Tuesday, 30 November 2021
In world first, Germany sentences Iraqi jihadist to life in prison for Yazidi genocide
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From France 24 

A Frankfurt court on Tuesday handed a life sentence to an Iraqi man who joined the Islamic State group for genocide against the Yazidi minority, in the first verdict worldwide to use the label.

Taha Al-Jumailly, 29, was found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity resulting in death, war crimes, aiding and abetting war crimes and bodily harm resulting in death after joining the so-called Islamic State group in 2013.

Proceedings were suspended as the defendant passed out in court when the verdict was read out.

Prosecutors say Al-Jumailly and his now ex-wife, a German woman named Jennifer Wenisch, "purchased" a Yazidi woman and child as household "slaves" while living in then IS-occupied Mosul in 2015.

They later moved to Fallujah, where Al-Jumailly is accused of chaining the five-year-old girl to a window outdoors in heat rising to 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) as a punishment for wetting her mattress, leading her to die of thirst.

In a separate trial, Wenisch, 30, was sentenced to 10 years in jail in October for "crimes against humanity in the form of enslavement" and aiding and abetting the girl's killing by failing to offer help.

Identified only by her first name Nora, the child's mother testified in both Munich and Frankfurt about the torment visited on her daughter. She also described being raped multiple times by IS jihadists after they invaded her village in the Sinjar mountains in northwestern Iraq in August 2014.

The Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking group hailing from northern Iraq, have for years been persecuted by IS militants who have killed hundreds of men, raped women and forcibly recruited children as fighters.

"This is the outcome every single Yazidi and all genocide survivors were hoping to see," Natia Navrouzov, a lawyer and member of the NGO Yazda, which gathers evidence of crimes committed by IS against the Yazidis, told AFP after the verdict. "Today is a historical day for humanity and the Yazidi genocide enters finally the history of international criminal law. We will make sure that more trials such as this take place," she said.

Germany, home to a large Yazidi community, is one of the few countries to have taken legal action over such abuses. German courts have already handed down five convictions against women for crimes against humanity related to the Yazidis committed in territories held by IS.

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Posted on 11/30/2021 9:41 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Tuesday, 30 November 2021
The Twin Pillars of Biden’s Failure
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by Conrad Black

Everything has gone so terribly wrong for the Biden Administration, and in the ways that were widely predicted, that it is hard to believe Joe Biden could be perceived as a successful or at least potentially successful president if only he had avoided being such a tool of the Democratic extreme Left. On the afternoon of his inauguration, he killed the Keystone XL Pipeline and curtailed fracking and offshore oil and gas exploration, and ordered the end of construction of the southern border wall. The consequences have been over 200,000 illegal migrants entering the United States across the southern border most months and the rise in the price of gasoline from approximately $2 a gallon to $5 a gallon across the country.         

As practically everyone outside his immediate entourage saw and predicted, these were disastrous errors. The excuse regularly given in the case of the wall was that Biden had inherited a “broken” immigration policy. In support of this outrageous falsehood, all that could be offered was the tear-jerking fabrication about children being separated from their parents and confined to cages that reminded that eminent authority on modern European history, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of “Auschwitz.” 

In fact, Obama had installed those facilities while Biden was vice president, and they were not in any conventional parlance actually cages. The migrant children who stayed there undoubtedly received the most nourishing meals and useful exercise and education in the best and most sanitary comfort that they had ever known. Many of them were not related to the adults from whom they were separated, but as everyone who follows the issue knows, were merely props to facilitate the claim that the migrants were authentic fugitives from injustice, and to capitalize on the bias of civilized American authorities not to separate people from their ostensible minor children. In most cases this was a fiction and mere tactics to tug at America’s heartstrings. 

Unfortunately, the least successful attorney general of recent times, (apart from the increasingly inept Merrick Garland—Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch were merely odious, not, unfortunately, entirely unsuccessful), Jeff Sessions, did not see the public relations minefield that he was plunging into head-first when he approved these separations. But it was in fact not at all the heart-rending act of cruelty that Trump’s critics represented. The speaker’s comparison with Auschwitz is on a par with the widespread effort of prominent Democrats to represent Trump as a person of Nazi attitudes and sympathies: it was as vile and unfounded a campaign of defamation as American politics has ever known.   

Trump’s “broken” immigration policy was the most successful the country has had at least since Eisenhower’s time in the 1950s, and the border was on the verge of a full and functioning restoration that would have enabled the country to admit those whom it wished to admit and decline those whom it wished to exclude, when Biden was inaugurated. There can be only one conceivable explanation for the current policy of admitting such a flood of unprocessed arrivals, which doubtless includes many worthy and good people who will unquestionably be assets to the country and its future. But it is also demonstrably true and in any case inevitable, that this mass of undocumented migrants contains an inordinate number of riffraff, dangerous criminals, and people incapable of contributing usefully to American life and certain to be a dead weight on the social, law enforcement, and educational services of the country where they have illicitly arrived.      

The only possible motive for this otherwise inexplicable step toward national suicide is the notorious view of the Democrats that almost all of these people will be so grateful for having been admitted to the United States, they will become permanent Democratic voters. This made the initial landmine under the whole concept of American citizenship, the sanctuary city, even more explosive: municipal authorities ordered the police not to carry out the immigration laws of the country. That this has been permitted to go on for decades almost uncontradicted andl, if it is not reversed, it will be seen by historians as a first step in the self-induced collapse of the American state.

These measures are complemented by the further ambitions of the Democrats—incited by their horror at the rejection of the political establishment in the election of Donald Trump as president—contained in H.R.1 and complementary proposals in the Senate demanding all verification of voters’ identity be scrapped and that unlimited ballot harvesting be encouraged. There were accompanying ambitions to add the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as states of the Union and reliable sources of permanent election of Democratic senators. Additional assurances of a permanent Democratic majority were to be provided by the reduction of the Senate to a straight majority vote for any measure, and by the expansion of the Supreme Court to assure that any constitutional inconveniences would be quickly dispensed. The Democrats have been astonishingly successful in their effort to ensure that the constitutional requirement that voters be citizens is overlooked. This remains a battle still to be decided. 

Most of this egregious program has already been abandoned and, even if undocumented immigrants continue to pour in at their present rate, indications are that it annoys members of the Latin American community who reached the country legally as well as the complacent majority of Americans that is finally recognizing the danger of these insane policies in numbers that will more than counter the influx of new doubly illegal (as undocumented, non-citizens) voters. The aggrieved are likely to support the next administration, exasperated at what prior to President Trump was for decades a euphemism for cowardly inactivity: “comprehensive immigration reform.”

This must have been the motive for the otherwise insane Biden immigration policies and it is not clear whether Biden himself, who masqueraded for decades as a pillar of bipartisan constitutionality, signed on to this for this motive or if he actually believes the campaign bunk about protecting the families of wretched persecuted fugitive families. Whatever his motive, it is a disaster and is seen by practically everyone to be a disaster, and the rejection of the Democrats in the midterm elections and in the next presidential election will become steadily more likely (and overwhelmingly so) the longer Biden allows his Inauguration Day blunder stopping the southern border wall to continue. The contemptible spectacle of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas nodding like an articulate figurine as he says “The border is closed” merely aggravates an intolerable state of affairs. 

The administration’s pursuit of higher energy costs, presumably to facilitate the enactment of a radical green program, is a parallel disaster, both in its proportions and in the ease with which it could have been avoided, and could even now be corrected. There is no evidence that the world is really becoming warmer in a way that poses any danger to life or is outside existing, long-established climate cycles. Nor is there any conclusive evidence that the world’s temperature is influenced by human conduct. 

The desire to inflict terrible costs on our societies to reduce carbon emissions is a fusion of the misguided fervor of legitimate but overwrought conservationists and the cynical reappearance of the international Left, defeated in the Cold War but now attacking capitalism from the more promising and apparently idealistic perspective of the salvation of the planet. The release last week of 50 million barrels of oil from the strategic reserve, three days consumption, is universally seen as the paltriest tokenism.   

Carbon dioxide is essential to life but for the purposes of the militant green movement it has been portrayed as a virtual poison. This is all nonsense and fortunately it will not require an arcane and incomprehensible scientific argument to establish that fact. We will be saved from ourselves by a consumer revolt at skyrocketing energy costs. 

Biden and his followers and minders will go down more than anything else on these two issues. If the president just kept his head at least on his first day in office and dodged these two bullets, he might not be facing the dismal personal and national future that he did this Thanksgiving weekend.  

First published in American Greatness

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Posted on 11/30/2021 9:24 AM by Conrad Black
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Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Good News and Truth
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by Michael Curtis


Josephine  Baker

On October 14, 2021, a woman was acquitted in indictment by the Senate and People of Rome v. Boudica by a jury of 10-1 in the British Supreme Court of committing terrorist acts. She was tried under thr Terrorism Act of 2000. The Court rejected the charge that her actions were designed to influence the government of Rome and to advance a political or  ideological cause, namely dissidence and secession. She was justified in using self-defense against a “a rotten and illegitimate Roman government.” The Court said she was free to leave without any stain on character, and that she would remain as a national symbol of an inspirational heroine.

The Celtic warrior Queen Boudica had long left the courtroom.  After the death of her husband who had been a “client king” of the Romans who had invaded the country in 43 AD, Boudica  led the Iceni tribe  in what is now East Anglia against the Roman occupiers, 60-61. She destroyed several towns, Colchester, London, Verulamium (near St. Albans) and  massacred more than 80,000 Romans and pro-Roman Britons before ultimately being defeated by Roman general Paulinus. She died either by taking poison or from illness.

 As the Court said, Boudica is a national symbol of an inspirational heroine, a priestess as well as a warrior, one of the great women warriors of history such Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Greek Amazons, and Queen Elizabeth I. Paradoxically, Boudica and her daughters are on display in a statue at the Thames Embankment in Central London, while general Paulinus stands at the entrance to the Roman baths in Bath, Somerset.

Another extraordinary, though physically non-violent, woman is currently being honored in Paris. This is the star of stage, screen, and song,  Resistance fighter, and spy, Josephine  Baker.

Fifty years after her death this American born icon hs become the first Black woman to be placed in the Pantheon, the mausoleum for great men.  At the Pantheon an inscription reads

“To great men from a grateful nation.” It is particularly symbolic at this moment when xenophobia is increasing in France that a Black woman is being honored. President Emmanuel macron on  august 21, 2021 , after a petition  signed by 37,000 people had been presented, announced that Baker, the first black woman and only the sixth   woman over all,  would be inducted in the pantheon. The reason given is that she is an exceptional figure who embraced France and its values in the name of her lifelong struggle for freedom and emancipation.  She was induced into the Pantheon on November 30, the anniversary of her naturalization as a French citizen. Her plaque will contain soil from St.Louis, her birthplace, from her chateau at Milandes, and from Monaco her final home.

Her life and career were truly extraordinary., one that subverted  racial and sexual stereotypes.  Born in poverty in St. Louis in June 1906, the daughter of a washerwoman and a part time drummer, by 1921 she had two husbands and then moved to New York where she worked as a dancer in revues. In 1925 she left for Paris where she was an immediate success, where she was feted, pampered and loved as a result of her frenetic dances in feather skirt, her version of the Charleston, her “danse sauvage,” and banana tutu. She became the darling of the French artistic and intellectual elite. Her song in 1931. J’ai deux amours, "I have two loves, my country and Paris, by them always is my heart ravished," was an international hit.  

During World War II, she worked for the Resistance, in counterintelligence, smuggling documents and coded messages between music sheets, raising funds for the forces, and entertaining  allied troops in North Africa and the Middle east., and joined the air force,  

After the war, she returned to the US for a short time and joined the civil rights movement and refused to perform for segregated audiences. She was asked to replace Martin Luther King as leader of civil rights after his death, but she refused. Back in France, she adopted a Rainbow Tribe of children, 12 orphans, from different countries, a universal mother.

Baker died  in 1975, aged 68. At her funeral. She was given a 21 gun salute, the first U.S. woman to receive such full French military honors. Her career, uneven but always spell binding straddled continents and epochs.  She was a significant a Black figure. 

It is good news that on the 80th anniversary of the massacre in Babi Yar, Ukraine, a group of researchers have revealed for the first time the names of many perpetrators of the atrocities and some of their testimonies. Nazi soldiers, SS personnel, policemen, and their collaborators murdered  thousands of Jews at the Babi Yar ravine outside Kiev.  Though the massacre was one of the largest mass killings at a single location during World War II, the site and the event were largely ignored for decades. On September 29 and 30, 1941 the massacre of 33,771 Jews took place under Einsatzgruppe C. Killings there continued until the fall of 1943. Altogether 100,000 Jews and non-Jews were murdered there.

The Germans tried to cover up their crimes. However, some who were complicit in the massacre were tried in January 1946, but only a few were convicted or punished. Some were acquitted because of lack of “base motive” for their actions. At first, there was virtual silence on the massacre. There was no memorial of the events until 1976 when the Soviet Union erected one which spoke of the deaths of civilians without indicating that most of the victim were Jews. On the 50th anniversary, September 29, 1991, a menorah-shaped monument to Jews was set up.

Now the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, assisted by Father Patrick Desbois, a French Roman Catholic priest,  has started to identify those who participated or were complicit in the massacre. Their action indicated an important truth concerning all those involved in the Holocaust, that anyone who was involved in any way, directly or indirectly, should be considered responsible and judged accordingly. Details revealed so far of the  perpetrators and accomplices at Babi Yar portray a varied group of people, educated and uneducated, teachers, engineers, businessmen, criminals, thugs, who were never convicted.

It is very good news that they and their reputations get the attention and possible belated punishment they deserve. The truth will out.

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Posted on 11/30/2021 8:46 AM by Michael Curtis
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Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Epstein and Maxwell in Jail: The Double Standard
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by Phyllis Chesler

Who angers women more? The incestuous, pedophile father or the mother who looks the other way and does so in order to feed herself and her other children?

I think you know the answer. Always, always, the mother is blamed because she was expected to protect her daughter, not blame and ostracize her, not evict her from the family.

If you talk to therapists, you’ll hear that patients who’ve been incestuously abused are far angrier at their mothers than at the fathers who tried, and often succeeded, in ruining them.

Who enrages women more? The man who batters or neglects a child—or the mother who looks the other way because she, too, is either battered or still needs the batterer’s paycheck?

Again, we know that many women, like men, expect men to be violent and are taught to overlook or forgive such behavior; but no one really respects the women who put up with being mistreated. Often, they are blamed for not having left.

”Men who kill women have usually received shorter sentences and parole.”

Who has gotten jailed for life: The batterer who threatens to kill his female victim or that very victim who’s defended her life in the only way she can—when her batterer is asleep or when she has finally wrested his gun away from him?

Historically, women, including those who’ve been bloodied and broken, but who have finally killed their batterers, are treated not just as criminals but as patricidal, regicidal, Father-killers, King-killers, and they are seen as the most dangerous of traitors. Men who kill women have usually received shorter sentences and parole. Women who have defended themselves and killed their abusers have usually gotten life without parole.

Historically, we have demonized, ostracized, and jailed prostituted women but not their Johns. The shame and danger of male lust clings only to the prostitute who is scapegoated for all that we find disgusting about the male use of female bodies.

Traditionally (except in TV dramas and movies), we have rarely rescued girls and women who’ve been kidnapped, tricked, or trafficked into sexual slavery. We have even more rarely found and arrested their pimps and traffickers.

We know that some trafficked girls and women, in order to spare themselves, have instead been given the tasks of monitoring, or punishing rebellious or runaway female victims. Some such “Save Myself First” women become pimps or madams.

I think of them as Kapos. Don’t you? And yet, while I understand their choice, their moral dilemma, I do not condone it.

Now that we have some context—let’s talk about the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell which began on Monday.

In Maxwell’s case, whatever she is alleged to have done was not due to escape extreme poverty or in order to escape beatings, torture, or death. She did what she did in order to enjoy a luxurious life style, one to which she was addicted.

Unlike the monster Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine has been kept in solitary confinement (which is a form of torture) for one whole year. While I might despise what she has allegedly done, no one deserves such punishment, not even if she’s been found guilty—which is not the case. She has not yet been tried or convicted.

”In Florida, Epstein was allowed out for many hours each day.”

Ghislaine has allegedly been constantly monitored and has had no privacy. She has also been fed disgusting food and kept in truly odious conditions—something that Epstein was spared, both in Florida and most recently in New York.

In Florida, Epstein was allowed out for many hours each day. In New York, he spent many hours out of his cell meeting with his team of lawyers.

Ghislaine has also been chained as if she were an animal or a violent criminal.

The double standard of (in)justice prevails here as well as everywhere else—and this bothers the hell out of me.

It is hard to summon sympathy for such a desperate but ruthless, Society Girl. She was such a Daddy’s Girl, she just had to continue Having It All: The parties, the travel, the clothing, the real estate—and the delusion that Epstein was actually her boyfriend? Husband? Daddy substitute?

I wonder how different she is from other such Society Girls, or, for that matter, most women of all races who enjoy class privilege. Don’t most women look the other way as the most vulnerable, poor women are sacrificed in every way imaginable?

Is Ghislaine Maxwell our latest little Scapegoat for this much larger sin of indifference to or even profiting from the suffering of others?

I will have more to say about this case, some of it a bit surprising.

First published in 4W.

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Posted on 11/30/2021 8:34 AM by Phyllis Chesler
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Tuesday, 30 November 2021
The Proposal to Restore Notre Dame the Latest Challenge to the Grand Cathedral
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by Conrad Black

There is something piercingly and hauntingly disturbing about the just-revealed proposal for the renovation of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral, which was badly damaged by fire in April 2019.

What is proposed is a horrifying conversion of one of the most illustrious and historic churches in the world into a theme park, a showcase for meaningless woke perversity. Confessionals and altars will be replaced by murals with “son et Lumiere” treatment of various sensations, with panoramas of film and narrations in many languages including Mandarin, interspersed with ”emotional spaces.”

There seems to be some confusion, rooted in the several appropriations of church property in French history, over the ownership and ultimately authority over the 850-year-old Cathedral, but the French government has committed to restore the Cathedral to the Roman Catholic Church and enable the first service in the renovated building on April 25, 2024, just before the opening of the Paris Olympics.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were spontaneously offered from all over the world to help restore the Cathedral and it is inconceivable that the ambition of most of the donors was anything but the most exact possible restoration (with modern safety and structural improvements), of one of the most revered, illustrious, and historic buildings in the entire world, essentially as it has been known for many centuries.

Crusaders

Notre Dame was built as a medieval church of consecration and departure for authentic crusaders: brave men not seeking to pillage the Middle East but to liberate what until recent times has been known as the Holy Land from those who would desecrate and abominate Christianity.

In the 12th century Notre Dame was as great an undertaking as was St. Peter’s Basilica in the 16th and 17th centuries. The cornerstone was laid on April 25. 1163, in the presence of King Louis VII and Pope Alexander III. King Louis IX deposited at Notre Dame the Crown of Thorns, and a piece and a nail from the original cross.

From its Crusade-sponsoring origins, Notre Dame graduated to be the mother church of France, gracefully and even imperturbably surmounting all the upheavals of French history these 850 years: the Hundred Years War, several prolonged civil wars, the revolutions of 1789, 1794, 1799, 1814, 1830, 1848, the bloodbath of the siege and the Paris Commune 1870-1871, the mighty struggles of the World Wars, and the liberation of Paris.

Notre Dame passed into the literature of France early and often and most celebratedly in Victor Hugo’s most famous novel. In plaques on its walls and inlaid remembrances on its floor are remembered many of the greatest figures in French history in every field.

It’s two Great Bells, (named Emmanuel and Marie) are rung only on the most momentous occasions: in the last 120 years, only on the effective surrender of the German army to Marshall Foch on November 11, 1918, which the world still celebrates; the Liberation of Paris on August 25, 1944; the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989; and the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

On the day following the liberation of Paris in World War II, when 5 million Parisians greeted General de Gaulle, whom they had only known from the airwaves, German snipers were in the rafters as de Gaulle and other eminent Parisians arrived for a service of Thanksgiving. De Gaulle famously said, in reference to the many congregants squatting on the floor, “I see more asses than faces.”

Notre Dame has seen everything: glory, saintliness, defeat, shame, degradation, triumph, and exultation.

Next to St. Peter’s Basilica, Notre Dame is probably rivaled only by Westminster Abbey as the most historic Christian edifice outside Israel, and has no rival as the most richly historic building in all of France. It has received an average of a million visitors from elsewhere than Paris every month for more than a century prior to the 2019 fire, and was the scene of Napoleon’s marriage, and of the funerals of most French kings and presidents.

Political Correctness

Nothing however, has probably prepared it for its proposed conversion into a near-Disney humanistic theme park. The early French reaction has been very censorious. One critic asked, “Can you imagine the Holy See allowing something like this in the Sistine Chapel?”

The proposal has generally been denounced as a politically correct and childish act of desecration if not heresy. To be fair, an authentic Roman Catholic Church spokesman has been found to claim that the proposed renovations will make the cathedral more accessible and understandable to a greater range of people.

More representative was the charge that “This is political correctness gone mad. They want to turn Notre Dame into an experimental liturgical showroom that exists nowhere else, whereas it should be a landmark where the slightest change must be handled with great care.”

Presumably, the French church and government will concert to produce a more sober application of new media and faddish terminology than has been outlined in the initial description of the proposed renovations. It is inconceivable that this great monument to Christianity could be transformed into the juvenile, animated feel-good center that has been suggested.

But this suggestion in some way symbolizes and illustrates the ordeal of the contemporary church, and of Western religion generally. In this era of maximum secularization, subjectiveness, materialism, vulgarity, and self-exposure, religion is a concept that has been under constant threat and denigration, even if only implicitly.

Freedom of religion has been reinterpreted to allow for shutting houses of worship for reasons of spurious public health considerations, and religious practice has been culturally discouraged by widespread implicit insinuations that it is primitive, ignorant, and demeaning to human dignity to imagine that there are any spiritual forces in the world that represent commendable ideals and that can be propitiated.

Separating church from state in practice almost always means the suppression or at least discouragement of religion by the state. Regular attendance at houses of worship has in these circumstances inevitably declined. So have declared religious affiliations, but the percentage of people declaring that they have some religious convictions and do believe in some other intelligence abroad in the universe apart from that of people and other terrestrial creatures, has remained relatively high.

Bedrock of Belief

People generally do not accept that every definition of God is dead and that the resulting vacuum can believably and adequately be filled by humans. But the Western world is not so disillusioned with the failures of the anti-theists trying to stamp out any intellectually respectable notion of a divine intelligence that it is flocking back to the faiths that it knew.

The solid majority retain their belief in some notion of the divine, of spiritual forces, and, ultimately, that there was originally some sort of a creation and that some living force must have had some responsibility in it. The terrible scandals, so long concealed, of clerical abuse of children and religious novices has naturally added to the discomfort of the churches.

But the churches, and the Roman Catholic Church as the premier Christian organization, have survived that as they have survived terrible oppression and appalling exposés in times past of their own corruption. There is something in the fire at Notre Dame and this proposed absurd reparation of it that is vaguely reassuring.

While these events highlight the travails of that timeless and imperishable institution the Roman Catholic Church, there is in this minor controversy the indication that there is a bedrock of belief and that respect exists. Like the religious impulse itself it can never be extinguished, no matter how it is disparaged and disserved. Faith in God lives and while a focused concentration of belief is unfashionable, it is also irrepressible. Fire destroys, but it also purifies.

First published in the Epoch Times.

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Posted on 11/30/2021 5:46 AM by Conrad Black
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Monday, 29 November 2021
Terror suspect, 19, appears in court accused of sharing extremist material including 'Isis training' videos
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From the Daily Mail who do mention the 'I' word and describe what was 'extremist' about his terror materials. Other newspapers are a bit vague.

A teenage terror suspect appeared in court accused of sharing extremist material on Instagram including 'Isis training' videos.

Elias Djelloul, 19, from east London, allegedly posted six different videos, including one featuring ‘Isis training’, between July 24 and September 7 this year.

Mr Djelloul also published films entitled ‘Shaheed on the Battlefield’ and ‘Jihad in Syria’, Westminster Magistrates' Court heard. He was arrested last Friday by officers from the Met Police’s Counter Terrorism Command. District Judge Paul Goldspring remanded the teenager in custody ahead of a plea and trial preparation hearing on December 17.

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Posted on 11/29/2021 12:51 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Monday, 29 November 2021
Forty Two People Charged With Child Sexual Offending, Kirklees
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Further west in Yorkshire to Hull which comes under Humberside Police. This is from West Yorkshire Police and the Bradford Telegraph and Argus

42 people who have been charged with offences as part of a police operation into child sexual offending. The men and women have been charged with a variety of mainly sexual offences as part of an investigation into non-recent child sexual exploitation.

The allegations against the defendants involve offences committed against six female victims, who were children at the time the alleged offending began.

Those alleged offences occurred between 1995 and 2015, largely in the Dewsbury and Batley areas of Kirklees.

The Men charged are:

Mohammed Yakub (64) from Dewsbury, charged with an offence of rape.
Nasir Billimoria (68) from Batley, charged with an offence of rape, and procuring a female under 21.
Yousuf Motala (69) from Dewsbury, charged with an offence of rape.
Ebrahim Mamaniatt (52) from Batley, charged with an offence of rape.
Liaquat Ali (65) from Batley, charged with an offence of rape.
Hashim Sacha (53) from Batley, charged with an offence of rape.
Nobhar Shah (69) from Batley, charged with two offences of rape and living on the earnings of prostitution.
Ibrahim Khalifa (83) from Bradford, charged with an offence of rape.
Manaf Hussain (47) from Heckmondwike charged with an offence of rape.
Riaz Shaikh (57) from Dewsbury charged with an offence of rape and an offence of indecent assault.
Amjid Rangzeb (43) from Batley charged with an offence of rape and an offence of false imprisonment.
Liaquat Hussain Hanif (45) from Batley charged with an offence of rape.
Shakeel Haq (44) from Birmingham, charged with an offence of rape and an offence of false imprisonment.
Rafiq Patel (69) from Batley charged with an offence of rape.
Mohammed Abbas (60) from Dewsbury, charged with an offence of rape.
Shafaquat Afzal Hussain (45) from Dewsbury charged with an offence of rape.
Tariq Azam (52) from Dewsbury charged with three offences of rape and three offences of indecent assault.
Aurrangzeb Azam (50) from Dewsbury charged with three offences of rape, two offences of indecent assault and an offence of false imprisonment.
Israr Hussain (46) from Dewsbury charged with three offences of rape, two  offences of indecent assault and an offence of false imprisonment.
Mohammed Sheikh (48) from Batley charged with an offence of rape and an offence of indecent assault.
Mohammed Tariq (62) from Bradford charged with two offences of rape.
Sajid Majid (48) from Mirfield charged with an offence of rape and an offence of indecent assault.
Zulfiquar Ali (42) from Dewsbury charged with an offence of rape
Ansar Mahmood Qayum (44) from Dewsbury charged with an offence of rape and an offence of indecent assault.
Mohammed Jabbar Qayum (40) from Dewsbury charged with an offence of rape.
Shafiq Siddique (52) from Dewsbury charged with an offence of rape and an offence of false imprisonment.
Mohammed Ishtiaq Hussain ( 47) from Dewsbury charged with an offence of rape.
Abbas Kaji (52) from Batley charged with an offence of rape.
Mohammed Farooq (52) from Dewsbury charged with an offence of rape.
Tasawar Hussain (42) from Heckmondwike charged with an offence of rape.
Mohammed Munir Shaffi (43) from Dewsbury charged with two offences of rape.
Zaheed Ali Novsarka (53) from Batley charged with an offence of rape.
Nassar Liaquat Khan (42) from Keighley charged with an offence of rape.
Mohammed Riaz Khan (47) from  Heckmondwike charged with an offence of rape.
Mohammed Luqman Daji (44) from Dewsbury charged with an offence of rape.
Mohammed Ramzan (64) from Dewsbury charged with an offence of rape.
Ali Shan Waheed (41) from Dewsbury charged with rape.
Ismail Seedat (51) from Batley charged with indecent assault.
Mohammed Yasin (48) from Batley charged with rape.

The women have English names and seem to have been involved in running or providing the premises. They are:

Janine Green (44) from Batley charged with encouraging prostitution, allowing premises to be used for unlawful sexual intercourse and controlling prostitution.
Maria O’Rouke (42) from Batley charged with causing the prostitution of a girl under 16, allowing a premises to be used for unlawful sexual intercourse and controlling prostitution.
Donna Lynn (41) from Heckmondwike, charged with causing the prostitution of a girl under 16, allowing a premises to be used for unlawful sexual intercourse, procuring a female under 21, and controlling prostitution

The men and women are due to appear at Leeds Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

 

 

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Posted on 11/29/2021 12:20 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Monday, 29 November 2021
Our Leniency, and the Necessity of Punishing Crime
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by Theodore Dalrymple

A few years ago, an eminent British criminologist said, or admitted, that criminology was a century-old conspiracy to deny that punishment had any effect whatever on criminal behavior.

And certainly, no intellectual ever earned kudos from his peers by arguing that punishment was necessary, let alone that current punishments were too lenient. In general, the more lenient he was in theory, and the more willing to forgive wrongs done to others, the better person he was thought by his peers to be.

In a way, this was understandable. The history of punishment is so sown with sadism and cruelty that it is hardly surprising that decent people don’t want to be associated with it.

Often, horrific punishments were carried out in public, half as deterrence and half as entertainment. Clearly, they failed to result in a law-abiding society, from which it was concluded that what counted in the deterrence of crime was not severity of punishment but the swiftness and certainty of detection.

While the latter are important, however, they are obviously not sufficient. It is not the prospect of detection that causes people to refrain from parking in prohibited places, but that of the fine after detection.

This is so obvious that it would not be worth mentioning, had not so much intellectual effort gone into the denial of the efficacy of punishment as such. Despite this effort, I doubt whether anyone, in his innermost being, has ever really doubted the efficacy of, or necessity for, punishment.

In Britain, leniency has co-existed with a very large prison population. This is not as contradictory as it sounds: for the fact is that something must eventually be done with repeat offenders, who do not take previous leniency as a sign of mercy and an invitation to reform but as a sign of weakness and an invitation to recidivism. Instead of nipping growth in the bud, the British system fertilises the plant.

The effectiveness of punishment has recently been implicitly recognized in what is called Harper’s Law. Harper was a young policeman who was dragged to his horrible death by three young thieves who were escaping in a car. The leniency of their sentences—they will be released by the age of thirty—horrified the public. The Attorney General appealed to have their sentences lengthened, but lost the appeal.

Harper’s widow began a campaign for increased severity towards those who killed policemen, firemen, or workers in hospital. Supporting the bill, the minister with responsibility for criminal justice policy said that these public servants needed and deserved extra protection, for they faced danger every day. From the passage of the law onwards, there would be a mandatory life sentence for those who offended in this way.

Leaving aside the question as to whether the killing of certain people should be considered more heinous in the eyes of the law than the killing of others, which would appear to place a dangerously different valuation on human lives according to occupation, the minister’s words implied that increased severity of sentence would act as a deterrent to the killing of policemen, firemen, and so on.

In which case, the question has to be asked why it was not applied to killing across the board, the killing of anyone, unless the minister believed an evident absurdity, namely that potential killers of policemen, firemen, and so on were uniquely susceptible to deterrence by increased severity of punishment. Sometimes it appears that we are ruled by idiots.

However, the new law is all smoke and mirrors in any case, a typical example of the propensity of government to deceive the people into believing that it is being firm, when it knows perfectly well that it is being weak. All is presentation, nothing is substance.

In Britain (or more accurately, England and Wales, for Scotland has its own laws), a life sentence does not mean that a person goes to prison for the rest of his life. On sentencing someone to life imprisonment, the judge sets what is known as a tariff, the number of years he must serve before he can be considered for release.

This system is against the rule of law, because whether or not the prisoner is released depends on the assessment of what supposed experts think he will or might do in the future. Thus, he is extended mercy or subjected to continued punishment not according to what, beyond reasonable doubt, he has done, but according to inherently doubtful speculations about his future conduct.

In only one sense is the sentence lifelong: the person thus sentenced can be recalled to prison at any time if he is deemed by officialdom to be behaving badly. This again is not only arbitrary, but frequently inefficacious: for the fact is that supervision is often lax and would probably be intolerable if it were anything else. It is, besides, intrinsically absurd, inasmuch as it doesn’t take long to kill someone.

In fact, Harper’s Law, so-called, is perfectly compatible with greater leniency as well as with greater severity. Under the new law, the judge could have sentenced the killers to a lesser number of years’ imprisonment than they actually received under the old. He might not have done so, but he might: there is no automatic increased severity, though the impression has been given to the public that there is.

Deception of this kind is now standard practice: the appearance of severity is followed by the practice of leniency. There are exceptions to this practice. Punishments for certain kinds of insult expressed in public are now punished with increasing severity, but crimes such as burglary, robbery, and assault, are often treated leniently. It is easier to find people in prison with forty convictions than for only one, and since each conviction usually represents several offences at least, the overall leniency of the system is clear.

In a strange way, however, this is a cause for optimism. If the enforcement of the law is so lax, the question becomes not why there is so much crime, but why there is so little, why in fact we are not victimized by criminals every day.

The answer must be that most people are law-abiding, and need no strong deterrent to refrain from, say, burgling their neighbour’s house. Alas, some people do require it.

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Posted on 11/29/2021 5:22 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
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Monday, 29 November 2021
Isn’t it a Shame?
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by Michael Curtis

They whose guilt within their bosom lies, imagine every eye beholds their blame. And bitter shame has spoiled the sweet world’s taste.

This is a moment to review interpretations of American national identity, as well as historical facts, to assess the founding of America, extent of racism, whether the U.S. was founded, at least in part, to secure slavery. This year is the 400th anniversary of what is considered the first Thanksgiving Holiday. Regretfully, it is also the year of some shameful episodes

The original Pilgrims had created a village at Plymouth where they were taught by Squanto, a member of the Pawtaxet tribe, to cultivate the area, and helped to form an alliance with the Wampanoag tribe. After the first, successful, corn harvest, a feast was organized by the Wampanoag tribe and the Pilgrims to celebrate the event in November 1621. Following this, annual thanks were offered by individual colonies and states until 1789 when George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government, in gratitude for the end of the War of Independence and for the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln in 1963 proclaimed national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated every November, “to overcome the lamentable civil strife and to heal the wounds of the nation.”

Today, Thanksgiving is largely talking turkey and has little religious and political significance. But the dilemma is whether to recall the happy relations between the original Pilgrims and the Native Americans or to remember the bloody periods between Natives and frontiersmen, from the Jamestown massacre in March 1622 on until the Wounded Knee Massacre in December 1890.

A different interpretation of American history comes from the New York Times 1619 Project, proposed in August   2019, named for the date of the first arrival of Africans on American soil, which places the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the American national narrative.

Whether this 1619 interpretation of history is seen as repugnant or not is disputable and a part of the debate over slavery and the BLM movement, but what is undeniably shameful are the attacks on the celebrated actress Helen Mirren for playing, in a new biopic production, the role of Golda Meir, the iron lady, the first female prime minister of Israel, 1969-1974, who resigned in 1974 and died in 1978, aged 80. The film Golda is set in 1973 when a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kipper, October 6, 1973, a day when the country was silent, which was defeated with some difficulty and ended on October 25, 1973.

In view of the ignominious nature and extent of the Arab attack, it is ironic that Palestinians should call the production, “fascism and sick.”  Mirren has been subjected on social media to multiple attacks for playing the role and called a racist and an Israeli worshipper. Attackers said her performance was a “slap in the face of all the people of Palestine,” and some said she should lose her honor of a Damehood which she obtained in 2003.

Helen Mirren, who may have been born Jewish though this is uncertain, has been an admirer of Israel, “an extraordinary country filled with very, very, extraordinary people,” and opposed the BDS movement. She called Meir, “a formidable, intransigent, powerful leader,” and that it was a great challenge to portray her at a difficult moment in her life in the Yom Kippur War.  

It is disgraceful for Palestinians and antisemites to attack Mirren, who has won acting awards, and an Oscar, in both the U.S. and UK, who is in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and has a renowned career of playing queens, Cleopatra, both Queen Elizabeths of England, and Queen Charlotte, and a variety of roles, detectives, assassins, Mossad agent, for playing a heroic woman.

Mirren is not the only performer shamefully attacked. There appears to be a systematic campaign to target celebrities and influential individuals who mention Israel in any positive way. Social media are being used to manipulate public opinion and influence it against Israel. 

In July 2021 the 19 year old LA based popular singer-songwriter Billie Eilish promoted her new album to Israelis on Tik Ttok.  As a result, she received thousands of negative comments consisting of  Palestinian flags and other Palestine solidarity- themed comments, on Instagram.  Her offensive words were not a political declaration nor a statement of any intellectual substance, but simply, “Hi Israel, I’m so excited that a new album of mine is now out.” Rarely have such harmless words caused hundreds of critical comments, accompanied with displays of  Palestinian flags. 

Educators and parents nationwide in the U.S. are clashing over what can be taught and what cannot be taught in the classroom. Much has focused on the teaching of history, LGBTQ issues, and race, especially critical race theory and systemic racism. In Texas the state has required educators to explore these controversial issues from diverse and contending perspectives without giving preference to any one perspective. An educator cannot teach the idea that one race or sex is inherently superior to another, or that someone is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive based on their race or sex.

Yet, the Indianapolis School District science coordinator, Tony Kinnett, was punished for issuing on November 4, 2021, a video explaining how the school district pushes critical race theory, which in his view suggests that western civilization is built on racism.

He said “when we tell you that schools aren’t teaching critical race theory, that’s misdirection.” As a result, he was put on leave and his access to various work accounts were taken away, and he was barred from district school buildings or hosting professional development sessions.  Kinnett’s argument is that critical race theory reduces people to categories of privileged or oppressed based on skin color.

Shameful or questionable episodes can be mentioned in a few other matters.

The Royal Ballet in Britain has altered its Nutcracker dance. It has dropped the harem scene which is said by the company to be out step with modern audiences. It also claims to  make the ballet a more fresh and “inclusive” environment  by replacing the usual three females and one male dancer by a duet. The company in October 2021 had already made changes in its Arabian and Chinese sections that were thought to proliferate racial stereotypes and had racial artistic content.  It continues to make subtle but important changes to some of the characters, customs, and choreography to remove from the performance of outdated and racial artistic content. Ballet lovers may perhaps be surprised that the most  important concerns for the Royal Ballet is officially stated to be diversity, race, gender.

A more shameful political event concerned an anti-racism trainer, Mizanur Rahman, who ran the inclusivity workshop programs for civil servants in the British cabinet office.  On media he has proposed death on Zionists, compared Israel to Nazi Germany, and labelled Israel as a country of white supremacy. Among his beliefs are that Israel has no right to exist , that it was founded on terrorism, ethnic cleansing, and, in a paradoxical remark , argues that Israel practices antisemitism since Palestinians are “semitic.”  In addition he said that the nonsensical statement of Ken Livingstone, the left-wing member of the British Labour Party, that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism was historically accurate.

News outlets should be honest, impartial, and transparent. The British media watchdog Ofcom reported in November 2021 on the BBC that historic failings this year have damaged its reputation. If so this is shameful. The report advised the BBC to be more transparent  and to appeal to more diverse viewers.  Yet in a poll,  58% of UK, and 64% of Londoners have favorable views, though the BBC got  5,500 complaints this year.  The report comments that the BBC needs to improve how it represents and portrays “less satisfied groups” and must ensure that its workforce is more representative of people from different  backgrounds,

Yes, there is a slight halt to insanity. Students of the University of Florida at the Gainesville campus first wanted the name Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, to be renamed because it discriminated against blacks.  When informed that. though the origin of the term is widely debated, it has nothing to do with black people, they withdrew the demand for change when it was pointed out the name had nothing to do with race. No shame on them.

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Posted on 11/29/2021 5:03 AM by Michael Curtis
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Sunday, 28 November 2021
‘The Centre Cannot Hold’
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 . . claimed W. B. Yeats in “The Second Coming.” 

by James Como

As a young man (born with the Cold War) I was puzzled.  There was much Hitler-talk, hardly any about Stalin; no Mao.  And because of the Holocaust I understood that, and that Stalin was an ally, sort of, though I intuited very early on – was it the Korean War that did it? – that no Commie could be trusted, ever.  I finally realized that what really puzzled me was the implicit assumption, in public and social discourse, that Hitler and Stalin were somehow fundamentally different.

As for discourse, I could profit from ‘conversation’, argument in particular, no matter the mix (from e.g. the liberal Max Lerner), and there was a mix, often marked by sharpness, certainly, but with mutual respect.  Each side – of the many sides – policed its own.  Liberals were dominant, as Lionel Trilling aptly described the culture in 1950 (The Liberal Imagination), but, if smug, not unbridled, and though its opposite was often marginalized it was too cogent to ignore.

Eventually the allure of ideas and arguments to support them coming from the Right were irresistible. I became a Conservative. The single big idea is, simply, Freedom.  It trumps every other civic value.  I knew limits of course, but these were recognized by all, part of an unwritten social contract. 

But always there were extremes of all stripes, and they were seen as such, saw themselves as such.  Their objective was not to establish a new Center but to defeat it, to make the culture eccentric, thus making more space for this or that extreme. 

Now both extremes are gargantuan, taking up so much oxygen that the Center is no more than a sliver, and for the worst of reasons: very few people want to be there.  We have backslidden to a monopolizing binary-think.  Watching this I’ve come to realize that what I discerned as a child is true  There really is no Fascist-Communist divide; in fact, no divide between the extremists of all ilks. 

Hitler is Stalin is Mao is Fidel is Mussolini is Pol Pot is the Oath Keepers is Proud Boys is the Klan is Black Lives Matter is Antifa (with Q-Anon either a parody or a psychopathology).  So now we have neo-Fascists and neo-Stalinists (and crypto-versions of both, in the media, in academia, in Congress). 

In fact all adhere to the ideology of neo-Totalitarianism: no nuance, tolerance, curiosity, listening, attempts to persuade.  It is a religion, with its dogmas and cults and heresies and retributions.  True Believers all, as Eric Hoffer described them so long ago in his book by that name (1951).  And still we talk as though there were a difference between the extremes. 

But something must come between them, something wide and solid; no, not a third way but a genuine alternative to the twin siblings. No fan of isms, I nevertheless recommend a new one: Centrism.  I do not mean a Relative Centrism but a needle, tilting sometimes this way, sometimes that, but fixed on shared values and allegiances.  Unembarrassed Patriotism, for example; a cultural stance that does not seek to annihilate the opposition.  Is that retro?  Call it conservate if you must call it something.

A word on ‘moderate’. One’s stance usually has three vectors: direction (content), intensity (strength), and salience (relevance), and one can be moderate or immoderate in each.  For example, I am pro-life (though with some nuance). I hold that strongly.  And, yes, it matters greatly, though not enough to turn me into a single-issue voter.  But I am moderate in tone.  Center-Right.

Case in point: Amy Klobuchar speaks thoughtfully, and we can agree on much.  But as a pro-choicer she is a neo-Totalitarian. Still, she remains a Centrist in the mold I have in mind. For example, at his confirmation hearing Justice Kavanaugh thanked her for her courtesy. Center-Left.

Finally, extremes are meretricious, the word deriving from ‘prostitute’, as such intellectually offensive.  And these days, alas, an absence of meretriciousness is itself counter-cultural.  A true Centrist will not be sucked into the vortex of invective. 

Could that Center hold, even if not until the Second Coming?

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Posted on 11/28/2021 11:38 AM by James Como
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Sunday, 28 November 2021
Woman 'raped and sold' in Hull fears being 'palmed off as a liar' by police
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From Sky News

A young woman who says she was "raped and sold" in Hull has not been interviewed by police, despite a high-profile two-year investigation into grooming gangs in the area.

Kate (not her real name) claims to be the victim of a gang of sex abusers in the East Yorkshire city. Police did not recognise her name when it was provided by Sky News with her permission, although other alleged victims in the case say they were told of her.

Her testimony could reopen a case that has stalled after police failed to find enough evidence to support claims by other women in Hull.

Kate told Sky News: "I ended up in Hull because of a gang of individuals who were trafficking me for sexual exploitation. The place I remember most was Hessle Foreshore. I just remember being in the back of cars - just being raped and sold."

Hessle Foreshore is somewhere other girls mention as a location for the abuse. Kate also names some of the same individuals said to have been involved in the abuse that have been mentioned by other alleged victims.

If Kate's claims are true, it adds another dimension to the case and raises questions about the scale of the problem.

She says she was taken to several other cities as well.

"The only way I can describe it is different hubs," Kate told Sky News. "So, you would have a local group in one area, but they were networked in with other people in other areas. So, what they would do is they'd swap girls - and you'd be that group for say the night and then you'd go back to yours - but there were common people throughout them all."

Kate says she is still considering whether to talk to the police. It was a personal risk for the other women to come forward and they provided additional evidence; diaries and school accounts, Snapchats and photos that support claims they were threatened, beaten, and strangled. Some of them said they received threats after they had spoken to the police.

Humberside Police say they have made multiple arrests, but after seizing 150 devices from suspects did not find enough supporting evidence. 

After initially suggesting Operation Marksman would not include people trafficked into Hull, Humberside Police later clarified that it would if they were being abused by the same suspects in the same places. Kate is mistrustful having spoken to police forces about sexual abuse in other areas but she has allowed Sky News to pass on her details to Humberside Police.

She said: "I think I'd need some reassurances, before I spoke to any police again, that I wouldn't be palmed off as a liar or that I'm insane or that I'm a prostitute..."

The biggest fear for the people of Hull is that if what the young women say is true, it could well still be happening - which is why Sky News will continue to follow this story wherever it takes us next. 

 

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Posted on 11/28/2021 11:16 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 28 November 2021
The West has crumbled in the face of a belligerent Russia and China
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by Conrad Black

The increasing shambles in post-Trump great power relations is best illustrated by the Russian threat against Ukraine and the Chinese threat against Taiwan. A profound reappraisal of the western alliance system will soon be required. The United States is in a continuous meltdown of sane government, which will only be resolved when the present administration and its allies in Congress have been decisively evicted. Western Europe is in a deepening torpor, most accurately represented by the addled condition of Germany, which is still trying to assemble a government almost two months after the last election. Apart from some of the countries recently emancipated from the joys of Russian Cold War domination, in Europe, Britain and France are the only countries acting like serious powers. In this state of confusion, one might have hoped for some exemplary leadership from Canada, which, if it acted like a serious country, could exercise some influence, as it did in the times of Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent, Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper. But it is obvious that despite Chrystia Freeland’s admirable support for Ukraine in the past, there is no disposition from the Trudeau government to do anything except continue to inflict upon the councils of the world its vacuous views of world brotherhood in arms against the climate.

The only serious problem that Russia could pose to the West is precisely the one that U.S. Democrats have created: instead of outbidding China for Russia’s goodwill (without giving in to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s expansionist ambitions), the constant demonization of Russia by the American left, and even some Republicans, is pushing it into the arms of China. This will enable China to make up for its poverty of resources and reposition some of its surplus population by permitting it to exploit some of the resources of Siberia, which, apart from oil, the Russians have generally failed to do. This would put most of the Eurasian landmass in the hands of a hostile anti-western alliance and would enable China to add a giant geopolitical cubit to its stature. The American Democrats, who confected the complete fraud of collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia in the 2016 election, have almost managed the astonishing feat of bringing the two natural rivals and ancient foes, China and Russia, together.

For good measure, the American military hierarchy, which was given hundreds of billions of dollars by the Trump administration and its congressional supporters to modernize the U.S. armed forces, missed the potential for hypersonic missiles and were preceded in this capability by both China and Russia, and the over- decorated chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, has decreed the revelation of the Russian and Chinese capability in this field to be “a Sputnik moment.” Milley has a thin combat record but wears more ribbons than victorious Second World War generals and statesmen George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur combined. All of these three exercised the highest functions in the greatest war in history, but apart from their five-star insignia, they rarely sported any military decorations at all. Milley looks like the senior field marshal of Ruritania as he attempts to explain what he has been doing imposing the nonsense of critical race theory upon the U.S. armed forces. Milley dodged all responsibility for the Afghan abandonment — the most humiliating military fiasco in American history since Gen. William Hull surrendered Detroit to Gen. Isaac Brock in 1812. Milley is now the flabby personification of the American high command — he called his Chinese analogue in January promising that he would warn him in advance if the supposedly “crazy” commander-in-chief at whose pleasure he served decided to order a nuclear attack upon China.

There has been no clear statement from NATO or the United States or any serious source over what response there might be to direct Russian aggression against Ukraine, or Chinese aggression against Taiwan. In the Shanghai Communiqué at the time of U.S. President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, China undertook not to attack Taiwan as long as the United States accepted the concept of the ultimate and non-coercive reunification of China. The results of the violation of that agreement have never been specified. With the present feckless and irresolute U.S. administration, the Beijing government, which did not hesitate to tear up a formal treaty with the United Kingdom over Hong Kong, cannot be trusted to abide by the Shanghai Communiqué, as its present belligerent conduct demonstrates. The Kremlin has never formally accepted the right of the former Soviet republics to secede from the U.S.S.R. Belarus is still a Russian satellite state and there are substantial Russian minorities in most of the former republics that the Kremlin delights in agitating. Ukraine was the largest of these republics and Russia has already snatched back Crimea, but it was only part of Ukraine after 1954. Ukraine has not very successfully mastered self-government in the last 30 years, but it is a country of over 41 million people and although it is not in NATO, if Russia were to invade it, the West would have to take serious measures or concede that NATO has become an empty husk and it is now every man for himself. With a little assistance, both Ukraine and Taiwan could give an invader a very nasty welcome.

Most of the European NATO countries have allowed their armed forces to atrophy, as Canada has, implicitly relying on the deterrent power of the United States. Russia is no longer remotely comparable in strength to the U.S. and its GDP is smaller than Canada’s, but its leader, Vladimir Putin, is committed to the at least partial restoration of Greater Russia; Putin openly disputes Ukrainian independence and he claims that ”Russia was robbed.” Putin has resurrected Catherine the Great’s claims that control of Ukraine is essential to Russian national security. Yet at this point, there is little reason to believe that either the United States or the European NATO countries have the will to respond vigorously to any outrage short of a direct assault on themselves. The painful fact is that if America had a serious foreign policy apparatus, it could easily conclude that Russia was a more useful ally than Germany. Russia at least has a will to national assertion and is, with India, South Korea and Japan, the greatest single key to the containment of China. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who could have put Germany at the head of the European powers, is leaving after 16 ineffectual years, having subordinated her country to the Kremlin in energy and military terms.

Normally, with such paralysis and enfeeblement in the Western alliance, Canada could play a vital role. But we have been perhaps the greatest slacker in all of NATO, have no foreign policy except jolly post-national naivete and a preposterous infatuation with the grossly misrepresented issue of climate change. When the Cold War was ending, the West was led by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl, François Mitterrand and Brian Mulroney (and St. John Paul II). British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron have their moments but they need American reinforcement. The Trudeau government, especially after the inelegant disembarkation of Marc Garneau, is more like a sophomoric club of Greenpeace enthusiasts than the government of a G7 country. We are awash in mediocrity and almost nobody, government or opposition, is saying anything sensible. The world is paying no attention to us, with good reason. It is surely time we did better.

First published in the National Post.

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Posted on 11/28/2021 7:32 AM by Conrad Black
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Sunday, 28 November 2021
Moving from Realty to Abstraction
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by Rebecca Bynum

Speaking directly from the Stalinist/Leninist/Maoist playbook, Milwaukee district attorney John Chisholm once said, “Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody? You bet,” Chisholm bluntly stated. “Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach.”

Something often ignored is that Islam lies at the end of the progression from reality to abstraction. Under Islam, human beings count for nothing except in their usefulness in the maintainance and spread of Islam. Islam is everything, human beings are nothing. 

 

 

 

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Posted on 11/28/2021 7:19 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Sunday, 28 November 2021
Remembering Sondheim
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by Bruce Bawer

In Finishing the Hat (2010) and Look, I Made a Hat (2011), his two massive compendia of his own lyrics, complete with commentary thereupon, Stephen Sondheim was tough on even the greatest of his American songwriting predecessors — at least the ones who penned the words. For example, the lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner (My Fair Lady) “lack energy and flavor and passion”; Lorenz Hart (whose catalogue includes “There’s a Small Hotel” and “My Funny Valentine”) was cursed with “pervasive laziness”; Ira Gershwin’s lyrics are “sloppy.”

As for Sondheim’s own mentor, the universally beloved Oscar Hammerstein II, whose books and lyrics for Show Boat, Oklahoma, and Carousel transformed the musical theater, Sondheim felt that his lyrics are often “plodding,” his imagery baffling, and his characters forced to sing words that don’t seem likely to be in their vocabularies. Who, Sondheim asked, can seriously believe that Nellie Forbush, the self-described “hick” heroine of South Pacific, knows the word “bromidic” (which crops up in “I’m in Love With a Wonderful Guy”)?

Yet if Sondheim can seem almost cruelly harsh on his colleagues of an earlier generation, it’s important to emphasize that he applied equally stringent standards to his own work, which he routinely polished to a high sheen, producing theater songs on a level rarely seen before him — even, yes, among the very best creations of the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Lerner and Loewe. Which is why his death, on Friday at the age of 91, can truly be said to mark the end of an era in American culture.

Sondheim won international fame in 1957 with West Side Story, for which he wrote the lyrics to Leonard Bernstein’s music. It became an instant classic. It’s been repeatedly revived, and for generations its script, bound in paperback with Romeo and Juliet (with which it shares a plot), has been a staple of high-school curricula. But Sondheim was fantastically tough on his own contributions to West Side Story. If he couldn’t picture Nellie Forbush using the word “bromidic,” he also thought it was a stretch to have Tony, the New York gang kid who is the hero of West Side Story, sing a line like “Tonight there will be no morning star.” (“You don’t see stars in Manhattan,” Sondheim observed, “except from the Planetarium.”)

Gypsy (1959)the life story of striptease performer Gypsy Rose Lee, is one of the best Broadway musicals ever, with a stirring story and great tunes like “Small World” and “Some People.” The last show for which Sondheim wrote just the lyrics (the music was by Jule Styne), it was followed by A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), a hilarious farce inspired by the works of the Roman playwright Plautus. Different though these two shows were from each other, both were solidly in the Broadway musical-comedy tradition.

In the years that followed, however, Sondheim — who said in 2009 that his major musical influences were Rachmaninoff and Ravel (as opposed to, say, Richard Rodgers or Harold Arlen) — shaped a more personal, and highly experimental, brand of musical theater. Company (1970), centered on Bobby, a single 35-year-old New Yorker not unlike Sondheim himself, was a plotless series of songs, by turns sunny and mordant, gentle and bitter, about loneliness, love, relationship, marriage, and disillusionment, among them “Side by Side by Side,” “Being Alive,” and “The Ladies Who Lunch.” It felt very new, very hip, very Seventies, and it pioneered the “concept musical” — but, unlike many cultural products of that era that manifestly sought to cash in on the Zeitgeist, it was smart, sharp, utterly sincere, and patently sui generis.

Follies (1971), also plotless and strikingly original, featured the memorable songs “I’m Still Here” and “Losing My Mind.” And the magnificent (and elaborately plotted) A Little Night Music (1973) — which, based on a 1955 Bergman film, included Sondheim’s most famous song, “Send in the Clowns” — is (in my opinion) perhaps the most nearly perfect American musical, telling stories of longing and regret from a remarkably mature and meditative perspective, and through one splendid song after another in ¾ time.

Together, these shows solidified Sondheim’s position as his generation’s most consequential creator of American theater music. He closed off the decade with the masterly Sweeney Todd (1979), which, containing such songs as “Not While I’m Around,” happens to be the only Sondheim show to have been adapted into a first-rate film. (The 1977 movie version of A Little Night Music, starring a painfully miscast Elizabeth Taylor and set, for no apparent reason, in Austria rather than Sweden, was one of the worst such adaptations of all time.)

These shows of the Seventies, all directed by Hal Prince, accustomed audiences to expecting certain things from Sondheim: wonderfully intricate (yet often hauntingly beautiful) melodies, brilliantly complex harmonies, surpassingly witty lyrics packed with ingenious internal rhymes, and moods that shifted from wistfulness to acid cynicism, from tenderness to chilling misanthropy.

Parting from Prince, Sondheim went on to collaborate with director James Lapine on Sunday in the Park With George (1985), about Georges Seurat; Into the Woods (1987), based on the fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm; Assassins (1990), about the real-life would-be killers of U.S. presidents; and Passion (1994), a quasi-operatic love story set in 19th-century Italy. While reviewers mostly celebrated these shows, audience reception varied. Some felt Sondheim’s lyrics had become too abstruse, his tunes too dissonant, his material too offbeat, unengaging, dark. I must confess that, generally speaking, I prefer his earlier work.

In any event, musicals were changing, the economics of Broadway were changing, the culture itself was changing, and while critics revered Sondheim more than ever, for theatergoers he was no longer the flavor of the month. During the last two decades of the 20th century, the Broadway musical theater came to be dominated by jukebox musicals, forgettable entertainments based on old movies, stuff for kids (The Lion King), trendy crap like Rent, and, above all, quasi-operatic melodramas (Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard, Les Misérables). The new king of Broadway was Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose oeuvre, whatever its occasional felicities, tends to be a world away from Sondheim’s subtlety, intricacy, precision, and restraint. In 2009, Sondheim himself confessed that “we all become superannuated … music changes every twenty-five years … everybody becomes old-fashioned.”

He even called himself an “old conservative” — and indeed, in many ways his work was conservative. Note his mockery, in these lyrics sung by a gang of juvenile delinquents in West Side Story, of what would become the founding clichés of the Great Society: “Gee, Officer Krupke, we’re very upset; / We never had the love that ev’ry child oughta get. / We ain’t no delinquents, / We’re misunderstood. / Deep down inside us there’s good!” Although he was gay, Sondheim didn’t come out until midlife, and he did so quietly and with dignity. You can’t imagine him ever using his music to advocate for an agenda, however worthy — which is to say that you can’t imagine him coming up with anything remotely like La Cage aux Folles (1983)the music and lyrics to which — including the gay anthem “I Am What I Am” — were written by Jerry Herman (1931-2019), the second most gifted Broadway songwriter of their generation.

Sondheim’s last musical, which went through several different titles before ending up as Road Show, never made it to Broadway, and opened in New York in 2008 (fourteen years after his previous show), receiving unimpressive reviews. Since then, there have been plenty of revivals and revues, plus awards, big and small, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as well as uncompleted work on new projects. On Broadway, where Sondheim could no longer open a show, a theater was named in his honor.

And now he’s gone. But his exquisite, towering body of work is still very much with us. A revival of Assassins is currently playing off-Broadway; Steven Spielberg’s remake of the 1961 movie West Side Story will open on December 7; a revival of Company, now in previews, is scheduled to have its formal Broadway opening two days later. During his lifetime, Sondheim played a major role in shaping sophisticated tastes in popular music; that precious influence won’t perish anytime soon. On Friday, hours before I found out that he had died, I happened to be listening to a playlist of Eurovision songs (don’t judge me), and when, in one line of one song, the stress fell clumsily on the word “it,” I winced, and said to the person sitting in the room with me: “Sondheim would never have done that.”

First published in the Spectator.

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Posted on 11/28/2021 6:20 AM by Bruce Bawer
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Sunday, 28 November 2021
On Slavery
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by Lev Tsitrin


Forced labor in a Soviet gulag

The airwaves, the press and the internet are so saturated with stories centered on race -- from recounting of George Floyd's death to "the 1619 project" that, though race is not something that preoccupies me, my mind must have reacted on its own to those constant cries of "systemic racism;" hence, the present piece.

Like every animal, we humans are exploitative, rapacious, and selfish, seeking safety and comfort at all costs -- including at the expense of others. Out ancestors set us on the exploitative track long ago by domesticating animals -- horses to carry heavy loads and plow the land; cows and sheep to provide food and clothing, dogs for security and tor guarding the herds. Nor did humans stop at owning and exploiting animals: land, forests, water, ores, fossils, anything and everything is used to satisfy human needs, if not to serve human greed. In our urge for physical security and creature comfort, we crave whatever can contribute to our well-being, whatever can shield us from want and misery. That's normal, I guess; only saints can resist the selfishness of human nature, and deliberately seek out suffering.

The animals, and the inanimate stuff we exploit, are termed "property." Cattle, poultry and land are routinely bought and sold; in legal terms they are just "assets" that belong to someone. As we all know, prior to Lincoln's Emancipation declaration such was the case with people, too. Yet, there is a huge difference between owning a cow and owning a human. A human is endowed with intrinsic self-awareness of agency which makes humans superior to animals, and equal to one another -- and makes the idea of owning humans much more tenuous, morally and legally, and for that matter, much more dangerous. Unlike a cow, a human thinks and understands the predicament of servitude -- and tries to regain the lost agency, seeking freedom. Neither cows, nor sheep rebel. Slaves do.

This feature of slavery -- ownership of one's intrinsic equal -- is what distinguishes it from other kinds of property ownership, and forms solid grounds to forbid it. And yet, slavery had been practiced throughout history -- using different justifications. In the ancient Rome it was simply a matter of brute force: the defeated were part of the war booty, and that was that. So it was in Africa, too: when the Portuguese voyagers discovered the markets of West Africa, it was not just ivory and gold that was sold there, but people too.

Justifications for owning humans on the purchasers' part, when any were needed, were not hard to come up with: the story of biblical Noah cursing one of his sons to servitude was quite sufficient to allay the conscience of the more pious, while to the less sensitive it was just commerce -- same as trade in cattle or real estate. Other justifications followed, like the inherent inferiority of the blacks (Benjamin Franklin was as proud of his discovery that the backs could learn the same subjects that were taught to whites just as well as the whites did, as he was of his discoveries of the Gulfstream, and of atmospheric electricity). Justifications differed of course from place to place. In Tsarist Russia, before it abolished serfdom in 1861, peasants were simply considered part of the landscape -- like a lake or forest that are part of an estate -- and were bought and sold along with the land by the aristocratic landowners. The serfs did not have identifying documents, and could not travel; they were inherent to the land (an arrangement that was resurrected by the Soviets who denied the peasantry (or rather, "collective farmers," as they were called) the internal passports that were needed for identification and travel, literally turning peasants into serfs. While Soviet city dwellers had it a little easier -- they were "written into" a particular city of domicile in their internal passports, and could travel, one could not simply say "let me move to Moscow," and go live there -- that was impossible.)

Our own age, replete with dictatorships that treat their populace as property by telling their subjects what can, and what cannot be thought, said, or done, found an altogether different reason to hold their populations under control and deny them agency and freedom. To them, the power rightly belongs to those who know and serve the higher Truth -- Communism, Nazism, Islamism. That's how the philosopher-rulers (or, as some call them, "ideologues") in the mold of Lenin/Stalin/Hitler/Mao/Kim/Xi/Khomeini justify their power. Though the outright slavery practiced in the form of forced labor in Nazi concentration camps and Soviet Gulags are a thing of the past (though apparently not in China), slavery itself isn't. Countries where the use of mind is limited to memorizing the leaders' sayings, and the speech is restricted to parroting them -- countries like China, North Korea, Iran, or places where ISIS, al-Qaeda and their ilk dominate, all practice slavery. 

What is interesting about all this, is that it de-links the phenomenon of slavery from that of the race that is all the rage nowadays. In today's discourse, race links the present (and presumably miserable) situation of American blacks to that of their enslaved ancestors, attainments of the emancipation and of the civil rights movement notwithstanding. We hear and read, day in and day out that today, racism is unconscious, all-pervading, endemic, ingrained, systemic -- and that it infected the present generation of Americans via America's "original sin" of slavery. The problem with that linkage is that slavery -- slavery per se -- simply has nothing whatsoever to do with race. In Tsarist and Communist Russia, slaves were as white as were their owners (and for that matter, African slaves were as black as their African owners who sold them). Modern-day slaves in the Communist China and North Korea are as Asian as are Mr. Xi and Mr. Kim; they are as Persian as are Iran's ayatollahs. So what does slavery have to do with race? Africans' black skin did not cause slavery in America any more than Russian peasants' white skin caused serfdom in Russia. Rather, human tendency for exploitation (exhibited equally by Africa's black sellers and the white purchasers) was what caused it. The state of labor market of the time -- availability for purchase of workers in Africa coupled with the labor shortage in America adequately explains American slavery; there is simply no need to mix the race into this. Blacks were purchased not because they were black -- but because they were available for purchase.

As I went to school in the Soviet Union, the teachers kept reminding us of one of Lenin's great sayings (all his sayings were great, of course, but only so many could be repeatedly quoted to school children): "to live in a society and be free from it is impossible." Sure, Lenin was right -- but what he did not mention that this social dependence comes in two opposite forms -- that of a person in power who socially depends for his pleasures on the services offered the flunkeys -- and that of the flunkeys, who depend for their living (and at certain times and in certain places, for their very lives) on the caprice of the person in power. Hence, humans try all they can to get into the former group, and get out of the latter. We all want to be "haves" rather than "have nots," be in the camp of "oppressors" rather than the "oppressed." Even the self-effacing "servants of the people" like Lenin/Stalin/Mao/Xi/Kim (Khomenei of course serves God, not people) who ostensibly want nothing for themselves, but whose only goal is to serve the higher good -- prefer to do so while living in palaces, being served by flunkeys, and being protected by bodyguards and security services.

The same principle applies on a smaller scale, too. Everything that can be used to put a foot in the door, to tighten one's grip on the career ladder, be it corporate, academic, or political, has to be exploited. If fashionable cries of "racism" can help in building a career, can be a step to a better position, why not? I think this is why we hear the cries of "racism" from the "elites" (racism clearly not preventing them from attaining the most cherished positions in media and academe, since they are sufficiently well-connected to have access to the prestigious and highly selective and restrictive media outlets like the New York Times or NPR-- elitist media inaccessible to the regular folk) -- though racism has nothing whatsoever to do with the slavery, and though slavery in America was abandoned a century and a half ago, and the civil rights movement of fifty years ago changed the attitudes to the point where Americans could elect a black man as the president of the country. Surprisingly (or perhaps, not), the fact that slavery is still being practiced in far too many places around the world seems unimportant to the race-crying, well-connected elites to whom it means nothing, the all-in-all race that could be exploited for promotion, not being a factor there. As to slavery itself -- who really cares?

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Posted on 11/28/2021 5:36 AM by Lev Tsitrin
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