the city of Munich are asking for locals not to post photos or video online.

We do not know where the shooter is. Take care and avoid going outside.” - 10 mins ago

We are aware of shooting rumours in city centre. Situation is unclear. Please stay inside.” - 17 mins ago (But reporters there say nothing’s happening)

Please do not put images or videos of police operations online. Do not support the perpetrators!” - 20 mins ago

Avoid public places in Munich. The situation is unclear.” - 40 mins ago

The latest is 8 dead plus the gunman - also dead. This may be a shooting perpetrated by a German against "foreigners." according to witnesses who heard him yelling. This is the 5 year anniversary of the horrible Breivik massacre.Now a witness is claiming to have heard "Allahu Akbar."

Posted on 07/22/2016 12:57 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 22 July 2016
Nice truck attacker had at least 5 accomplices, plotted for months: French prosecutor

Elaine Ganley and Thomas Adamson write in AP:

The truck driver who killed 84 people on a Nice beachfront had accomplices and appears to have been plotting his attack for months, the Paris prosecutor said Thursday, citing text messages, more than 1,000 phone calls and video of the attack scene on the phone of one of five people facing terror charges.

Prosecutor Francois Molins said the five suspects in custody faced preliminary terrorism charges for their alleged roles in helping 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel in the July 14 attack in the southern French city.

Molins’ office, which oversees terrorism investigations, opened a judicial inquiry Thursday into a battery of charges for the suspects, including complicity to murder and possessing weapons tied to a terrorist enterprise.

Details about the investigation came as France’s interior minister faced criticism that a faulty security plan may have opened the way for the truck attack and as France extended its state of emergency for six months.

The prosecutor said the investigation made “notable advances” since the Bastille Day attack by Bouhlel, a Tunisian who had been living legally in Nice for years. Bouhlel was killed by police after barrelling his 19-ton truck down Nice’s famed Promenade des Anglais, mowing down those who had come to see holiday fireworks.

The detained suspects are four men — two Franco-Tunisians, a Tunisian and an Albanian — and one woman of dual French-Albanian nationality, Molins said. One had previous convictions for drugs and petty crime.

People close to Bouhlel said he had shown no signs of radicalization until very recently. But Molins said information from Bouhlel’s phone suggested he could have been preparing an attack as far back as May 2015. One photo in his phone, taken May 25, 2015, was an article on Captagon, a drug said to be used by some jihadis before attacks.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, though authorities say they have not found signs the extremist group directed it.

The probe, which involves more than 400 investigators, confirmed the attack was premediated, the prosecutor said. Telephone records were used to link the five to Bouhlel, and allegedly to support roles in the carnage.

Bouhlel and a 30-year-old French-Tunisian with no previous convictions had phoned each other 1,278 times in a year, Molins said. The prosecutor said a text message from the same man found on a phone seized at Bouhlel’s said: “I’m not Charlie; I’m happy. They have brought in the soldiers of Allah to finish the job.”

The message was dated three days after the January 2015 massacre at Charlie Hebdo, the satirical publication in Paris, and referred to the worldwide phrase of solidarity for the victims “I’m Charlie.”

Hours after the July 14 attack in Nice, the same man filmed the bloody scene on the promenade.

The aftermath of the Nice attack has seen France being torn by finger-pointing and accusations that security was wanting despite the state of emergency in place since the Paris attacks last November.

French officials defended the government’s security measures in Nice on the night of the attack, even as the interior minister acknowledged that national police were not, as he had claimed before, stationed at the entrance to the closed-off boulevard.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve’s clarification comes after a newspaper accused French authorities of lacking transparency in their handling of the massacre.

Cazeneuve said Thursday that only local police, who are more lightly armed, were guarding the entrance to the Promenade des Anglais when Bouhlel drove his truck down it. Cazeneuve then launched an internal police investigation into the handling of the Nice attack.

President Francois Hollande said the conclusions of that investigation will be known next week. He said any police “shortcomings” will be carefully addressed but defended French authorities’ actions.

“There’s no room for polemics, there’s only room for transparency,” he said. “The necessary, serious preparations had been made for the July 14 festivities.”

Earlier, the French newspaper Liberation said Cazeneuve lied about the whereabouts of the national police officers and cars in Nice on July 14.

The National Assembly, meanwhile, extended France’s state of emergency for six more months. The security measure had been in place since the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 victims and were claimed by the Islamic State group.

Posted on 07/22/2016 7:14 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 22 July 2016
Multiple Personality Disorder: How many passports do you need ?

by Theodore Dalrymple

The Canadian government, I see, is thinking of issuing sex-neutral identity cards, presumably on the grounds that some people have not yet chosen the sex they want to be. This, of course, is not going nearly far enough. Has the reactionary and highly oppressive Canadian government never heard of Multiple Personality Disorder, now called Dissociative Identity Disorder in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association?

According to the Manual, the disorder consists of ‘disruption of identity characteristics by two or more personality states’ that involve ‘marked discontinuity in sense of self and sense of agency, accompanied by related alterations in affect, behaviour, consciousness, memory, perception, cognition, and/or sensory-motor functioning.’ These changes can be reported by the person himself (or should I say themselves?) or by third parties.

According to the DSM-5, ‘the 12-month prevalence of dissociative identity disorder among adults in a small U.S. community study was 1.5%. The prevalence across genders in that study was 1.6% for males and 1.4 per cent for females.’ In the United States, therefore, assuming the sample to have been representative, there were more than 3 million people last year who were actually more than one person.

By comparison, again according the DSM-5 (which is used almost everywhere, including by British judges, with a credulity worthy that makes the average mediaeval pilgrim seem like a cynic), the prevalence of gender dysphoria, the necessary prelude to a voluntary sex change, is 0.005 to 0.014% for ‘natal males’ and 0.002 to 0.003% for ‘natal females.’ Taking the maximum figures, we come to the conclusion that the prevalence rate in adults of gender dysphoria is about 0.0085 per cent.

Here, then, is a clear case of discrimination against people with Dissociative Identity Disorder who are more than 150 times as numerous as people with Gender Dysphoria. While the latter are to be assuaged, accommodated or appeased by changes in identity cards, the former are not.

There is only one solution, of course, to this gross act – or contemplated act – of discrimination by the Canadian government: the removal of names from identity cards, or at least their replacement by a letter of the alphabet as is proposed for the sex of the holder. After all, who is to say that Mrs Smith today will not be Princess Anastasia tomorrow, or even in five minutes’ time, or possibly (if it comes to that) Jamila Begum? How can you punish the latter for what the former did?

I call on everyone to protest against the Canadian government’s unjust and intolerant discrimination against people with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

First published in Salisbury Review.

Posted on 07/22/2016 6:55 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Thursday, 21 July 2016
The Brilliant Donald Trump Deserves to Win
by Conrad Black

Almost anyone who has followed the US presidential selection process closely could realise what a brilliant campaign Donald Trump has conducted. He saw that in its self-absorption, the US political class had completely failed to grasp the extent of public anger at the deterioration of almost everything. American public policy has brought about the greatest sequence of disasters since the 1920s, when the liquor business was given to gangsters by Prohibition, followed by the equities debt bubble and the Great Depression.

In the past 20 years, both parties shared in the creation of the housing bubble, which produced the greatest financial crisis since the 1930s, and a decade of war in the Middle East which, despite excellent military execution, Obama has turned into a victory for Iran and an immense humanitarian disaster. Further foreign policy humiliations have included the evaporating ‘red line’ in Syria, the 180-degree switch in official attitudes to Iran, culminating in a delayed green light to nuclear weapons (if Tehran chooses to wait).

Both political parties share the blame for the admission of 12 million unskilled workers into the US illegally, and for trade pacts with cheap-labour countries that appear to import unemployment. The political class and its media claque conducted business as usual while the welfare, education and justice systems became clogged with migrants, and the national debt of $9 trillion doubled in seven years. Barack Obama told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that climate change was the greatest threat to America and he and Hillary Clinton refuse to utter the words ‘Islamic terrorism’. (He called the San Bernardino massacre ‘workplace-related’.)

There has never been anything remotely like the rise of America from a small number of colonists to the most dominant power in history, and Americans are not philosophical about being held up to ridicule in the world. Nor have they ever tolerated a flatline on the country’s prosperity and prospects. Donald Trump, a great public figure — as the developer of famous buildings, an impresario and television host — saw the depth of American outrage at all this and as a non-politician was not complicit in any of it.

He paid for his own campaign and ran against the entire political class, facing 16 rivals for the Republican nomination. He won from the start, piling up astonishing pluralities as the commentariat slowly retreated. They claimed he could not aspire to more than 20, 30, 40 per cent of Republicans, would be sandbagged at the convention, would attract a Ross Perot-like third party to splinter the Republican vote, and would be routed in a horrible landslide by Hillary Clinton. The flabby Republican establishment backed Ted Cruz, an intelligent man who nevertheless told the world that God had commanded he run and who pitched his campaign to the Bible-thumping corn-cobbers with M-16s in the rear windows of their pick-up trucks. The media have remained smugly hostile to Trump, despite warnings that a majority of Americans despise the media too — and that they were just stoking a pro-Trump backlash.

As Trump has moved up, Hillary Clinton has had to move far to the left to hold off Bernie Sanders, a septuagenarian former Stalinist kibbutznik and socialist senator for Vermont. Trump’s genius has been to see, when no one else did, that the political class was a spavined paper tiger and the country was afire with rage; to scoop the Archie Bunker (Alf Garnett) vote with blue-collar political incorrectness and his comic talents, which won him the debates; and yet to remain centrist on everything but illegal immigration and bad trade deals. (Trump and Clinton both went to great lengths to maintain the centrists in control of both parties, against severe challenges from the far Republican right and Democratic left; but almost none of the media, foreign or domestic, has noticed.) The best is yet to come: the last refuge of his opponents is that Trump will be an undignified and frightening candidate. He will be the sane and educated man he is.

Hillary Clinton is carrying more baggage than the Queen Mary and Trump will carpet-bomb the country in September and October with a billion dollars of reminders of Benghazi (she slept while her ambassador was murdered), the televised apology to the world’s Muslims, the FBI director’s non-indictment indictment; the malodorous conflicts of the Clinton Foundation entwined with the Clinton State Department. Even Whitewater is due for a rerun. This is not Norman Rockwell’s or Walt Disney’s America, and it never was. American presidential politics is a jungle; the nominees are great beasts, but Donald Trump is larger and fiercer. In taking over a major US political party from the outside, he has done something that has never been done before, and he should win.

First published in The Spectator.

Posted on 07/21/2016 6:42 PM by Conrad Black
Thursday, 21 July 2016
Iran Preparing to Reopen Prohibited Nuclear Sites

Let's see, Obama withheld details of the agreement from Congress. Congress finds out and is upset it was misled. That is perceived as provocation by the Iranians; they have no choice but to start working on the bomb. Oh brother. Adam Kredo wrties in the Washington Free Beacon:

Top Iranian leaders have instructed the country’s atomic energy organization to prepare for the reopening of multiple nuclear sites that had been shuttered as part of last summer’s nuclear agreement.

Ali Larijani, the leader of Iran’s parliament, requested this week that the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization prepare a plan to reopen nuclear enrichment facilitates that had been shutdown as part of the effort to limit Tehran’s research into nuclear weapons technology, according to comments carried in Iran’s state-controlled media.

Iranian leaders are displeased with a recent United Nations report chastising the Islamic Republic for violating international agreements prohibiting the country’s work on ballistic missiles.

The U.N. described these repeated test launches as not consistent with international accords. Iranian leaders dismissed the report as “biased.”

Iranian lawmakers recently passed legislation in June 2015, mandating the country preserve its nuclear infrastructure if more sanctions are placed on the country.

“It is necessary for the Atomic Energy Organization to act in compliance with the law passed on the reopening of the nuclear plant to enrich uranium proportionate to the country’s needs and prepare a plan and keeps the [parliament] posted on it,” Larijani said.

The Iranian leader further chided the United States for pursuing “diversionary actions” aimed at undermining the nuclear agreement.

“While regretting the U.N. secretary general’s move, the Majlis warn the U.S. administration, the House of Representatives, and the Senate that diversionary actions against the nuclear deal have reached a point where Iran has no other option but to retaliate,” he said.

Iran’s most recent threats come amid a growing scandal in Washington, D.C., over revelations that the Obama administration misled the American public and members of Congress about the precise contents of the nuclear deal.

Secret documents obtained by the Associated Press show that key restrictions on Iran’s nuclear procurement efforts will be lifted in a decade, putting Iran within six months of a nuclear bomb.

The Washington Free Beacon disclosed on Wednesday that lawmakers critical of the administration’s diplomacy with Iran were kept in the dark about the agreement.

The documents also call into question public claims made by Obama administration officials about the methods by which Iranian enrichment activities would be curtailed.

“Of course the administration has not told lawmakers this and of course it’s sadly predicable,” Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) said to the Free Beacon on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday. “There’s no celebration in the fact that the administration has gotten this [deal] wrong at conceivably every level. It is severe news and it has to be dealt with.”

Roskam went on to state that these documents invalidate the entirety of the nuclear deal.

Posted on 07/21/2016 2:08 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 21 July 2016
Brazil arrests group plotting 'acts of terrorism' before Olympics:

From Reuters and the BBC

Brazil's federal police on Thursday arrested 10 members of a group that was preparing "acts of terrorism," a justice ministry source told Reuters, just over two weeks before the Olympics start in Rio de Janeiro. The arrests were made in the southern state of Parana.

News site Globonews reported that the members of the group were linked to Islamic State (IS). It was not possible to immediately confirm this.

Brazil's intelligence agency said on Tuesday it was investigating all threats to the Rio Olympics, which start on Aug. 5, after a presumed Brazilian Islamist group pledged allegiance to IS.

The SITE Intelligence Group that monitors the internet reported the previously unknown group calling itself "Ansar al-Khilafah Brazil" said on the Telegram messaging app on Sunday that it followed IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and had promoted IS propaganda in Arabic, English and Portuguese.

The authorities said they were not members of so-called Islamic State but had tried to make contact with the group.

Brazilian authorities stepped up security measures following the truck massacre in Nice, France last week, planning security cordons, additional roadblocks and the frisking of visitors in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics.

Posted on 07/21/2016 10:05 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 21 July 2016
Marham serviceman targeted in ‘attempted abduction’- armed men on the loose

This happened yesterday but it is now being treated as a very serious incident. From local newspapers the Lynn News, the Wisbech Standard and the press release of Norfolk Constabulary

Detectives investigating an incident in which a serviceman was threatened with a knife near RAF Marham yesterday have confirmed they are treating it as an attempted abduction.

Descriptions of two men, both said to be of Middle Eastern origin, have been issued this afternoon as the investigation continues. 

Detectives say they cannot rule out it being an attempted terrorist attack, but say they are also looking at other possibilities.

The serviceman, who is said to be in his late 20s, was approached while out running on Squires Hill shortly before 3pm yesterday. Police say one of the men shouted at the serviceman and attempted to grab him before falling to the ground. The second assailant, who was armed with a knife, went to his accomplice before they both fled. The men fled in a dark people carrier and remain at large.

The road from the junction of Marham Road to Squires Hill remains closed today while investigations continue. . . personnel who work at the airbase, which is home to the famous squadron of Tornados and is soon to be home to Lightning aircraft, were being advised to be vigilant following the incident.

An internal memo seen by the EDP (Eastern Daily Press) sent to staff from Rich Curzon, in Protective Security at the MoD, said: “Following a security incident at RAF Marham, it is directed that all personnel keep a low profile and not make themselves vulnerable. Specifically, until the threat subsides, no-one is to be on their own on foot, or on a bicycle, within the local area in uniform or clothing which might identify them with the military.”

A further information note to all personnel described the incident as an “alleged attempted abduction” and explained the incident occurred when a serviceman had been running “approximately one mile outside of RAF Marham’s main gate”.

Detective Superintendent Paul Durham, from the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, said: "I can confirm we are treating this as an attempted abduction and detailed enquiries are being carried out at the scene to establish the full circumstances.

"The motivation for the attack remains unclear at this time, and whilst we are currently unable to discount terrorism, there are a number of other possible hypotheses. We are therefore carrying out a thorough investigation to understand what has happened, why and who is responsible.

"Visible patrols continue in the area and officers will be carrying out house-to-house enquiries and detailed searches of the scene in Squires Hill, which remains closed for the time being.”

Police have released details of the suspects known to be involved:

  • Suspect 1 is described as between 20 and 30 years old, approximately 6ft tall, of athletic but stocky build, with dark hair which was long on top and had a well-groomed beard. He was of Middle Eastern origin in appearance with a dark skin tone and wore dark casual clothing.
  • Suspect 2 is described as between 20-30 years old but younger than the first suspect and of a slimmer build. He was approximately 5ft 10, clean shaven with short dark hair. He was also of Middle Eastern origin in appearance and wore a white t-shirt and dark shorts.

Det Supt Durham added: "I’m keen to hear from anyone who may have seen the vehicle described above in the King’s Lynn area but particularly towards Marham between midday and 6pm yesterday and would urge anyone with information, no matter how insignificant it may seem to them, to call police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Posted on 07/21/2016 8:14 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 21 July 2016
Nigel Farage at the GOP Convention

Posted on 07/21/2016 6:24 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
U.S. Sanctions Top Al Qaeda Operatives Working in Iran

Adam Kredo writes in the Washington Free Beacon:

The Obama administration announced Wednesday that it has sanctioned “three al Qaeda senior members located in Iran” for funneling money and moving terrorist operative across the Middle East, according to an announcement by the Treasury Department.

The three operatives, who are receiving shelter in Iran, were found to be supporting “networks that help al Qaeda move money and operatives from South Asia and across the Middle East by imposing sanctions on three al Qaeda senior members located in Iran,” according to the Treasury Department, which announced a new effort to “disrupt the operations.”

“Today’s action sanctions senior al Qaeda operatives responsible for moving money and weapons across the Middle East,” Adam Szubin, acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement. “Treasury remains committed to targeting al Qaeda’s terrorist activity and denying al Qaeda and its critical support networks access to the international financial system.”

The new sanctions will empower the United States to seize “all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction” and stop any American from conducting transactions with the individuals.

“Specifically, Treasury designated Faisal Jassim Mohammed Al-Amri Al-Khalidi (Al-Khalidi), Yisra Muhammad Ibrahim Bayumi (Bayumi), and Abu Bakr Muhammad Muhammad Ghumayn (Ghumayn) as Specially Designated Global Terrorists pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 for acting for or on behalf of al Qaeda,” according to the Treasury Department.

The operatives were found to be working in Iran for several years and they are ranked as top members of al Qaeda.

Bayimi in particular “served as a mediator with Iranian authorities,” according to information provided by the Treasury Department.

It remains unclear at this point if the administration will specifically target Iran and its government for action as part of its role in working with these terrorists.

Update 11:46 a.m.: Following publication, Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Free Beacon“Today’s Treasury Department sanctions on three al-Qaeda leaders are important in our efforts to rid the world of terrorists. What is new, and counter to the Obama administration’s narrative, is that these terrorists have been working directly with Iranian authorities and have lived in Iran for several years. The question is: how will President Obama respond as the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, continues to promote terrorism?”

Posted on 07/20/2016 1:45 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
Turkey's Relationship with the West

by Conrad Black

I will maintain, until next week when the Republican convention will be over, my self-imposed gag on substantive comments about the presidential race. But I would like to make an interim comment on the media. Peggy Noonan is correct, as usual, that the public is so contemptuous of the incandescent liberal and Democratic biases of the national media that there will be a pro-Trump backlash. Last week, I defended the comparative political center from attack from the left and the right.

On Thursday, Fareed Zakaria had me on a panel for his CNN program, GPS, where my opponents were prominent liberal historians who accused the Republicans of cranking up a racist campaign, debated the distinction I made between racial bigotry and objection to the illegal infiltration of this country by 12 million people, and attacked the Republicans for not deserting their candidate in advance and ensuring a Democratic landslide, as they did with Goldwater in 1964. On Friday, at the Freedom Fest in Las Vegas (via Skype), I defended Franklin D. Roosevelt from the charge of being “an opponent of liberty.” Both occasions were very civilized and courteous on all sides, but it gives me pause to see what extremes even reasonable people are driven to in what used to be generally rational political discourse.

CNN’s attempts to claim that Trump had buyer’s remorse about Mike Pence as his vice-presidential nominee and that Melania Trump might have deliberately plagiarized some of her remarks to the convention are twitching reflexes of its liberal biases, which some of its personnel are making a professional effort to overcome. The patient, sensible, silent majority of Americans has the myth-making national media, as well as the those who have mismanaged both parties for the last two decades, in its sights.

The week’s American political news is unlikely to be of as much lasting importance as the attempted coup in Turkey. That pivotal country that connects Europe and Asia, and has about 75 million people, can have wide influence on the Middle East and Europe. Turkey was one of the original great nation-states in the 16th century, with France, England, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire in Vienna. At its greatest extent, it occupied almost all of North Africa and Arabia and what are now Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan, the Caucasus, and most of the Black Sea coast, and it twice reached the gates of Vienna, in 1529 and 1683. Its attempt to take maritime control of the Mediterranean was defeated at the famous Battle of Lepanto in 1571. The Turks are not fondly remembered in any of their former satrapies.

Turkey, under the Ottomans, a sultanate that declined fairly steadily through the 18th and 19th centuries, was reviled as the “sick man of Europe” and its succession of leaders as “the Abominable Porte.” Yet it gave a very respectable account of itself in World War I; outlasted the Russians in the war, though it was not successful against the Russian army; and sent the British, French, and Australians packing at Gallipoli, inflicting 250,000 casualties and almost destroying Winston Churchill’s career. One of the leaders of the resistance at Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founded the republic in 1923, having expelled the invading Greeks, Turkey’s most ancient foe, from Asian Turkey. The Turks have not been in a war since, and rebuffed Churchill’s efforts to attract them into the Second World War against Germany in 1944. Turkey declared war on Germany only in March 1945, to, as Ataturk’s successor, Ismet Inonu, put it, “be at the table and not on the menu.”

The attempted coup last weekend does appear to mark the end and interment of the Kemalist era in Turkey, almost a century after Kemal Ataturk overthrew the Ottomans, secularized government, and gave Turkey a Western alphabet and Western attire. He ruled for 15 years and died in office, and remains a national hero. He left a constitution that conferred on the army the duty to uphold democracy. As generally happens in such states (such as Algeria), this can involve the intervention of the armed forces to defend democracy by evicting from office a democratically elected government that opposes democracy. This was the sad but predictable fate of President George W. Bush’s championship of democracy in Lebanon and Gaza: the victory of Hezbollah and Hamas.

The Turkish armed forces have intervened four times successfully to overthrow governments. They have relinquished office voluntarily to democratically chosen successors, and have not imagined that their natural vocation was government. The incumbent president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was removed as mayor of Istanbul, a position to which he was elected on the strength of his popularity as a soccer player, for promoting religious intolerance. When he was elected prime minister with a heavy majority in 2002 (a year was required to have an official ban lifted, even after he was released from prison and had rebranded his political party), he set about shuffling the senior military officers. He stopped the practice of Turkish governments, civilian and military, of shutting down mosques for repairs when their mullahs became provocative and seemed to enflame their congregations.

Erdogan has long been a traditionalist in wishing to emphasize the Muslim nature of the Turkish government and society, while retaining direction of the state in non-clerical hands. He has quarreled with his former close religious ally, Fethullah Gulen, a former imam and leader of a liberal Muslim movement. Gulen, like many others, reproaches Erdogan for conducting an incremental subversion of the constitution and usurping dictatorial powers for himself. Erdogan has blamed last weekend’s coup attempt on Gulen, who denies it from his self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

Erdogan began well, cleaned up a lot of corruption that had accumulated under the old regime, and generated swift economic growth, almost tripling Turkey’s per capita GDP in twelve years. He was elected not only because of ambitions for reform and more assertive Muslim sentiments, but also to Europe’s cool reception to Turkey’s repeated efforts to draw closer to the European Union. As he tried for enhanced political and diplomatic stature, Erdogan became outspokenly hostile to Israel and pandered to the historically hostile Arab powers. This overture, after a few years of apparent success, has collapsed in shambles. The Turkish government’s detestation of the Assad regime in Damascus, propped up by the Iranians and Russians, is so extreme that Erdogan for a time assisted ISIS in its efforts to remove that regime. ISIS attacks in Turkey have disabused Erdogan of the advisability of that gambit. Erdogan is now back to an uneasy cordiality with Israel.

Erdogan’s extravagance (such as in building a $500 million palace against court orders in an environmentally protected area, and leveling parts of Istanbul without consultation) has antagonized at least half the people, and he has met substantial electoral resistance in moving from prime minister to president and trying to rewrite his constitution to consolidate the powers of both offices. His attempt to resolve what amounted to a civil war with Turkey’s 30 million Kurds has broken down and there is a good deal of sectarian and terrorist violence. The latest events clearly portend an exploitation of the attempted coup to try to tighten his autocratic domination of the state. Obviously, Erdogan was already planning a further crackdown on his enemies, as he arrested 6,000 people in two days, including previously compiled lists of 2,000 judges and prosecutors.

Unlike the previous military coups in Turkey, last weekend’s was not supported by the leaders of the armed forces. Erdogan evaded the putschists, who did not get control of the media, and as usually is the case, except in totalitarian states, the military declined to fire on civilians. Erdogan got his message out by a cell-phone-filmed interview with CNN in Turkey and across the social media. Though aircraft attacked the gaudy presidential palace and the parliament, and hostile aircraft even approached his airplane as he returned from his vacation residence to the capital, Ankara, it was clear by Saturday morning that most of the armed forces and most of the public were opposed to the coup. The Muslim clergy sprang into action and the loudspeakers of the nation’s mosques summoned the faithful to the president’s support with a prayer for endangered Islam in the middle of the night. The commander of the army was briefly seized by his own assistants, but even opposition political parties, which are very vocal and representative, preferred to oppose Erdogan by constitutional means.

It is amazing that Erdogan, with his Ottoman nostalgia, doesn’t just occupy Syria and Sunni Iraq; the world, including most of the inhabitants of Syria and Sunni Iraq, would welcome it. Instead of cynically playing his domestic Kurds and those ostensibly in Iraq off against each other, Erdogan should consistently befriend Kurdistan and use it as an escape valve for Turkey’s Kurdish dissidents. Despite his untrustworthiness and inconsistencies, it should be possible for the West to deal with Erdogan now that he has quarreled with everyone else. It should be possible to bring Turkey into a spheres-of-interest agreement with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, cordoning off most of the Middle East from the baleful influence of Iran. Like much else, this will have to await the new president in Washington, but either candidate could use the isolation and rattled stability of Erdogan as a basis to rebuild a constructive relationship that would have to be based entirely on aligned mutual interest.

First published in National Review Online.

Posted on 07/20/2016 1:08 PM by Conrad Black
Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Ardie Geldman writes in The Jerusalem Journal:

Political tourists to the Palestinian territories are injected with ten lies about the history of Israel. Like viruses of soul, they take them home and infect others. This is an accounting of those lies, and their antidote: the truth.


Every year thousands of “political tourists”, most often Christians affiliated with liberal churches in North America and Europe, visit Israel and what they call “Palestine.” The purpose of these visits, in their words, is to “learn about the conflict directly,” since, they contend, their “hometown newspapers only print one side.” Israel's side, that is.

In spite of their claim of being exposed almost exclusively to “one side,” these same tourists are regularly quite adept at reciting a litany of fictions that lend credence to the “other (Palestinian) side.”

They are able to recapitulate an assortment of false notions about the conflict. Some of these notions come in their luggage, as it were; others are acquired on the ground during their visit in Palestinian territories. There is no doubt that the uncritical acceptance of these fabrications strengthens their support of the Palestinian narrative.

Here are ten of the most egregious statements iterated by political tourists concerning the history of the Land of Israel, the City of Jerusalem and the Jewish People, each one followed by its corrective:

FICTION 1: The Palestinians are the descendants of the Canaanites whose land this was before it was invaded and stolen from them by the Israelites.

In fact, Canaanite culture disappeared nearly a thousand years before the Common Era and no population today can in good conscience lay claim to descending from this ancient people.

FICTION 2: Palestine, similar to Egypt and Greece, has been a country for thousands of years.

In fact, Palestine was never a country, or sovereign geo-political entity. This name, taken from “Philistina,” was imposed upon Judea by the Roman King Hadrian in 135 C.E. in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the Land of Israel. Since then, until 1948 and the creation of the State of Israel, Palestine has remained a geographic region ruled by a larger nation or empire, analogous to the Appalachian Region of the United States.

FICTION 3: Jesus was a Jew by religion, but he identified as a Palestinian.

In fact, the name “Palestine” was only applied to the area over a hundred years after Jesus’s lifetime. This claim is a complete anachronism.

FICTION 4: Prior to Israel's rebirth in 1948, the Palestinians constituted a large population and developed a flourishing agrarian economy based mainly on the cultivation of olives, grapes and wheat which was destroyed by the Zionist invasion.

In fact, Palestine, for centuries and until the late nineteenth century, stood relatively unpopulated, as testified to by a number of Holy Land pilgrims.

In 1856 traveler Henry Baker Tristram said of Palestine "A few years ago the whole Ghor (Jordan Valley) was in the hands of the fellaheen, and much of it cultivated for corn. Now the whole of it is in the hands of the Bedouin, who eschew all agriculture...The same thing is now going on over the plain of Sharon is going out of cultivation and whole villages rapidly disappeared....Since the year 1838, no less than twenty villages there have thus erased from the map, and the stationary population extirpated."

Of his 1867 visit, Mark Twain writes: “Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Palestine is desolate and unlovely – Palestine is no more of this workday world.”

Muslims who invaded the area in the 7th century from the desert lands to the east devastated much of the agricultural economy that had existed up until that point. From then until the return of the Jews in the late 19th century, the region was largely a wasteland, whose meager population struggled to survive.

FICTION 5: Jerusalem, the historic capital of Palestine, receives its holy status from the Koran.

In fact, Jerusalem is never mentioned in the Koran. It is alluded to one time. Jerusalem has only served as the capital of Israel, from the reign of King David until the years 70 C.E., and never again until May 1948.

FICTION 6: The majority population in Jerusalem was always Muslim.

In fact, Jews have constituted the largest ethnic group in Jerusalem since 1820. This is proved by research compiled by the media watchdog group, CAMERA.

According to Yehoshua Ben-Arieh, "In the second half of the nineteenth century and at the end of that century, Jews comprised the majority of the population of the Old City ...’ (Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century).

Martin Gilbert reports that 6,000 Jews resided in Jerusalem in 1838, compared to 5,000 Muslims and 3,000 Christians (Jerusalem: Rebirth of a City).

Encyclopedia Britannica of 1853 ‘assessed the Jewish population of Jerusalem in 1844 at 7,120, making them the biggest single religious group in the city.’ (Terence Prittie, Whose Jerusalem?).

FICTION 7: Palestinian Arabs who have lived here for thousands of years were mostly Muslims.

In fact, following the Bar Kochba Revolt in 132 C.E. the population of “Palestine” (Judea) consisted of three groups: Jews who had survived the decimation and were allowed by the Romans to remain, a growing population of the new Christian religion, and other small religious sects and pagans.

Islam was founded in 610 CE and only reached Jerusalem, or the Roman “Aelia Capitolina,” with the Muslim westward conquest in 638 CE

FICTION 8: The Jewish temples, the First Temple built by Solomon and the Second Temple built following the Jews return from Babylon, never existed.

In fact, the remains of both temples, along with a plethora of period artifacts have been uncovered in Jerusalem and continue to be excavated under the Israel Antiquities Authority.

FICTION 9: The Western wall bordering Herod’s temple compound, now considered the holiest existing structure in Judaism, is a section of an Islamic mosque.

In fact, the Western Wall was originally erected as a retaining wall by Herod the Great. It was part of his expansion of the Second Jewish Temple compound. This construction took place over half a millennium before the founding of Islam.

FICTION 10: The Muslims who ruled Palestine treated the Jewish minority beneficently and the two religious populations lived side-by-side in harmony until the rise of political Zionism.

In fact, under Islamic rule Jews had the status of dhimmi. Dhimmi was the name applied by the Arab-Muslim conquerors to indigenous non-Muslim populations who surrendered to Muslim domination. Contrary to its meaning, “protected,” dhimmi populations were, by definition, second class citizens and suffered from numerous forms of prejudice and limited human rights.

ALTHOUGH NONE OF THESE LIES HAS A HISTORICAL BASIS, they tend to sound plausible to those with an average Western college education. How is this so? In this case, as in the case of many social phenomena, there is more than one causal factor. Here are three.

THE FIRST CAUSE is explained by the doyen [prominent and respected teacher] of Middle-Eastern History, Professor Bernard Lewis, who laments that “American (liberal arts) students are no longer required to do history, not even general history. They do ‘social studies.’”

There is therefore little reason to assume that most overseas visitors have a grasp of historical developments over the last century leading to the current conflict. How much more so regarding the events of five-hundred, a thousand and two thousand years ago?

The majority of political tourists are unfamiliar with the antiquity of the region. It is understandable that they are receptive to the first statements they encounter offering a plausible history and an accounting of the present. If their primary interlocutors present the Palestinian viewpoint, it is that contrived version of history that becomes their filter for all subsequent information.

A SECOND CAUSE is revealed by Stephanie Gutmann, Hillel Halkin, and Matti Friedman. All three are respected journalists and authors who have spent a long time observing and writing about Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. Each makes a strong case for the influence of Western mainstream media on current perceptions and beliefs about the conflict. Their evidence comes from their personal interaction in the field with other Western journalists as well as their analyses of thousands of news stories filed over the years.

Contrary to the contention of virtually all political tourist groups, the fact of the matter is that Western media are complicit in favoring the Palestinian narrative. They do so “between the lines” when reporting on news events, and at times even more openly.

Inevitably, irrespective of specifics, coverage of this conflict is framed as “the oppressed Palestinians versus the oppressor Israel.” With time, this biased reporting has led to a pervasively negative image of the Jewish state. It has engendered an atmosphere in which many people unquestioningly accept Palestinian contentions whether these are about the past or with regard to current events. In other words, “If a Palestinian tells me that his family had lived continuously in the same village for over a thousand years until the Zionists came and expelled them, there is no reason to doubt him.”

A THIRD CAUSE that cannot be ignored is latent anti-Semitism.

Many Christians subscribe to a “supersessionist” or “replacement” version of biblical history. According to this narrative, perfidious Jews forfeited their special relationship with God and lost their right as a nation to the Land of Israel. As punishment, and as proof of their iniquity, they were brutally defeated and expelled by the Romans and replaced by others. The Land is no longer theirs. The fictional Palestinian version of history fits neatly with this doctrine.

Ignorance, bias and theological animus cooperate to lend credibility to a completely bogus version of history. All of the 10 fictions above are easily refuted by basic history textbooks.

But political tourists are often so emotionally wedded to the Palestinian narrative they willingly accept these falsehoods as truths, never testing their veracity. When those falsehoods are clearly refuted, the reaction is often an uncomfortable cognitive dissonance. A common salve is the rationalization that facts are subject to interpretation, are they not?

The answer is an emphatic no. In context, facts are a faithful witness to the truth. And regardless the discomfort, interpretation is always subject to the truth.

Posted on 07/20/2016 5:13 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
France Must Survive

by Michael Curtis

On August 7, 2014 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a French television program transmitted a timely warning to his French audience. The fight against terrorism he said was not “Israel’s battle…It’s your battle, it’s the battle of France.” His words were prescient, “if you don’t stand together, then this terror plague will come to you. It’s just a matter of time.”

Unfortunately, the plague has come to France on too many occasions. It is sad to recount the instances of evil. On August 9, 1982 members of the Abu Nidal Organization threw grenades into the Jewish Restaurant Goldenberg in Paris, killing six, including 2 Americans. On December 24, 1994, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) hijacked an Air France plane in Algeria, killing 3 passengers and threatening to blow uo the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The GIA war also responsible for attacks in July 1999 on the Paris Saint-Michel metro station, and in August 1995 attempts were made on the Arc de Triomphe, metro and rail stations.  

Terrorism became more outrageous and deadly with the attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in November 2011 and then again on January 7, 2015, followed by an attack on a Jewish supermarket, because of publication of satirical cartoons of Prophet Mohammed that many Muslims found insulting,. On June 13, 2016 terrorist Larossi Aballa stabbed a married couple, 2 police officers, in their home in Magnanville, and held their 3 year old son hostage.

The most dramatic incidents have been the attacks on November 13, 2015 and July  2016. In 2015, nine terrorists carried out the worst attack since the end of World War II. They included a number of attacks on the Bataclan concert hall, football stadium, and cafes in Paris, killing 130 people and wounding more than 350. President  Hollande regarded this as an act of war and set up a 3 moth state of emergency that was extended to July 26, 2016. In 2016, a lone guman on Bastille Day, July 14, driving a truck along the famous promenade in Nice killed at least 84 and wounded several hundred.

At this point it remains unclear whether the murders committed by Mohammed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the 31 year old terrorist, father of 3, drinker, womanizer, petty thief, unstable volatile personality, possibly mentally ill with psychological problems, acted as a loner or with Islamist help.

Bouhlel was Tunisian in origin and the Magreb has always been a problem for France, although in the 2012 parliamentary election  5 individuals of Magreb origin were elected. He fits the pattern of the Islamist terrorist, 18-36 in age, a petty criminal, from a poor background, and a life of insecure jobs.

Interestingly, both French official and ISIS agree on his Islamist connection. The French government suggests that, while he had no formal connection to a terrorist group, he had a clear and recent interest in Islamist movements. Like other Muslims, he was sensitive to messages of ISIS without being trained by it.

For its part, ISIS claims him as one of its “soldiers, a soldier of the Islamic State,” one who targets the crusader coalition fighting the caliphate. Whether by chance or not, ISIS only a month ago called for the use of cars and trucks in terror attacks, and urged potential terrorists to feel their cars with gas. Even earlier, ISIS spokesperson Mohammed al-Adani had ordered slaughter by all means, such running people over by a car.

In addition, a pervasive influence in the area of Nice in previous years has been the 40 year old jihadist Omar Diaby, (AKA Omar Omsen) Senegalese in origin, an influential recruiter for Islamist fighters for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and head of the French jihadist battalion in Syria, associated with the Jabhat al Nusra, the branch of al-Qaeda. He issued a documentary approving the terrorist attacks in Paris. He was regarded as a central figure in French terror cells in Nice until he was expelled first to Senegal in 2013, and then to Syria.

Patrick Calvar, head of France’s General Directorate for International Security (DGSI) in May 2016 said his country faced the greatest threat of any nation in Europe. His pessimistic view is that France is on the verge of civil war between right wing groups and Islamist extremists. In a 300 page report he pointed out the “global failure” of French intelligence and the numerous intelligence errors. There are 6 intelligence services, agencies that compete with each other rather than cooperate.

Why has France suffered so much? For the terrorists France is a special case even though it did not talk part in the Iraq war. Noticeably, ISIS in 2014 issued a special recruiting video aimed at French Muslims portraying France as “spiteful and filthy.”

One can suggest a number of reasons.

First, France was a  colonialist power in North Africa since 1830. The heritage of the rule in Algeria and the bitter eight year war, 1954-62, during which 700,000 were killed has not dissipated., nor has the memory of the cruelty of French in the demonstration by Algerians  in Paris on October 17, 1961 when the police killed 200 and a number of bodies were thrown into the Seine. Terrorist organizations can draw on the pool of descendants of those not regarded as Francais de Souche (French from the Roots).

Secondly, In the  high rate of criminality the estimate is that 60% of prisoners in France are Muslims, and jails are the breeding ground  for radicalization.

Thirdly, France officials, both President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls, have spoken of war against Islamist terrorism, and taken militant action against it in Libya, in Mali, Syria, and Afghanistan.

Fourly, France is seen by terrorists as the automatic target of everything anathema to them, as the symbolic figure for western liberalism, an officially secular country, symbol of free speech, center of western European culture, and symbol of decadent life style.

France is troubled by practical problems. Estimates suggest that at least 1,700 French people, more than 100 of whom came from Nice, fought for ISIS and are returning to France. French recruits to ISIS have been given special roles in propaganda..

France is suffering and is responding. Not surprisingly, French public opinion takes an increasingly unfavorable view of Islam: two thirds of the French see it as too visible and influential. This has increased the support for political populist parties and groups in France as it has in other European countries, and opposition, to immigration and to Muslims.

One knows that immigration, home grown jihadists, and Islamist terrorism head the agenda of politics in Europe and to a growing degree in the US. The West must fortify France so that what Albert Camus called “implacable grandeur” can prevail in that country.

Posted on 07/20/2016 4:48 AM by Michael Curtis
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
Truck Jihad Strikes Nice

by Nidra Poller

[This text, commissioned by the online revue Midah, was published in Hebrew translation on July 16, 2016]

The 14 juillet National Holiday fireworks were over, the horror began in Nice. A 19-ton semi-trailer truck went around the barrier and barreled down the famous beachfront Promenade des Anglais. The monster truck drove 2 kilometers, zigzagging to make direct hits, deliberately picking off babies in their strollers, before the driver was stopped in a shootout with police. At this writing the toll stands at 84 dead; 50, including 10 children, with life threatening injuries; and 150, including 54 children, less seriously injured. The mass murderer has been identified as a 31 year-old Tunisian, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, living in Nice on a residence permit, recently licensed to drive big trucks, father of three, separated from his wife since 2014. Bouhlel's criminal record, including assault and battery, theft, and domestic violence, dates back to 2010, one year after he was granted a 10-year residence permit. He is under a restraining order obtained by his wife who has sued for divorce. He is described by several of his neighbors as a mean loner, with the exception of one who found him to be a nice guy, not at all religious, didn't say his prayers, liked to dance the salsa and go out with the chicks.

On March 24th, Bouhlel was given a six-month suspended sentence for assaulting a motorist who had asked him to move his truck that was blocking traffic. The victim, Jean-Baptiste Ximenes, posted on Facebook his indignation that the man who had violently beaten him with a baseball bat, was left commit mass murder.

An irascible young Tunisian armed with a 19-ton truck killed more than 80 civilians and the toll is expected to rise. In the truck he rented on July 11th --and was supposed to return on the 13th-- Bouhlel was carrying two fake machine guns, a pierced grenade, a fake handgun and a real one that he used in the final shootout with the police. The death toll of the November 13th jihad attacks at the Bataclan, sidewalk cafés, and stadium in Paris is 130. That operation, masterminded from Syria, involved dozens of fighters trained in the caliphate or handling logistics in Europe. They traveled by complicated routes, some joined the "refugees" in Greece and snaked up to Belgium with them, probably recruiting a few shahids in the lot. They had safe houses, false passports, money, weapons, ammunition, explosive vests ... Vastly disproportionate weapons and planning, give ghastly similar results Eighty-four dead, fifty maimed for life, the blue waters of the Côte d'Azur trembling with horror and outrage; 130 dead, countless maimed and marked for life, Parisian joie de vivre stunned....

But all of that may be nothing compared to what is coming next. Only the other day Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned that the "terrorists" might switch from "suicide" attacks to other methods like truck bombs and IEDS. The root motivation that inspires these mass killings passes through myriad disparate channels and achieves significant results. The focus on anecdotal details obscures that single source and delays our understanding of the war waged on the free world. It must be granted that the Hollande government, ineffectual as it may be, did not call for stricter control of semi-trailer truck rentals in the wake of the Nice attack. The investigation was handed over to Paris Prosecutor François Molins, and classified as a terrorist attack committed in collusion with a terrorist organization. In his first public declaration Molins explained: whether or not Bouhlel was in direct contact with Daesh, his heinous act responds to instructions given by the organization. Subsequently PM Manuel Valls maintained that Bouhlel was in fact connected to a radical Islamic movement.

Mournful ceremonials of sincere flowers & candles and solidarity light-shows in the colors of the afflicted nation after each mass killing give the illusion of exceptional incidents that can somehow be contained in a time frame, with a beginning a middle and an end. They are not appropriate to the reality of all-out war with no borders, no outlined battlefields, no predictable indicators except that the perpetrators will be Muslim, native born or converts. The most graphic illustration of this ceremonial confusion is the current state of la Place de la République in Paris. The national focal point of dignified grieving has been turned into a pigpen. Flowers, candles, and peace & love messages on the pedestal of the Marianne statue, symbol of the République, have been replaced by disgraceful graffiti left by the false hopes Nuit Debout movement. []

Unless and until democratic citizens have a comprehensive picture of jihad conquest they cannot be mobilized to defend their freedom and their lives. However dramatic, these mass killings have to be understood in their totality and accurately. We need determined leadership that will show the way to mobilization, not closure.


In a climate of national unity after the November attacks, President Hollande solemnly promised to take vigorous measures to protect the population from terrorism. Prime Minister Valls named it Radical Islam. Among these measures was the controversial proposal to strip the citizenship of dual nationals involved in supporting, planning or perpetrating these attacks. Under pressure from his Socialist majority President Hollande abandoned most of the promises. The other day, in his July 14th message to the nation, the president announced that the state of emergency declared in the wake of the attacks and repeatedly extended for three-month periods would not be renewed when it expires on July 26th. As if the very real danger hanging over French civilians could be dissipated by a governmental decision. He reversed this decision on the 15th.

And that's the least of the miscalculations. Since March 31st and despite its own state of emergency declaration, the government has allowed countless protest demonstrations against a labor reform law, even though every single march ended up with vicious attacks against the police. Hundreds of policemen were injured, some seriously. And all were humiliated. At least half a million euros worth of damage to public and private property was committed. On May 18th a policeman and woman narrowly escaped death when their patrol car was smashed and torched. The policeman was beaten as he fled the flames. On June 15th, seven two-story plate glass windows of the Necker Children's Hospital were smashed, teargas seeped into the building, health care personnel were unable to reach the hospital, and young patients were terrified. The Nuit Debout movement occupied la Place de la République for months, damaging property, generating attacks on the police, preaching anarchy and sedition. The mass occupation of the public square made a mockery of the state of emergency, which was high on the movement's list of sins against the people. "Down with the state of emergency, down with the state!" By allowing the Nuit Deboutniks to congregate, agitate, firebomb the police and deface the monument of the Republic the government displayed its lack of resolve. PM Valls had said we are at war. The atmosphere was bread and circuses.

Let the children play. Let the protestors march and holler. Let the smashers destroy. Unpleasant to be sure, but the very nastiness of that familiar violence was a way of saying we have things in hand. These are normal problems that can't really be solved, they just fade away. The labor reform bill was watered down and pushed through (the government engaged its responsibility instead of letting the Parliament debate and vote). Strong measures were taken to protect the Euro 2016 soccer championship that went off almost without a hitch. Then came the fireworks!

Lagging behind reality

Just a short time ago there was debate on what should be done with the thousands of "S-flagged" individuals  marked as terror suspects and vaguely watched over until they slip under the radar and emerge with Kalashnikovs or turn to other occupations. Shouldn't they be more closely followed, fitted with electronic bracelets, or even held in retention centers? What of jihadis sentenced to prison? Are they properly isolated from other prisoners? The top dog in this department, Salah Abdeslam, responsible for the logistics of the November 13 attacks, is held in solitary confinement with 24-hour video surveillance. He actually sued the government for violation of his privacy. His complaint was rejected. Meanwhile it was revealed that he has a three-cell complex, including a well-equipped workout room. This is justified by European human rights rules. Abdeslam has never given the slightest shred of information to investigators. Occasionally he promises he will talk, then backs down. He isn't feeling good, doesn't feel like talking, won't talk until his detention conditions improve. He is defended by a court-appointed lawyer at public expense.

Then there are the futile de-radicalization programs. All part of a massive denial of reality. As if the genocidal Islamic rage that inspires lesser and greater mass murderers were some kind of misunderstanding that could be cleared up by heart to heart talking. Another example of focusing on things that can't be done-like persuading jihadis to turn to basket weaving or making it impossible for 19-ton trucks to smash through barriers or Kalashnikov-armed killers to mow down under-armed security guards-instead of finally putting our countries on the appropriate war (that is, jihad conquest) footing.

Georges Fenech, president of the bipartisan Parliamentary Commission that published its investigation of the November 13th attacks last week, regrets the lack of interest from the Hollande administration in the Commission's concrete recommendations. "Our country is not armed against Islamic terrorism." One of the findings of the extensive report is that police forces preparing to intervene to stop the massacre at the Bataclan only had handguns. They begged the soldiers to either come with them or lend them their Famas assault weapons. The soldiers could do neither. They didn't have orders. According to an official of the SCPN [Police Commissioners' Union] the forces that finally stopped the killer truck in Nice did not have proper weapons. They fired repeatedly into the windshield but Bouhlel was able to continue 300 meters before they finally neutralized him. Christian Estrosi, former mayor of Nice and currently president of the PACA [Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur] region had alerted President Hollande, on July 13th, to the lack of proper protection for the July 14th fireworks display in Nice. The central government alone can mobilize national police forces, better armed and trained than the municipal agents.

Nice, for all its nostalgic elegance and beautiful beaches, is a jihad hotspot. An attack against the Carnival of Nice was foiled a few months ago. An assailant stabbed three soldiers guarding a Jewish Community Center in Nice.  One of the most vicious jihadi cells discovered in recent years, the "Torcy cell" based in Nice, was involved in the 2012 grenade attack against the Naouri kosher grocery store in Sarcelles, subsequently torched and burned to the ground in the summer of 2014.

Israel as a model

Though the Israeli connection may be brushed off as too hot to handle, Israel is more frequently and frankly mentioned in French debates as a model for dealing with the full range of jihad attacks: citizens are armed and have combat experience, intelligence services are exceptionally efficient, the society has learned to live fully and remain fully conscious of the danger. Olivier Rafowicz, IDF Reserves colonel, says he recently accompanied an Israeli delegation to Nice for security consultations. Private Israeli security agencies are quietly hired by French private and public companies.

The West will improve its defenses when Israel is recognized as the rampart in our defense against jihad conquest, standing for our values in the middle of a vast expanse of genocidal hatred. Israel has always lived in awareness of its perilous surroundings. Now the rest of the free world is in the same neighborhood. I remember the snide voices of French commentators in the early years of the jihad-intifada, spitting on "Israel's sacrosanct concern for security." This constant demonization of Israel is a rot that jams our weapons, weakens our military, and destabilizes our societies in Europe and, yes, even in the United States. 

Daesh like a wireless mouse

It was reasonable to suppose that the French prime minister would not have forthrightly claimed a direct connection between Mohamed Bouhlel and a terrorist organization if he did not have evidence drawn from electronic devices seized after the Nice massacre. Did Bouhlel, like the Orlando killer, declare his allegiance to the caliphate just before going on the rampage? Saturday morning Daesh took responsibility for the brave operation conducted by its soldier in Nice. Some French media are reporting that this is a codified designation that follows strict rules and necessarily implies a pledge of allegiance. Several of the five people detained for questioning confirm Bouhlel's "recent radicalization." We will learn more in the coming days or weeks about the nature of that connection. Even if there is not a single incriminating document, conversation, or contact, it is essential to understand that Daesh operates like a wireless mouse: the message goes out from the higher echelons via communicators into the evil hearts of the masses of potential genocidal killers.

A telling personal experience

Saturday afternoon, after spending hours collecting information on the Nice attack from every available source, I took a walk to the post office, stopping on the way at a tobacconist's shop to buy a book of métro tickets. I've been there at least five times in the past six months. Exchanges with the "buraliste" (proprietor or employee, one can't be sure which) have always been cordial. I was reaching for my money, when the gentleman announced the price: 14.10 euros. "14.10," I exclaimed! Had the price gone up again, or did I forget what I paid the last time?

"Don't you ever take the métro?" he scolded. And got nastier as he went along, accusing me of accusing him of being a thief, telling me to go and buy my tickets at the métro station and never come to his shop again. I truly think that he could have reached out to slap me if I hadn't been so calm and sunny.

"If I accused anyone it was the RATP [transport company] but that's ok, I won't come back anymore." I said "au revoir," revised it to "adieu," and walked out. 

I mention this because of the visible origins of the "buraliste."  Apparently feeling unjustly suspected, for his however distant shared origins with the truck-killer, he found nothing better to do than to lash out at me!

First published in Family Security Matters.

Posted on 07/20/2016 4:19 AM by Nidra Poller
Tuesday, 19 July 2016
Taharrush gamea introduced to Gothia Cup
Gang of 40 sexually assaulted girls - Only one arrested - as the Gothia Cup, the biggest youth football tournament in the world, kicks off in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The Islamic gang-rape 'Taharrush' phenomenon which sees women surrounded by groups of men in crowds and sexually assaulted, has now spread to Europe. The Arabic term 'taharrush' roughly translates to 'collective harassment.' It refers to sexual assaults carried out by groups of men in public places surrounded by dozens of attackers, lone women are groped or raped. The phenomenon was first seen in 2011 when a reporter, Lara Logan, was attacked and endured an assault while reporting on the protests in Egypt. Police say attacks in Cologne marked Europe's first instance of taharrush.

The Gothia Cup is the biggest youth football tournament in the world, held annually in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Competing youth teams from throughout the world enter the competition.

And large crowds in Sweden lately, seem to attract Middle-Eastern "Taharrush players."

Three girls were surrounded and sexually assaulted in the crowd after the Gothia Cup opening ceremony at Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg. According to one of the girls' mother, they had to fight to protect themselves, she told SVT.

- It was very traumatic for them, she says.

The three 16-year-olds spent the evening in Gothenburg, and before they would go home they decided to go to the Ullevi Stadium and watch the crowd at the opening ceremony of the Gothia Cup that took place there.

- When people began to leave the Ullevi, a bunch of guys approached them and started talking. The girls replied nicely but short, as one does when one meets strangers, says one of the girls' mother to SVT.

The gang, which the girls say consisted of 30 to 40 teenagers and an adult man who seemed to belong to the same group, asked to take pictures with the girls, but when the girls tried to leave, they were not allowed.

- The group instead came closer and clung to the girls. They began to touch them, tried to get their hands under their clothes. They took on their gender. They kissed them and my daughter got the grown man's tongue in her mouth, says the mother.
- They panicked and fought to protect themselves.

According to the mother, a policeman heard the girls' cries for help and came to the rescue. The man was apprehended, but the youths involved in the assault were not charged.

- It is true that the girls stated that there were several guys in the group who were assaulting them, but it was too difficult for them to point them out, so there are no more charges, said Thomas Fuxborg, spokesperson of the police.

When the girls came to the police station, they called their parents.

- My first feeling was anger, something like this to happen. Anger over that girls can not move outside, not even in a friendly context, says the mother.

She feels that her daughter and her friends for a long time have had difficulties to move outside without being molested. She says that her daughter is usually ready to take pictures with her mobile phone for evidence if something happens.

- We sat up late into the night and talked about this and what it will mean. This will of course be restricting girls' lives, she says.
Of course it is we who have to adapt.
Posted on 07/19/2016 5:00 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 19 July 2016
Melania Trump and the Issue of Plagiarism

by Michael Curtis

Originality in any form does not come easily. Few politicians can claim the mantle of Demosthenes, the 4th century B.C. perfect orator of ancient Greece, or Cicero, his later Roman counterpart, or Winston Churchill in our own times, for their utterances. Few writers can forge a unique prose voice like Ernest Hemingway. Few jazz musicians can devise a new style such as that of Charlie Parker, with his revolutionary and challenging harmonic ideas.  

Plagiarism is common in all areas of life. It is so frequent that one cannot argue that by this sin of plagiarism fell the angels, to plagiarize Shakespeare writing on Thomas Cromwell. Appropriation of another person’s language, thoughts, and even ideas is unfortunately familiar to many high school and college teachers who grade the papers of students. This form of dishonesty is not limited to the academic world but is all too common in the literary field, as one knows from the case of Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose, and frequently in the political world where utterances are made without proper acknowledgment.

No one should be surprised by the degree to which politicians today, perhaps because of demands on their time or their dependence on inefficient staff, or their inherent dishonesty, help themselves to the words of others without acknowledgment.

The U.S. mainstream press again was guilty of pious hypocrisy in stressing the fact that one paragraph in the speech of Melania Trump, the wife of Donald, and an inexperienced speaker, at the Republican Convention in Cleveland on July 18, 2016 resembled a similar paragraph in the speech by Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in 2008.

The few words plagiarized were little more than simple or banal homilies. It doesn’t need an intellectual giant to suggest that people should be treated “with respect” or talk of the strength of the dreams of children and their willingness to work for them. Ironically, the mainstream press forgot to mention that Michelle Obama in her own speech had plagiarized a number of lines from Saul Alinsky’s book, Rules for Radicals.   

Politically, plagiarism is worse than a crime, it’s a mistake for which the perpetrators have sometimes had to pay a price. To take only the last few years, evidence of plagiarism, or intellectual dishonesty, has led to the resignation, among others, from office of the following: the German Defense Minister in 2011; the Hungarian President in 2012; the Romanian Prime Minister in 2012; the German Education Minister in 2013; and Senator John Walsh of Montana in 2014.

Some offenders have been fortunate after their behavior has been discovered. Perhaps the best know recent case is the U.S. Vice-President. Joe Biden as a student had plagiarized a legal article in a paper he wrote for a course in law school, but was not expelled. But Biden, as Delaware Senator in 1987 and a presidential candidate plagiarized a considerable part of a moving highly personal speech by Neil Kinnock, then leader of the opposition British Labour Party. After Michael Dukakis, the presidential candidate rival of Biden at the time, released a video of the Kinnock and Biden speeches, Biden was obliged to end his campaign.

In similar fashion, the revelations that two recent presidential candidates had been guilty of plagiarism may have been a factor in their loss. Ben Carson had taken material from various sources including conservative historians to use in his 2012 book, America the Beautiful. Rand Paul in his book Government Bullies had used a number of pages from a Heritage Foundation Case Study. Interestingly, candidate Barack Obama survived the correct accusation by Hillary Clinton in 2008 that he had plagiarized a speech by Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts.

At a higher level there are the instances of plagiarism by world political and religious leaders, Vladimir Putin and Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a student the Russian leader wrote a dissertation in 1996 on strategic planning for a degree equivalent to a Ph.D. in economics. The dissertation is virtually inaccessible, but two researchers at the Brookings Institution were able to see it.  They discovered that Putin had taken more than 16 pages paper from a book, Strategic Planning and Public Policy by two American economists, William King and David Cleland, published in 1978 and translated into Russian.

Rather sadly, after accusations had been made, a committee of scholars appointed by Boston University in 1991 reported that the doctrinal dissertation and some other academic papers written by Dr. King contained passages taken, intentionally or not, without authorization from a number of authors including Paul Tillich.

The case of Melania Trump can now be put rest. In spite of the adverse criticism about her, the Republican campaign is unlikely to take disciplinary action against any member of the staff who might be responsible for the controversy. It is more appropriate to recall the words of Joe Biden when his plagiarism was revealed in 1987: the incident was just “a tempest in a teapot.”

Posted on 07/19/2016 4:26 PM by Michael Curtis
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