Sunday, 27 January 2019
Rahaf Mohammed, Linda Sarsour, and the Question of Apostasy
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by Hugh Fitzgerald


Rahaf Mohammed

The saga of the 18-year-old Saudi girl, Rahaf Mohammed, has ended. She is now safe in Canada, where she was granted asylum, and was even greeted at Toronto’s airport on January 10 by Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. She had been on the run from her family who, she said, might well kill her. Her crime? Daring to think for herself. At the age of 16, she had apparently thought for herself, and decided to leave Islam. She did not announce it to anyone in her family, but from that time forth she began to plan her escape from Saudi Arabia. She was in touch by email with another Saudi girl, also an apostate, who had managed to make it safely to the West, and from whose example Rahaf took heart. She initially set her sights on Australia.

When the family traveled to Kuwait on vacation in early January, she saw her chance. Once they were in Kuwait, she managed to evade the rest of her family and returned to the airport, where she took a flight to Thailand. At the Bangkok airport, she was met by Thai officials working with the local Saudis. They took away her passport, but did not take possession of Rahaf herself. She checked into an airport hotel, where she locked herself in a room. Thai guards stood outside. An official of Kuwait Airways came to plead with her, through a closed door, to go back to Kuwait. Nothing doing. Meanwhile, Rahaf Mohammed was contacting her friends on her phone, social media spread the story, and her plight was picked up by major news outlets, including the BBC and CNN.

The huge international outcry led Thai authorities to grant UNHCR (United Nations High Commission For Refugees) access to her “to assess her need for international refugee protection,” the UNHCR said in a statement.

Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said: “Today really was a good day for the cause of human rights around the world, with Rahaf’s tremendous courage and resilience being met with a global surge of sympathy for her. It all came together to persuade Thailand to do the right thing.”

Rahaf was still in Thailand when her father and brother arrived in Bangkok. She refused to see them; she said she was in “fear for her life.” In any case, we can all imagine the kind of performance they would put on if she had finally consented to such a meeting. Aware that they were being filmed, the father would no doubt have promised, in the nicest possible way, not to harm her in the least “if only you come home now, my daughter, and stop making a spectacle that is hurting our family and our country.” His wary daughter didn’t give him that chance.

Rahaf’s public plea for asylum expanded to include Canada, the U.S., and the United Kingdom, as well as Australia. Canada was the first to respond, and now she is safe in Toronto.

It’s a very important case. Thanks to Rahaf Mohammed, the world has been given a good look at several aspects of Islam that deserve to be held up for inspection.

First, there is the demonstration that despite Qur’an 2:256, a favorite verse for Islamic apologists that says “there is no compulsion in religion,” the example of Rahaf Mohammed shows that there most certainly is “compulsion” in the religion of Islam. The threat of death for apostasy, which Rahaf Mohammed clearly fears, constitutes all the “compulsion” any Muslim needs to stay within the faith. As for non-Muslims, it is true that People of the Book, ahl al-kitab — Jews, Christians, and Sabeans — are permitted to remain alive, and even to practice their religions, but they can do so only as “dhimmis,” tolerated as long as they fulfill a long list of onerous and humiliating conditions, of which the most important is the Jizyah tax. And that explains why millions of non-Muslims have, over the centuries, converted to Islam, because they knew it was the only way to escape from the conditions imposed on them as dhimmis. That need to escape dhimmi status constitutes another kind of “compulsion in religion.”

Second, there is the treatment of this 18-year-old girl by her devout Muslim family, which has given the world’s Infidels a vivid idea of Muslim family relations, with a despotic father who exercises total control over his children, and where a brother can similarly act as an “enforcer” for a disobedient sister. For having her hair cut in a way her family did not approve — was it merely a matter of taste, or was it deemed un-Islamic? — Rahaf was locked in her room for six months. This is one example her own story has brought to the world’s attention, demonstrating  the kind of power wielded by Muslim males over an errant female family member. It’s a horrifying  picture.

91% of the honor killings in the world are committed by Muslims. This is, according to the Wikipedia definition, the “murder of a member of a family, due to the perpetrators’ belief that the victim has brought shame or dishonor upon the family, or has violated the principles of a community or a religion, usually for reasons such as divorcing or separating from their spouse, refusing to enter an arranged marriage, being in a relationship that is disapproved by their family, having sex outside marriage, becoming the victim of rape, dressing in ways which are deemed inappropriate, engaging in non-heterosexual relations or renouncing a faith.”

Rahaf Mohammed’s fear of being murdered by her family in such an “honor killing” was not farfetched. But in Thailand she had become a cause celebre, and had she been forced back to Saudi Arabia, it would have been much harder for the family to punish her in such a manner.

One hopes that that stout defender of women’s rights, Ms. Linda Sarsour, who has managed to present herself as an uber-feminist, and “leader” of the Women’s March, even as she defends that most misogynistic of faiths, Islam, will be asked her views on Rahaf Mohammed. Did she find the girl’s family outrageous for their having locked her in her room for six months as punishment for a haircut? That one should be easy for Linda Sarsour. Of course she does. But she has been mostly defensive about Saudi Arabia. She has repeatedly tweeted  praise of the Kingdom, for example, of its offering 10 months paid maternity leave, as if that should end all criticism of the Saudi treatment of women. She attacks those who think Saudi women should be allowed to choose how to dress — i.e., whether to cover or not, and if so, by how much — by tweeting that it’s a trivial social problem. She’s defended Sharia law — ignoring its severe punishments, for example, for all kinds of sexual behavior, and its unequal treatment of women (e.g., in inheritance laws and testimony in court) — by exclaiming, again deflecting attention from the real issue, “wouldn’t it be great” if all interest payments were abolished as under Sharia. In reply to criticism of the condition of women in Saudi Arabia, she answers that “there are women in the Saudi parliament,” as if that were a suitable defense. You can find more on her defense of Saudi Arabia here.

And what does Linda Sarsour say about those many Muslims, including Rahaf’s family, who think apostates from Islam should be killed? If she denounces that view, she would be denouncing a belief that is central to Islam. As stated by Muhammad in a hadith (Al-Bukhari 9:57): “Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him.” Will Linda Sarsour take issue with Muhammad? Or if asked to comment on Rahaf’s case, will she instead meretriciously offer, as I suspect, something to deflect attention such as “look, this girl was trying to get asylum, so she makes all kinds of wild charges about death threats and so on. I’m not surprised. And her little ploy worked — she’s now in Canada.”

By her own brave defiance both of her family and of Islam itself, Rahaf Mohammed has helped bring the subject of how Muslims treat apostates to the world’s attention. Many who knew nothing about how severely those who leave the faith can be punished will have learned, through Rahaf’s own story, of the threats of death she reasonably feared and, one hopes, of the hadith which supports that punishment, in which Muhammad gives his terrifying command to “kill [anyone] who changes his Islamic religion.” That ought to startle a good many people, who until now will not have known about the punishment for apostates from Islam. Her case will ideally lead to widespread discussion of this murderous hadith, which Muslims cannot ever disavow and Infidels cannot ever accept. It will be fascinating, too, to see how Muslim apologists will attempt, as they must, to defend that punishment. For without such a threat, how many millions or tens of  millions of “cultural” Muslims, or Muslim-For-Identification-Purposes-Only Muslims, would leave Islam?

Meanwhile, let’s ask Linda Sarsour, our Muslim Feminist Misogynist, if she is delighted that Rahaf’s story has a happy outcome and if she thinks we should all celebrate her bravery. Or does she think that girl should have returned dutifully to her family in Saudi Arabia, a country which Linda Sarsour has for so long defended? Complicating matters for Sarsour, the Saudis, apparently ungrateful for her efforts on their behalf, began in December to assail her for having her roots in the Muslim Brotherhood. What’s poor Linda Sarsour to do — keep defending the Saudis, or deepen the rift not of her making?

And let’s all keep Linda Sarsour in our sights, by asking her, on every conceivable occasion and on every conceivable platform: Do you agree, Linda, that those who leave Islam should be killed? Or punished in any way? Yes or no? How many ways can even Linda Sarsour possibly squirm out of answering that?

First published in Jihad Watch here and here

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Posted on 01/27/2019 6:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 27 January 2019
Andrew Scheer has a real chance of taking Trudeau down in this year's federal election
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It should, hopefully, be an interesting election, and we might get closer to two-party government than we have been since before the First World War

by Conrad Black

It is not too early to consider the next federal election, barely eight months away. The country has come to know Justin Trudeau well, and in general, he is well-liked. This is not unjust; he is an engaging and affable man. The country does not know Andrew Scheer well, though he generally makes a good impression with new acquaintances, and this too is appropriate: he remains the same amiable person the country first got to know as Speaker of the House of Commons. The leader of the NDP, Jagmeet Singh, is a completely improbable figure, resembling at first a Monty Python character, espousing a version of the socialist message that is pretty far left even by Canadian standards while sharply accoutred in an uncompromisingly Sikh manner.

The NDP will pay a price for having disembarked Thomas Mulcair, an effective leader in parliament and to some extent in the country also, as ungratefully and severely as they did. The whole business smacked a bit of the ethnic membership-packing that was widely alleged to have been in evidence in the elevation of Patrick Brown as Ontario Progressive Conservative leader. This is the sort of skullduggery the always virtuous New Democrats (scarcely new after more than 60 years), are not supposed to tolerate, and as politics often does, the rejection of someone so righteous as Mulcair by such methods, has its ironies. His party will shortly rue its action, if it doesn’t already.

The Conservatives appear to have adopted the strategy of preparing their campaign points discreetly, focusing on recruiting strong candidates and getting the party running smoothly. The one fly in this ointment has been the departure to start his own party of the runner-up at the last Conservative leadership convention, Maxime Bernier, who has now set up his own party, and is running candidates throughout the country. The evaluation of the Bernier apostasy is a bit difficult for an outsider. He is a very amiable man and a courageous politician. He ran an interesting campaign and is always amenable to new ideas, especially in economic affairs. For these reasons, as well as his personality, Bernier is a refreshing presence in Canadian politics. Though the margin of Andrew Scheer’s victory at the convention in 2016 was probably wider in popular votes than in the reported result, which machine-homogenized the complicated preferential voting system, he lost narrowly and it is customary to accord close rivals generous treatment in the party of the victor.

To form a government, Scheer will need a substantial lead in a sharply divided house of minorities

Bernier was excluded on the issue of dairy products price-fixing, where he is undoubtedly correct, but as in other countries, the farmers have immense blocking influence in the Liberal and Conservative parties, and Scheer was not trying, at the age of 36, to take control of a great national party and stage a quasi-political revolution at the same time. Bernier, the Conservative leadership asserts, was given plenty of room to represent the official opposition in his areas of specialty, but instead sulked and departed. He believed the model of French President Emmanuel Macron furnished him a useful and apt example, as Macron had never sought elective office and founded a party and was elected president and his party swept into office in the parliamentary elections, despite being almost a completely new and untried political force, with a radical program of renovation of all policy areas.

But it has not worked out very well so far, and there are no durable parties in France, except, to a degree, the communists (now reduced to a sliver of their former prominence). Traditionally in France, there is a conservative movement, long identified with General de Gaulle and his followers, a centrist conservative group friendlier to the Anglo-Americans than the Gaullists, a left-of-centre group, and then the socialists and the communists. At times in France in the 20th century, the socialists would unite with the centre-left as under Léon Blum, Pierre Mendès France and Guy Mollet, and at times with the communists, as under François Mitterand.

But none of these opportunities and complexities exist in Canada. I wish Maxime well personally, but hope he is eventually satisfactorily reunited with the party of his origins. This looks a little like H.H. Stevens, who splintered off from the Conservative government of R.B. Bennett in 1935, ran a renegade campaign but only succeeded in electing himself.

The Conservative strategy seems to be based on the view that Scheer could not compete with Trudeau as a glamorous leader or for name recognition, and that if he attempted to compete for media attention, he would be ridiculed, as were Pierre Trudeau’s opponents, Robert Stanfield and Joe Clark (the only person in history who ever defeated a Trudeau). Rather, the Tories seem to be hoping that if Scheer stays active and there for the notice of that section of the public that follows politics fairly closely, and otherwise prepares a thoughtful and well-organized and well-financed campaign, the country may generally turn to him to look at the alternative to Trudeau and see if it were tempted. They would thus, if Scheer met the test of seeming a plausible alternative, confer the freshness of novelty on him, and he could possibly gain ground very quickly. Win or lose, I believe this was the best strategy available and that it has been well executed so far, but the game is about to change.

If the Conservatives can make a mockery of some of Justin Trudeau’s less compelling moments, they could do serious damage

In Canada, one of John A. Macdonald, Wilfrid Laurier and Mackenzie King was either leader (or pre-Confederation co-leader) of the government or leader of the Opposition (and from 1887 to 1891, both) without interruption from 1856 (11 years before confederation) to 1948. Those three men led the government for 65 years and the Opposition the rest of the 92 years, a record with no parallel in the history of serious democracies. Since then, prime ministers get great mandates and then lose them after one or two terms, except for Lester Pearson, who never had a majority. Louis St. Laurent, John Diefenbaker, Pierre Trudeau and Stephen Harper all had strong mandates and then lost them. The exception is Jean Chrétien, because the Progressive Conservatives lost most of their western support to the Reform Party, and their Quebec support to the Bloc. It now appears that the Conservatives will gain six or eight MPs in the eastern provinces, from the Liberals, and 10 MPs in Quebec from the Bloc and the NDP as well as the Liberals. Quebec historically delivers almost all its constituencies to a French-speaking leader of the federal Liberal Party whom it respects, as with Laurier, Ernest Lapointe (Quebec leader for Mackenzie King), St. Laurent, and Pierre Trudeau. They are not so generous to French Quebec Liberal leaders whose prestige is not as considerable: Chrétien and Stéphane Dion and Justin Trudeau.

At this point, the Liberal lead east of Ontario appears to be balanced by the Conservative lead between the lakehead and the Rocky Mountains (no sane Albertan could vote Liberal and almost none will). The far west is a three-way fight and the election will be decided in Ontario. The government’s record is undistinguished and it has been absurdly preoccupied with gender and native rights issues and with wild ecological nostrums. If Scheer can emerge as a plausible alternative and present a program that impresses the country, especially an exit from the disgraceful imbroglio over pipelines and the nonsensical carbon tax, he has a respectable chance. If the Conservatives can make a mockery of some of Justin Trudeau’s less compelling moments, such as his stint in India as costumer-general of a Ruritanian opera company, they could do serious damage. To form a government, Scheer will need a substantial lead in a sharply divided house of minorities — from King to Pearson to Pierre Trudeau, the Liberals can always outbid the Conservatives for the support of third parties, whether aroused farmers, Creditistes or the NDP.

It should not be too much to hope that it might be an interesting election, and we might get closer to two-party government than we have been since before the First World War.

First published in the National Post.

 

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Posted on 01/27/2019 4:18 AM by Conrad Black
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Sunday, 27 January 2019
Bombs kill at least 27 people at mass in southern Philippines cathedral
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From ABC News Australia

Two bombs have exploded outside a Roman Catholic cathedral on a southern Philippine island where Muslim militants are active, killing at least 27 people and injuring more than 70 during a Sunday mass.

The first bomb went off in or near the Jolo cathedral in the provincial capital, followed by a second blast outside the compound as government forces were responding to the attack, security officials said.

Police said at least 27 people died and 77 were injured. The dead included 20 civilians and seven soldiers. Among the injured were 14 soldiers, two police officers and 61 civilians.

The initial explosion scattered the wooden pews inside the main hall of the cathedral and blasted window glass panels.

The second bomb hurled human remains and debris across a town square fronting the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, witnesses said. Mobile phone signal was cut off in the first hours after the attack.

Photos on social media showed debris and bodies lying on a busy street outside the cathedral, which has been hit by bombs in the past. Jolo island has long been troubled by the presence of Abu Sayyaf militants, who are blacklisted by the US and the Philippines as a terrorist organisation because of years of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings.

Aside from the small but brutal Abu Sayyaf group, other militant groups in Sulu include a small band of young jihadis aligned with the Islamic State group, which has also carried out assaults, including ransom kidnappings and beheadings.

No-one has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Posted on 01/27/2019 2:44 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 26 January 2019
George Will’s Spleen Defeats His Good Sense
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by Conrad Black

Once again, it is my unpleasant duty to take issue with my friend of nearly 40 years, the eminent commentator George Will. On January 18, he published a column in the Washington Post entitled, “The Shabbiest U.S. President Ever Is an Inexpressibly Sad Specimen.” Will has deployed his formidable polemical talents very consistently in describing the president before and since his inauguration as a vulgar, uncultured, impulsive, frequently infantile, erratic, shallow, and in his present position, dangerous man.

Unfortunately, some of the president’s less likeable foibles vest Will’s strictures with some plausibility. But as in his many previous verbal assaults on this president, Will’s policy objections to the administration are sparse and unsubstantial.

Will grants himself extreme liberties in psychoanalyzing the president, imputing motives to him, and mind-reading generally. He is, as he has sometimes said, like all of us, an “unlicensed psychiatrist,” an admission which acknowledges the unrigorous nature of these reflections, however entertainingly formulated.

Among President Trump’s many unusual accomplishments, he has reduced a number of America’s, and other countries’ most distinguished commentators to repetitive and vertiginously escalating invective almost devoid of serious analysis. Will and many others, every week, are just putting old wine in new bottles.

Will’s January 18 column describes “this incessantly splenetic presidency.” That is inaccurate as a description of Trump, but is a fair description of Will and many other commentators, who would, in earlier times, deserve to be read assiduously and considered seriously. Donald Trump is generally behaving more or less as he has in all the 40 years he has been a well-known public figure. It is George Will and many other generally less exalted observers of the Washington political scene who have abandoned all claims to reasoned analysis, and have been completely predictable and steadily more extreme in their disparagement of the president and his administration.Will writes that the economic condition of the country is “good,” except that there will be a trillion dollar federal budget deficit, despite full employment and minimal inflation. He holds that as the economic cycle deteriorates, severe recession impends. Those who dislike Trump predict failure for him. But a full-employment, low-inflation economy enjoying about 3 percent annual growth, and without large new defense-spending increases, would have a shrinking deficit, and the high end of this economic cycle could be longer than most.

Will’s only other substantive grievance about Trump is that he fears the president might make preemptive concessions, though he hasn’t to date, to North Korea, to continue its currently relatively civilized conduct. This is pretty thin gruel for such a savage attack on this president. Will mocks the apparent hiatus in relations with North Korea as the only accomplishment of “the artist of the deal.”

Beyond that, the president is criticized for being the 11th consecutive president not to take action on entitlement reform to prevent the entire social safety net from eventual bankruptcy as the population ages. The balance of the ferocious onslaught of January 18 is a severe dismissal of the U.S. Senate for the servility of its Republican majority to the White House, and generally for the low quality of its legislation and debate.

In fact, the Republicans in Congress sat on their hands and did nothing for Trump for nine months, waiting to see if the incessant Democratic and media speculation about impeachment had any legs. In any case, the many shortcomings of the Senate are not to be laid at Trump’s door, and it is not the purpose of the U.S. Senate to obstruct and sandbag the president at every turn just because George Will disapproves of him.

Will appears to have reached a state of morose resignation that will cause his friends, including me, to worry about the state of his morale. Commendably, he turns his heavy guns on Trump’s enemies, but he blames their contemptible state and conduct on the president. “His media detractors have sunk to his level of insufferable self-satisfaction by preening about their superiority to someone they consider morally horrifying and intellectually cretinous,” Will writes.

It is not clear, though these reflections beg the question, how George Will imagines that he is not a leading member of these legions of “insufferable self-satisfaction.” Will has met the enemy and he is one of them, and one of the victims of his withering friendly fire. He is himself partly responsible for giving “American life its current claustrophobic feel.”

Having assimilated the president’s enemies to the president, and having widened his target range effectively to the entire American political arena, to the point of shaking the ground under his own feet, his not always obvious generosity of spirit comes to the fore. Thus: “Dislike of (Trump) should be tempered by this consideration: he is an almost inexpressibly sad specimen. It must be misery to awaken to another day of being Donald Trump.“ It would be, perhaps if it were George Will who was awakening each day to face that fate; he might be miserable (and doubtless the reverse would be true).

But one fact to which all who know Donald Trump can attest, is that he is a very happy person and that he loves being president. If Trump chose to reply to Will’s allegations—“historical and childlike ignorance . . . an entirely transactional life . . . of single-minded self-promotion”—he would probably cite his success at accumulating money, celebrity, and the world’s greatest office, and offer some formidably acidulous reflections on his accuser.

Almost all the president’s detractors, and certainly George Will, have legitimate criticisms. The president often alarms or disappoints his supporters, by his verbal excesses, and administrative syncopations. But he has done a number of things as president that there is every reason to believe Will approves, such as withdrawing from the Paris climate and Iran nuclear agreements, adopting sterner measures against ISIS, countering dishonest Chinese trade practices, and demanding that most of the NATO countries pull their weight. Though his January 18 piece confirmed that he is no economist or authority on commerce, I imagine he would approve most of Trump’s tax reform and deregulation.

If George Will and the others of the president’s more rabid critics who were previously taken seriously for their insights and causes, could even once agree with Trump’s initiatives, as Bret Stephens did when the embassy in Israel was moved to Jerusalem, their acerbities about him would have greater weight.

Will refers to the White House as a place “where much magnificent history has been made.” George Will thought President Clinton “a sociopath,” and that George Bush Senior emitted “the tinny arf of the lap-dog.” He has rarely been generous and often incivil with all the post-Reagan presidents. It is his job to describe political people and events as he sees them and it is all fair comment. But even distinguished commentators should not always describe presidents of the United States as toadies crooks, misfits, and morons. Will esteems the presidency, and it will not do to describe anyone whom his countrymen have elected to that office as “an inexpressibly sad specimen” (though he may not have composed the headline) and as a “horrifying cretin.”

Whenever and however the Trump era ends, his opponents weaken their position by escalating the practices they disapprove in Trump even if they do so more polysyllabically. As British politician Boris Johnson said as he moved from journalism to seeking election, when asked his motive by other journalists, “They don’t put up statues to journalists, do they?”

First published in American Greatness.

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Posted on 01/26/2019 4:48 AM by Conrad Black
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Saturday, 26 January 2019
Mueller vs. Stone
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by Gary Fouse

On Friday, we learned that special prosecutor Robert Mueller's team had obtained an indictment against Roger Stone, a former advisor to President Trump, for lying about issues relating to information obtained by Wikileaks that related to the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton, and the Democrat National Committee. Pursuant to that indictment, FBI agents conducted a pre-dawn raid Friday and dragged Stone out of his residence in Ft Lauderdale, Florida.

As a retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent who participated in more pre-dawn raids than I can recall, my reaction to this is simply: Are you kidding me?

You can talk all you want about how everybody should be treated equally under the law, which is true. However, to carry out an operation such as was conducted to arrest Stone is limited to situations where arresting agents expect to confront dangerous resistance and/or destruction of evidence. Normally, people like Stone are arrested by a knock on the door by two or three agents or by notifying their attorney of the warrant and arranging for the person to turn himself or herself in.

This was the same tactic Mueller's team used to arrest Paul Manafort. Again, it was unnecessary and designed to draw publicity.

And how was it that CNN happened to be on the scene to report the arrest? Who tipped off CNN?

This is not only unprofessional but despicable. Here we have somebody within the law enforcement apparatus feeding information to a news outlet dedicated to bringing down the Trump presidency.

In the late 1980s, while I was a DEA agent stationed in Pittsburgh, our office was involved in an investigation into the manufacture and sale of fentanyl, a synthetic heroin that had led to the overdose deaths of some 15 heroin addicts in the Pittsburgh area. When the moment came that we carried out a pre-dawn raid into multiple locations to arrest the principle suspects, we found to our dismay that the news media had been tipped off and were present at the locations to report the arrests. This led to our having to carry out the arrests before we had intended to. In this case, we were not dealing with people like Roger Stone, but people whose actions were totally unpredictable. We had a good idea who had tipped off the media, but I couldn't prove it. However, in a subsequent telephone conversation I had with a supervisory prosecutor in the US Attorney's office in Pittsburgh, I told that person that whoever tipped off the media had committed a despicable act. He himself was not the person we suspected, but the reader may draw the appropriate conclusions.

I don't know a lot about Roger Stone, and don't know anything about whether he lied to Congress, which I would not condone. I do feel, however, that Mueller, who was the director of the FBI, is abusing his power. It is interesting that in his quest to bring down Trump, he has now ventured into the Wikileaks matter-without any attention directed to Hillary Clinton or the DNC, which basically fixed the primary in her favor. Mueller now has another scalp, but it does nothing to advance the case against Trump and whether he colluded with the Russians to sway the election in his favor. Mueller is no longer the director of the FBI, but he is dragging that agency back down to the level of when J. Edgar Hoover was director.

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Posted on 01/26/2019 4:27 AM by Gary Fouse
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Friday, 25 January 2019
Religious faith is guaranteed; all religious practice is not
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By treating anti-blasphemy initiatives and anti-western rejectionism as protected religious expression, Islamist enablers make a mockery of American values and freedoms.

by Matthew Hausman

Secular progressives lack moral clarity when they preach détente with radical Islam while disparaging traditional Judaism and western religion. They mock assertive Jews as chauvinistic or conservative Christians as puritanical, but defend doctrinal supremacists who despise liberal democratic values.

Though the left often cites constitutional principles to justify coddling Islamists, the Constitution does not mandate tolerance of religious extremism. Nor does it guarantee totally unfettered freedom of religion. Freedom of belief is certainly absolute, but the exercise of religion is not when it compromises the rights of others. Moreover, government has a legitimate interest in monitoring extremist ideologies that threaten public health, safety, and welfare.

America’s founding fathers envisioned a republic where individual liberties and communal obligations would be balanced in equipoise  Generations of immigrants were able to embrace the American ideal without abdicating their religious or cultural heritage because the Constitution requires no repudiation of background, imposes no national creed, and respects freedom of belief. It asks in return only that citizens pledge to uphold its principles. Immigrant Jews were able to thrive in this milieu because Jewish law provides “dina d’malchuta dina,” or “the law of the land is the law.” Accordingly, Jews always felt compelled to respect native laws, assuming that none prohibited observance of the commandments.  

But supremacist ideologies that undermine the rights of others conflict with the law of the land, and thus are subject to monitoring and – if necessary – restriction...

CONTINUE READING AT http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/23354

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Posted on 01/25/2019 1:48 PM by Matthew Hausman
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Friday, 25 January 2019
Lara Kollab Says She Was “Young and Foolish” A Few Times, And So Very Long Ago
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by Hugh Fitzgerald

Lara Kollab, the first-year medical resident in Ohio who for years has been tweeting antisemitic rants, including one where she said she would give yahoods (Jews) the wrong “meds,” has been advised to post an “apology,” no doubt ghostwritten by some PR firm. She has done so. It won’t do.

Here’s her attempt:

The Ohio doctor who came under scrutiny recently after a number of antisemitic tweets she wrote were unearthed has issued an apology.

Lara Kollab — a graduate of the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine — has faced calls for the revocation of her medical license over dozens of tweets she made between 2011 and 2017, including a 2012 threat to “purposely give all the yahood the wrong meds.” The Arabic term “yahood” means Jews in English.

Last week, the Cleveland Clinic — where Kollab worked as a supervised, first-year medical resident starting this past July until September — confirmed that she was fired due to the tweets.

In a lengthy blog post published on Friday, Kollab commented publicly for the first time on the controversy.

She wrote:

Several social media comments posted on my twitter account years ago have surfaced recently, causing pain, anguish, and a public outcry. I wish sincerely and unequivocally to apologize for the offensive and hurtful language contained in those posts. This statement is not intended to excuse the content of the posts, but rather to demonstrate that those words do not represent who I am and the principles I stand for today.”

Nonsense. Kollab did not post only “several” antisemitic comments, but many dozens, over many years, from 2011 on. The comments were not posted “years ago,” as she would like you to think. The last such comment was made scarcely more than a year ago, in 2017. Kollab has since attempted to delete the tweets, but a little late; they had already been recorded by CanaryMission.org.

The most discussed of her tweets is a threat she made to deliberately murder Jews, or at least make them ill: “I’ll probably give all the yahoods [Jews] the wrong meds. …” This is of course a violation of the Hippocratic Oath she took, but there were many other statements in the same vein, such as “Destroy the homes of the Jews” and, “May Allah end the lives of the Jews.”

When she was first notified that these tweets had been found, she denied having written them, and claimed they were from a false account — presumably set up to get her in trouble. Only after having been  confronted with dozens of such tweets, and with overwhelming internal evidence that she was indeed their author, did Lara Kollab finally admit to having written them.

“I visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories every summer throughout my adolescent years. I became incensed at the suffering of the Palestinians under the Israeli occupation.  The injustice and brutality of the occupation continues to concern me, and I believe every champion of human rights owes it to humanity to work towards a just and peaceful resolution of this crisis.”

This remark does not show much remorse. Instead she repeats the usual extreme complaints about “the suffering of the Palestinians under the Israeli occupation” and about the “injustice and brutality” of the Israelis. Not a word about the endless terrorist attacks by the “Palestinians”  in the West Bank, nothing about the missiles shot at civilian targets in Israel from Gaza, nothing about the pay-for-slay program by which the PA rewards terrorists and their families, giving generous lifetime payments for killing Israelis, nothing about the inculcation of murderous hatred of Jews in very young “Palestinian” children on television shows, nothing about the same hatred taught older children in textbooks,, nothing about the random murders of Jews, in workplaces, on the street, in pizza parlors, in homes, in cars, on buses, everywhere in Israel, by “Palestinian” terrorists. She sees only the “injustice and brutality” of those terrible Israelis; the “Palestinians” of Hamas and Fatah, though they have not hidden their intent to destroy the Jews and their state, are in her view entirely innocent victims.

“As a girl in my teens and early twenties, I had difficulty constructively expressing my intense feelings about what I witnessed in my ancestral land. Like many young people lacking life experience, I expressed myself by making insensitive remarks and statements of passion devoid of thought, not realizing the harm and offense these words would cause.”

In other words, Lara Kollab had no idea that threatening to murder Jews might have consequences. Yes, she now realizes, I suppose it is “insensitive” to express my desire to murder Jews with the wrong “meds.” And how, at my young age, could I have known that not everyone seeing my tweets shared my views, and some might report me. How was I to know that threatening, as a doctor, to kill my Jewish patients might be taken amiss, and cause “harm and offense” to people? But my last such tweet was “some years ago.” Oh, when? Yes, you’re right, in 2017. I had forgotten. But anyway, more than a year has gone by. Surely that’s enough time for me to have completely changed all of my views, and for you to believe that I have completely changed. Or are you one of those Jews — there are so many! — who never give us non-Jews an even break, but hold a grudge forever? How can you stand yourselves?

These posts were made years before I was accepted into medical school, when I was a naïve, and impressionable girl barely out of high school. I matured into a young adult during the years I attended college and medical school, and adopted strong values of inclusion, tolerance, and humanity. I take my profession and the Hippocratic Oath seriously and would never intentionally cause harm to any patient seeking medical care.  As a physician, I will always strive to give the best medical treatment to all people, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, or culture.”

Actually, Lara, those posts were not “made years before” you went to medical school. They went on for six years, including all the years you were in medical school. Have you forgotten? Indeed, they became steadily more vehement during your time in medical school and after graduating. You say you “take..the Hippocratic Oath seriously and would never intentionally cause harm to any patent seeking medical care,” but your remark about “giving yahoods” the “wrong meds” is as clear a contradiction of that Oath as can be found. Why was it that you had this sudden revelation as to your “real views” — the ones that completely contradict everything you have been saying about Jews and Israel from 2011 to 2017 — only when you were found out? Remember how you first solemnly denied having written them, then when confronted with so much incontrovertible evidence, finally admitted you had, and as a result you were then fired from your job at the Cleveland Clinic?

“I have learned from this experience and am sorry for the pain I have caused. I pray that the Jewish community will understand and forgive me. I hope to make amends so that we can move forward and work together towards a better future for us all.”

Nonsense. I don’t think she’s sorry “for the pain” she “caused.” She’s sorry for the pain that she herself has been caused, by having been found out. What she “learned from the experience” is to watch what you tweet, for all kinds of people may be listening. She learned that, as a doctor, it is inadvisable to make threats to murder your patients. Believe it or not, it could get you in trouble.

Here’s one conceivable way “forward” for Lara Kollab:

Over a period of six years, I wrote many dozens of vile antisemitic tweets, the worst of which was one in which I, a doctor, essentially threatened to kill Jews by prescribing the wrong medications for them. I am a “Palestinian” Arab who every summer would return to the Arab-run parts of Palestine, where I easily picked up the antisemitic attitudes of my extended family and friends, whose extreme view of the Arab-Israeli conflict led many of them — and led me, too — to hate Jews irrationally, even hysterically, as the sole cause of every misfortune. We blamed “the Jews” for everything. The vast corruption of our leaders, the lack of human rights under the Palestinian Authority, the greedy lords of misrule like Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal, the tactics of terror the “Palestinians” so willingly employed and praised, the antisemitism that was in the very air I breathed — none of this seemed to matter, made no impression on me. These were the views that festered within, and that kept me from any rational analysis of the situation, prevented me from understanding, in the slightest, the Israeli view of things. I was consumed with victimhood and with hate. And that is what led to those intolerable tweets. I meant them. They expressed what I felt. I first said that these tweets were written “some years ago,” but in truth I continued to write such tweets until 2017, when I finally stopped. And though I mentioned “several” tweets there were, in fact, several dozen.

I am attempting to explain, not to justify, my behavior. It has been intolerable, and I do not think I should be exempt from punishment. I have quite understandably been discharged from my job at the Cleveland Clinic, and I do not intend to try to continue work in the medical field in this country for at least five years. Rather, I will spend that time working as a volunteer — even as a nurse if my medical license is revoked — with medical groups overseas, almost certainly in Latin America or sub-Saharan Africa, but not in the Muslim Middle East. That should give me enough time to learn more, as I sort out my thoughts on what I did, and why I did it. I am convinced that in that time, I will become more understanding of those I had regarded, quite irrationally, as my mortal enemies. I have already acquired a long list of books on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including some that treat of Islamic history and the Jihad, that I intend to read during these next few years abroad. I would like to thank those people, not all of them Jewish, who sent me messages, not just to condemn what I wrote, but also to suggest the possibility that real change was possible, that even I might benefit from study of the conflict. And so I remain both horrified at what I have done in the past, and hopeful about the future.

First published in Jihad Watch here and here.

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Posted on 01/25/2019 5:00 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 24 January 2019
The Automated Speech Police
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Teaching computers to weed out online hate speech is a terrible idea.

by Paula Boddington

There are plenty of reasons to worry about the concept of ‘hate speech’. There are also specific concerns about the notion of Islamophobia, especially in light of controversial recent moves by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims to produce a definition. Both concepts are subjective and hard to pin down. But it gets worse. For around the globe, a cottage industry is springing up, attempting to devise ways to automate the detection of online ‘hate speech’ in general, and of ‘Islamophobia’ in particular.

The aura of scientific objectivity that goes along with the computerised detection of ‘hate’ online is very dangerous. You can’t make a loose and fuzzy idea rigorous by getting complicated algorithms and sophisticated statistical analysis to do your dirty work for you. But you can make it look that way. And worryingly, many of those working to automate ‘hate speech’ detection have direct influence on governments and tech firms.

Those working on such tools often see ‘hate speech’ as a problem worsened by technology. Hence they assume that the solution is more technology. For example, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is ‘teaching machines to recognise hate’ by working to produce an Online Hate Index. The ADL argues that a combination of a team of human assessors and a ‘constantly evolving process of machine learning’ can help us learn more about ‘hate’ online and ‘push for the changes necessary to ensure that online communities are safe and inclusive spaces’.

But in truth projects like this will only fuel attempts by social-media platforms and governments to chill debate. The APPG on British Muslims at least recognised that any definition of Islamophobia must not rule out genuine criticism of religion. But it is not at all clear that those working on the automated detection of Islamophobia and other ‘hate speech’ are taking steps to protect legitimate criticism and opinion.

In a recent article, two researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute, Bertie Vidgen and Taha Yasseri, discuss a tool they have built to ‘detect the strength of Islamophobic hate speech on Twitter’. Their work merits more scrutiny, not least because anything produced within prestigious universities, like Oxford, may have disproportionate influence on policy and practice. While, again, they nod in the piece to the difficulty of defining and detecting Islamophobia, they steam on regardless.

The researchers took samples from the Twitter accounts of four mainstream British political parties: UKIP, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and Labour. It then incorporated 45 additional ‘far right’ groups, drawn from anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate’s ‘State of Hate’ reports. For academics trying to be rigorous, this is unfortunate, since it is not always clear how consistently Hope Not Hate applies the label ‘far right’. What’s more, Hope Not Hate has a regrettable habit of calling people ‘wallies’, which hardly makes their work appear rigorous or impartial.

Islamophobia is defined, in this study, as ‘any content which is produced or shared which expresses indiscriminate negativity against Islam or Muslims’. Attempting to introduce a degree of nuance, a distinction is made between ‘strong Islamophobia’ and ‘weak Islamophobia’.

The methodology Vidgen and Yasseri use is similar to that of the ADL – they had humans assess tweets, then used machine learning to train computers to continue the work. The first weak spot is, of course, the human assessors. The authors report that three unnamed ‘experts’ graded tweets from ‘strong Islamophobia’ to ‘weak Islamophobia’ to ‘no Islamophobia’. I’d be willing to bet a fiver that not one of these ‘experts’ is critical of the concept of hate speech. Broad agreement on grading between these ‘experts’ is hailed as proof of their rigour – but it may simply be proof that they share certain biases. The subsequent application of machine learning would only magnify such bias.

Worse still, there are no examples given here of tweets and their classification. Instead we just have an illustration of ‘weak’ Islamophobia, as ‘sharing a news story about a terrorist attack and explicitly foregrounding the fact that the perpetrator is a Muslim’. This is flawed. After all, in the wake of a terrorist attack, it is a reflex of some on social media to deny that it has any connection to Islam, even when the evidence suggests otherwise. In response, other social-media users often point out that the attack definitely does have something to do with Islam. And besides, simply highlighting the apparent ideology of a terrorist is hardly hateful in itself.

What is also absent from Vidgen and Yasseri’s analysis are accounts of any prominent atheists, secularists, Muslim reformers or ex-Muslims. Accounts devoted to scholarly critique of Islam might reasonably be presumed to have some basis in fact and reason, and would surely be useful in training data for machine learning. There are plenty of generalised truths about any religion which can be expressed in negative terms. In the case of Islam, these could appear as ‘strong Islamophobia’. But no attempt appears to have been made to exempt such legitimate criticisms.

Vidgen and Yasseri, like so many others, fail to distinguish between people and ideas, between Muslims and Islam. This is a strange, but widespread, phenomenon. From this perspective, to attack someone’s beliefs is to attack their very essence. People are ideas, ideas are people, and critiquing one is a body blow to the other. This subjectivist, relativist position feeds into the concept of hate speech, and the claim that offensive speech is harmful. But in the context of Islam this produces a particularly curious spectacle: a subjectivist worldview being used to defend a religion that is supposedly based on the teachings of an eternal, unchanging deity.

In the end, the issue of hate speech is far more complex than many researchers might like to make out. Policing hate speech is often about deciding whose opinions need protection and whose don’t. At the very least, let’s not hand over that process to machines.

First published in Spiked.

Paula Boddington is a senior research fellow at Cardiff University. From 2015-18, she was a senior researcher in the department of computer science at the University of Oxford, working on the ethics of artificial intelligence. Her latest book is Towards a Code for Artificial Intelligence.

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Posted on 01/24/2019 3:59 AM by Paula Boddington
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Wednesday, 23 January 2019
Shutting Down the Shutdown
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A winning endgame appears for President Trump.

by Conrad Black

The logjam is finally starting to loosen in Washington. Readers may recall that last week I took it upon myself to urge the president to launch a four-pronged attack on the border-security/partial-government-shutdown impasse. I presumed to recommend that he offer the endlessly bandied-about “comprehensive immigration reform,” which has always meant doing nothing, but make it real this time, including DACA, deportation of serious offenders, and a path to naturalization for established residents with unblemished conduct. I urged that he declare a national emergency, start building border security, and declare in advance that judgments resulting from Democrats’ forum-shopping among flaky leftist district judges would be ignored until the issue got to the Supremes (presided over by a chief justice who claims that all judges lose their political prejudices on arrival on the sacred bench). I suggested that he also present a measure offering 60 percent relief to unpaid federal workers, and that he send three brigades of Army troops to the border to back up ICE officials and ensure that the present border is finally leakproof, though with rules of engagement to avoid live fire against illegal migrants.

The fact that he has taken an important step toward the first of these has been enough to shake up the ghastly Democratic morality play, with its promise that if the president just brings everyone back to work in the federal government, they will sit down with him in a spirit of compromise but will not give more than one dollar for any sort of wall or barrier. This won’t fly. The Democrats seem to have gained about three points in the polls so far, but that is a very modest return from the president’s televised utterance that he would be “proud to own” the shutdown. It isn’t enough to spook the president’s followers in Congress. And now he can apply the pressure. Obviously, the Democratic proposal that if he surrenders and humbly reopens the unpaid sections of government, they will graciously meet with him and waste everyone’s time again, as has happened with administrations and congresses of both parties for 30 years, is nonsense.

Let them stick to their guns, and then the president can raise the pressure with one or more of the other alternatives; but fairly soon, some sort of special relief to alleviate extreme financial shortages for unpaid federal employees should be provided. The Democrats could not vote against it, and once it was in place, the absurdity of the state of the government would fall entirely on them, shorn of their ability continue their tear-jerking sniveling about the Bob Cratchit desperation of the government workers. Discussions with the serious Democrats will start soon, and the president’s task is to add the ingredients of amelioration of the lot of the unpaid federal employees and increased border security by executive order until the Democratic morality play ends. It will end, either because the audience has effectively mounted the stage in hot pursuit of the actors in this inane farce, or because the discussions will enable the Democrats to take what is on offer and claim victory because they always wanted border security.

It is indicative of the supreme insolence of the Democrats — not just the leadership, but their whole congressional delegation — that they thought Speaker Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, and the rest could disinvite the president from the State of the Union address in the Capitol and then embark on a week’s official tourism and nuisance-affliction on the American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. This was the same contagion of impertinence that caused all 238 Democratic members of the House of Representatives to ignore a presidential invitation to lunch at the White House. The idea that the House speaker imagined that this was the time for her to go on a congressional junket to the Middle East must fill a great many reasonably nonpartisan Americans with the disturbing notion that the unofficial leader of the Democratic party, and second in line after the vice president to be president, is completely foolish and totally unqualified for high national office.

It is puzzling to consider what the source is of the Democratic leadership’s mad egotism. They were certain Hillary Clinton would be elected president. They appeared to believe that this president would be impeached and convicted and removed, largely on the basis of “evidence” furnished by a work of malicious fiction commissioned and paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. They imagine that they can perpetuate the regime of hundreds of thousands of illiterate peasants pouring illegally into the United States annually, along with a Mississippi River of lethal drugs and many violent gang member-outlaws; that the great cities of the country will all order their police forces to ignore federal immigration laws; and that federal census-takers carrying out their constitutional duty to establish the number of Americans in each state to determine their congressional and Electoral College delegations can be prohibited from asking the nationality of American residents. A reasonable person, who recognizes the historical attainments of the Democratic party and has often been a Democratic supporter, must ask what unutterable lunacy of cynicism, appetite, rabid partisanship, sclerosis, and good old-fashioned donkey stupidity must be informing the antics of that party’s leaders now.

It was 67 years ago that Dwight Eisenhower, moving for the first time into partisan affairs, said (privately) of the Democrats: “Extremes of the right and of the left with political chicanery and corruption shot through the whole business.” In fact, he was speaking of a party that had delivered outstanding presidential leadership for five terms under Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, and distinguished congressional leadership, especially under Sam Rayburn, Alben Barkley, and Lyndon Johnson, who continued through Eisenhower’s terms. General Eisenhower and his youthful successor (27 years younger), John F. Kennedy, provided the last decade of 30 years of high presidential leadership, surpassing anything the country had or has known. His strictures were harsh, though not unfounded: The Southern Democrats so influential in the Congress were in some respects corrupt and racist reactionaries, and many of the Democratic liberals were flaky leftists who did not have both oars in the water. But what could any accomplished person, no matter how appalled by crass wealth and bombast, and the whole Trump schtick, say of the Democrats now?

President Trump is the repository of several unfortunate traits. But he is the president, and a very successful one. Most of his Democratic opponents are harpies, hacks, and borderline subversives. He must win this battle to reestablish a border for the United States, as he has moved to reduce American dependence on foreign oil, eliminate the exploitation of the United States by foreign exporters, reassert nuclear nonproliferation, recalibrate the alliance system, and withdraw from self-punitive climate agreements and overexposed foreign commitments. The American people, not typecasting studios, choose the president of the United States. This president must win this battle with congressional Democrats over the border security of the United States. The implications of a Pelosi-Schumer victory do not bear thinking about.

First published in National Review.

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Posted on 01/23/2019 8:55 AM by Conrad Black
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Wednesday, 23 January 2019
Politics like Birds need Two Wings to Fly
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by Michael Curtis

Every responsible journalist seeks no pardon for asking what’s new or how is the world treating you, and refusing to wrap political and social troubles in dreams. If there is a model of integrity in reporting the news and analyzing troubles ahead it is C.P. Scott, longtime editor, 1872-1929, and later owner of the Manchester Guardian. His counsel in an essay in 1921 was priceless: “Comment is free, but facts are sacred… It is well to be frank, it is even better to be fair.” While pursuing a progressive liberal agenda, his emphasis was always accurate news reporting. 

It is sad that the mainstream U.S. media and many of those involved in intellectual endeavors do not abide by Scott’s maxim. Their sources may not always be wild again, beguiled again, bewitched, bothered, and bewildered, but a recent event comprising a publication by BuzzFeed and responses to it, indicates a continuing problem. BuzzFeed had reported, in a “bombshell report,” on January 17, 2019 that Michael Cohen had lied to Congress; it cited two anonymous federal law enforcement officials who alleged that Robert S. Mueller had evidence that President Donald Trump told Cohen, his former lawyer, to lie about discussions of a potential proposed Trump Tower to be built in Moscow. Some, if not most, of the pertinent information seems to focus on a meeting on June 9, 2016 at the Trump Tower in New York.

However, on the next day, January 18, 2019, in his first public statement on the issue a spokesperson, Peter Carr, on behalf of Robert Mueller’s office repudiated the story: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.” BuzzFeed did not accept the fact it had made a mistake or had misinterpreted the events it had publicized. 

Whatever the truth, several aspects are interesting. One is the refusal of BuzzFeed and CNN and MSNBC to accept the brief denial as an answer to its charges. The BuzzFeed editor, Ben Smith, stood by its reporting, and the sources who informed it, in spite of the fact that no texts or other documents had been produced to corroborate the story. His refusal reflects the reality that in general the mainstream media, and its journalists are more to the left in presenting news or opinions than is the median opinion of U.S. voters. This is not to say that the media on the right are faultless. However, discussion of the bias of the right has been open and frequent, whereas the bias of the left has not.

Criticism of the left media does not mean that one is adopting the argument frequently voiced by Trump about the assault on him by “Fake News,” or accepting his view of critics as “Enemies of the People,” or to agree with his policies and proposals on internal and foreign problems. The C.P. Scott formula should be espoused by news media of the left as well as the right because of concern about bias, the frequent use of misleading information, the fact that headlines of stories don’t always reflect their content or import, and the willingness of journalists to publish and of readers to consume or not challenge Fake News. Furthermore, the eagerness to condemn Trump results in the presumption of guilt rather than innocence; in this case the focus is to blame Trump for obstruction of justice, and implicitly call for impeachment of the President.  

There are wider implications, the question of bias in reporting and the lack of diversity in teaching as well as reporting the news. A number of objective studies and surveys have illustrated the bias on the left. One published in Politico in October 2016 showed that about 91% of news coverage of candidate Trump, who received considerably more broadcast news coverage than candidate Hillary Clinton, was hostile.  

Another factor is realization that technology has changed the nature of journalism. Patience is not one of the outstanding characteristics of the media. The initial, apparently inaccurate, BuzzFeed story immediately caught fire and went “viral,” though it may be a storm in a tea cup. Its accuracy was not immediately challenged by much of the media. This is surprising because BuzzFeed, the internet media founded in 2006 which became a global media company, is regarded by many as an unreliable source. Indeed, its editorial stated “we firmly believe that for a number of issues there are not two sides.” A Pew Research Center report concludes it is one of the most distrusted news sources in the U.S.  On January 10, 2017 it published the Christopher Steele dossier, the private intelligence report, with allegations that the Russian government had been cultivating, supporting, and assisting Trump for years. 

Allegations of this kind are mixed with past activity by Trump who had bought the Miss Universe pageant in 1996, later sold it, but brought it to Moscow in 2013, and was involved in negotiations to build in Moscow a Trump Tower, 100 stories high, to be the tallest building in Europe. There seems little doubt that Trump was interested in a Tower, part of his ambition to have his name on luxury buildings around the world. Nor is it deniable that Trump associates carried on conversations with Russian officials on the issue. Nevertheless, this does not lead to proof of Trump’s guilt in the issue of “collusion” between Trump and Moscow.

The rapid, unthinking acceptance of the BuzzFeed story of Cohen and Trump evokes the memory of the impact of the 23 year-old Orson Welles’ narrative and production of the War of The Worlds, the radio production on October 30, 1938, the evening before Halloween, an event that still haunts the country. The program, a modernized version of the story by H. G. Wells, was a hypothetical report on the Martian invasion of the U.S, told supposedly from Grovers Mills, N.J., a few miles from Princeton. The fake news broadcast of the invasion, interrupted by piano solos of Debussy and Chopin, and other orchestral music, was mistaken by many as a genuine news broadcast and caused panic among the listeners, though the number was not large. Welles never clearly explained whether his intention was to create panic in the audience, but he did acknowledge that his Fake News was mistaken for a genuine news broadcast. His success helped lead to a contract in Hollywood where in 1941 he co-wrote and directed Citizen Kane.

The troubling question is why Fake News is accepted by so many. It can be the sheer repetition of inaccurate information by the media, leading most people to be reluctant to challenge what they have heard or read. But an underlying problem, not often discussed, remains, the lack of diversity among reporters and to take the matter further, the lack of diversity in the teaching of public affairs in universities.

The diversity, and consequent bias, in the media is clearly shown, as Joan Shorenstein pointed out, by the liberal bias in news presentation. A Harvard study of the news coverage of the first 100 days of the Trump administration is enlightening.  The coverage was overwhelmingly negative: CNN, 93%, CBS and NBC 91%, New York Times 87%, Washington Post 83%, Wall Street Journal 70%, and even Fox News 52%.

Account should also be taken of the lack of diversity of political opinion in universities, since they have a responsibility to educate those who will become reporters as well as the general public. Education should emphasize the necessity to be free of bias in scholarship, the curtailment of free speech on university campuses, the dangers of ideological conformity, and outright discrimination. But studies show that political correctness pervades the campus, and that political leaning of faculty is overwhelmingly leftist and friendly to the Democratic party. An article in National Association of Scholars, NAS, on April 2018, of a sample of 8,688 tenure track professors from liberal arts colleges, shows the discrepancy. Overall, the ratio of liberal to conservative faculty is 12.7-1 if military colleges are excluded, and 10.4-1 if they are included. 

Figures for some colleges, Wellesley, Swarthmore, Williams, indicate the ratio of the faculty is 120-1 liberal. There are sharp differences in fields; engineering has 1.6-1 liberal and chemistry 5.2-1, and physics 6.2-.1; science is 6.3-1; social science 12.3-1 and humanities 31.9-1. Not a single Republican was found in gender studies, Africana or peace studies, or in the faculty at Bryn Mawr. At the extreme were liberal bastions, anthropology 56-0, and communications 18-0.

Great Scott! Universities should be reminded that a monologue is just a form of continuous fiction. It is time to focus on the bias, oversimplification, the inaccurate tonality, of issues presented in the media, the items chosen or neglected on an inherently ideological basis in the media and on the campus.

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Posted on 01/23/2019 4:37 AM by Michael Curtis
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Tuesday, 22 January 2019
Love Your Neighbour exhibition moved to Ilford
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by Philip Blake

I was interested in attending the Yad Vashem traveling exhibition that should have taken place in Golders Green recently. Sadly it was cancelled, as the Jewish Chronicle reported. 

The Love Your Neighbour Exhibition had been due to take place at the Markaz (Centre for Islamic Enlightening) in Golders Green, however it abandoned plans for the event — organised with local Jewish groups and the help of Israeli Holocaust centre Yad Vashem — after the Iranian regime’s media outlets criticised it for collaborating with “Zionists”.

A mosque in Redbridge has agreed to host the exhibition to ensure the story about Albanian Muslims who saved Jews is told. The precise location will be revealed closer to the event to ticket holders,

The Markaz faced a boycott, notably from 5Pillars, a Muslim news and opinion site that opposed the exhibition’s ties to Yad Vashem.

5Pillars editor Roshan Salih, who also works for PressTV, which is funded by the Iranian government, objected to the event being held at the Golders Green mosque, tweeting: “No to normalisation. Boycott Israel and Israeli institutions.”

On Twitter, PressTV UK described the Holocaust exhibition as “outrageous” and described it as an “‘interfaith’ event with Zionists”.

The story was then picked up by the Islamic Republic’s Mehr News Agency.

Mehr described the event as cooperation with a “Zionist institution”, and described the Markaz as a “Shirazi cult”.

When the exhibition was rescheduled I ordered a ticket for the alternative venue, the community hall in Eton Road Ilford which is the premises of the League of British Muslims.

Meanwhile 5Pillars had been busy putting pressure on the chairman Mr Bashir Chaudhry MBE.  But he didn’t cave in under pressure and I didn’t get an e-mail telling me the exhibition had been cancelled.  On Sunday afternoon I made my way across London and arrived in Ilford in good time. There were a couple of Police officers and community officers in attendance and some young men inside who were internal security. There was plenty of time to read the exhibit boards and chat to people.

The idea to bring the Yad Vashem exhibition to London in the first place was the work of the Groundswell Project in Barnet (Golders Green is within the district of the London Borough of Barnet) The exhibition was a series of boards of photographs by Norman Gershman telling the stories of some of the Righteous, with some introductory background information. It didn’t go very deep into the subject, but as a travelling exhibition, aimed at people who knew absolutely nothing to start with, it was pitched about right.

These are a selection.

At 2pm speeches began.

The first speaker was a young man, Yusef Patel of Redbridge Council. Redbridge council had been instrumental in bringing the exhibition to Ilford. Apparently he knows/has worked closely with Hadiya Masieh of Groundswell and when an alternative venue was needed he thought he knew just the place and just the man.

The next speaker was Mr Bashir Choudary MBE himself who spoke of the community work that goes on in this hall, not just a mosque, a church on Sundays and other useful work.

The next speaker was Hadiya Masieh of Groundswell. While she spoke of the ‘extremists’ who threatened the Golders Green mosque, she heard that there had been some minor trouble outside the hall earlier but it had been ‘dealt with’, she never mentioned what ideology motivated their extremism. We know they were not British, from the so called ‘Far-right’. We know they were not Tamil Tigers or the IRA. We know they are a Muslim group. But she, for whatever reason, glossed over that

The next speaker was called (I think) Edwin and he was something to do with Albania at the Home Office. He spoke about some of the recent tense history of the Balkans in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. Also how good to be able to see positive things done by Albanians celebrated as in modern Britain Albanians are associated with gang crime. 

Then Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE president of Shomrim in Stamford Hill and well respected in inter-faith matters who spoke about the holocaust and how neighbours, especially in Austria where his family had lived for centuries, could suddenly turn on familes they had grown up with.

I started off quite impressed at this plucky little community mosque in a back street in east London who had defied the Theocracy of Iran, and the general goodwill of Groundswell. Maybe the young people working for that orgaisation are naïve, but people of goodwill should not be discouraged

Then the next speaker was warmly welcomed, Fiyaz Mughal of Tell MAMA.

He first mentioned the darker actions of Muslims in the Balkans; it is an undeniable fact that Bosnian Muslims formed a small SS division, and Haj Amin al-Husseini the Mufti Of Jerusalem met with Hitler to discuss the Final Solution. Then he moved on to familiar ground. Islamophobia, and the rise of extremeism, and hate, and islamophobia, anti-semitism even, also without once mentioning the elephant in the room.

I had spent some time reading the glossy “Hate Crime – a Guide for those Affected” issued by amongst others Tell MAMA and the CPS which was on a table by the entrance door. I am also aware that he has a agenda of his own and can be opportunist.

The next speaker was Mike Gapes the Labour MP for Ilford South. He is known to be a friend of Israel, has clashed with Jeremy Corbyn more than once over anti-semitism, and has been attacked by Muslim groups for daring to consider the needs of  his Jewish constituents as well as theirs. He spoke well, but he couldn’t bring himself to name the extremism that had scuppered the Golders Green venue either. And he brought in alternative extremism with the murder of MP Jo Cox by a man who was obviusly mentally ill, but who had muttered something about Britain first as he struck.

What he did say, and it was the most emphatic mention of extremism (just omit the I and M words) of the afternoon when he spoke of the terrible crimes led and orchestrated in a street not very far from here.

Hampton Road, where Anjem Choudary lived until his imprisonment (and where his family may still live, his bail hostel and his famiy’s whereabouts is not information in the public domain) runs parallel to Eton Road 150 yards to the north. Members of al-Muhajiroun were a common sight at one time around this area.

Then Rabbi Wollenberg the representative of the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis who couldn’t be present as he was attending the funeral in Hertfordshire for six victims murdered in Auschwitz whose ashes had been donated to the Imperial War Museum. Rabbi Wollenberg was going on later to a circumcision of a baby boy; death, lives saved in Albania and new life, cause for hope.

Then Councillor Jas Athwall Leader of Redbridge Council.

Followed by the Commissioner for Countering Extremism Sara Khan. Again she spoke of the danger of extremism, without mentioning the ideology behind the threats which resulted in the change of venue, the ideology of Islam which has been responsible for, as Mike Gapes MP said, “so many terrible crimes”. Not to mention (and they didn’t mention) the hundreds of deaths in England alone since July 2007 attributable to jihad.

Finally Vivian Aisen Director of Public Diplomacy at the Israeli Embassy. She was brief. “I know there were some concerns about my arrival but I think this sort of venture is very important. I hope to hear of more such in the future.” She didn’t say who had concerns about her presence, and what those concerns were.

Yusef Patel began to conclude; it was running late and past the listed finish time. I had to leave.

Outside a police officer stood and a man from Barnet Holocaust History gave me a flyer “In order to learn from history it must not be selective” pointing out that while some brave Albanians were saving Jews, elsewhere other Albanians were joining the SS Skanderbeg Division (cf the Bosnia SS division raised by The Mufti of Jerusalem).

I think a lot of the people involved on Sunday meant well. But no good is achieved by constantly glossing over the most dangerous of the extremist ideologies at work attacking our society.

The text most often quoted that afternoon, which I know is in Judaism, and I suspect Islam took it from there is “If one saves one person it is as if one saves the whole of humanity and if one kills an innocent person, it is as if one kills the whole of humanity’ But define innocent. Muslims are never asked about the next verse in the Koran, the definition of a guilty (ie non-innocent) person. It is someone who ‘spreads mischief’ in the land. Often defined as being non-muslim, or critical of Islam, or what you will.

Anjem Choudary lived or will live again soon in the next street. Muslims who do not challenge the evil of that ideology are the sea in which jihadists like him swim.

To quote one of the speakers, they must not be bystanders, they must be upstanders.

 

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Posted on 01/22/2019 12:14 PM by Philip Blake
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Tuesday, 22 January 2019
'More and more people' would turn up at house where girl was allegedly sexually abused, court told
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From the Bradford Telegraph and Argus. The local paper is reporting this trial every few days - commendable!

A TEENAGER was drunk and high on cocaine when she was repeatedly sexually abused at a house in Bradford, a jury heard. She was 16 when she was taken to the address by men who knew her past and that she was vulnerable, it is alleged.

The witness, now in her mid-twenties, said she went to the house regularly and “more and more people turned up.” She was told to “get more girls” when the men’s relatives were visiting Bradford from London, Birmingham, Rochdale and Oldham.

The men would pass the girls’ phone numbers round, she claimed.

“I would have sex with one a couple of times and then it would be over and there would be another one,” she said in her police interview. The woman told how one man at the house “threw a tantrum” when he saw she and another girl at the address, saying: “They were mine. I found them.”

There could be 15 to 20 men at the house at any one time,

She told how on one occasion she was sexually abused by a man visiting Bradford, who also molested a 15-year-old girl who was in bed with them.

She began drinking alcohol when in care and said she and a friend from the home met Bash when he took them to a petrol station to buy a lighter, cigarettes and vodka.The woman alleged that Bash sexually assaulted her at a “shabby” hotel on Manningham Lane while her friend was in the same bed. She alleged that Bash, who worked at the Telegraph & Argus, changed his age all the time, but he was in his thirties and the girls were 14.

She alleged that the men knew she had been abused and took advantage of her and the other girls that were taken to the address.

The ten men on trial deny all the charges against them.

 

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Posted on 01/22/2019 10:49 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Tuesday, 22 January 2019
Mosque Open House at Texas A&M
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by Hugh Fitzgerald

“College Station’s Islamic Center hosts mosque open house,” by Rebecca Fiedler, The Eagle, November 4, 2018:

Graduate student Osama Qureshi worked with five black ink pens on Saturday afternoon, crafting ornate name signatures of Arabic calligraphy for visitors to the Islamic Center and Masjid in College Station.

“Islam is very iconoclast,” Qureshi explained as he transformed names such as “Graham” and “Samuel” into works of art, each syllable becoming a shape.

What fun to have your very own name, transformed into exotic Arabic, by a practiced calligrapher. “Yes, of course you may take it home. No, there’s no charge. We want to share with you the art of Arabic calligraphy. Just as we want to share our faith with you.” Words to that effect.

“[We] don’t like doing images of people’s faces, which is why this [mosque] is decorated very sparsely. Images are very looked down on out of fear they might lead to idolatry. So going off of that, calligraphy developed within Islam to basically glorify the word of God. There’s a [Plato] quote, ‘beauty is the splendor of truth.’ What is more truthful for a Muslim than the word of God? Now it has become the pinnacle artform of Islam.”

Osama Qureshi knows, but is not about to tell visitors, why “[we] don’t like doing images of people’s faces.” The reason why Muslims over the past 1,400 years have avoided depicting images not just of people’s faces, but of any living creatures, is that in a hadith, Muhammad reports that the angel Gabriel said he wouldn’t enter a house where there is a “dog or pictures.” “Pictures” have been taken by Muslims to mean all depictions of living creatures, whether in paintings or in statues. Thus, because of one hadith, more than 1.5 billion Muslims today continue to severely limit their means of artistic expression.

Qureshi’s calligraphy station was just one feature of the Islamic Center’s biannual Mosque Open House.

These Mosque Open House events ordinarily offer demonstration of a craft practiced by Muslims (though not only by Muslims), usually resulting in something tangible the visitors can take home. It might be a woman applying henna decorations onto the backs of female visitor’s hands, which those visitors can then proudly wear for a few days. Henna painting is not limited to Muslims, but no one need be told that. A favorite at these Mosque Open Houses is teaching girls the proper way to tie, and wear, a hijab. And some of the girls, given the hijab as a gift from the Islamic Center, will begin delightedly to wear those hijabs at home and school, in a multicultural masquerade. At the Islamic Center of Texas A&M, the main craft conveyed was calligraphy, and each student who participated came away with a card on which his or her name had been carefully written in Arabic by calligrapher Osama Qureshi.

Each public school semester, the Islamic Center hosts the event not just for Texas A&M students, but for any non-Muslims in the area to come and learn about the religion and meet the Muslims who live and worship in Brazos County.

I would say for most part, a lot of students don’t know anything about Islam, which is surprising to me because of how prevalent it’s been in modern American culture,” said Texas A&M Muslim Students Association president Mu’ath Adlouni, also a board member at the Islamic Center. “I think a lot of people know what they hear or see on TV. Many don’t do their own research; it’s a small minority. That’s why we have initiatives to try and teach people about Islam.”

“How prevalent it’s [Islam has] been in modern American culture”? Whatever can Mu’ath Adlouni be thinking of? Less than 1% of the American population is Muslim. Muslims have had a scarcely discernible impact on American culture — on American music, art, literature, science, philosophy, political thought. The knowledge about Islam of “a lot of people” comes from “what the [Americans] hear or see on TV” — obviously, in reports about terrorism — and that is what worries Mu’ath Adlouni, the fact that Islam is “prevalent” in those news accounts. “Many  [Americans] don’t do their own research.” He says, confusingly, that “it’s a small minority.” The meaning here is ambiguous. Adlouni might mean that “it’s only a small minority” of Americans who do their own research on Islam, and don’t just base their opinion of the faith on what they are shown on television, that is, Muslim terror attacks. Or he might mean that the Muslims you “hear or see on TV” — that is, terrorists, shown having killed or killing or threatening to kill — are “a small minority” of the Muslim population. Either way, he wants Americans to get beyond what they see or hear on television and learn about the real Islam. And what better way for those benighted Americans to “do their own research” than to come to a Mosque Open House, and be told the truth about Islam, by the people who know it best. That means Muslims themselves, so eager to share — no holds barred, ask-us-anything and we’ll answer! — that knowledge.

Several dozen college-aged men and women removed their shoes and entered the central prayer room of the mosque on Saturday, greeted by the aroma of hot pastries. Members of the mosque had cooked up multiple pans of a wide variety of foods from several different international cultures, spread out for the enjoyment of mosque guests. Two young women handed out shawls to any female visitors interested in trying out a hijab, answering questions about the garment. Visitors could pick up a brochure on different aspects of the religion, or even take home an English-translated Quran.

The food. At every single one of these mosque events, there’s always the savory, copious, and free food. The exotic delights of Arab and Pakistani cuisines. Visitors, first “greeted by the aroma of hot pastries,” enter a room where “a wide variety of foods from several different international cultures” have been “spread out for the enjoyment of mosque guests.” This food is not tangential, but central to these mosque presentations on Islam. A festive spread meant to create an instant warm feeling, literally and figuratively, for visitors, as they break bread with their kindly Muslim hosts, asking questions now about this strange food and now about that one, learning about spices new to them, such as zaatar, and even taking away a recipe or two, for curried chicken, manasheek, fattoush, umm ali.

Meanwhile, shawls are handed out to female visitors, who have a treat in store. For they will be taught how to tie and wear the hijab in the authentic way, from a real Muslim girl, and what’s more, they may get to keep the hijab, a gift from the mosque, and wear it whenever they feel like pretending to be Muslim. “Let me see how I look in the mirror? Wow, I could be in Baghdad, or Tehran. What fun!”

Not only do many people have much to learn about the beliefs practiced from[sic] the Quran, Adlouni said, but many also are mistaken in equating societal or cultural behaviors from Arabic nations with the religion Islam. Guest speaker Joe Bradford, an Islamic scholar based out of Houston, was brought in to explain Islamic customs and the five pillars of the faith, and to answer any questions from those in attendance. Most young visitors wanted to understand how Islam relates to Christianity, and what the Prophet Mohammed taught about Jesus and eternal salvation.

Which “societal or cultural behaviors” in Arab countries does Adlouni think should not be attributed to Islam? Could one of them be female genital mutilation (FGM), which we are often told is only a “cultural practice” having nothing to do with Islam? But this practice does indeed have something to do with Islam, as Robert Spencer has noted:

“Circumcision is obligatory (for every male and female) (by cutting off the piece of skin on the glans of the penis of the male, but circumcision of the female is by cutting out the bazr ‘clitoris’ [this is called khufaadh ‘female circumcision’]).” — ‘Umdat al-Salik e4.3

Why is it obligatory? Because Muhammad is held to have said so:

Abu al- Malih ibn Usama’s father relates that the Prophet said: ‘Circumcision is a law for men and a preservation of honour for women.’” — Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 5:75

Narrated Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to her: ‘Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.’” — Abu Dawud 41:5251

“Do not cut severely,” but not “Do not cut.”

What other Muslim practices will be attributed to “societal or cultural behaviors”? The practice of polygamy? After all, non-Muslims too have been polygamous. But as with FGM, Islam specifically recognizes and endorses the practice in a Qur’anic verse:

Quran (4:3) – “Marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess.”

Muslims frequently claim that the “misogyny” of Muslim males is a “cultural behavior” unrelated to Islam. Is this true? A Muslim man can “beat” his wife if she is disobedient, not because it is a “cultural practice,” but because Qur’an 4:34 gives him that right. A Muslim woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man not because of some “societal or cultural behavior,” but because of a line in Qur’an 2:282 which says “And bring to witness two witnesses from among your men. And if there are not two men [available], then a man and two women from those whom you accept as witnesses – so that if one of the women errs, then the other can remind her.” Furthermore, a Hadith reinforces this unequal weighing of testimony, when Muhammad says that the reason for such a rule is “the deficiency in her [woman’s] intelligence.”

Jocelyn Lopez, a Texas A&M freshman, attended the open house with her friends Abby Seifried, a recent Aggie graduate, and Laura Pepper, a junior at A&M. All three are Christians but were intrigued to learn about a faith shared by several other people in their friend groups and hometowns. None of the young women had ever stepped into a mosque before.

There were definitely a lot of different things I didn’t know about Islam, like how Islam, Christianity and Judaism connect, how many of the prophets are shared,” Lopez said.

What did Jocelyn Lopez learn? She learned that Islam is “one of the three great monotheisms.” She learned that Islam is “one of the three great abrahamic faiths.” She undoubtedly learned that Muslims revere Mary, after whom Sura 19 in the Qur’an is named. She learned that Mary is mentioned more often in the Qur’an than in the New Testament. She learned that there were dozens of prophets who preceded Muhammad, including Adam, Moses, Noah, and many others. She was told that Jesus is “revered” by Muslims and that the Qur’an mentions him as a “prophet” dozens of times, providing accounts of his birth, miracles, and death. She may not have been told that Muslims believe Jesus died a natural death. She may have had cited to her the Qur’anic verse in which Allah proclaims: “O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection” (Quran 3:55). This verse can easily mislead, because “those who follow you” refers only to Muslims, and “those who disbelieve” are the Christians, something Ms. Lopez is not likely to have grasped. And the words “I will take you and raise you to Myself” would seem, to a Christian like Jocelyn Lopez, to be referring to the Resurrection. One can imagine the very words of the Muslim host, designed to appeal to Christians: “Yes, we revere Mary, who has a whole chapter in the Qur’an devoted to her. And we Muslims revere Jesus even more. We believe in the virgin birth, and in Jesus as a great prophet….” The  admission that for Muslims, Jesus is not the Son of God, would  be passed over quickly. Nor would Ms. Lopez and her Christian friends realize that Muslims claim those who believe Jesus  to be the Son of God are guilty of shirk, or polytheism.

The women agreed they feel it important for people of other religious beliefs to spend time with Muslims, educating themselves.

“I love people, and I love knowing what they believe,” Seifried said. “I believe Jesus created the whole world and its people. And I want to know what those people believe in.”

Such naivete hasn’t  much of a chance against Muslims well-versed in misleading the Unbelievers. How does spending “time with Muslims” help non-Muslims to “educate themselves”? In this particular instance, there’s the calligraphy, at the mosque, and the visitor’s name in Arabic that he or she gets to keep, and the lessons in hijab etiquette, and if you’re a girl, you are given your very own hijab to wear in the mosque and that you may get to keep, and then there’s all that varied and exotic food to sample, contributing to a cozy atmosphere of fellowship and bonhomie. But how will these visitors be “educating themselves” about Islam? Their Muslim hosts will of course begin by naming, and briefly describe, s-l-o-w-l-y so that everyone can write them down, the Five Pillars of Islam, taking care to stop at each Arabic word, to spell it out and, in discussing it, contribute to the illusion that something significant has been learned. The visitors are excited to hear, and some will write down, the words and their meanings: Shehada (the Profession of Faith), Salat (Prayer, including the Five Daily Prayers), Sawm (Fasting, including Ramadan), Zakat (Charity, though the requirement that the Zakat be given only to fellow Muslims will not be mentioned), and Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca, obligatory once in a Muslim’s life, if he or she can afford it). Time for the usual questions, too. “What exactly do you give up for  Ramadan?” “Why do Muslims turn toward Mecca to pray?” “What if a Muslim can’t say all of the Five Daily Prayers?” “How many days do you stay in Mecca for the Hajj”? Questions at that level, but nothing, you can be sure, about how Muslims think of, and how they treat, Unbelievers.

The Muslims at the mosque will be happy to explain all the things that Islam shares with Christianity. They will claim — either just before or just after the Five Pillars are discussed — that the root of the word “Islam” means  “peace,” confident that no one will contradict them. They will explain what “sura” and “ayat” mean, and how the suras are arranged in the Qur’an. They will offer some dates for the  birth, death, and major events — chiefly battles — in the life of Muhammad. Then it’s onto the Qur’an, and the two verses that are always trotted out by apologists for Islam. The first is “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256). Visitors will take this verse at face value. Why should they question it? They will not know that there is most definitely “compulsion in religion” in Islam for both Muslims and for non-Muslims. For Muslims, the compulsion is to remain in the faith: apostates from Islam can be executed. Muhammad himself said in a hadith: “Whoever changes his [Islamic] religion, kill him.” A possible death sentence for apostasy certainly constitutes “compulsion in religion.” As for non-Muslims, they have three possible options when they live under Muslim rule: death, or conversion to Islam, or the permanent status of dhimmi, which requires them to submit to a host of onerous conditions, including payment of the tax known as the Jizyah, which assures their safety from attacks by Muslims. Many people over the last 1,400 years have chosen to convert to Islam not out of conviction, but in order to escape from those harsh conditions imposed on dhimmis. That pressure to convert constitutes, again, compulsion in religion.

The second Qur’anic verse that the visitors to this Texas mosque are likely to be given is the abridged version of 5:32: “If any one slew a person… it would be as if he slew a whole people; and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of a whole people…” This seems on its face to be a statement against murder. But the full version of 5:32 reveals it to be a statement about when the killing of a person is justified, and it is directed not to everyone, but only to the Children of Israel:

“On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”

In other words, far from condemning killing, 5:32 sets out the reasons that justify such killing: “for murder or for spreading mischief (fitna) in the land.” “Spreading mischief in the land” can amply accommodate whatever Muslims want it to mean; one kind of mischief is opposing the will of Allah. When 5:32 is read together with 5:33, which gruesomely describes the punishment to be meted out to those who “murder or spread mischief in the land,” that is, crucifixion and “the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides,” the meaning of 5:32  becomes clearer still.

Do you think any of the visitors to the mosque would  know enough to ask about the 109 Qur’anic verses that command Muslims to engage in violent Jihad? Or enough to ask about the verses that instruct Muslims to “strike terror” in the hearts of the Infidels? And how could they possibly imagine that the Qur’an describes Unbelievers as “the most vile of creatures,” especially given the warm welcome they have received? Do you think anyone mentioned the word “dhimmi” during that open house? Don’t be silly.

So the evening will come to a close. The visitors will have learned, they allow themselves to believe, a lot about Islam. They will bring home those cards, with their names written on them in Arabic by a real calligrapher — their new friend Osama Qureshi — to put up on their walls. The girls will be proudly wearing the hijabs they’ve been given, and that they now know how to fold correctly.

And they learned so much.

All the visitors are enthusiastic about the Open House, and the wonderful food they’ve eaten, and the recipes they’ve been given, and the unfailing kindness of their hosts. And they’ve learned…Well, let’s see. The Five Pillars are Shahada, and Salat, and Zakat, and Hajj , and…what’s the fifth one? Oh yes, Sawm. That’s five. The Five Pillars. And Mecca, you turn toward Mecca to pray. It’s in Arabia. And Islam means “peace.” The Qur’an is just like our Bible. There is no compulsion in religion in Islam. You can believe what you like. No one forces you. That’s a relief. And Muslims learn that if you kill one man, it’s as if you killed the whole world. That’s what the Qur’an says. That’s good to know. And Islam is one of the three great abrahamic faiths. Jesus is a revered prophet in Islam, a close second to Muhammad. Sounds like he’s almost equal, in fact. And Mary has a whole chapter of the Qur’an devoted to her. Muslims, Christians, and Jews got along so well in the old days, especially in Spain, so why can’t they all get along again today? Nothing’s holding them back, except the tiny handful of extremists on both sides whipping up bad feelings. That’s plenty to learn in one evening. How much more can there be? They gave me a Qur’an to keep, but after tonight I’m not sure I really need to read it. I think I’ve got the basics pretty much down. Besides, I like to get my information from Muslims themselves, straight from the horse’s mouth, not from a book that I probably wouldn’t understand. If I wanted to learn about Christianity, wouldn’t I talk to Christians? Maybe I’ll dip into it next summer. Gosh, that curried lamb was good. And the baklava — out of this world! Now I have my name in Arabic calligraphy to tape to my door. My roommate told me I probably wouldn’t learn much of anything at this Mosque Open House. But he majors in Western Civ. What does he know?

First published in Jihad Watch here, here and here.

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Posted on 01/22/2019 4:25 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 22 January 2019
Second Scout volunteer suspended and more groups referred to police amid extremism concerns
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From the Telegraph

The Scout Association has suspended a second volunteer and referred four more mosques to the police over extremism concerns following a Telegraph investigation.

Hussain Al-Rawni, (left) who runs the 304th Birmingham Scout Group on behalf of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), was placed under investigation after he was linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, which a 2014 Government report found has ‘consistently opposed programmes… to prevent terrorism”.

The move comes after Ahammed Hussain, leader of the Lewisham Islamic Centre’s scout programme was suspended and referred to the police last week after a Telegraph investigation exposed safeguarding concerns.

Like the Lewisham mosque, Mr Al-Rawni’s group segregates groups according to gender - contrary to the Scouts’ own policy.  

The 309th Birmingham group based at Green Lane mosque in London and the 466th Manchester group based at Khizra mosque also flout the co-education policy.

The mosques have been referred to the police along with three others under investigation by the Scouts - the East London Mosque, which hosts the Rashidun Scouts Group, the As-Suffa Institute, which hosts the 327th Birmingham Scout Group and the Cheadle Mosque hosts the 4th Heald Green CMA Scout Group.

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Posted on 01/22/2019 3:27 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Monday, 21 January 2019
Buzzfeed Bombshell Dud
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by Gary Fouse (hat tip: Daily Caller)


Anthony Cormier and Ben Smith on CNN's Reliable Sources

This morning, Anthony Cormier, one of the two investigative reporters who broke the Buzzfeed story on President Trump Thursday night, appeared with Buzzfeed's editor-in-chief, Ben Smith on CNN's Reliable Sources, hosted by Brian Stelter. Daily Caller has a report with the entire interview.

Like anyone else, I do find it odd that the other reporter, Jason Leopold, was unavailable ("out on a story"). Also significant was Cormier's "Can't get into details" on the question of whether one or both reporters had seen the alleged documents involved. As we know, Cormier said previously that they themselves had not seen documents while Leopold claimed that he had seen documents. It is a confusing contradiction and Cormier failed to clear it up. He used the issue of protecting the confidentiality of his sources to avoid the central question: Did he and/or Leopold see documents and why are there two different answers?

Then there was Carl Bernstein, who appeared next. He added little to the central question of whether the Buzzfeed story was true or not. He preferred to go on a rant about Trump, his Russian interests, and his lies. "Lies, lies, lies".

So where does this go? It is too soon to say there is no truth to the accusation that Trump instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the timing of when his Trump Tower project in Moscow was terminated. Do we care that Trump was negotiating to build a hotel in Moscow? Probably not though it would have been the proper thing to do to drop it as soon as he decided to run for president. The alleged crime is that he told Cohen to lie about it before Congress. Is that true? We don't know.

We also don't know about these two anonymous sources close to the Mueller investigation. Are they part of Mueller's team, FBI, or what? Do they even exist? If they do, they are guilty of unprofessional conduct, or worse, in revealing sensitive material in a major on-going investigation.

And this question of whether any of these reporters actually saw documents really leaves this whole report very shaky, indeed. Are the reporters and Buzzfeed guilty of sloppy reporting? Did they simply get it wrong? Are they guilty of something much worse? In other words, did they make it up? Again, we don't know, but we are living in an age where we have an agenda-driven media that is determined to destroy the Trump presidency. We also have people in the highest levels of federal government who also want to bring Trump down. We have already been shown the despicable actions of people like Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, and others who have abused their power to try and submarine a presidential candidate and sway an election to Hillary Clinton.  

But back to the media. CNN, like others, gleefully ran with this story even while dutifully stating that they had not verified it themselves. The standard line was, "If this is true..." followed by speculation about the end of the Trump presidency. Stelter himself said that CNN ran with the story, other major outlets ran with the story, and even Fox "a little bit".

Good for Fox.

CNN and the rest of the media desperately want this story to be true for two reasons. First, they hate Trump and want to see him removed from office. Second, their own industry and their own respective companies have put themselves on the line with this story. They claim they have given the proper disclaimers, but they know they had a field day with this until Mueller's office disputed the story. Now they are in protective mode. Now they have to ask "hard questions" of Buzzfeed as Stelter did- "a little bit".

If it turns out that this story is untrue or simply cannot be verified, it does additional damage to the credibility of not only Buzzfeed but our media in general-as if they need any more hits to their credibility. Who in this country still believes our media is fair and accurate? We need to have a free media, one that can criticize and question our government, even investigate it. What we have now is a media with a leftist, partisan agenda, a media that shills for the Democrat party and is determined to bring down President Trump. How many hours a day does CNN spend not talking about Trump?

Right now, we don't know where this is going to lead. If it turns out everything these reporters say is true, shame on Trump. But shame also on the supposed sources who leaked details of an investigation to the media. If the report is just fake news, shame on our media. Either way, this episode is bad news for the nation. (No pun intended.)

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Posted on 01/21/2019 7:08 AM by Gary Fouse
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