Sunday, 28 August 2016
More on Gilbert Chagoury's Ties to Hezbollah
clear

As we first reported here, now expanded by Joseph Tanfani in the LATimes.

Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, one of Africa’s richest men, has built a reputation as a giant of global philanthropy.

His name is on a gallery at the Louvre and a medical school in Lebanon, and he has received awards for his generosity to the Catholic Church and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. He owns a seven-bedroom hilltop mansion in Beverly Hills, and he has a high-level network of friends from Washington to Lebanon to the Vatican, where he serves as an ambassador for the tiny island nation of St. Lucia. His website shows him shaking hands and laughing with Pope Francis.

“I never imagined what the future would hold for me,” Chagoury once said of his boyhood in Nigeria. “But I knew there was a vision for my life that was greater than I could imagine.… I consider it a duty to give back.”

Since the 1990s, Chagoury has also cultivated a friendship with the Clinton family — in part by writing large checks, including a contribution of at least $1 million to the Clinton Foundation.

By the time Hillary Clinton became secretary of State, the relationship was strong enough for Bill Clinton’s closest aide to push for Chagoury to get access to top diplomats, and the agency began exploring a deal, still under consideration, to build a consulate on Chagoury family land in Lagos, Nigeria.

But even as those talks were underway, bureaucrats in other arms of the State Department were examining accusations that Chagoury had unsavory affiliations, stemming from his activities and friendships in Lebanon. After a review, Chagoury was refused a visa to enter the U.S. last year.

Chagoury is a prominent example of the nexus between Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the family’s Clinton Foundation, which has come under renewed scrutiny during her presidential run. The organization, founded as a way for the Clintons to tap their vast network for charitable works, has tackled some of the steepest challenges in the developing world, including rebuilding Haiti and fighting AIDS in Africa. It has also come under fire for its willingness to accept money from foreign governments with interest in swaying U.S. policy during Clinton’s time as secretary of State, and the controversial histories of some donors.

Part of a dictator’s inner circle

Chagoury was born in 1946 in Lagos to Lebanese parents, and as a child attended school in Lebanon. He sold shoes and cars in Nigeria, according to a biography on his website, before marrying the daughter of a prominent Nigerian businessman.

During the rule of Gen. Sani Abacha, who seized power in Nigeria in 1993, Chagoury prospered, receiving development deals and oil franchises.

In the 1990s, Chagoury portrayed himself as an Abacha insider as he tried to influence American policy to be more friendly to the regime. Soon after President Clinton named Donald E. McHenry a special envoy to Nigeria in 1995, Gilbert and brother Ronald Chagoury visited McHenry in his office at Georgetown University in Washington. The U.S. was pushing for the return of democratic rule in Nigeria; Abacha, meanwhile, was eager to have his country taken off a U.S. list of nations that enabled drug trafficking, McHenry said.

“Their effort was to try and influence anyone who they thought could influence the U.S. government,” McHenry said, adding that the approach was heavy-handed. “They tried every key on the piano.”

Abacha turned out to be “one of the most notorious kleptocrats in memory,” stealing billions in public funds, acting Assistant Atty. Gen. Mythili Raman later said.

After Abacha’s death in 1998, the Nigerian government hired lawyers to track down the money. The trail led to bank accounts all over the world — some under Gilbert Chagoury's control. Chagoury, who denied knowing the funds were stolen, paid a fine of 1 million Swiss francs, then about $600,000, and gave back $65 million to Nigeria; a Swiss conviction was expunged, a spokesman for Chagoury said.

Ties to the Clintons

In the years afterward, Chagoury’s wealth grew. His family conglomerate now controls a host of businesses, including construction companies, flour mills, manufacturing plants and real estate.

He has used some of that money to build political connections. As a noncitizen, he is barred from giving to U.S. political campaigns, but in 1996, he gave $460,000 to a voter registration group steered by Bill Clinton’s allies and was rewarded with an invitation to a White House dinner. Over the years, Chagoury attended Clinton's 60th birthday fundraiser and helped arrange a visit to St. Lucia, where the former president was paid $100,000 for a speech. Clinton’s aide, Doug Band, even invited Chagoury to his wedding.

Chagoury also contributed $1 million to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to its list of donors. At a 2009 Clinton Global Initiative conference, where business and charity leaders pledge to complete projects, the Chagoury Group’s Eko Atlantic development — nine square kilometers of Lagos coastal land reclaimed by a seawall — was singled out for praise. During a 2013 dedication ceremony in Lagos, just after Hillary Clinton left her post as secretary of State, Bill Clinton lauded the $1-billion Eko Atlantic as an example to the world of how to fight climate change.

“I especially thank my friends Gilbert and Ron Chagoury for making it happen,” he said.

By last summer, U.S. diplomats had selected a 9.9-acre property at Eko Atlantic as the preferred site for a new Lagos consulate, State Department documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times show. Two months ago, James Entwistle, then the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, wrote to Washington, asking permission to sign a 99-year lease.

No deal has been signed, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said. She did not answer questions about whether the Clintons recommended Eko Atlantic. She said at a recent briefing that she was unaware of whether Hillary Clinton knew the site was under consideration; it was on a list of possibilities submitted by a real estate firm in 2012, Trudeau said in response to questions from The Times. A spokesman for Clinton’s campaign noted that the State Department has said the process has been managed by “career real estate professionals.”

Chagoury declined requests for an interview. A friend and spokesman, Mark Corallo, said Chagoury was a generous and “peace-loving” man unfairly scrutinized because of his association with the Clintons. He said Chagoury last saw Hillary Clinton at a 2006 dinner. The Clinton Foundation and a spokesman for Bill Clinton did not respond to requests for comment.

Chagoury also has given to Republicans: He and his brother, along with Eko Atlantic, are listed as sponsors for a 2014 art exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Suspicions emerge in the U.S.

In spite of his network of powerful friends, Chagoury has aroused the suspicions of U.S. security officials. In 2010, he was pulled off a private jet in Teterboro, N.J., and questioned for four hours because he was on the Department of Homeland Security’s no-fly list. He was subsequently removed from the list and categorized as a “selectee,” meaning he can fly but receives extra scrutiny, Homeland Security documents show. The agency later wrote to Chagoury to apologize “for any inconvenience or unpleasantness.”

That letter did not explain why Chagoury was on the no-fly list, but another Homeland Security document shows agents citing unspecified suspicions of links to terrorism, which can include financing extremist organizations; Chagoury later told reporters that agents asked him what bank he used in Nigeria.

Chagoury believes it was unfair for government officials to disclose the episode and to “suggest that he was a potential threat,” Corallo said. He said that Chagoury’s lawyers resolved the issue and that he never asked anyone else for help.

Chagoury told ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity at the time that he was miffed because his travel problems made him miss seeing the Lakers in the playoffs. "I just love the Lakers,” he said.

His visa troubles stem at least in part from his involvement in the tangled politics of Lebanon. Chagoury has contributed to charitable projects there, advocated on behalf of the country’s Christians and formed political alliances, including with Michel Aoun, a Lebanese Christian politician who served as army commander and prime minister during the country’s civil war.

For a decade, Aoun’s party has been part of a political coalition with Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim group backed by Iran that has seats in Lebanon’s parliament. Hezbollah is classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S., which holds the group responsible for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut and a Marine barracks blast that year that killed 241 American servicemen. Drug Enforcement Administration investigations have also found that Hezbollah is in league with Latin American cartels to launder hundreds of millions of dollars in drug profits.

Chagoury was “known to have funded” Aoun, a Lebanese government minister told then-Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman in 2007, according to a cable published by WikiLeaks that didn’t go in detail about Chagoury’s relationship with Aoun. The minister suggested that the U.S. “deliver to Chagoury a strong message about the possibility of financial sanctions and travel bans against those who undermine Lebanon’s legitimate institutions.”

Chagoury never got a scolding, though. Instead, Band, Bill Clinton’s aide, pushed for new access for Chagoury after Hillary Clinton took over at the State Department. In 2009, Band wrote his friends in the department. “We need Gilbert Chagoury to speak to the substance guy re Lebanon. As you know he's key guy there and to us and is loved in Lebanon. Very imp.” Huma Abedin, a longtime aide and confidante to Clinton and now vice chairwoman of her presidential campaign, suggested Feltman.

When Band’s email was made public this month, Donald Trump pounced, calling the Chagoury episode “illegal” and a “pay-to-play” scheme.

But no meeting ever happened, according to both Feltman and Chagoury’s spokesman. Chagoury wanted only to pass along insights on Lebanese politics, Corallo said, adding that “nothing ever came of it” and that Chagoury never talked to anyone at the State Department. Band declined to comment for this story.

A Clinton campaign spokesman said Judicial Watch, the conservative organization that sued to make the emails public, “has been attacking the Clintons since the 1990s.”

“No matter how this group tries to mischaracterize these documents, the fact remains that Hillary Clinton never took action as secretary of State because of donations to the Clinton Foundation," spokesman Josh Schwerin said.

This month, the foundation announced that it would stop accepting donations from foreigners and corporations should Clinton win the presidency.

Denied a visa

After Clinton left the State Department, Chagoury again found himself under suspicion by U.S. security officials. A 2013 FBI intelligence report, citing unverified raw information from a source, claimed Chagoury had sent funds to Aoun, who transferred money to Hezbollah. The source said Aoun was “facilitating fundraising for Hezbollah.” The U.S. put Chagoury in its database used to screen travelers for possible links to terrorism, interagency memos show.

The ties between Chagoury and Aoun ended years ago in a dispute over oil franchises, said Michel de Chadarev, an official with Aoun’s party. Chagoury now backs an Aoun rival for the presidency. De Chadarev said Aoun “categorically denied” any arrangement where he shared money with Hezbollah or passed funds from Chagoury: “No, no, no. Of course not. It is not in his principles to act as transporter to anyone.”

Last summer, when Chagoury planned a trip to Los Angeles, he applied at the U.S. embassy in Paris for a visitor’s visa and was refused, according to interviews and government documents. Based on the FBI report and other allegations from intelligence and law enforcement sources, the State Department denied the application. It cited terrorism-related grounds, a broad category that can apply to anyone believed to have assisted a terrorist group in any way, including providing money.

Chagoury has denied ties to Hezbollah. Two years ago, he helped pay for a conference in Washington on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East; some attendees supported Hezbollah, but the director of the group that organized the conference said that didn't mean Chagoury or other conference organizers were among them. “Hezbollah is part of the political reality of the country,” Andrew Doran told the National Review.

Corallo did not answer questions about the visa denial, but said Chagoury “has been a friend and supporter of America all his life” and that “any allegation that Mr. Chagoury is involved in any way with providing material support to any terrorist organization, of any stripe, is false, outrageous and defamatory.” He said Chagoury has no business interests in Lebanon.

The visa decision process is opaque and provides little recourse for those who are denied entry. Typically, the person is told of the grounds for refusal, but not the details. The secretary of State can grant a waiver, but that is often difficult when the evidence used to block entry is terrorism-related.

For the last three decades, Corallo said, Chagoury spent at least a few months each year in Beverly Hills, where he owns an 18,000-square-foot estate, once the home of actor Danny Thomas, with commanding views of West Los Angeles and the ocean.

A year ago, after his visa application was denied, Chagoury’s mansion was put on the market, with an asking price of $135 million. It’s still for sale.

clear
Posted on 08/28/2016 10:43 AM by Rebecca Bynum
clear
Sunday, 28 August 2016
Indonesia church attack: would-be suicide bomber with backpack full of explosives injures priest with an axe
clear

From Sky News Australia and the London Evening Standard

The man managed to take an axe from his rucksack, which only burned without exploding, and attacked the Rev. Albert Pandiangan, causing a slight injury to the 60-year-old priest's hand, Amar said. 

The teenager, identified as Ivan Armadi Hasugian, was restrained by members of the congregation until police arrived.

Based on an account by a member of the congregation, the perpetrator was sitting among worshippers when he prepared a makeshift bomb in yellow pipes North Sumatra police spokeswoman Senior Commissioner Rina Sari Ginting. He then stood up and the bomb exploded in his backpack, injuring himself before running towards the priest and attacking him, the spokeswoman said. 

Officers said the motive for the attack at the Roman Catholic St. Yoseph Church in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, was not clear, but the perpetrator carried a symbol indicating support for the Islamic State group. 

They also confiscated Hasugian's backpack which contained items displaying a logo that resembled that of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Hasugian confessed that he was not acting alone in his attempted attack and that someone else had ordered him to carry it out, Ginting said.

clear
Posted on 08/28/2016 9:46 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
clear
Sunday, 28 August 2016
Is Telford the next Rotherham: Horrific abuse scandal in town dubbed 'child sex capital of Britain
clear

From the Mirror

Police are under fire over a “ Rotherham style ” abuse scandal in a town dubbed the child sex capital of Britain.

Officers are accused of taking too long to probe allegations contained in files stretching to 150 pages. It is claimed reports of grooming in Telford, Shrops, were logged incorrectly and not taken seriously enough despite an earlier probe that led to seven men being jailed in 2012.

Today, one victim who was hawked among paedophiles and forced to sleep with a string of men, said: “The police have betrayed the children of this town for a second time." Leading calls for an independent inquiry, the abuse victim said: “I never want any other girl to go through what I did. We need a Rotherham-style inquiry in Telford. It has been going on for at least two decades. When will it stop?”

She spoke after it emerged detailed reports had been handed to police by “street pastors” on night patrol. 

They include eye-witness accounts of teenagers being sold drugs at underage discos and gangs of older men grooming drunk children. The reports, compiled over three years, allege older men operate in gangs and circle disco venues, take-aways and kids’ haunts in cars, often approaching youngsters in the street.

Police admitted multiple incidents were markers of potential exploitation, but confessed the reporting system was initially flawed – stunting the gathering of intelligence.

Trained pastors – local church volunteers – began providing information in 2013 after Operation Chalice, which had probed earlier exploitation. 

We attended discos in licensed premises on several occasions and witnessed older men circling the venue in cars. We also saw three men in their 20s attempt to gain entry to one venue. They sped off after spotting the street pastors, who alerted police immediately.

Street pastors co-ordinator, the Rev Keith Osmund-Smith, told how his team had provided information to police – but he doubts they were always acted on. He said: “In the early days, the reports went to a number of senior officers. Because it was going to so many people, no one was really taking responsibility for it. I was never quite sure the things we were reporting were resulting in any serious action. . . It’s part of child sexual exploitation to get children hooked on drugs. We have also walked girls away from cars containing adult males."

Underage discos in licensed premises have been stopped, in a bid to protect potential victims. Movie mouse Stuart Little was used on some social media ads enticing kids to discos.

Allegations go back at least 20 years of child sex abuse at the hands of gangs in Telford, predominantly from the town’s Pakistani community. Operation Chalice bore chilling echoes of what happened in Rotherham, South Yorks. Many abusers had connections to fast food restaurants, where victims were sold to workers for sex. 

Police said 100 girls could have been targeted in Telford between 2007 and 2009 alone. Home Office figures show the town still has the highest child sex crime rate in the country.

Supt Tom Harding, of West Mercia Police, admitted some alleged crimes had not been logged in the same way as calls to 999 or 101 numbers but claimed this was because pastors did not report them as live incidents. Pastors now report all suspicious activity by phone as soon as it is spotted and are helping police investigations.

And Supt Harding insisted communication had improved dramatically. He added: “Incidents identified by pastors point to potential signs of child sexual exploitation and we use this as intelligence, to target individuals who may need to be investigated.”

clear
Posted on 08/28/2016 8:23 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
clear
Sunday, 28 August 2016
He was 30 years old in 1900
clear
Pretty amazing, if true. Mbah Gotho doesn't seem to care if we believe how old he is or not. He's outlived all his brothers and sisters and his own children. He's ready to go on.
clear
Posted on 08/28/2016 7:51 AM by Rebecca Bynum
clear
Sunday, 28 August 2016
Why Obama Let Iran's Green Revolution Fail
clear

Eli Lake writes in Bloomberg:

One of the great hypotheticals of Barack Obama's presidency involves the Iranian uprising that began on June 12, 2009, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was announced the winner of contested presidential elections. What if the president had done more to help the protesters when the regime appeared to be teetering?

It's well known he was slow to react. Obama publicly downplayed the prospect of real change at first, saying the candidates whom hundreds of thousands of Iranians were risking their lives to support did not represent fundamental change. When he finally did speak out, he couldn't bring himself to say the election was stolen: "The world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was."

But Obama wasn't just reluctant to show solidarity in 2009, he feared the demonstrations would sabotage his secret outreach to Iran. In his new book, "The Iran Wars," Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon uncovers new details on how far Obama went to avoid helping Iran's green movement. Behind the scenes, Obama overruled advisers who wanted to do what America had done at similar transitions from dictatorship to democracy, and signal America's support.

Solomon reports that Obama ordered the CIA to sever contacts it had with the green movement's supporters. "The Agency has contingency plans for supporting democratic uprisings anywhere in the world. This includes providing dissidents with communications, money, and in extreme cases even arms," Solomon writes. "But in this case the White House ordered it to stand down."

At the time, Solomon reports, Obama's aides received mixed messages. Members of the Iranian diaspora wanted the president to support the uprisings. Dissident Iranians from inside the country said such support would be the kiss of death. In the end, Obama did nothing, and Iran's supreme leader blamed him anyway for fomenting the revolt.

It's worth contrasting Obama's response with how the U.S. has reacted to other democratic uprisings. The State Department, for example, ran a program in 2000 through the U.S. embassy in Hungary to train Serbian activists in nonviolent resistance against their dictator, Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic, too, accused his opposition of being pawns of the U.S. government. But in the end his people forced the dictator from power.

Similarly, when Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze met with popular protests in 2003 after rigged elections, George W. Bush dispatched James Baker to urge him to step down peacefully, which he did. Even the Obama administration provided diplomatic and moral support for popular uprisings in Egypt in 2011 and Ukraine in 2014.

Iran though is a very different story. Obama from the beginning of his presidency tried to turn the country's ruling clerics from foes to friends. It was an obsession. And even though the president would impose severe sanctions on the country's economy at the end of his first term and beginning of his second, from the start of his presidency, Obama made it clear the U.S. did not seek regime change for Iran.  

It's debatable whether the U.S. ever did support such a policy. But it's striking the lengths to which Obama went to make good on his word. As Solomon reports, Obama ended U.S. programs to document Iranian human rights abuses. He wrote personal letters to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei assuring him the U.S. was not trying to overthrow him. Obama repeatedly stressed his respect for the regime in his statements marking Iran's annual Nowruz celebration.

His quest to engage the mullahs seems to have influenced Obama's decision-making on other issues too. When he walked away from his red line against Syria's use of chemical weapons in 2013, Solomon reports, both U.S. and Iranian officials had told him that nuclear negotiations would be halted if he intervened against Bashar al-Assad.

Obama eventually did get a nuclear deal with Iran. Solomon's book shines in reporting the details of the diplomacy that led to the 2015 accord. American diplomats held two sets of negotiations with Iran -- one public channel with the British, Chinese, European Union, French, Germans, Russians and the United Nations -- and another, bilateral track established through the Sultanate of Oman. In 2013, U.S. officials shuttled on public busses between two hotels in Geneva to conduct the two tracks before telling their negotiating partners about the formerly secret channel to Iran.

Eventually, the Iranians wore down the U.S. delegation. At the beginning of the talks in 2013, the U.S. position was for Iran to dismantle much of its nuclear infrastructure. By the end of the talks in 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry and his team "agreed that Iran would then be allowed to build an industrial-scale nuclear program, with hundreds of thousands of machines, after a ten year period of restraint."

Other U.S. red lines were demolished too. The final deal would allow the U.N. ban on Iranian missile development to phase out after eight years, and the arms embargo against Iran to expire after five. Iran would not have to acknowledge that it had tried to develop a nuclear weapon, even though samples the Iranians collected at its Parchin facility found evidence of man-made uranium.

In one particularly revealing passage, Solomon captures the thinking of Kerry, who engaged in detailed negotiations over the deal in the final months of the talks. "So many wars have been fought over misunderstandings, misinterpretations, lack of effective diplomacy," Kerry told Solomon in a 2016 interview. "War is the failure of diplomacy."

Kerry's diplomacy succeeded. But the Middle East got war nonetheless. "The Revolutionary Guard continues to develop increasingly sophisticated weapons systems, including ballistic missiles inscribed with threats against Israel on their nose cones," Solomon writes in the book's concluding chapter. "Khamenei and other revolutionary leaders, meanwhile, fine-tune their rhetorical attacks against the United States, seeming to need the American threat to justify their existence." 

There was a chance for a better outcome. There is no guarantee that an Obama intervention would have been able to topple Khamenei back in 2009, when his people flooded the streets to protest an election the American president wouldn't say was stolen. But it was worth a try. Imagine if that uprising had succeeded. Perhaps then a nuclear deal could have brought about a real peace. Instead, Obama spent his presidency misunderstanding Iran's dictator, assuring the supreme leader America wouldn't aid his citizens when they tried to change the regime that oppresses them to this day.

clear
Posted on 08/28/2016 7:31 AM by Rebecca Bynum
clear
Sunday, 28 August 2016
Germany: Knifeman 'shouts Allahu Akbar' as he attacks couple at music festival leaving wife fighting for life
clear

But of course, this has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam. Daily Mirror:

A couple at a German music festival have been attacked by a knifeman who witnesses claim was heard shouting "Allahu Akbar".

A 66-year-old woman, believed to be the other victim's wife, is said to be fighting for her life.

The other victim - a 57-year-old man - is seriously injured however he still managed to overpower the man who was then arrested by police officers in Oberhausen.

The attack took place just after 7pm on Saturday evening.

Police officers say the suspect is a 26-year-old from Duisburg, Germany.

In a statement, police said the suspect was "apparently under the influence of narcotics".

Yeah, that's it, Drugs.

Officers say they have also recovered a weapon from the scene.

German media reported that the suspect is homeless.

The phrase "Allahu Akbar" means "God is Great" and has been chanted by Islamic terrorists during attacks.

However officers are yet to confirm a motive for the attack.

The country has been on high alert after a man hacked at passengers on board a train close to Wurzburg in southern Germany.

The attacker, 17-year-old Afghan refugee shouting “Allahu Akbar” while storming the train, was shot dead by police.

18 were injured, while the axeman severely wounded four.

clear
Posted on 08/28/2016 7:19 AM by Rebecca Bynum
clear
Sunday, 28 August 2016
UK Police harassment: Tommy Robinson and his kids thrown out of a pub in Cambridge
clear

Tommy Robinson and his children were thrown out of the city of Cambridge last night by the UK Police.

He was watching a football match in a pub with 2 friends, his 3 kids and 4 other children. 3 adults, 7 kids. Earlier in the day the whole party had (without any trouble) watched Luton play Cambridge (at the ground in Cambridge).

He filmed the Police giving him no good reason as to why he was being told, ordered, to leave an entire city. Even the security staff of the pub intervened to say his party was causing no trouble.

Last night I pulled this video off Periscope and put it on YouTube quickly. I’ve now re-uploaded a new version fixing some problems and adding explanations.

It seems to me the UK police are trying to get Tommy to do something so they can send him back to prison. In prison he would be attacked again by Muslim gangs. They nearly killed him the last time.

 

clear
Posted on 08/28/2016 6:56 AM by Brian of London
clear
Sunday, 28 August 2016
Rowan Dean, Aussie Satirist, Takes Aim at Walid Aly, Islamopologist Extraordinaire
clear

There have been other, longer, more detailed and much more erudite demolition jobs performed on the slithery Mr Aly, notably Vicky Janson's excellent book "Ideological Jihad" which is couched as a letter of response to Mr Aly's book-length whine, "People Like Us"; but Mr Dean's is a masterpiece of its kind.  To understand why he refers to Mr Aly as "Sheik Waleed Logy" one must know that Mr Aly this year received a "Golden Logie" award for alleged achievements in media.

Mr Dean's take-down of Aly forms the second paragraph of his satirical essay "Fresh in the Annals of Outrage, Here's the Winners of Whingeing", which was published by the Australian Financial Review on May 29 2016, but which I only recently happened to discover.  

http://www.afr.com/opinion/columnists/fresh-in-the-annals-of-outrage-heres-the-winners-of-whingeing-20160526-gp4q4h

"Fresh in the annals of outrage, here's the winners of whingeing".

'A nation which has raised taking offence ot an art form deserves recognition.  Here they are: the 2016 "Poor Me" Awards.

"Following yesterday's "Rich 200" List, the Fin. [i.e. Financial Review - CM] is proud to publish the 2016 Poor Me List, the definitive, must-read list of the top Poor Me people in Australia.  The list is compiled exclusively from among the wealthiest or most celebrated individuals in Australia, who despite their great fortune and good luck, still bleat on about how hard done by they are.  The judges' final decisions were based on the sincerity and heartfelt quality [of the complaint - CM] as well as the frequency with which the candidates have expressed the winning (and, indeed, whining) sentiement, "Poor me".

"1.  Sheik Waleed Logy.  A high rating member of every Poor Me list compiled since its inception yesterday morning, this much-loved TV host, radio host, newspaper columnist, political commentator, terrorism expert, Boko Haram apologist, Hot Glossy Magazine Cover Boy and all-round Top Dude, who also happens to be married to a Hot Glossy Magazine Cover Headscarf-Wearing Top Chick, has finally clawed his way to the very top of the Poor Me list.  The judges were particularly moved by the way the tears flowed spectacularly in the audience during his 2016 Golden Alie [sic] Acceptance Speech, as Mr Logy fought back his own tears and pointed out how horrendous and oppressive it is to be a Muslim in today's redneck, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, intolerant Australia.  Poor Me Rating: 11 stars..."...

Everyone else on Mr Dean's list of persons he thought suitable to receive a "Poor Me" award is an Aussie infidel; yet despite fierce competition it was a Muslim that topped the list.  My thanks to Mr Dean for cutting both the insufferable and sinister Mr Aly and his equally-insufferable dozy bint convert-to-Islam wife right down to size.  - CM

clear
Posted on 08/28/2016 6:19 AM by Christina McIntosh
clear
Sunday, 28 August 2016
In the 'Australian Financial Review' Rowan Dean, Satirist, Discusses A Mysterious Mental Illness That Appears Now to Be Pandemic
clear

This article - which leaves barely anything to be done by way of "Corrections", though persons familiar with Latin might like to assist with the improvement of certain technical terms - appeared two days ago in a mainstream newspaper, the Australian Financial Review, which forms part of the usually-rather-Islamophile Fairfax media stable.

It is, perhaps, an indication of a beginning of a change in the Zeitgeist, that such an article is written, and published.  My heartiest commendation to Mr Dean, and to his editor/s, and to the Australian Financial Review.

http://www.afr.com/opinion/columnists/the-mysterious-epidemic-of-mental-or-psychiatric-illnesses-20160825-gr1c7f

"The Mysterious Epidemic of Psychiatric Illness".

'The world of mental health and wellbeing has been rocked to its core by a bizarre global outbreak of inexplicable nervous breakdowns.

'Researchers are struggling to find a common cause or factor that may link or in some way help explain what is behind this mysterious epidemic of mental, or psychiatric, illnesses.  Thus far experts remain baffled as to any similarities between the cases, which to date have been reported with their own specific medical terminology.

'Homophobicus orlanditis:

'In this disturbing case, a young man from an ethnically-diverse and culturally-rich background, that coincidentally has strong traditional taboos against such modern practices as man on man copulation or woman on woman coupling, and yet who exhibited no previous symptoms of any mental disorder whatsoever, mysteriously suffered an acute breakdown of his nervous system (or, homophobicus orlanditis), when he found himself inexplicably confronted by a tutu-wearing group of cavorting drag queens in a "gays only" nightclub in an American tourist resort.  Symptoms of the mysterious breakdown included loudly and repetitively shouting out guttural slogans with strong flat vowel sounds, whilst expressing his neurological disturbances via the means of shooting everybody dead.  Diagnosis: Unknown mental illness.

"Catholicus intoleranza

"In this extremely rare case, a young man and his associate, both from ethnically-diverse and culturally-rich heritages that coincidentally hold strong traditional taboos against the faith-expression practices of so-called "non-believers" and yet who exhibited no previous symptoms of any mental disorders mysteriously suffered an acute and simultaneous breakdown of their nervous systems (suspected catholicus intoleranza) when they found themselves accidentally confronted by one old priest and two nuns swinging a bowl of incense in front of their faces in a French medieval town.  

"Symptoms of this unusual twinned nervous breakdown include both indivdiuals simultaneously breaking into guttural verbal manifestations with unusual linguistic quirks whilst displaying signs of acute psychological disturbances via the means of slitting the priest's throat.  Diagnosis: unknown mental illness.

"Backpackeritis stabbata:  

"In this recent case, a young man from an ethnically-diverse and culturally-rich background, which coincidentally has strong ritualised practices of encouraging females to behave as "personal property" and dress in large black traditional coverings (or "sacks") and yet who exhibited no recognisable symptoms of mental disorder whatsoever oddly suffered an acute breakdown of his entire nervous system (common-or-garden backpackeritis stabbata) when he found himself confronted by a young girl heading off to the beach in a tee-shirt and denim shorts.  

"Symptoms of the mysterious breakdown included an inability to express his pain via any means other than verbal excretions of repetitive foreign-sounding two-word phrases whilst his mental anxieties manifested themselves via the means of stabbing her to death.  Diagnosis:  Unknown mental illness.

"Colognosis gropitis:

"First detected on New Year's Eve in a northern German town when a series of young men across a wide demographic sphere drawn from a multitude of diverse and ethnically-rich backgrounds (i.e. no discernible commonality) many of which coincidentally hold strong traditional cultural mores on the appropriate behaviour of young women inexplicably found themselves unable to control normal motor functions and muscle control in a crowded situation (extreme Colognosis gropitis).  

"Symptoms of the mysterious mass nervous disorders nclude reflex thrusting of hands (for warmth, perhaps?) down the pants and up the skirts of any female they happen to encounter.  Diagnosis:  Unknown mass mental illness.

"Yehudinis mortis:

"In this unprecedented case, a yoiung man from an ethnically-diverse and culturally-rich background that coincidentally has strong traditional taboos against such chronically disturbing practices as being Jewish and proud of it, and yet who exhibited no previous symptoms of mental disorders whatsoever, mysteriously suffered a breakdown of his nervous system (or, acute Yehudinis mortis) when he found himself unfairly confronted by a man in a black hat with curly black bits of hair hanging down the side.

"Symptoms of the patient's complete psychological breakdown included loudly and repetitively shouting out incomprehensible phrasings whilst expressing his neurological disturbances via the means of chopping the man to death with a machete.  Diagnosis: Unknown mental illness.

I am not sure exactly which of many murderous Muslim attacks on Jews Mr Dean is here satirising.  If he is referring to a recent Muslim attack upon a Jewish teacher in Marseilles he should have written "via the means of attempting to chop the man to death with a machete"; because although it's very clear the Muslim intended to murder his victim he did not in fact succeed. - CM

"Hostagitis chocolatitis:

"In this unusual case a man from a cuturally-rich background that coincidentally  has strong traditional taboos against drinking hot chocolate on the way to work (sic: this is the only clause in Mr Dean's entire essay with which one might take issue; so far as I know the sharia has not got around to a ban on hot chocolate - CM) and yet who exhibited no previous symptoms of mental disorders whatsoever, apart from murdering his wife and sending abusive letters to dead soldiers (sic: more properly, "to the grieving families of dead soldiers" - CM) mysteriously suffered a nervous breakdown (or hostagitis chocolatitis) when he found himself alone in a Sydney cafe with 18 hostages and a gun.

"Symptoms of the patient's psychological disorder manifested themselves in the ritual holding up of a black flag in the window.  Diagnosis: Unknown mental illness.

"Treatment: Ignore hostages and concentrate on preventing non-existent imaginary backlash against people of diverse cultural backgrounds".

Thank you, Mr Dean.   And.. don't stop.  The target you've selected on this occasion - the dense fog of wilful denial that binds, and blinds, so many, many minds in the West and not only in the West - is long overdue for repeated blastings from a veritable flamethrower of relentless mockery.  Scorch it, mate.  Scorch it.  Scorch it till it hisses and fizzles and evaporates into nothingness. - CM

clear
Posted on 08/28/2016 5:06 AM by Christina McIntosh
clear
Sunday, 28 August 2016
How Nigel Farage Came to Speak at Trump Rally in Mississippi
clear

Farage writes in the Daily Mail:

Since I announced that I was going to stand aside as Ukip leader in the wake of the successful Brexit campaign, I've had more time to do other things. 

This included a trip to Cleveland for the Republican Convention and the adoption of Donald J. Trump as their Presidential candidate.

I was astonished that everybody I met wanted to talk about Brexit – not just the delegates to the convention but ordinary people, including a group of US Navy veterans who told me we should have done it years ago.

There was a chance meeting, in a bar of course, with the delegation from Mississippi. ...

Continue reading here.



 
clear
Posted on 08/28/2016 5:38 AM by Rebecca Bynum
clear
Sunday, 28 August 2016
Two Problems for the Next President of the United States
clear

by Michael Curtis

For the next President of the United States, it is important to take account of two pressing issues, the continuing war in Afghanistan, and the political and strategic intentions of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At a moment when there is controversy over American policy and troops in Afghanistan where 3,500 troops have been killed, it is useful for the President to be given a timely warning of the consequences of incursion into the graveyard of empires. A moving and sad account of the predicament of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 -1988, is provided in the book The Hidden War, by the courageous young Russian journalist, Artyom Borovik.  Though young he was a major figure in investigatory journalism in Russia before his untimely death in an airplane crash in March 2000, a death that may not have been accidental.

Borovik writes of a war of aggression in a rugged country, badly led, fought without a clear strategy and with self-deception of Russian leaders. He tells of the feelings and the stories of soldiers, their commanders, the deserters, the suicides, the pain and sufferings and the sagging morale of the troops, the brutality to each other, the bribery, profiteering and corruption, the use of drugs and hashish, and the post war traumatic stress.

It was a war that, in Borovik’s view, produced nothing. Few knew what they were fighting for. More than 14,500 Russians were killed, and more than a million civilians lost their lives. It was the Soviet Union at its twilight, nine years of wasted effort and resources. 

Why was the war fought? Various answers have been given, some tracing it back to events of 1956, 1968, and 1978, but Borovik carefully refuses to give a definitive answer, though he points out that Leonid Breznev was, because of his physical condition and perhaps alcoholism, incapable of making decisions.

Because of its critical appraisal of Soviet behavior, Borovik’s book could not be published before glasnost (openness) challenged political power. The Writer’s Union of the Soviet Union refused to admit him to membership, and the book only appeared in 1990, the year of his death.

 Not coincidentally, perestroika (reformation within the Communist Party) started in 1985, the year the Afghan war reached its peak. The Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991. For the West the concern now is whether some counterpart of it may reappear, and the present crucial factor connected to it is Vladimir Putin.

Putin’s political agenda remains an enigma, but his personality and behavior has been well examined. A product of the infamous KGB and the secret police milieu in which he participated, Putin in his improbable strong ascent to power has removed all obstacles and stifled all opposition, physically and literally.

He has created a regime run by a small elite and a system in which ethnic minorities are subordinated. Inherent in it is a policy of assassinations, rigging of elections, breaking of treaties, and seizure of Abkhazia and south Ossetia, Crimea, and east Ukraine.

In a merciless, and somewhat exaggerated, book The Man Without A Face, Masha Gessen has written of Putin as a gangster, a vulgar, cruel, emotionless figure who imprisoned opponents and is guilty of or involved in murder of critics, including Alexander Litvenko in London, Anna Politkovskaya, Sergei Magnitsky, and Boris Nemtsov in Moscow. Gesse also accuses him of amassing personal wealth, almost a kleptomaniac, greedily involved in embezzling state funds as the godfather of a “Mafia clan” ruling the country.

Whatever the truth of these personal accusations, Putin strengthened both his own position as well central power in Russia. He has falsified election results in December 2011, an action that led to a large demonstration in Moscow, and he is the automatic victor of the presidential election to be held in September 2018. He has noticeably relied heavily on an inner circle, many related to the former KBG, now the FSB. In a surprising action in August 2016 he replaced his long time aide, his chief of staff Sergei Ivanov, a former KGB agent, with his deputy Anton Vaino. None of those aides appear to have any political clout or identity.

Putin has used Parliament to increase penalties for social media users who are critical of Russian policy in Ukraine, and to control freedom of expression in the media and elsewhere, conscience, and right to privacy. 

During the years of the Soviet Union most religious schools and mosques were closed. A small number were allowed to exist under the control of state appointed imams, and some councils in some areas adhered to Sharia law. After the end of the Soviet Union, mosques reopened, but it was the Chechen wars of 1994-6 and 1999-2002 with its Muslim extremists that caused problems. In addition to those wars, Putin was forced to deploy troops in Daghestan against the militant Shariat Jameat, the Salafist preachers, and the Muslim extremists who had invaded from Chechnya. 

The American President should take note. Putin is well aware of Radical Islam. A considerable number of Muslims from that Daghestan area have gone to fight for ISIS in Syria. Putin response was swift, “We cannot let them use the experience they have gained in Syria back home.”

The U.S.President will also be concerned with the real intentions of Putin? At present they seem to be ambiguous: is he to be regarded as an Eurasianist or an Atlanticist? Are there two Putins? One is seen as the heroic patriot, the savior of Russia during the second Chechen campaign, the liberator of Ossetia and Abkhazia, and hero of the Crimea, and the other may be inclined to some aspects of liberalism and to compromises with the west. If not mysterious, Putin is an unpredictable ruler, pursuing if not equally both points of view. However, what is noticeable today is that the summit meetings in August 2016 with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Iranian President Hassan Rohani indicate Putin’s interest in creating alliances or as a minimum establishing friendships with those regimes and Eurasians.

In his policy Putin may have been influenced by an academic Alexander Dugin, a Russian political scientist and sociologist, prolific writer, adherent of the Old Believers, a Christian sect, and often regarded as both a neo-Stalinist and a neo-Fascist. He has seemed to be close to the Kremlin, and said to be an intellectual force behind Putin’s annexation activities. Dugin is an extremist, a believer in the restoration of the Russian Empire, starting with control of the former Soviet republics, Georgia and Ukraine, and an advocate of a Turkic-Slavic alliance, especially with Iran.

Dugin has advocated Eurasianist ideology, with the accompanying view that the threats to Russia are Atlanticism, the control of the US and liberal values. Whether Putin followed his advice or not, Putin did create the Eurasian Economic Community with Kazakhstan and Belarus that came in force on January 1, 2015.

Dugin was fired last year from his post as Sociologists at Moscow State University. Will this mean a change in Putin’s policy?

clear
Posted on 08/28/2016 5:22 AM by Michael Curtis
clear
Sunday, 28 August 2016
The West is betraying the Kurds and allowing them to be massacred
clear
Stabs in the back don’t get much nastier than this. The US partners once more with the Muslim Brotherbood - Turkish division this time.
clear
Posted on 08/28/2016 4:54 AM by Rebecca Bynum
clear
Saturday, 27 August 2016
Swimsuits on Trial in France
clear

by Michael Curtis

In 1871 Karl Marx published a pamphlet, The Civil War in France, discussing the fight between the radical Commune radical group that had ruled Paris for a few months and the national government that resulted in more than 20,000 casualties. The Commune attempted to institute political and social reforms, particularly the separation of church and state, and better social conditions.

In summer 2016, a political and legal civil war has erupted in France on what is not simply a trivial issue of women’s swimsuits, but also raises  important and controversial issues of Islamic identity within a secular society, adherence to French law and custom, and freedom of expression.

French society has been concerned for nearly 30 years with the problem of the clothes of Muslim women. Now it is divided over the wearing by them of burkinis, the swimsuits that cover the full body except the face, hands, sand feet, on the beaches of France, So far, we have not heard from Brigitte Bardot, the scantily clad movie goddess who popularized the bikini in the 1956 film And God created Woman. Her voice might be helpful in resolving the question of whether French administrators of beaches today should allow only the bikini clad equivalents of Bardot in her glory days, or should they permit Muslim women wearing the more substantial and controversial costume?

At this point, the burkini, or more precisely what French officials term “beachwear which ostentatiously displays religious affiliation,” had been banned by mayors in 30 towns on the basis of a threat to law and order, Some small fines had been imposed, particularly in Nice, where the city government fined 24 women for wearing the garment. 

The highest administrative court in France, the Conseil d’Etat, has now entered the battle. The French Human Rights League and the Collective against Islamophobia in France had challenged the ban on the wearing of burkinis imposed by the mayor of Villeneuve-sur-Loubet, one of the 30 towns that had issued them. A local court in that town upheld the regulation.

On August 26, 2016 the three senior judges of the Conseil d’Etat held that the ban was “a serious and manifestly illegal infringement of fundamental liberties such as freedom of movement, freedom of conscience and personal liberty.” For the Court the burkini did not constitute a risk to public order.

The non-military civil war on the question involves political figures within the French political class as well as outside the government, and some dignitaries from other countries. According to one survey, 64 per cent of French people favor a ban, while only 6 per cent were opposed, and 30 per cent were indifferent.

Not surprisingly, Nicolas Sarkozy, former president and again a presidential candidate, a law and order candidate, demanded a nation wide ban of burkinis. The mayor of Nice, David Lisnard, referred to the burkini as like a uniform, a symbol of Islamist extremism, not simply an innocent religious symbol but also a militant emblem of radical Islam, consciously marking a separation of a group from the mainstream.

The Muslim mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in a visit to Paris, condemned the ban as impractical and illiberal. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, confined herself to condemning “hysteria “ on the Issue. Not unexpectedly, the responsible official of Amnesty International remarked that the bans did nothing to increase public safety but did a lot to promote public humiliation.

Within the socialist government there was a clash between Prime Minister Manuel Valls and the Minister of Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. Valls defended the existing short-term local regulations, though not any nation wide legislation. Valls argued on two grounds. One is on the fact that the bans were imposed in the name of public order, because only a few days earlier the massacre had occurred on July 14, 2016 of 86 civilians in Nice. As a result there was understandably considerable tension in the south of France as well as in the country as a whole. The other, more controversial, reason was hos argument that the burkini was a symbol of  the enslavement of women. President Francois Hollande entered the discussion by declaring that wearing a burkini was a political act, a militant provocation.

In contrast, Vallaud-Belkacem, Moroccan born who describes herself as a non-practicing Muslim, said the ban “had let loose” verbal racism, was dangerous for national cohesion, and raised the issue of individual freedom. She wondered to what extent France should go to ensure an attire that is respectful of good morals? In what seems a curious statement when defending women who want to hide their bodies, she asserted that permitting women to wear the burkini would promote  a society where women could be free and proud of their bodies. The government minister for women, Laurence Rossignol, more appropriately said that burkinis were designed to hide women’s bodies.

There re several questions to be considered. Is the “law and order” approach valid? It is true that a burkini cannot conceal a weapon. Though it is not an exact equivalent, an interesting precedent bolstering the argument of those advocating law and order was the event in London in July 2015 when a nine member gang wearing burkas who had engaged in ten robberies were arrested. Among the places robbed were Selfridges, Prada, and Jimmy Choo. The haul included Rolex watches worth half a million dollars.

More relevant is the issue of the nature of France, the place of Islam within French culture, and adherence to French behavior and custom. France is symbolized in different ways, but a starting point might be the allegorical image of the nation in the Delacroix painting Liberty leading the People, one of the prize works of art in the Louvre. The image, widely identified as a representation of France, is of a rather sensual Marianne, topless and holding the tricolor flag in one hand and a musket in the other.

Everyone recognizes that the image signifies France as a country of liberty and equality, but it also symbolizes three specific aspects of France, as a country that is secular, hedonistic, and a supporter of women’s liberation, to all of which the burkini poses a challenge.  

A compromise solution might be to distinguish between the various form of Muslim women attire, from the mildest to the most extreme, the hijab, the chador, the niqab, and the burqa, but this would be avoiding the main issue. The issue of public order in France is ever present because of Islamist activity. Yet, the burkini is not a major factor on this issue, though it is unclear whether the decision of the Conseil d’Etat, removing the ban, will calm or heighten tensions and passions.

The real question is whether all Muslims living in France as in western democratic societies will accept western values. To what extent will they obey the national law instead of Sharia law, respect French accepted customs of behavior and dress, as well as adhere to rules of hygiene and safety in public, including bathing, areas?

The overriding issue is adherence of all people in the country to the principle of laicite, the secularist principle, on which French society rests. The issue goes back to the 1905 constitution in the attempt to separate church and state, with freedom of conscience, the principle of no official recognition of a religion and neutrality in religious affairs,. Secularism in education is ordained, while freedom of religion and freedom to exercise it is guaranteed. In 2016 president Hollande proposed a temporary ban on foreign funding for mosques, and closed 20 mosques preaching radical Islamist ideology.

With the entrance into France of large numbers of Muslims, mostly from North Africa, various additions to the law were made relevant to that immigration. In 2004 a law forbad “dissimulation of the face,” the wearing of conspicuous religious signs, religious emblems, Christian crosses and Jewish kippas as well as the Islamic hijab in public school and colleges. The question now is whether that law should be extended to all public spaces, and this would include beaches.

In 2010, France banned, the first European country to do so, full faced Islamic veils from public places. The government Minister for Women’s Rights at the time, Pascale Boistard, supported banning students from wearing veils at French universities. The ban was upheld in July 2014 by the European Court of Human Rights which held that the preservation of a certain idea of living together was a legitimate aim of French authorities.

There are two overriding issues. One is whether Muslim women attire signifies oppression rather than liberation of women. The other is whether the wearing of the burkini is a deliberate way of indicating religious identity in public places and therefore explicitly constitutes Islamic propaganda. For the sake of peace and stability and “living together” in France the better part of wisdom is to allow the ban on burkinis to continue.

clear
Posted on 08/27/2016 11:21 AM by Michael Curtis
clear
Saturday, 27 August 2016
The Girl Left Behind
clear

ABC's 20/20 did a story on Kayla Mueller. One has to wonder about Doctors without Borders taking these women into Syria.

American hostage Kayla Mueller was tortured, verbally abused, forced into slave labor for ISIS commanders in Syria and raped by the group's top leader, but her fellow hostages say she never surrendered hope, she selflessly put the welfare of fellow captives above her own and she even stood up to executioner "Jihadi John" to defend her Christian faith.

Four former hostages who shared cells with Mueller, speaking publicly for the first time about their shared ordeal for ABC News' "20/20" broadcast, "The Girl Left Behind," airing Friday, say the Prescott, Arizona, humanitarian aid worker was a courageous 25-year-old who inspired them.

Their ISIS guards were overseen by the British tough Mohammed Emwazi, who would later be dubbed Jihadi John, as he carried out the beheadings and killings of 10 hostages. The Londoner led three other Britons who oversaw the hostage operation. Their prisoners called them "The Beatles."

In March 2014, Mueller was taken to a room next door several times where male hostages were being held. Former hostages said Emwazi paraded her in front of them to show prisoners about to be released who she was and to offer her own proof-of-life by removing her head scarf and briefly introducing herself.

Former hostage Daniel Rye Ottosen, a Danish freelance photographer, recalled how Mueller turned the tables on the men in black.

"One of the Beatles started to say, 'Oh, this is Kayla, and she has been held all by herself. And she is much stronger than you guys. And she's much smarter. She converted to Islam.' And then she was like, 'No, I didn't,'" Ottosen told ABC News.

He admits it surprised him a lot. He had once tried to strangle himself when ISIS guards strung his arms up by chains.

"I would not have had the guts to say that. I don't think so," he said. "It was very clear that all of us were impressed by the strength that she showed in front of us. That was very clear."

The only period in Mueller's 18 horrifying months as an ISIS hostage when she wasn't subjected to some form of torture, verbal abuse, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, stress positions, forced labor or sexual assault before she died in captivity was the six weeks she was held at an abandoned oil refinery in Syria, with other Western hostages in 2014.

Because many of the ISIS captives were being individually negotiated for ransom with their governments, employers or families, the women, at least, inside the makeshift prison south of ISIS stronghold Raqqa were not subjected to the kind of abuses that Mueller said she experienced in other ISIS prisons before and after her time there, according to the Mueller family and those held captive with her.

Three of the Westerners released by ISIS and a Yazidi teenager who escaped captivity provided eyewitness accounts to ABC News of Mueller's strength, selflessness and will to survive amid her considerable suffering, including details she gave them of her treatment when she was completely alone for most of her confinement by the terrorist group.

"They would scream at her, and they would, you know, blame her for everything that America has done in the world," Frida Saide, one of three women from Doctors Without Borders who shared a cell with Mueller at the oil refinery, told ABC News in an interview this month.

"They picked her apart," said Patricia Chavez, one of the other Doctors Without Borders aid workers held with Mueller.

In her seventh month of captivity, Mueller's frequent isolation and moves between makeshift prisons in Aleppo and Raqqa was interrupted by the arrival at the oil refinery of Saide, Chavez and a dozen other hostages, including Europeans in the process of being ransomed.

In March and April 2014, the women from Doctors Without Borders and a French journalist carried out three letters Mueller wrote by hand to friends and family, indicating it was finally her turn. The Doctors Without Borders women were made to memorize an ISIS email address, which the hostage takers instructed them to give to her parents.

That eventually led to extraordinary negotiations for her release, the former hostages and the Mueller family said in an ABC News investigation spanning more than two years.

Saide, 35, from Sweden and Chavez, 35, from Peru and Belgium, had not been publicly identified as ISIS hostages before agreeing to speak to ABC News this month about their friend, Mueller. At least six men held with them were eventually executed by the brutal "Beatles," and the experience has left the women traumatized.

"Fear. It's fear of the unknown. You don't know what's going to happen," Chavez recalled of the state of terror in which they lived.

What is now known of Mueller's 18 months of hell in ISIS hands has been drawn from the eyewitness accounts of a handful of fellow Western hostages like Saide and Chavez, who spent those six weeks with her in the spring of 2014 inside the oil refinery, as well as from the Yazidi teen who was imprisoned with Mueller in late 2014.

Towards the end of Mueller's life, after her parents Carl and Marsha Mueller say the FBI and Obama administration had blocked opportunities to help them ransom their daughter, her spirit had apparently dimmed, her parents concluded after recently meeting the Yazidi girl, now 15, for the first time.

Mueller was more optimistic about being freed when she briefly shared a cell with the Doctors Without Borders women in early 2014, the freed hostages said.

When the three women entered Mueller's cell and met her for the first time, they said they had to get over the initial shock of finding out that Mueller was an aid worker taken with her contractor friend and two Doctors Without Borders staffers from inside a Doctors Without Borders vehicle six months earlier. The women said their colleagues had failed to disclose the incident to them before their entry into Syria.

Mueller told them how she had helped her friend, Omar Alkhani, a Doctors Without Borders contractor, install satellite internet at an Aleppo Doctors Without Borders hospital, where they were invited to stay the night, and how they were then were abducted the next day from a Doctors Without Borders vehicle with two staffers as they left for a bus station on Aug. 4, 2013.

Mueller's cellmates in the Raqqa oil refinery — Saide, Chavez and the third Doctors Without Borders woman, whose identity remains confidential — entered Syria in November 2013. They said that in a safety briefing, a Doctors Without Borders official did not tell them that Mueller and three Doctors Without Borders workers had been abducted.

"He said that for Doctors Without Borders, that the risk of kidnapping was not considered very big. It wasn't something that I should worry about," Saide told ABC News. "Kayla had already been abducted from an Doctors Without Borders vehicle only a couple of months before that. But he failed to mention this."

Asked about the omission, Jason Cone, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders in the U.S., told ABC News this week that he wouldn't second-guess decisions by the group's security officers three years ago. He added that Mueller's kidnapping was kept quiet for her security.

"At that time, when they went into Syria, it was the express wishes that they — that this incident not be talked about. That was deemed to be the best possible recourse," he said.

He also said that the women were not traveling near Aleppo, where Mueller was kidnapped, and therefore their risk assessment was different. Saide and Chavez each dispute that claim, saying they were near Aleppo when they entered Syria from Turkey.

As Mueller's fellow female hostages described it for "20/20," ISIS held the four women in a 12-foot-by-12-foot room of brick whitewashed walls, in what the FBI later called the "pipeline desert prison," with a blacked-out window, a single lightbulb hanging from the ceiling and mattresses and blankets on the floor. They could only tell day from night through a ventilation fan near the ceiling.

"There was a little bit of light coming by this small vent, but that was it," Chavez said.

"It was cold, dirty. We didn't have that much to eat," Saide recalled. "They gave us black dresses and hijab, so to cover our heads and faces."

The women passed their time swapping stories of their families, their boyfriends and describing their respective homelands. They also whiled away the hours drawing, reading the Quran, writing and planning escapes that were all but impossible. Mueller sometimes cracked them up doing impressions of guards, including one brute they called "Edges."

And always in the background were ISIS nasheeds — chanting songs of martyrdom and death — blaring on speakers.

"They played on and on and on," Chavez said.

The relentless nasheeds underscored the real violence of the hostage takers, which the world would see later on Aug. 19, 2014, with the first beheading on video by ISIS of an American captive, journalist James Foley.

Death threats were common and credible since a Russian captive was the first to be shot to death.

"We realized that they were actually killers, that they would enjoy killing us," Saide said.

Mueller told the three Doctors Without Borders women in the cell about her previous six months of confinement, held mostly in isolation except for brief periods when she cared for a 14-year-old Shiite girl and another woman affiliated with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. All faced various forms of abuse by ISIS.

"She was amazing. She was a really strong girl," Chavez said of Mueller.

For Saide, the younger Mueller at 25 years old had a surprisingly positive personality and "a strong faith that gave her a lot of strength. As a person, she was a very good friend. She was smart. She was fun to be with. She was very kind, extremely generous."

"She was always considerate of others, even though she herself was in a very difficult situation," Saide added. "She was always concerned for other prisoners. She never stopped being concerned for the Syrian population living through just horrible things in this war and still are. She never stopped caring for others."

Sometimes they could hear male prisoners being severely beaten in other rooms, the women said. The Beatles would also take the Doctors Without Borders women to another room alone, shining a bright light in their faces and demanded sensitive personal information.

Saide cannot forgive her former jailers, who, she said, "caused so much pain to me and to others."

Emwazi was killed by a CIA armed drone in Syria last year, which vaporized his car.

And Daniel Rye Ottosen, the Danish freelance photographer, said Mueller and another American hostage, journalist Steven Sotloff, figured out a way to pass letters back and forth — leaving them concealed in the common toilet — creating a makeshift game of Trivial Pursuit.

One day, the Doctors Without Borders women were ordered to appear in a proof-of-life video as the medical aid group negotiated their and two male staffers' release. Mueller was told by ISIS captors to stay out of the picture, the women recalled.

"They used to tell her that nobody cares about her. Like, nobody's going to negotiate for her and, you know, trying to put ideas in her mind that she is different [from] us," Chavez said.

But in March 2014, Mueller was told by ISIS to pen two letters to her family stating the demands for her freedom: the release of convicted al-Qaeda operative Aafia Siddiqui from a U.S. federal prison or 5 million euros. She gave a third letter for her family to the Doctors Without Borders women to smuggle out. Though similarly worded, it included important personal contacts on the back, including her friend and college spiritual adviser, the Rev. Kathleen Day of Flagstaff's Northern Arizona University.

Her first letter was carried out by a French journalist upon his release. And then in March it came time for Saide, Chavez and the third Doctors Without Borders woman to leave, carrying Mueller's other letters.

"She was happy that things were moving for us," Chavez said.

Mueller buried any disappointment that no one had asked her in eight months for proof-of-life questions — an obvious sign of a negotiation effort. However, the Doctors Without Borders women were told by the Beatles to memorize an ISIS email address for the Mueller family to begin negotiations.

"It was a horrible feeling to be released, looking forward to being released but at the same time leaving someone behind," Saide recalled.

Saide and Chavez said they hid encouraging notes in Mueller's blankets and tried to make the best of parting. The women hugged their American friend as tears flowed. Saide told her to "stay strong," that it would end for her soon. But Mueller said nothing.

"I felt that I wouldn't be completely free until she was free," Saide said in her interview with "20/20."

Unbeknownst to Saide and Chavez, they said, Doctors Without Borders' Brussels office, which oversaw Syria operations, withheld the smuggled letter from Carl and Marsha Mueller until mid-April and kept secret the second, ISIS-directed letter — which included a ransom demand — and the ISIS email address until May 22.

Doctors Without Borders officials have attributed the delays to their desire not to interfere with their ongoing negotiations for the release of other staffers still held by ISIS at the time. On Wednesday, the aid group issued a long statement that included the claim that "Kayla herself asked the women not to pass along this other [ISIS-ordered] letter." But Saide told ABC News today that the statement by her former employer was "not true." Chavez agreed, saying, "There was no discussion where Kayla asked us not to pass it on."

An extraordinary negotiation began with 27 emails exchanged between ISIS and the Muellers, whose FBI team composed all of the couple's notes, the family has told ABC News and which U.S. officials have confirmed.

But the U.S. began airstrikes against ISIS positions in Iraq in early August 2014 during the negotiations for Mueller, and the terrorist group soon began beheading on video almost all the remaining Western hostages in stated retaliation soon after.

Once U.S. airstrikes expanded broadly across Iraq and into Syria on Sept. 22, 2014, ISIS stopped responding to the Muellers' negotiation pleas. It is believed that by then Kayla Mueller had been handed over to the oil and gas emir for ISIS, Abu Sayyaf, and his sadistic wife, Umm Sayyaf -- Tunisians who kept the American and a half-dozen Yazidi girls as sex slaves for ISIS "Caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Among several of the Yazidi girls enslaved alongside Mueller inside the Sayyaf household in the fall of 2014, none was closer to her than a then-13-year-old who has asked to be called "Julia" by ABC News. Yazidi males were subjected to mass murder by ISIS in Iraq, and thousands of Yazidi girls were forced to be sex slaves.

Julia revealed in a "20/20" interview how Mueller — who was frequently raped by al-Baghdadi — passed up a chance at an escape in order to increase the odds for the Yazidi teens, who were able to sneak out of the ISIS kingpin's house late one night in a flight to freedom.

"I told Kayla, 'We want to escape,' and I asked her to come with us. She told me, 'No, because I am American. If I escape with you, they will do everything to find us again,'" Julia said.

"It is better for you to escape alone. I will stay here," Mueller said, according to Julia.

In the Sayyaf household, Mueller went by "Kayla Carl," per the Muslim custom of referring to women with their father's name. All the girls, including Mueller, were beaten by the ISIS family — but Mueller also had to go to al-Baghdadi at night, as ABC News first reported last year.

"Baghdadi took her several times in the night for himself," Julia recounted, noting that Mueller would return later and try to not to cry, though at times she broke down.

She told the girls that part of surviving was being forced to pretend she had converted to Islam so the ISIS leader could sexually assault her, though she still clung secretly to her Christian faith.

"When she was with us, she wanted to encourage us because of also what happened with us," Julia said, noting the girls were taken in the night by ISIS men. "She was very tired every time. She was not crying every night, but she was very tired."

Under a full moon, the Yazidi girls finally made their escape, parting tearfully with their older protective "sister." They eventually made their way back to Irbil, in Kurdistan in northern Iraq, where Julia helped U.S. military intelligence officers find the Sayyaf houses. A Delta Force raid in May of last year resulted in Abu Sayyaf being shot to death and his wife being taken prisoner by the American operators.

Mueller "was praying for us to escape, to survive," said Julia, turning a bracelet on her wrist that she wears to honor Mueller. "I will never forget this sacrifice. She was very good to us. I will never forget."

In February 2015, ISIS claimed Mueller was killed in a Jordanian airstrike in Syria. The White House denied that an airstrike killed her but confirmed her death of unstated causes a few days after the ISIS claim.

At first, Julia refused to believe her friend Mueller could be dead.

Asked her reaction to the announcement on Feb. 6, 2015, Saide said simply, "I was devastated."

clear
Posted on 08/27/2016 4:47 AM by Rebecca Bynum
clear
Friday, 26 August 2016
Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn: The Field of Fight
clear

"The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies" - Hausman Memorial Speaker Series welcomed Ret. Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, to Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, MA on August 23, 2016.

clear
Posted on 08/26/2016 2:01 PM by Jerry Gordon
clear
Friday, 26 August 2016
Australia: Bob Katter, MP, Proposes Ban on Muslim Immigration from Mid-East, North Africa
clear

As reported by the Australian; this in the wake of a very messy murder of a Eurasian British backpacker, by an Allahu-akbaring French-passport-holding ethnically Arab Muslim, in a country town in Australia.  

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/bob-katter-ban-muslim-middle-east-north-africa-immigration/news-story/8a2c42e092ac2bfc19d2adce7b72ec56

'Bob Katter: Ban Muslim Middle East, North Africa Immigration'.

'Independent MP Bob Katter, the grandson of a Lebanese migrant (that is, of a Lebanese Christian who came to Australia in the late 19th or very early 20th century, during the period when what is now Lebanon was ruled by the Ottoman Turkish Muslims - CM), has urged the Coalition government to impose a ban on Muslim immigration from the Middle East and North Africa.

Yes! Yes! Yes! An excellent idea.  I am glad that this enfant terrible of the Queensland - and Aussie - political scene has brought it right out into the open, and I will be communicating with him forthwith to tell him so; my only complaint is that he has not made it sweeping enough.  I don't want any Muslims, from anywhere, let into Australia; the Malaysian and Indonesian and Afghan and Turkish Muslims and the much-ballyhooed "Rohingya" from Burma (those poor, poor 'Rohingya' on whom so many Useful Idiots are so much more inclined to lavish their sympathy than on, for example, the Copts or the desperately-imperilled Assyrian Christians or a myriad other non-Muslim victims of Muslim mistreatment), are just as potentially dangerous as any others. - CM

'The North Queensland MP last night said the "time has come" to block migrants from the volatile region, saying Australia should follow the "extremist" migration policy of Saudi Arabia.

'Mr Katter said Middle Eastern (that is, Muslim - CM) migrants' reliance on welfare benefits would drive Australia "bankrupt" while increasing the threat of terrorist attacks.

Both true.  And the expense of trying to keep on top of the ever-multiplying number of jihad plots and plotters and potential plotters is both astronomical and ever-increasing. - CM

"The time has come now to stop people from those countries coming to Australia.

Yes. Yes. Yes!! - CM

"And if that is an extremist position, is it an extremist position for Saudi Arabia and Dubai; they won't let any of these people in", Mr Katter told Sky News last night.

'Mr Katter said the policy would not extend to persecuted Jews, Sikhs and Christians and should not affect Islamic populations outside the Middle East, such as Indonesia, he said.

I am fine with letting in the persecuted non-Muslims; their emigre communities already present here, and groups such as Barnabas Fund, are well equipped to help with the identification of candidates for reception into Australia, and with their processing and background checking, in order to make sure that they are indeed members of these persecuted and vulnerable minority groups, rather than Muslims pretending to be what they ain't.   However... Mr Katter will be hearing from me, on the subject of that very foolish 'exemption' for Muslims from outside 'the Middle East and North Africa".  He will be encouraged to read the report entitled "Easy Meat", to discover what ruin Muslims from Pakistan have wreaked in the UK; he will be reminded that the Muslim man who attempted to set off a car bomb in Times Square on May Day, some years ago, was a Muslim from Pakistan; he will be reminded that those who carried out the mass-murderous bombing in Bali in 2002, and the many, many men of the Lashkar Jihad who murdered, raped and drove into exile thousands upon thousands of Moluccan Christians in the 1990s, were Indonesian Muslims.  And that the Muslim who murdered a woman only a few days ago, was in possession of a French passport.   The ban on Muslim immigration requires to be total, or it will not be worth spit.  - CM

"There comes a point where I'm worried about Australians, not worried about people over there", Mr Katter said.

'Mr Katter's grandfather, Carl Robert Katter, was born in Lebanon's Kadisha Valley, and migrated to Queensland early last century (that is, in the early 20th century - CM).  He came from a Maronite Catholic family.

One wonders what stories his grandfather might have had to tell - passed on within the family - about life in Lebanon - as a Christian, under Ottoman Turkish Muslim domination - in the late 19th and early 20th century.   I  - CM

'Mr Katter entered federal parliament as a Nationals MP in 1993, having previously served as a minister in Queensland's Bjelke-Petersen government.  He defected to the crossbench in 2001.

'His eponymous Katter's Australian Party holds two seats in the hung parliament of Queensland, both of which are situated within his vast federal electorate of Kennedy.

'Malcolm Turnbull [our current PM - CM] last month dismissed calls to impose a theological (sic - CM) test on immigration to Australia.

"Australia has a non-discriminatory immigration program and a non-discriminatory humanitarian program and has done for many, many years and that is not going to change", he said.

Turnbull is a fool.  To let in Muslims en masse is to endanger everyone else inside the gates who is not a Muslim, and to incur a vast expense in homeland security and law enforcement that would otherwise not be incurred.  Those non-Muslims of various sorts who, persecuted mercilessly by Muslims in Muslim lands, flee to Australia, hoping for peace and safety, are not best pleased to discover mobs of murderous, glowering Muslims proliferating here, whining and threatening and taking over suburb after suburb and building mosque after mosque after mosque, and engaging in all varieties of criminal activity, and every now and again sending young men and women off to join Islamic State, or hatching plots to murder Infidel Aussies, right here on Aussie soil. Got Muslims? - got Jihad. That is the long and the short of it, and Mr Malcolm Turnbull, PM, needs to be told a few home truths. Starting iwth the unpleasant reality that a Chinese-Australian police accountant called Curtis Cheng would still be alive if Muslims had not been allowed into Australia; and that a beautiful young Eurasian British girl called Mia Ayliffe-Chung would also still be alive, if an ethnically Arab Muslim with a French passport had never been let into this country on a temporary working visa. 

I would encourage any Australians reading here, or who have already heard this story in other forums, at this time, to strike while the iron is hot.  You must write to Mr Katter, MP, and express support for a ban on Muslim immigration (whether general or 'humanitarian'), whilst demanding that it cover Muslims from everywhere, not just those from 'the middle east and North Africa' (and give your reasons).  Express support for humanitarian visas for non-Muslims fleeing from Muslim aggression and oppression (you may like to mention Barnabas Fund's "Operation Safe Havens" and commend it to his attention).  And write, also, to Mr Malcolm Turnbull, PM, and put a flea in his ear. You may like to point out that every humanitarian place solicitously offered to a Muslim - Muslims who have  many, many avowedly and ferociously Islamic countries to choose from - is a place denied to people, such as the Assyrian Christians of Iraq and Syria, who have nowhere to go, no country of their own, who are indigenous peoples facing complete extinction in their own homelands... because of Islam, Islam, Islam.  State that in the present situation the insistence on non-discrimination between Muslims and non-Muslims in our immigration and humanitarian intake is as if, in 1915, one had insisted that for every Armenian Christian received into the country one must also take in a Turkish Muslim (or two, or three), or as if, in 1936 or 1937, one had insisted that if a Jew from Germany is to be admitted, a card-carrying Nazi party member must also be granted a visa.

I will add that the Australian permitted Comments upon this particular article, and there were a great many, most of them heartily in agreement with the idea of a ban on Muslims, and most of those in favour of extending the ban to cover Muslims of any sort, from anywhere, rather than merely excluding those from 'the middle east and north africa'.  - CM

 

clear
Posted on 08/26/2016 2:01 AM by Christina McIntosh
clear
Thursday, 25 August 2016
Hillary State Dept. Helped Jailed Clinton Foundation Donor Get $10 Mil from U.S. for Failed Haiti Project
clear

From Judicial Watch:

The new batch of emails showing that the State Department gave special access to top Clinton Foundation donors while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state brings to mind the case of a shady Miami businessman serving a 12-year prison sentence after scamming the government out of millions. His name is Claudio Osorio, a Clinton Foundation donor who got $10 million from the government after the Clinton State Department reportedly pulled some strings.

Osorio got the money from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a federal agency that operates under the guidance of the State Department, to build houses in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. The OPIC supposedly promotes U.S. government investments abroad to foster the development and growth of free markets. Osorio’s “Haiti project” was supposed to build 500 homes for displaced families in the aftermath of the earthquake. The project never broke ground and Osorio used the money to finance his lavish lifestyle and fund his illicit business ventures. He also ran a fraudulent international company with facilities in the U.S., United Arab Emirates, Germany, Angola and Tanzania that stole millions from investors. Some of the OPIC Haiti money was used to repay investors of his fraudulent company (Innovida), according to federal prosecutors. In September 2013, Osorio was sentenced to 150 months imprisonment and three years of supervised release.

Not surprisingly, the Department of Justice (DOJ) never mentioned Osorio’s Clinton connections and seemed to downplay the $10 million scam of taxpayer funds by focusing on the “victims” that invested in his bogus company. Among them was a beloved professional basketball star. “Osorio offered and sold shareholder interests and joint-venture partnerships in Innovida to select individuals and groups, raising more than $40,000,000 from approximately ten (10) investors and investment groups in the United States and abroad,” a DOJ statement says. “Osorio solicited and recruited investors by making materially false representations and concealing and omitting material facts regarding, among other things, the profitability of the company, the rates of return on investment funds, the use of investors’ funds and the existence of a pending lucrative contract with a third-party entity. Osorio received moneys from investors based on these misrepresentations. Osorio used investor monies for his and his co-conspirators’ personal benefit and to maintain and further the fraud scheme.”

The bigger story is that, despite Osorio’s shady history, it appears that the Clinton State Department helped him get $10 million—which will never be repaid—because he was a Clinton Foundation donor. This connection was not made until years after Osorio got sentenced. After his 2013 sentencing in Miami, the area’s largest newspaper tied him to the Clintons and President Obama as a campaign donor who held fundraisers at his waterfront home, but the foundation was not mentioned. A Washington D.C. newspaper eventually connected the dots after obtaining a document that shows an OPIC official recommending funding for Osorio’s Haiti project. In the document, the OPIC official writes that Osorio’s company had “U.S. persons of political influence that are able to assist in advancing the company’s plans.” It continues: “For instance, former President Bill Clinton is personally in contact with the Company to organize its logistical and support needs,” the document states. “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made available State Department resources to assist with logistical arrangements.” Additionally, the Clinton Global Initiative had “indicated that it would be willing to contract to purchase 6,500 homes in Haiti from InnoVida within the next year.”

Less than 24 hours after the OPIC official submitted the recommendation, the news report says, OPIC approved Osorio’s $10 million loan to build homes in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Not one was ever built and no one has been held accountable for giving the crooked businessman millions of taxpayer dollars.

clear
Posted on 08/25/2016 5:23 AM by Rebecca Bynum
clear
Wednesday, 24 August 2016
Muslim bully facing jail after being found guilty of attacking schoolboy for cuddling girlfriend
clear

From the London Evening Standard. His association with Choudary is now public, as is his criminal record.

A close associate of hate preacher Anjem Choudary who beat up a schoolboy for cuddling his girlfriend in a Muslim Patrol-style street attack is facing jail today. Details from the beginning of the trial here.

Judge Michael Gledhill QC said Coe was acting as a "self-appointed enforcer" of his Islamic values, and he had been involved in a "strikingly similar" incident in 2013. The judge added that Coe "poses a very high risk of committing further offences of violence" when free from prison, and will consider a lengthy prison term when sentencing Coe. He later claimed the attack was in self defence, but jurors rejected the hulking 16-and-a-half stone Muslim's story.

Coe has been in and out of prison since he was a teenager, including an eight-year sentence in 2006 for possession of a shotgun and trying to shot at police officers. 

While behind bars, he was converted to Islam by al Qaeda terrorist Dhiren Barot and adopted the name Mikael Ibrahim. Following his release, Coe became associated with hate preacher Anjem Choudary's now notorious extremist group Al-Muhajiroun.  The incident has echoes of the notorious Muslim Patrols by Choudary associates Jordan Horner, Ricardo McFarlane, and Royal Barnes. He has been photographed at a extremist demonstrations to mark the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, against the banning of niqabs in France, and in support of Sharia Law, Southwark crown court heard.  I think I caught him at that demonstration - the picture halfway down above the caption "the women and children were kept in the middle." I knew I knew his face. 

Coe stood trial at the Old Bailey last June accused of trying to join ISIS, having been caught in the back of a lorry in Dover on its way out of the UK. He was cleared of the charge but received a 15-month prison sentence for possessing false identity documents.

The court heard he had convictions for wounding, burglary, assault, and possession of drugs as a youth. He was locked up for four years in 2001 for car jacking and received a 21-month sentence in 2002 for violent disorder. Coe received the eight-year sentence in 2006 at Leeds crown court, and was fined £160 for the religiously aggravated haranguing in the street in 2013

Judge Michael Gledhill QC remanded Coe, of Devenish Road, Greenwich, in custody until sentencing on September 21, ordering a report on his "dangerousness".

clear
Posted on 08/24/2016 2:56 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
clear
Wednesday, 24 August 2016
American University of Afghanistan in Kabul under attack
clear

KABUL, Afghanistan - The American University of Afghanistan is under attack, according to multiple accounts.

CBS News’ Ahmad Mukhtar reports from Afghanistan that several American professors are inside, along with possibly hundreds of students. Many appear to have escaped through emergency doors. 

Witnesses say they heard gunshots, then a blast, and many believe it was the gate blown open, letting the attackers inside. Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer Massoud Hossaini has been tweeting that he is trapped inside along with others.

Two professors -- an American and an Australian -- were kidnapped recently from the university on the 8th of August. Five gunmen wearing Afghan military uniforms abducted the pair at gunpoint.

clear
Posted on 08/24/2016 10:37 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
clear
Wednesday, 24 August 2016
Nation for Sale
clear

David Harsenyl writes in the NYPost:

The Democratic Party often warns us that mixing big money and politics will corrupt democracy. They must have nominated Hillary Clinton to prove it.

The Clinton Foundation was ostensibly set up to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Though it’s done some fine work, its most fruitful program has been leveraging Clinton’s position in the State Department to enrich her family, friends and cronies.

It’s against federal law for charities to act in the interests of private business or individuals. Yet the Clinton Foundation secured high-paying gigs for its namesakes and helped for-profit corporations with family ties set up lucrative deals.

As it turns out, that’s probably the least corrupt part of the story.

It is becoming clear the foundation was a center of influence peddling. Rock stars. Soccer players. Conglomerates. Crown princes. All of them paid in. All of them expected access to the US government.

Want a seat on a government intelligence-advisory board even though you have no relevant experience? The Clinton Foundation may be able to help.

Recently released e-mails prove the charity’s officials had sought access to State Department personnel while Hillary was in charge. Folks like the prince of Bahrain, who donated $32 million to the foundation, needed to get in touch.

An Associated Press investigation finds that more than half the private citizens who met or spoke with Clinton while she was secretary of state also happened to donate to her foundation. What are the odds?

It’s implausible that a majority of the 154 citizens — people who’d kicked in at least $156 million to her charity — would also happen to catch Clinton’s ear as she toiled away at State. It’s also worth remembering this list doesn’t even include officials from the 16 governments — many of them autocrats — who threw the foundation another $170 million.

Recently, the foundation announced it would ban donations from corporations and foreign countries if Hillary is elected president. The question is: If it’s a conflict of interest when Hillary will be president, why wasn’t it a problem when she was secretary of state?

Let’s also not forget that during Clinton’s tenure at State she failed to disclose that regimes across the world were giving her charity hundreds of millions. Because she needed to hide this, she ended up sending 110 e-mails containing classified information — eight of which had “top secret” information, according to the FBI.

These days, Hillary brazenly goes on Jimmy Kimmel to clown around about her “boring” e-mails.

Well, if they’re so irrelevant, why was she hiding them from the Justice Department? If it’s no big deal, why did it take four years and a lawsuit against the State Department to gain access to her planning schedules? Why did she lie to the American people? Erase tens of thousands of e-mails? Set up a private server in the first place?

Hillary claims running the State Department gave her the experience and temperament necessary to be president. But if anything, it reminds us of the Clintons’ propensity for scandal and dishonesty. And if Clinton wins this year, she’ll become the most ethically compromised president in contemporary times. Perhaps ever.

clear
Posted on 08/24/2016 4:40 AM by Rebecca Bynum
clear
Wednesday, 24 August 2016
North Korea Test Fires Ballistic Missile from Submarine
clear

This is not good Seoul (CNN)

North Korea test fired a submarine-based ballistic missile from its east coast on Wednesday, South Korean authorities said.

The launch took place at 5:30 a.m. local time, according to a statement from the South Korean Foreign Ministry.
 
North Korea's launch took place in the waters, off Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, in the early morning, the South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
"If the North Korean regime continues to pursue its nuclear and missile capabilities and ignore severe economic difficulties of its people, it will bring about more severe sanctions and diplomatic isolation. It should also realize that it will hasten its self-destruction," the country's Foreign Ministry said.
"Our government is prepared with full readiness posture to protect our people and the safety of our country and will thoroughly respond to any North Korea's provocation."
clear
Posted on 08/24/2016 4:34 AM by Rebecca Bynum
clear
Wednesday, 24 August 2016
Turkish Tanks Roll into Northern Syria
clear

BBC:

A dozen Turkish tanks have rolled across the Syrian border after heavy shelling of an area held by so-called Islamic State.

Military sources told Turkish media 70 targets in the Jarablus area had been destroyed by artillery and rocket strikes, and 12 by air strikes.

Turkish special forces entered Syria earlier as part of the offensive.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the operation was aimed against both IS and Kurdish fighters.

Turkey shelled Syrian Kurdish forces in the region this week, determined not to let them fill the vacuum if IS leaves, the BBC's Mark Lowen reports from Gaziantep, near the Syrian border.

The concern in Ankara is that the Kurds could create an autonomous area close to the border which might foster Kurdish separatism within Turkey itself, our correspondent says.

In another development, counter-terror police in Turkey's main city, Istanbul, launched dawn raids targeting IS suspects across the city, Turley's Dogan news agency reports.

clear
Posted on 08/24/2016 4:28 AM by Rebecca Bynum
clear
Wednesday, 24 August 2016
Queensland backpackers' killing: Police probe 'Allahu akbar' link in stabbing death of Mia Ayliffe-Chung
clear

From ABC News Australia

Police say they are looking into whether a French man who allegedly said 'Allahu akbar" as he stabbed a 21-year-old British woman to death in a north Queensland backpackers' hostel has any links to extremist groups.

Mia Ayliffe-Chung was stabbed to death and a 30-year-old man was critically injured in front of about 30 people at Shelley's Backpackers in Home Hill, south of Townsville, after 11:00pm on Tuesday.

A dog from the hostel was also killed during the incident.

A 29-year-old Frenchman who was living with the victims at the hostel is in custody in hospital and is yet to be charged.

He used the Arabic phrase "Allahu akbar" both during the attack and his arrest, Queensland Police Service Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.

"While this information will be factored into the investigation we are not ruling out any motivations at this stage, whether they be political or criminal," he said. "We're working closely with our partner agencies to make sure if there is any indication that it has an extremist slant, or this person had been radicalised, we can discover that. Investigators will also consider whether mental health or drug misuse factors are involved in this incident."

Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said there were no ties to Islamic State and the Frenchman had been in the country about a year on a temporary visa, and appears to have acted alone. "He is a visitor to Australia and has no known local connections, however investigations are ongoing."

Ms Ayliffe-Chung had been working at a Gold Coast nightclub before her adventures led her to a north Queensland cane farm for work. She was working there in the days before her death.

clear
Posted on 08/24/2016 2:46 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
clear
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Our Cultural Heritage is not a Luxury Good
clear

by Michael Curtis

It is welcome news when perpetrators of real evil are brought to justice. The civilized world will delight in the fact that in the last month two Islamist terrorists, one repentant, the other defiant, have been prosecuted and convicted for their infamous deeds in courts, one in The Hague and the other in Britain.

The avowed, now repentant, terrorist, Ahmad al-Mahdi, made history on August 22, 2016 for a number of reasons. He was the first jihadist to appear before an international court. He was the first defendant to plead guilty at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, and will be sentenced to a prison term of between nine to 11 years.

In an event that is momentous for history, Mahdi was the first person to be tried on a “war crimes” charge, the main charge, for attacking historic and cultural monuments. At the Nuremberg war crimes trials no charge of cultural destruction had been brought against the Nazis on trial. However, after World War II and in recognition that preservation of culture is important, international understandings were reached.

The 1954 Convention for Protection of Cultural Property was concerned to protect the culture heritage of countries in the event of armed conflict. The World Heritage Convention in 1972 called for the preservation of cultural properties and the protection of the national heritage.

Mahdi, like all jihadidts, took no heed of these international agreements, though he later apologized to his country and to the world for destroying religious monuments in the historic city of Timbuktu in Mali, a city of 333 saints founded in the 11th century by Tuareg tribes and which was honored as a world historic site by UNESCO in 1988.

Mahdi, a 40 year old former civil servant in the Department of Education in Mali, was responsible as head of Ansar Dine, a Tureg terrorist unit linked to all-Qaeda, for directing and participating in destroying tombs that were the embodiment of Mali history. Timbuktu was once an important cultural center, the home of a great civilization with a university that had 25,000 students and important libraries with precious 12-16th century manuscripts.

In 2012, rebels of the Tuareg tribe, allied with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghab, and armed with weapons looted from Libya, had attacked the city of Timbuktu. In the area of the city they captured, they imposed sharia law, banned music, forced women to wear burquas, forbad girls to go to school, and attacked shrines and monuments of Sufi society. They ruled until the French-led troops liberated the city in 2013.

When Mahdi and his extremist companions committed their acts in 2012 he declared he was in charge of fighting superstitions. In 2016 he admitted he had acted in the name of the extremists of al Qaeda and Ansar Dine. Mahdi admitted responsibility for destroying nine mausoleums and a door of a mosque dating to the 15th to16th centuries that had been closed for hundreds of years. The destruction was termed by UNESCO Director-General Irene Bokova “a genocidal project.” She offered wise words, “Our cultural heritage is not a luxury good, we must protect it from desecration and ravages.”

All of the destroyed artifacts had great religious and cultural importance, and embodied the common heritage of the people. Mahdi expressed deep regret and asked for forgiveness. In a message, that should be heard by all potential as well as actual jihadists, Mahdi said, “We need to speak justice even to ourselves. We have to be truthful, even if it burns our own hands.”

This case brings up an interesting problem. While the destruction of precious cultural artifacts is offensive, is it a “war crime?” Can the Allied destruction during World War II of Monte Cassino, or the Caravaggio paintings in the museum in Berlin be considered war crimes? Today, atrocities of this kind committed since the formulation of cultural international rules might be so regarded. Among them would be the Balkan warlord attacks on Dubrovnik, the famous bridge at Mostar, the national library at Sarajevo in the 1990s. The civilized world has been horrified by the destruction by the Taliban of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001, and by the ISIS barbarity against the Assyrian statues in Nineyeh, and the Roman ruins in Palmyra. The case is strong. Cultural destruction should now be treated as a war crime.

The other person receiving retribution by being convicted is Anjem Choudary, a 49 year old Muslim social and political activist. He had not been brought to justice for 20 years since he was, apparently, part of an MI5 investigation. Perhaps there was some valid reason for this, but his record of Islamist activism shows him the very model of a modern jihadist. He was linked to at least 500 British Muslims who had left Britain to fight for ISIS. He had praised the terrorists of 9/11 in the US, and 7/7 in Britain.

Choudary believes that his Muslim faith should dominate “the whole world.” He has been linked to at least 15 terror plots since 2000, to attacks in London and other places and to the murder of a British soldier. He delivered a series of talks on You Tube encouraging support for the terrorist group, an-Muhajiroun (ALM)  Though he has stated he does not accept British law, however, in London on July 26, 2016 he was convicted of inciting support for ISIS.

By now everyone should be aware of the evil of Islamist terrorism, but some seem hesitant to accept reality. In August 2016 the judges of the British Special Immigration Appeals Commission deliberated on the case of six Algerian terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda who were living in Britain. Citing the Human Rights Act, the Commission allowed them the right to live in Britain on the irrelevant basis that it was “not inconceivable they would be subjected to ill treatment “ if deported to Algeria.

It is not dismaying news that British Theresa May is planning to double British efforts to defeat terrorism, especially since she believes an attack on Britain is highly likely. It is even more important for her to institute a ban on Islamist preachers spreading their evil message in mosques, universities, and community groups.

clear
Posted on 08/23/2016 1:49 PM by Michael Curtis
clear
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
State Dept Warns: Iran Seeking to Capture U.S. Citizens
clear

Adam Kredo writes in the Washington Free Beacon:

The State Department issued a warning on Monday urging U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to Iran, which has made the detention of Americans a priority.

The latest travel advisory, which emphasizes Iran’s desire to capture U.S. citizens, comes on the heels of a growing scandal over the Obama administration’s decision to pay Iran $400 million in cash on the same day that it freed several U.S. hostages.

The payment has been cast by lawmakers and others as a ransom payment and prompted concern among U.S. officials that Iran is making arresting Americans a priority.

The State Department issued a warning on Monday urging U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to Iran, which has made the detention of Americans a priority.

The travel warning is meant to “highlight the risk of arrest and detention of U.S. citizens, particularly dual national Iranian-Americans,” according to a State Department announcement on Monday. “Foreigners, in particular dual nationals of Iran and Western countries including the United States, continue to be detained or prevented from leaving Iran.”

“U.S. citizens traveling to Iran should very carefully weigh the risks of travel and consider postponing their travel,” the warning adds. “U.S. citizens residing in Iran should closely follow media reports, monitor local conditions, and evaluate the risks of remaining in the country.”

Iran continues to imprison Americans, particularly those holding dual Iranian citizenship, according to the State Department.

“Iranian authorities have detained and harassed U.S. citizens, particularly those of Iranian origin,” the travel warning states. “Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, religious activists, and persons who encourage Muslims to convert are subject to arrest and prosecution.”

The Obama administration expressed particular concern about commercial airlines doing business with Iran. This warning comes as American companies such as Boeing continue to pursue million-dollar business deals with the Islamic Republic.

“The U.S. government is concerned about the risks to civil aircraft operating into, out of, within, or over Iran due to hazards from military activity associated with the conflicts in Iraq and Syria,” the warning states. “The FAA has advised U.S. civil aviation to exercise caution when flying into, out of, within, or over the airspace over Iran.”

The warning emphasizes that “the U.S. government’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Iran in the event of an emergency is extremely limited.”

 

clear
Posted on 08/23/2016 10:41 AM by Rebecca Bynum
clear
clear
Showing 1-26 of 138 [Next 25]

Subscribe