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




























Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Police arrest four suspected Islamic State recruiters in Belgium raids
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From the London Evening Standard

Four suspected Islamic State group recruiters have been detained in Belgium with authorities saying they may have been planning new terror attacks.

Belgian police raided houses in the city of Antwerp on Wednesday and arrested four people on suspicion of terror offences.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that the four were later charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group.

But prosecutors said they do not appear to be linked to the suicide bombers who struck at Brussels Airport and at the Maalbeek metro station on March 22, killing 32 people.

Prosecutors said the initial findings of an investigation indicated there may have been plans for fresh attacks in Belgium but provided no further details.

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Posted on 05/25/2016 3:55 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Leytonstone tube stabbing: Taxi drivers admits trying to stab commuters
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A SOMALIAN taxi driver has admitted trying to stab four people during a frenzied attack in front of horrified commuters at Leytonstone Tube station. But Muhaydin Mire, 30, denied beating a 56-year-old man unconscious and hacking at his neck during the same attack at the east London station on December 5 last year.

Appearing at London's Old Bailey via videolink from prison, the former Uber taxi driver denied one count of attempted murder but admitted four counts of attempted wounding during a frenzied five minute attack. 

Wearing a blue jumper and grey tracksuit bottoms, he sat with his hands clasped in his lap and stared straight ahead during the hearing.

Mirem, who is of Somalian origin, spoke only to confirm his name and enter his pleas.

Prosecutors claim the attack was an act of terrorism.

The court heard how Mire, of Sansom Road, Leytonstone, punched to the ground the man he is accused of attempting to murder. He repeatedly kicked the man before taking hold of the victim's head and cutting a 5in (12cm) wound in his neck, it is alleged.

Judge Nicholas Hilliard, the Recorder of London, adjourned the case until next Tuesday May 31 and the trial is expected to last two weeks.

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Posted on 05/25/2016 1:00 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Muslim Fan: Jesse Hughes is ****ing Stupid to Blame Bataclan Massacre on Islam
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I saw this letter from Ismael El Iraki in the Independent at lunchtime but couldn't post immediately. But all afternoon I have been thinking about Islamic's need for victimhood. And how even a fellow victim has to be accused of islamophobia if he refuses to submit to the narrative that 'Islam is a religion of peace'. But now that I am home I see that James Delingpole has written in Breitbart, saying what I was thinking, although perhaps a little more forthrightly.

Ismael El Iraki was at the Bataclan club the night Muslim terrrorists slaughtered 90 rock music fans who were watching the Eagles of Death metal. He is a rock music fan. He says the only thing he loves more is his wife. But that isn't true. Like with all Muslims Islam and Islamic supremacy must come first, last and everything.

His open letter was published on his facebook page and quickly taken up by the Independent and other newspapers. 

He says:

I just finished reading your tacky Taki interview and to tell you the truth, my heart is bleeding. (You will recall that the lead singer of the Eagles of Death Metal was less than flattering about Islam, having seen so many people,some of them personal friends slaughter before his eyes). 

I love your music, your concerts mostly (such fun, wild shows) and man, I never thought that you would become one of those spreaders of fear. Fox News, Trump, all those guys. You always felt like a maverick, a rebel: we now know that you are not. We (and by that I mean the rebels, the mavericks, the rock crowd) always loved and defended you because you were a lovable fool and kind of a dumb f***, like the Three Stooges or Tex Avery's wolf. You now proved your stupidity to be f***ing dangerous.

I live and breathe rock 'n' roll, and I could not look more Muslim if I tried. But apparently, the big bad Muslim conspiracy missed me. Damn, they forgot to warn me. They also forgot to warn Djamila, and all the other Arabs who got shot and killed that very night. They forgot to warn my fellow Moroccan Amin, who was shot that very night. (But, on his own admision he looks like a Muslim, and he got out alive and pretty much unscathed ...)

I will not dignify you by narrating how I behaved that night. I have and always will refuse to do that publicly: I believe that the people I helped that night did not care that I was an Arab, nor did I care which origin they where or which imaginary friend they bow to.

What pains me most is that you do not even realize that a huge number of us who managed to get out alive of this horrible ordeal owe our lives to a Muslim guy. His name is Didi and he opened the left front door most of us got out of. . . HE WENT BACK IN. He turned back, and headed back in to save more people. He opened the upstairs exit and let a number of people out through there.

He was a fucking hero....You, who are not a hero. . . your comments are not OK. How is insulting heroes OK?

You say: “Islam is the problem”. I say: “All you f***ing bigots and your fairytale s*** stories are the problem. Racism and refusal to recognize one another as complex (more complex than ethnicity or race can explain) human beings is the problem.

I hope you can realize how wrong that shit you spread is, hope you can see all the wrong that you are doing.

James Delingpole says: 

What is the correct response when you’re a rock star, nearly 90 of your fans have been murdered in front of your eyes by Jihadist terrorists, and you yourself have had to go to hospital to have removed from your face the embedded teeth and skull splinters of the girl just in front of you who had her head blown apart by a hollow-nosed bullet?

Well, thanks to the music press, the Guardian and the organisers of at least two rock festivals in France we know that the correct answer, the only answer, goes something like this:

“Islam is a religion of peace. That’s why I know in my heart that this atrocity had nothing to do with Islam. The fact that the gunmen were shouting Allahu Akhbar as they machinegunned the audience – in those moments when they weren’t pausing to torture the poor guys in wheelchairs or finish off the wounded – was entirely coincidental. Also, I would like to pay especial tribute to those Muslim members of the security staff who, instead of joining in with the killers, acted with amazing generosity by opening the exit doors so that some of the audience could get away…”

Unfortunately, Jesse Hughes of Eagles Of Death Metal didn’t give the correct answer regarding his experiences at the Bataclan massacre in Paris in November last year. He doesn’t want to prettify what happened; he does think it was caused by a clash between a kind of surrender-monkey Western liberalism and militant Islamic ideology.

If you haven’t read the interview in Taki Mag with Gavin McInnes that prompted this, you really must. It’s mainly an extremely graphic account of what happened that night at the Bataclan gig from the perspective of a guy standing on the stage.

The mainstream press – and the music press – had every opportunity to extract this information from Jesse Hughes. As he tells his interviewer, he’s not holding back because he finds the experience cathartic. But weirdly till this interview in a conservative journal, no one did: almost as if it didn’t fit in with the post-Paris narrative that ‘yes, it was awful, but let’s not dwell on it because we should move on.’

Hughes, clearly, doesn’t think we should move on. There are questions which remain unanswered – not least the role of the Muslim security staff, some of whom he says were clearly in on the plan (a claim Bataclan’s owners have furiously denounced). 

But his bigger beef is with the denialism, wishful thinking and kumbaya mentality that make the West so vulnerable to such attacks.

Amazingly – well, actually, entirely predictably – the author of that letter to the Guardian appears to be more upset by Hughes’s failure to mouth liberal pieties than he does by the fact that a group of his co-religionists thought it would be a good idea to murder 89 of the people next to him at a gig.

...that security guard: why haven’t we heard his story more? Well it’s because, as he admits in an interview with National Public Radio, he’s afraid that someone involved in the attack might come and bump him off. This would suggest that Hughes’s bleak analysis of the situation is closer to the ground truth than El Iraki’s fluffy ‘rock can heal the world’ idealism: that there really is a war going on here and that throwing up your hands and wishing all the nasty stuff would go away is not an option.

Sure it may make college-educated, safe-space-reared Guardian-reading types feel better about themselves by showing how much they disapprove of Jesse Hughes’s views on Islam. But since when did shooting the messenger solve a problem?

I have linked to the Independent as I found that first. The comments there show that the tide is turning.  

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Posted on 05/25/2016 10:52 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Terrorist-linked Blogger Attacks Trump Advisor
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On May 22, Jonathan Easley published a fine article in The Hill on Dr. Walid Phares’ work with the Trump campaign. Dr. Phares, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs, has naturally been contacted by many Muslims, both here and abroad to gain some understanding about how a future Trump administration may deal with their home countries once he is elected as America’s 45th President. The headline of Mr. Easley’s piece was slightly misleading, “Trump Camp quietly courts Muslims,” as it implied the Trump campaign had directed Dr. Phares to reach out to Muslim groups in the US, even though Dr. Phares corrected this misperception both in that piece itself as well as in later interviews.

Never one to let facts get in the way of a good yarn, Saif Alnuweiri, a young Qatari immigrant (on a student visa?), former fact checker for the New York Times and currently an intern with the National Memo, jumps in with both feet, calling Dr. Phares a “former Christian Militia Commander” in his hysterical title drawing on an old and discredited article by Hezbollah propagandist As’ad Abu Khalil in the far left magazine Salon from 2011. Even that execrable screed did not describe Dr. Phares as a “Christian Militia Commander.” Like the birth of Athena, this idea seems to have sprung from the head of Mr. Alnuweiri whole. Joe Conason, take note. Though the sole purpose of the National Memo these days seems dedicated to trafficking in the most absurd anti-Trump conspiracies, the title of this article is clearly defamatory – the rest of it, however, is just silly.

Alnuweiri sneers at Dr. Phares’ assertion that Muslims in America may be concerned about American policy toward their home countries citing a survey put out by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) which cites “Islamophobia” as American Muslim’s primary concern. He also asserts that Dr. Phares “has close ties to several known Islamophobes.” Undoubtedly, that list will have to be lengthened considerably due to the fact that fully half of the entire electorate supports Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban foreign Muslims from entering the country. We’re all Islamophobes now.

Furthermore, Alnuweiri sniffs at Dr. Phares’ assertion from his book, Future Jihad that, “Jihadists within the West pose as civil rights advocates, interested solely in the ‘rights’ of their immigrant communities,” though it is well-known that an entire alphabet soup of Muslim American associations are fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood, or Ikhwan. Mr. Alnuweiri seems to be closely associated with one of those organizations, the aforementioned CAIR, citing them in several articles and they seem to return the favor by featuring his work on their site and facebook page.

Sure, CAIR began as a fundraising arm of Hamas. Sure, they are in unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism support case, are heavily funded by the Saudis and were recently listed as a terrorist organization by the UAE, but hey, what’s a little terrorism among friends?

And Alnuweiri is dismissive of Dr. Phares’ assertion that Mr. Trump may refine his Muslim ban proposal, though that is the obvious next step. For example, President Trump might suspend our refugee and visa programs from the 57 Muslim nations with the exception of Christians and other minorities who face persecution in Muslim lands. Naturally, we can thank the thousands of hard-working Muslims who have made this proposal inevitable.

As Mr. Alnuweiri ends his piece by airily dismissing the only serious proposal to deal with Muslim terrorism in the US, but I humbly submit that until such time as a mind-reading machine to detect incipient jihadism is developed, our country has no choice but to carefully exclude members of the group from among whose members those Jihadis continually spring. Anyone truly serious about America’s national security must concede the wisdom of Mr. Trump’s approach. And no, it is not unconstitutional.

The fact that Hillary Clinton decries this proposal as “un-American” reveals her flippant disregard for the safety of the American people. She would rather sacrifice American lives than be seen as “Islamophobic.” Mr. Trump puts the safety of American citizens first, regardless of the numerous politically correct firestorms which have tried, unsuccessfully, to sink his candidacy.

This is one reason why he will become our next President.

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Posted on 05/25/2016 9:01 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Swiss canton rules no handshake exemption for Muslim pupils
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From AFP via Yahoo news

Religious belief is no excuse for refusing to shake a teacher's hand, Swiss regional authorities ruled Wednesday, reversing one school's controversial decision to grant exemptions for Muslim pupils wary of touching the opposite sex.

Parents or guardians of pupils who refuse to shake a teacher's hand in the northern Swiss canton of Basel-Country could now face fines of up to 5,000 Swiss francs ($5,000, 4,500 euros), regional education authorities ruled.

"A teacher has the right to demand a handshake," they said in a statement.

The decision comes after a national uproar over revelations last month that a middle school allowed two brothers, aged 14 and 15 with Syrian nationality, not to shake their teachers' hands after they complained that doing so was counter to their religious beliefs if the teacher was a woman.

That decision -- made independently by the school in the northwest Therwil municipality without involvement of the canton's authorities or local officials -- triggered an outcry across Switzerland, where the tradition of students shaking their teachers' hands as a sign of respect is deeply entrenched.

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, who was among the many senior officials and public figures who weighed in on the matter, insisted on Swiss public television last month that "shaking hands is part of our culture". Explaining Wednesday's ruling, authorities said "the public interest concerning gender equality as well as integration of foreigners far outweighs that concerning the freedom of belief of students."

The cantonal authorities pointed out that if the two students at the heart of the controversy once again refuse to shake hands, "the sanctions called for by law will be applied," it said.

The public focus on the case has already landed the family in difficulty, after media revealed they were seeking to become Swiss. Cantonal authorities last month announced that naturalisation proceedings had been put on hold...On Wednesday, authorities said one member of the family, whose identity was not revealed, had received a warning over "incitement to violence", which could have consequences for the naturalisation process.

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Posted on 05/25/2016 5:59 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Tuesday, 24 May 2016
Iran ‘Blackmailing’ U.S. for Greater Nuke Concessions
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Adam Kredo writes in the Washington Free Beacon:

The Obama administration is taking steps to aid and please Iran far beyond U.S. commitments under last summer’s nuclear accord, according to experts, who warned Tuesday during testimony on Capitol Hill that the White House is becoming “dangerously close to becoming Iran’s trade promotion and business development authority.”

The Obama administration’s efforts to boost Iran’s economy and resurrect its financial sector are not required under the comprehensive nuclear agreement, yet the White House is undertaking this role to soothe relations with the Islamic Republic, nuclear experts told the Senate Banking Committee.

Iran continues to threaten to walk away from the nuclear deal unless the U.S. administration agrees to further concessions beyond the deal, sparking accusations that Iran is effectively “blackmailing” the White House, according to sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

Since the nuclear deal was implemented, “the Obama administration has missed the opportunity to push back against Iran’s legitimization campaign,” according to written testimony submitted to the Senate committee by Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Instead of insisting on an end to Iran’s continuing malign activities, the administration is now dangerously close to becoming Iran’s trade promotion and business development authority.”

The administration’s actions “go beyond” its commitments under the nuclear deal, according to Dubowitz.

The Obama administration has made further concessions to Iran on several key fronts since finalizing the deal, including on ballistic missile testing and access to the U.S. dollar.

The administration’s continued concessions to Iran have sparked congressional investigations and accusations that Congress and the American people were intentionally misled about the contents of the agreement.

The White House has also pursued an aggressive push to force U.S. states to drop sanctions and divestment campaigns targeting Iran. While the nuclear deal requires the administration to encourage such behavior, some have questioned the White House tactics, which have been described as bullying.

“The administration’s actions to date raise serious questions,” Dubowitz said. “Will the White House try to force individual states to lift their divestment measures, even as the termination criteria for the legislation have not been met? Congress should pay particular attention to any actions by the federal government that go beyond simply informing states and local authorities about the nuclear deal.”

In another instance of the administration going beyond its commitments under the nuclear deal, senior officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have begun touring Europe to encourage business with Iran.

The nuclear deal requires the United States to not negatively interfere with legal Iranian business pursuits. However, it does not require the administration to advocate internationally on the regime’s behalf, according to Dubowitz.

“There is a big difference, however, between not interfering with the normalization of trade and commercial relations and actively advocating for banks and companies to enter the Iranian market,” he said in his testimony.

Omri Ceren, managing director of The Israel Project, which has worked closely with Congress on the Iran issue, told the Free Beacon that the administration is expected to make further concessions to Iran.

“No one is really surprised that the Iranians are blackmailing the United States for ever-more concessions,” Ceren said. “That was inevitable.”

“What’s striking, even to policy analysts who closely track the Iran debate, is how no one on any side is bothering to keep up pretenses,” he added. “The Iranians threatened to walk away from the nuclear deal unless they got more relief, and so Secretary Kerry and his colleagues launched global tours to drum up business for Tehran, even though U.S. law forbids Americans from facilitating overseas transactions for Iran.”

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Posted on 05/24/2016 1:57 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Tuesday, 24 May 2016
Matthias Küntzel, Germany and Iran: From the Aryan Axis to the Nuclear Threshold
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This publication is an English translation of a book which was first published in German in 2009, with an epilogue penned by the author in May 2014. Germany and Iran: From the Aryan Axis to the Nuclear Threshold focuses on German-Iranian relations from the time of Kaiser Wilhelm (1859-1941) to the present, culminating in a treatment of the Iranian nuclear program and Germany’s shameful role in shielding it from sanctions. Matthias Küntzel is uniquely qualified to write this book. The subject of his doctoral dissertation was the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and he has published extensively on Germany’s position vis-à-vis nuclear proliferation. Küntzel is also a student of Islamist ideology and its disturbing incorporation of extreme Jew-hatred as a central doctrine. This book presents important new findings based on the author’s research in German and American archives.

Küntzel begins with Kaiser Wilhelm’s policy of cultivating Muslim allies in a bid to cause trouble for Germany’s enemies:  Britain, France, and Russia, each of which ruled over large numbers of Muslims. Traditionally suspicious of Russia and Britain, the dominant powers to its north and south, respectively, from the outset, Iran was very receptive to German overtures. Germany’s loss in World War I did not cool Iranian ardor for all things German, and in the interwar years, Germany became Iran’s main supplier of industrial technology and technical expertise.

“The coming to power of Adolph Hitler,” Küntzel writes, “in no way hindered these expanding ties. On the contrary, not only was the Shah delighted, but a large section of the Iranian intelligentsia and business community also sympathized with National Socialism.” (23)  In late 1934, at the urging of the Iranian ambassador to Berlin, the Shah banned the name “Persia” and insisted that the name “Iran” or “land of the Aryans” be used exclusively. Hitler reciprocated by exempting the “Aryan” Iranians from the Nuremberg racial laws. To this day, German visitors to Iran are reminded enthusiastically by Iranians that Germany and Iran share “a common Aryan heritage.” (27)

On August 25, 1941, Soviet and British troops invaded and occupied Iran, which provided the vital land bridge across which American-made war materiel was shipped to the USSR. This invasion reinforced Iranian mistrust of Britain and Russia, and of the Americans who aided those two countries and became their ally and did nothing to diminish the already strong Iranian sympathy for Germany. Küntzel cites the reporting of German journalist Christiane Hoffmann and others to the effect that in the twenty-first century, many Iranians still express “unconcealed admiration…for Hitler.” (7)  While many Iranians accepted jobs with the British and Americans who were moving cargo to the USSR, many others assisted German agents in efforts to sabotage the Allied efforts in Iran.

After the Second World War, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, West Germany quickly re-established commercial ties with Iran, and with great success.  Once again, Germany became Iran’s most important trading partner. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 that brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power did not stop West Germany from jealously protecting and fostering its trade relations with Iran. Küntzel describes in scathing detail the repeated failure of successive West German governments to impose any meaningful sanctions restricting trade with Iran; indeed, he points out that, for decades, Germany facilitated its trade with Iran by means of export credit guarantees, even as Iran held U.S. diplomats hostage and became the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism. Similarly, Germany repeatedly resisted any effort by the U.S. to impose tough sanctions on Iran, generally siding with Iran, China, and Russia against the U.S. An American reading this book is left wondering: With friends like Germany, who needs enemies?   

Most damning of all is Küntzel’s documentation of the German ruling elite’s almost complete indifference to the antisemitic rhetoric of Iranian leaders, such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (president of Iran from 2005 to 2013). Unlike his countrymen, Küntzel recognizes and is appropriately horrified by the clearly genocidal implications of Iranian words and policies vis-à-vis Israel. How could the Germans, of all people, be so blind? Economics alone cannot explain it, since Iran has never represented more than a small fraction of German exports.

A clue can be found in the biography of the left-wing Green Party politician Joschka Fischer, who would become Foreign Minister under the Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Fischer was a firebrand student activist in the 1960s and 1970s who, like many on the left, was anti-Western and pro-Third World. In 1979 he “hailed Khomeini’s uprising not only for striking a blow against Westernization in Iran, but also as a call to arms against the Western way of life as a whole.” (123) As Foreign Minister, Fischer would become one of the staunchest European opponents of the Bush Administration and its war in Iraq. In September 2004, Foreign Minister Fischer made this astonishing statement: “We Europeans have constantly advised our Iranian partners in their own well-founded interest to view us as their protective shield.” (210) K?ntzel interprets this statement as follows: “Europe as the shield between Iran and America: not to protect the United States from the Islamists, but the Islamists from the United States. Such a metaphor could only occur to someone who sees America as the adversary and the Khomeinist revolution as meriting protection.” (210) (A sobering thought: Barack Obama appears to have a biography and a world view quite similar to that of Joschka Fischer.)

Küntzel poses the question: Why has Germany apparently chosen to take an Iranian nuclear bomb in stride rather than accept a break in German-Iranian relations? One possibility is that Germany’s foreign policy elite thinks it is in Germany’s interest to maintain an alliance with a nuclear Iran because it would also mean the destruction of American hegemony in the Middle East.  That is “multipolarity at any price.” (227) A second possibility is that German policy makers are not really thinking clearly but viewing Iranian nuclear policy through rose-colored glasses and drifting along with the general anti-American bias of the German populace that sees the United States as a greater danger to world peace than Iran. What really matters, from this point of view, is that the Americans not be allowed to start another war in Middle East: Iran must not become a second Iraq. (229)

Whether one accepts the first theory or the second is irrelevant: “in both cases Israeli security interests are overridden, in both cases there is a refusal to draw the necessary conclusions from Nazi history; in both cases the Iranian opponents of the regime are ignored.” (230)

Küntzel’s book demonstrates a deeply disturbing truth, namely, that if Iran should acquire nuclear weapons and use them to commit a second Holocaust against the six million Jews of Israel, then Germany – the nation that committed the first Holocaust – will have played a central role in paving the way for the Iranian perpetrators.

- First published in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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Posted on 05/24/2016 1:50 PM by Joseph S. Spoerl
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Tuesday, 24 May 2016
The Virtuous Pencil
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Like vintage wine, high-flown sentiment should be kept for special occasions rather than brought out on every possible occasion, especially when it consists mainly of humbug, as it usually does. We are surrounded by it, in fact, mentally suffocated by it. I picked up a pencil the other day and this is what was inscribed on it:

About this pencil: Lacquer-free renewable cedar casing, recyclable aluminium ferrule, enviro-green degradable eraser and certified non-toxic imprint inks.

It was a nice pencil and the rubber at the end of it worked quite well, which is not always the case with rubbers at the end of pencils, which leave a smudge rather than an erasure. But the high-flown sentiment irritated me, for it was expressed with the kind of imprecision that made verification impossible. That things should be renewable, recyclable and degradable did not mean that they were actually renewed, recycled, or degraded (in the sense of returning to the environment in a non-polluting way): only that they could be. The world could be strewn with these pencils, buried in them, and the words on them would still be true.

Take the aluminium ferrules at the end of the pencil (that held the rubber in place): how many of them actually were recycled? I should be rather surprised if many people went to the trouble of disposing of those ferrules in a way that caused or enabled them to be recycled. As with presents, it is the thought that counts.

The information on the side of the pencil was designed not to inform us, or even to exhort us to do anything, but to make us feel virtuous for having bought so environment-friendly a writing implement. No more than making the correct choice of pencil was required of us: buy it and you were automatically helping to save the planet. The Cedars of Lebanon are conjured by the words.

Actually I bought the pencil because it was comparatively pleasant to chew. Ever since childhood I have had the bad habit of chewing my pencils and I remember the days when the paint used to come off in nasty little flakes between my teeth and create an unpleasant sensation in my mouth. Sixty years ago the paint on pencils was probably rather toxic as well; I was mildly reassured that the imprint ink was certified non-toxic, though there was no indication of who had certified it as such. At least I won’t suffer from pencil-poisoning.

First published in Salisbury Review.

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Posted on 05/24/2016 8:12 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
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Tuesday, 24 May 2016
Fareed Zakaria -vs- Donald Trump Regarding Islam…
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I didn't see this broadcast, but Conservative Treehouse does a good job examining it below:

CNN broadcast a one hour special yesterday called “Why they hate us” discussing why adherents to the most authentic interpretations of Islam hate the United States.

Overall, the broadcasted presentation by Fareed Zakaria was good; actually, very good.  Perhaps one of the best one hour presentations in quite a while.  The content was engaging, the historical references were well presented and well outlined…. until a fatal flaw. The common, disconcerting and uncomfortable fatal flaw.

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In what can only be viewed as an effort to downplay the scope of the threat, Fareed Zakaria claims the existence of only 100,000 jihad-minded Islamic followers world-wide.  Fifteen minutes later he presents the 2014 terror victim outcome of 30,000 dead in a single year from Muslim Terrorist Attacks; most victims also Muslim – as if that matters.

Zakaria would have the viewing audience believe that 100k world-wide adherent followers, could inflict 30,00 fatalities.  Common sense, not prone to co-dependency, would refute such an obtuse argument.

Later, in closing, Zakaria claims that isolating (or profiling) the larger Muslim community, because of the behavior of the jihad-minded minority, only leads to greater radicalization.

This too is an argument fraught with intellectual dishonesty.  Why?  Because we’ve been trying the open arm approach for fifteen years and it’s not working.

Donald Trump’s proposal to temporarily halt any Muslim immigration is abhorred by Zakaria in his closing statement fraught with political correctness and cultural Marxism:

[…]  How can we bring an end to this?

There’s really only one way: Help the majority of Muslims fight extremists, reform their faith, and modernize their societies. In doing so, we should listen to those on the front lines, many of whom are fighting and dying in the struggle against jihadis. The hundreds of Muslim reformers I’ve spoken to say their task is made much harder when Western politicians and pundits condemn Islam entirely, demean their faith, and speak of all Muslims as backward and suspect.

But here’s another way to think about this. In America, African-Americans make up about 13% of the population, yet they comprise about 50% of homicide offenders, according to a Justice Department study. Now we understand — I hope we understand — that when we see a black man on the street, we cannot and must not treat him as a likely criminal. It would be dehumanizing, unfair and racist. In America, of all places, people should be treated as individuals and not as stereotypes from a racial, ethnic or religious group.

I would propose Donald Trump is correct; his proposal is exactly intended to help Muslims “reform their faith”.  The difference between Donald Trump’s proposition and the preferred liberal approach is entirely a matter of expectation.   Donald Trump forces confrontation to occur on moral terms understandable to modern society.  The progressively minded Zakaria is completely wrong:

immigration law

(LINK)

After decades of culturally-dominating politically correct drum-beating, sold by a generally leftist mainstream media numbing the average psyche from accepting common sense, it might take a few minutes for the prudent position of Donald Trump to sink-in.

However, once you get beyond the trained instinct of hysteria, and focus on the substantive request, to: “shutdown Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” – it actually makes a great deal of sense.

Islam Demonstrationdonald trump smirk

Such a position is really not the least bit controversial, and that’s exactly what makes it so brilliant on many levels.

Of course, if you are not willing to accept the concept of Islamic Jihad – and/or if you are unwilling to accept that Islamic Terrorists have been specifically targeting America for the past decade – well, in that instance Trump’s position might seem controversial. However, for the rest of us, it makes a great deal of sense.

The really exceptional part of Trump’s proposal is that it is the only consideration that might actually force non-Jihadist U.S. Muslims to confront the problem within their religion/association. That aspect makes Donald Trump’s plan rather unique.

In broad terms Donald Trump is reintroducing the concept of “societal shame” as a tool to combat anti-social behavior.  If that shame creates isolation, so be it – a culture cannot be forced into a melting pot, they must make the decision themselves.

After decades of the progressive left pushing an ideology of shame as a bad thing, mostly because of the leftists severe aversion to the accompanying concept of guilt, Trump is throwing a bucket of ice-cold water on the ‘everyone-gets-a-trophy-crowd’.

Of course there is a commonality behind Islamic Extremists; that commonality is their adherence to authentic Islam – the degrees of separation within Muslim identity.

Conflating authentic Islam -as supported by a larger aggregate community that refuses to confront it- with the Christian extremists within the Westboro Baptist Church is just silly. The Westboro Church isn’t trying to kill non-Christians, and their controversial activity is resoundingly rebuked by the larger Christian community.  There is no moral or intellectual equivalence there.

Neither is Catholic Pope Francis using St. Peter’s Square as a publicity draw for the beheading of non Christians.

Nor is it extremist elements within the Amish community trying to hide terrorist cells within local Amish communities; and Mr. and Mrs Jorgenson are not being willfully blind to Isaac the bomb-maker’s presence inside their church.

If it were the Amish, we’d be having a similar proposal about a prudent pause on Amish immigration – and virtually guaranteed without even one tenth the controversy.

But it isn’t. It’s Islam.

It is the adherent elements within the Muslim community doing this, carrying out Islamic Jihad; and they are specifically capable of carrying out their plan due in part to the “willful blindness” within various U.S. Mosques.  And before anyone takes issue with the use of “Muslim Community” you should probably research the Holy Land Foundation federal trials, there is a significant element of co-dependent jihadism that’s been going on for quite a while.

Cartoons don’t kill people.  Islamic ideologues, who interpret their religion to demand they kill cartoonists, are killing people.

Donald Trump is drawing a very bold line in the sand not because he wants it, but rather because it’s necessary, even urgent.

Perhaps if people would actually watch the un-aired portion of the December 2015 CBS interview with Trump, specifically about terrorism, they’d have a much better idea where he is coming from (See: 05:18 for discussion about “going too far“?)

What you see in that interview is Donald Trump having clear eyes as to the threat. Trump is a master at getting through the BS that is actual political correctness, and directly putting his words on the bottom line.

Previous Examples:

? “Well, someone’s doing the raping, Don” (Don Lemon – link)

? “Human rights violations? ISIS is chopping people’s heads’ off, and drowning them in cages right now Jake, it’s medieval”. (Jake Tapper – link)

Donald Trump’s call to: (1) pause Muslim Immigration; (2) reassess the threat matrix; (3) make some changes to the vetting process; (4) reevaluate the security risk, and (5) “figure out what is going on“, is not only non-controversial – it’s prudent and wise.

We’ve already been told the FBI can’t keep up with the current volume of threat from domestic Islamic Extremists already imported.  Why would we take any additional risk and stretch them out even further? Again, common sense.

Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik had been working on their plan to attack San Bernadino for what now appears to be “several years”.  As specific details come out they apparently were in a network of communication with ISIS type Islamists – and their families were certainly aware that “something” was going on.

san bern terroristssan bern mom

….It is beyond obtuse to believe otherwise.

Grandma making dinner while a pipe bomb lay on the kitchen table – and the White House wants us to believe there was no familial knowledge; while Zakaria wants Americans to ignore the familial knowledge.  Seriously?

Let’s insert some reasonable common sense here regardless of how uncomfortable it is.

….And while we are discussing common sense, let’s not forget the current administration’s approach toward combating Islamic terrorism post Paris attack:

kerry and james taylor

How did that approach work out?

Perhaps we should ask the people of Brussels.

“We’re being led by stupid, stupid people” ~ Donald Trump

Mr Trump’s right !

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Posted on 05/24/2016 8:06 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Tuesday, 24 May 2016
‘Selfie-girl’ at anti-Muslim protest apologises for anti-Semitic remarks
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Zakia Belkhiri, a teenager (she's actually 22 and I think she had an up-hill paper round) who won praise after posing in front anti-Muslim protestors in Belgium while taking selfies, has issued an apology after journalists unearthed a number of anti-Semitic comments posted on her social media accounts.

Belkhiri was widely praised after photos emerged last week showing her standing in front of far-Right Flemish nationalist group called Vlaams Belang as they protested at the Muslim Expo in Antwerp. A group of protesters had gathered outside the expo, which celebrates Muslim lifestyle, art and culture, with signs including messages such as “No headscarves” and “Stop Islam”.

The photos of her selfies, taken by Jurgen Augusteyns and published by Vice, were shared by thousands of supporters around the world.

However, it has since emerged that Belkhiri has posted several anti-Semitic remarks on her social media channels.

In one 2012 tweet she wrote: "Hitler didn't kill all the Jews, he left some. So we know why he was killing them."

And in a 2014 Facebook post she said of Jews: "I hate them so much."

Her apology went down so badly that her selfies have been lampooned (left) by being superimposed on survivors of the holocaust and islamic terrorist attacks. 

“You meant that Zionist Jews deserve to die?" one Twitter user replied.

Belkhiri, who has since deactivated her social media presences, has been contacted for a comment.

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Posted on 05/24/2016 5:34 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Tuesday, 24 May 2016
New development targeted at Muslims in Melbourne sparks outrage
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From News Australia abd the Herald Sun

PEOPLE have slammed a new development in Melbourne, calling it “a ghetto of Islam”. A block in Melton South will be transformed into housing targeted at the Islamic community, with 75 separate lots and a mosque built in the middle of the neighbourhood.

It’s called Iqra Village and is said to become Victoria’s largest faith-based housing.

Developer Amanar Rahman, one of four listed directors of Rahber Developments, said the $2.4 million parcel was carved up to buyers who wanted to live with other Muslims. “It’s basically a community project that we have done in a halal way.”

Islamic Council of Victoria general manager Nail Aykan said he believed the planned development was the first of its kind in Melbourne “at this scale”. “It’s a great vision that we’re all neighbours, we all go into affordable housing and we do something that’s holy,’’ Mr Aykan said.

News AU is trying to put a positive slant on it. 

But the development is not a Muslim-only community and it will certainly not be gated. While it will be rich with Islamic culture, it’s only targeted at Muslim families who might want to live around others with the same values.

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils treasurer Keysar Trad (he has form) told A Current Affair Muslims were just creating a neighbourhood free of discrimination and free of misunderstanding.

“This particular venture is an indication there’s a feeling out there that there’s perhaps less acceptance of Muslims,” he said. “A project of this nature will allow people to be able to develop a local place of worship or a local school without too many objections from neighbours. They won’t be getting in anybody’s way, it’s something within their local community..."

However there is a cloud of the halal horizon

Homebuyers originally bought the subdivided lots under sharia law, which prohibits borrowing money where interest is payable, so the venture was financed by several investors. 

The company was wound up earlier this month over a $400,000 debt to the Australian Taxation Office.

Mr Rahman conceded Rahber’s precarious financial position jeopardised plans for the mosque. Two separate Supreme Court cases launched by buyers disputing money owed have been settled and dismissed. A similar Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal bid by two investors seeking damages over claims of being misled was also thrown out this month.

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Posted on 05/24/2016 2:19 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Monday, 23 May 2016
The Far Right in Austria Did Not Have a Rendezvous With History
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Danger signals are being displayed in Europe warning that their countries are politically polarized and may be sliding to politically far-right authoritarian political systems. The torchlight in May 2016 was on Austria, the birthplace of Adolf Hitler in 1889, a country divided down the middle that almost gave birth to a victory for a populist, far right party, the Freedom Party (FPO), that was founded by a Nazi and still is considered to have pro-Nazi overtones. The FPO victory would have been a political earthquake in a country that has been dominated since 1945 by two mainstream political parties that now cannot deal effectively with the migrant crisis among other issues.

On May 21, 2016 Norbert Hofer, the 45 year old aeronautical engineer and candidate of the FPO, lost in a very close contest in the run off, second round of elections for President of Austria. In the first electoral round a month earlier, Hofer had gained 35.1 % of the vote while his rival the 72 year old ecologist Green Party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen, son of refugees who fled the Soviet controlled Estonia, had got 21 percent.

The two mainstream parties, the center left Social Democratic party (SPO) and the center right Austrian People’s Party (OVP) only received a combined 23 per cent in this first round election. The two parties are declining in popularity. In 2002 they received almost 80% of the poll: in the 2013 parliamentary election they got only 50%. 

Hofer exalted in the fact that his was the highest number of votes previously achieved by a right wing party. Hofer remarked “We had a rendezvous with history.” However, he narrowly lost the second round, obtaining 49.7% while his opponent Van der Bellen won with 50.3 %.

Populist politics in Europe are gaining strength. In all countries the appeal is similar: opposition to the status quo, to the so called Establishment, and to the mainstream parties that have been in power since the end of World War II: economic discontent; growing unemployment; and above all demands for control over immigration and limitation of entrance of Muslims.

The European populist parties are anti-liberal, are opposed to conventional politics, critical of the European Union, conscious of political corruption, fear terrorist attacks, and anxious about job insecurity. Most are opposed to TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), the agreement between the EU and the U.S.

The vital question for Europe and for the democratic world is whether Hofer’s strong performance will embolden further anti-immigration rhetoric in other countries and be the harbinger of more activity by the nationalist anti-establishment movement in Europe. Future elections will decide if the far right parties will be central in political life, or will remain simply extreme fringe parties.

Hofer would have been the first far-right politician to be elected president in the history of the EU, and his virtue tie in the election is likely to reinforce the ambitions of other far right parties that are similarly opposed to mass immigration and to what they see as the unacceptable effects of forced multiculturalism and globalization. 

Using political results in some European countries, the numbers show the trend.

In Austria itself, the FPO got 30 % in local elections in 2015 and has 45 seats in the European Parliament. In France, Marine Le Pen’s party, the National Front (FN) got 14 % of the vote and has 2 seats in the national assembly. Le Pen is expected to make a strong run for the French Presidency.

In Hungary, the extreme party Jobbik got 21 %. In Finland, The Finns got 18%, and the party leader is foreign minister. In Germany, the Alternative for Germany, (AfD) launched as recently as 2013, under the leadership of Frauke Petry, got 4.7%. In Denmark, the Danish People’s Party got 21%. In Switzerland, the Swiss People’s Party got 29% and gained 65 of the 200 seats in the lower house of parliament. In Greece, the Golden Dawn got 7%, and is the third largest political group. In Sweden, the Sweden Democrats got 13%. And in the Netherlands, the Freedom Party led by the energetic Geert Wilders got 10 %.

In all these countries the far right focuses on the same main foes: highest among them is immigration in general and increase in number of Muslims in particular. For these parties Islam has no place in Europe, nor should there be any “welcome culture” for Muslims.

Certainly, the migration and Muslim issues are central for Hofer and his party. Immigrants constitute one-fifth of the 8.6 million population of Austria, and another 90,000 immigrants came into the country last year. In Vienna, more than half of the first year students in schools are from immigrant backgrounds.

Hofer is a telegenic personality, a partially disabled man who walks with a cane following a gliding accident and who always carries a Glock 9mm pistol for protection. Hofer has been absolutely clear: “To those in Austria who go to war for the Islamic state or rape women, I say…this is not your home.”

The Freedom Party tried to change its spots and erase the memory that it was founded in 1956 by a former Nazi minister of agriculture who was an SS officer. Hofer in drafting the Freedom Party manifesto in 2011 focused on “identity”, code for native Austrians, not immigrants. He wrote of the commitment to a German people and cultural community, using the word Volksgemeinschaft, (people’s community), a term used by Nazi Germany to indicate a racially unified body in which the interests of the nation are superior to those of individuals.

In recent years the Austrian FPO, for electoral reasons or otherwise, has tried to overcome the memory of its former leader Jorg Haider, fairly regarded as pro Nazi and anti-Semitic. At that time Israel withdrew its ambassador in Austria in 2000 when Haider joined the government coalition. The present leaders of the Party suggest that they have tried to overcome allegations of antisemitism by their Party.  

Hofer and party leader Heinz-Christian Strache claim to support Israel and both have visited Israel. Ironically, Strache who posted an anti-Semitic cartoon on Facebook paid a private visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Hofer has said that a visit to Israel would be a high priority if he became president.

Hofer is the golden boy of the far right, the well-dressed personality who speaks in moderate tones, the engineer with a friendly face and polite manners, but there are ominous signs. He has sometimes used symbols, such as wearing the blue cornflower, a nationalist symbol used by Nazis to recognize each other when the Nazi Party was banned during the 1930s, and used language familiar in the Nazi movement.

Hofer is not a historian but he and his party may have a particular memory. In September 1683 a Christian Coalition, including the Austro-Hungarian Empire, scored a decisive victory in Vienna by defeating the Ottoman forces that had been besieging the city for two months. Many commentators have seen this as a turning point in history when the Ottoman Muslims ceased to be menace to the world.  Hofer’s defeat showed that history is not yet repeating itself in Vienna.

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Posted on 05/23/2016 2:29 PM by Michael Curtis
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Monday, 23 May 2016
Claim: Muslim Translators Lie, Deny Muslim Harassment Of Christian And Yazidi Migrants
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From the German public broadcaster ARD, via Breitbart

Desperate Yazidi and Christian migrants in Germany have attempted to report harassment and violence at the hands of Muslim migrants, only for Sunni Muslim translators to lie and deny sectarian attacks.

 

Muslim translators, from whom the minorities sought help, “threw their support behind the attackers” and denied to authorities that harassment and violence is happening.

After an influx of more than a million migrants last year, German authorities are unable to find sufficient numbers of qualified and reliable translators of Arabic to meet demand. The country’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) now recruits translators with a pamphlet which says that “in this work you will take on a great responsibility and we expect from you neutrality and reliability.” But an investigative report by German broadcaster ARD uncovered that there is a “gaping void between demand and reality,” which causes a “nightmare” for numerous migrants.

Gian Aldonani, a Cologne-based Yazidi student whose family fled to Germany when she was a child and who works with minority migrants, said this isn’t an isolated incident: ”There is a deliberate effort to fallaciously translate. First we thought that this was a single incident from Cologne, but we have recognised now through the documentation of all cases that this is the case all over Germany.”

A lawyer with Christian and Yazidi migrants among her clients says: “This is something that multiple refugees reported to me, not just my clients. Again and again they point this out, but no one listens to them.” The lawyer accused the authorities of naïveté, neglecting to react to the allegations at all or claiming to know nothing about them, despite the numerous filed reports.

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Posted on 05/23/2016 12:36 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Monday, 23 May 2016
Danish teen jailed for Facebook terror threat
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From the Danish edition of The Local

A 19-year-old Aarhus man was found guilty in city court on Monday of having encouraged terrorist acts via a Facebook post. He was sentenced to one year and three months in prison.

According to the man’s indictment, he posted videos to Facebook that were produced by the terror group Isis and showed scenes of murder.  In comments posted along with the videos, the man wrote threats in English and Arabic that targeted “infidels” “lapsed [Muslims]” and “spies”. According to the indictment, the man wrote, among other things: “The knife will hit all of you and your heads will roll in the streets. You cannot hide from us.”

According to broadcaster DR, the man’s lawyer argued that the video and comments were posted in a closed Facebook group with only 11 members. The lawyer argued unsuccessfully that the posts were not meant to create fear amongst the general public. 

The 19-year-old is a Danish citizen with a Lebanese background. DR reported that the man said his posts were meant to send a signal to those who insult Islam.

The prosecuting attorney in the case, Torben Thygesen, said the court's decision sends an important message. "This shows that one must be aware that what they put on the internet, and these kinds of statements, can have consequences,"

Public prosecutor Jan Reckendorff had described the case against the 19-year-old as “unusual . . . The public prosecutor believes that the 19-year-old’s serious threats on Facebook were made with the intention of seriously frightening the public,”

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Posted on 05/23/2016 11:35 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Monday, 23 May 2016
Anne Marie Waters reviews Easy Meat Part I
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Anne Marie Waters, the Deputy Leader of Pegida UK, has reviewed Peter McLoughlin's book Easy Meat. To be precise she has so much to say that her review will be in three parts. The first part is on the Pegida website today, here.

Easy Meat1, by Peter McLoughlin, is about as comprehensive a report in to the horrible phenomenon of so-called “Asian grooming gangs” as has been produced. . . These gangs were comprised almost exclusively of Muslim men. Most of the victims were white English girls, but Sikh girls were also often targeted.

The grooming gang scandal burst in to public consciousness with the publication of the Jay report in 2014. It described how at least 1,400 girls had fallen victim to these gangs in the South Yorkshire town of Rotherham alone. As McLoughlin explains in some detail, Rotherham was a drop in the ocean. All over England (and Holland) thousands upon thousands of young girls have been raped and pimped for decades, and with absolute impunity. Furthermore, it is still going on.

Such impunity was the result of the inaction of a public sector terrified of being labelled racist if it mentioned the ethnicity of the men involved. The media furore that followed the Jay report did refer to ethnicity however, and shouldn’t have. Ethnicity is not the issue (except in reference to the victims, who are often selected because they are white), religion is the issue – and Peter McLoughlin is not afraid to say so.

He writes: “Despite the experts knowing that not all the Muslims in Britain who do this are Asian, despite knowing that an almost identical pattern of criminality has been going on in Holland (and that the Muslims in Holland who are doing it are from Turkey and Morocco), the experts refuse to look at Islam as a causal factor, even when there is no other cause that can be seen”. McLoughlin points out that even while denying Islam could have been influential in these crimes, politicians and other authorities simultaneously liaised with Muslim “leaders” in attempts to confront them. As McLoughlin asks “Why did the Home Affairs Committee have input from a Sheikh, but not from a Bishop?”

It is the religious identity of these men that the powerful have not addressed. Instead, the issue is deemed to be one of culture, whilst ignoring the impact of Islam in shaping it.

As is argued in Easy Meat “over hundreds of years the stories, morality and principles from the Koran, the Hadiths, and the Sira (The Life of Mohammed) must have passed in to Islam culture. These principles, values and narratives have affected what Muslims view as right and wrong. These things shape their view of the world”. The statement is powerful, owing to its staggering common sense. Of course Islam and its teachings influence the morality of Muslims, that is a given. It doesn’t mean that all Muslims think or act alike, but Islamic morality is bound to inform the norms of Muslim societies – that indeed is its role.

There is simply no getting away from it, the cultural influence of Islam, and Islamic doctrine itself, must have had an enormous impact on the attitudes of the men involved in rape gangs across England. More and more people now understand this, and on June 4th Pegida will give them a chance to protest.

Pegida will hold a silent walk through Rotherham, the town has sadly come to symbolize these horrors, to register our disgust that this appalling crime has been allowed to carry on, while those charged with preventing it looked on. We will be there because we want justice, we want these rapists punished, and we want girls protected.

I know that as I type thousands of young girls are undergoing exactly this very same torment, and I want our presence to remind them that they have not been forgotten.

Islamic culture, that is culture shaped by Islam to whatever extent, has brought misery to Europe over the last few decades. Sharia, honour violence, jihadism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and rape. In Easy Meat, Peter McLoughlin portrays this methodically. This is not an uplifting or entertaining book, but it is absolutelyessential reading. If you want to know just how widespread this crime has been, and the reasons it occurred, then Easy Meat is where to begin.

It reveals with harrowing clarity just how much Islam has begun to hurt us, and that our leaders and our elite are aiding and abetting in this without shame.

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Posted on 05/23/2016 8:23 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Monday, 23 May 2016
Pope Calls on France to Respect Muslim Women Hijab
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If this Pope spent half as much time defending Christianity... AhlulBayt News Agency

Pope Francis has urged France to respect the right of Muslim women to profess their faith and wear the hijab same as Christians are allowed to wear the cross. 

“If a Muslim woman wishes to wear a veil, she must be able to do so. Similarly, if a Catholic wishes to wear a cross,” Francis told the French Catholic newspaper La Croix, The Guardian reported on Tuesday, May 17.

“People must be free to profess their faith at the heart of their own culture not merely at its margins.”

Showing support to secularism, Pope said that states also needed strong laws guaranteeing religious freedom and needed to ensure individuals, including government officials, had a right to conscientious objection.

He also expressed a “modest critique” of France, saying the country’s laws exaggerate “laïcité” – the separation of church and state.

“This arises from a way of considering religions as subcultures rather than as fully fledged cultures in their own right. I fear that this approach, which is understandable as part of the heritage of the Enlightenment, continues to exist,” Francis said.

“France needs to take a step forward on this issue in order to accept that openness to transcendence is a right for everyone,” he added.

France is home to a Muslim community of nearly six million, the largest in Europe.

French Muslims have been complaining of restrictions on performing their religious practices.

In 2004, France banned Muslims from wearing hijab, an obligatory code of dress, in public places and schools.

France also outlawed the wearing of face-veil in public in 2011.

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Posted on 05/23/2016 4:28 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Sunday, 22 May 2016
May
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THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY from the Shoemaker’s Holiday. Thomas Dekker 1599

O THE month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!
O, and then did I unto my true love say,
Sweet Peg, thou shalt be my Summer's Queen.

Now the nightingale, the pretty nightingale,
The sweetest singer in all the forest quire,
Entreats thee, sweet Peggy, to hear thy true love's tale:
Lo, yonder she sitteth, her breast against a brier.

But O, I spy the cuckoo, the cuckoo, the cuckoo;
See where she sitteth; come away, my joy:
Come away, I prithee, I do not like the cuckoo
Should sing where my Peggy and I kiss and toy.

O, the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green;
And then did I unto my true love say,
Sweet Peg, thou shalt be my Summer's Queen.

Some more spring blossom and flora in England, and some more recent songs to go with them. 

We'll gather lilacs in the spring again
And walk together down an English lane
Until our hearts have learnt to sing again
When you come home once more.

By Ivor Novello 1945 from the musical Perchance to Dream

The Chestnut Tree

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree
I loved her and she loved me.
There she used to sit upon my knee
‘Neath the spreading chestnut tree.

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree
There she said she’d marry me
Now you ought to see our family
‘Neath the spreading chestnut tree!

The novelty, singing dance sensation of 1938. Words and music by Jimmy Kennedy, Tommie Connor and Hamilton Kennedy. Ballroom routine devised by Miss Adele England.

Performed by Jack Hylton & His Orchestra and later Glenn Miller. Sung by my dad as a lullaby. He knew all the actions which didn’t make for a soporific atmosphere. Based on the poem The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Adapted and used as a symbol of love and betrayal by George Orwell in 1984.

Of course the chestnut tree Longfellow had in mind may have been a sweet chestnut. These candles are from the horse chestnut, beloved of English suburbia. This tree doesn’t produce nuts in the autumn but conkers. You can’t eat them but they are rather good fun in other ways.

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Posted on 05/22/2016 2:50 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 22 May 2016
If Britain Leaves the EU, Where Will It Turn?
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Canadians should pay some attention to the tense and fierce campaign underway in the United Kingdom toward the June 23 vote on whether the country should leave the European Union or not. In fact, under the European treaty, a vote to leave — what is called the Brexit in this campaign — would lead to two years of negotiation. In practice, when the Euro-federalists lose a national referendum, which is not infrequently, they come back within a year with a new referendum on a slightly reformulated question, represented as a concession to the dissentients and backed by a more blood-curdling scare campaign.

In this campaign, it will be a good deal more complicated, because the Remainers, as they are called, are led by the incumbent Conservative Party leader and prime minister, David Cameron, and the Leavers are led, at least informally, by the just-retired mayor of London, and Conservative MP, Boris Johnson. If the Leavers win, Cameron is finished as party and government leader. Any follow-up referendum will be run by the anti-federalists and will call for serious concessions from the European Union government in Brussels, or a national demand for such concessions that Brussels will give the British what they want or cut the cord.

The importance of this to Canadians is that if the British do, in the end, leave the EU, the issue of "Whither Britain" could be of great potential interest to this country. There has been intensive bandying about in this campaign of the alleged supra-national preferences of Winston Churchill. Cameron and one of Sir Winston's grandsons, Nicholas Soames, have claimed he would have been a Remainer, but eminent historian Andrew Roberts, and others who deserve a hearing on the subject, have pointed out that while Churchill was an advocate of French-German rapprochement, and of a common market in Western Europe, he believed that Britain's relationship with the United States, which he had created in unforgettably charged circumstances with Franklin D. Roosevelt, and its position as head of the Commonwealth, ranked ahead of any European vocation. The second greatest British prime minister in 125 years (at least), Margaret Thatcher, left no one in any doubt of her view, though she did not share Churchill's confidence in the Commonwealth, which she regarded as a rag-tag of Third World despotisms trying to milk the original Commonwealth nations: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. (She made exceptions for Singapore, and, in deference to its size and democracy, India.)

The British under Churchill and his immediate Conservative successors, Anthony Eden, Harold MacMillan, and Alec Douglas-Home, allowed unlimited access to Britain from the Commonwealth, which led to a surge in arrivals of non-Caucasians (this proved unpopular among the locals). The next Conservative prime minister, Edward Heath, was anti-American, uninterested in the Commonwealth, and threw Britain's lot in unreservedly with Europe (as well as with the Arabs in the Middle East and the People's Republic of China in the Far East).

He was deposed as leader and eventually replaced as prime minister by Margaret Thatcher who somewhat resurrected the glory days of Churchill and Roosevelt with Ronald Reagan and placed all Britain's bets on the Grand Alliance with the United States. It worked for a time, and led us to victory in the Cold War, with important contributions from St. John Paul II, German chancellor Helmut Kohl, Brian Mulroney, and others. It was even continued to a degree by John Major and Tony Blair with the Bushes and Bill Clinton, but came to a sandy grave in the second Iraq War. If Britain leaves the EU, the hour of the top tier of the Commonwealth will come again.

The United States under George W. Bush became a hip-shooting interventionist country, trying to prop up democracy in places that had no history, appetite or capacity for it. Anti-democratic forces won democratic elections in the Palestinian territories, Gaza, and Egypt. Under Barack Obama, the foreign policy of the United States has been moderately anti-British (illustrated by the return to Britain on the president's orders, as he has finally admitted, of the bust of Winston Churchill that had been in the president's office).

Obama has generally invited America's traditional allies and enemies to trade roles and places. He dragooned David Cameron into beseeching U.S. senators to support their shameful delayed-endorsement of Iranian nuclear arms, and returned the favour by warning the British that if they did not vote to throw in with Europe once and for all, Britain could go "to the back of the queue" in trading relations with the U.S. Both interventions were outrageous, and Obama's moral suasion with the British seemed to net out at a drop of two points for the Remainers it was designed to help. It would be hazardous to predict what may happen with either a Clinton or Trump presidency, though either would almost certainly be less Quixotic than the younger Bush and less contra-historical and pacifistic than Obama, and less enamoured of America's most vocal and hyperactive enemies.

The polls in Britain are very close and move narrowly between the sides with never more than a slight advantage either way. Indicative of Cameron's state of nerves over potentially losing the vote, and his job, was his claim two weeks ago that a win for the Leavers would enhance the possibilities of European war. The bowdlerized and rather fatuous distortion of history he offered in support of this hare-brained argument was anything but a confidence-builder. His problem is that he promised "full-on treaty change" and came back with less than Chamberlain did from Munich: a tentative and heavily conditionalized promise by Europe to consider British applications to vary social benefits for migrants from Europe. In desperation, Cameron and his chancellor, George Osborne, have themselves dragooned the supposedly independent governor of the Bank of England, Canadian Mark Carney, to become a vocal biweekly tout for the Remainers.

Given British disillusionment with Europe and the end of American reliability as we knew it from the time of Roosevelt to the arrival of Obama, Canada could play a role in leading the development of an alternative bloc, though one associated with both the European Union and the United States. The U.K., the old dominions of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and Singapore and India, as an economic group, would be as great as China, and probably, with recent developments in China and the settling in of the Thatcherite Modi government in India, would grow as quickly. In foreign and strategic policy terms, it would have, or at least could soon have, the second greatest combined naval and air force of any state or grouping, after the U.S. The member-states could broadly co-operate to whatever extent the constituent member states could comfortably agree. It would be at least as unitary a force as the present Europe of 27 states from Bulgaria and Estonia to Portugal.

This must be the last chance for the Commonwealth. Despite the Queen's pride in it, as a consolation prize for the Empire which her father and his immediate ancestors ceremonially ruled, one need only look at the majority of the poor and misgoverned members, highlighted by the egregious Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. He is 92, and the once-formidable champion of the independence movement against White Rhodesia bows at portraits of himself and dozes off on public occasions, repeats speeches to the same audience when he turns up the starting page of his text, and shambles about in the midst of a rending struggle for the succession. The chief faction-heads in this contest are his voluminous wife and a disaffected female member of the regime leadership, of equivalent massive girth, whom the President's wife improbably accuses of disporting herself in mini-skirts.

First published in the National Post.

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Posted on 05/22/2016 9:34 AM by Conrad Black
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Sunday, 22 May 2016
EgyptAir crash: Flight data points to 'internal explosion' on plane once daubed with graffiti saying 'We will bring this plane down'
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Data from the final moments before EgyptAir flight MS804 crashed into the Mediterranean suggest an "internal explosion" tore through the right side of the aircraft, a pilot said last night. 

Investigators trying to determine whether the A320 was brought down by terrorism or a technical fault are poring over a series of warnings indicating smoke filled the cabin shortly before it disappeared from radar.

A commercial pilot with a major European airline told The Telegraph that other parts of the data log suggested that windows in the right side of the cockpit were blown out by an explosion inside the aircraft.  

"It looks like the right front and side window were blown out, most probably from inside out," said the pilot, who ... spoke on condition of anonymity.  

Three different warnings showed there were faults in the windows next to the co-pilot, suggesting they could have been blasted outwards by an onboard bomb. That does not mean the explosion came from the cockpit but indicates the right side of the plane was more badly damaged than the left.  The pilot suggested the smoke detectors may have been triggered not fire but by fog which filled the cabin as it lost air pressure in the moments after the explosion.  

Although no terrorist group has claimed responsibility, French detectives are examining a pool of around 85,000 people with "red badge" security clearance that gives them access to restricted areas of Charles de Gaulle airport. 

The task is complicated by the fact that many work for sub-contractors and turnover is high. Screenings are often limited to checking an employee has no criminal convictions and does not appear on a terror watch list. 

Last December around 70 red badges were withdrawn from staff at Charles de Gaulle who were found to have praised the attacks in Paris, prayed at mosques linked to radicalism or showing signs of growing religiosity like refusing to shake hands with women. 

A French trade union also warned that short stopovers like that made by Flight 804, which was on the ground a little over an hour, gave little time for security staff to carry out thro (I'm assuming the Telegraph writer intended to complete the sentence with the words "thorough checks")

In a dark premonition of things to come, it has emerged that the crashed aircraft had once been daubed with graffiti by vandals who wrote: "We will bring this plane down".

The New York Times reported that the vandalism was done two years ago and was a protest against Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the Egyptian president who seized power in a coup, rather than a jihadist threat. 

The airline went on to fire a number of staff with alleged Muslim Brotherhood sympathies in 2013 as part of a general purge of suspected Islamists after the military takeover. 

And in the weeks following the Paris attacks in November, French police said Arabic graffiti such as “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) were found daubed on EasyJet and Vueling planes at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and at Lyon airport. The police played down any link with the attacks, although they acknowledged that such graffiti had been found on a number of planes in the months before the terror strikes.

The discoveries raised fears that a bomb could be planted on a plane at an airport in France, but EasyJet and the French authorities insisted at the time there was nothing to worry about.

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Posted on 05/22/2016 8:40 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 22 May 2016
Islamic State calls for attacks on the West during Ramadan in audio message
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From Reuters

A new message purporting to come from the spokesman of Islamic State calls on followers to launch attacks on the United States and Europe during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins in early June.

"Ramadan, the month of conquest and jihad. Get prepared, be ready ... to make it a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers ... especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America," said the message, suggesting attacks on military and civilian targets.

The authenticity of the audio clip, purporting to be from Abu Muhammad al-Adnani and distributed on Saturday by Twitter accounts that usually publish Islamic State statements, could not be verified.

"The smallest action you do in their heartland is better and more enduring to us than what you would if you were with us. If one of you hoped to reach the Islamic State, we wish we were in your place to punish the Crusaders day and night," Adnani said.

The militant group, which seeks to establish a caliphate across the Middle East and beyond, has claimed deadly attacks over the past year on civilians in France, Belgium and the United States.

But the message made no mention of the EgyptAir flight that crashed into the Mediterranean on Thursday in unexplained circumstances, amid speculation by Egyptian, French and American officials that a jihadist attack was the most likely cause.

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Posted on 05/22/2016 8:29 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 22 May 2016
The Four War Horses of Islam
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Infiltration

This is the favorite horse of the Muslim Brotherhood. By using guile, deceit (taqiyya) and cunning the MB has infiltrated its operatives into positions of influence in government agencies  to “destroy Western Civilization from within.”

The careful insinuation of Muslim Brothers into positions from which they can exercise influence on U.S. policy began long before the attacks of 9/11, although their success has accelerated dramatically under the administration of President Barack Obama. The massive Muslim Brotherhood organizational network in the U.S., so patiently built up over the decades since that first Oval Office meeting in 1953, eventually gave it a prominence and (false) reputation of credibility that was unmatched by any other Islamic groups, moderate or otherwise. Using a combination of taqiyya (deceit, dissimulation) and intimidation, the Muslim Brotherhood succeeded not only in making itself the "go-to" authority on all things related to Islam, but in suppressing those who would speak truth about Islam—again, often by persuading the U.S.'s own senior officials to do the job for them: "by their hands".

This picture of Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s Svengali, whispering in her ear says it all.

Bribery

This is the favorite horse of the Saudi royalty. They use petro-dollars to set up Islamic enclaves of power within universities, for hiring PR firms, buying politicians and setting up radical Mosques and their madrassas resulting in isolated communities practicing Sharia and advancing Wahhabism:

House of Saud is simply a more established and diplomatic version of ISIS. It shares the extremist Wahhabi theo-fascism, the lack of human rights, intolerance, violent beheadings etc. — but with nicer buildings and roads.

Extortion

This is the favorite horse of Iranian Ayatollahs. Sensing the desperate need of the Obama administration to create the appearance of success of smart diplomacy, the Iranians are leveraging economic and military expansion by threatening chaos (close Straits of Hormuz, trigger oil price war, wipe Israel off the map … ) - the classic example being the phony long drawn out treaty negotiations and all other forms of realpolitik to gain in the balance of power especially, as mentioned, by threatening to undermine the perception of success in stabilizing the Middle East that the Obama administration desperately wishes to project.

Terror

This, of course, is the horse of Al Qaeda, ISIS and its unseen backers. The threat of radical Islam and its terrorist acts from 9/11 on provide the clout behind the charge of Islamophobia. Long used by Hillary Clinton in claiming that anti-Muslim rhetoric is dangerously promoting violent jihad, General Petraeus just got into the act warning of the same consequences in an op-ed in WaPo entitled “Anti-Muslim bigotry aids Islamist terrorists.”  Petraeus claims that criticizing Islam just plays into the hands of ISIS and that we mustn’t enrage Muslims or they might become radicalized. Here is Robert Spenser commenting on the Petraeus op-ed:

So the upshot of Petraeus’ argument is that we must not say things to which Muslims might object, because this will just make more of them become jihadis. His prescription for minimizing the jihad against the West is for the West to practice self-censorship in order to avoid offending Muslims.

In other words, mustn’t offend the bully or he might hurt you. As Christine Brim in The Federalist points out, this theme is rampant in MM:

For example, The Mirror: “ISIS wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t Islamophobia”; The Nation: “ISIS Wants You to Hate Muslims”; The Guardian: “Islamophobia plays right into the hands of Isis”; Salon: “After Brussels, far-right Islamophobes are doing exactly what ISIS wants them to do.”

All four battle horses are ridden with great cunning by Sunni and Shia power centers herding the West into the sunset. Meanwhile US politicians concern themselves with bathroom etiquette.

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Posted on 05/22/2016 7:33 AM by Richard Butrick
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Saturday, 21 May 2016
Britain 'could liberate Europe again' by voting for Brexit and sparking populist revolution
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Britain could “liberate Europe” for a second time in a century by voting for Brexit on June 23, triggering a “patriotic spring” across the continent and an outpouring of populist discontent against Brussels, Geert Wilders, the right-wing Dutch populist, has claimed.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Wilders – a fiercely nationalist, anti-Islamic politician whose Party for Freedom is currently topping the polls in the Netherlands – said that the populist  “genie was now out of the bottle”, and could never be put back in.

“Like in the 1940's, once again Britain could help liberate Europe from another totalitarian monster, this time called ‘Brussels’. Again, we could be saved by the British,” he said in his heavily fortified office in The Hague where an oil painting Winston Churchill and a Telegraph front page of Margaret Thatcher hang on the walls.

If people see that a country can leave, and the lights do not go out, there is not a war, and a country does not go bankrupt, but even flourishes. If Britain proves that this theory can become a reality, it would have an enormous effect.”

Predicting that a Netherlands referendum on EU membership would swiftly follow a Brexit, he added that David Cameron was running a “stupid” campaign by attempting to scare the British into staying in Europe.

“I hope that a lot of people like Mr Cameron will continue saying the most stupid things. It helps a lot,” he said, “People are not stupid any more. They know they are being frightened by fear-mongers.”

For years Mr Wilders has been widely reviled as an extremist and a demagogue, however with anti-immigration and anti-austerity sentiment rising from Athens to Amsterdam, he now believes Europe is showing itself ready to embrace many of his populist ideas.

Not so long ago, Mr Wilders acknowledges, such dreams of a populist revolution would have remained just that – dreams – but as in America, where Donald Trump has caught the establishment flat-footed with his brash appeal to discontented grassroots, Europe’s populists are suddenly ascendant.

"This is an exciting time," he says, "The genie is out of the bottle, and the genie will never go back in the bottle. Things are changing, and changing very fast. A democratic non-violent revolution is on the radar – a ‘patriotic spring’ is coming.”

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Posted on 05/21/2016 11:17 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 21 May 2016
Group that Helped Sell Iran Nuke Deal also Funded Media
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Ploughshares is an old anti-nuclear organization leftover from all the nuclear fights during the Cold War. The question is, are they now being funded by Iran either directly or indirectly? Bradly Klapper writes for AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A group the White House recently identified as a key surrogate in selling the Iran nuclear deal gave National Public Radio $100,000 last year to help it report on the pact and related issues, according to the group's annual report. It also funded reporters and partnerships with other news outlets.

The Ploughshares Fund's mission is to "build a safe, secure world by developing and investing in initiatives to reduce and ultimately eliminate the world's nuclear stockpiles," one that dovetails with President Barack Obama's arms control efforts. But its behind-the-scenes role advocating for the Iran agreement got more attention this month after a candid profile of Ben Rhodes, one of the president's top foreign policy aides.

In The New York Times Magazine article, Rhodes explained how the administration worked with nongovernmental organizations, proliferation experts and even friendly reporters to build support for the seven-nation accord that curtailed Iran's nuclear activity and softened international financial penalties on Tehran.

"We created an echo chamber," said Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, adding that "outside groups like Ploughshares" helped carry out the administration's message effectively.

The magazine piece revived Republican criticism of the Iran agreement as they suggested it was evidence of a White House spin machine misleading the American people. The administration accused opponents of trying to re-litigate the deal after failing to defeat it in congressional votes last year.

Outside groups of all stripes are increasingly giving money to news organizations for special projects or general news coverage. Most news organizations, including The Associated Press, have strict rules governing whom they can accept money from and how to protect journalistic independence.

Ploughshares' backing is more unusual, given its prominent role in the rancorous, partisan debate over the Iran deal.

The Ploughshares grant to NPR supported "national security reporting that emphasizes the themes of U.S. nuclear weapons policy and budgets, Iran's nuclear program, international nuclear security topics and U.S. policy toward nuclear security," according to Ploughshares' 2015 annual report, recently published online.

"It is common practice for foundations to fund media coverage of underreported stories," Ploughshares spokeswoman Jennifer Abrahamson said. Funding "does not influence the editorial content of their coverage in any way, nor would we want it to."

Ploughshares has funded NPR's coverage of national security since 2005, the radio network said. Ploughshares reports show at least $700,000 in funding over that time. All grant descriptions since 2010 specifically mention Iran.

"It's a valued partnership, without any conditions from Ploughshares on our specific reporting, beyond the broad issues of national and nuclear security, nuclear policy, and nonproliferation," NPR said in an emailed statement. "As with all support received, we have a rigorous editorial firewall process in place to ensure our coverage is independent and is not influenced by funders or special interests."

Republican lawmakers will have concerns nonetheless, especially as Congress supplies NPR with a small portion of its funding. Just this week, the GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee tried to summon Rhodes to a hearing entitled "White House Narratives on the Iran Nuclear Deal," but he refused.

Ploughshares' links to media are "tremendously troubling," said Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, an Iran-deal critic.

Pompeo told the AP he repeatedly asked NPR to be interviewed last year as a counterweight to a Democratic supporter of the agreement, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who he said regularly appeared on the station. But NPR refused to put Pompeo on the air, he said. The station said it had no record of Pompeo's requests, and listed several prominent Republicans who were featured speaking about the deal or economic sanctions on Iran.

Another who appeared on NPR is Joseph Cirincione, Ploughshares' president. He spoke about the negotiations on air at least twice last year. The station identified Ploughshares as an NPR funder one of those times; the other time, it didn't.

Ploughshares boasts of helping to secure the deal. While success was "driven by the fearless leadership of the Obama administration and supporters in Congress," board chairwoman Mary Lloyd Estrin wrote in the annual report, "less known is the absolutely critical role that civil society played in tipping the scales towards this extraordinary policy victory."

The 33-page document lists the groups that Ploughshares funded last year to advance its nonproliferation agenda.

The Arms Control Association got $282,500; the Brookings Institution, $225,000; and the Atlantic Council, $182,500. They received money for Iran-related analysis, briefings and media outreach, and non-Iran nuclear work.

Other groups, less directly defined by their independent nuclear expertise, also secured grants.

J-Street, the liberal Jewish political action group, received $576,500 to advocate for the deal. More than $281,000 went to the National Iranian American Council.

Princeton University got $70,000 to support former Iranian ambassador and nuclear spokesman Seyed Hossein Mousavian's "analysis, publications and policymaker engagement on the range of elements involved with the negotiated settlement of Iran's nuclear program."

Ploughshares has set its sights on other media organizations, too.

In a "Cultural Strategy Report" on its website, the group outlined a broader objective of "ensuring regular and accurate coverage of nuclear issues in reputable and strategic media outlets" such as The Guardian, Salon, the Huffington Post or Pro Publica.

Previous efforts failed to generate enough coverage, it noted. These included "funding of reporters at The Nation and Mother Jones and a partnership with The Center for Public Integrity to create a national security desk." It suggested using "web videos, podcasts, photo-based stories" and other "attention-grabbing formats" for "creatively reframing the issue."

The Center for Public Integrity's CEO, Peter Bale, confirmed the grant.

"None of the funding received by Ploughshares was for coverage of the Iran deal," said Bale, whose company received $70,000. "In general, we avoided that subject because the topic did not lend itself to the type of investigative reporting the Center does."

Caitlin Graf, a spokeswoman at The Nation, said her outlet had no partnership with Ploughshares. She referred queries to The Nation Institute, a nonprofit associated with the magazine that seeks to strengthen the independent press and advance social justice. Taya Kitman, the institute's director, said Ploughshares' one-year grant supported reporting on U.S.-Iran policy, but strict editorial control was maintained.

Mother Jones' media department didn't respond to several messages seeking comment.

The AP has taken grants from nonpolitical groups and journalism foundations such as the Knight Foundation. As with all grants, "AP retains complete editorial control of the final news product, which must fully meet AP standards for independence and integrity," Standards Editor Thomas Kent said.

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Posted on 05/21/2016 7:32 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 21 May 2016
The United States, NATO, and Russia
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Will Cold War II begin because of bananas? The Obama administration has made it clear, “Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today.” Nevertheless, the distinguished Russian champion figure skater and now politician, Irina Rodnina, who lit the Olympic flame at Sochi in February 2014, disagreed. Earlier, on September 2013 she had tweeted a racist picture of President Barack Obama, his mouth full of food, with a hand in the foreground waving a banana at him.

The banana warfare continued. In the Russian city of Perm a number of posters appeared addressing the US President as “Banan-Obama.” On them were images of bananas labeled “Ukraine,” and the message “don’t choke.” At a festival in Moscow in 2015 a playful competition featured four participants in blackface alongside a Obama impersonator chasing a banana.

Ben Rhodes, the spin doctor at the White House, has not yet misled us about the eating habits of President Obama. However, we do know the next US President has to contemplate Putin’s political and military appetites, and plan accordingly. Will the next President agree with President George W. Bush who in June 2001 thought, after a “good talk” with the Russian leader that he had a good sense of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s soul.

The next US President must also have a good sense of Putin’s body as well as of his soul. Russian leaders do tend to last. Vladimir Lenin, born in 1870 died in January 1924, is now officially 146 years old. His body is embalmed and well preserved with his red moustache and rests in a specially constructed mausoleum in Red Square in Moscow.

Putin may not live the 146 years of Lenin but he has been in power in one position or other for 16 years, acting in authoritarian fashion and limiting real dissent in Russia. He does not espouse the dogmatic Communist ideology of Lenin but his guiding principles are clear:  to restore the importance and power of the Russian state, to use the Russian Orthodox Church as the basis of values, to reject any Western interference in Russian affairs.

Putin projects the image of a strong and physically vital individual, whether bare chested or wearing clothes, whether riding a horse or practicing judo. Corruption and theft may exist within the Russian system, but Putin still appears popular, a patriot in control of a country aiming to be a superpower.

Putin has not “ led from behind” in international affairs. He has acted, in Syria, in Georgia in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008. Putin blocked UN proposed action against the Assad regime in Syria and helped Assad militarily, but he also helped in the removal of chemical weapons in Syria in 2013. Russian military jets have carried out more sorties in a day against ISIS than the US led coalition did in a month, as well as against the anti-Assad rebels.

The Russian navy has launched ballistic missiles from the Caspian Sea 900 miles away. Russia since 1971 has controlled the Tartus naval port in Syria. Converted into a permanent Russia base in 2008, it is now of strategic importance for Russia as is the electronic intelligence center in Latakia and the anti-aircraft systems installed in Crimea and Kaliningrad.

Putin with a relatively weak hand had played a daring poker game. He misled the West by asserting that Russia was providing Syria with only primarily defensive weapons to repel anti-regime rebels, and it did supply these including S-300 anti-aircraft batteries, air defense systems. But it also supplied fighter jets MiG-29Ms that can attack ground forces, and has commercial interests in Syria, especially arms contracts.

It is of course Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its help for the separatists in Eastern Ukraine that led some in the west to believe that Russia was engaged in a plan of expansion. In a new novel 2017: War with Russia, General Sir Richard Shirreff, former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe, 2011-2014, suggests that a Russian attack on Eastern European nations, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, all NATO members, is a possibility. The West therefore should act to avert “potential catastrophe.” This is a chilling prospect because Russia has used nuclear thinking and capability in every aspect of their defense capability.

Certainly there are problems. Noticeably, the Russian Black Sea fleet based in Sevastopol has been strengthened since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, to include submarines, missile corvettes and patrol boats. The Russian military presence in the Baltic Sea with ships carrying long range cruise missiles that can reach Rome or Cairo suggest it may have become a Russian lake. In April 2016 on one occasion, two Russian plans flew close to a American destroyer in the Baltic and on another day a Russian airplane came close to an American fighter jet in the Baltic Sea.

Russia has not abided by the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014 intended to ensure bilateral ceasefire in Ukraine , nor has Russia withdrawn illegal armed groups and military equipment and fighters from Ukraine. The sanctions imposed on Russia may only be lifted if and when the Protocol agreements are fully implemented.

Russia cannot be a superpower as was the Soviet Union, but it has a role in international politics. Yet, that role does not suggest launching an attack on the West. At the same time it does not suggest Russian withdrawal from Crimea or part of Ukraine.

This double reality seems to have been understood at the meeting in Brussels of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) at the level of Foreign Ministers on May 20, 2016. The alliance has agreed on a “dual track” approach towards Russia: maintaining and even reinforcing NATO defenses against a possible Russian threat, but keeping lines of communication to Russia open for political dialogue.

The reinforcement part is familiar. NATO is building a defensive Eastern European missile defense shield in Redzikowo, Poland, being serviced by troops, radar, and a launching pad. Its present rapid reaction force of 13,000 will be increased to 30,000 troops.

NATO was expanded in 2009 when Albania and Croatia became members.

It was surprising that on May 19, 2016, NATO invited the Baltic country of Montenegro, with a population of 680,000 and about the size of Connecticut, to participate in all NATO meetings as an observer. The question is immediate, is any further expansion of NATO helpful?  Moreover, NATO is planning to deploy 4 combat battalions, each of about 1,000 troops in Eastern Europe, as a deterrent. 

In response, Russia is deploying 3 military divisions along its western and southern borders, an activity that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called “nuclear sabre rattling.”

What is refreshing is the NATO foreign minister’s decision to revive the NATO-Russia Council that was created on May 28, 2002 as a mechanism for consultation and cooperation between the two sides, especially a dialogue on security issues. In April 2014, because of the situation in Ukraine, practical cooperation between the two sides was suspended.  It may be restored in an expected meeting of the two sides before the NATO meeting on July 1, 2016.  

Normalization of relations between NATO and Russia must be pursued. The two sides must cooperate, not simply on security issues in Eastern Europe, but on the more important problem of defeating Islamist terrorism. The next US President must ensure that this is the case and that it becomes a major priority.

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Posted on 05/21/2016 4:57 AM by Michael Curtis
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Saturday, 21 May 2016
French music festivals cancel Eagles of Death Metal performances over anti-Islam remarks
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A man witnesses the massacre of 90 people by Muslim terrorists; they are his fans and some are his friends. Then he, a victim, is the one punished when he expresses his displeasure. From Deutsche Welle.

Music festival organizers in France have canceled performances by the Eagles of Death Metal following controversial remarks by its frontman. The band's Bataclan concert was a target of November's Paris terror attacks. 

The Rock en Seine and Cabaret Vert festivals announced Friday that the band would no longer feature in their line-ups after its singer Jesse Hughes said in a magazine interview that he "saw Muslims celebrating in the street" during the November 13 attack on the Bataclan theater.

The festival organizers said they were in "total disagreement" with the allegations.

Festivals

French music festivals cancel Eagles of Death Metal performances over anti-Islam remarks

Music festival organizers in France have canceled performances by the Eagles of Death Metal following controversial remarks by its frontman. The band's Bataclan concert was a target of November's Paris terror attacks.

Jesse Hughes

The Rock en Seine and Cabaret Vert festivals announced Friday that the band would no longer feature in their line-ups after its singer Jesse Hughes said in a magazine interview that he "saw Muslims celebrating in the street" during the November 13 attack on the Bataclan theater.

The festival organizers said they were in "total disagreement" with the allegations.

In an interview titled "Surrendering to Death" published May 14 in the online "Taki's Magazine," Hughes also blamed "the liberal mentality" for fans' deaths. He also said he'd spotted at least one of the attackers in the venue before the concert.

Hughes is known for his pro-gun stance, conservative politics and support of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

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Posted on 05/21/2016 2:41 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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