Thursday, 21 June 2018
Stopping Political Corruption

by Michael Curtis

Brigadoon, 1954

What a day that would be, what a rare mood for democratic countries, if not the whole human race, if fact followed fiction and emulated the charming musical, the 1954 Hollywood film Brigadoon. That fantasy portrays a small Scottish village that is protected from corruption as it magically disappears into the past and reappears only every hundred years. It needs little imagination to envision a more appealing world if international organizations, particularly those of the United Nations, would be similarly protected from political corruption and either lie dormant for a hundred years or go out of existence.   

The Chinese philosophers knew that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step. In Brigadoon the legend is that if any citizen left the village, he would disappear forever. Perhaps a decision of the Trump administration will echo fiction and lead to a similar conclusion. On June 19, 2018, the United States withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council, UNHRC. The organization is supposed to be the world's most important international body, concerned with human rights. But from the start it has been politically corrupted by improper behavior, bigotry and prejudice. The U.S. action is unlikely, imitating Brigadoon, to send UNHRC to sleep forever, but it is an affirmation of criticism, neglected and needed by so called human rights watchdog organizations that thwart reform,  of a body that is unwilling to introduce changes in its behavior and is cynically hypocritical.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley who made the announcement for withdrawal called UNHRC a "cesspool of political bias...and with chronic anti-Israel bias." As if to prove her argument, the opening session in June 2018 was devoted to a criticism of  U.S. immigration policy. No reference was made to the countries that are the real abusers of human rights, including Venezuela, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Yemen. Membership of UNHRC may not be contain a full listing of the world's oppressive governments, but it does include conspicuous abusers of human rights.

The UNHRC, based in Geneva, was created in 2006 to replace the UN Human Rights Commission set up in 1946, but which was ended because of the poor human rights record of a number of its members, too atrocious to ignore. At that time John Bolton, then U.S. Ambassador to the UN, on December 4. 2006, voted against its creation, sensing that the members of the new body could protect themselves against criticism of their own human rights abuses by being on the Council. A multilateral organization of this kind could not judge behavior of demcratic countries. In his own picturesque language, Bolton said, "We want a butterfly... we don't intend to put lipstick on a caterpillar and call it a success."

Poor butterfly 'neath the blossoms waiting for an organization supposed to promote human rights world wide. The UNHRC has 47 members, elected for three years, allotted on a curious basis by region: Africa 13; Asia-Pacific 13; Latin America and Caribbean 8; Western Europe and North America 7; Eastern Europe 6. Its current membership includes 14 countries listed as "not free" by Freedom House: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, China, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Interestingly, some of those countries rank high in the list of journalists killed 2012-16;  46 in Iraq, and 20 in Afghanistan.

The Obama Administration joined UNHRC in June 2009 believing that it would help make the organization a more credible, balanced, and effective forum for advancing human rights, and that it was more likely to do this from inside rather than outside the body. This argument, that it is better to be part of the equation than to be outside, is always questionable, even if well intended. However, the expectation has not been fulfilled as the record since 2009 shows.

The UNHRC of course has discussed various issues but its main preoccupation has been an obsession with one country, the State of Israel. This has meant passing 70 resolutions critical of Israel, the next of which will automatically be on July 2, 2018. Comparative figures for UNHRC critical Resolutions between 2006-2016 are: Israel 68, Syria 20, Burma 11, North Korea 9, Iran 6. The disproportion is unlikely to be changed because the UNHRC has a permanent standing agenda item 7 of a session every year of allegations of violations committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory. The UNHRC continues to pass more resolutions against Israel than against any other country or all countries. It remains disproportionate and biased, a discredit to stated objectives and principles of the United Nations.

Corruption in public as in private affairs is a frequent form of deviant behaviour associated with a particular motivation, private gain at public expense. The most recent American case in June 2018 is that of Alain Kaloyeros,  physicist, former president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, accused in Federal District Court of corruption. His alleged offence is manipulating a bidding process so that lucrative contracts worth millions would go to two developers who made large donations to the electoral campaigns of Governor Andrew Cuomo, though the Governor has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

All will agree that corruption of this kind impedes democracy, depletes the national wealth, and results in higher costs of goods and services. Examples of the public objective interest being subverted by and for private interests illustate the most common form of corruption. But a wider issue, that of political corruption, needs attention. This issue is historic, discussed in Aristotle's Politics where he deals with the corruption of political forms, deviations from the "ideal" form,  as when kingship descends to tyranny. Machiavelli in his Discourses, Book 1 argues that corruption is the main threat to a state.

Contemporary politics is full of corruption by public figures as a few recent examples show. Mariano Rajoy, prime minister for seven years in Spain, forced to resign on a vote of no confidence related to the network of "institutionalized corruption," bribery, illegal kickbacks, money laundering, in which his People's Party was involved.  Najib Razak, long term leader in Malaysia, involved in corruption of millions siphoned from  a state fund into his private bank account. Jacob Zuma forced to resign as president of South Africa in 2018, as a result of benefitting from public expenditure. Dilna Rousseff impeached while president of Brazil in 2016, because of involvement in corruption scandals. Allegation persist that the United Russia party, the party of President Vladimir Putin, is connected to organized crime and the "mafia clan."

Corruption can be defined in various ways. Clearly the example of the disgraced politicians mentioned above shows the improper pursuit of private interest by those holding public office. But even more important for political institutions and international relations is objective and unprejudiced decision making in the public interest. This is not and has never been the conduct of the UNHRC. Even in 2006 Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary-General, held that the declining credibility of the existing UN Human Rights Commission "cast a shadow on the UN system as a whole." Its sucessor the UNHRC casts an even deeper shadow.

The US is correct, and other democratic nations should follow its lead, in withdrawing from this organization contaminated by bigotry, prejudice, and antisemitism, and trying to stem political corruption. Then the bell will ring and  there will be a smile on the face of the whole human race.

Posted on 06/21/2018 3:01 PM by Michael Curtis
Thursday, 21 June 2018
Honor Killing and Islam

by Ibn Warraq

 A Family Conspiracy: Honor Killing, by Phyllis Chesler (New English Review Press, 348 pp., $28.75)

Phyllis Chesler pioneered the study of violence against women in the late 1960s, concentrating on women living in North America and Europe. By 2003, she was writing about honor killings, based on newspaper accounts, Internet sources, interviews, and memoirs. She then embarked on a series of equally pioneering, meticulously researched, academic studies of honor killings in the West, but also in the Middle East and South Asia. These studies and over 90 articles on the same subject are collected for the first time in A Family Conspiracy: Honor Killing.

Chesler carefully distinguishes honor killings from “plain and psychopathic homicides, serial killings, crimes of passion, revenge killings, and domestic violence.” An honor killing is the murder of girls and women by their families because of supposedly disgraceful acts perceived to have brought public shame. Honor killings are a family collaboration and even considered by their perpetrators to be legally justifiable acts of self-defense, because the murdered girls’ dishonor is regarded as an aggressive act against their families. It demands a response.

In her second of four in-depth studies first published in The Middle East Quarterly, Chesler looked at 172 incidents and 230 honor-killing victims. She gathered most of her information from English-language media around the world. “There were 100 victims murdered for honor in the West, including 33 in North America and 67 in Europe,” Chesler found. “There were 130 additional victims in the Muslim world. Most of the perpetrators were Muslims, as were their victims, and most of the victims were women.” Indeed, while Sikhs and Hindus do commit such murders, the honor killings in her study, both those in the West and in the rest of the world, are mainly Muslim-on-Muslim crimes.

It is a measure of her intellectual integrity that Chesler goes where the data lead. Thus, her conclusion, based on the empirical evidence, is that “the origin of honor killings probably resides in shame-and-honor tribalism, not necessarily in a particular religion.” And she holds each religion—Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism—responsible for failing to abolish, or trying to abolish, honor killing or femicide.

But can Islam itself really have nothing to do with honor killings, even though Muslims have perpetuated the majority of such murders in the West? Yes, honor killings have also been found in various societies in the Balkans, the southern Mediterranean (Sicily, for example), and in India, but could these cultures not have learned from Islam, since they were all under Islamic domination for centuries? Further, how does one disentangle the supposed tribal components of honor killing from the religious ones?

Surely, for example, Pakistani culture, saturated with Islam—a religion that undoubtedly treats women as inferior—could only develop a deeply misogynistic society that makes honor killing possible. Religious authorities do not condemn honor killings in Pakistan, a fact that makes hope of abolition remote. The attitudes that make honor-killing possible are derived directly from Islamic teachings and are further reinforced by them. Muslim nations make similar arguments about cliterectomy and other anti-modern practices.

Chesler has put her scholarship to good use by submitting “affidavits about honor killing in court cases where girls or women, in flight from being honor killed, were seeking political asylum or emancipation from their families.” She has rendered a great service in presenting the fruit of her sober research, which should be the starting point of any attempts to deal with this barbaric custom, whether Islamic or merely tribal. Chesler has contributed, and not for the first time, to the amelioration of the suffering of countless women.

First published in City Journal.

Posted on 06/21/2018 4:26 AM by Ibn Warraq
Wednesday, 20 June 2018
Trump Has Strengthened, Not Undermined, Democracy in the U.S.

He has set about rescuing a system that had broken down.

by Conrad Black

Never Trumpers Bill Kristol and Jonah Goldberg

It is distasteful to return to my exchange with my esteemed NRO colleague Jonah Goldberg about the column he wrote several weeks ago likening President Trump’s reference to the implantation of FBI informers in his campaign as “Spygate” to McCarthyism. He replied on June 6, citing some of what I had written, and putting me in the category of those who had criticized his column because he “should have endorsed ‘Spygate’ in toto.” I neither wrote nor implied anything of the kind. My objection was that any likening of Donald Trump to Joseph R. McCarthy is utterly spurious and Jonah knows that perfectly well. I won’t dwell further on the point and welcome his emphatic assurance that the comparison was as circumscribed as he defined it in his June 6 revision. It was still nonsense but much less objectionable nonsense and Jonah Goldberg has a right to an unvexed retreat, like Kutuzov after Borodino or Lee after Gettysburg (contrary to Lincoln’s orders).

The reason I raise this is that Jonah’s recent book The Suicide of the West, something of a sequel to the famous book of the same name by James Burnham, (a founding editor of National Review), decries Trumpian nationalism and the president’s methods of rousing mass opinion against the governing elites as indicative of the destruction, self-destruction in fact, of a society born of democratic enlightenment. If the author advises that I misread his book (as he alleges I did his McCarthy piece), then I will defer to him, of course. But that is how I read it, and this really is our issue; we all take polemical liberties sometimes and the reference to McCarthy was really not important. But I think the victory of Trump and his gradual success in the principal areas he has focused on — economic growth, deregulation, tax reduction and reform, regularization of immigration, nuclear non-proliferation, equitable burden-sharing in the Western alliance, reduction of the trade deficit and oil imports, and withdrawal from ecological measures based on fear of global warming — are strong evidence of the strength of enlightened democracy in the United States.

I will concede that the rescue process under this administration is inelegantly conducted at times, but rarely in recent American history has substance been so overwhelmingly more important than style. I believe that Jonah Goldberg and others who might be expected to approve most of the policy initiatives and results of the Trump presidency are unduly preoccupied with mere appearances, optics, and atmospherics. When Trump has departed the White House, if he has sharply stimulated economic growth, drastically reduced poverty and illegal immigration and the trade deficit, reduced the crime rate, reconstructed the Western alliance or at least eliminated its addiction to collective fantasy, and kept nuclear weapons out of the hands of completely untrustworthy regimes, perceived stylistic infelicities will be irrelevant and quickly forgotten.

The system Trump attacked had largely broken down. Apart from the leftward shift of the Obama interregnum, which was generally frustrated by a Republican Congress, a Bush-Clinton tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum had passed executive authority back and forth between themselves and was cranked up to do it again with Jeb and Hillary until Donald Trump mounted the stage and interrupted the play. After the indiscriminate militarism of George W. Bush’s seeking to plant democracy on stony ground, and the feckless pacifism of Obama, American foreign policy was in shambles. The resigned acceptance of a perpetually colossal trade deficit was essentially the result of American toleration of being hosed by largely disreputable and uncompanionable OPEC countries, unfair-traders led by China, and the supposed necessity of carrying the Western European allies on America’s back. The Obama climate policy would have been an act of singular self-punishment for the benefit of largely corrupt and flaccid under-developed countries, rewarding them for their backwardness like welfare addicts. Hillary Clinton would have continued this, and the Bush-Romney-McCain Republicans would have been only marginally preferable in policy terms, though probably less grating personally than a Hillary Clinton regime. (Senator McCain is rightly indulged, given his distinguished service and tenuous medical condition; without those mitigations, his public conduct in the last two years would qualify him as a public nuisance.)

The country was in stasis after 20 years of chronic misgovernment: debt-ridden, economically flat-lined on a per capita basis, ineffectual in the world after a horrible economic debacle, the generation of chaos in the Middle East, and an immense humanitarian refugee crisis, all thanks chiefly to legislative and executive blunders in Washington by both parties.

The Trump success, electorally, and so far in policy terms, has been the success of sound, sensible, rather conservative policy dressed up in populist terms.

Trump is arresting the slide to the mortal atomization of society. Donald Trump is proof of the vitality, even imperishability, of a democratic and free-enterprise system, not of its weakness and impending doom. The disgraceful and largely illegal promotion of the malicious scam of Trump-Russian collusion will enable the president to sweep out the stables with a bulldozer — if his defeated enemies had just given him a normal presidential honeymoon, he would not have bothered them. Now, as I have written before, their crimes will be punished.

In this sense of renovation, the Trump phenomenon bears some resemblance to the New Deal. Of course, aspects of the New Deal were too regimental and tax rates were raised excessively, because of Roosevelt’s concern about third-party demagogues such as Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and Francis Townsend. But the entire economic system had collapsed when Roosevelt was inaugurated, including the banks and stock and commodity exchanges. Twenty-five to 30 percent of the work-force was unemployed, and there was no direct federal relief for them. Roosevelt’s program earned about a solid 67 percent grade as policy (almost none of it was repealed by Eisenhower, Nixon, or Reagan). But it was a near-perfect score for catastrophe-avoidance. The failings of the recent welfare system can’t be laid on Roosevelt — he was for workfare and put the unemployed to work for the public good at bargain rates. Roosevelt would be horrified to see what he wrought transmogrified into taking money from those who earned it and giving it to those who haven’t, almost irrespective of merit, in exchange for their votes, even to the point of admitting millions of foreign peasants illegally and taking no great pains to prevent them from voting. It could not go on and it will not, but it would have under the Bush-Clinton-Obama triad, however unceasing the evasive bunk about “comprehensive immigration reform.”

The real danger will be, if it appears, not the decline of religious practice, which is much commented upon, but the growth of public indifference to the Judeo-Christian tradition of the sacred value of life, and an insufficient regard for a notion of a superhuman spiritual intelligence. Such regard must remain strong enough to dissuade people from imagining that they themselves are the gods. Alexander the Great and Julius and Augustus Caesar were complicit in their own proclamation as deities; they were very great leaders but not at all gods. Even President Trump’s greatest admirers are unlikely to accuse him of the fault of excessive modesty, but he respects that absolute core of our civilization. That cannot be said with confidence of some of his more vociferous critics. An agnostic doffing of the cap to religion as useful for public morale, as both James Burnham and Jonah Goldberg have made, is the real recipe for the suicide of our civilization that they commendably have sought to help avoid.

First published in National Review Online.

Posted on 06/20/2018 8:30 AM by Conrad Black
Wednesday, 20 June 2018
The Need for Political Diversity

by Michael Curtis

Amy Wax gives a lecture at Middlebury College

Is it an earthquake or merely a shock? On June 14, 2018 the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz, issued his report on the handling of the Hillary Clinton emails by the DoJ and the FBI. It found that the then FBI Director James Comey was insubordinate, that Attorney General Loretta Lynch showed weak leadership and lack of objectivity, that at least two particular FBI personnel, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were responsible for anti-Trump communications, and there were other instances of errors of judgment and lack of professionalism.

However, the report concluded that the evident political bias of some FBI personnel did not affect their legal decisions regarding the Clinton issue. Intent, of course, is difficult to determine especially if there was no documentary or testimonial evidence on the issue. The political parties will differ on whether the report is a rainbow or just a mirage. Yet the statements of hostility by a number of FBI personnel, and the pronounced political bias towards the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump suggest that the conclusion of the report, though trying to be transparent, can be regarded as inadequate if not "extremely careless" or "grossly negligent."

This political inquiry has come at a time when the U.S. is concerned with related issues of equality under the law and appropriate diversity in social organizations. 

Diversity has become a central factor, in academia and in business, with reference to ethnicity, gender, sexuality, social mobility, and disability. Nowhere is this a crucial problem more than in American universities with the argument for a more diverse student body, recruited from historically underrepresented populations, black , ethnic groups, and women.

Cultural diversity is important in a desirable society. One practical argument is that socially diverse groups are more innovative than homogeneous ones, that simply interacting with other groups forces people to prepare better, leads to creativity, and better decision making because of novel information.

Diversity is being implemented in business. Penguin Random House plans to make the company more diverse both by its new hires and by the authors it will publish by 2025. Yet, a number of problems arise. The first is what is to constitute diversity, and what factors are to be considered. Should factors such as religion, age, occupation, and politics be considered relevant?

Universities, particularly Harvard University at the moment are confronted by the problem. Harvard College in June 2018 faces a lawsuit that its admissions system is biased against Asian-Americans, by intentionally discriminating against Asian-American applicants by limiting their admission numbers every year. This, the plantiffs hold, is a violation of civil rights law and the concept of equal treatment.

Harvard College will admit in 2018-9 for its 2021 class about 4.6% of applicants; of these 22.7% are self-reported Asians; 14.5% African-Americans; 10.8% Latino, and 3% Native American. Asian-Americans argue their proportion should be higher in view of their test scores, and compare this discrmination with the quotas against Jews in the 1930s.

Applicants to Harvard are considered in four ratings: 1. academic, 2. extracurricular, 3. athletic, 4. personal, plus an overall rating.

Asians score higher in 1 and 2, but lowest on 4, the "personal", an assessment of character traits, a curious mixture of qualities and personality traits: positive personality, kindness, likeability, courage, widely respected, leadership, curiosity, open mindedness, and creativity.

The whole issue of affirmative action is legally unresolved by the Supreme Court. The case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin 2013 decided 7-1 that race could be used as one of many factors in considering admissons, and only if it was related to achieve the educational benefits of diversity. Educational diversity was held to be a compelling interest as a concrete and precise goal. The ruling was upheld in a second Fisher case, 4-3,  sanctioning the affirmative action policy of the University. The use of race as a consideration in admission process was held not to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

One factor never brought into discussion in Harvard or elsewhere in academia, the media and in social and professional bodies, is political diversity. Harvard itself illustrates this by the political imbalance in its faculty. Precise reports on this lack of diversity are not plentiful, but some are available. One of the Harvard faculty shows that in the 2008 election, the faculty members by 20-1 voted for the Democratic Party. In the Harvard department of government, only 3 or 4 confessed to being  Republican. More genersally, another study of 40 leading U.S. universities indicated 12-1 majority support for Democrats. The best departments for Republican were those of economics, and even there Democrats had a 4.5-1 majority.

This political disproprtion and lack of diversity may be one reason to explain the disgraceful intolerant behavior of students towards conservative speakers. What else can explain the hundreds of students at Middlebury College disrupting the lecture and setting off fire alarms, to prevent a speech by the distingished though controversial social scientist, Charles Murray. As a result of his 1994 book The Bell Curve, which linked intelligence with race, Murray was accused of being racist, sexist, anti-gay. The protestors held that his talk was not an educational opportunity, but a threat, though it was unclear what was theatened.

Academia has been the scene of many examples of lack of intellectual and political diversity. Among them are the cancellation at University of California, Berkeley, of a lecture by Milo Yiannopoulos, an outburst at New York University when Gavin Minnes, conservative comedian, in February 2017 tried to speak to NYU College Republicans but was pepper sprayed, and 11 were arrested. Portland Stste U Professor Bruce Gilley resigned from the American Political Science Association  because his proposed panel, "Viewpoint Diversity in Political Science," with people of all political sides was rejected, for him a serious lack of political diversity, and a clear case of leftist intolerance for any conservative presence.

Equally troubling is the case of Amy Wax, Penn Law School, who has been barred from teaching 1st year law students. Her offence is that she had made two controversial statements. One was in a column attributing poverty and other social problems to a breakdown in "bourgeois culture," such as self-discipline and commitment to marriage in the US. The other was, in a letter to the Brown University economist Glen Lowry, himself black, when she wrote she had never seen a black student graduate in top quarter of the class and rarely in the top half. 

In view of the current controversey over behavior of legal members of the DoJ and FBI it is useful to consider diversity in the legal profession though this is difficult. The legal profession is more difficult to assess in terms of diversity, with its large numbers and with their points of view that are related to varied factors; law school attended; geography of their professional firm; status as partner or not; size of their firm; government employees, about 8% of all lawyrers; or employees of major companies.

In general, lawyers, especially trial lawyers, are more leftist than the general population, as shown in donations to political parties. Government lawyers tend to be more liberal than non-government lawyers. Public defenders lean left, while prosecutors less so. Those attenders of top law shools tend to be more liberal than those from less prestigious schools. Yet, few lawyers are at political extremes of either political party. Lawyers tend to be in the middle, in the same way as in other professions. Geographically, those from the North are more liberal than those from the South. However, all leading law firms show a tendency  to lean left, and most of them are in big cities, such as NYC, Chicago, LA, and DC. But much of the outlook depends on the agenda of the law firm, economic mergers or immigration issues.

Political differences remain, but it is encouraging that Inspector General Horowitz is prepared to investigate whether the clear, demonstrated bias of some FBI officials has been a factor in decision making. It might also be useful and revealing if there was some general analysis of a neglected topic, the political diversity of the legal staff in government employment.

Posted on 06/20/2018 8:05 AM by Michael Curtis
Wednesday, 20 June 2018
Isis supporter 'plotted to bomb Downing Street and behead Theresa May', court hears

From the Independent and The Times

An Isis supporter plotted to behead Theresa May and bomb Downing Street in a suicide attack in the heart of London, a court has heard.

Naa’imur Zakariyah Rahman, 20, intended to carry out a “full frontal assault” on the gates and the door of No 10 and expected to die in the attack, it is claimed. The alleged plot was uncovered by MI5 officers posing as Islamic State operatives online.

Mr Rahman, of Finchley, north London, is said to have discussed various attacks, including a drone strike or a shooting at the Houses of Parliament, before an undercover officer supplied him with a fake bomb and suicide vest. The suspect had already received bomb-making instructions from his uncle, who had travelled to Syria to join Isis, the court was told. Mr Rahman allegedly thought he was just days away from inflicting “lethal violence” before his arrest last November.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC told the Old Bailey that Mr Rahman considered the military and MI5 buildings as targets before settling on Downing Street, and was fully prepared to die.

“Before his arrest prevented it, he was, he believed, just days away from his objective, which was no less than a suicide attack, by blade and explosion, on Downing Street and, if he could, upon the prime minister, Theresa May, herself,”

The jury was shown covert video footage of a meeting in Brixton on November 6. In it Mr Rahman said he would get past the gate, make a “ten-second sprint” for the door of No 10, with his main objective to “take her head off”.

The court was told that Mr Rahman went on to praise the suicide bomber who attacked the Manchester Arena, saying he “did well”. He allegedly mused over wearing “a vest”, driving past parliament and “pushing the button” to “clear the entire block”, and wrote: “Everyone inside, including the prime minister, would be dead.

Mr Rahman is also accused of helping his friend Mohammad Aqib Imran, 22, to join Isis in Syria by recording a sponsorship video.

Mr Imran, who was arrested on the same day, had allegedly set about assembling money and acquiring a fake passport for his trip from another MI5 role-player via Telegram.

Mr Rahman, from Finchley in north London, has denied two counts of preparing terrorist acts.

Mr Imran, of Sparkbrook in Birmingham, has pleaded not guilty to preparing terrorist acts and possessing a terrorist document on his Kindle.

The trial continues.

Posted on 06/20/2018 3:02 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 19 June 2018
Sweden, Islam, and the Call to Prayer

by Hugh Fitzgerald

In Sweden, Muslims have been demonstrating their menacing power. They have already managed to establish 61 No-Go zones, lawless areas where the Swedish government’s writ does not fully run. Firemen, sanitation men, and civil servants are now afraid to enter these Muslim-populated and Muslim-run zones without police escorts, while the police themselves do not enter these areas except in force. In June 2017, Sweden’s National Police Commissioner, Dan Eliasson, spoke on national television and pleaded for assistance: “Help us, help us!,” he said, while warning that Swedish police forces could not uphold the law by themselves in the face of aggressive and hostile Muslims; enforcing the rule of law would require greater support from all segments of Swedish society, and especially from the media, so that the police would no longer be cowed by the reflexive charges of “racism” and “islamophobia” that until now have prevented them from acting with the necessary firmness. Things have gotten so bad that even in 2016, 80% of the Swedish police said they were thinking of quitting their jobs; as of now, more than a thousand police officers quit every year.

A Swedish research expert regarding destabilized countries, Johan Patrik Engellau, has been working with organizations such as the UN and others that operate in crisis areas. He never expected to witness such a catastrophic breakdown of civil society in his own country:

“I’m afraid it is the end for the well-organized, decent and egalitarian Sweden we have known up to now. Personally, I would not be surprised if a form of civil war occurs. In some places, the civil war has probably already begun.”

Similar grim tidings come from the police chief of Stockholm:

The Swedish state has lost large areas to armed Islamist militias. Police chief Lars Alversjø says that “There is lawlessness in parts of Stockholm (Sweden’s capital) now.” He also observed how “the legal system, which is a pillar in every democratic society, is collapsing in Sweden.”

And  a Swedish expert on terrorism is similarly pessimistic:

Per Magnus Ranstorp, a researcher into terrorism and radicalization at the Swedish National Defense College, notes: “In the worst areas, extremists have taken over. The whole sense of justice and peace are threatened by the fact that the police are breaking down and it’s only getting worse. Sweden is in a disastrous situation.”

The Swedish Security Service recently warned that the country is crawling with “thousands of Islamists” sharing Islamic State’s ideology. In many places, public servants (i.e., non-Islamic authorities) require police escort or protection.

And Swedish Muslims, pressing their advantage, have started to demand the right to use loudspeakers to broadcast the Call to Prayer. Mosques in Fittja, in Karlskrona (the permission was temporarily withdrawn, for procedural reasons, but will again be granted), and now in Växjö have been granted the right to use the loudspeakers every Friday.

That latest victory has only whet Muslim appetites for more such victories. Avdi Islami, the spokesman of Växjö’s Muslim Foundation, has asked mosques all over Sweden to do the same as in Växjö, and to apply for permission to broadcast the Call to Prayer. It is clear that he views the Muslim victory in three cities, including his own, as only the first step for Swedish Muslims, to be followed by similar victories for mosques all over Sweden. Once Muslims in Sweden have everywhere achieved the right to broadcast the Call to Prayer on Friday, does anyone think they will stop there? They will then present a new demand, that is, the right to broadcast the Call to Prayer not just on Friday, but every day, and five times a day, beginning before dawn and ending after sunset. There is no evidence so far that local Swedish authorities will have the courage to refuse.

The broadcasted Calls to Prayer are normally very loud — the Växjö Call to Prayer broadcast has been measured to hit 110 decibels. Some mosques have not one, but up to six loudspeakers, prepared to bray in every direction, but waiting for the government’s go-ahead. The earliest prayer is before sunrise, often between 4:30 and 5 a.m.; it obviously wakes non-Muslims up much earlier than they would like. The evening prayer, after sunset, while not as disruptive for adults, is likely to startle young children who have been put to bed and are trying to fall, or have just fallen, asleep. And throughout the day, the Call to Prayer is not, as Barack Obama famously called it, “one of the sweetest sounds in the world,” but for most non-Muslims, it remains an intrusive and raucous noise, the worst kind of noise pollution.

Furthermore, broadcasting through loudspeakers is not necessary. No Muslim in the West now has any need to be summoned by the shrill guttural broadcast of a muezzin’s Call to Prayer. Technology has changed everything. Now there are many hundreds of call-to-prayer apps. They have proven tremendously popular. You can find online within a few seconds the “100 best call-to-prayer apps” for Android, the “100 best call-to-prayer apps for iOS,” the call-to-prayer and time apps at Google Play. Your computer, your smartphone, your clock, your watch can all be programmed to summon you with the Call To Prayer. There are apps that can even let you know if there are fellow Muslims nearby with whom you can pray, since communal prayer is favored in Islam — in other words, apps that offer additional useful information that the muezzin’s Call to Prayer through a loudspeaker does not provide.

The reason why Muslims in Sweden are so intent on getting approval for broadcasting the Call to Prayer is not because they need it. No, it is because in the West the ability to impose this sound on the Kuffar has become a symbol of Islam triumphant. The very fact that such broadcasting inflicts aural suffering on non-Muslims, disrupting their sleep, makes its acceptance by the Swedish authorities all the more telling as a sign of Muslim power. It is not needed, in order to call Muslims to prayer; that call can be delivered, more accurately and efficiently, through many available apps. Muslims now carry their Call to Prayer reminders on their watches, their smartphones, their computers. The Call to Prayer broadcast from loudspeakers at the mosque, the method that the Muslims demand to have accepted, even though it is no longer necessary, tells the Swedes that we, the Muslims, are here to stay, that you cannot be rid of us, that sooner or later you will surrender to our demands, and if we discommode you with what you unfeelingly call “noise pollution,” that’s just too bad.

That is exactly why the Swedish authorities should refuse these demands for the Call to Prayer to be broadcast seven days a week. And, their spines stiffened, they should then reconsider their decision in those localities where the Call to Prayer has been granted for Friday alone.

The three arguments against allowing the muezzin to broadcast the Call to Prayer by means of loudspeakers affixed to the mosque are clear:

First, the Call to Prayer, if broadcast through loudspeakers, is exceedingly loud, and many non-Muslims, impervious to its supposed charms, find the Arabic harsh and guttural. It is inflicted on Muslim and non-Muslim alike for three long minutes, during what should be the normal time for sleep. The predawn prayer is particularly disruptive; the evening prayer can keep children — depending on their bedtime — from falling asleep, or may wake them just after they have fallen asleep. Such damage to sleep patterns can be harmful to health.

Second, the Call to Prayer no longer needs to be broadcast far and wide to Muslims.Technology has rendered that unnecessary. Now the Call to Prayer can be delivered directly to the individual Believer, through hundreds of available apps on computers, smartphones, clocks, watches, apps at least as accurate and reliable as any muezzin’s call, and that can include additional helpful information.

Third, the symbolic significance of the Call to Prayer being broadcast in non-Muslim countries, such as Sweden, should be clear. Even if not needed, even if superseded in efficacy and reach by apps, Muslims demand the public broadcasting of the Islamic Call to Prayer precisely because it demonstrates, even flaunts, the power of Muslims, and of Islam. It inflicts pain on non-Muslims, and tells them that Muslims are present, that they are here to stay, and that their demands, however disturbing or unsettling to non-Muslims, will prevail.

Any one of these three would be reason enough, in a well-run polity, to turn down the requests for broadcasting the Muslim Call to Prayer. But Sweden is no longer a well-run polity; it is, rather, a country which has been suddenly overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of Muslim migrants; there are now 830,000 Muslims, who constitute 8.3% of the total population of 10 million in Sweden, the largest percentage for any European country. The 61 No-Go areas testify to the fact that Swedish authority is being challenged and undermined by an enemy within. Swedes seem too fearful to stand fast, much less to push determinedly back, which is why Dan Eliasson, the Commissioner of Police in Sweden, plaintively asked the public for help (“Help us! Help us!”), and why 80% of Swedish police have considered quitting. Too many Swedes, including the politicians and the police, are afraid of being accused of “racism” and “Islamophobia.”

This call-to-prayer broadcasting business provides an opportunity to display a firmness toward Muslims that has so far been lacking in Sweden, and thereby to signal a change in Swedish attitudes. The government should insist on banning all public broadcasts of the Call to Prayer, even where previously granted, noting as part of its decision that the prayer times are now readily available through apps, and Muslims have no need to any longer rely on a muezzin and loudspeakers. There is no justification for continuing to interrupt the sleep of Infidels. It’s even a public health matter.

Will Muslims be infuriated? Of course they will. They’ve gotten away with so much in Sweden that any sign of spine in Stockholm will come as a shock and an affront. Firmness now, over a matter that should be recognized as not about religious rights, but about power, in a contest of wills between aggressive Muslim migrants and the indigenous non-Muslims, might help the Swedes to recover not just their footing, but their country.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 06/19/2018 6:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 18 June 2018
Uber driver attacked police with sword near Buckingham Palace out of hatred for the Queen, court hears

An Uber driver attacked police with a Samurai sword outside Buckingham Palace out of "hatred" for the Queen, a court has heard. Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 27, shouted "Allahu Akbar" ("God is the greatest") as two officers grappled with him near the Queen's London home in August last year, jurors were told.

After he was arrested, a suicide note to his sister was found, the Old Bailey heard on Monday.

He allegedly wrote: "Tell everyone that I love them and that they should struggle against the enemies of Allah with their lives and their property. The Queen and her soldiers will all be in the hellfire they go to war with Muslims around the world and kill them without any mercy. They are the enemies that Allah tells us to fight."

The prosecutor said: "The defendant was largely keeping his interest and support for terrorism by Islamic State away from his family, something he was doing online, largely by himself. This interest, this self-radicalisation is something we say he chose for himself."

The court heard he had watched the Channel 4 drama The State, about British citizens going to Syria, and recommended it to his family.He had searched the internet for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) beheadings and Jihadi John, jurors were told. He allegedly discussed the Westminster attacker Khalid Masood on WhatsApp, saying: "F--- the police."

On August 19 last year, the defendant allegedly sent emojis of a British soldier in red tunic and bearskin hat, a knife and an "Arabic figure" on WhatsApp. On the day of the alleged attack, he changed his profile picture to a green bird, in reference to becoming a martyr, jurors heard. The trial continues.

Posted on 06/18/2018 8:20 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 18 June 2018
Tariq Ramadan: Too Devilishly Attractive For His Own Good

by Hugh Fitzgerald

The lawyers for Tariq Ramadan, the “towering intellect” and “foremost Islamic scholar,” recently won a lone victory: the judges considering the accusations against him by the woman known as “Marie,” whose real name is Mounia Barrouj. On June 5, the French judges handling Ramadan’s case dismissed the charges made by “Marie.”

As I wrote at that time, this has led to much mafficking by Ramadan’s supporters. They think their hero, unjustly persecuted by the French justice system because he is a Muslim, is at last seeing justice done, and they look forward to his being completely exonerated. Apparently these judges, described by Ramadan’s loyalists for so long as “unfair” and “biased,” have suddenly became “fair” and “unbiased.”

What made the judges dismiss the accusations by “Marie”?

First, “Marie” was no innocent, but an ex-escort girl, that is, a call girl, who had already been involved in a famous sex scandal in France involving special “evenings” — at such sites as the Hotel Carlton in Lille (l’ affaire du Carlton de Lille) — where such notables as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former director of the IMF, enjoyed the favors of high-end prostitutes. There is no hint of any such background in the lives of any of Ramadan’s other accusers.

Second, “Marie” — her real name is Mounia Barrouj — claimed to have been raped by Ramadan in France, London, and Brussels nine times, over sixteen months between 2013 and 2014. Both Henda Ayari and “Christelle” claimed to have been raped only once. The judges obviously felt that if “Marie” kept coming back to Ramadan eight times after her initial “rape,” that made more plausible Ramadan’s contention that their relationship was not forced by him, but mutually agreed on. He who had claimed a few months ago never to have engaged in adultery recently changed his story, and before the judges he admitted that his encounters with “Marie” were sexual, and involved mild (!) S and M. These “sexual games,” as Ramadan and his lawyers called this sordidness, were — they claimed — consensual. Why would “Marie” keep agreeing to meet with Ramadan if she had been previously raped by him, against her will, again and again?

Third, Ramadan’s lawyers introduced into evidence 300 videos and a thousand photos sent by “Marie” (Mounia Rabbouj), with sexual content, that support Ramadan’s contention that their meetings, however violent, were consensual. On one of the videos, “Marie” can be heard pleading with Ramadan, saying “My love, I love you very much” (“Mon amour, je t’aime fort”). That message was sent by “Marie’’ on May 17, 2013; she claimed that she had been raped by Ramadan the night before. Isn’t it possible that  she had been smitten with Ramadan–flattered that that “towering intellect’’ took what seemed to be a real interest in her, and so she willingly submitted to his sexual violence. Isn’t it plausible that once “Marie” learned of all the others Ramadan was accused of sexually violating, in France, Belgium, the U.S. and Switzerland, she became infuriated at this evidence of Ramadan’s “betrayal” of her, and decided to press her own charges of rape for what may well have been “consensual” encounters?

But there was one new detail that all but one of the press accounts initially left out. Having insisted ever since his first accuser, Henda Ayari, came forward last October, Tariq Ramadan has insisted that he never committed adultery. Now, all of a sudden, at the hearing about “Marie” on June 5, he not only admitted to a long sexual relationship with her (with just a tad of S. and M., nothing to write home about), but also to having had five separate adulterous long-running liaisons. These were apparently with women other than those who’ve accused him so far of rape in France, Henda Ayari and “Christelle,” as well two others — a woman in Belgium and another in the United States — the state of whose cases against Ramadan is not known.

That’s quite a lot to have simply forgotten, and then all of a sudden to have remembered. But with Tariq Ramadan, now applying his “towering intellect” not to the ethics of Islam, but to coming up with stories to save himself from 15-20 years in prison, anything is possible. Perhaps he will, at his next hearing, suddenly recall that there was rape, alright, involving Ayari and “Christelle,” but it was their assaulting him, not the other way round.

After all, he’s carefully set the stage for this, as a report in Morocco World News reveals:

According to France Inter, which received access to his statements, the Islamic Scholar asserted that he is the one who has been harassed.

When questioned by the investigating judges on Tuesday, Ramadan claimed that women are the ones “who are coming to get me.”

“I go to Le Bourget [French commune] for a conference, and the police must take three women out of the bathroom because I come in.” He explained that he was “not only solicited as an intellectual, but also as a man,” as much by women as by men.

He has to fight them off, you see. Thank god the police were there on that occasion to remove three would-be female rapists from the bathroom. But think of all the other times when Ramadan has had to fight them off alone.

Yes, Tariq Ramadan has his troubles with women, but it’s not his fault. He was named by Time magazine in 2000 as one of the seven religious innovators of the 21st century, and in 2004 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Not to be outdone, Foreign Policy magazine named him in 2005, 2006, 2008-2010, 2012-2015 as one of the top 100 most influential thinkers — a Global Thinker — in the world. But he is also devilishly handsome — just ask all those women forcing him to do terrible things to them in hotel rooms. He can’t help it — he’s sex on a stick.

After this transparent attempt to bring down Europe’s most famous Muslim thinker finally fails, as it must if there is any justice in this world, Tariq Ramadan will surely wish for women to at long last leave him alone. It’s a wish that, given the piquant details about him that we have now learned, may well be granted.

First published in Jihad Watch.

Posted on 06/18/2018 7:08 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 18 June 2018
Boko Haram: Female bombers kill 32, injure 84 in Borno

From the Nigerian newspapers, The Punch and The Nation

No fewer than 32 persons were killed,  while 84 others were  injured when six suicide bombers detonated Improvised Explosive Devices(IEDs), in Damboa local government area in Borno state on Saturday.

...a source in Damboa, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told our correspondent on Sunday that a rocket-propelled grenades allegedly fired by the members of the Boko Haram sect left no less than 31 persons dead. He claimed that the insurgents unleashed suicide bombers and later hit the area with rocket-propelled grenades.

He said the suicide attacks were first unleashed on the community to draw people out while the rocket-propelled grenades were shot at the gathering of sympathisers. This, he said, was the reason for the high casualty figure.

He said, “Following the suicide bombings, the jihadists fired rocket-propelled grenades into the crowds that had gathered at the scene of the attacks, thus increasing the number of casualties.

Some locals alleged that the deaths arose from a  misfiring by the Nigerian Army’s artillery but the army denied the claim. 

Maj.-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, denied the claim, saying the killings were caused by  suicide attacks and not military artillery. “There  was nothing like an attack from the military artillery. You can see the pictures of six female bombers who detonated their explosives and as a result, 20 persons were killed while others were injured,” he said. Rogers urged people to disregard the claim that people were killed by the military and not by suicide bombers.

Modu-Zannah Maina, the District Head of Damboa, who described the incident as “shocking and disturbing”, said the attack was perpetrated by female suicide bombers. Maina lamented that a lot of those  that were affected were mostly children adding that many victims were injured.

A local government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the death toll. He said, “The latest death toll is now 31 but it may increase because many among the injured may not survive. Most of the casualties were from the rocket fired at the gathering of sympathisers.”

Posted on 06/18/2018 3:16 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 17 June 2018
Woman shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ stabs two in France supermarket

From AFP via the Times of Israel

French media reported that a woman crying “Allahu akbar” — “God is great” in Arabic — hurt two people with a box cutter at a supermarket in southern France on Sunday.

A man was struck in the chest during the late-morning attack in La Seyne-sur-Mer, outside the Mediterranean port of Toulon, but the wound is not life-threatening, prosecutor Bernard Marchal told AFP.

A woman working at a checkout counter was also wounded, though not as seriously. Both victims were taken to a hospital.

“It appears to be an isolated case by a person with known psychological problems,” Marchal said, “though that doesn’t exclude the possibility that she may have been radicalized. 

Marchal added: 'There is presumption of attempted murder, and apology for crime with a terrorist connotation. We do not know yet if these facts are terrorists but they are in any case terrorising, because this man who had not asked anything was attacked at the cash desk of a supermarket.'

The 24-year-old assailant, who did not have a police record, was overpowered by others in the supermarket and has been taken into custody. Police later searched her home to determine if she had any links to the Islamic State group.

Posted on 06/17/2018 9:52 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 17 June 2018
Take heed Canada: the U.S. would win a true trade war

Behind the peeling façades of Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney, America is a monster, and not always an amiable one

by Conrad Black

At this point, everyone on both sides of the proverbially unguarded (except for aggressive customs and immigration officials) Canada-U.S. border wins from the G7 meeting at La Malbaie last weekend. President Trump has broad public support for eliminating the country’s $865-billion trade deficit. Americans have no grievance against Canada and don’t want bad relations with Canada, whom they essentially consider, as a compliment, to be like themselves. It’s not quite such a coronation-level pat on the head as the English saying, “He’s one of us,” but to be thought of as like the Minnesotans or Oregonians, or for the Québécois, the Franco-Americans of Maine, is no insult, other than to Canadians seeking not to be like Americans.

The American public generally supports the Trump view that the EU, China, Japan and Mexico are picking America’s pockets and excusing themselves with the endless repetition of the assurance that they are allies. Japan is the only “ally” that is acting like an ally as it is the only one of the six other G7 countries that needs the protection of the United States now (from North Korea). The tiff with Trudeau was seen in the U.S. as quaint, an almost piquant incident that added a little interest to what are usually just inconsequential, expensive and pretentious bloviation-fests. They were cross words with almost the only significant country in the world that never exchanges cross words with the U.S.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with U.S. President Donald Trump during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Que., on June 9, 2018. Jesco Denzel/German Federal Government/AP

There are far too many of these “summits,” far too undistinguishedly attended, expensive to organize, and conducted in public in ways that attract swarms of hooligans who vandalize shops, beat up bystanders, and provoke the police. Canada spent $400 million on three days of photo-ops at La Malbaie, to achieve practically nothing. For the first nearly 30 years of summiting, there were only nine such meetings; Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin at Tehran and Yalta (1943 and 1945), Stalin, Truman and Attlee at Potsdam (1945), Eisenhower and the divided Russians and Anthony Eden and Edgar Faure at Geneva (1955), Eisenhower, Khrushchev, Macmillan and de Gaulle at Paris (1960), Kennedy and Khrushchev at Vienna (1961), Lyndon Johnson and Alexei Kosygin at Glassboro (1967), and Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev at Moscow and San Clemente, Calif. (1972, 1973).

The first three were essential to plan for victory and peace, though many of their key provisions, especially for the liberation of Eastern Europe, were ignored by Stalin. The first Nixon-Brezhnev meeting was substantive and a couple of the later Reagan-Gorbachev meetings were very productive. These were intense business meetings between people who really were at the summit of world power and influence. The only matter agreed to in meetings between Soviet and American leaders between 1945 and 1972 was in the “kitchen debate” between then vice-president Nixon and Khrushchev in Moscow in 1959, when (forgive my coarseness in the interests of historical accuracy), Khrushchev accused Nixon of uttering “Horse shit, no, it is cow shit, and nothing is fouler than that” to which Nixon replied, “You don’t recognize the truth, and incidentally, pig shit is fouler than cow shit.” Khrushchev conceded the second point.

The only matter agreed to in meetings between Soviet and American leaders between 1945 and 1972 was in the 'kitchen debate'

The Americans were irritated by the agenda of the others at La Malbaie, discussing global warming that the United States considers a fraud, and gender issues, which the Americans don’t consider suitable for such a meeting. The American overreaction to the Trudeau press conference that Trump and his entourage viewed from their aircraft on the way to Singapore was really directed to the serious trade-offending countries as part of Trump’s usual nerve-warfare buildup in disputes, the equivalent of the threats to destroy “rocket man” that clearly rattled Kim Jong Un’s self-confidence (with good reason — Trump was not bluffing and he’s not bluffing on trade, either). Trump will also have to restrain the rabid greed of corporate America, which knows no borders or other sentimental traditions where dollars are at stake. Trump’s overzealous Bannonite trade wonk, Peter Navarro, has apologized to Trudeau, and poor old Larry Kudlow, a delightfully courteous man, suffered a minor coronary after his out-of-character intemperateness.

U.S. trade adviser Peter Navarro, seen at the White House on June 7, 2018, has apologized for saying there is “a special place in hell” for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau because of comments Trudeau made regarding trade talks. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Justin Trudeau struck just the right Canadian note of our gentle nature but refusal “to be pushed around,” and he predictably will reap the short-term reward for standing up for the country opposite the ideal American bogeyman, the blustering billionaire president who has been a Garry Trudeau caricature of the Ugly American for 25 years. (It is a very incomplete picture, like most caricatures, but it works for Trump and he often cultivates it.) The boycotts of American goods and holidays will be a bonus to Canada economically and the anti-Trump American media will be along within two weeks to lionize doughty Canada like “Gallant little Belgium” in 1914 and “Plucky Israel” in 1947, and it will strengthen Canada’s always fragile self-regard opposite the United States.

On the other hand, Trump isn’t just a blowhard; all his career he has known how to go for the jugular and his reference to 270-per-cent Canadian tariffs on butter is a valid complaint that threatens to tear the scab off this egregious payoff to the comparatively small number of Quebec dairy farmers who mainly profit from it. The same issue was hammered hard by Martha Hall Findlay when she ran for the federal Liberal leadership in 2013 and by Maxime Bernier when he ran narrowly behind Andrew Scheer for the Conservative federal leadership last year. The issue died down after their unsuccessful campaigns, but if Donald Trump is incited to hammer that theme, he will roil the domestic Canadian political waters and English-French relations in the country generally.

Dairy cows are seen at an Eastern Ontario farm on April 19, 2017. U.S. President Donald Trump is a harsh critic of Canada’s supply-management system for dairy and poultry products. Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Presumably our trade negotiators will not become so intoxicated by the prime minister’s peppy talk and spontaneous popular boycotts of the U.S. that they forget the correlation of forces. An aroused American administration could do serious damage to Canada’s standard of living, and it could be a tempting tactic to expedite more important negotiations with Mexico and the principal Asian and European powers. The United States is now enjoying three times as great a rate of economic growth as Canada (4.8 to 1.5 per cent), has lower tax rates, 11 times as great an economy, and more unfilled jobs than unemployed people.

An aroused American administration could do serious damage to Canada’s standard of living

Behind the peeling façades of Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney, the United States is a monster, and not always an amiable monster. If Canadians are blinded by their visceral dislike of Donald Trump, as the antithesis of Canadian criteria for likeable public figures, they will be exposed to the ruthless pursuit of the national interest that in his own career propelled him from technical insolvency to immense wealth and celebrity and then, against all odds, to control of a great political party and to the headship of the most powerful country in the world. If these talks blow up, the U.S. doesn’t have to settle for WTO rules; it can impose outright protectionist measures. Justin Trudeau has been agile, and the country has responded admirably. But Canadian policy-makers must understand that they are playing for almost mortal stakes with potentially dangerous protagonists who have no sense of fair play and no interest in what Canada thinks of them.

First published in the National Post.

Posted on 06/17/2018 7:06 AM by Conrad Black
Saturday, 16 June 2018
Swiss court jails Islamic group official for 'jihadist' film

It's a suspended sentence so don't get too excited. From the Swiss edition of The Local

A Swiss court on Friday slapped a 20-month suspended sentence on an official of a prominent Islamic group for alleged production and distribution of jihadist propaganda but acquitted its leader.

The three Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ICCS) suspects included the group's head Nicolas Blancho (above) and spokesman Qaasim Illi, who were both acquitted. But German national Naim Cherni, the head of the council's "culture production department", was sentenced. He had  travelled to Syria in 2015 and made films there with a known Islamist leader. Abdallah Al-Muhaysini of the jihad umbrella organisation Jaysh al-Fath ("Army of Conquest"). 

The films, which prosecutors say amounted to jihadist propaganda, were "promoted via social media and at a public event" by Blancho, Illi and Cherni, they had said. Blancho, who converted to Islam at age 16, has in the past denied being tied to extremism but has staked out positions considered more radical than other Muslim leaders in Switzerland. 

In an email to AFP earlier, Illi said the attorney general was "pushed by an Islamophobic social wave (and) is trying to defame Switzerland's largest Islamic grassroots organisation by its fabricated claim." He said the ICCS had nearly 4,000 members, representing about one percent of Muslims in Switzerland. 

Posted on 06/16/2018 7:28 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 16 June 2018
In Search of Justice

by Michael Curtis

Blogger Alison Chabloz arriving at Westminster Magistrates' Court, London, where she is accused of posting an anti-Semitic song online denying the Holocaust. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

There is an optmistic forecast there'll be a change in the weather, a change in the sea of justice, in Britain and in the international community. The rising temperature may drain the swamp of antisemitism and calls for the liquidation of the State of Isarael. Britain is not deluged but on June 14, 2018, more than a trickle if not a flood of partial justice was rendered in London when Alison Chabloz who had been convicted on May 25, 2018 of three charges of sending by public communications network an offensive, indecent, or menacing message or material was sentenced to a 20 week prison term, but suspended for two years, banned from using social media for a year, and ordered to perform 180 hours of unpaid work. By this sentence she avoided jail.

The 54 year old Chabloz, self-confessed Holocaust "revisionist," had written and sung lyrics that referred to the Holocaust as a hoax, a bunch of lies, and to Auschwitz as a "theme park for fools." She had mocked well known Jewish individuals, including Elie Wiesel.

At her trial, the District Judge at Westminster Magistrates' Court, John Zani, said she was guilty of disseminating "grossly offensive" material, and showed no proper remorse about it, her lyrics were offensive, intended to insult.  Zani made clear that the right to freedom of speech is fundamental in a democratic society, but it is a "qualified right." Though her statement is inaccurate, Chabloz complained, "I am the only artist in modern British history to have been jailed for the heinous crime of composing and singing satirical songs which I uploaded to the Internet."

Three comments are fitting. In view of her behavior and defiant lack of remorse the penalty can be deemed inadequate in the lack of a prison term when compared to the case of Tommy Robinson. A second is that the CPS, Crown Prosecution Service, was slow to join in the prosecution. The lesson learned is that the CPS should be more active in prosecuting offences of antisemitism and Holocaust denial. The official body should be more active in prosecuting antisemitism and Holocaust denial, and not leave it to a private organization.

The wider and disconcerting issue is that the gallery in the courtroom when Chabloz was sentenced shouted support for her, "three cheers for Alison." Her supporters argued her lyrics were not "grossly offensive," as Judge Zani had stated, and more important there is no law in England against "so called Holocaust denial."  

Coincidentally on the same day as Chabloz was convicted, the journalist broadcaster whose pseudonym is Tommy Robinson was sentenced on May 25, 2018 to 10 months prison for contempt of court, to which another three months suspended sentence was added, after publishing on Facebook a video of defendants entering a law court, despite a court order preventing reporting on trials while they were proceeding.

Robinson is a 34 year old man with a rather unsavory record, founder and former leader of the far-right English Defense League from which he resigned in 2013. In recent years he has been active in criticism of Islamic activities in Britain. He voiced opposition to Muslim immigration, and spoke of the threat of Islamist terrorists posing as refugees. He has described the Koran as a violent and cursed book. In particular he denounced Muslim activities regarding young women.

Yet Robinson was not arrested or convicted for his views of Islam or Muslims, but twice for the offence of reporting on a trial before proceedings had finished.

On May 8, 2017, Robinson was arrested for contempt of court when trying to video those he termed Muslim paedophiles, four suspected of raping a 16 year old girl. He used a camera on the steps of the Canterbury Crown Court, thus breaking the law which forbad this, and he was convicted and got a suspended sentence. The judge, Heather Norton, said she was not preventing free speech or free press, but ensuring a trial can be carried out justly and fairly. Nevertheless, contrary to her decision, Robinson was not engaging in "irresponsible and inaccurate reporting."

The second charge was for breach of peace and contempt of court outside the Leeds Crown Court.  At this time, 27 Muslim men and three Muslim women were accused of drugging, raping, and sexually exploiting more than 100 girls, some as young as 11. Robinson's offence is that he had spoken about the trial before it ended. He had published on Facebook a video of the defendants entering the court despite a court order preventing reporting on the trial.

It is arguable that the prison sentence imposed on Robinson, though not an appealing character, was excessive when compared to the leniency given Chabloz. Though he was not punished for them, Robinson's declarations about Muslims in Britain have to be seen in the context of the widespread allegations that Muslims, mostly Pakistanis, have been responsible for brutality, raping, and trafficking regarding untold numbers of young and vulnerable British girls. Many others besides Robinson have been concerned that social workers and police in Britain have deliberately ignored these crimes for fear of being called racist or Islamophobic.

The swamp in the United Nations organization still pollutes their activities, though some drainage has occurred. The UN General Assembly UNGA on December 21, 2017 had condemned, 128-9-35, the U.S. decision to move its Embassy to Jerusalem. The act would be "null and void." Almost simultaneously with the Chabloz and Robinson cases, the UNGA met at an "emergency meeting on the Gaza Strip" on June 13, 2018.  A resolution, introduced by Algeria, Turkey, and the Palestinians that the Israeli IDF had used  "excessive, disproportionate, indiscriminate" force, as a result of the Israeli response to the protests that began on March 30, 2018 along the Gaza line, passed 120-8-45. The resolution also called for for an "international protection mechanism for occupied Palestinian territory." 

No mention was made of the violence by Hamas. on attacks on Israel. The U.S. by an amendment, attempted to do this by having Hamas, which routinely initiates violence, condemned, but it was not officially passed.

In view of criticisms of U.S. policy it is relevant to look at the roll call on the Resolution that passed. The eight countries that voted against the Resolution were the U.S., Israel, Australia, Micronesia, Nauru, Togo, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands. Those voting in favor of the Resolution included most of the African countries, including Kenya and Uganda that had been visited by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Only Togo voted against and seven other Africans abstained. Of the EU countries, 12 voted for the Resolution, including France, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, and Norway, and 16 abstained.

At the June13, 2018 session, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley proposed the amendment to the Arab backed Resolution. It would condemn Hamas for its violent activity, its firing of rockets, 180 on one day, and provocative actions, including the construction of military infrastructure intended to infiltrate Israel. Three factors  may be a sign of changing times. One is that a motion by Algeria to quash the U.S. amendment passed by only a relatively narrow majority, 78-59- 26. The second is that the U.S. amendment  passed 62-58-42, but failed because of the procedural requirement for a two-third majority to pass. The third is that all 28 EU countries voted for the U.S. amendment.

The U.S, is proposing a peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and White House Special Adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt will be travelling to Israel and other Middle East countries to present it. Perhaps they will be able to persuade the well-educated  Palestinian leaders that the fall in the standard of living in Gaza and its socio-economic despair is due to the activities of Hamas, and that all will benefit from peace and the end of terrorism. Then justice will be done, and the sun will come out tomorrow.

Posted on 06/16/2018 5:18 AM by Michael Curtis
Friday, 15 June 2018
Islamist extremist ricin plot foiled by German police

Not just France this week but Germany. Yet another plot. From the Telegraph

A suspected Islamic extremist arrested in Cologne succeeded in making ricin and was planning a “biological weapon attack” in Germany, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Sief Allah Hammami, a 29-year-old Tunisian, was held on Wednesday along with his German wife after police found large quantities of the deadly toxin his apartment. 

His 43-year-old wife, named only as Jasmin D, was also arrested on Wednesday but has since been released. She is a convert to Islam and has lived in the apartment since 2012, according to German press reports. The couple live with their four children and claim benefits. Jasmin D is reportedly pregnant.

It is believed to be the first time Islamic extremists in Europe have succeeded in manufacturing ricin, which is one of deadliest biological agents known to man.

“This is the biggest potential threat ever found in Europe,” Bild newspaper quoted a source close to the investigation as saying.

Much about the suspected terror plot remains unclear. German authorities say they do not know how advanced the plans were, or what was to be the target of the attack. Most disturbingly, they say they do not know if the arrested man was working with a larger network.

The suspect, identified only as Sief Allah H by officials but named as Hammami by the German press, is not a member of a known terrorist organisation. But prosecutors said he “had contacts with people on the jihadist spectrum”.

Islamic extremists are believed to have wanted to manufacture ricin for some time.  “As far as I know, this is the first time we see it made effective, but certainly not the first time we have seen aspiration in this direction,” Raffaello Pantucci?, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute, said.

Authorities in France said last month they had foiled a planned terror attack using ricin after tracking a suspect who was trying to learn how to make the poison online. French police were able to arrest the man, who is of Egyptian origin, before he could manufacture the toxin.

In 2015 a 31-year-old man from Liverpool was jailed for eight years after he attempted to buy ricin on the internet. He had in fact been in contact with an undercover FBI agent.

In 2003 police raided a flat in Wood Green and arrested seven men on suspicion of planning an attack on the London Underground using ricin. It later emerged initial reports ricin was found at the flat were unfounded. One man, Kamel Bourgass, was later sentenced to 17 years for planning to spread ricin in London.

Hammami made ricin in his Cologne apartment using castor bean seeds, which can be easily bought online, and an electronic coffee grinder, according to German prosecutors. The shell of the seeds is highly toxic and can be used to manufacture ricin.

Officials did not comment on German press reports that he used instructions for making a ricin bomb posted online by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

Nor did they comment on claims he was arrested after a tip-off from the American CIA, after it spotted he was making unusually large orders for castor bean seeds online.

Posted on 06/15/2018 10:55 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 15 June 2018
French police arrest two men over 'terror plot to attack gay people' and another targeting 'Swingers' club

From the French edition of The Local and France 24

French police have thwarted two terror attacks, including one at a swingers' club, sources close to the investigations said Thursday. Two men in their 20s have been arrested in the greater Paris region over a suspected plot to carry out a terrorist attack targeting the gay community, sources in the intelligence services claim.

The pair, aged 21 and 22, were arrested in the eastern Paris suburb of Seine-et-Marne suspected of planning to carry out an attack in the name of the Islamic State group. While the details of their plot remain vague at the moment, sources close to the investigation told AFP that the attack may been planned against the gay community. 

According to sources close to the investigation, "knives, a firing device and Islamist State group propaganda were found" during raids conducted on Saturday by France's intelligence service DGSI in Seine-et-Marne after the pair had been arrested on June 9th.They have since been placed in pre-trial detention, according to the prosecutor's wishes, a source close to the investigation revealed to the French press. 

The plot to attack the swingers club seems to be a separate operation. From France 24

One suspect, a 38-year-old "radicalised convert" to Islam, was arrested in the Indre region in the centre of the country. "An improvised explosive device was found at his home and the man admitted that he wanted to use it to target a swingers' club,"

The man, originally from the Loiret region, was charged and taken into custody on May 17 for "associating with terrorist criminals" and "preparing an act of terrorism", a judicial source said.

Posted on 06/15/2018 10:29 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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