Saturday, 31 October 2020
Orthodox priest injured in French shooting, assailant has fled: police source - Update, it looks like a personal dispute.
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PARIS (Reuters) - An orthodox priest has been injured in a shooting in the French city of Lyon and the assailant,armed with a sawn-off shotgun. has fled, a police source said on Saturday.

The priest was fired on twice at around 4pm local time as he was closing the Greek Orthodox church, and was being treated on site for life-threatening injuries, the source said.

The assailant is thought to be at large after fleeing the scene on Rue Saint-Lazare in 7th arrondissement of the city, a police source said on Saturday. 

A nasty weapon I usually associate with the more old time English Post Office robber. Not bound to be a jihadist attack of course, the Avignon incident wasn't, but the likelihood is high.

Update - a man had been arrested in a kebab shop; he isn't necessarily the man in the long black coat and hat police sought immediately after the shooting. According to The Times the police are not treating it as terrorism. And

The priest, Father Nikolaos Kakavelakis who is employed by the Greek education and religious affairs, had been involved in a conflict with a former orthodox monk, Jean-Michel Dhimoila, who had accused him online of financial impropriety and sexual harassment, French media reported.

Father Nikolaos denies the claims and brought a libel suit in 2018 against Mr Dhimoila who was ordered to pay him damages.

Father Antoine Callot, also a Greek orthodox priest in Lyons, said there had been a conflict at Father Nikolaos’ church since his arrival in 2007. “There were police interventions after they were called by Father Nikolaos, at least once if not several times. There were fights in the church,” he said.

It is understandable why everybody is so tense. 

 

 

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Posted on 10/31/2020 11:40 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 31 October 2020
Muslims Around the World Want to Punish France; Where is the West’s Solidarity with the French?
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by Hugh Fitzgerald

The murder of a French middle-school teacher by a Muslim fanatic would, one would have thought, led to an expression of horror worldwide, and a demand not only in France but by non-Muslims everywhere that the Muslim political leaders and clerics denounce that murder in no uncertain terms. Alas, that is not what has happened. Instead, it is the Muslim lands that are now intent on punishing France with economic boycotts. It is French visitors who are being warned to be wary in Muslim lands, lest they be attacked by Muslims “getting back” at France by attempting to murder its nationals abroad. This dangerous situation is discussed here: “France Warns Citizens to Be Cautious as Anger Seethes in Muslim World Over Cartoons,” Algemeiner, October 27, 2020:

France warned its citizens living or traveling in several Muslim-majority countries to take extra security precautions on Tuesday as anger surged over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad….

France’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday issued safety advice to French citizens in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iraq and Mauritania, advising them to exercise caution. They should stay away from any protests over the cartoons and avoid any public gatherings.

“It is recommended to exercise the greatest vigilance, especially while traveling, and in places that are frequented by tourists or expatriate communities,” it said.

The French Embassy in Turkey issued similar advice to its citizens there….

The French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmarin, has been like a rock in the current crisis: he will give no quarter to Muslims in or out of France who threaten the French state, French economic interests, or individual French people. Neither he nor President Macron has any patience for those who presume to dictate what can be discussed or shown in a French school or, indeed, anywhere in France. They have come down firmly on the side of free speech in the case of the cartoons of Muhammad, and have had the “forces of order” (the police and other security personnel) rounding up Muslims suspected of terrorist ties, including those who were sought most immediately for having whipped up the Chechen murderer of Paty or, after Paty’s murder, of celebrating it on social media.

Paris has recalled its ambassador in Ankara, and Pakistan’s parliament on Monday passed a resolution urging the government to recall its envoy from Paris….

Erdogan, the Turkish despot, has been the most outspoken in his criticism of President Macron for defending the exercise of free speech – including the use of cartoons of Mohammad in.a discussion of that very subject in a middle-school class. Erdgoan, of course, is an expert on free speech, a past master on how to curtail it; under his rule, more journalists have been jailed in Turkey than in any other country.

Since the beheading of the teacher Paty this month, the cartoons have been displayed in France in solidarity, angering some Muslims.

The cartoons have been displayed “as an act of solidarity” with the murdered teacher, a martyr to free speech, and also, by implication, with the nine cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo who were killed in 2015 by the Kouachi brothers for originally publishing those Muhammad cartoons. Some Muslims have been angered by this sympathy for Samuel Paty. How do those Muslims think the French feel about his murder? Or are these angry Muslims completely lacking the empathetic imagination? Yes, that seems to be the case. After all, why should the “best of peoples,” the Muslims, care what the Infidels – who are “the most vile of created beings” — think about anything?

President Emmanuel Macron, who met representatives of France’s Muslim community on Monday, has pledged to fight “Islamist separatism,” saying it was threatening to take over some Muslim communities in France.

Macron will now discover, to his chagrin, that there are areas in France where the “Islamist separatism” is not just “threatening” to take over, but has already taken over many no-go neighborhoods in French cities. In these areas heavily populated by Muslims, non-Muslims fear to visit, and that includes representatives of the French state, such as the police and firemen and sanitation men, who enter these neighborhoods only under guard; such areas as Seine St.-Denis in Paris, Lunel just outside Montpellier, the 3rd arrondissement in Marseille, the Empalot neighborhood of Toulouse, are already examples of “Islamist separatism.”

Saudi Arabia appeared to be taking a moderate response to the controversy, steering clear of boycott calls. A Saudi foreign ministry official said on Tuesday the Gulf state condemns all acts of terrorism, an apparent reference to Paty’s killing.

“Freedom of expression and culture should be a beacon of respect, tolerance and peace that rejects practices and acts which generate hatred, violence and extremism and are contrary to coexistence,” the official said in a statement….

The Saudis were in this case a force for moderation, counseling against an “overreaction” by Muslims to Macron’s remarks, refusing to join the calls for a boycott of French goods, and even condemning as “terrorism” the murder of Samuel Paty. Of course they also obliquely criticized Paty: “freedom of expression…should be a beacon of respect, tolerance, and peace” that “rejects practices and acts which generate hatred, violence, and extremism.” In other words, freedom of expression means, in Muslim terms, “if you can’t say something nice [about Islam], don’t say anything at all.” If you criticize or mock Islam in any way, that will only, and quite justifiably, “generate hatred, violence, and extremism [from Muslims] – such a reaction is the fault of those Infidels who were clearly intent on inflaming Muslims, and succeeded. Blame the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, blame Samuel Paty. But don’t blame Muslims for defending the honor of their Prophet.”

Turkey’s Erdogan on Monday asked his compatriots to stop buying French goods and accused France of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda….

Apparently, for Erdogan, Macron’s refusing to denounce the use of the cartoons of Muhammad in a class on freedom of expression, his stout defense of free speech, makes the French President guilty of having an “anti-Islam agenda.” He clearly does not understand: Macron would defend just as stoutly any similar cartoons of Moses, Jesus, or the Buddha. Freedom of expression is clearly something that Erdogan cannot comprehend.

A great many Muslim states – Iran, Turkey, Pakistan – are determined to express their own displeasure with Macron and France, each one wanting to be perceived as the most fervent defender of the honor of the Prophet, and none of them showing the slightest inclination to respect French laws defending freedom of speech. They hope to attain, through a boycott of French goods, a surrender of its free-speech principles; they are most mistaken. Macron will not back down, no matter how much economic damage a boycott of French goods might do. And so far, not a single Muslim nation has imposed such a boycott in law; even Erdogan, who has been most outspoken in his attacks on Macron, has called for a boycott but not imposed it in the law by banning all French imports.

So many Muslims around the world now want to punish France for the unpardonable sin of defending free expression. Where is the Western solidarity in all this? Where are the statements by American, British, German, EU leaders? They haven’t spoken. They are leaving France to deal on its own with this attempt at punishment (“for Paty’s crime”), and extortion (“you must in the future limit your freedom of expression – or else”) by Muslim states. This lack of public solidarity with France is pusillanimous. The Western world should rouse itself as one being, in the manner described by John Milton in Areopagitica, his famous defense of freedom of speech: “Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant Nation rousing herself like a strong man after sleep.” The Western countries should say to the world’s Muslims – ideally in a collective statement — something like this:

“We wish to express our entire solidarity with the people and government of France after the murder of Samuel Paty, killed only for fulfilling his responsibilities in teaching a class on freedom of expression and in practicing that freedom himself. No democratic and free society can tolerate those who would shut down their freedom of speech because they do not like what is being expressed. Some governments have declared themselves in favor of a boycott of French goods. As a response, we here declare that we have committed ourselves not to buy the goods of any nation that engages in such a boycott of France. We will, furthermore, discourage our own nationals from visiting as tourists those countries whose leaders have called for such a boycott. We shall now see, in this contest of wills over freedom of expression, who will remain insubmissive, and who will bend.”

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Posted on 10/31/2020 5:22 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 31 October 2020
Investigating Antisemitism in the British Labour Party
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by Michael Curtis

The most unusual and unexpected event of 2020 was the appearance and rapid spread of the pandemic Covid-19 that has led to dramatic loss of human life and disturbance of any normal way of life. An equally surprising, though less consequential, event is the decision by the tourist board  of Kazakhstan, a country now distinguished by its non -citizen, the fictitious character Borat, invented by Sacha Baron Cohen, to adopt his catchphrase “It’s very nice,” as the perfect marketing tool to encourage tourism. More significant is the publication by the official British Equalities and Human Rights Commission on October 29, 2020, of a scathing landmark Report on the British Labour Party, “Antisemitism in the Labour Party.” Even more dramatically, hours later, came the suspension from the Party, pending investigation, of the former leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Far from welcoming the Report, Corbyn released an insulting statement that the scale of the problem, antisemitism in the Labour Party, was  “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside  the party, as well as by much of the media.”  

The basic premise of the Report is that politicians on all political sides have a responsibility to set standards in public life and to challenge prejudice, harassment and discrimination in all its forms. Obviously, freedom of expression and ability to engage in robust debate is a vital basic facet of a democratic society, but equally, language sows division and can become unacceptable.

Unfortunately, the behavior of politicians often falls far below an ideal standard. Nowhere is this more true than in the British Labour party whose culture did not do enough to aspire to a desirable standard regarding the issue of antisemitism. For years allegations have been made that elements in the Labour Party, LP, are institutionally antisemitic, and did not reprove Holocaust denial and Jewish conspiracy theories. The Report indicates the validity of these allegations.

The Report is not a complete analysis of the main issue and needs amplification, but it is a valuable starting point for understanding, and it is a devastating commentary on the litany of mistakes and missed opportunities  by the LP in dealing with  the presence of antisemitism in the party, supposedly pledged to zero tolerance of antisemitism. It speaks of 900 party members who were investigated or suspended for anti-Jewish hate, and the expulsion of 63 over the past three years.

The Report found the LP under the leadership of Corbyn was guilty of unlawful acts of harassment, discrimination, and political interference in antisemitic complaints. It was equally concerned about the lack of leadership on these issues, which has ignored legitimate and genuine complaints of antisemitism by members of the party. It concluded the past leadership had failed to properly address the issue or to take decisive action. Three factors are interesting. One is that, of the 70 complaints investigated, 59 concerned the social media. A second is that of the more than  220 allegations were made since 2011, most came from the social media.  A third factor is that the LP behavior towards antisemitism can be contrasted with  the comprehensive guidance and training to handle sexual harassment complaints, showing the LP’s ability to act decisively when it wants to.

The Report found the LP had breached the Equality Act of 2010 that states that political parties must not discriminate, harass, or victimize members or associates on the basis of characteristics, including    race and religion. It did so in three ways; political interference in complaints; harassment; failure to provide adequate training to those handling antisemitic cases. The former leader Corbyn was guilty not simply of failing to act, but actually interfering in the processes concerning antisemitism. The party did not do enough to prevent antisemitism and even could be seen to accept it.  Its response to complaints has been inconsistent, poor, and not transparent, whether in terms of reasons for decisions, record keeping or delay.

The Report found that the party committed  unlawful harassment through the decisions of its agents.  It dismissed complaints of antisemitism as fake or smears. Complaints were not investigated properly in a fair and transparent manner, or not investigated at all.

 It found evidence of political interference in the handling of antisemitic complaints. 

It reviewed  70 complaints  made between March 2016 and May 2019 and held  there were 23 cases of political interference  by the leader of LP or his staff, actions that were discriminatory  and unlawful. One case in April 2018 concerned Corbyn who had posted  a comment  supporting an artist, a Los Angles street artist  Mear One who had produced an antisemitic mural,  in the East End of London, including caricatures of hook-nosed Jewish bankers playing a game of monopoly with tablets resting on the backs of naked workers. As justification for his later position, Corbyn cited the case in which the mural by Diego Rivera in Rockefeller Center, NY, was plastered over.  His office held that the complaint against Corbyn fell well below the threshold required for investigation.

The Report recalls  incidents involving two individuals: Ken Livingstone, successful hard leftist politician and MP, mayor of London 2000-2008 before losing to Boris Johnson, and Naz Shah. Born in Bradford to Pakistani parents, Naz Shah is MP for that district. Before she became an MP she made some remarks on Facebook in April 2016, mainly that “Israel be relocated to the U.S.” She later apologized for her words which were not “excusable,” and vowed to  build a better relation “ between faith communities.” She then acknowledged her comments were antisemitic, that her language was offensive, and that  she did not realize it was antisemitic or racist. Her comments in fact went beyond what can be considered as legitimate criticism of the Israeli government, and it is doubtful they could be considered as protected by rights to free expression.

Ken Livingstone, “Red Ken,” is not well known as a history analyst, and his reputation in that field depends on his conclusion that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism, and that Hitler passed a law that the Zionist flag and the swastika were the only flags that could be flown in Germany.   

Then a member of the national executive committee of the LP, Livingstone approved Shah’ comment .He  sought to minimize the offensive nature of Shah’s remarks by arguing  they were merely criticism of Israeli policy in conflict   with Palestinians.  For him the criticism of Shah  was a smear campaign by the “Israel lobby” to paint   critics of Israel as antisemitic and to  undermine the  party leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. The Report concluded that Livingstone can be accused of “unwanted conduct related to Jewish ethnicity” for his defense of Shah.

Livingstone was suspended by the party in 2017 and resigned in the following year.

The question is now open of whether the new leader of the LP, Sir Keir Starmer will take further disciplinary action against Corbyn and others. It is dispiriting that there has been no contrition on the part of Corbyn but only shameless comments, insisting the Report was dramatically exaggerated for political reasons and the  product of  party factionalism.

Keir Starmer on becoming LP leader pledged regarding antisemitism to “tear out this poison by its roots.”  He showed action in sacking Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour MP who was a supporter of Corbyn and a candidate to replace him as leader, from her position as shadow education minister. The reason was she had retweeted the comments, in essence a Jewish conspiracy theory, made by Maxine Peake who she called an “absolute diamond.”  Peake, well known actress and political activist prone to contentious remarks on Israel and other matters, remarked  in an interview that the U.S. police  learned their neck-kneeling restrain techniques to use on George Floyd from seminars with Israeli secret  services. She is used to play fantasies in her roles on TV series and did not apologize for her fantasy of a conspiracy, but she did “clarify” her diatribe by saying she was “inaccurate in my assumption    of American police training and its sources.”

There are signs of change. In July 2020 as a result of the decision in the British High Court  the Labour Party agreed to pay “substantial” damages to seven former employees who sued the party for making false and defaming  comments about them when, as whistleblowers, they had criticized Corbyn’s refusal to investigate complaints of antisemitism.

At a time when antisemitism has been increasing in the UK with  1,690 incidents in 2018, and 1,805 in 2019, the Report comes none too soon, with its reminder that it is essential for British politicians to consistently demonstrate the values of tolerance, understanding and mutual respect.

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Posted on 10/31/2020 5:05 AM by Michael Curtis
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Friday, 30 October 2020
To dream the impossible dream
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by Bill Corden

If things go the way they should in this election and Donald gets to keep his job, can we hope for the Kamala Harris "tell all" book coming out a few months later?

A book  in which she admits that she knew all along that Biden was "non compos mentis" and that his candidacy was an empty shell.

She'll be the Democratic equivalent of Omarosa  and say that she went along with the scam in the interests of party unity. She'll say that she was horrified by the lying and the cheating (Oh! and the Republican's s too) but that she's put that behind her now and wants to be thought of as the next, and still first female, President for 2024.

I say this because there's no bottom floor for these people who are only motivated by revenge ... no thought of what's best for the country, just what's best for themselves.

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Posted on 10/30/2020 2:45 PM by Bill Corden
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Friday, 30 October 2020
Boy, 16, screaming 'Allahu Akbar' is shot dead by cops after knife attack on police officer in Muslim-majority Russian region
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From Reuters and the Independent. Photograph from the Daily Mail

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Police in Russia shot dead a 16-year-old teenager in the Muslim-majority Tatarstan region after he tried to set fire to a local police station and stabbed a police officer, Russian investigators said on Friday.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, which handles major crimes, said in statement it was treating the incident as an attempted act of terrorism and had opened a criminal case.

The teenager had tried to set alight a police station in the town of Kukmor using a Molotov cocktail and had stabbed a police officer at last three times during an arrest attempt, the statement said. 

Baza, an unofficial social media channel associated with law enforcement, later claimed to identify the young man as 16-year-old Vitaly Antipov. 

The same channel suggested the young man shouted “God will save me, unbelievers, Allahu Akhbar” and recorded a social media post “calling for jihad” shortly before attacking the station.

In a chilling video before the attack, Antipov told how he intended to destroy a cafe which he saw as sinful and 'devilish'. It is unclear why he instead targeted a police station.

Filmed as he walked in darkness to the scene, the 16 year old - whose mother is reportedly a devout Muslim - said: 'May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be with you. I'm now going, to blow up... or I mean to burn a cafe, where they… listen to music… A club where they sell alcohol... Such a vile, devilish place. Inshallah, it will be destroyed.'

The video was revealed by BAZA media which said it was withholding the full footage because it included calls to attack police.

Antipov was reported to be from the Altai region in Siberia and had a job working in a halal cafe named Barakat. Its owner Marat Zamaleev had served 14 years for sabotage and the Illegal manufacture of weapons. 

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Posted on 10/30/2020 2:17 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 30 October 2020
London: Muslim protests outside the French Embassy in Knightsbridge today. Permitted by the Metropolitan police despite the Covid 19 restrictions placed on the rest of us.
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My friend Cliff Dixon is in London today with a few friends observing (with alarm and dismay) and challenging the Muslim demonstration outside the French Embassy in Knightsbridge. For family reasons I could not be there myself. He took these photographs and reports thus.

Around 200 Muslims gathered after 1pm, breaking the law by praying in a Royal Park. Police refused to move them to a legal area

Flags of Jaamat el Islami flying outside the French embassy

The protesters were breaking the law by praying in a Royal Park. The Imam  called for limits to Free Speech.

Police Gold Commander refusing to enforce the law, and said he does not see a problem. He told Cliff (below, taken by a friend) that if he was that worried he should speak to the protesters himself! Then threatened to arrest Cliff for not having his mask on! Face coverings are only required inside at the moment. Few people wear them while out in the fresh air. 

Time and time again Cliff, sometimes accompanied by me at the annual al-Quds march, has remonstrated with the Gold Commander as to why he is not ordering the enforcement of the law. Always the same answer, either orders from above (which the Home Office always deny) or they see no ships. 

The protest got rowdy now, fires were  lit and protesters refused to move on. Cliff tells me it wasn't the French flag burnt below but a placard; he couldn't see what it said. Update, it was an image of President Macron

The protest took to the road and flares were set off

Note the Palestinian flag; I'm not sure whether the yellow and green flag to the left is Hezbullah or not. 

 

 

The protestors have blocked the highway at Knightsbridge. The most recent message I had from Cliff, about 10 minutes ago was that the police have arrested a young person for throwing a flare. The reaction of the crowd was a lot of jostling and shouting "kill them" at the police. 

Cliff left the scene but LBC reports that the police broke up the demonstration about 20 minutes ago (15.15 GMT). 

"Police have broken up an "unlawful" demonstration outside the French embassy in London after a large group gathered there to protest in the wake of the attack in Nice"

Which makes it look as if the demonstration was against the jihadists who murdered three Christians in the cathedral. It was quite definitely a protest about the cartoons and the French refusal to curtail freedom of speech and expression, even if it gives offence. More from LBC here

The Metroplitan Police finally decided that enough was enough. 

Officers have attended a demonstration outside the embassy in #Westminster. The group failed to produce a sufficient risk assessment to the local authority and so, their protest has been determined unlawful in line with the Covid regulations.

Those participating in the protest are currently being advised to disperse. Officers have been engaging with crowds and informing them of this development. Where necessary enforcement action will be considered and taken.

So far, the majority of crowds have dispersed as a result of engagement and action by officers. Our policing plan continues.

 

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Posted on 10/30/2020 9:18 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 30 October 2020
WHEN DEATH COMES TO CALL
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by Phyllis Chesler

2020 is the year in which hundreds of thousands of human beings died in a plague unleashed by Communist China and mishandled by dazed and un-informed countries everywhere. 

The horrific global death toll had been a statistic, too overwhelming to process personally. 

And then, Mr. Death hit closer to home. Within eight months and twelve days, I lost seven people, five of whom were very dear to me.

 2020 is the year in which I lost Fred (January 18th); Channa (June 29th); Diana (July 28th); Helen (August 12th); my brother Jack (August 14th); Sher (September 9th); and my cousin Harriet (October 1st). 

So many deaths, so close together, made it impossible for me to mourn each death properly. Until I felt compelled to write this, I did not even realize how many deaths there were.

These deaths were also somewhat unreal, surreal. I attended only one in-person Memorial Service at the beginning of the year; all the rest were zoomed Memorials or grave-site funerals. Death was at a remove. It was reduced to a TV reality show, and with two exceptions, there was no pressing of the flesh, no in-person visits to the mourners.

Thus, I am memorializing them here.

January 18, 2020

First, my good friend Fred Feirstein, the playwright, poet, and psychoanalyst just up and died. He was visiting his psychiatrist when he suddenly keeled over and was gone. I thought: Was this his final and ultimate critique of psychiatry?

But how could this be, we just had dinner the previous week…

Fred—of the warm smile and the worn sneakers—how could this be? Fred. His cardiologist had just pronounced him in good enough health but Death, nevertheless, “kindly stopped for (him)” the very next day as he waited in yet another doctor’s office. A nurse pounded on his chest, the doctor tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation but to no avail. Death had to take him by surprise, there was no way he would ever have “stopped for Death.”

Mr. Death left me quite alone for five months but then he came to call; actually, he came to stay.

June 29, 2020

Channa Uncyk was in her late nineties and she’d been sick for a long time. But still, she hung on, she refused to go, she would not give in. Of course, she was a Holocaust and forced labor camp survivor and so, she still fought Death as if he were Hitler. She conducted herself as if she was indestructible. Like me, she was a Brooklyn “girl,” as is her daughter Pearl, who is my son’s mother-in-law and his wife’s grandmother. Channa revived my nascent Yiddish and always smiled—no, she beamed—when we talked. I did too. Channa was short and tough and funny and sharp and her three children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren loved her so. Channa used to call into to Sean Hannity’s program and was so much of a “regular” that he sent a condolence basket. Amazing. Touching. Passing strange. And, although we were quarantining, in this case, cheesecake in hand, I drove to far-off Brooklyn to pay a shiva call and we all sat in the backyard and dined on food sent by the family’s shul.

July 28, 2020

Dr. Diana Russell, a great feminist scholar and activist with whom I’ve worked since the mid-1970s, died quite unexpectedly. Suddenly, she was gone. Diana was from South Africa and her mother had been a British aristocrat. She was tall and had a wry sense of humor but she published many serious and important studies about the sexual violence women faced both at home, on the job, and in life. She published influential works about pornography—and co-organized the first-ever International Tribunal of Crimes Against Women, which took place in Brussels in 1976. She also published a work about South African Apartheid and about the women who courageously opposed it. She was one of them. Darling Diana was ill-treated by the academy and fell on economically hard times. But nothing ever stopped her. She was working on a multi-volume Memoir when she died. We spoke about half a dozen times a year, but year after year. I now wish that I had called her more often and more recently. Her work will forever speak for her “in the gates.” But she is gone. I cherished her—and she is forever gone.

 August 12, 2020

Helen Freedman was a gallant and indefatigable warrior. She was a strong and passionate advocate for Israel. Over the years, we met at many demonstrations, she interviewed me and I interviewed her, and we developed a friendship and remained in each other’s lives for more than fifteen years. Her office was nearby and she would sometimes call and just drop in. Helen would always visit me when I was recovering from surgeries. Above all, she was kind. She fiercely battled the cancer that would eventually kill her; she had no self-pity; and she continued to turn up at demonstrations even in a diminished state. I will always miss her bright and optimistic energy.

 So many people have been part of the tapestry of my life, and that tapestry has been unraveling for a long time. Beloved figures have been fading away, disappearing, since the mid-1940s, when my maternal grandparents died and then, in 1967, when my own father died.

I refuse to remove the names and contact information of those who have died from my various lists. By now, there are many hundreds of names whom I still keep close to me, whose names I see whenever I consult my contact lists. It is my way of remembering them, of refusing to allow Death to part us.

August 14, 2020

Jack, one of my two brothers, died. We had not been in touch for the longest time. When he was eighteen years old, his motorcycle crashed and sent him into a six-week coma. After that, his personality changed and not for the better. After he tried to have me killed, and then sued me, I no longer tried to “save” him. He cut ties with everyone, did not speak to his grown children or to our other brother, moved away to make a new life. He was a terrifying wife and child abuser who left devastation in his wake and the rabbi who buried him believed him to be a good man. Had he only known the truth “he would have tried harder to get him to repent.” My brother Jack, the little boy with shining curls who used to follow me around when he was three years old, left his estate to eleven charities and not a penny, not a grosch, not a prutah, to his three children.

It is a myth that all Jewish families are close, warm, loving, and stable. Some families are downright dangerous and if one is lucky one flees them as soon as possible. I did. And I have always suffered from survivor guilt because my two younger brothers never made it out. 

September 9, 2020

Sher Hite was a hugely successful feminist author and sex researcher. Sher was beautiful, charming, generous, and offbeat. Whenever she stayed with me, she’d visit the nearby thrift shops and buy vintage clothing. Once, she did not want to leave... enough said about that. Sher wanted to be remembered and taken seriously by feminists and often felt that that was not the case. She was very close to my darling Barbara Seaman (who is also dead—I hope they’re enjoying each other’s company wherever they may be). Ah, I remember Sher’s Fifth Avenue ground floor duplex apartment right opposite Central Park, with its grand piano on which her first husband Frederick used to practice and perform. I remember her calling me to ask whether I thought an advance of $850,000.00 was really enough for the paperback rights to The Hite Report: A National Survey of Female Sexuality. “Sher,” I said, “hang up, take the money, and run.” This was way back in 1976, just yesterday. I am so sorry she is gone, she was an innocent and whimsical presence here on earth.

 October 1, 2020

 My cousin Harriet, a beloved primary school math teacher, died on my birthday after having battled cancer for a good long while. I am eternally in her debt for how well she treated my eight-year-old son when he was a student at her school. Alas, alas, Jewish families... to my sorrow, she could never get over my not having invited her to a family celebration. I thought she was close to my brother Jack and could not risk his turning up and creating a scene, since his ex-wife and daughters would be there. Despite all my explanations and apologies, she refused to talk to me ever again. But her death shocked and saddened me. I remember her older brother, Ken, who reached out to me so lovingly before he died of cancer; and I remember her parents well. I even remember when she and her younger brother Marc, (an exceptionally decent fellow), were born... just yesterday, a lifetime ago.

I lost a friend and gained some new ones in the wake of all these deaths. 

I have only this to say: May they all rest in peace and may their families and loved ones be comforted.

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Posted on 10/30/2020 7:59 AM by Phyllis Chesler
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Friday, 30 October 2020
Macron Sticks Up For Free Speech, Jaffa Muslims Riot In Response
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by Hugh Fitzgerald

After the murder of Samuel Paty, the French middle-school teacher murdered by a Muslim Chechen for including cartoons of Muhammad in a lesson on free speech, President Macron refused to condemn those cartoons, angering many Muslims around the world, for whom the Prophet is “the most sacred thing in Islam.” At a ceremony in Paty’s honor, Macron continued to underline the importance of free speech, and the need to defend it against its enemies. This did not go over well with many Muslims, including those in Israel and Gaza. Their fury against the French is reported on here: “Protests in Jaffa to denounce Macron’s comment on Prophet Muhammad,” by Sarah Chemla, Jerusalem Post, October 25, 2020:

Hundreds of Jaffa [Israel] residents gathered Saturday [Oct. 24] night to protest in front of the residence of French Ambassador to Israel Eric Danon, setting trash cans on fire, Ynet reported, adding that a stone was also thrown at a bus.

The fires reportedly occurred following dispersal of the protesters, though no one was hurt, according to Ynet.

Nothing says “reasoned debate” for Muslims more than setting fire to trash cans.

The protests were sparked by French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent comments where he refused to condemn cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad after the beheading of a French school teacher.

Protesters, holding up banners written in Arabic, called for the defense of the Prophet Muhammad at the rally which began after evening prayers in Jaffa.

The prophet “is the most sacred thing in Islam, and he who attains his honor, reaches a whole people,” said Amin Bukhari, a protester accusing the French president of playing the “far-right wing” game, reported the French newspaper Le Figaro.’

To defend free speech is now, apparently, to be “playing the far-right wing game.” Neither Voltaire nor Jefferson would agree.

“Moses must be respected among the Jews, Jesus Christ must be respected as well – he is also our prophet – and we must respect the prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him,” added Bukhari.

The Islamist movement Hamas, the governing authority of the Gaza Strip, also denounced Macron’s words, as did Islamic Jihad.

“Insulting religions and prophets is not a matter of freedom of speech but rather promotes a culture of hatred,” Hamas said in a statement, adding that it wants “to prevent consequences” that these statements could have.

But Macron did not insult “religions and prophets.” He did not criticize Muhammad. He only spoke in defense of freedom of speech, which Is a different thing. Nor did Samuel Paty, who was not endorsing the caricatures of Muhammad in his class, but using them as a point of departure for a discussion of the right of free speech. This difference has been lost on Muslims.

For its part, the Islamic Jihad – Gaza’s second largest armed group, after Hamas – argued that “offending” Islam, and its Prophet Muhammad, was a “redline” that “could not be tolerated.”

“A redline…that could not be tolerated.” This sounds like a threat: is it directed at President Macron, at France, at all those Infidels, wherever they may be in the world, who Muslims insist do not treat Muhammad with the respect he deserves? It is indeed an open-ended threat directed at all of the above who, if they are deemed guilty of the “crime” of “offending” Islam and the Prophet — a category that includes not just those who mock Muhammad, but also those who refuse to punish any mockery of Muhammad by others — deserve the same punishment as Samuel Paty.

In Khan Yunnis in the Gaza Strip, demonstrators burned photos of Macron and called for the defense of both the prophet and Islam, according to Le Figaro…

Samuel Paty, a history teacher, giving a single class on free speech in a middle school in France, chose as a subject for that discussion several cartoons of Muhammad published by Charlie Hebdo, for which nine cartoonists were murdered by Muslim fanatics in 2015. The teacher, not wishing to offend his Muslim students, suggested they might want to leave the classroom during the discussion. All but one did; that one remained, she claimed, “by accident,” and then, apparently outraged by what she heard, reported on the class to her father. He demanded that the teacher be fired; he also helped produce a video with an imam long known to the security services, one Abdelhakim Sefrioui, denouncing Paty; the video went viral. The result was that a Chechen Muslim sixty miles away learned of the event – it’s unclear if he ever saw the cartoons – and went to Paty’s school to see Muslim justice done. He decapitated the “blasphemer,” then proudly offered the world a view, uploaded from his smartphone, of Paty’s severed head.

That atrocity was apparently not enough for many Muslims. They are angry that the French have paid tribute to that martyr for free speech, Samuel Paty, and especially inflamed that President Macron has refused to “renounce” the cartoons of Muhammad that Paty showed his class. For that, Muslims far outside France, in Gaza and Jaffa, Israel, have been expressing their anger in the only way they know how – articulate and reasoned discourse being beyond them — by violence and threats. In this case that meant, in Jaffa, setting fire to garbage cans and calling for a Muslim boycott of French goods, all because of a single sentence from President Macron. To the civilized world, these Muslim protesters appear both ridiculous and fanatical; that is because they are both ridiculous and fanatical.

Hamas in Gaza hastened to insist that “Insulting religions and prophets is not a matter of freedom of speech but rather promotes a culture of hatred.” But where does the real threat of a “culture of hatred” arise? Is it not in the Qur’an, where there are many verses deprecating and insulting Christians and Jews? Are there not dozens of Qur’anic verses that command Muslims to “fight,” to “kill,” to “smite at the necks of,” and to “strike terror in the hearts of” Infidels? Take a look at just a few of those Qur’anic verses:

2:191-193: “And slay them wherever you come upon them, and expel them from where they expelled you; persecution is more grievous than slaying. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then, if they fight you, slay them — such is the recompense of unbelievers, but if they give over, surely Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s; then if they give over, there shall be no enmity save for evildoers.”

4:89: “They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of Allah; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.”

5:33: “This is the recompense of those who fight against Allah and His Messenger, and hasten about the earth, to do corruption there: they shall be slaughtered, or crucified, or their hands and feet shall alternately be struck off; or they shall be banished from the land. That is a degradation for them in this world; and in the world to come awaits them a mighty chastisement.”

8:12: “When thy Lord was revealing to the angels, ‘I am with you; so confirm the believers. I shall cast into the unbelievers’ hearts terror; so smite above the necks, and smite every finger of them!’”

8:39: “Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s entirely; then if they give over, surely Allah sees the things they do.”

8:60: “Make ready for them whatever force and strings of horses you can, to terrify thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them that you know not; Allah knows them. And whatsoever you expend in the way of Allah shall be repaid you in full; you will not be wronged.”

9:5: “Then, when the sacred months are drawn away, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, then let them go their way; Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.”

9:29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden — such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book — until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.”

9:111: “Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions against the gift of Paradise; they fight in the way of Allah; they kill, and are killed; that is a promise binding upon Allah in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Koran; and who fulfils his covenant truer than Allah? So rejoice in the bargain you have made with Him; that is the mighty triumph.”

9:123: “O believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you; and let them find in you a harshness; and know that Allah is with the godfearing.”

47:4: “When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads. So it shall be; and if Allah had willed, He would have avenged Himself upon them; but that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will not send their works astray.”

There are also dozens of Qu’ranic verses expressing particular hatred of Jews, who are described – in Robert Spencer’s helpful compilation – thus: “The Qur’an depicts the Jews as inveterately evil and bent on destroying the wellbeing of the Muslims. They are the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); as fabricating things and falsely ascribing them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); claiming that Allah’s power is limited (5:64); loving to listen to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah and never observing his commands (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah’s beloved people (5:18); devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more.”

Someone in the French press or government should take the time to remind Hamas, since it has dared to suggest that “insulting religions and prophets is not a matter of freedom of speech but rather promotes a culture of hatred,” that the real “culture of hatred” in the world today is that to be found promoted in the Qur’an and Hadith, where Christianity and Judaism, and their adherents, are scorned and denounced, and Believers (in Islam) are commanded to wage violent Jihad against the Unbelievers (non-Muslims), and especially against the Jews. Does Hamas think that the “insulting [other] religions and prophets” as is found in Islam should or should not receive freedom of speech protection? I have a feeling they would prove to be sudden stalwarts of such protection – of course, for Muslims only.

Finally, one last narrow question. What does Hamas, what do all those Muslims who have been celebrating the decapitation of Samuel Paty, and deploring President Macron’s refusal to denounce the cartoons of Muhammad, think about two Qur’anic passages: the first tells Muslims that they are “the best of peoples” (3:110) while the second tells them that non-Muslims are “the worst of created beings” (98:6)? Do they think those verses should receive free speech protection, or do they regard them as contributing to a “culture of hatred” and therefore do not deserve such protection?

That should make them squirm. We’ll be waiting right here for the answer.

First published in Jihad Watch

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Posted on 10/30/2020 4:14 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 29 October 2020
Pictured: Tunisian migrant Islamist terrorist, 21...
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The Islamist terrorist who shouted 'Allahu Akbar' as he beheaded a woman and killed two others in an attack on a Catholic church in France today has been pictured.

Brahim Aoussaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian who arrived in Europe on a migrant boat just last month, attacked worshippers with a 12-inch blade in the Notre Dame basilica in Nice, slitting the throat of an elderly woman near the church's holy water in a beheading attempt.

He hacked sacristan Vincent Loques, a 54-year-old father-of-two, to death as he prepared for the first Mass of the day, while a mother in her forties also succumbed to her injuries after seeking refuge in a nearby bar after telling paramedics: 'Tell my children that I love them'.

The assailant was shot 14 times by armed police as he screamed 'God is greatest' in Arabic during the attack and 'while under medication' as he was taken to hospital, Nice's Mayor Christian Estrosi said. 

Aoussaoui arrived in Nice at around 6.30am via the railway station, where he quickly changed his clothes, Jean-Francois Ricard told journalists today. CCTV then showed him arriving in the church at 8.30am and staying there for nearly half an hour.  

The assailant, born in Tunisia in 1999, entered Europe via the Italian island of Lampedusa on September 20 and arrived in Paris on October 9. The travel information came from a document on Aoussaoui from the Italian Red Cross, the state prosecutor said.

Investigators found two unused knives, a Koran and two mobile phones, in addition to a bag with some personal effects. He was unknown to French security services, Mr Ricard told a press conference.

A picture showing Aoussaoui bleeding on the floor and being treated by paramedics after he was shot by armed police outside the basilica was tweeted by the head of the respected SITE organisation. 

Tonight mourners attended vigils to pay tribute to the victims of the triple killing. They lit candles  outside the Notre-Dame de l'Assomption Basilica in Nice and in front of the French Embassy in Berlin. 

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Posted on 10/29/2020 6:25 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 29 October 2020
Avignon attacker now known to be not a Muslim or a terrorist, but mentally unbalanced and claimed membership of a right wing group.
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This is from the best source I can find so far, since the claim first came to my attention earlier this evening. 

From France 3 Regions using Google translate to supplement my schoolgirl French. Coming two hours after the terror attack in Nice when three people were murdered in the Basilica, and with witnesses reported in reputable newspapers that the assailant in Avignon, shot dead by police, was also making the Islamic warcry of Allah Akbar it was a reasonable assumption that this too was an incident of islamic terrorism. The latest statements from the authorities is different.

According to a police source, the man threatened people in the street with a handgun.

The police intervened when they were called around 10:00 am by a man reporting that an individual equipped with a pistol-type handgun was threatening people in the street,

According to a witness, the man is about thirty years old but the inhabitants of the neighboughhood do not know him.

 "The man charged at them with his weapon and was killed by the police," said a spokesperson for the Avignon police. Nobody else was injured.

The public prosecutor Philippe Guémas arrived on the scene at the end of the morning. He Philippe Guémas specified that the man "never shouted Allah Akbar, he was never armed with a knife. . . We were able to establish his identity, he is a Frenchman, born in France, 33 years old who has nothing to do with the Muslim religion."

He was showing signed of being unbalanced and therefore the investigation will concentrate on his personality and seek to clarify the reasons for his actions. 

According to information from Mediapart, the man killed was wearing a blue jacket with the logo "Defend Europe" of the extreme right-wing group Generation Identity.

Now, instead of the cry Allah Akbar a witness (another witness? the same witness after some thought?) is suggesting a gesture that could have been a Nazi salute. 

The investigation was handed over to the federal police.

The Independent, a newspaper I generally dislike for its far left stance but which to be fair, does report from some interesting places, has some more information, but isn't, as I might have expected, screaming 'far right attack' and getting soundbites from Hope not Hate and the usual suspects. Maybe the genuine Jihadi horror of Nice, and the potential horror of the attack on the French security guard at the consulate in Saudi Arabia and the foiled potential attacks in Paris and Lyon has softened their cough. 

A police official told The Independent the attacker said he was from the far-right Mouvance Identitaire.

He was killed after he refused to drop his weapon and a flash-ball shot failed to stop him, a police official told The Associated Press. French media reports had initially suggested he had shouted “Allahu akbar”, suggesting it was an Islamist attack. 

Le Figaro newspaper quoted a prosecution source as saying the man was undergoing psychiatric treatment, and that they did not believe there was a Islamist terrorism motive. The man appeared to be wearing a jacket displaying a “Defend Europe” logo,

On Thursday, Martin Sellner, leader of generation Identitiaire in Austria, posted a photo of the Avignon attacker’s body on his channel on the encrypted messaging service Telegram.

“People are now claiming that he is ‘part of the Identitarian Movement’,” Sellner wrote. “He was wearing a jacket from the [Generation Identity] shop that was freely available online.”

In a statement released on Thursday evening, Generation Identity denied the man was a member of its French faction. “The man was neither a participant in the 2018 action in the Alps nor a member,” said a statement. “The Identitarian Movement has always distanced itself from terror and violence and follows the principle of non-violent activism.”

He may well have had personal views on the 'far-right' end of the spectrum and even agreed with the views espoused by Generation Indentity, or Indentitiaire, or the Identiarian movement of which GI is the youth wing. I have not seen much of GI but from what I have seen their operation seems very cool and controlled; organised and well planned. Brandishing a lethal weapon at policemen and north African shopkeepers and ranting in the street does not sound to me to be to be part of their modus. I think enough has happened today with three deaths, and worse could have happened such that I am thankful that the police managed to stop him and the others in Lyon and Paris before there was more carnage. 

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Posted on 10/29/2020 5:36 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 29 October 2020
Jihadists celebrate Nice terror attack as ISIS and al-Qaeda supporters call for more attacks against France in sickening online propaganda
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From the Daily Mail

Online jihadists celebrated the latest terror attack on France today after three people were murdered by a knifeman in Nice on a day which also saw a gunman killed in Avignon and a guard attacked at a French consulate in Saudi Arabia. 

The latest in a long line of violent attacks in France was 'already being celebrated massively across jihadi communities' by late Thursday, according to the SITE Intelligence monitoring group. 

SITE director Rita Katz said it was 'hard to recall social media celebration this massive for terrorism' with jihadists taking to Twitter and Facebook to welcome the latest grisly murders. 

No group has yet claimed responsibility for today's violence, but it comes amid high tensions between France and the Muslim world after a teacher was beheaded for showing Prophet Mohammed cartoons to his class two weeks ago. 

Katz said that jihadists were celebrating the attackers 'freedom of action' after three violent episodes in the space of a few hours.  'These new attacks comes amid a massive and enduring wave of jihadi media condemning France and its cartoonists,' she said. 

A report by SITE said that jihadists were 'overjoyed' by the news from Nice, Avignon and Saudi Arabia today.  

Katz said that the 'prospect of co-ordination' between the various attackers seemed 'increasingly plausible', although not confirmed. 

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Posted on 10/29/2020 12:17 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 29 October 2020
Nice terrorist said to be named Brahim Aouissaoui from Tunisia
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According to French newspaper Le Figaro and Italian news sources Tendenze on-line and Mondo Palermo of Scily who are using information from AFP the young male jihadi who murdered three people this morning at the Basilica in Nice is one Brahim Aouissaoui from Tunisia. He entered Lampedusa in Italy a few weeks ago where he was quarantined, and was then officially identified in Bari on October 9th.

Papers from the Italian Red Cross found in his pocket this morning have helped the French police to find his identity.

After which the Italian authorities required that he leave that country and "the police and intelligence services are now retracing the stages of the journey that took him to the French Riviera. And above all, they are checking why he was not held in the identification center pending repatriation". He entered France illegally some time after 9th of this month.

The last time I looked Tunisia wasn't at war and was one of the more prosperous of the North African countries, although becoming more islamic and less secular in recent years. 

 

 

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Posted on 10/29/2020 11:46 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 29 October 2020
French police shoot armed man near Avignon who shouted 'Allahu Akbar'
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From Reuters via the Jerusalem Post. Less than two hours after another man, also shouting Allah Akbar, murdered three worshippers at the Basilica in Nice. 

French police shot dead a man in Montfavet, near the city of Avignon in southern France, after he had earlier threatened passersby with a handgun, police said, confirming media reports.

According to French radio station Europe 1, the man had shouted "Allahu Akbar"

According to the Mirror the man is said to be of Turkish origin

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Posted on 10/29/2020 6:14 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 29 October 2020
Hell, Yes
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The case for Trump: Antics aside, he has many achievements, and a win by Biden would do vast harm.

by Conrad Black

It is a squeeze to reduce the number of logically indisputable reasons why President Trump should be reelected to a single column, but I will attempt it. Reelection is the only way of restoring the conditions that Trump created that eliminated unemployment prior to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. This, coupled to his near-elimination of illegal immigration (against fierce Democratic resistance), generated greater percentage income growth amongst the lowest 20 percent of income-earners than among the top 10 percent — a noteworthy start on addressing the universal income-disparity problem. Only a Trump victory will ensure retention of the present relatively low personal and corporate income-tax rates and the avoidance of insane, highly damaging, and counterproductive shutdowns in cowardly terror of the coronavirus, which only mortally threatens 1 percent of the population, who can be isolated and protected.

Only a Trump victory will prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear military power within five years and North Korea from resuming its missile tests over Japan and South Korea. There are no grounds for confidence that the Democrats would maintain a firm but not belligerent economic and strategic containment strategy towards China, coordinated with India, Japan, South Korea, and other key allies in south and east Asia and Australasia. We know that if Trump is defeated, the country will be subjected not just to the self-flagellating provisions of the Paris Climate Accord, but also to the $100 trillion Green Terror assault on the petroleum industry and a bone-cracking rise in electricity costs after closing gas-fired electricity plants. The Democrats remain committed to giving the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas a veto over any resolution of their conflict with Israel, and since they do not accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, that will ensure continued stagnation, attrition, and terrorism, financed by a newly enabled Iran. The Trump strategy is steadily lining up the support of the Arab states in favor of a comprehensive solution that will give Palestine a modest state and a great economic incentive for peace, and security at least for Israel.

Only a Trump victory would continue to promote private, charter, community, and separate schools that will reverse the steady decline of educational standards generated by the teachers’ unions, to which the Democratic Party is bound hand and foot. Although he has been tactically mistaken in not producing his full alternative health-care plan, Trump will not reinforce Obamacare’s destruction of doctor–patient relationships with the Democrats’ low-user-price but hideously expensive public alternative.

If President Trump is defeated, America will never know the proportions of or the people responsible for the greatest breach of the Constitution in the country’s history: the politicization of the intelligence agencies and of the FBI in an attempt to alter the 2016 presidential election, both before and after it occurred. Nor will it ever be established whether the Biden family’s receipt of millions from Russia, China, and Ukraine while Joe Biden was vice president constituted crimes, or just mere improprieties compounded by lies and disinformation. Only a Trump victory would ensure that the whole concept of freedom of religion would not be bulldozed by such tyrannical outrages as requiring the Little Sisters of the Poor to pay for the contraception and abortions of their students and employees; and only Trump’s reelection will prevent the legalized infanticide of “aborting” newly born children judged at that late stage by their mothers to be disposable.

President Trump is the only candidate in this race who has any real interest in penal and prosecutorial reform. Both former vice president Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, have spent most of their careers increasing the sentences of all categories of convicted people and have some direct responsibility for the fact that the United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its incarcerated people, and that an utterly scandalous 99 percent of criminal prosecutions are at least partially successful, 97 percent of those without a trial. The U.S. has six to twelve times as many incarcerated people per capita as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom, the most comparable large, prosperous democracies. The American criminal-justice system is a disgrace, and both of the Democratic candidates for national office are complicit in that disgrace.

The Democrats are tainted by their intimate dependence upon their corrupt urban political machines, personified by the grossly incompetent Democratic mayors of New York (de Blasio), Chicago (Lightfoot), Los Angeles (Garcetti), Washington (Bowser), Seattle (Durkan), and Portland, Ore. (Wheeler). The Democrats are also severely compromised by having maintained total silence all summer as the worst rioting in America in over 50 years raged across the country and white-hating urban guerrillas and white hooligans burned and stole and vandalized billions of dollars of property and tried to destroy statues and monuments of inoffensive people such as Columbus, and of some America’s greatest leaders, including those most dedicated to the advancement of African Americans: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and Ulysses S. Grant.

The reelection of the president is the only way to avoid a Democratic onslaught upon the existing constitutional system, including a neutralization of the Electoral College by imposing the victory of the candidate with the most votes nationwide even in states that voted for other candidates, effectively disenfranchising the 25 smaller-population states in the country. It would also include packing the Supreme Court and a renewed relaxation of entry of illegal migrants and the confirmation of the inability to screen noncitizens as ineligible voters in presidential elections. The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico would be admitted as states to provide four more Democratic senators, and the lowering of the voting age to 16 would ensure virtually permanent Democratic predominance.

The defeat of the president would also reward the most disgraceful, comprehensive, and prolonged media smear campaign in American history: the solidarity of 95 percent of the national political media in a constant denigration of the president and the aggressive whitewashing of his opponents. These practices have reduced the public regard for the media to the mid-teens. A free press is essential to a functioning democracy but it cannot exist if no one attaches any credence or significance to its existence because of its own grievous dishonesty.

Only a Trump victory will suitably chasten the many sensible and somewhat highbrow Reagan Republicans who deserted Trump for reasons ranging from outright treachery to tactical misjudgment to mere snobbery. They deserve to be shamed and given an incentive to repent. They do not deserve to ululate in victory over the elevation of a pathologically mediocre aspirant to the presidency and a vice president whose constant refrain is to burst into inexplicable peals of uproarious laughter: an enervated old wheelhorse who has faced in every direction on every issue, and a chucklehead, standing together on a socialist platform and shored up by disreputable elements.

The country is called to choose between a very effective executive whose behavioral foibles are sometimes outlandish and the dual personification of weakness and vacuity.

First published in National Review

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Posted on 10/29/2020 5:25 AM by Conrad Black
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Thursday, 29 October 2020
Mahmoud Abbas Has Learned His Lesson, Tones Down Criticism of Sudan
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by Hugh Fitzgerald

When the United Arab Emirates and then Bahrain announced their normalization agreements with Israel, the PA was quick to denounce both as “betraying Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Palestinian issue.” The two countries were further accused of “stabbing the Palestinians in the back.” This did not have the desired effect. Both the UAE and Bahrain denounced the Palestinians, as did people in other Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia. And when the PA asked the Arab League to denounce the UAE and Bahrain, the Arab League turned the request down flat. Now, with Sudan following the example of the UAE and Bahrain in normalizing relations with Israel, the P.A. appears to have learned its lesson, as reported by the excellent journalist Khaled Abu Toameh here: “What’s behind the PA’s muted response to Israel-Sudan deal?,” Jerusalem Post, October 24, 2020:

When the normalization agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were announced, the Palestinian leadership was quick to issue strongly worded statements condemning the two Gulf states. In the case of Sudan, the third Arab country to normalize its relations, the Palestinian leadership’s reaction appears to be much more restrained….

A statement issued by the Palestinian leadership on August 13 accused the UAE of “betraying Jerusalem, al-Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian issue.”

On September 11, the Palestinian leadership, responding to the Israel-Bahrain normalization agreement, repeated the same charge: “The Palestinian leadership announces its strong rejection and condemnation of the normalization of relations between the Israeli occupation state and Bahrain and considers it a betrayal of Jerusalem, al-Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian issue.”…

On Friday [October 23], however, the Palestinian leadership, reacting to the Israel-Sudan agreement, appeared to have toned down its rhetoric.

An official statement issued by the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah did not repeat the allegations it previously made against the UAE and Bahrain.

In a laconic and brief statement, the “Palestinian presidency affirmed its condemnation of the normalization of relations with the Israeli occupation state that usurps the land of Palestine” and said that “no one has the right to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause.”…

Having let loose with rhetorical double-barrels at the UAE and Bahrain for daring – without asking permission of the Palestinians – to look after their own national interests, the Palestinian Authority was chagrined to discover that its angry reaction only made the Emiratis and Bahrainis furious, and that fury was shared by others in the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia. Apparently the PA, and Mahmoud Abbas, had completely miscalculated their hold on the Arab states and peoples. Many no longer care what the Palestinians demand of them; they are going to pursue their own agendas, whatever the resulting rage in Ramallah comes from the spittle-flecked mouth of Mahmoud Abbas. Several things have now filled the Palestinians with great anxiety. They expected that the other Arabs would rally round them, only to find that, on the contrary, the citizens of other Gulf Arab states expressed their support for the UAE and Bahrain. While Saudi Arabia did not make any official statement, many Saudis on social media were damning the Palestinians for their ingratitude, selfishness, and the coarseness of their expression. Among them was Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to Washington, who on the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television declared that the Palestinian criticism was a “transgression” that was “reprehensible” and “entirely unacceptable.” “This low level of discourse is not what we expect from officials who seek to gain global support for their cause,” he said.

The PA also realized that it had made a mistake in allowing Palestinians to be seen defacing images of the leaders and flags of the UAE and Bahrain. This provoked great anger among politicians, journalists, and political activists in several Gulf states. The PA implored the Palestinians not to repeat the error with Sudan and to stop “harming the symbols and leaders of Arab countries.”

The PA was gobsmacked when it asked the Arab League to denounce the UAE and Bahrain, only to find that the Arab League unanimously, and unceremoniously, refused. It was not the UAE and Bahrain that were isolated, but the Palestinian Authority. And when the Sudan then followed the UAE and Bahrain in agreeing to normalize relations with Israel, there must have been hurried and anxious consultations in Ramallah, to weigh exactly how to respond.

Someone really ought to take Mahmoud Abbas aside and tell him that “no one” – not the UAE, not Bahrain, not Sudan, not those Arab states that after Sudan will follow suit in normalizing relations with Israel – has arrogated to itself “the right to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people.” Neither the UAE, nor Bahrain, nor Sudan, has either promoted or impeded the Palestinians and their putative cause. It no longer is of much interest to them. They have other, bigger fish to fry – to wit, their own nations’ well-being. It is this sudden uncoupling of the Palestinians’ caboose from the train of Arab states that are now headed toward Israel and normalization of relations that has so unnerved the PA. And Mahmoud Abbas, sitting in his $13 million palace in Ramallah, no longer knows where to put his feet or hands.

First published in Jihad Watch

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Posted on 10/29/2020 5:16 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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