Foreign

Britain’s Onward Christian Soldiers convicted of anti-Muslim hate crime

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Few people outside of the UK would have ever heard about the Britain First street movement were it not for President Donald Trump’s controversial retweet. The @realDonaldTrump has close to 49 million followers and his Twitter feed is daily fodder for the international media.

‘Britain First leaders jailed for anti-Muslim hate crime’, reported British newspaper The Independent in its headline today.

Paul has been sentenced to 18 weeks imprisonment & Jayda has been sentenced to 36 weeks. They have been given these sentences for exposing a gang of Muslim pedophiles.THEIR ONLY CRIME IS LOYALTY!

Posted by Britain First on 7hb Mac 2018

Britain First describe themselves on their Facebook – refer above – as a “political party in Swanley”. They are an offshoot of the far right British National Party, better known by its acronym BNP.

Britain First’s FB page has over two million likes. (By comparison, the UK’s ruling conservative party – the Tories – has only 652,000 likes on their FB.)

The head of Britain First, Paul Golding, was yesterday sentenced to four months in prison. His deputy Jayda Fransen was sentenced to more than eight months’ jail for “religiously aggravated harassment”.

Among other offences, Golding and Fransen are being punished for distributing leaflets and uploading videos online deemed to be anti Muslim.

The leaflets and videos had been disseminated last year during a criminal trial at Canterbury Crown Court in Kent where three Muslim men and a teenager were later convicted of gang raping a 16-year-old girl.

Magistrates’ Court judge Justin Barron who sentenced Fransen said the purpose of her harassment was “to draw attention to the race, religion and immigrant background of the [Muslim] defendants”.

Thus, Fransen’s words and actions, according to the judge, had “demonstrated hostility” towards Muslims and Islam.

Chief Crown Prosecutor Jaswant Narwal told the court also that the “victims suffered the distress of the abuse followed by additional stress when the footage was uploaded to the Internet”.

The victims referred to by the prosecutor included the pregnant “partner” of one of rapists Tamin Rahmani who had been inside Tamin’s house when Fransen shouted abuse through the letter box; another victim was the innocent occupant of a house which Fransen had mistaken for the current address of one of rapists, Sershah Muslimyar.

In short, Fransen had behaved like a vigilante ahead of due process for the Muslim defendants.

A self-described Christian crusaders group

Previously in November 2016, Fransen had been convicted of racially aggravated harassment and fined £1,900. Her fine was for verbally abusing a hijab-wearing woman during a Britain First ‘Christian patrol’ in January that year.

The Britain First members had marched in Luton carrying giant crosses as well as distributed their movement’s mock newspaper to passers-by. Its front page read: “World War Three has begun – Islam against the world”.

And the Britain First Christians believe God is on their side.

Fransen told the hijab-wearing woman who had rejected a copy of the mock newspaper that moreover “this is a Christian country”.

Earlier in 2015, Bedfordshire police barred Fransen and Golding for three years from entering any mosque or Islamic centre without permission. Prior to that in 2014, Britain First gained notoriety for their “mosque invasions” in Bradford where the movement’s members handed out Bibles.

“Britain First members describe themselves as Christian, are fiercely opposed to Islam and are often in the media,” explained a Feb 4 news report titled ‘What is Britain First and who are Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding?’

Nativist Christian group that wants Islam banned

Britain First received an unexpected publicity boost last November when Fransen’s tweets linking to three video clips of atrocities (alleged by critics as “Islamophobic”) were retweeted by Trump.

“It is wrong for the president to have done this,” said a statement issued by a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Fransen herself responded to the president with a tweet saying, “God bless you Trump! God bless America!” and signing off with the abbreviation ‘OCS’, meaning Onward Christian Soldiers.

Her Twitter account @JaydaBF has since been suspended.

“We want Islam banned in the UK,” Fransen had once told a journalist from Australian news network ABC on .

Recently in January, Trump apologized on British television for the retweets, saying that he did not know who Britain First were. However, by this time Fransen and her street movement had already gained a measure of exposure worldwide thanks to his inadvertently ‘introducing’ or bringing attention to them.

 

 

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Prospects for Umno-PAS govt if popular trend holds

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Voters in Europe are losing patience with the lunacy of the left.

Exit polls say the far right obtained the strongest support from Italian voters whereas the left has been obliterated“.

Bloomberg’s economics columnist Ferdinando Giugliano tweeted that Italy’s polls results yesterday are “of the same league as the #Brexit or the #Trump upsets”.

Italy’s anti-immigration right wing party, the Five Star Movement, is projected as the biggest winner.

However due to the lack of a clear majority, Rome would likely be facing difficulties in getting a ruling coalition formed – the same predicament as experienced by Berlin which has been five months without a government.

Presumptive chancellor Angela Merkel’s just concluded coalition deal with the socialists will elevate Germany’s anti-immigration far right party, AfD, to become the chief opposition in the Bundestag (German parliament).

The Italy poll result is the latest in a series of electoral gains by the far right across Europe.

Last year in the Netherlands’s elections, the hard right, anti-immigration party led by Geert Wilders became the second largest force in the Dutch parliament.

France’s Marine Le Pen of the far right Front National also finished runner-up in her country’s presidential race. Le Pen is a vocally anti-immigration and ultra nationalist politician who only ever speaks French in public.

Most recently, Austria saw the installation of a government headed by conservative chancellor Sebastian Kurz who allied himself with the far right party that finished second in the Austrian election.

If Malaysia’s GE14 follows the trend in Europe, we shall see a nationalist Umno government in coalition with an ultra conservative PAS.

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One takeaway from Trump for Najib

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Earlier this week, President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union (Sotu) address after one year in office.

His speech, televised live to the nation, was approved by 97 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of political independents but only 43 percent of Democrats, according to a poll by CBS News.

All of which goes to show that nothing Trump does will ever gain approval from followers of his political opponents despite genuine attempts at bipartisanship compromise, goodwill and reconciliation.

⇓  Unlike CNN, a poll by CBS gives Trump due credit

The left’s acute Trump Derangement Syndrome

Trump’s No.1 media enemy CNN ran an instant poll claiming ‘Trump gets least positive reaction in at least 20 years’.

On the day following the president’s freshman address, the New York Times carried a headline saying ‘Trump’s State of the Union ratings don’t match Obama’s’.

In turn, Trump has consistently been labelling CNN as “fake news” and the NYT as “failing New York Times” in his prodigious tweets. Twitter allows @realDonaldTrump to speak directly to the public – bypassing the mala fide media’s distorted lens filter.

The thing that Trump supporters love about Potus is his willingness to fight back against the hysterical press that is sticking poisoned stilettos into him as well as perpetually knifing the deplorables in the back.

At around this time last year (see tweet above), Trump had cautioned that the deranged media is “the enemy of the American People”.

The passage of a year has proven the president correct in his assessment. Some parts of the liberal-left media are hell-bent on toppling his administration that was democratically elected by American voters. Some of the media have all but declared a war to the death against Trump.

An enemy has to be treated like the enemy it is. Trump is the right president at the right time to lead the counter attack. Some media in Malaysia is likewise an enemy of the state and Prime Minister Najib rightly needs to take a leaf from Trump’s book.

Majority of media controlled by the left

“2017 was a year of unrelenting bias, unfair news coverage, and even downright fake news.” Studies have shown that over 90 percent of the media’s coverage of President Trump was negative, complained the Republican party website.

And since the media preferred to spend 90 percent of their time focused on negative coverage or fake news, the GOP similarly decided that such perseverance deserved its own orgy of self-congratulation in the glittering style of Oscar statuettes.

⇓  Canada’s former media mogul Lord Conrad Black offers an insight into the Trump resilience

Giving the leftist media a snarky ‘pat on the back’ for their anti-Trump endeavours, the GOP debuted in January its inaugural Top 10 Fake News Awards.

The night’s runaway winner CNN bagged four awards. The New York Times clinched second place with two awards.

Below are the 2017 winners of the Fake News Awards:

1

 

“New York Times columnist Paul Krugman claimed on the day of President Trump’s historic, landslide victory that the economy would never recover.” The celebrated economist was wrong, and instead of which on the morning after, the market opened strongly to news of a Trump presidency.

http://dailycaller.com/2016/11/09/paul-krugman-says-markets-will-never-recover-from-trump-dow-hits-record-high/

2

 

“ABC News’ Brian Ross CHOKES and sends markets in a downward spiral with false report”, said the GOP in giving a Fake News award to the boring old mainline TV station.

3

 

The rest of the GOP citations for the Fake News Award winners read as follows: “CNN falsely reported that candidate Donald Trump and his son Donald J. Trump, Jr. had access to hacked documents from WikiLeaks”. In short, CNN lied.

(via Fox News)

4

 

“TIME falsely reported that President Trump removed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Oval Office.” The venerable news magazine projected their own perception of Trump’s racism into a fake news article. Sad.

5

 

“Washington Post falsely reported the President’s massive sold-out rally in Pensacola, Florida was empty. Dishonest reporter showed picture of empty arena HOURS before crowd started pouring in.”

WaPo is evidently determined to give the “newspaper of record” NYT a run for its infamy.

6

 

“CNN falsely edited a video to make it appear President Trump defiantly overfed fish during a visit with the Japanese prime minister. Japanese prime minister actually led the way with the feeding.”

CNN is pond scum, period.

7

 

CNN falsely reported about Anthony Scaramucci’s meeting with a Russian, but retracted it due to a ‘significant breakdown in process’.” Scaramucci was the White House communications director for a spectacular brief spell.

(via washingtonpost.com)

8

 

“Newsweek falsely reported that Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda did not shake President Trump’s hand.” A picture tells the better story than a Newsweek article. It’s a real shame how far the once respected political magazine has fallen.

9

 

“CNN falsely reported that former FBI director James Comey would dispute President Trump’s claim that he was told he is not under investigation.” The truth is that Trump was informed that he was not under investigation. Like certain Malaysian liberal media, CNN has a loose relationship with factual veracity.

⇓  CNN is one very confused network

10

 

“The New York Times falsely claimed on the front page that the Trump administration had hidden a climate report.”

(via WashingtonPost.com)

The awards listing above is sourced from https://www.gop.com/the-highly-anticipated-2017-fake-news-awards/

In view of the left media’s 24/7 war of attrition against Trump, it’s just payback that the president retaliates against CNN, NYT and their like. Malaysians can blame Najib if he were to do the same.

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The perpetually enraged and outraged political party

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By Carl M. Cannon

Trump’s liberal critics spent last year hating on 62 million Americans who voted for the president

Democrats’ year of living angrily

Some 1.5 million Americans will see the New Year behind bars, so it’s hardly a travesty of justice that Katherine Rogers, a 62-year-old first-time offender from New Hampshire, got probation last week for misdemeanor assault.

On the other hand, Rogers certainly knows the law: She’s a former local prosecutor and six-term Democratic member of the state legislature. Adding to the incongruity, earlier in 2017 she was named “Humane Legislator of the Year” for her efforts at curbing cruelty to animals.

Rogers’ empathy doesn’t extend all the way to conservatives, however. During a recount after the 2016 election, she was sitting next to a Republican observer named Susan Olsen, a conservative activist known for her staunch support for the Second Amendment. When Olsen asked if the ballots could be moved closer, Rogers punched her in the head.

Olsen believes Rogers was trying to provoke a physical response, to discredit the gun rights movement and disrupt the recount. Judge Kristin Spath wasn’t so sure. She seemed to think Rogers just lost it. Spath accepted a guilty plea, but sentenced the defendant to probation, provided she abides by the law for a year and attends anger management classes in the next 90 days.

⇓  Country’s “largest hate group” is the Democratic Party — Rush Limbaugh

What could be a better symbol of the year in politics than Democrats lashing out in blind anger over how events unfolded electorally in 2017? It began before Donald Trump’s inauguration, and continued unabated for 12 months.

January: The Women’s March on Washington was highlighted by pop singer Madonna dropping several “f-bombs” and telling the crowd: “Yes, I’m angry. … Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House!”

When it was her turn at the microphone, actress Ashley Judd compared Trump to Hitler, accused the president of harboring sexual fantasies about his daughter, and compared menstruation (favorably) to Trump’s “thinning hair.”

February: Betsy DeVos, Trump’s choice as secretary of education, was confirmed on a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence. During her confirmation hearings, DeVos was treated shabbily by Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren, who refused to shake her hand, and Al Franken, who called her “the most incompetent” Cabinet nominee he’d ever seen. On an earlier appearance on MSNBC, Franken revealed that attacking her was a pre-arranged Democratic strategy aimed at the president. This posturing had its desired effect. All year, DeVos was heckled any time she visited a public school — and plenty of private ones too.

March: When Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spotted Hilary Califano, the wife of former Democratic Party wise man Joseph A. Califano Jr., at upscale Italian restaurant Sette Mezzo, he didn’t inquire about the pasta. He made a scene.

April: Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote that spring is when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love, but for middle-aged Democrats spring was when their minds turned to obscenities. The Democratic National Committee all but designated itself the Profanity Party. After Chairman Tom Perez began using a common potty word in speeches, the DNC put it on T-shirts. “Tom is angry,” explained spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa, “and he’s angry because Donald Trump continues to stick it to the American people.”

Perez wasn’t alone. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand used the f-word three times in a single interview, while Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke began using foul language in speeches and interviews.

The obvious paradox is that one of the traits liberals say they most detest about Trump is his crudeness. “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster,” philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once warned in writing about good and evil. “And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

May: After his son with born with a heart defect, Jimmy Kimmel began his late-night crusade against the GOP health care plan, which he basically said would kill less fortunate children. Comedian Kathy Griffin, a Democratic donor and Al Franken pal, was photographed holding a grisly and realistic-looking prop: the severed head of President Trump.

“Even their comedians are angry and enraged,” noted Rush Limbaugh, who needled the Democratic Party as the “largest hate group” in the country.

June: After a Bernie Sanders devotee opened fire at a baseball diamond where Republican members of Congress were practicing, a shocking number of liberal activists took to social media to assert that grievously wounded Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise got what he deserved. Sanders decried the violence, but a week later was urging his supporters to continue their “political revolution” and to “act in an unprecedented way.”

August: The White House response to the violence at a Charlottesville rally of racists revealed to Democrats not that Trump was tone-deaf or in over his head as president, but rather that his administration was staffed by white supremacists. Yes, that phrase again, which also cropped up repeatedly among Democrats and in the media in September after Trump’s Twitter feud with San Juan’s mayor and his verbal attack on NFL players who sit during the national anthem.

October: When Trump called the widow of fallen Special Forces soldier La David Johnson, Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson listened in on the call and then told the press that Trump had botched it by not remembering the soldier’s name and by saying that “he knew what he signed up for.” The narrative was, yet again, racism (Johnson was black) and sexism, of course, and that the commander-in-chief had picked another fight with a Gold Star family.

⇓  Former Democrat Party Convention chairman Donna Brazile tells critics, “Go to Hell”

November: Democratic anger became a circular firing squad when Donna Brazile told fellow party members to “go to hell” after they objected to her unflattering revelations about the DNC.

December: The president was back in opponents’ gunsights as the tax bill passed Congress.

Did Trump bring a lot of this on himself? Undoubtedly. As progressive journalist Katha Pollitt suggested in a year-end essay, it’s nobody’s fault but Trump’s if, for example, he cannot “make a sympathy call sound sympathetic.” And if the opprobrium was directed only at the 45th U.S. president, 2017 wouldn’t have been such an ordeal. But progressives’ anger is much broader than that.

“The main difference is that I hate people now,” Pollitt also wrote. “Well, not all people, of course. Just people who voted for Trump.”

That’s a lot of people, 62 million of them, and a lot of hate to be directing at your fellow Americans. There’s a better way, which liberals once knew. Some still do. Madonna reminded us of it back in January. Her notorious “blow up the White House” riff — Trump-like in its shock value — was a preamble to a more compassionate point.

“Yes, I’m outraged,” she said that day. “But I know that this won’t change anything. We can’t fall into despair. As the poet W.H. Auden once wrote on the eve of World War II, we must love one another or die. I choose love. Are you with me? Say this with me: We choose love. We choose love. We choose love.”

That’s more like it. Happy New Year, everyone.


Source: The Orange County Register (30 Dec 2017)

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Prince Mohammed bin Salman doesn’t want to talk about Jerusalem

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Saudi Arabia’s rulers have lots of worries, but Trump’s announcement about the holy city isn’t one of them.

By Robert Satloff

Saudi Arabia, the protector of Islam and home to its two holiest sites, is a good place to judge the impact of President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on U.S. interests in the region. Set aside the reaction of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, and their state sponsors in Tehran and Damascus. And the angry responses from the Palestinian Authority and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with its large and boisterous Palestinian population, were certainly to be expected. The real question is how America’s friends one step removed from the circle of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would react. If there were a place one might reasonably expect to hear Muslims expressing thunderous outrage at the handing of Jerusalem to the Jews, it would be in the corridors of power in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

It didn’t happen.

Last week, I was in Riyadh leading a delegation of more than 50 supporters and fellows of the Middle East think tank I direct. On Wednesday, just hours before the president made his Jerusalem announcement, we spent five hours in meetings with three different Saudi ministers, discussing everything from crises with Yemen, Qatar, and Lebanon, to the kingdom’s ambitious ‘Vision 2030’ reform program, to the possible public offering of the state oil company Aramco.

By this time, the White House had delivered numerous background briefings to foreign diplomats and the media, so the essence of the impending declaration was well known. But despite many opportunities, the word “Jerusalem” was never uttered.

Perhaps the Saudis are waiting to unload in our final meeting on the day, I thought, during a conversation with the secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL). For decades, this organization has been notorious for propagating an extreme version of Islam — funding schools, mosques, and other religious institutions that have served as incubators for Sunni jihadis. Surely, the head of the MWL would denounce America’s assault on the sanctity of Muslim control of Jerusalem.

To my amazement, the relatively new MWL head, Muhammad al-Issa, had a very different message. Mention of Jerusalem never passed his lips. Instead, he noted with pride the friendships he has built with rabbis in Europe and America, the visit he recently made to a synagogue in Paris, and the interfaith dialogue to which he said he was now committed. This was not your father’s Saudi Arabia.

Then, it dawned on me: Maybe the Saudis are waiting to hear precisely what President Trump says in his statement, hoping that last-minute entreaties would convince him to change course. Since the president didn’t speak until 9pm Riyadh time, I went to bed that night confident we would soon see the fire and brimstone of the “old” Saudi Arabia. When we received confirmation the following morning that we would have an audience with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — deputy prime minister, minister of defense, president of the council of economic and development affairs, and favorite son of the king —we knew we would get an authoritative answer.

Mohammed bin Salman has promised fast, revolutionary change in a country where, historically, nothing moves fast and “revolutionary” is a dirty word. And he has already shown he is a doer, not just a talker, by successfully concentrating virtually all the kingdom’s political, military, and economic power in his own hands. This is where the buck stops in Saudi Arabia these days.

A word about meeting Mohammed bin Salman: In a country not known for retail politics, he has the natural skills of a born politician. Though dressed in a thawb and sandals, he was very Bill Clintonesque (from the pre-vegan era, that is) in his stature and charisma. He is a large man, yet he bounded into our tight meeting room and immediately pounded the flesh. And when I ended the meeting after 80 minutes so we wouldn’t miss our departing flight, he stuck around to work the room again, shaking hands until there were no hands left to shake.

It is easy to see why all the young people we met in Riyadh —college students, aspiring entrepreneurs, rising technocrats — are smitten with Mohammed bin Salman. I have met quite a few Middle East leaders over the years and only a few, like Jordan’s King Hussein, knew when and how to deploy charm, wit, wisdom, outrage, despair, and hope like a virtuoso. Mohammed bin Salman has that too, coupled with a dynamism that I have rarely ever seen in this part of the world.

Though he clearly speaks and understands English, he chose to address us in Arabic, and after a few sentences, I understood why. When he opened his mouth, words flowed out in a torrent, like water rushing over rapids. Mohammed bin Salman has a lot to say — about jettisoning entrenched but non-Islamic ideas about separating women and men, about containing Iran now or fighting them later, and about a hundred other topics — and doesn’t seem to have a lot of time to say it. Given how many people he has sidelined along his rise to the top, it may be a well-founded fear.

It is not apparent that Jerusalem was one of those topics. If we hadn’t asked him directly about Trump’s announcement, it may never have come up. He certainly didn’t come to the meeting to vent.

But we wanted to leave Riyadh with a clear sense of his view on the issue, so we asked him. To maintain a measure of confidentiality, I won’t quote him directly, but I can say this: He limited himself to a single word of disappointment about the President’s decision — literally — and then quickly turned to where Riyadh and Washington could work together to limit the fallout and restore hope to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

He didn’t stop there. On a day widely characterized as one of the darkest for U.S. relations with the Arab world in decades, Mohammed bin Salman offered a very different vision for both the Saudi-American relationship and a potential for Saudi-Israeli partnership.

On the former, he repeatedly affirmed the strength of the security partnership, which he proudly noted was the oldest in the region— even older than the one between the United States and Israel. And on Israel itself, he struck an unusually positive note. Unlike what I heard from Saudi leaders on past visits, he said nothing about Israeli expansionism, Israeli arrogance, Israeli unfairness, or Israeli encroachment on Muslim rights in Jerusalem. Instead, he spoke of the promising future that awaited Saudi-Israeli relations once peace was reached and, operationally, he committed himself to bringing that about.

That was it: the official Saudi view. Expecting a stern critique of the United States and a visceral denunciation of Trump, we heard instead a mild rebuke of the President’s Jerusalem shift and a hopeful vision of Saudi-Israeli partnership. We didn’t have the opportunity to press Mohammed bin Salman on precisely what the Saudis would do to urge the Palestinian Authority to reach a deal with the Israelis, but at such a moment, hearing the Saudi crown prince double down on both the current partnership with Washington and, when peace comes, the future one with Jerusalem was more than we expected.

Was Mohammed bin Salman merely delivering what his audience wanted to hear? Perhaps. Our delegation was certainly electrified by his engaging personality and what he had to say. We were especially impressed by his pursuit of a “moderate Islam” and his claim to have dramatically shrunk the number of extremists in Saudi religious institutions. He offered specific percentages of how bad the problem was two years ago and how much smaller he expects it to be three years from now; to my ears, this amounted to a stark admission of Saudi responsibility for religious fanaticism and a powerful sign of their commitment to change.

Admittedly, some of his rhetoric sounded too good to be true. From my vantage point, it doesn’t appear that the Saudis have made as much progress countering Iran’s influence in Iraq or turning the tide in Yemen as they claim. And many of us came away fearful that a leader so ambitious could achieve progress fast enough to maintain the ongoing support of his people — but not so fast as to trigger a violent reaction from those who will lose out as a result of the vast transformation.

But if Mohammed bin Salman did say what we wanted to hear, so what? The opposite could just have easily been the case — namely, that he could have used the occasion to send a piercing message through us to American leaders and to friends of the U.S.-Israel relationship about the high costs of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He didn’t, and that matters a great deal.

Those who prophesied that the Arab and Muslim response to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be apocalyptic  waves of anti-American demonstrations, mass violence against U.S. citizens, institutions and interests, and the final and irrevocable end of American influence in the region — seem to have been totally wrong. Among the Arabs that count — America’s allies — the reaction has generally been sober, measured, and mature. Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, is the case in point.


Robert Satloff is executive director of The Washington Institute. This article appeared in the institute’s website on Dec 14.

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With first taste of power, will gays restrict others’ rights?

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By Andrew Sullivan

(Note: Sullivan, writer of ‘The case for the baker in the gay-wedding culture war: Let’s live and let live‘ is a himself a married gay man)

If someone had asked me back in the day, if, in 2017, we’d be having a discussion about whether a fundamentalist baker should be forced by the law to create a wedding cake for a gay couple, I’d have been gobsmacked, as the Brits say. Smacked in the gob because only a decade ago such a question would have seemed so remotely hypothetical as to be absurd. And yet, here we are. A Christian baker has taken a stand on the grounds of religious conscience and artistic freedom not to provide a cake specifically designed for a legal, constitutional same-sex wedding. His case was just argued in the Supreme Court no less. The staggering victories of the marriage-equality movement (now, Australia!) have led us here — far sooner than most of us pioneers ever contemplated. And the speed and finality of this social change has — understandably — frightened, disturbed, and alienated many on the other side. They are still smarting from the sting of defeat, defensibly regrouping and obsessing over their victimhood.

Which is why I think it was a prudential mistake to sue the baker. Live and let live would have been a far better response. The baker’s religious convictions are not trivial or obviously in bad faith, which means to say he is not just suddenly citing them solely when it comes to catering to gays. His fundamentalism makes him refuse to make even Halloween cakes, for Pete’s sake. More to the point, he has said he would provide any form of custom-designed cakes for gay couples — a birthday cake, for example — except for one designed for a specific celebration that he has religious objections to. And those religious convictions cannot be dismissed as arbitrary (even if you find them absurd). Opposition to same-sex marriage has been an uncontested pillar of every major world religion for aeons.

And so, if there are alternative solutions, like finding another baker, why force the point?

Why take up arms to coerce someone when you can easily let him be — and still celebrate your wedding? That is particularly the case when much of the argument for marriage equality was that it would not force anyone outside that marriage to approve or disapprove of it. One reason we won that debate is because many straight people simply said to themselves, “How does someone else’s marriage affect me?” and decided on those grounds to support or acquiesce to such a deep social change. It seems grotesquely disingenuous now for the marriage-equality movement to bait and switch on that core “live and let live” argument. And it seems deeply insensitive and intolerant to force the clear losers in a culture war into not just defeat but personal humiliation.

Nonetheless, here we are. And it is a hard case constitutionally. It pits religious and artistic freedom against civil equality and nondiscrimination. Anyone on either side who claims this is an easy call are fanatics of one kind or other. I’m deeply conflicted. I worry that a decision that endorses religious freedom could effectively nullify a large swathe of antidiscrimination legislation — and have a feeling that Scalia, for example, would have backed the gays in this case on those grounds alone. Equally, I worry that a ruling that backs the right of the state to coerce someone into doing something that violates their religious conscience will also have terrible consequences. A law that controls an individual’s conscience violates a core liberal idea. It smacks of authoritarianism and of a contempt for religious faith. It feels downright anti-American to me.

The smartest and most nuanced take I’ve read on the subject is that of philosopher John Corvino. He argues that there is indeed a core right not to be forced to create something against your conscience but that in this particular case, the act of creation is so deeply entwined with hostility to an entire class of people that antidiscrimination laws overrule it. It’s worth reading, but he still doesn’t quite convince me. The baker is clearly not discriminating against an entire class of people; he is refusing to endorse a particular activity that violates his faith. Kennedy was absolutely right in oral arguments to make a distinction between an identity and an activity. The conflation of the two is just too facile.

And there’s a way out of this that need not take such a strong stand in terms of religious freedom. It seems to me the baker deserves to be able to pick and choose what kind of work he wants to do as an artist. A commenter on Rod Dreher’s blog proffers a series of important questions in this respect:

“If the cake shop loses, does that mean that if I’m, say, a freelance designer or an artist or a writer or a photographer, I can no longer pick and choose my clients? If the Westboro Baptist Church comes to me, I can’t reject them on the grounds that they’re deeply un-Christian scumbags? If I’m Jewish, do I have to design a Hitler’s Birthday cake with swastikas on it? Would a Muslim cake-shop owner be forced to design a cake that shows an Islamic terrorist with crosshairs over his face, a common target design in most gun shops in America? Can a gay, atheist web designer choose not to do work for the Catholic Church, or would we have the government compel him to take on a client he loathes?”

It always worries me when gays advocate taking freedom away from other people. It worries me as a matter of principle. But it also unsettles me because some gay activists do not seem to realize that the position they’re taking is particularly dangerous for a tiny and historically despised minority. The blithe unconcern for the First Amendment in the war on “hate speech,” for example, ignores the fact that, for centuries, the First Amendment was the only defense the gay minority ever had — and now, with the first taste of power, we are restricting the rights of others in this respect? Ugh. Endorse the state’s right to coerce speech or conscience and you have ceded a principle that can so easily come back to haunt you. The freedom of any baker to express himself is, in this respect, indistinguishable from that of any gay person to do so — a truth that our current tribalism blinds so many to. I hope, in other words, that the baker prevails — but that the Supreme Court decision doesn’t turn on religious so much as artistic freedom.

One final thought as a Christian. Sealing yourself off from those you consider sinners is, in my reading of the Gospels, the reverse of what Jesus taught. It was precisely this tendency of the religious to place themselves above others, to create clear boundaries to avoid “contamination” from “evildoers” that Jesus uniquely violated and profoundly opposed. If Jesus is your guide, why is this kind of boundary observance such an important part of your faith? Are you afraid your own faith will be weakened by decorating a cake? Would you have ever had dinner with prostitutes or imperial tax collectors as Jesus famously did? What is this Christianity you are so dedicated to? Somewhere, the fundamental Christian imperative to love others and be humble before them has been lost.

In other words, if the liberals were more liberal, and the Christians more Christian, this case would never have existed. It tells you a great deal about the decadence of our culture that it does.

The Jerusalem Folly

I have to say I roll my eyes at the various attempts to explain President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, and to make plans to move the U.S. embassy there. Is it an attempt to shake up the region to make peace more possible — or merely a strategic concession to reality?

Continue reading the rest of Sullivan’s article at New York Magazine

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Washington Post reporter admits fake news on “pray for an Islamic Holocaust”

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Reporter AVI SELK wrote a mea culpa to Twitter critic headlined ‘Why I wrote “fake news” for The Washington Post’ over his highly irresponsible and recklessly inflammatory article about the Polish street march on Poland’s recent National Day celebration

⇓  FAKE NEWS!

By Avi Selk

Dear @horsefish57,

You were right, and I was wrong.

No, I don’t mean that my newspaper is trying to destroy “culture” through a campaign of “psychological terror,” as you wrote on Twitter. Nor do I think, as some other correspondents have complained, that I am a “master of #fakenews” or an exquisite propagandist.

I think if I were any sort of propagandist, even a halfway competent one, there would not be a big, fat correction notice above my recent article about a far-right march in Poland held last weekend. And I would not be writing this mea culpa.

But you and all the others are right about one thing and right to be upset about it. There was no “Pray for an Islamic Holocaust” banner at Saturday’s march in Warsaw.

And yet I wrote that there was, in an article seen by hundreds of thousands of people.

That error was, as they say, “fake news.” That was my bad.

Hey liers. You are too impotent to do something to Polish Patriots. Your only weapon is psychological terror. We piss on that. In the meantime mood will change and your liberal democracy which promotes anticulture will collapse.

— bite yer legs (@horsefish57) November 13, 2017

I write to you, @horsefish57, not to defend myself but merely to explain how a not-so-masterful Post reporter ended up adding to the world’s already overflowing supply of false or erroneous reporting.

My hope is to persuade you, if you’ll allow me, that I acted not out of malice or in some campaign of “anticulture” propaganda, but that I simply messed up, as did many that day.

Here goes.

Many things about Saturday’s march through Warsaw are not in dispute.

As my colleague Rick Noack wrote in what I can only promise you is not an act of psychological warfare, the march is an annual event that has become one of the largest far-right marches in the world.

It draws people from other countries, and intersects with nationalist and anti-refugee sentiment spreading across Europe and the world — including in Poland’s government.

An estimated 60,000 people showed up on Saturday — give or take a few thousands, as with all crowd estimates.

As you can clearly see in overhead shots, it was enormous.

Some, including ministers in the Polish government, have defended the march.

Unlike you, @horsefish57, who hopes it will hasten the collapse of liberal democracy, these people say the march was an innocuous parade of patriots and families — perhaps marred by an extreme sign or two.

But then there are the many, many photos of the banners.

“Death to Enemies of the Homeland,” in this particular set.

The anti-Islam theme is on the photo at the top of this [paragraph].

There certainly were dissenting viewpoints, and some in the crowd even protested “fascism.”

Here are videos of what happened to them. Not so family-friendly.

I have had an amazing time with polish patriots marching against Islam . Polish pride is something else pic.twitter.com/OPknnqoiHO

— Tommy Robinson (@TRobinsonNewEra) November 11, 2017

Even the president of Poland, breaking with right-leaning lawmakers, condemned displays of “sick nationalism” that marred his country’s celebration of its independence. The annual march takes place on Poland’s independence day.

So that was the march, more or less.

Now let’s talk about the sign.

“Pray For Islamic Holocaust” really did appear on a banner — but it was reported to have been hung from a bridge in the Polish city of Poznan in 2015, not during Saturday’s march in Warsaw, miles away.

Reports of the banner were resurrected in 2017 through a chain of compounding mistakes, in which I played no small part.

The Wall Street Journal mentioned the Holocaust banner in an article published Saturday, in a section about Poland’s history of far-right politics.

But the Journal erroneously reported that the banner had been hung in Warsaw, not Poznan, and didn’t mention in what year it went up.

Perhaps reading the article too quickly, others assumed the banner had been displayed during Saturday’s march.

I didn’t happen to read the Journal’s article before I wrote my own article Sunday.

I did, however, read an article on CNN’s website, with this line in it:

“Demonstrators carried banners that read ‘White Europe, Europe must be white,’ and ‘Pray for an Islamic Holocaust.’ ”

I assumed CNN’s reporter had witnessed the banner; in turn, I wrote this regrettable passage in The Post:

Tens of thousands of people came from across Poland and beyond, and reporters documented their signs:

“Clean Blood,” as seen by Politico.

“Pray for an Islamic Holocaust,” per CNN.

“White Europe” streaked across another banner, the Associated Press reported. …”

And that might have been the extent of my error — one phantasmal banner in a list of real ones — had I not also decided to write a headline around the thing.

That’s how we ended up with this erroneous display:

Analysis | “Pray for an Islamic Holocaust”: Tens of thousands from Europe’s far right march in Poland https://t.co/UYYHPUb670

— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) November 12, 2017

And then the Internet does what it does.

The Post’s Twitter feed filled up with people who were alternately horrified and delighted to believe that Polish marchers had called for a genocide of Muslims.

And the instant news cycle got to work.

My article was plastered across Google News. Another Post article cited my own and was thus infected by the “Islamic Holocaust” banner that hadn’t actually been on display in Warsaw.

Where I had cited CNN, other news outlets cited me.

Eventually, “Pray for an Islamic Holocaust” had been replicated across the Atlantic Ocean, from Newsweek to the Independent in a vast web of wrongness.

I even wrote a second headline based around the quote, when I updated my original article on Monday, still not realizing the banner didn’t exist.

It took a while for the tangle to start unwinding itself. Too long, in my opinion.

Yet another news cycle passed before I noticed that CNN had issued a correction to its article and removed the line I had quoted in my headline.

The Wall Street Journal also corrected itself and relocated the Holocaust banner back to Poznan; on Tuesday morning I finally wrote my own correction, and other corrections would follow in other stories down the chain. (The Post article that cited my error was also corrected, online and in print.)

And I know, this doesn’t fix or excuse anything. Vastly more people read my erroneous article than saw the correction.

The misplaced “Islamic Holocaust” banner is still live on many websites. Like everything on the Internet, it will probably live forever, and so will my responsibility and justifiable anger at my role.

This writer, for example, wondered when The Washington Post will apologize to the nation of Poland.

I’m not going to apologize to all of Poland, as I don’t think all of Poland by any means stands for “Death to Enemies of the Homeland” or “White Europe” or so many other real signs and slogans in a march that revolted so many people.

But I’ll apologize to you, @horsefish57, and to anyone else reading for the “#fakenews” — and my part in a complicated mess.


The above Washington Post article by Avi Selk appeared on 15 Nov 2017.

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Trump’s appreciation for strongman leaders of southeast Asia

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Trump seems unlikely to address issues of democracy, human rights, and governance during his Asia tour

By Michael H. Fuchs

On President Donald Trump’s marathon Asia trip, set to begin on Friday, he will meet with a diverse slate of leaders, many of whom are overseeing the degradation of political freedom in their countries and others massive human rights abuses. While democracy has been receding in Southeast Asia for several years, this has largely been a quiet, incremental story. However, with the alleged ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs in the Philippines, this dynamic is now hitting the headlines. As Trump prepares to meet with these countries’ leaders, he should recognize that the societies these leaders represent, whose views on the United States will be important for U.S. interests over the long-term, will be watching his actions and words closely.

Unfortunately, Trump seems unlikely to address issues of democracy, human rights, and governance — his pattern of inviting autocratic, corrupt rulers to the White House is a testament of this. Thus far, his “America First” tagline translates to a more transactional foreign policy, with no room for standing up for human rights and democracy. And taking a sledgehammer to the State Department’s budget hasn’t helped either. It’s no surprise that 72 percent of Southeast Asians believe that the U.S. image has been tarnished in the region since Trump took office.

While Trump is ignoring a wide range of Asia human rights issues, his most prominent blind spot is in Myanmar. Since the end of August 2017, the Myanmar military has embarked upon an ethnic cleansing campaign against the minority Rohingya Muslims. While the death toll is still unknown, about half a million Rohingya have fled from Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh refugee camps. Deteriorating conditions within the camps have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, and the level of displacement and destruction will reverberate throughout the region and around Southeast Asia for the foreseeable future, potentially with global consequences. The absence of a high-level U.S. push to address the crisis is making clear that there will be few costs for Myanmar if it continues the violence, aside from discontinuing minimal military exchanges, and that the current U.S. administration cares little about human rights.

Elsewhere, Trump’s pattern of appreciation for strongman-type leaders and failure to condemn their destabilizing actions is undermining U.S. strategic interests.Trump’s pattern of appreciation for strongman-type leaders and failure to condemn their destabilizing actions is undermining U.S. strategic interests. In addition to traveling to Manila on this trip, Trump has also invited Duterte to the White House, essentially glorifying his unjustified killing of thousands of drug dealers and users. The extent of Duterte’s war on drugs range from estimates of 3,000 deaths, but reaches as high as 13,000 when including non-government vigilantes. Thousands of arrests have contributed to an environment of fear and instability. Duterte’s popularity appears to be slipping slightly, however — a new study cites his “net trust rating” having fallen from 75 to 60 percent , or excellent to very good. Right now, the United States is cozying up to a leader ruthlessly violating the rule of law, and if Duterte’s popularity slips lower — as it has for all recent presidents of the Philippines after long honeymoon periods — the United States will find itself associated with an unpopular, authoritarian leader.

Likewise, last month Trump hosted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the White House and thanked him for “all the investment you’ve made in the United States.” (Najib) Razak is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly diverting $1 billion dollars from a Malaysian government fund to his personal bank account.

Trump also welcomed to the White House Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of the country’s 2014 military coup. Despite promises of an eventual return to democratic rule, the persecution of the opposition and censorship of the press and speech continue to be the prevailing norms of the Thai political system. Of course, Trump didn’t bring any of this up when Prayuth visited; rather, he focused on the potential for more trade with Thailand.

Below Washington’s radar, in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen, ahead of 2018 elections, orchestrated the arrest of opposition leader Kem Sokha and is in the process dissolving the main opposition party on spurious legal grounds. There has also been an assault on civil society in recent months. Most prominently, the Cambodia Daily was forced to shut down based on politically motivated accusations that it owed millions dollars of taxes after the paper’s extensive coverage of Sokha’s arrest.

To demonstrate that the United States still stands for openness, democracy, and good governance, at a minimum Trump should highlight these issues on his trip.

First, Trump should address the gravity of the situation in Myanmar during the U.S.- Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit and dedicate American resources and efforts to aid the growing humanitarian crisis. A U.S.-led condemnation of the atrocities, in partnership with other countries in the region, is critical. Second, he should meet with civil society leaders and use the opportunity to remind political leaders of the importance of democratic values and the economic benefits they bring — and that the United States cares.

Whether Washington publicly stands for human rights and democracy matters. For the sake of both the plight of individuals in the region and for U.S. national interests, the Trump administration must not cede this ground.


This article originally appeared under the headline ‘If Trump forgets about human rights in Asia, the world will suffer’ in Foreign Policy on Nov 2.

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Trump, Najib meet-up: Call it a win-win situation

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By Ned Grun

Less than two weeks ago there was a bit of news—little reported in the United States, but more on that later—that Malaysia had cut off all imports from North Korea. In the scheme of global trade, the numbers seem small. Malaysia’s annual imports may total no more than about $15 million, but those millions in cash are the lifeblood of a pariah nation that can barely pay its electric bill, let alone finance even the barest-bones infrastructure project to pave roads.

Malaysia’s decision to cut economic ties with Kim Jong-un shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, the North Korean dictator had the poor social grace to have his half-brother assassinated in the Kuala Lumpur international airport. But that isn’t the only reason. Give some credit to savvy foreign policy gamesmanship by President Trump and his administration.

Recall that about a month ago, Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, visited the United States and the White House. To the media, the visit was “controversial” and a “terrible idea.” So-called “foreign policy experts” called the meeting a setback for the rule of law. The media’s favorite term to describe the prime minister was “embattled,” due to a financial scandal in which he is allegedly embroiled, although the Malaysian justice system has yet to find any evidence to charge him with a crime.

One wonders where the media watchdogs were when President Barack Obama climbed into bed with the Castro regime in Cuba, or when he endorsed the Muslim Brotherhood during the Arab Spring uprisings, which led to the downfall of one of America’s stronger allies in the region. In fact, Obama continued to endorse the Muslim Brotherhood, an entity that was spreading its particular brand of religious zealotry and violence to countries like Malaysia, where Prime Minister (Najib) Razak has been battling them.

Only President Trump and his foreign policy advisers seemed to understand the importance of working with an influential, duly elected regional leader on a broader agenda important strategically to both the United States and Malaysia, and other allies in the region.

The Trump Administration had two goals with Malaysia: first, solidify a friendship that had been weakened by Obama Administration failures and then reinforce the critical role Malaysia can play in the region as a key strategic partner of the United States.

In seeking to overcome the mismanagement of our relations during the Obama years, the Trump Administration also wanted to prevent a turn toward China as Malaysia can play a vital role in the Asia Pacific region on trade, counter-terrorism and the in our relationship with China.

Multi-front diplomacy

At the same that President Trump was meeting with Malaysia, the United States was also working with China on their response to an increasingly troublesome and aggressive North Korea. In the end, the Trump Administration’s efforts paid off on several fronts.

First, Prime Minister (Najib) Razak announced his country’s intention to purchase upwards of $20 billion in jets from Boeing over the next decade, as well as investing an additional $3-4 billion on top of the $7 billion Malaysia already annually spends in the United States. Second, President Trump and (Najib) Razak committed to work on a trade deal with Malaysia that would be an economic boon to both nations. Third, we are now seeing the additional steps Malaysia is taking in support of regional security, cutting off its own trade, and assisting the Trump Administration in encouraging China to step in line with other players to do the same.

At the same that President Trump was meeting with Malaysia, the United States was also working with China on their response to an increasingly troublesome and aggressive North Korea. In the end, the Trump Administration’s efforts paid off on several fronts.

First, Prime Minister (Najib) Razak announced his country’s intention to purchase upwards of $20 billion in jets from Boeing over the next decade, as well as investing an additional $3-4 billion on top of the $7 billion Malaysia already annually spends in the United States. Second, President Trump and (Najib) Razak committed to work on a trade deal with Malaysia that would be an economic boon to both nations. Third, we are now seeing the additional steps Malaysia is taking in support of regional security, cutting off its own trade, and assisting the Trump Administration in encouraging China to step in line with other players to do the same.

For his part, (Najib) Razak came to Washington hoping to strengthen Malaysia’s economic and strategic partnership with the United States and Malaysia, and left having achieved both. It’s not an accident that at the same time as Malaysia is stepping up, China announced that it was cutting off banking ties with North Korea, perhaps the most serious blow to Kim Jong-un’s efforts to rally support against the United States and broader global efforts to contain him.

Trump’s Malaysia gambit is an excellent example of the kind of realpolitik approach to foreign policy that America has desperately needed for more than a decade. Rather than coddling tin-pot dictators and terrorists at the White House, we have an administration that is willing to work with leaders who are willing to work with the United States, reach mutually beneficial agreements, and along the way strengthen U.S. national and economic security both abroad and at home.

Some like to toss around the term “nationalism” as though it were a pejorative, but it’s clear that for many Americans, it’s an approach worth defending if not wholeheartedly supporting.

We’ve seen what happens when we have a president unwilling to defend and uphold our nation’s interests at home and abroad. It will take years for us to recover, but the Trump White House is digging in and rebuilding that trust and that national interest one ally at a time and whether the media elite and its friends like it or not.


The above article originally appeared in American Greatness on Oct 24 under the headline ‘Trump’s Malaysia Gambit: Call It Another Win’.

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The audacity of haters

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By Jim Waddell

Contrary to the author’s claim, the right’s reaction to Obama was much more civilized than the left’s reaction to Trump.

No one on the right rioted at Obama’s inauguration; people on the left rioted at Trump’s.

I can’t remember any ‘Not My President’ signs or bumper stickers when Obama was president; there must be millions now that Trump is president.

Did any entertainers receive credible death threats if they performed at Obama’s inauguration? Some who planned to perform at Trump’s did.

I don’t recall the use of profanity by opponents of Obama’s agenda. We’ve heard plenty of that from Tom Perez and Kirsten Gillibrand.

And of course, the left seems to have a monopoly on political violence, whether it’s campus speakers, the WTO in Seattle, or Trump’s election.

Joe Wilson’s “you lie” statement seems pretty tame now in comparison to how Trump has been treated.

Trump may be a total jerk, but, as Peggy Noonan notes, he has been lucky in his enemies. Cursing politicians, screeching students, and intolerant abortion advocates seem to be his most visible opponents. — source: NYT, a Columbus, Ohio reader’s comment

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